if you wanna get high kid, just open your eyes

>> Friday, April 23, 2010

I've spent the last few days happily dissecting new albums by my favourite bands. They all write great music with clever, reference-heavy lyrics - which I love - but sometimes it's nice to kick back and just listen to fun music. So I've been listening to this band Free Energy over the past couple of weeks and they make me really excited for summer. Not that they aren't clever or have intelligent lyrics...it's just that they are also really fun.

This song makes me wish I was in high school again, cruising around in someone's car with the windows down. Straightforward fun power pop-rock.

Free Energy - Free Energy (yes, the band named a song after themselves or named themselves after a song, I don't know).

Said some guy at RCRDLBL about the track Dream City: "If for some reason you're having a BBQ or hugging someone you love this holiday weekend, play this song. Please."

bonne fin de semaine mes amis!

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heaven is whenever we can get together

>> Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Hold Steady may have finally gotten too big to play bars (so glad I caught them at Lee's Palace last fall), but they are still totally solid guys. Essentially: tickets for their July 16 Kool Haus (shudder) date are only $21.50 and a portion goes to the Toronto Boys & Girls Club. SOLID.

I know everyone is using this picture but it's the only one I can find without former keyboardist Franz Nicolay...what's that? no one cares?

The new Hold Steady album, Heaven is Whenever, is streaming on NPR right now. As is the new Broken Social Scene album, Forgiveness Rock Record. And, oh yes, since High Violet leaked this week (as did the new Gaslight Anthem, American Slang), the National will be streaming it on Friday April 23 from...the New York Times website. Who knew they could even do that?

Look at me being all news-y and update-y. This won't happen very often. I'm just so excited to hear new records from my favourite bands!

Life is good, people. Here's a new song from London, ON homeboy Shad. This guy is awesome.
Shad - Yaa I Get It (new video also)

That's the cover of the new album, TSOL. 

Do yrself a favour and listen to all of his other songs. Like this one!

The Old Prince Still Lives At Home - Shad - Watch more Funny Videos

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all the very best of us string ourselves up for love

>> Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What to do when your friend gets engaged and you think it's a terrible fucking idea?

You don't just think. You know. You and everyone else in the whole world.

I don't know. You do nothing, I guess.

A friend I worked with a few summers ago got engaged to someone she had been dating only a few months. I thought it was impulsive, which can be kind of romantic I guess, but in this particular case I really didn't think they knew each other well enough to go and get married. I wasn't sure if it was appropriate to offer my opinion and we weren't very close anyway, so I kept it to myself. So I was happy for her and every day at work we chatted about wedding plans. They never got married - the wedding was called off and the relationship ended. I think everyone figured that was for the best. I think she's happy now. But...what if she'd gone through with it?

I guess part of it is that it's useful for people to make their own mistakes. Part of it is knowing that you can't know how things will turn out. A lot of it respect for your friend and trusting them to make their own decisions. And the rest is understanding that it's always easiest to make the right decision when you're not the one who has to make it.

Everyone does really stupid things in relationships, even when they know better. Like, if someone else were to do the exact same thing you'd be like, "girl you crazy, drop him like he's hot" (my inner voice is a sassy black woman). But when it's you...you go off and do it anyway, don't you? I used to be really harsh in judging people on these things until I started making some seriously foolish choices of my own.

I still don't always get it in every case, but I get it in theory. Mostly. I still judge a bit.

At least I haven't started taking bets on how long other people's relationships will last.

Here's one for the lovers, no matter how stupid I might think you are (and what do I know, anyway?):
The Magnetic Fields - The Book of Love

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time is on your side

>> Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's a sunny Sunday, I'm catching up on Garance Doré over tea, and getting dressed for book club. This day is already perfect. So I'm feeling a little adventurous. I've been thinking about some slightly risky (you know, for me) things to wear in the near future. Here's what's coming:

1) knee highs. I love knee high socks. I wore them for 7 years in school and I still have several pairs. I often wear them around the house and I miss wearing them outside. For some time now I've been telling myself that I will. Why should they be relegated to school uniforms? So now I'm making it public: I am going to wear knee high socks.

2) Popped collar. This is partly for jokes, but also because I think it would be a challenge. I am convinced that it can be done well. The popped collar has endured a lot of douchebaggery. We can do better by it.

3) Sandals with socks. Yes.

I am really bummed out that fedoras don't suit me. But get this: I actually dreamed of hats last night. Straw boaters, in fact. I don't think they'd suit me either (my face seems too long for flat hats), but I vow to start wearing a cloche or something. I WILL become a hat person!

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women + country on my mind

>> Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I love, love this photo. I can't stop looking at it. Not exactly sure why - I guess it incorporates a lot of things I like right now.

Jakob Dylan looks more like his dad every day...

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we'll show this dirty city how we do the Jersey slide

>> Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I recently received an email that looked like this:

I don't know whether to be amused or upset that I actually understand what it means.

If anyone else can tell me what it says I will give you $5.

Some days work makes me want to start a revolution.

Or at least listen to some fuzzed out civil-war inspired New Jersey punks.

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you're the kind of girl I like. Because you're empty, and I'm empty.

>> Monday, April 12, 2010

I am sometimes asked about what music blogs I read. There are tons of good music blogs out there. It's about figuring out what you need in a music blog (mp3s? intros to new artists? stories, interviews, reviews, regular features?) For me, it's important to read one that's Toronto-focused (for show information). I read these two all the time - and they have links to the rest of the good ones:

I Am Fuel, You Are Friends - Heather is a great writer. I'll listen to almost anything she recommends, not because we have almost the exact same taste in music (though we do), but because she's so positive and passionate about the music she loves that you just have to listen. And you really should. Download any playlists she posts.

Chromewaves - the one blog I recommend everyone in Toronto reads. Frank keeps me up-to-date with a roundup of the day's music news, new tracks, introductions to new bands, reviews, and show / tour announcements. And he goes to like, every single show in Toronto (and takes excellent pictures). Serious nerds should also check out MBV.

I like these two because they do something slightly different:

Certain Songs. I especially like the craigslist musical dedications - funny, interesting, often creepy personal ads found on craigslist paired with an appropriate song. People are always thinking up clever but simple things like that.

I Love Country - for everyone, but especially people who say things like, "I like all kinds of music except country!" When I hear someone say that I automatically stop listening to anything they have to say about music. This blog is a good primer on the real good stuff.

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I never should have left New Jersey

>> Friday, April 9, 2010

Guys. Tonight I am seeing Titus Andronicus at Sneaky Dee's. I hope my face is ready to be rocked off and then stuffed with nachos.

However, because I'm feeling slightly bitter (mostly due to the amount of work I have today) and not quite ready to revolt, my song for today is:

The Black Keys - Next Girl

I'm hoping a post-work nap will re-kindle my youthful angst or whatever.

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Growing Young with Rock and Roll - Jon Landau, 1974

>> Thursday, April 8, 2010

This article appeared as a concert review in The Real Paper on May 22, 1974. Jon Landau was a music critic who also wrote for Rolling Stone. At the time, Bruce Springsteen had released two records and had gained some critical success and a moderate following, mostly through college rock stations. His label had spent a ton of money promoting him as the next Dylan but saw little in the way of commercial success. This article contains the famous quote, “I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” Soon afterwards Landau stopped writing for Rolling Stone and became Springsteen's manager, a position he holds to this day.

It’s four in the morning and raining. I’m 27 today, feeling old, listening to my records, and remembering that things were diffferent a decade ago. In 1964, I was a freshman at Brandeis University, playing guitar and banjo five hours a day, listening to records most of the rest of the time, jamming with friends during the late-night hours, working out the harmonies to Beach Boys’ and Beatles’ songs.

Real Paper soul writer Russell Gersten was my best friend and we would run through the 45s everyday: Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By” and “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” the Drifters’ “Up On the Roof,” Jackie Ross’ “Selfish One,” the Marvellettes’ “Too Many Fish in the Sea,” and the one that no one ever forgets, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ “Heat Wave.” Later that year a special woman named Tamar turned me onto Wilson Pickett’s “Midnight Hour” and Otis Redding’s “Respect,” and then came the soul. Meanwhile, I still went to bed to the sounds of the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man” and later “Younger than Yesterday,” still one of my favorite good-night albums. I woke up to Having a Rave-Up with the Yardbirds instead of coffee. And for a change of pace, there was always bluegrass: The Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, and Jimmy Martin.

Through college, I consumed sound as if it were the staff of life. Others enjoyed drugs, school, travel, adventure. I just liked music: listening to it, playing it, talking about it. If some followed the inspiration of acid, or Zen, or dropping out, I followed the spirit of rock’n'roll.Individual songs often achieved the status of sacraments. One September, I was driving through Waltham looking for a new apartment when the sound on the car radio stunned me. I pulled over to the side of the road, turned it up, demanded silence of my friends and two minutes and fifty-six second later knew that God had spoken to me through the Four Tops’ “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” a record that I will cherish for as long as [I] live.

During those often lonely years, music was my constant companion and the search for the new record was like a search for a new friend and new revelation. “Mystic Eyes” open mine to whole new vistas in white rock and roll and there were days when I couldn’t go to sleep without hearing it a dozen times.Whether it was a neurotic and manic approach to music, or just a religious one, or both, I don’t really care. I only know that, then, as now, I’m grateful to the artists who gave the experience to me and hope that I can always respond to them.

The records were, of course, only part of it. In ‘65 and ‘66 I played in a band, the Jellyroll, that never made it. At the time I concluded that I was too much of a perfectionist to work with the other band members; in the end I realized I was too much of an autocrat, unable to relate to other people enough to share music with them.

Realizing that I wasn’t destined to play in a band, I gravitated to rock criticism. Starting with a few wretched pieces in Broadside and then some amateurish but convincing reviews in the earliest Crawdaddy, I at least found a substitute outlet for my desire to express myself about rock: If I couldn’t cope with playing, I may have done better writing about it.

But in those days, I didn’t see myself as a critic — the writing was just another extension of an all-encompassing obsession. It carried over to my love for live music, which I cared for even more than the records. I went to the Club 47 three times a week and then hunted down the rock shows — which weren’t so easy to find because they weren’t all conveniently located at downtown theatres. I flipped for the Animals’ two-hour show at Rindge Tech; the Rolling Stones, not just at Boston Garden, where they did the best half hour rock’n'roll set I had ever seen, but at Lynn Football Stadium, where they started a riot; Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels overcoming the worst of performing conditions at Watpole Skating Rink; and the Beatles at Suffolk Down, plainly audible, beautiful to look at, and confirmation that we — and I — existed as a special body of people who understood the power and the glory of rock’n'roll.

I lived those days with a sense of anticipation. I worked in Briggs & Briggs a few summers and would know when the next albums were coming. The disappointment when the new Stones was a day late, the exhilaration whenAnother Side of Bob Dylan showed up a week early. The thrill of turning on WBZ and hearing some strange sound, both beautiful and horrible, but that demanded to be heard again; it turned out to be “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” a record that stands just behind “Reach Out I’ll Be There” as means of musical catharsis.

My temperament being what it is, I often enjoyed hating as much as loving. That San Francisco shit corrupted the purity of the rock that I lvoed and I could have led a crusade against it. The Moby Grape moved me, but those songs about White Rabbits and hippie love made me laugh when they didn’t make me sick. I found more rock’n'roll in the dubbed-in hysteria on the Rolling Stones’ Got Live if You Want It than on most San Francisco albums combined.

For every moment I remember there are a dozen I’ve forgotten, but I feel like they are with me on a night like this, a permanent part of my consciousness, a feeling lost on my mind but never on my soul. And then there are those individual experiences so transcendent that I can remember them as if they happened yesterday: Sam and Dave at the Soul Together at Madison Square Garden in 1967: every gesture, every movement, the order of the songs. I would give anything to hear them sing “When Something’s Wrong with My Baby” just the way they did it that night.

The obsessions with Otis Redding, Jerry Butler, and B.B. King came a little bit later; each occupied six months of my time, while I digested every nuance of every album. Like the Byrds, I turn to them today and still find, when I least expect it, something new, something deeply felt, something that speaks to me.As I left college in 1969 and went into record production I started exhausting my seemingly insatiable appetite. I felt no less intensely than before about certain artists; I just felt that way about fewer of them. I not only became more discriminating but more indifferent. I found it especially hard to listen to new faces. I had accumulated enough musical experience to fall back on when I needed its companionship but during this period in my life I found I needed music less and people, whom I spend too much of my life ignoring, much more.

Today I listen to music with a certain measure of detachment. I’m a professional and I make my living commenting on it. There are months when I hate it, going through the routine just as a shoe salesman goes through his. I follow films with the passion that music once held for me. But in my own moments of greatest need, I never give up the search for sounds that can answer every impulse, consume all emotion, cleanse and purify — all things that we have no right to expect from even the greatest works of art but which we can occasionally derive from them.

Still, today, if I hear a record I like it is no longer a signal for me to seek out every other that the artist has made. I take them as they come, love them, and leave them. Some have stuck — a few that come quickly to mind are Neil Young’sAfter the Goldrush, Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey, James Taylor’s records, Valerie Simpson’s Exposed, Randy Newman’sSail Away, Exile on Main Street, Ry Cooder’s records, and, very specially, the last three albums of Joni Mitchell — but many more slip through the mind, making much fainter impressions than their counterparts of a decade ago.

But tonight there is someone I can write of the way I used to write, without reservations of any kind. Last Thursday, at the Harvard Square theatre, I saw my rock’n'roll past flash before my eyes. And I saw something else: I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.

When his two-hour set ended I could only think, can anyone really be this good; can anyone say this much to me, can rock’n'roll still speak with this kind of power and glory? And then I felt the sores on my thighs where I had been pounding my hands in time for the entire concert and knew that the answer was yes.

Springsteen does it all. He is a rock’n'roll punk, a Latin street poet, a ballet dancer, an actor, a joker, bar band leader, hot-shit rhythm guitar player, extraordinary singer, and a truly great rock’n'roll composer. He leads a band like he has been doing it forever. I racked my brains but simply can’t think of a white artist who does so many things so superbly. There is no one I would rather watch on a stage today. He opened with his fabulous party record “The E Street Shuffle” — but he slowed it down so graphically that it seemed a new song and it worked as well as the old. He took his overpowering story of a suicide, “For You,” and sang it with just piano accompaniment and a voice that rang out to the very last row of the Harvard Square theatre. He did three new songs, all of them street trash rockers, one even with a “Telstar” guitar introduction and an Eddie Cochran rhythm pattern. We missed hearing his “Four Winds Blow,” done to a fare-thee-well at his sensational week-long gig at Charley’s but “Rosalita” never sounded better and “Kitty’s Back,” one of the great contemporary shuffles, rocked me out of my chair, as I personally led the crowd to its feet and kept them there.

Bruce Springsteen is a wonder to look at. Skinny, dressed like a reject from Sha Na Na, he parades in front of his all-star rhythm band like a cross between Chuck Berry, early Bob Dylan, and Marlon Brando. Every gesture, every syllable adds something to his ultimate goal — to liberate our spirit while he liberates his by baring his soul through his music. Many try, few succeed, none more than he today.It’s five o’clock now — I write columns like this as fast as I can for fear I’ll chicken out — and I’m listening to “Kitty’s Back.” I do feel old but the record and my memory of the concert has made me feel a little younger. I still feel the spirit and it still moves me.

I bought a new home this week and upstairs in the bedroom is a sleeping beauty who understands only too well what I try to do with my records and typewriter. About rock’n'roll, the Lovin’ Spoonful once sang, “I’ll tell you about the magic that will free your soul/But it’s like trying to tell a stranger about rock’n'roll.” Last Thursday, I remembered that the magic still exists and as long as I write about rock, my mission is to tell a stranger about it — just as long as I remember that I’m the stranger I’m writing for.

- Jon Landau

I also like Heather Browne's opinion. I've seen other good posts elsewhere, I just can't think of where right now...

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you're too hard already, you'll only get harder

>> Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I am so caught up in the spring weather and all this amazing new music (is it just me, or is there more lately than usual?), both from bands I already love and from some newcomers. This is a list of familiar names who have new albums coming out in the next couple of months. I am pretty much dying to hear all of these.

Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record (May 4)
All to All, Forced to Love, and World Sick

Band of Horses - Infinite Arms (May 18)
Compliments, Factory

The Black Keys - Brothers (May 18)
Next Girl, Tighten Up

The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang (June 15)
American Slang (myspace)

The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever (May 4)


Jakob Dylan feat. Neko Case & Kelly Hogan - Women + Country (April 6)

Josh Ritter - So Runs the World Away (May 4)
Change of Time

The National (obvi) - High Violet (May 11)
Bloodbuzz Ohio, Terrible Love (live), Afraid of Everyone

The New Pornographers - Together (May 4)
Your Hands (Together)

Stars - The Five Ghosts (June 22)
Fixed

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this here ma blog.

I like to talk about things I have no particular expertise in. Especially music.

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