Monday, March 30, 2009



1. Old Man Luedecke - Salute to the Gold River
2. Mother Mother - Hayloft
3. Weezer - Pink Triangle
4. The Stolen Minks - I Hate You
5. Joel Plaskett - Through & Through & Through
6. The DoneFors - In A Cornfield
7. $100 - No Great Leap
8. CFCF - Colour Dreams
9. Constantines - Young Offenders
10. Eric's Trip - My Room
11. Joel Plaskett - Sailor's Eyes
12. Christopher Durning - Louie Knocking at the Gates
13. Old Man Luedecke - In the Beginning
14. Joel Plaskett - Deny, Deny, Deny
15. The Tom Fun Orchestra - Bottom of the River
16. Krista Muir - Leave Alight

sorry for the lack of bloggage, it's that time of year again and all my words are going towards essays. i'll be back in a week or two!

Monday, March 23, 2009



1. Henri Fabergé & the Adorables - The Goddamn Light
2. The Balconies - Rest Up
3. Sean Nicholas Savage - She's The Sun
4. Josh Reichmann Oracle Band - Trade Names
5. Smothered in Hugs - At The Coat Check
6. Krista Muir - Letters
7. Julie Doiron - Borrowed Minivans
8. Construction & Destruction - Ring Around The Moon
9. Shotgun Jimmie - Quicksand
10. The World Provider & Feist - Valentine
11. Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
12. The Weakerthans - Tournament of Hearts
13. 1990s - I Don't Even Know What That Is
14. The Deep Dark Woods - Nancy
15. United Steel Workers of Montreal - Place St. Henri

this show was completely spur of the moment. i forgot my prepared CDs at home, and therefore had to run with what was available to me in the booth. thankfully, there was quite a bit, and i managed a pretty decent show, wouldn't you say?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Concert Etiquette.

I'm doing this apart from the actual concert review because I don't want to taint it with this bad vibe, and have to get it out. The concert itself was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

However, it made me think: there should be a mandatory high school class taught on concert etiquette. Where I was standing, fairly near the stage, there was one girl who was taking up the space of four people, all her swaying and moving around, and bumping into me incessantly even when those around her weren't moving the tiniest bit. On the other hand, and the other side of me, was the opposite: a man who would not budge, no matter what. I was trapped here, between this girl who took far too much room and bumped against me again and again and this fellow who felt it was his duty to stand completely still and not budge an inch. Ugh. Learn to be middle of the road, people.

And, as a former concert venue organiser, this is one of my biggest pet peeves: when the band is playing, you do not open your mouth unless it is to sing along or cough. Especially when you are in close proximity to the stage, and thus the performers. I was about two or three feet away from the stage, and during both headlining sets, there were these people around me on most sides, getting progressively drunker, carrying out conversations loud enough to be heard over the music, particularly during the more subdued songs. Augh, people.

That said, the concert was wonderful. This did not detract from it in the slightest. Lesser concerts, it would, but I wasn't letting anything get me down. Not when I was seeing Constantines and the Weakerthans.

Record Nostalgia.

Left and leaving isn't my favourite Weakerthans album, but it was my first. It was 2002, and I had just started my high school life. It was my first purchase at Backstreet Records, which has become my favourite record store, and the favourite of many. It cost me $8.99, still sealed in plastic, at that point still their latest album (Reconstruction Site being still a year on the horizon).

From the first tentative steps of Everything Must Go!, I knew I was in love. As soon as the drums kick in about half a minute into the song, the beauty overwhelms me, and it just keeps on building. John's lyrics are more than gorgeous. Their complexity, their oddity, so different than anything I'd known up to that point. (If you'll recall, until I reached high school, I was a bit of a dweeb when it came to music). But then! Then comes Aside, which has the same beauty, the same lyrical complexity, but the sound of it stays true to the band's punk roots: roaring distortion, interspersed with the... oh, it's so hard for me to analyse an album I've loved for all my music-loving life. I'm leaning on this broken fence between past and present tense. It's beautiful. It's punk! It's punk in its everything that it is except for genre.

The album just continues on the upward trajectory. Every song shows everything that the Weakerthans are, and can be. There is no low point to the album. They're all just high points, varying degrees of wonderful. I don't know what I should do with my hands when I talk to you, and you don't know where you should look, so you look at my hands. It's not all lyrical complexity. Some, like that bit from Pamphleteer, are beautiful in their simplicity, beautiful in their universal application. The album is a masterpiece, and every masterpiece has a keystone. In Left and Leaving's case, it has two.

The first one we come across is the title track, which is in my mind one of the greatest Canadian songs. I can't say anything about it that hasn't already been said. It is as much about Winnipeg and John's relationship with it as it is about any individual and his relationship with his hometown, the people there, the whole of the sentiment. I'm listening to it now, and I simply can't think straight or even see straight. The song has such a profound effect on me, and I'm sure if you've heard it you know what I mean. In the liner notes, the lyrics begin with an epigraph by Catherine Hunter, and I think this exemplifies anything you need to know, but I can't put forward for this effect it has on me:

and for a moment both of you believe
you can hear the city breathing

you are both tired, you want to be done

The other cornerstone, at the end of the record, is My Favourite Chords. This is the first Weakerthans song ever did I hear, and has stuck with me since. This is the song that sent me hunting after the album, this is the song that created my love affair with the band. It is simple, it is adorable, it is terrifying, it is beautiful. This is what music should be. I can't do any of this justice. I am so sorry for writing this, this inconsequential little nothing, because my trying to express my love for this album comes up so short. I am a faulty string of blue christmas lights [...] I'm blinking off and on and off again.

I'm seeing the Weakerthans tonight, for the first time.

Rating: 10/10
Released: 25 July 2000

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Paper Bag Records strikes again.

We've been hearing Mike Silver's remixes under the name CFCF for a while now, and one original track, Crystal Mines, showed up on the last Paper Bag Records Sampler. Now in 2009 comes his debut EP, Panesian Nights, which is one of the most solid instrumental electroclash records I have ever heard.

Crystal Mines had been the stand-out track for me on that sampler which I had picked up either at a Laura Barrett show or a Woodhands show (I forget which it was to be entirely honest) and the whole record lives up to expectations I'd put forward.

Throughout Mike falls on to the Atari-like sounds that might remind you of Crystal Castles (who he, of course, has remixed) but with more depth than Alice & Ethan, by which I mean it is not exclusively the 8-bit synth. Don't get me wrong, I love Crystal Castles, but the way Mike has expanded his available sounds here while staying true to the genre really makes for enjoyable listening. It's always good to know that someone with such incredible remixing talent also has this creative talent of his own--taking the work of others and making it, in most cases, better, as well as creating his own works of beauty.

The album is available on iTunes for the very reasonable price of $4.99. I suggest you make the investment.

CFCF - Sogni Rossi

CFCF - Colour Dreams

Rating: 9/10
Released: 20 January 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The world is twice as round, the sky is twice as blue.

Malcolm Fraser, better known as the one man band The World Provider, has been making music between Toronto and Montreal for a decade, with roots in the same collective that spawned superstars Feist and Peaches. I'll admit, before picking up the record, I had never heard of him, but I'm curious now to hear more. He's been steadily releasing records over the last decade years, and this latest endeavour caught my eye from the CHMA shelf, advertising itself as a "Super-fun activity book". The album itself is titled Hard Feelings and is an altogether enjoyable listen.

It does, however, shoot itself in the foot. The music is solid synth-rock and genuinely appealing, but he's made the mistake of opening with the single greatest duet track I've heard since Shotgun Jimmie's Bedhead: a little ditty titled Valentine, featuring old pal Leslie Feist. The song is beautiful, and really makes a good example of Fraser's idiosyncratic approach to vocals. I really can't explain the effect it has on me.

The rest of the album is definitely solid, with a few stand-out tracks, namely Happy Endings and the title track, Hard Feelings, but it takes me the better part of the album just to get over the wonder and joy that is that first track. He's put together a quirky and idiosyncratic record here, and I'll call myself a fan. I'm not sure if I'm a fan of his overuse of falsetto, or quasi-falsetto, or whatever it is he's doing with his voice throughout so much of it, but one way or another he puts the sound forward that he is a wacky guy who has held the tradition of that collective (which, as I mentioned, produced Peaches). The off-kilter quality of the album is what makes it notable, and I think you ought to take a look more in-depth into this fellow's music. I know I will.

The World Provider & Feist - Valentine
The World Provider - Entertainment Law

Rating: 6.5/10
Released: 25 November 2008
his myspace is here

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

There has always been a light.

What can I said that hasn't already been said about Jim? He's a little bit quirky, a little bit eccentric, a little bit silly... all things that I think embody Sackville, and I think Jim is one of the reasons they do. He and Fred brought so much of what I love about Sackville back with them from Dawson City (not least of which being Shotgun & Jaybird) and what was already here they helped grow. I don't think that Sackville would be the town it is with the aura it has without Shotgun & Jaybird, all of them, Jim, Fred, Paul, Julie... but I'm running away with myself. This is a post about the new record, nothing more.

So then what is the new record? It's mighty different from The Onlys, which in turn was mighty different from The 6000 True Stories of Love, so it can be said that Jim is a bit of a chameleon. (If I ever run out of new stuff to review, watch for retro reviews of these guys coming up..) Still Jimmie is a harder, more cynical record. I think this is best displayed in how these two records start out.

Duet starts: "Let me play you a song, and if you like it you can sing along, and if we make it all the way through it, we'll do it again but then we'll call it a duet." vs. Mind Crumb's "I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm super-fine. I'm tired, I'm tired, tired all the time. Go back, go back, go back anytime; go back to find: did we really mess it up?" and this really sets the tone for the record. Don't get me wrong. I love the record, I'm not trying to put it down. But the guitars are so much more powerful, and the underlying theme seems like longingly looking into the rear-view mirror as you're driving away from something you loved but just couldn't bear anymore.

Last time out, we had an unforgettable and adorablue duet on The Onlys featuring Ilse Kramer. This time around, we have another duet, this time with $100's Simone Fornow, and if you know anything about $100 or Fornow's voice, you know to expect nothing close to Bedhead as far as Quicksand is concerned. That said, it is a beautiful and sad tune, and I for one think that their styles and voices complement each other fabulously. It fits with the tone of the album. I like that, the album really does function as a whole, a cohesive and beautiful whole. Good job, Jim. Good job.

The guitars come in much harder on this record, but none of Jim's quirkiness is lost. The songwriting is still the same, like the title says, he's Still Jimmie. Used Parts sounds like it could be on The Onlys, its a perfect indication of that Jim we know and love: "Good luck building buildings for bored historians, or finding used parts for your Delorean". Come on, he references both Deloreans and Bricklins in the same song, who else do we know who could do that? He's still the same fella, giving us the same thing he's always given us. The subject matter may have changed, but his delivery has remained unchanged. This is a fantastic album, and if you haven't heard of Shotgun Jimmie yet, you should look into him! Check out his myspace. You won't be disappointed.

Shotgun Jimmie - Waist Deep In The Water
Shotgun Jimmie - I Asked Cupid

Rating: 8.5/10
Released: 10 March 2009

Holy shit, that's a harpsichord.

My first reaction on hearing the track Trade Names from Josh Reichmann Oracle Band's new LP, Crazy Power was "holy shit, that's a harpsichord."

I'm really not sure how to describe this record. It's one of those sounds that escapes definition, and uses every bit of instrumentation under the sun. Reichmann uses tried and true alternative/indie rock stylings that make me want to call him Canada's answer to Stephen Malkmus.

Making music since the turn of the century, Josh put out this latest endeavour last week on Paper Bag Records, home of such blog favourites as Laura Barrett and Woodhands. I actually first heard him through a sampler available at a Laura Barrett, and was at least a little bit impressed. That track was straightforward enough, especially on the compilation I found it on, filled with all sorts of oddities. The album as a whole, however, is downright bizarre. The instrumentation is as varied as I've ever heard; I can't even identify every instrument utilised. He draws from every musical tradition, I imagine, that he could get his hands on, and the selection of sounds seems to me like a far too curious 12-year-old music student at an overstocked band room. In a good way.

The track Time Chimes is perhaps the most accessible of the album's tracks, with little of the odd instrument choice present in most of the album, sticking for the most part to old standards. This, to me, just speaks to his drawing on every possible tradition. His songwriting reminds me of early Andrew Bird, but I couldn't tell you why at all. This is some of the most singularly quirky music I have heard, and I'm falling more in love with it each time I listen to the album through. You might just hear it on my show if you tune in some night.

Josh Reichmann Oracle Band - Sea At Night
Josh Reichmann Oracle Band - Aztec Hive

Rating: 8/10
Released: 10 March 2009
find them on myspace

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I'm in complete control.

The album closes with a track called Fighting, Fucking & Cars. That's a rock & roll song title, that is.

The Job claim to channel the 70s with their retro punk rock sound. I'll give them that. They definitely channel 70s Mancs, or South London--they sound like they could be born and bred there, come up through the estate housing with no hopes (see Killer). But no, they're out of a different London--London, Ontario.

From suburban Ontario you might expect a faux-punk sound the likes of what we've seen for the last fifteen years on MuchMusic and MTV, but this isn't that. They don't so much for me elicit a comparison to classic punk as to modern garage rock. I'm thinking of The Libertines and the off-shoot thereof, Dirty Pretty Things.

I found The Job's self-titled full-length (where else?) in the booth at CHMA. The cover of the album [pictured] screamed "punk" at me, but I still wasn't sure what to expect. You know all those bands who think they're punk rock, who claim to be punk rock, and in the end just come up short, but from the start of the first track, The Night, I knew this was what I'd been looking for. Sloppy, screaming guitars and the vocals... well, you have to hear! Now, I have no idea of these cats' attitude, but their music screams punk. Not the overtly anarcho-political punk that has defined the genre in my mind but it still has that Sid Vicious-esque sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll kick to it. I like the album a lot. I haven't heard new punkish rock this good since the first Dirty Pretty Things record.

They're on myspace. Check them out.

The Job - Ten Times
The Job - Problem

Rating: 7.5/10
Released: recently (can't find a release date anywhere)

Where are you from-- or, better yet, where are your parents from?

I've been meaning to write a review of this record since I heard it a week ago, but I've been a little bit preoccupied with schoolwork and the like. Alors, here we go!

I found this record, Contraries by Joanna Chapman-Smith, on the new arrivals shelf in the CHMA booth. I could swear it was almost tailor-made for me. If you know me at all, you know that my three favourite instruments are the synthesizer, the accordion, and the clarinet. Now, it's true, there's no synthesizer on Contraries, but Joanna's instruments of choice are in fact the accordion and the clarinet. The girl hails from Vancouver, educated extensively in music and with oodles of experience from all I can tell.

Her voice reminds me a little bit of Sarah Slean. You can hear the latin and jazz influences clearly, and it's an altogether beautiful find. I've mentioned my random record-listening sometimes turns up gold; this is one of those bits of gold that turns up. The highlight of the record for me I played on my show last night: Arbitrary Lines. A friend of mine said, when I played it, that it reminded her of gypsy jazz. I can hear that, especially in the guitar work. This is truly the work of someone who knows music inside and out, and I'm going to call myself a good fan.

It's very jazzy, more often than not, but not straight jazz. Think of what Regina Spektor does to jazz, and throw in some Sarah Slean. And an accordion. And a clarinet. And Vancouver--for we all know Vancouver breeds some unique musical styles. There's another remembrance that I can't quite pinpoint that this elicits in me. Tailor-made for me, though--this is my taste down to the tiniest point. This record is gorgeous, and I urge you all to check out Joanna's myspace [link above] and give it a listen.

It turns out that Contraries is her second record. She has a previous release called Eyre Corvidae which I believe is Latin for Crow's Nest. I wonder if it's kicking around the CHMA Library? I would love to take a listen to it; if it's anything like Contraries, I'll fall a little bit in love with it, too.

Give it a listen. Come on. Check the myspace if you don't want to try the tracks I've put up. Give it a whirl. You won't be disappointed.

Come on. Listen!

Joanna Chapman-Smith - A Glass of Right & Wrong

Rating: 8.5/10
Released: 17 February 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009



1. The Bicycles - B-B-Bicycles
2. Jenny Omnichord & Old Man Luedecke - My Baby's Pregnant
3. Joanna Chapman-Smith - Arbitrary Lines
4. Julie Doiron - When Brakes Get Wet
5. The Bicycles - I Know We Have To Be Apart
6. Gentleman Reg - You Can't Get It Back
7. Constantines - Trans Canada
8. Pants & Tie - Washing Machine
9. The Bicycles - Oh No, It's Love
10. Born Ruffians - Hummingbird
11. Snailhouse - Salvation Army
12. The Tom Fun Orchestra - Marshall Applewhite
13. The Hylozoists - Bras d'Or Lakes
14. Pine Tarts - Étoiles
15. Adam Mowery - I'm Forever Diggin' Where the Well Went Dry
16. The Bicycles - Please Don't Go
17. Sebastien Grainger - By Cover Of Night (Fire Fight)
18. The Bicycles - End Of A Good Thing

Today, as it may be apparent, I bid a farewell to The Bicycles, who played what they have called probably their last show together ever on Friday night. [Cue: tear up]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

We'll let our hearts do the talking.

I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day is Julie Doiron's best work. Better even in my mind than Love Tara, that quintissential Eric's Trip record. Better than any previous solo recording, better as a whole than any Shotgun & Jaybird (but there is some overlap, will mention this). Better as a whole record than anything I've heard by her, and it'll be hard-pressed to be beaten as my best album of 2009. Very hard-pressed.

I love this album with every little bit of me. When I first heard it, I listened to it through and could not give 100% to anything else, so I just gave up and listened. And then I listened again. And then I listened a third time, the album the whole way through. It is gorgeous, it is heartfelt, it is a beautiful mix of new and old, of cute and sincere.

There are, I think, three Shotgun & Jaybird songs on here, three that I recognise as Shotgun & Jaybird anyway: Spill Yer Lungs, Lovers of the World, and Borrowed Minivans. These are old gems, old classics, and I'm mighty glad to see them being exposed to a wider audience, and we'll get to see them live again with more consistency. The re-recording of Borrowed Minivans is delightful--it's my favourite S&J song that Julie sings on, and this recording sounds more... loose, more live, more natural.

The record as a whole is solid, and it runs the gamut of everything about Julie we know and love. There are the cute tracks: Life of Dreams, opening the record; Nice to Come Home, an absolutely adorable song about sharedness and distance; Glad to Be Alive, closing the album, which is my new pick-me-up of a song. You can't help but smile to these ones, they're just those which will slap a silly smile on your face.

Heavy Snow sounds as though it could be on Broken Girl or Loneliest in the Morning, that classic Julie sound; the sad songs. It wouldn't be a Julie Doiron album without sad songs, would it? Along with Blue, these fill that requisite, and fill it oh so well. Blue sounds unlike anything else she's recorded, layered and lovely, and sad to its very core--the closest similarity I can find is her work last year with Mount Eerie.

Consolation Prize, which I imagine most of you have heard by now, sounds like it could be off of an Eric's Trip record, but it has the clear markers of a Julie solo record, the little idiosyncracies of dropping a telephone...

There are stand-out tracks. They aren't necessarily the best on the record, but they stand out above the others for one reason or another. I can't really discern why. They are in fact two of my favourite tracks on the album, but I haven't really decided on what my favourite tracks actually are... Anyway, Tailor has this beautiful sound to it, this is what Julie's voice is made for. The melody is beautiful, the lyrics are adorable, everything is wonderful. I'm just exuding joy consistently at the listening of this. In the running for my favourite track of the album, though, is When Brakes Get Wet, a short little tune that you can hear if you tune into my radio show tomorrow night. The instrumentation is beautiful, the stereo percussion and what I can only assume are kneeslaps. This is Sackville music. It's such a beautiful story, such a beautiful sentiment, such a beautiful everything.

I love this album. Thank you, Julie, for giving this to the world. Almost 20 years into your career, you're still making the most beautiful music that could possibly be made.

I'm not sharing this music on my blog, because I want you all to support her. You can purchase it from Amazon here and I imagine you can get it from iTunes, too. Like I said, listen to my radio show if you want a taste. Mondays at midnight (Atlantic) on CHMA 106.9 in Sackville, or listen to the webstream here.

Rating: 10/10
Released: 10 March 2009
all of this town seems drunk tonight and i'm looking for your hand

Friday, March 13, 2009

Boourns, blogspot.

At least give me a warning before you delete my posts. I could have just broken the hotlinks to the downloadable tracks and left the review up.

Thanks a lot.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Really Bad Music I

I hear so much terrible music that I think I'll make a blog feature out of it. I don't know how frequently I'll do this, but I'll do it with some frequency, I hereby swear! Anyway, let's get it started.

While I'm on the air on CHMA, I have a habit of taking CDs at random off the shelf and ripping them to my hard drive before putting them back at the end of the evening, as a way of finding new music to play. You can only glean so much from concerts and Radio 3, after all. Once in a while, I find some absolute gold (The Magician, for instance, which I played this week, was discovered in this manner). For the most part, I find relatively average or somewhat good music which sits in my library until I find it again.

However, about as often as I find gold, I find the opposite, the 1st percentile rather than the 99th in terms of awesome. Last night, I found some of that.

The band? Calgary's Pine Tarts. The album? Their EP Faux Faves. The song? A cheerful little ditty titled 16/14, whose refrain is the lyric "She told me she was 16; she was only 14." It also includes the lyric "Said she was sweet 16 and I was sweet 27". The music is pretty standard punk fare, but with the most disgusting keyboard sounds I've ever heard put in along with it. The song does nothing for me, and it's really quite awful. I can only hope its meant ironically... but the music doesn't make up for it. No, not at all. And I'm a fan of punk music; I've broken my glasses in mosh pits. This, no sir. This is awful.

In the spirit of fairness, I'll upload the file so you yourselves can take a listen aussi:

Pine Tarts - 16/14

Bugs for breakfast! Bigger bugs for lunch!

I guess I'm just getting around to all the album reviews that I missed when I was on a slight hiatus from posting... and just rather non-blogificationing. I don't know what I mean. Well, this is a beautiful album. It's simply beautiful.

Jenny Omnichord (Jenny Mitchell) recently put out Charlotte or Otis: Duets for Children, their Parents, and Other People, Too. The album is brilliant, with duets avec Andy Swan, Old Man Luedecke, and numerous others. There are eighteen tracks, each of them a different duet, and each one of them cute and darling and adorable. I believe she recently gave birth to a son, but I can't really find any information other than that. She was here, in Sackville, in the summertime, very pregnant, so I'm going on that. Anyway, she has celebrated this new phase of her life with this record--songs about parenthood and about childhood, about dinkies and about eating bugs, and even about the discovery of mortality. It is a beautiful album, altogether.

The most touching track on the album I think is What Happens To Animals, a duet with Mathias Korn from The Burning Hell, which details a child's discovery of the truth behind his pets' disappearances, with the help of his mother. Its beautiful and sad and speaks to the end of innocence, which is a far cry from a previous track. Planet Zorn, with Kim Barlow, is for the most part about eating bugs, and the lyrics in this post's title come therefrom.

Apart from this album in particular, Jenny plays as a multi-instrumentalist for The Barmitzvah Brothers, and this solo project is herself playing an omnichord, which is a delightful little electronic instrument which I'm falling in love with more every day.

Tune in to CHMA 106.9FM in Sackville, and you'll likely hear some of Jenny, or check out her myspace, or anything of the sort. This album is a gorgeous work of art, and will make you smile no matter how down you're feeling. Especially these two last tracks I'm putting up. Both of them are so dreamy and happy. Enjoy!

Jenny Omnichord - My Baby's Pregnant (with Old Man Luedecke)
Jenny Omnichord - Charlotte or Otis (with Andy Magoffin)

Monday, March 9, 2009



1. Islands - Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby
2. $100 - Nothing's Alright
3. White Rabbit - Sincerity
4. The First Aid Kit - New York City
5. Joel Plaskett - True Patriot Love
6. Laura Barrett - Senior & the Blob
7. Woodhands - Be Back Soon
8. The Magician - NJ vs. NJM
9. Attack in Black & Julie Doiron - I'm A Rock
10. Slow Down, Molasses - Fucking Up
11. The Carousels - Miles Past the Ghost
12. Julie Doiron - Consolation Prize
13. Shotgun Jimmie - Used Parts
14. Pat LePoidevin - Toumba, Texas

We are the harmless sociopaths.

Now, up to this point, almost all the music I've put up here, almost all the music I review has been Canadian, and has been stuff I've seen live. This is not. This is Andrew Bird.

I've finally given his new album, Noble Beast, a chance. Recently his stuff has been a bit disappointing to me. I first heard him as a sometimes-member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers and took a peek into his work with his band Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire, which was the same sort of swing revival music. His last album, Armchair Apocrypha, disappointed me. I'm not entirely sure why. The Bowl of Fire stuff was excellent, aside from The Swimming Hour which bored me... and The Mysterious Production of Eggs was delightful. Maybe it's just a matter of a meh album and then good album and then a meh album and then a good album.

Noble Beast is a good album. Hell, it's a great album. Classically trained violinist doing beautiful indie music, that's what Andrew Bird is up to. Beautiful music, soothing. He has redeemed himself in my eyes. From the onset of Oh No, the first track, I knew that I was in for a treat. He is a gifted songwriter with an obvious love of words, and obscure words at that. From Tenuousness:

"'Tenuous at best' was all he had to say when pressed about the rest of it; the world that is. From proto-Sanskrit Minoans to Porto-centric Lisboans, Greek Cypriots and harbour-sorts who hang around in quotes a lot."

The play with words and sounds! It's not even a lot of nonsense, but to grasp at these relations that don't quite go together, the rhythm and the sound, holy cow, mate, holy cow. An awful lot of the tracks end on cold stops, which I like a lot. The constant wall of sound collapses almost unexpectedly without so much as a cry and the next track begins. Gorgeousness, sheer gorgeousness!

You simply must take a listen. It's unlike most things you've heard, I promise you. This album was released in late January. When you listen, really listen. Listen to those words, listen to all those sounds, those varied sounds all juxtaposed in such a way as never known. This man has a gift, and on this latest album, holy mackerel does it ever work!

Andrew Bird - Effigy

Andrew Bird - Not A Robot, But A Ghost

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Words are the only currency left to trade in.

Second disappointing turnout in a row to George's. That's okay, of course. The weather was a little rotten so the turnout is understandable, both times. But nonetheless! More of you cats need to turn out to these things. You're going out on a friday night for this, that, or the other, you ought to come out and for $5 see some fan-fucking-tastic music! Because tonight's music was fan-fucking-tastic. Just putting that out there.

So! When I got there, being the only person there for a while, the start of the night was pushed back slightly. 10:45? 11:00 maybe? Anyway, the night started out with The Bad Arts, a band that sounded more Halifax than Halifax itself, channelling the high-energy alt-rock of their predecessors. I knew the frontman years ago in Saint John, he really seems to have carved out a great performing style for himself. I liked them well enough. Well, who am I kidding? I liked them a lot. For a three-piece, they brought the rock.

Then, after a quick set-up break, Rich Aucoin started his set. Hardly anyone can make me (and everyone, so it appeared) as happy with music. But, it's not just music, is it? It's synthesizers and balloons and old movies projected on to a sheet. It's everything that joy is made of, wholly and entirely. His continuing use of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, even after a cease and desist order was put out, never fails to make me smile. And the music is so damned danceable! Don't believe me? See for yourself. Of course, recordings don't half do justice to the live show. If you ever have a chance to see this man perform, take it. It is an experience unlike any other. His use of the projector, playing old movie clips and How The Grinch Stole Christmas with his music synced up thereto... holy mackerel. Holy. Mackerel.

Rich Aucoin - A.L.I.V.E.
Rich Aucoin - At War With The Cynics (An Opening)

The First Aid Kit then played, again sounding very Halifax. They seemed to me a little generic at first, but through the course of the set they really did grow on me. Now and again, when a refrain would come up in a song, the synth player (I believe her name is Amy) would hold up a brightly coloured sign with the lyrics painted on it. "In Times Like These" or simply "Oh!". They put on a good show, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Not as good as Rich, but still very good, and a lot of fun. They interacted well with the crowd, even though it was awfully small, and just made for an enjoyable end to the evening. All was well.

The First Aid Kit - New York City
The First Aid Kit - Rooftops

Thursday, March 5, 2009


As promised, I'm giving a review of Watchmen without giving much away.

I give it a solid 6 out of 10. As a stand-alone movie, it was good. Not the best thing in the world, but good. As an adaptation of the graphic novel, it left a lot wanting. Not so much for things it left out (which was a lot) but for things slightly changed and the presentation, especially creating the characters so fucking one-dimensionally. Uncool. Totally uncool. This is not the actors' faults. The actors were fantastic, the casting was brilliant. The little easter eggs left for fans of the book, too, little details, they were nice to see, but really, who are you kidding? My biggest qualm in terms of absenses was not as may be suspected the squid, but rather something much more small and yet so perfect to the vision of what Watchmen is: the silhouette in the alleyway of the couple embracing, as if imprinted there by a nuclear blast. Completely missing. There was also a tendency to overwork the violence and gore--I don't have to go any farther than Rorschach's first kill for that. Overuse of slow-mo, but from the man who brought us 300, this was not unexpected. Far too much foreshadowing of Veidt's villiany, which was not at all present in the book.

I will give it this: the opening credits were the best opening credits ever I have seen, and the greatest part of the film. I knew then that I would be let down by the remainder.

That is all. Now to the shower!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009



1. Greenbelt Collective - This Hill Used To Be A Valley
2. Jenn Grant - Heartbreaker
3. Constantines & Feist - Islands in the Stream
4. The RAA - Sleep All Day
5. The Superfantastics - Van Gogh
6. New Royalty - Midday Sun
7. Geoff Berner - Fukher
8. Olenka & the Autumn Lovers - Flash in the Pan
9. Jenny Owen Youngs - Hot in Here
10. Pete Samples - And All The Kids Smile
11. The Weakerthans - Left & Leaving

1. Something French - I Am A Microphone
2. United Steelworkers of Montreal - For Love And Your Mother's Sake
3. Boxer the Horse - Snowflake
4. Shotgun Jimmie - Sparkelution
5. The Tom Fun Orchestra - Behind the Fence
6. Ghost Bees - Tear Tassle Ogre Heart
7. Laura Barrett - Deception Island Optimists' Club
8. Wooden Wives - Gonna Hafta Die Blues
9. Wintersleep - Assembly Lines
10. Corey Isenor - Oh No!
11. John Connolly - Miramichi
12. Rich Aucoin - A.L.I.V.E.
13. The Craft Economy - Big Purse, Lil' Dog
14. New Order - Temptation

I flicker off and on and off again.

I'm sorry for not posting a whole lot. We've been hit by a couple of ice storms, and power has been in and out, and sometimes even when we do have power, internet services have been down. On top of this, classes haven't been cancelled, so I've been a mess of busitude. That said, the next concert I'm going to is this Friday... and tomorrow night I'm seeing Watchmen, so I might do a special film review post. This is all just me talking about nothing. So! I'll get my post count up. You just watch.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sorry about that.

So, I vanished for a week. And a little more. I like to think I was living in a cave, or something similar. I did take in a show, and I'll tell you about it some time. But for now, I have work to do, so here, have some Pete Samples to hold you over until my next post.

Pete Samples - Between Exhales
Pete Samples - And That's The Kind Of Day That Its Been

You can find his two most recent albums for free download at his website.