Thursday, November 03, 2005

I promise I'll get back to this on a semi-daily basis at some point

but, for now, movie reviews...
Peter Boyle as Muto from The Cat Returns

-Izo (directed by Takashi Miike): I came to Miike by way of "Happiness of the Katakuris", which I would probably peg somewhere in my Top 10 favourite movies of all-time, so I find it funny that he's developing a bit of a reputation in North America as that guy who does the really fucked-up violent movies. I find it funny because the ultraviolent and taboo-pushing movies (Ichi The Killer, Visitor Q) are not my favourites, it's the ones that are a little more wacky and less over the top (Katakuris, Dead or Alive 1 (still haven't seen the sequels), and City of Lost Souls). So, when I read about Izo, I was excited. I thought for sure it would be a wacky, over the top type of movie considering it was directed by Miike, starring Beat Takeshi and no holds barred fighter/pro wrestler/actor Bob Sapp!!! Instead, what I got was a pretty dreary and depressing meditation on the futility of existence. This is, by far, one of the most confusing films I have ever seen, probably the most legitimately confused I have been during a movie since Mulholland Drive. It opesns with Izo, who we later learn is a samurai ordered by his lord to go on a killing spree, hanging from a cross being stabbed repeatedly with spears. Izo becomes a demon and moves freely throughout different eras of Japan and basically kills everyone in his path. Seriously, that's pretty much the movie in a nutshell. Someone stops Izo, yells something like "Damned ghost!" "Evil spirit!" at him, Izo cuts them up. There is some typically Miike-esque gore, a woman being chopped in half at the waist holding herself up between two trees as blood pours out of her, a guy getting sliced diagonally across the chest with his top half just sliding off. There are some pretty striking visuals, too, like Izo wandering through a field of flowers, and falling sideways through a wedding. But, at its running time (over 2 hours), it's just too dreary and repetitive to work very well. I was thinking about backing off of my Miike love since this is the 3rd movie of his in a row that has left me a little cold (Yakuza Demon and Gozu being the two others), but news from my brother that Miike is at the helm of either the latest in a long line of Halloween sequels, or perhaps a Halloween remake, has me excited, I will admit.And, while we're on the sort-of subject, has anyone else seen the preview for Takeshi Kitano's next directorial project "Takeshis' "? In it, Kitano plays himself who meets his blonde doppleganger (played by himself) and he begins to hallucinate that he is the other guy. It looks pretty damned funny, I must say.

-Melinda and Melinda (directed by Woody Allen): This is the year I finally got around to giving the Woodman a try. I’ve seen 6 Allen movies this year, before this one, and they’ve ranged on the scale from loved (Mighty Aphrodite), liked a lot (Manhattan), enjoyed (Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Hannah and Her Sisters) or were okay (Sweet and Lowdown). So I was excited to see Melinda and Melinda when it came out, but missed it in theatres because it only played locally for less than a week. So I looked forward to the DVD release and finally got to see it this week and…well, there’s a new movie for the bottom of the scale. The premise is kind of neat, that, at a dinner party, one man brings up a story and then two others retell the story, one as tragedy, one as comedy. But one of the problems of the movie is that the comedy is just head and shoulders above the tragedy. The appearance of Chiwetel Ejiofor almost salvages it, he and Chloe Sevigny both play their parts very well, but it’s just not enough. The story has no real end, certain characters are just grating, and important events seem to happen off-camera. The comedy portion is much better, thanks mostly to Will Ferrell who actually pulls off the Allen dialogue better than anyone outside of Woody, himself. Roger Ebert describes this as a movie that is more about the creative process, itself, but, to me, it feels like a throwaway movie. Ebert states that Allen’s name has become an albatross and that if the movie were released with anyone but Allen’s name on it than the critics would’ve fallen all over each other to praise it, but I think it’s the opposite. If anyone but Allen’s name were attached to Melinda and Melinda, it would’ve received almost no press, and, likely, would have never been made. I truly believe that it maybe was born out of a dinner conversation, because those conversations, while engrossing if you’re involved in it, are rarely of much interest to anyone who wasn’t there.

-Palindromes (directed by Todd Solondz): Another interesting idea, a movie about a girl whose name is a palindrome, Aviva, who is played at different points by different actors (at one point she is a 6 year old African-American, then a red-headed pre-teen, than an older brunette, than a 200lb African-American woman, and, even, Jennifer Jason Leigh) in a story about how human beings never really change. But, jeez, is it moody! I mean, I know I know, it’s Todd Solondz, but even still, this is one HEAVY movie. It tackles quite a bit of issues head-on: teenage pregnancy, suicide, abortion, pro-lifers, Christianity, the killing of abortion doctors, pedophilia, teenage sexuality. Aviva gets pregnant early on, runs away from home, ends up at a cheery Christian refuge, helps a guy kill an abortion doctor. There are still some trademark Solondz jokes here, such as the movie opening with the funeral of Dawn Wiener, his heroine (of sorts…) from his first movie Welcome to the Dollhouse. And the movie looks good, it is really well shot. But, it’s just such a downer. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it on this particular day. I will probably watch it again at some point down the line, and wouldn’t dissuade anyone from seeing it, but I can’t really recommend it, either.

-The Cat Returns (directed by Hiroyuki Morita): Why didn't I watch this sooner?!?! I had no idea what it was when it came out, so I looked it up and saw a bunch of reviews proclaiming it as uninspired or even the worst of the Studio Ghibli movies, so I stayed away from it and just picked up Porco Rosso and Nausicaa (which for some reason, I still haven't watched). But, it was finally moved into the catalogue rental section a couple weeks back so I thought I'd give it a try and it's spectacular! Sure, it's not quite on the level of Miyazaki's best works Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbour Totoro, Howl's Moving Castle, or as good as Takahata's best Grave of the Fireflies (I think that one is SG), but it's still pretty great. It reminds me a lot of Kiki's Delivery Service in that it's not transcendant, and won't really stick with you for hours afterwards, but it's a fun flick which will put you in a good mood. What helps it is its running time, just 75 minutes. At too much longer it might start to get a little dull, but it's perfect at its length. I watched the dubbed version, mainly because I wanted to hear the Baron with a British accent, and was blown away by what a great job Anne Hathaway does as Haru, and how freaking amazing Peter Boyle is as Muta. Maybe it's just because I have a number of cats, myself, but I loved this movie and it genuinely made me laugh out loud three or four times, and, frankly, what more can I ask for? Highly recommended. So, whatchu got?

Friday, September 09, 2005


I haven't done a movie write-up in a while. So, here we go...

3-Iron (Dir. by Ki-Duk Kim) So, for some reason, my local big corporate Video renting chain has gone all crazy and stocked a ton of new Korean DVDs coming out. I remember, bored one day, watching the preview for 3-Iron and thinking it looked neat, so I spotted it on the shelf last night and picked it up, and...well, it just might be my movie of the year (Technically it's 2004, but, like Old Boy it only saw its North American release this year, so, I'm counting it.).It's directed by the same guy who directed the also pretty sublime Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring, Ki-Duk Kim, and it's a pretty fascinating little movie. The main guy (I doubt his name is ever given, I didn't catch it if it was) is one of those guys whose job is to hang those irritating menus on people's doorknobs. He drives this expensive-looking motorcycle around, but his job, it turns out, is only a front for his favourite passtime. Later in the day, he comes back by and looks for someone who has left the menu on their door, meaning they are not in. He uses his little break-in kit, goes inside, doesn't steal anything, but, well, fools around. He takes pictures on his digital camera of himself in front of family portraits and other pictures. He fixes a kid's toy gun then uses the pellets to pop the balloons in his room. After breaking into a variety of homes, he breaks into the home of Sun-hwa, and while going about his business (cooking lunch, re-assembling their scale, masturbating to pictures of Sun-hwa), he's started to find that Sun-hwa is still at home and watching him. She has been badly beaten by her husband, and there is quite a scene where he confronts the abusive husband, armed only with a 3-iron (I presume) and whole bunch of golf balls. Sun-hwa follows him, and together they take off on his motorbike, and she joins in the breaking and entering fun with him. Of course, the close they get, the more careless they get, and they finally get caught. Sun-hwa goes home with her husband, and the guy (who IMDB is saying is named Tae-suk in the movie) is imprisoned. Tae-suk waits in jail and plots a way out and back to Sun-hwa.What's most striking about this film is that Tae-suk and Sun-hwa never speak to each other. Other characters yell at them, threaten them, beat them, but between the two only Sun-hwa ever utters a word, and it's only a sentence at the end. Rather than a violation of people's trust, their sneaking into different people's places can be seen as an attempt to connect with others in this modern age of alienation. The film is gorgeously shot, and everything looks spectacular. In spite of the write-up, it's a very gentle film, a real mediatation on love. And the ending is says soooooo much without one word.It's really amazing. I think it just might have the edge, so far, on Kung-fu Hustle, Sin City, Broken Flowers, Howl's Moving Castle and Old Boy for me. I can't say enough good things about it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

"My arms miss you/My hands miss you"

-The Long Winters, Ultimatum

Hey, I'm on Myspace now!

I'd like to offer up that my mouse is not working very well, and that is the reason for the absence of any frequent posts, but that would be a bald-faced lie. I haven't posted b/c
a) It's oh-so sunny out and I'm enjoying the summer
b) No music is interesting me too much right now
c) I'm lazy
(If you picked B, I'm afraid you lose).

The Long Winters "Ultimatum" {LINK}

The Long Winters are a pretty spectacular band that deserve to ride Death Cab For Cutie's certain to be succesful coattails to some semblance of mainstream success. If you doubt their greatness, go buy "When I Pretend To Fall", one of the very best releases of 2003 (and that was a very good year). This song is a neat little one, it starts with some gentle acoustic plucking, but then the chorus with the quoted above "My arms miss you/My hands miss you" then it quiets down some with sparse guitar, cymbal rolls, and strings, then the chorus comes back. And, thusly, it comes and goes. And then it ends with strings. And you can never go wrong ending it with strings. (from the forthcoming EP of the same name, according to barsuk it drops October 11).

CocoRosie "Noah's Ark" {LINK mp3's somewhere toward the bottom of the righthand side}

Last year, about this time (Well, actually, much earlier) Fluxblog hipped me to the existence of this band with the surpremely sublime "Butterscotch". The song made the best possible use of the trading off childlike voices, sounding all at once sweet, yet still sort of sexy. I was excited to track down the album, but not only did nothing live up to the early promise of "Butterscotch", it never even came close. The songs all ran together, by fourth or fifth track, I'm ashamed to say I was leaning pretty heavily on the skip button. But "Noah's Ark" is a big improvement, the sound changes up enough to keep you guessing, and to keep you from getting bored.

This song is good, arguably the best off the album of the same name (challenged only by the awesome "Bisonours" with its badass French rapping). "Noah's Ark" has a really good beat, a REALLY good beat. It's rare to find indie rock (is this indie? I guess...) with a beat that keeps me bopping my head (at least, anything outside of Spoon that is, I dare you to not bob and weave while listening to "I Turn My Camera On" on the stereo, turned loud, when no one is around). The voices sound sweeter than ever, and there is quite a bit going on in the background, weird voices, sounds, effects. It's a pretty darned dense little song. Definitely worth your time.

The New Pornographers "Use It" {LINK}

The first time I heard of the New Pornographers (to be referred to as NewPorn from this point on), was when Canadian music magazine Exclaim! was riding them pretty heavily in one of their year-end issues. I was never a big Carl Newman fan (A Zumpano song/video that I absoultely loathed prety much cemented this), and they were Canadian, so I didn't pay them much attention. See, here in Canada, we have this tendency to celebrate mediocrity, b/c of the mere fact that it is Canadian. Give a Canadian magazine/radio station/Muchmusic to bands that are equal in every way, shape or manner, and they will always praise the Canadian one and ignore the other. Elsewhere, this would be criticized as "narrow-minded", "Nationalistic" or "American", but b/c we're Candian, it's referred to as "CanCon". I can't begin to describe the sheer amount of crappy Canadian alternative bands that have been shoved down my throat for years (up until about a year ago when it became crappy Canadian "urban" acts(Keisha, I'm looking at you)). Anyways, the point is, I would've probably listened if the New Pornographers were from Sweden or Texas, but the fact that they were (are? for the most part?) Canadian, means that I really didn't give them a second glance. Fast-forward a couple of months, and a compilation of Vancouver bands, features The New Pornographers "Letter From An Occupant" (sorry, couldn't find an mp3) and the song was tremendous. Neko Case's voice all at once soared and sounded like a cartoon character. But, everything that has come after has been a disappointment. I know everyone gets excited about the newest NewPorn release, and I wish I could share in that excitement, but I just have never quite dug them.

But, then this song came along, and now I'm back on the fence. I love the way the second voice comes in to echo on the "Use it tonight-i-i-i-ite". I want to believe I can love again, NewPorn, but I've been burned before.

Oh yeah, and it's not officially out anywhere, yet, but you really need to get that Iron& Wine and Calexico EP. Iron & Wine already have my favourite song of 2005 in "The Trapeze Swinger" which appeared on the "In Good Company" soundtrack, but I gotta say "16, Maybe Less" is really close. Really really close. I mean, close.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Smattering of Summer Songs

I thought I would cannibalize a post I made on a message board and turn it into my first post in quite some time, on here. I had Norton problems, and laziness problems, and the it's too hot to sit indoors and type problems. But, anyways, on with the show.

What I've be listening to lately:
The Most Serene Republic-Content Was Always My Favourite Colour: It's two songs in one! The first is like a much fuzzier Postal Service song, in fact the singer sounds a great deal like Ben Gibbard, but there are more scratchy guitars and jutting keyboards. Then it fades out almost completely into just handclaps and repeated lyrics before going into part two which is built around some fervent acoustic guitar strumming, faster vocals, and a good solid drumbeat. I was going to buy this the other day and am not sure why I didn't. I will surely pick it up tomorrow.

SIANspheric - The Stars Above: It's SIANspheric, so it's spacey, dreamy. Echoey, haunting vocals over a dreamy, lilting guitar. Best at night in the car, or by day near rivers,lakes, streams.

Boys Night Out-I Got Punched In the Nose For Sticking My Face In Other People's Business: The next big thing in Canada. Boys Night Out are one of those fashionable screamo/emo/hardcore/something else groups getting lots of media. They have a new album out and there are mp3s off it at, but I prefer this song from the older album, mainly because of the bomb-ass title. I heard their old songs were about serial killers and the like, but I can barely ever understand the lyrics, anyways.

Amusement Parks On Fire, Smokescreen {LINK}:I've been hearing quite a bit about them and hadn't been blown away until I caught this one. A really good shoegazerish song. Big, fuzzy, layered guitars and echoey vocals. I heard all the members were still ridiculously young, too.

Portastic - I Wanna Know Girls: Since, sadly, Superchunk are a near non-entity now (and just as they were getting fascinating, too!), Portastic is going to have do for now. There is a new album out, I hear, it doesn't matter to me, because I have never, ever turned up a single Portastic album, execpt for one ep that inexplicably ended up in bargain bin at a long since bankrupted punk rock store (the EP is all covers of Brazillian songs, very tasty!). And, really, it's not a bad thing that Superchunk is gone, b/c Portastic is really good. "I Wanna Know Girls" sounds like exactly where Superchunk was headed anyways, fun, jangly pop songs with great lines like "My love weighs a ton."

I'm Spent

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Eric's Trip Love Tara Appreciation Day

Love Tara was a pretty seminal album in my musically developing years, a friend turned me onto it after, I think, he saw them live. Anyways, I love the story behind this album, one of my favourites. Eric's Trip had been around a few years, fronted by its dating members Rick White and Julie Doiron. At some point before Love Tara was released, Rick broke up with Julie, but they kept the band going. Love Tara was the next album, and the entire album is about the slow, disintegration of their relationship, replete with anger, betrayal, drunken answering machine messages. So, first off, you have Julie and Rick listening to each other detail where the other went wrong. Not only that, but Rick had a new girlfriend, whom he would often sing about. So, you have Julie listening, and singing lyrics about the new girl in her ex's life. Now, here's the kicker, Rick's new girfriend is named Tara S'Appart (sp?), so the ENTIRE ALBUM is named after this new girl who is the love of his life, and Julie Doiron is stuck playing songs about her ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend. Surprisingly, they stuck it out for quite a few years after this.
Eric's Trip got signed to Sub Pop when everyone was trying to find the new Seattle, and sights were briefly set on the Canadian Maritimes. To me, Eric's Trip sounds exactly what the label "grunge" connotates. The guitars range from loud to quiet, the vocals are hard to hear, sometimes buried beneath layers of fuzz. The background is full of sounds, voices, conversations heard in passing.

Eric's Trip - Follow {xx}

"Follow" starts off with a big bang: fuzzy guitars colliding with each other, before settling into a mid-tempo mid-90s alternative rocker. It makes perfect use of Julie Doiron's little girl vocals, echoing Rick White's on the main choruses in some perfect harmonies. This is the noisy Eric's Trip.

Eric's Trip - Frame {xx}

But, amidst the drama of Rick and Julie's personal lives, Eric's Trip had two other members, drummer Mark Gaudet who was pretty content to sit in the background, and other guitarist Chris Thompson, who delieverd his greatest song ever right here with "Frame" a catchy rocker with a great hook that never fails to get stuck in my head. Since Eric's Trip broke up (reformed briefly to do some shows), Rick and Bob paired up to make Elevator, who sound like a much more freaky, guitary, psych-out Eric's Trip, a natural evolution of their sound. Julie Doiron went on to release quiet, sad, pretty quiet albums under her own name and the moniker Broken Girl. But, Chris pretty much disappeared, which is too bad, I liked a lot of his stuff.

I couldn't settle on one song, much less two, so here's a 3rd, all from the same album.

Eric's Trip - Blinded {XX}

This one is pure rage. It seems like someone told Julie to make a song about how she felt having to play on an album about her ex's new girlfriend, and this is what came out. It's a total shocker if all you've ever heard is Doiron's folky, mellow solo output. The guitars are angry, snarling, and the vocals are just...pained. The screaming, the screaching... It kind of sums up the anger that seems to broil just beneath the melancholic surface of everything Eric's Trip put out.

That's all I got for now...

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Supermachiner "I Am Legend"

The irrepresible (is that even right? Ah well, no time to check) DevinIntervention (I'll add a link here if he ever gets a blog/website or some such thing going) was discussing some Lost Gems, albums he'd forgotten about, and I got in on the action, and I seriously doubt that more than 25 people downloaded my pick, so I thought I'd share the link here, no sense in it going to waste.

Supermachiner, "I Am Legend" xxx {Copy, Paste, remove the x's)

{The following is shamelessly reposted from elsewhere}
I think it was 2nd, 3rd, year of college, my best friend moved away to go to school. When he came back, things were different, we were different, and we've never really been close since. When he first got back, though, I made the effort. I told him to make me a Mix Tape of what he'd been listening to, as an attempt to re-connect. The tape assured me of one sure thing, and that is that we were driving in opposite directions of what we were into, he was firmly barreling down the road of hardcore/metal, where I was pretty happily discovering Built To Spill, The Flaming Lips, and Quasi. But, two bands on the tape he made me really stood out, in talent as much as in the difference between them and the rest of the music. The first band is Godspeed You Black Emperor! whom everybody knows (but I didn't, at least, back then) and the other was Supermachiner.

So, I was completely blown away by Supermachiner, sounding like a huger, more vicious Mogwai in the quiet-to-loud style of atmospheric rock. I thought I was pretty smart in ordering it for myself, thinking "I'm just not into that whole hardcore/metal scene" this is the kind of music that I like. So, while waiting the absoultely ridiculous 8 months it took to order it in, I learned something about Supermachiner, that they were, in fact, Kurt Ballou and Jason Bannon, the two main guys from hardcore/metal legends Converge. It helped to teach me that you can never really write off any genre, that there's goodness in everything, you can't make blanket statements like "Metal sucks, Rap sucks, Country sucks". There's always something good, there, if you just look.{End of reposting}

The album, on the whole is pretty stellar. It's really atmospheric, lots of instrumentals, crickets, background voices, but it separates from the rest of the atmospheric, instrumental kind of stuff (Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You Black Emperor!) with its absoultely crushing power. The guitars will come in, like on this song, almost out of nowhere, and just punish your ears. Metal may not really be my bag as a genre, right now, but I can appreciate something like this, organized chaos to punctuate the whispers. This is meant to be listened to late at night on headphones, or in the car.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Top 10 of the Half-Year

Spurred on by a recent spate of these (specifically Dodge), I thought I would give the big half-year list for everyone. No more preamble, just here we go...

10. Boom Bip, Blue-Eyed In the Red Room and Final Fantasy, Has A Good Home (tied): In trying to decided between the two of them, I finally came to the conclusion that both have their merits and drawbacks. Boom Bip is a very good album, sounding like a more hepped-up Album Leaf, laying down some really interesting instrumentals, and some great grooves and atmospherice. The album's drawback is that in the middle few tracks, it can tend to get a little repetitive. Final Fantasy is a pretty awesome little album that I haven't quite given enough time to. The songs are good, usually built around Pallett's violin. The drawback is his voice sometimes becomes a bit too much spread over and entire album (Granted, I said the same thing about The Arcade Fire).

09. Royksopp, The Understanding: I'm not sure if this has come out yet, either way, I don't HAVE it, but I HAVE it, if you know what I mean (and I will buy it as soon as I sees it). Oddly, I had somehow avoided hearing anything (save for a few remixes) by Royksopp until stumbling across this. I thought, judging by the remixes, that they would be poppier/dancier/technoier, but they're not. This is a great album, full of atmospheric electronics and dancy poppy ditties. This is what I wanted from the new Daft Punk.

08. Common, Be: I only own one other Common album (that one where he talks about how he wishes he hadn't had his gf get an abortion, no, not Ben Folds Five), that I picked up in a pawn shop. So, I don't remember my exact motivation for wanting to hear this album, but I'm glad I did. This is quite a joyous album right from the get-go, sounding like Common realizes there's a lot of shitty stuff in the world which he will discuss, but he's also going to have a good time. "Be" the short opener of the album, sums it up like a mission statement. It begins with a few slow bass chords before picking up a keyboard and finally some strings. Common talks on it about seeing the world thru his child's eyes. This is uplifting without being cheesy.

07. Sufjan Stevens, Illinoise: I had the distinct advantage of hearing Illinoise before I had heard Michigan, Stevens' previous album devoted to the titled state, the first of Stevens' attempts to write an album for each state (Personally, I can't wait for Oregon). I have heard a bit of criticism that this one is just the same as the last, with the locations changed. But coming to it with virgin ears, I was blown away. Sometimes as soft as a whisper, sometimes joyous like a shout!, this is a thorughly trasncendant little album (actually it's far from little, clocking in at over 70 minutes) that I have a feeling is going to grow on me in the ensuing months.

06. The Wedding Present, Take Fountain: I've heard the complaints, that this isn't really the Wedding Present but Cinerama under another name, that it doesn't sound like the Wedding Present, wah wah, cry cry. That goes all in the one ear and out the other because this is a very good album. It sounds like the natural progression of what the Wedding Present would've sounded like if they hadn't gone their separate ways after Saturnalia. David Gedge is still often disappointed, and write beautiful lyrics to accompany these disappointements ("So he said he wants to meet me/while I'm sure it's genuine/ but how can I just shake his hand when it's been/ all over your skin"), but at other times there's a hopefulness there, and, frankly, that's all I ask.

05. The Decemberists, Picaresque: I waver on this one, sometimes holding it as high as #3, and sometimes it scrapes its toes along the bottom of the top ten, so I thought it appropriate to put it somewhere in the middle today, because I'm not quite sure what to make of it. This album really aspires to a level it can't sustain. When it's on, it's spot-on, beautiful, witty, joyous and mournful all at once. But sometimes it tends to sound the same, sometimes it doesn't quite sound like there is any need for it, as long as you have one Decemberists' album, you have them all. So you could fully expect this album to being skirting the edge of the top 30 by the end of the year, or, possibly making a run at the top 3. Give me some more time with it, and we'll see.

04. The Mountain Goats, The Sunset Tree: I'm just gonna plagarize what I wrote when I first heard this album on a message board elsewhere... "I always kind of dug the Mountain Goats in the past, but I was never a big fan of the bedroom production style. And this one, produced by the great John Vanderslice, sounds AWESOME. It turns out that John Darnielle's voice sounds so much better when it's surrounded by a full band, effects, and strings-oh the strings! This is probably the most personal Goats' album to date, it all deals with Darnielle's relationship with his abusive stepfather, but it's never so depressing you can't go on, actually, it's often oddly uplifting and hopeful." cuz I feel pretty much the same way right now, I have to give it more time, and I may be a tad generous to it today as I'm not sure it's the 4th best album I've heard so far this year, but it's good, and I don't feel bad putting it here, at all.

03. Regina Spektor, Soviet Kitsch: I've heard that this is a re-release or something, but allmusic puts it as 2005, I didn't hear it until 2005, I didn't get it until 2005, so it's 2000 and motherfudgin' 5. I think Spektor was hurt by her connections, apparently she is buddy-buddy with the Strokes, even doing a duet with Julian Casabalancas, so everyone pegs her as trying to be famous by association. So, almost everyone has written this off before they even heard it. I almost wrote it off because of its atrocious cover art, thinking it was going to sound like Peaches (blargh!). But, if anything, Regina Spektor reminds me of Bjork, playing with her voice, going high, going low. This is an amazingly inventive album, often silly, wistful, sad and touching, and even downright emotionally crushing at parts. The songs range from stampeding declartions of love ("Us") to heartbreaking tales of cancer ("Chemo Limo") and sometimes there's a backing band, and sometimes it's just Spektor and her piano. Expect this to be sitting right here at the end of the year, possibly higher, doubtfully lower.

02. Bloc Party, Silent Alarm: Forget the hate, the backlash, the overexposure THIS is so far the rock album of the year. The songs are good, the pace is delirious, it's infectious, it's emotional, it's near-perfect. These guys have been talked up and down all year, so I'm not going to go into detail, but I expect this album to be appreciated more in retrospect over the coming years, when Bloc Party never come close to touching it again.

01. M83, Before the Dawn Heals Us: Come on, was there ever any doubt? (although, apparently, I've never chatted it up too much on here) This album is pretty much letter-perfect. A glorious melding of the guitars off their last album, atmospherics, vocals, strings, everything! At times it soars and at times it weeps. I really can't do it justice, it's just amazing. The one album from 2005 that I know I will be listening in 10-15 years.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Abstrackt Keal Agram "Riviere"

Over at Said The Gramaphone (where Sean has posted 2 great tracks you should go get), there was some mentioned interest in Abstrackt Keal Agram. I tried to wax poetic and describe their sound as "like a more hip-hoppish "Dead Cities..." era M83. But, I dont really know if that does them justice, at all. So, sample it, and then tell me where I went wrong.

Abstrackt Keal Agram "Riviere" {Yousendit link, so left-click, please}

"Riviere" is a pretty amazing song, among the most exciting ones that I've stumbled across this year, unfortunately, getting their album here in K-Town is less than easy, hell, getting anything here is less than easy (Out of 3 major music stores, ONE of them got the new Sleater-Kinney album, and I managed to snag it before it went on the shelves, so I ration that I am the only man in Kelowna to own the new Sleater-Kinney album). But, once I get a job, it will be on my stuff to order list.

If you didn't do it already, you should go track down AKA's remix of M83's "Run Into Flowers" which turned an already great song into something transcendant. One of my top 5 songs from 2004.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Common, Be

"They were hitting me with their hands, and that one said something to me, also"
-Mr. Show

So, this week saw the release of two great albums, Sleater-Kinney's 'The Woods' and Common's 'Be'. Now, you should already have purchased the S-K album, and, if you haven't, why not? It's absolutely badass. Now, Common, I can understand as being a harder sell. It does have a number of strikers against it:
-it's produced by Kanye West, who is in severe danger of Lindsay Lohaning himself into that state of "God, won't he just go away for a couple of minutes".
-it's Common, the same Common who did those irritating, vaguely annoying safe sex commercials where he's riding the bus in his little knitted cap.
-it's Common, who has been somewhat hit or miss the past few years.
-John Mayer guests on a track, and everyone seems to hate him for some reason. I like John Mayer, I don't understand the hatred, but you can't deny it exists.
So, to win you back, I provide you with this, the first track on the album.

Common "Be" {it's a yousendit link, so left click, not right)

This is such an amazing track. It starts off with a simple bass, and it's instantly the catchiest thing ever, but then the bass is buried underneath a keyboard riff that is soooooo even catchier, and you're bopping your head along, and, THEN, the keyboard and bass both shift into the background as some sampled strings take centre-stage and this is it, this is the song, and it's perfect. Now, this is just meant as the intro to the album so it's short, but in that shortness, you have one of the most exuberant moments of the year, so far. So, download this, then buy the album ASAP, because it's an early contender for hip hop album of the year.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Jim Yoshii Pileup - Silver Sparkler

"It comes back to me like pieces of a dream I can't remember/
and i don't think you took a breath from march until september/
when they sat me down and upped the dose/
said son tell us what to do/
this isn't only killling you/
this isn't only killing you"
-The Jim Yoshii Pileup - Silver Sparkler

There is a certain joy when a site you visit on a week to week basis finally updates. And that joy is augmented when the update contains an mp3 (unmastered or not) from the upcoming album. The JYPU create amazing music, some of the most emotional, cathartic stuff ever. I feel really bad, though, as I don't own any JYPU albums, and every time I start to get my shit together and attempt to start hunting the albums down, seeing as they are unavailable in any local stores, something comes along to cut me down at the knees. This something is usually a firing, or a laying off, or just a complete lack of money (Don't worry, I'm not gonna start asking for paypal donations, this site only costs me time, and time I have in abundance. My time is worthless)

Oh, right...the mp3
The Jim Yoshii Pileup - Silver Sparkler {link}

This is good, it is very good. Sad guitars chime in the peripheries of your headphones while the lyrics keep the tone. The music is less slow and grueling (and I mean grueling in a good way) than most JYPU. It keeps up a pretty brisk pace, and the backing vocals toward the end are so good. This is a band making progress. And it ends with the words "I'm Sorry" which I love. (I was actually thinking of doing a whole series of apology songs, and leaving off "All Apologies", I had some ideas, but ultimately couldn't think of enough songs I need to share, than this comes along. Synchronicity!)

Oh yeah, I'm on Web Nymph now. Thanks Web Nymph! I would link you permanently, as I would link many blogs permanently, but I don't know how. I'm really quite a luddite at heart.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

"Man, that's gayest shit I ever heard"

-Stinky The Grump

I know I said I would be by more often, and I plan on being by more often, but you know, the weather is turning nice and I find myself outside. Also, it can be ruff trying to get things up when...bah, I will stop whining. Here's a peace offering:

Sigur Ros - Odin's Raven Magic Chapter 3 (Yousendit file, so you should be left-clicking it)

Words can't describe this, it's from some Icelandic folktale or something, I really don't know. It's just magic. Pure magic. Does any more need to be said?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

*Sigh* "It's Great To Be Here"


So, apparently Starbucks or someone has put together a compilation CD or something. And Calexico is featured pretty prominently with their cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart". I was excited for this, as I came across a live version a year ago and it was just amazing. Today, I finally got my grubby lil' paws on the Starbucks studio version and...not quite what I was hoping for. It's still decent, and well worth the download, I mean purchase. So, I thought it would be nice to give you the live version, the version that's so dear to my heart.

Calexico "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (this is one of them there yousendit's so you havta right click on them there link)
What I love about this one is how Calexico turn it into an almost breathless declaration of love, whereas the original sounded like a suicide note. Another thing I love about this is the stage banter before it, when he goes, "Thanks to everbody here working with us, behind the scenes, up above, *sigh* it's great to be here", and then the opening riff kicks in, and then, after the first verse the guitar and the drums start to build and it's no longer an homage to Joy Division, but an entirely new song with an entirely new feeling. Download this, play it loud, and just enjoy the day.

Montag "Perfect Vision" {link}
With people all over Stars' album Set Yourself On Fire (which just now got released in the States, take that President Bush!) lately, as well as copious amounts of press covering the just released in January M83 album, I'm shocked and amazed that there isn't more about Montag.

Montag is Antoine Bedard, one of those lonely bedroom electro-pop genius types, from Montreal. Fresh off orchestrating the string sections on M83's glorious "Before The Dawn Heals Us", Bedard decided that it's not better off alone, and put together the new Montag release "Alone, Not Alone" with help from James Cargill of Broadcast, Sixtoo, and, like on this track, the lovely Amy Millan of Stars and Broken Social Scene fame.

This song is gorgeous, a fragile little keyboardy cut that highlights and emphasizes Millan's vocals, that sound fragile enough to break apart, but sharp enough to cut glass. You should pick up this album, and so should I, and I will, once my "Don't buy any more CDs before your birthday" mandate ends (tomorrow, baybee!).

-Chromewaves highlight a fun little interview with the aforementioned Ms. Millan as she buys booze and chats on her cellphone. Also available is an amazing, amazing cover of "Your Love" done live by The Decemberists. This is a cover that deserves to be blared loud out of houses and car stereos. Especially, the part when the singer gets the crowd to sing the chorus, then goes "That fuckin' sucked."
-The always prolific You Ain't No Picasso has a "new" Radiohead track that is pretty damned impressive. If anyone dug the Frakkur track I posted a couple months ago, you should really dig this one, it's all instrumenty and ethereal.
-Take Your Medicine is new to me, but is really good, and has recently decided to be a Brit-o-centric blog.
-The venerable Kelsery swears by My Old Kentuck Blog and I'm becoming a convert, too. A lot of blogs are all cookiecutterish and similar, whereas Dodge seems like a cool guy that you could hang out with who wouldn't irritate you like some of the cooler kids might.
-And it may be jumping on the bandwagon, but I really think Stereogum is pretty much one my favourite daily visits. It's hip, it's fun, it's frankly funny. I especially like it when Scott posts links to nudie pics or something b/c the comments are the greatest microcosm of the Internet one can find, for every snide hipster comment, there are two or three "OMG! Britney's boobies are HUUUUUGE!"
-Oh yeah, and I have another blog, but I'm really not sure what to do with it. It was really just more of a test to see what is there, and it is pretty neat, I must say.

I figure the mammothisity of this post makes up for my long absences, but it probably doesn't. I was thinking of doing a week of theme posts, but I don't know if I have that kind of endurance. I thought about a Best of the 90s week, or a best of Wong Kar Wai week (alternate title: Wong Kar Week), or maybe...bah! Any suggestions?

Friday, March 11, 2005

"The Goomba Of Ooh-Aah"

-Big Vito, WCW 2000

I found this at Music For Robots and thought I would share the love.

Ted Leo "Since U Been Gone"

This morphs halfway thru into "Maps" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which goes back to Kelly Clarkson's "Since You Been Gone". Sure, Ted's voice isn't quite good enough to handle the chorus, but who cares? It's Ted frikkin' Leo covering Kelly frikkin' Clarkson, what more do you want?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

"Get it together, grouch!"

-Dave Chappelle

Death Cab For Cutie, Photobooth{link}

The other day a friend emailed and asked for my favourite three songs ever, I, of course, gave her six, but in the ensuing days, I have been trying to piece together what my favourites are, and it's really, really difficult. B/c some songs I can only listen to when I'm happy, some when I'm sad, some when I'm introspective, some when I'm trying to sleep. How do I judge it? Do I base it on repeated listening? Is it fair to count Godspeed You Black Emperor! songs as they are in excess of twenty minutes? Finally, I just settled on the fact, that I really, really love this song.

It kicks off with casioesque drumbeat, and then turns into one of those sad sing-a-long type of songs that Death Cab do oh so well. I remember reading somewhere (NME?) that Ben Gibbard was a big fan of a few short story authors, and I seem to remember it mentioning Raymond Carver by name. Anyways, the lines "I remember when the days were long and the nights when the living room were on the lawn" reminds me so much of a particular Carver story whose name escapes me but has a recently left husband piling all his furniture on the lawn.

I know I'm not supposed to like Death Cab anymore, b/c they're all popular and everything, but the only way I could dislike them were if they were to do a re-make of "La-la".

American Football, Honestly? {link}

"Honestly I can't remember all my teenage feelings,
and their meanings,
they seem too see-through
to be true"

And so begins an amazing song by American Football, who just might be my favourite band to put out just one album. I really, really wanted to post "Never Meant" which is just the greatest break-up song ever recorded, but could not find it anywhere. But this one is good, too. I feel like this a lot, I'll go back through old journals, yearbooks, notes and think to myself "Did I really say this? Do this? Feel this?" It feels so weird, like you were somehow more connected to your own feelings back then, but are now cut off from them. I don't know, I got nothin' tonight. Just download it, and enjoy it. Then pick up the album. There's really no reason not to.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Guess who's Back in the Muthafudgin' House?

Half black half white, chick, we call her Minnie Mouse
-Jay-Z (mostly, although he doesn't actually say "fudgin")

I have a little time to spare, I thought I would share some great mp3s with you, my ever-so patient readers....someone is reading this, right?

Chris Walla Sing Again {link}

Whenever people talk about Death Cab For Cutie, the focus is always on Ben Gibbard. They always talk about his voice, his lyrics, (?!). But, what people often overlook is guitarist Chris Walla. The man is an amazing producer, he's done producing and engineering work for the likes of: The Prom, Kind of Like Spitting, Hot Hot Heat, Nada Surf, The Velvet Teen, David Cross, The Long Winters, The Postal Service, The Thermals, The Decemberists, Travis Morrison, and the Jim Yoshii Pile-Up. But, he also is a talented singer/songwriter in his own right, and has highlighted here on this pretty little live track "Sing Again". Just Walla and his acoustic guitar on the radio.

The Frames, Dream Awake {link}

I'm not quite sure why I slept on The Frames for so long, they make some really pretty, intense music. This is a new song from their just-released 2005 album "Burn The Maps", aside from the perfect honest lyrics, what I have come to enjoy most about The Frames is the way their songs build. This one starts with a whisper, and all of a sudden, the music stampedes to a loud, cathartic climax, with the lead singer singing "There's a fight that we're not conceding!" And the music never, ever concedes. Also, the previously-covered Damien Rice said that The Frames were an inspiration and an aspiration to them, so, really, how much more endorsement do you need?

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Top Albums of 2004

I don't think I have it in me right now to go into why each albums is where, isn't it enough that I wasted my time writing a list that may not be read by anyone? Here goes.

40. The Polyphonic Spree, Together We're Heavy
39. Squarepusher, Ultravisitor
38. Madvillain, Madvillainy
37. Switchfoot, The Beautiful Letdown
36. The Magnetic Fields, I
35. Piebald, All Eyes All Ears All the Time
34. Muse, Absolution
33. Morissey, You Are the Quarry
32. The Stills, Logic Will Break Your Heart
31. The Walkmen, Bows and Arrows
30. Feist, Let It Die
29. Jimmy Eat World, Futures
28. Straylight Run, Straylight Run
27. Mum, Summer Make Good
26. Wilco, A Ghost Is Born
25. Air, Talkie Walkie
24. Bjork, Medullah
23. MF Doom, Mm...Food
22. Iron and Wine, Our Endless Numbered Days
21. Handsome Boy Modelling School, White People
20. Masta Killa, No Said Date
19. The Arcade Fire, Funeral
18. Ratatat, Ratatat
17. The Killers, Hot Fuss
16. The Go! Team, Thunder Lightning Strike
15. Death From Above 1979, You're A Woman I'm A Machine
14. Wiley, Treddin' On Thin Ice
13. Joanna Newsom, The Milk-Eyed Mender
12. Stars, Set Yourself On Fire
11. Interpol, Antics
10. Snow Patrol, Final Straw
09. The Streets, A Grand Don't Come For Free
08. William Shatner, Has Been
07. Modest Mouse, Good News For People Who Love Bad News
06. Kings of Convenience, Riot On An Empty Street
05. Kanye West, The College Dropout
04. Rilo Kiley, More Adventurous
03. The Foreign Exchange, Connected
02. M83, Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts


#1. Phoenix, Alphabetical

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Top 40 Songs of 2004

So, the album list is still coming, just give it time. To tide you over, here are...

The Top 40 Songs of 2004

A few quick notes on the rules/guidelines for this list.
-These are my top forty songs of 2004, it is not limited to best singles of 2004.
-All of these songs were either a) on an album released in 2004, b) released as singles in 2004 from albums that came out last year, c)became available this year despite maybe being older than 2004 (live albums, downloads, etc.).
-Older songs from newer soundtracks were excluded, so, for instance, everything from the Garden State soundtrack was pretty much ineligible, except for the Iron and Wine cover, which if I'm not mistaken was a B-Side from 2004 (and if I'm wrong, well...)
-Bands were not limited to one song in the Top 40. I figure if a band is good enought to come up with 2-3 songs in the Top 40, there is no reason to exclude them to let in a lesser song.
-I put some comments for each song in the top twenty, after that, I just let the songs speak for themselves, if anything needs clarifying, I'd be happy to explain it.
That said, away we go...

1. Modest Mouse- Float On: The romp-stomping best time of the year to be had. A jangly guitar and stilted vocals that tell you everything is going to be all right. I can envision listening to this song in twenty years and it still being as fun and meaningful as it is today.
2. Wilco - At Least That’s What You Said: If the entire album had been like this, it would be my number one. It starts out as a whispery ballad about someone the singer just can’t live with or without. Then, out of nowhere a burst of electric guitar comes in and the song erupts into the best breakdown/jam of the year with an amazing drum beat that you can’t help but tap your foot to.
3. Rilo Kiley - Portions For Foxes: This is an amazingly catchy song that really should’ve catapulted Rilo Kiley to O.C. guest appearances like “Float On” did for Modest Mouse. The most transcendant moment of the year comes toward the end of this one. Toward the middle of the song, Jenny Lewis sings “And you’re bad news/My friends tell me to leave you” and you think it might be over, but then she changes her mind “And you’re bad news/but I don’t care I like you/I like you!” and it’s all too perfect.
4. M83 - Run Into Flowers (Abstrackt Keal Agram Remix): While the original version of this song is great, the remix takes it to even greater heights. The beginning of this song is turned into a menacing hip hop song that wouldn’t sound out of place on the latest RZA-produced Wu-Tang solo album. Then it explodes into an amazing cacophony of electric guitar that just makes the song soar.
5. Joanna Newsom - Crab, Clam Cockle, Cowrie: Joanna Newsom seems to be the most polarizing singer of the year. I think Said The Gramaphone described her the best in saying she sings “in a borrowed voice.” And it’s that voice that drives so many away. But on this one, a tender ballad, one of the the greatest things occur. Newsom sings “I do as I please/I’m down on my knees/and your skin is something I stir into my tea/And I am watching you/and you are starry, starry, starry.” But when she hits the “Starry, starry, starry” part she does each word higher and more heartfelt than the last so it sounds something like “starry! STARRY!! STARRY!!!” And on that last “Starry”, her voice breaks through and the borrowed voice is broken for a second and you get a taste of what Newsom’s normal, speaking voice would be like. But, then she goes back to her “borrowed voice” and all you’ll get is that one glimpse.
6. Rachel Stevens - Some Girls: I always figured that the blonde girl with the bad teeth or the spunky brunette, Hannah, would be the breakout stars of S Club 7. As attractive as Stevens is, she was always the kind of plain one on S Club. Then this song comes along, a borrowed groove, pretty inane lyrics, really it shouldn’t work at all. But it does. And it does so well. This is just purely great pop music. As I’ve said before, if there were any justice in the world, this is what would be played daily on my local “hits” station.
7. The Foreign Exchange - Let’s Move: Somehow a rapper, Phonte, from a group (Little Brother) I’d never heard before this year, and a beatmaker, Nicolay, from the Netherlands who wouldn’t look out of place on your local debate team, came together on a message board and put together not only the hip hop album of the year, but the hip hop single of the year, as well. “Let’s Move” rides an entirely too-happy beat that works against all odds and provides the perfect backdrop for Phonte realizing that everything’s going to be okay despite the fact that he’s been writing cheques that should say “Spalding on ‘em”.
8. Snow Patrol - How To Be Dead: I get a distinctly Coldplayish vibe from Snow Patrol, which is fortunate, because I love Coldplay. Snow Patrol remind me of a younger (I don’t know if that’s true), hungrier, rawer Coldplay. This song, however, is the greatest radio hit that Coldplay never came up with. A weepy little one that keeps the music catchy enough and not ballady enough that it never becomes too much. The singer’s voice is too perfect, especially when he nails lines like “Dr. Jekyll is wrestling Hyde/for my pride.” Get in on them now, because I have a feeling they could be huge in a few years.
9. Phoenix - Victim of the Crime: Picking a fave track from my fave album of the year was difficult, as there is not a bad song on there, but this one is one I could never get tired of. The first thing you notice about this one (or at least I did) is how similar the music is to Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.” But, I don’t think of it as a theft or a rip-off at all, because it’s done with such joy. Whereas Dre used the music to answer his critics that he was still hard, Phoenix uses the music to tell a sad little story about girls. The soundtrack to my summer.
10. Frakkur - ?: I don’t know the title of this, as it was offered up as a free download simply titled “Frakkur Live” on the Sigur Ros website (it’s still there, too). Frakkur is the side project of the lead singer of Sigur Ros and it’s truly amazing. To get the full effect, you have to see the pictures of him dressed up in a black and red marching band uniform with butterfly wings on the back. The song itself is a soaring epic with vocals, a choir, guys playing on pots and pans and no discernible lead vocals. Crappy live recording and flaws aside, this is amazing.
11. DJ Shadow - Blood On the Motorway: If you were smart enough to pick up the DJ Shadow DVD this year, you got a little bonus inside, a CD of live DJ Shadow material. Live, “Blood On the Motorway” soars as DJ Shadow adds a sample of strings that makes this even better than the original, which is hard to do.
12. Snow Patrol – Run: A brilliant quiet verse-loud chorus type song. The video to this one is the perfect complement.
13. Air - Alone In Kyoto: First surfacing on the Lost in Translation soundtack, Air brought this one back on their album this year and it’s amazing. A quiet, contemplative song.
14. Kings of Convenience - I’d Rather Dance With You: Kings of Convenience break from the Scandinavian Simon and Garfunkel comparisons for one glorious song on this one that espouses the virtues of forgoing conversation and just getting down: “I’d rather dance with you than talk to you”.
15. The Foreign Exchange – Happiness: “Good people, good loving, good music in my life it makes me happy”, I think that should’ve been the title for this list.
16. The Mountain Goats - Dance Music: I’m not sure where this came from, but it just kind of popped up online this year and it’s an amazing love song to dance music by John Darniele.
17. The Walkmen – The Rat: The best, angry moment in music this year as the Walkmen bemoan feel outside the crowd: “When I used to go out, I knew everyone I saw/Now I go out alone, if I go out at all” all over a rampaging loud guitar attack.
18. Dilated Peoples featuring Kanye West - This Way: Kanye West was all over 2004, but he’s not the highlight of this song. Instead it’s the flute. We need more flute in hip hop in 2005.
19. Death From Above 1979 - Romantic Rights: This is the way rock ‘n roll should be. Loud, a little obnoxious, and with a definite strut. And what’s most amazing about is that it’s just two indie rock guys, not some big rawk band.
20. Masta Killa, Old Man: Why this wasn’t ODB’s last big moment, I don’t know. This should’ve been all over the radio and everything. Masta Killa is happy to sit back and let Ol’ Dirty Bastard steal the show with his “I want two beef patties, special sauce on a sesame seed bun you big dummy!” line.
21. The Streets - Dry Your Eyes
22. William Shatner - That’s Me Trying
23. Phoenix – Everything Is Everything:
24. Kings of Convenience – Homesick:
25. Stars – Ageless Beauty:
26. Jon Brion – The Strings That Tie To You
27. MF Doom - Kookies
28. Switchfoot - Dare You To Move
29. Modest Mouse - The World At Large
30. Iron and Wine - Such Great Heights
31. Kanye West - Jesus Walks
32. Wiley - Pies
33. Phoenix - Love For Granted
34. Kanye West - Family Business
35. The Streeets - Blinded By the Lights
36. Dizzee Rascal - Dream
37. William Shatner - Common People
38. Bjork, Desired Constellation
39. Madvillain, All Caps

40. The Killers, Somebody Told Me

Number 41 is a number of songs that were close or that I stumbled onto late so I didn't feel right including them, they can be considered the runners-up if anything on this list is ineligible, then they can take that song's crown: M83 - America, Sebastien Tellier - Le Ritourenelle, The Arcade Fire - Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels), The Go! Team - Ladyflash, Mase - Welcome Back, The Postal Service - Against All Odds, Gwen Stefani - Cool, John Mayer - Kid A, The Stills - Lola Stars and Stripes.