Saturday, February 26, 2011

My band has just started playing, "Down by the Water", the latest single by The Decemberists. Although I am a big Decemberists fan, I haven't bought that album yet, and it was my friend Tom that brought the song in. I think it's a great song - I like the lyrics, the melody, the harmonies and the arrangement. It has been duly noted that the song sounds a lot like REM's "The One I Love", but the similarity is not jarring or offensive to me. And the fact that Peter Buck plays guitar on the track adequately justifies the similarity as far as I'm concerned. But I started reading the reviews of the Decemberist's albums on All Music Guide, and I was astonished to see the number of artists that they are compared to. This is a band with a very distinctive sound and style. A band that cannot be justly accused of pandering to the masses or following the latest styles. And yet the critics seem to try desperately to show that their creative energies are reflective at best. On the AMG site, "Castaways and Cutouts" is described without reference to any other artists. So far so good. But the remaining 5 releases draw comparisons to Belle & Sebastian, Neutral Milk Hotel, Al Stewart, REM, Kurt Weill, Morrissey, The Who, Queens of the Stone Age, Fairport Convention, The Waterboys, Deep Purple, Emmerson Lake and Palmer, Edie Brickell, Donovan, Pentangle, Horslips, Steeleye Span, The Incredible String Band, Iron Maiden, Rush, Jethro Tull, Robyn Hitchcock, Shirley Collins, Tom Petty, Paul Simon, Camper Van Beethoven, Key Lime Pie and Led Zeppelin. Really? They sound like those guys? I don't know how they left out Tiny Tim, Lawrence Welk and John Tesh.
Was that a tumbleweed that just rolled past? Jesus this place is quiet. It's February, what is going on in this godforsaken month that's keeping everyone away from here? Just curious. Skiing in Tahoe perhaps?

Anyway just a few musings. Radiohead's new album. Pretty great. Only a few spins and it doesn't exactly bludgeon you into submission but its unmistakeably them and we'll miss them terribly when they're gone. Not too many bands over the last 15 years we can say that about.

Not sure if any of you have followed up on my raving over PJ Harvey's latest but I do dearly love NPRs first listen feature where I was able to listen to the album several times before I purchased the cd (someone explain the concept to Kyle) so may I recommend that you head over there pronto and listen to this album.

You can also listen to this stunning English miss on this mix I posted several weeks ago on 8tracks website.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What's a CD?
I read an article in the weekend star about this new jazz and classical store above sunrise records on yonge st.
Sounds like a second Gregorian. Derek did you discover this place yet as it is close to you? guess is that it will be gone by summer unfortunately...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Or perhaps the Grammys will begin a trend towards some semblance of relevancy and reward it to this. Not that I have any sense of whether it would deserve it or not, at this point.

Pre-ordered it on Tuesday and was happy to read online today that I could download it today. No listens yet and haven't read any reviews. Any one else have this one on their to buy list for the weekend?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Place your bets now. Paul Simon has a new album out this year and based on the list that you linked to Kyle the Grammy darlings appear to be Paul (with or without Garfunkel), Paul (the Beatles guy), Sting, Billy Joel and Donald Fagen (with or without Dan). Yeesh. So all I'm saying is the diminutive one is a pretty safe bet to be on next year's best album list.

Steely Dan had an album out in 2000? I must have missed that one.
Two minds about the upset Grammy win for the Arcade Fire. Always glad when an award for 'best' goes to an artist and/or work actually deserving of the award. But I don't have tons of respect for the Grammys. Case in point: What was the Best Album a decade ago? Can't remember it. Just think back to all the albums that you listened to back in 2000 and pick the one that comes to mind.

Got it. Now.......

Wait, wait, wait. You're thinking, "I get your point Kyle. It was obviously a popular one that you and I didn't like." Actually, guess again. Or start throwing some names out there....ready to guess........

Did you come up with.........


Steely Dan?

No? Clearly, you're not into music, then.

Now, I do gotta give the Grammy crowd their props that year. They did nominate Kid A and Beck (though for Midnight's Vultures, which isn't an album of the year in any year, really).

In fact, most year's nominations look like an 11 year old's music collection--4 or 5 albums which include a smattering of something a releative bought, the crap you and your friends listen to on the radio, and maybe one disc from a parent or cooler older sibling who has some taste.

So kudos to the Arcade Fire. Hope it opens their music to a wider audience (though they barely rated a single mention in the free USA today I picked up in my hotel lobby this morning). But since the Grammy's are to relevancy what bicycles are to fish, my enthusiasm is very much tempered.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Silly video but a nice song from gents who were part of two of my favourite bands of the mid-90s (Gorkys and Teenage Fanclub). They have a CD coming out in the spring and it's already available digitally.

Jonny - Candyfloss from Merge Records on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

And just in case you needed a reason why you really you shouldn't give a shit who wins anything at the Grammys see the list below: (apparently its still 1991)

Although this is a pretty great record nominated in the country album category.

And They Might be Giants are nominated in the Best Musical Album for Children category. Hasn't every record of theirs fallen into this category?

17. Best Hard Rock Performance

A Looking In View

Alice In Chains
[Virgin Records]

Let Me Hear You Scream

Ozzy Osbourne
Track from: Scream

Black Rain

Track from: Telephantasm

Between The Lines

Stone Temple Pilots
Track from: Stone Temple Pilots

New Fang

Them Crooked Vultures
Track from: Them Crooked Vultures
With the Grammys tomorrow night it seems the right time to revisit Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" which has a best album nod alongside the exalted Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Eminem and somebody called Lady Antebellum (anyone know who or what this is).

Is it just me or is there an odd man out in that list? It's kinda like putting the best of the Stones or the Beatles alongside Herman's Hermits, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, the Archies etc. It just seems completely wrong.

There are few bands, and they should be praised to the heavens, that straddle the line between commercial success and intelligent, yet emotive and engaging musicianship the way these guys do. I wasn't sure that "The Suburbs" would live up to "Funeral" or "Neon Bible" but with each listen I find myself latching on to a new favourite song. Initially it was Rococo (#4) and City with No Children (#6) and then tracks 7 & 8 and now its probably tracks 11 & 12. Who knows where it will be by the 20th spin.

This is completely unlike my experience with last years National album where despite repeated listens I still am only drawn to Bloodbuzz Ohio which is a brilliant song and to a lesser extent the first track Terrible Love. The remainder is morose in the extreme.

One year on from the Vancouver Olympics here's hoping for another Canadian triumph tomorrow night.
It's a stellar tune, there's no debating that, but this version leaves me unmoved. I'm not sure that the world really needs a ballad like version of I Wanna Be Adored.

The great thing about the original is the swagger and sheer cock of the walk attitude that infuses it. Ian Brown and the lads are on their debut album for christssake and they lead off with this song. How could you help but be pulled right in.

In hindsight, given their subsequent output, it's nothing if not hubristic but at the time you couldn't help smiling especially since they probably beat the Gallagher brothers to the punch who, if you need reminding, led off their debut album with a song called, with similar conceit, Rock n Roll Star.

Now here we get Damon Gough, not demanding adoration exactly, more like pleading for it. It doesn't really work. And I love the man.

Are there any other debut records you can think of that start off with a statement of intent like these two.
stellar badly drawn boy tune will be familiar to you...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Also Bri, Friedlander is on my to d/l list as soon as my account refreshes. Samples were interesting as were some of the reviews.

Also, an article that tidy sums up my feelings about 'oversouling'.
I'm guessing, Stu, that your connection had more to do with a muted youtube clip than the song itself. Regardless, I'm stopping to pick up Brian as we 'move along'.

Didn't realize that you were so taken with the PJ disc, Deeman, when I dismissed it out of hand in our recent email exchange. While I'm more than happy to disagree with you about any given piece of music, the fact that a fellow PJ despiser is enjoying her new disc has admittedly piqued my curiosity. Will give it a listen, if only to wash the damn K*$(whateverthefuck)sha out of my ears.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

And at the opposite end of the spectrum how about this ditty that it took me about 2 listens to really connect with. Apparently I'm a whore for trashy Euro-disco. Brian you might just want to move along as there's nothing to see here.

Thanks Brian for the recommendations. I downloaded the Matt Bauder disc as it was 7 tracks and that was my remaining allotment.

Next week sees the release of PJ Harvey's 8th album. Owning 3 of the previous 7 I find Polly Jean to be the most frustrating artist of my entire music listening experience. I know I should love what she does or at least feel moved by it in some small way but too often her albums have found me tuning out mid-record.

Well hallelujah for perseverance because after 3 (a new record) listens to the new record on NPR's First Listen site PJ and I have come to a wonderful mutual understanding. It is probably more polished than some of her earlier albums and she's certainly toned down some of the spazzed out shrieks of prior years. Let's call it her mature album. Simply put, I love it. Give it a listen.

Anyone else have an artist experience that it took 8 fuckin' records to connect with.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Couple of quick pieces of music to check out: I've been enjoying saxophonist Matt Bauder's oeuvres in the past few months. He's been around for a while but I only discovered him in 2010. He released two records in '10, the more approachable of which is "Day in Pictures". Start with the track "Parks After Dark"and then "January Melody" to see if you dig it.

As far as classical goes, I'm fond of the "Music for Double Bass and Piano: Eccles, Haydn, Bottesini, Goens, Shostakovich, Serventi, Karadimchev" from Entcho Radoukanov and Ingrid Lindgren released last year. The unusual combo of instruments attracted me, and indeed there is a lot to be learned about the diversity of sounds from a double bass - it produces some beautiful sorrowful bits very much like a cello, for example on the Shosto piece near the end of the disk. Worth a listen, very nice Sunday morning music.

The last one is the Erik Friedlander 2010 disk Alchemy. I love it. It's different from his previous best, 2003's Maldoror, but just as good, with his trademark hypnotic cello (often played pizzicato), combined with occasional electronica backdrop.
No controversy coming from this direction. That was my thought exactly on first listen.
Yeah that's an awesome song. Better I would say than the last album (he said, attmepting to create controversy). Derek I'll try to get you a couple of recommendations tonight.
Nice track. Looking forward to hearing the whole album.

Any suggestions for the 7 tracks I have left on e-music that I need to use by Thursday. I'm thinking of a recommendation in the jazz or classical vein.