Thursday, July 29, 2004

Sad, because it's true
Dear Nick,

This could have been you. See also this, this and this.

You're welcome.

Your wife, the genius
Don't mind us
We're just playing around with a new toy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Too hot for newsprint

In Thursday's Post there will appear my review of Tuesday night's Prince show. Long story short: It was real. And it was good. But it wasn't real good. In the meantime, other reviews of Prince in Toronto here, here, here and here. And today the tiny purple genius stopped by MuchMusic to complain about, er, record companies. Cos it's not like he's signed to one...
You can feel it all over

All the smart people are talking about Barack Obama. I was underwhelmed (note: I had big expectations). But ultimately I defer to Tupac on this one:

Take the evil out the people they'll be acting right
'cause both black and white is smokin' crack tonight
and only time we chill is when we kill each other
it takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
And although it seems heaven sent
We ain't ready, to see a black President

P.S. 2016? Bit of a stretch.
P.P.S. Chart's latent racism? Bit more of a stretch.
P.P.P.S Another case of hip-hop profiling? Erm. We'll see...

More on Obama:
New York Observer: The Kenyan Delegation
New York Times: An Appeal Beyond Race

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The best comes last
Dontcha love it when writers save the two most interesting facts for the absolute last sentence of a story. Here we learn that (a) Hilary Duff closes her shows with The Who's My Generation and (b) she changes the climactic lyric to "Hope I don't die before I get old." And we all know how seriously Petey T takes potentially improper use of his work.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Putting to rest all jokes that he couldn't get arrested in this or any town
Ja Rule appeared in a Toronto courtroom today on an assault charge. (Cheers to Angela for seemingly scooping everyone on this.)
Editor's Note
So, as per a reader suggestion, I've given each entry its own unique page. Lemme know if that causes anyone problems. If it makes life easier, let me know that too.

Soon (or as soon as she sends her first dispatch along - hint! hint!), NOW's Sarah Liss will be occupying this space from time to time as PopWherry's Canadian Idol correspondent - gazing into the emptiness of Ben Mulroney so you don't have to. If the writing gets a lot better around here, it'll be her fault.

In other news, my situation at the National Post (you know, that place where I actually get paid for my aimless ramblings) will be changing slightly in the near future - I'll be moving a few cubicles over to do some sports writing (oh stop laughing). I shall still appear Mondays as the Post's pop music critic. But otherwise I'll be standing around in a locker room with a bunch of naked men (so not all that unlike my normal weekday evenings). Not sure how this will affect current blogging patterns. In fact, I don't even know why I'm telling you all this. But there you go.
Note to self
Music criticism should be sharp, not flat
0905 998 8888
Are you a Canadian Idol contestant facing an uncertain future after you lose to Theresa "The Saskatoon Sweet Geek" Sokyrka? Ever fancied a career in a slightly above average but ultimately forgettable British boy band? Just dial the above number and you too could be C-list famous for approximately 30 seconds. 50p per minute. Long distance charges may apply.
Canadian music industry drills dentists for royalties
No more Celine Dion during the root canal then.
PopWherry fan favourite Josh Rouse will be performing on John McEnroe's new CNBC show tonight (Monday) at 10pm EST. Josh will perform Love Vibration and sit in as the house band throughout. As good a time as any to discover that you do in fact get CNBC.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Weekend Reading
James Adams tracks Ken Walker's tears
Anthony DeCurties on Walker's Festival Express
Jason Anderson reviews Howie Beck
The Walkman is 25
The iPod is a security threat
And iWar looms
Kelefa Sanneh's Playlist with Devin the Dude, Nelly and the Bronx
Sanneh reviews the Hives
Joan Anderman does the same
While Steve Morse and Steve Jelbert interview them
Fefe Dobson parties like it's 1986
Return of the boy band bozos
How to give good guitar face
Toby Keith is a Democrat
Scissor Sisters on the edge
Camera Obscura under the influence
Minnie Driver as the new J.Lo
What the world needs now is Sir Mix-A-Lot
Alexis Petridis with McFly
Joss Stone's success considered
John The White Rapper: Furious
Robert Wyatt: The Mercury Prize Surprise
But is the Mercury obsolete?
Gretchen Wilson: The voice of trailer-trash America
Sacha Distel: Raindrops stop falling
Plus Weisblott, Pytlik, Chang, Wang, Ross, Matos, Jay, Ultragrrrl, Coolfer and Durst.

Friday, July 23, 2004

A note before sleeping
The only thing more pleasing than Steve Carell with a funny haircut might possibly be Lindy with a funny haircut. The former was found in the greatest movie ever made (narrowly besting Killing Zoe). The latter opened for poor Howie Beck, who just can't seem to find anyone willing to write about him.

(No offense to Howie or any of those fine people who've written about him, but I can't decide whether I find the part where 9/11 makes him not want to make music anymore endearing or nauseating, if not slightly disrespectful. Kinda makes me squirm. Or maybe I'm just being cynical. Maybe we should all be so sensitive. Then again, maybe if we were we'd all be locked in our bedrooms doing drugs. Oh wait...)

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Director explains her responsibility for the crime against music that is Swollen Members
Not really. But here's an interview with Wendy Morgan. With special bonus Casper Van Dien slam!
You can go with this, or you can go with that
Thursday's Post may (or may not) include an interview with Joel Gibb from the Hidden Cameras. A far more articulate read will likely appear in The Globe and Mail under the name "Carl Wilson." I'd like to claim this is my pseudonym. But that would sort of be a complete lie.

P.S. Am I the only one who finds it odd that neither Eye nor Now seem to have interviewed Gibb this week?
News Tip of the Day
From the mysterious Mr. C:
Geddy Lee works out at my gym, and I heard from the owner that at Rush's Las Vegas gig at the MGM, Jack Black (allegedly a huge fan) somersaulted on stage, put T-shirts in their washer/dryer thing and generally went crazy to the delight of the crowd. Not exactly sure why this might be of interest to you, but anyway...

Does an aging rock star work out at your gym? Do you have any tips on how Jack and/or Geddy might keep whites their brightest? Send your breaking news to either of the e-mail addresses at right.

Ask not what PopWherry can do for you. Ask what you can do for PopWherry.

Seriously. We're a little short on cash. Anybody got 50 bucks we could borrow?

P.S. Geddy Lee works out?

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Bet your life
Current odds posted by BetWWTS.com, an offshore gaming company, for the ten finalists of Canadian Idol

Kalan Porter - 9/5
Elena Juatco - 7/2
Theresa Sokyrka - 4/1 (if she doesn't win this country should be folded up and sold back to the British)
Jason Greeley - 5/1
Jacob Hoggard - 6/1
Shane Wiebe - 8/1
Kaleb Simmonds - 12/1
Joshua Seller - 15/1
Brandy Callahan - 25/1
Manoah Hartmann - 25/1

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Finally a reason to vote for John Kerry
Nobody wants to see four more years of Bush (least of all Miss Ronstadt). But we're all a bit hesitant to get too excited about this John Kerry fellow. Fair enough.

Finally though, comes proof of Kerry's inherent greatness. It's in his blood, you see. Because John Kerry, it seems, is... drum roll please... related to Britney Spears.
Blame Drudge
This Linda Ronstadt business is a bit strange, no?

I, like several million others I suspect, found the story of her Vegas flameout first on Drudge. He first went with the story Tuesday night, giving it the headline "Linda Ronstadt canned by Aladdin Hotel after on-stage anti-Bush, anti-Vegas tirade." Later this was shortened to "Linda Ronstadt canned by Aladdin for anti-Bush tirade."

Now the first story quotes nothing of this "anti-Bush, anti-Vegas tirade." The second story reports only this: Near the close of her performance, Ronstadt dedicated the Eagles hit "Desperado" to Moore, producer of "Fahrenheit 9/11," and the room erupted into equal parts boos and cheers. She said Moore "is someone who cares about this country deeply and is trying to help."

This AFP report explains: The liberal Ms Ronstadt, 58, a 10-time Grammy Award-winner and an icon of the politically-agitated 1970s, praised Mr Moore as a "great American patriot" who "is spreading the truth." She also dedicated the song "Desperado" to Mr Moore and urged the audience to go and see "Fahrenheit 9/11," which mercilessly slams Mr Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq and his handling of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

More details of this and other comments can be found here.

So where's the tirade? In fact, where are the "anti-Bush" comments? Heck, was George W. Bush's name even uttered? (And, please, let's not blur reality so far as to make any endorsement of Moore a viscious slur against the President.)

Without clarification, Drudge keeps up the attack today - linking to a nearly week-old story in which Ronstadt speaks negatively of Republicans and fundamental Christians. Drudge, in his headline, cuts off the quote. Probably because the first part would seem a rebuke of his earlier attack. Her quote in full:

"This is an election year, and I think we're in desperate trouble and it's time for people to speak up and not pipe down. It's a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment. I'd rather not know."

Earlier, Drudge headlined this item as: "RONSTADT BIGOT: It's a real conflict for me..." He has since dropped the b-word. Maybe because that bit of playing fast-and-loose with headline writing might have left him open to a libel lawsuit.

P.S. Oh, and the riot that she started? Not so, apparently.

Update... Drudge's headline now reads "Kicked out of casino for praising Michael Moore." The "BIGOT" story has disappeared entirely.

Upperdate... Speaking to the L.A. Times, Ronstadt responds (registration req'd):

"I think it was a modest thing I did," the 58-year-old singer said today...

"This is an election year. I want people to get their head up out of their mashed potatoes and learn something about the issues and go and vote," she said by phone. "I'm not telling them how to vote. I'm saying, get information about the issues."

... What the singer said just before the final encore in Las Vegas was the same stage line she has been using to introduce the song "Desperado" around the country since she saw the Moore documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11": "I'll say, I think there's this guy who is a great patriot and I think he loves his country deeply and that he's trying to get the truth out . . . then I say his name is Michael Moore and I've just been to see his fine movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11."

... "At first there's just silence, then there's "Yeah!" and then there's 'Boo!" and then the audience starts fighting with each other," she recalled. "You know how they say we are just polarized down the middle? I've done this all across the country and I'm telling you, it's like my independent poll. I have never seen a reaction like this, in all my years of touring."

... Ronstadt said the casino management is guilty of some hyperbole. "They didn't throw me out. I didn't even know there was trouble. I didn't know they were mad. . . . Those places operate like little city-states. They are all powerful. And I had already said I never want to come back."

... Ronstadt said that she purposely keeps the comments about the film brief. The reason is she has found that too much political revelation can tarnish a concert.

"I know it's hard for an audience. . . . If I go to a show and if I find out someone is a right wing Christian or a Republican, and I really like their show, it still puts kind of a cloud over it to know," she said. "But I've kind of got used to that. I don't particularly like to be preached to, so I've limited my remarks to just saying I think he's a great American and a great patriot, and that I recommend that they see his movie."

So then. No anti-Bush tirade. No riot. No great controversy. No vicious slurring of Christians. Please go about your business. Nothing much to see here.
What Would Madonna do?
Seriously. Somebody (it needn't be her directly - we know she's busy with famine and disease and world peac and all) let me know, kay?
Your new favourite magazine
Is Matrix.
Probably the last one to this party (always am) but this little literary mag (published only three times a year) is apparently some kind of wonderful. Current edition at ye local Indigo is the Music Issue with poetry from Kevin Drew and Buck 65. A curling essay from John K. Samson. Some stuff about Ted Leo and Lhasa. And art from the ever magnificent Shary Boyle on the cover (both front and back). Oh and some of the history's cheesiest songs critiqued by imaginary poetry workshops. Brilliant.

P.S. Anyone know where we can find a copy of Bitch Magazine in this fair city?

Monday, July 19, 2004

Cos I got something to say about it
Well some of us were at the Madonna concert this evening. Where were the rest of you?

Fine time. Have I changed my tune entirely? Not quite. See review in Tuesday's Post.

In the mean time, you can anxiously await my essay on Madonna's ministrelsy of Scottish culture.

The reviews begin to trickle in - this first one from Angela Pacienza at CP, whom I had the pleasure to sit beside this evening.
Ben Rayner seems pleased. More or less.
But Jane Stevenson seems most impressed.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Weekend Reading
Robert Everett-Green on Canadian Idol
J.D. Considine on Nelly Furtado (see also: Ben Rayner and Mark Daniell)
Ben Rayner on Ashlee Simpson
Big Boi is like Sammy Sosa
Jim DeRerogatis on Van Halen
Renee Graham on Dancehall
David Segal on The Roots
Battle of the Corporate Bands
Tool drummer juggles Pigmy Love Circus
REM to Rock Vote in Detroit
Moesha who?
Simon and Garfunkel at Hyde Park
Rock stars love drugs shocker
Cats don't like Jeff Lynne either
Cornershop: Still alive shocker
Alexis Petridis on fans who throw sanitary towels
Gil Scott-Heron on parole
Anastascia: no lumps or bumps
Naff is the new cool
A level-headed schizophrenic
Pytlik redesigns
Wilson is on fire
Harris loves Duff
Jay catches Jadakiss
Tangmonkey rejoiceth
Coolfer Ramone
I used to wish that Broken Social Scene would piss-off to Mexico or Cuba or somewhere wonderful like that, fill themselves full of rompope and sweet tamales, fall in love, and record an album. Then I heard the new Apostle of Hustle album. Satisfied, I have since moved on to even more complicated fantasies.
Rock stars in real life
Our guitar heroes are just so much more lovable when they have regular people jobs. 
For instance, Marcus from Granada drives a city bus. And two years ago, in an interview with the Post, Paul from Interpol explained: "The money is just not quite rolling in yet. Hopefully I'm just gonna try and get a job at a bar. That's a good rock band member job." 
Now I find Raising the Fawn exactly 6.84 times as endearing because I've seen this (see "author"). Awesome.

Friday, July 16, 2004

You've Got FanMail
In the liner notes of Angie Stone's new rekkid, Stone Love, the divine one offers up her e-mail address and encourages fans to drop her a note. Is this legit? Has any other artist ever done something of the like?

P.S. That e-mail addy is lovechyle@aol.com
Puns are fun: Glen Ricks gets another crack at fame
From the Jamaica Observer:
"The music is now at a point where artistes are shouting at the public to get attention. There is no beauty or inspiration in it any more. I've heard only a few lyrics that really touch me. It's not like the 1960s and the 1980s, when we made music that connected with the people and artistes were humble and respected the fans. Now, they just take other people's music and bitch it up."

Read on.
The Incomplete Idiot's Guide to Canadian Indie Rock for Dummies
And all the hipsters say: Groan.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

From the archives
Interviews with Amy Winehouse, Lyle Lovett and, for some reason, Jennifer Garner.

And this week's column about Ron Sexsmith.
The great Wilco takedown of 2004 marches on
This be its latest salvo.
Granada - Everywhere We Went (buy)

It pains me that more ink is not spilt on account of Granada, a tiny, perfect band from what the socialists amongst us consider a tiny, perfect country. Especially as I sit trying, with little success, to prepare a set of well-mannered, thoughtful questions for them. They don't even have an All Music Guide entry. How sad is that?

Lots has been written about them in languages we don't understand (readers are invited to translate). And rightly so.

Their second album, Takes a Lot of Walking, was released last year by V2 - a quiet collection of love songs sung from some sort of Nordic Memphis. Or so I imagine. Sort of like The Delgados, precious female voice dueling with weary male voice, sweeping melodies and drama. Very loving. But minus all the bombast. Their latest album, Let That Weight Slide Off Your Shoulders, landed here recently and it follows much the same formula. But it's livelier - more bells, whistles and guitars. Very often with 60s summertime folk in mind. A little more self-assured.

Beautiful, beautiful stuff. Probably the best record by a Swedish rock band I've heard all week. A statement, which, for once, actually means something.

I assume they've released singles from both albums. And I imagine Everyplace We Went, from Takes a Lot of Walking, was one of them. See the above Delgados reference. But with such restraint. Such calm. Very charming. And the way she says, "I keep them in my head." Sigh. Swoon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

"Progress is the hardest thing for me to accept."
Profile of Lyle Lovett, who was to play the now comatose Toronto Blues Festival this weekend, in tomorrow's Post. Can't claim to be among his longtime devotees (he is a rather recent discovery of mine), but rarely have I ever spoken with a nicer, more admirable, man.

While you wait, here is a beautiful profile in a Spring issue of the New Yorker (the likes of which I do not come close to matching in tomorrow's Post). And below you'll find his thoughts and feelings on President George W. Bush (not included in tomorrow's paper). Lovett and Bush have met on several occasions and I asked him about Bush The Person, not Bush The Politician. So take your tiresome partisan sniping elsewhere please.

"He is a sincere, good man who is, in earnest, trying to do the right thing to protect his country and his people. He’s absolutely sincere... He’s a good guy. And he’s trying to do his absolute best to protect American citizens."

"Everything that you see in the media, all the mudslinging, especially now associated with the election, all of that is so distasteful I think. And I think most voters feel that way as well. I mean back when the Republicans were going for Clinton’s throat and all that, that was really distateful to me. But now the way the Democrats are really trying to bash Bush, once again, I find that repugnant. It’s all personal attacks it seems. And both parties are guilty of that. He’s a good guy. And he’s trying to do his absolute best to protect American citizens."

He's still scheduled to play the Ottawa Blues Fest Thursday evening. And he may still make some appearance in Toronto. Cross your fingers.

P.S. His comments about mudslinging reminded me of some comments made during last Sunday's Meet the Press. In the second half media roundtable, Tim Russert and Baltimore Sun columnist Jack Germond had the following exchange, during which Germond, I think, cut right to the heart of the voter apathy issue.

MR. RUSSERT:  The other big event of the week:  John Kerry chose John Edwards as his running mate. Time magazine asked, "Who would make a better president, John Edwards or Dick Cheney?"  Forty-seven, Edwards; Dick Cheney, 38.  Upon the selection of Mr. Edwards, there was a chorus among Republicans, Jack Germond.  Let's watch speaker Dennis Hastert.

(Videotape, Wednesday):

REP. DENNIS HASTERT, (R-IL):  I thought it was an interesting choice yesterday when John Kerry picked John Edwards--you know, another pretty face to go on that ballot.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  And then Bill Frist, the majority leader in the Senate, chimed in.

(Videotape, Tuesday):

SEN. BILL FRIST, (R-TN):  From an experience level, there's going to be a lot of the on-the-job training, potentially, if he were to ever serve as vice president.  And those are the words of John Kerry, in terms of an experience level.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  And the president himself in North Carolina.

(Videotape, Wednesday):

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  If I could try another Edwards question, how does he stack up against Dick Cheney?

PRES. BUSH:  Dick Cheney can be president.  Next?

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  And that brought about this response from the Democratic candidate, John Kerry.

(Videotape, Wednesday):

SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D-MA):  But I'll tell you what he was right about.  He was right that Dick Cheney was ready to take over on day one, and he did, and he has been ever since, folks.  And that's what we got to change.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  Here it is, July, Jack Germond, and the vice presidential discussion about Dick Cheney vs. John Edwards is front and center.  It's probably not fair to ask you about another pretty face, but go ahead.

MR. GERMOND:  I mean, this is typical of the kind of nonsense we talk about in presidential campaigns these days.  I mean, the fact is John Edwards is certainly as prepared as George W. Bush was four years ago and Ronald Reagan was and Jimmy Carter was, a lot of people.  We're not talking about things that have any meaning for voters.  That's why they don't vote because we don't talk about the things they care about.  They don't care about this stuff. This is, "Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Forget it."

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

In Toronto you have to make do with seeing K-Os at every concert. So stop your bellyaching.
Hipster concerned by sighting of Christina Ricci at Emily Haines show
Speculating on speculation
Latest rumour to be passed on to these ears from an anonymous source whose credibility remains in question — Extraordinary Machine, as it was recorded, has been scrapped and Fiona Apple is starting all over again.

Meh. Throw that to the mill.

Some other rumours we'd like to start:

-Fiona Apple appears as a morose sidekick in the never-before-seen pilot episode of Punky Brewster (just recently released on DVD).
-If you play When the Pawn... backwards you can hear the ghost of Janis Joplin warning of a coming anti-christ. Scholars believe this to be in reference to Lindsay Lohan.
-Fiona Apple married Lyle Lovett last week in a private ceremony on his ranch in Klein, Texas.
-Fiona Apple will guest on the next Dizzee Rascal album under the name MC Gwyneth.
-David Bowie's "heart surgery" was really just a break to recover from the post traumatic stress that followed the lollipop attack.
-The Fiery Furnaces aren't that good.
-There is no controversy.
-You can't make an omelet without breaking an egg.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Go out and share it
Rod Stewart - Secret Heart
Curtis Stigers - Secret Heart
Jack Johnson - Secret Heart (live)
Leslie Feist - Secret Heart

Ah the kindness of strangers.

Bout noon today Sean dropped me a note to say he was in possession of Rod Stewart's Secret Heart (figuratively speaking of course). This I figured was triumph enough. But just 45 minutes later another note arrived, this one from a reader named Sarah:

Your post on Ron Sexsmith's "Secret Heart" made me recall a fabulous live show of Jack Johnson's. I dug through my collection of live shows, because I was convinced I had it, and voila. It's only verse or so of it, but quite nice. It's from a May 15, 2002 show that turned into a bit of a sing-a-long and covers show. I believe you can download it from http://www.archive.org/audio/etree-details-db.php?id=2719 in shorten format, if you're interested.

Above I've added those to a Curtis Stigers version I found on Soulseek and, of course, Leslie Feist's beautiful rendition.

Stigers and Stewart give it the schmaltz you'd expect - Stigers stretching it to almost five minutes. Jack Johnson, while singing just a verse, offers the prettiest of today's discoveries. The sexiest I think too. Feist, with such wonderful whimsical production, remains the most touching of the bunch. Then again, the Nick Lowe remains out there... somewhere...

Together I think they make for some interesting listening and a nice tribute to our Ron's remarkable skill. Thanks to Sarah and Sean and whomever else took a moment to search. Much much appreciated.
What are you so afraid of?
Ron Sexsmith - Secret Heart (buy)

On the occasion of today's Ron Sexsmith column here is the original version of likely the only song to be covered by both Rod Stewart and Leslie Feist (until Feist sings Cigarettes and Alcohol at least). Two weeks ago Sexsmith opened for Diana Krall when Mrs. Costello opened the Montreal Jazz Festival. Later he joined her on stage (Elvis happens to be a big fan) for a duet or two. One of the songs they played was this. The first track from Sexsmith's first album for Interscope, it floats along as shy as its subject. Just simple enough to be timeless.

P.S. Has anyone ever come across the Rod Stewart version? Don't suppose anyone wants to confess to owning this album?
P.P.S. Curtis Stigers also tried it on. Anybody got that?

UPDATE... According to this, Jack Johnson and Nick Lowe have also attempted Secret Heart. First to find any of these wins... er... my lifelong respect and admiration?... (or a gift package filled with some of the assorted free CDs and other promotional crap that's piled on my desk). We'll post them all here and compare.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

For the archives
Monday's paper has a piece on Ron Sexsmith and interviews with Amy Winehouse and, uh... Jennifer Garner(?).

Anyway. In the mean time, here you can find a bunch of new columns. Some of them are even vaguely worth reading.

Meanwhile there's also interviews with Jeff Tweedy, the Tragically Hip, Serena Ryder, Hayden and k.d. lang.

Sexsmith, Winehouse and Garner will appear here sometime soonish.
Weekend Reading
Guy Dixon eats his way to new music (sadly, photo of BigMac walkman not included)
The lessons of soul
Tyler Clark Burke: Hipster Genius Emeritus
Ben Rayner watches too much TV
Sigh: Courtney finally finds edge, gleefully jumps over it
Sigh II: Britney ex speaks, detailed report of sex romp ensues
Elvis Costello: No Nostalgia
Rock in Therapy
NYT Playlist: Mase, The Roots, Rufus and Broken Social Scene
Incubus: The most successful band you've never heard of
The Roots: Bickering spontaneity
Hilary Duff: Love for the haters
Glen Campbell: Maricopa County Blues
Jimmy Buffett: License to Chill
Wu-Tang at the Apollo
Slash defies critics, death
Pete Doherty on the eve of destruction
Rachel Stevens discusses perfect happiness
Dogs Die in Hot Cars lead the Jock revolution
Shane McGowan found in pub shocker
Michael Jackson's spiritual advisor speaks
SFJ on Boyz II Men
Oliver Wang on Giant Robot Magazine and Chess Boxing
Ultragrrrl with Barney Shakur
Wilson with Junior Boys uncut

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Mixed Signals
So apparently Fiona has been dropped by Epic/Sony. Or maybe not.

Someone with apparent knowledge of such things stops by Fiona Has Wings to offer an alternate ending:

To the members of the forum,

There seems to be quite a rampage going on here, so I guess I'll just clarify this issue with what I know.

1) Fiona is still signed to Clean Slate Records (a devision of Epic & Sony)
2) "Extraordinary Machine" currently contains 11 songs (Fiona recorded a new song on demand of Sony)
3) The album will probably be out around September/October (according to Andrew Moore at Sony) to avoid the "dead-end" of the summer schedule.

With kind regards,
Tony Rosendahl Frank

Friday, July 9, 2004

But mom?! All the cool kids are doing it!
Like Canon I'm a copier (spot that song). And so, inspired by much cooler people, here's my Top 25 at just about the halfway point. All rankings subject to severe and sudden change. Stacks and stacks of stuff yet to be listened to. Take all of the below with a grain (or smaller measure) of your favourite seasoning. Others will surely have much more interesting lists.

1. Kanye West - The College Dropout
2. Leslie Feist - Let It Die
3. Nellie McKay - Get Away from Me
4. The Streets - A Grand Don't Come for Free
5. Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
6. Norah Jones - Feels Like Home
7. Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose
8. Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News
9. Wilco - A Ghost Is Born
10. Broken Social Scene - Beehives
11. Iron & Wine - Our Endless Numbered Days
12. Cee-Lo - Cee-Lo Green is the Soul Machine
13. PJ Harvey - Uh Huh Her
14. Ghostface - The Pretty Toney Album
15. The Killers - Hot Fuss
16. Hayden - Elk-Lake Serenade
17. Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters
18. Graham Coxon - Happiness in Magazines
19. Tangiers - Never Bring You Pleasure
20. Interpol - Antics
21. The Walkmen - Bows & Arrows
22. Madvillain - Madvillainy
23. A.C. Newman - Slow Wonder
24. Ron Sexsmith - Retriever
25. Courtney Love - America's Sweetheart

Still very much in contention pending further examination/contemplation:
Controller.Controller - History, Raising the Fawn - The North Sea, Sondre Lerche - Two Way Monologue, Magnetic Fields - i, Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans, Granada - Let That Weight Slide Off Your Shoulders, Secret Machines - S/T, Old Crow Medicine Show - S/T, k.d. lang - Hymns of the 49th Parallel, The Golden Dogs - Everything in 3 Parts, A Girl Called Eddy - S/T, The Libertines - S/T, Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine, Sarah Harmer - All of Our Names, Gomez - Split the Difference, The Organ - Grab That Gun, Mclusky - The Difference Between Me and You Is That I'm Not on Fire, Serena Ryder - Unlikely Emergency, Badly Drawn Boy - One Plus One is One, Girl Nobody - The Future Isn't What It Used to Be, Amy Winehouse - Frank

And still so much to come.
Poor Bowie
First attacked by a lollipop and now he's being rushed away for emergency heart surgery.

Thursday, July 8, 2004

A sign of things to come?
The following are highlighted in an ad for Pop Montreal in the latest issue of Exclaim:
The Black Princes of Montreal, L.P., Black Ox Orkestar, Les Mouches, Tricky Woo, An Albatross, Les Liscornes, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Uncut, We Regazzi, The Hold Steady, Blakkar Noir, Pony Up!, Patrick Watson, Sufjan Stevens, Sons of George and Effrim.

Scouting reports on any of the above (aside from the obvious) are much appreciated.
Why listen, then?
A Girl Called Eddy - Golden

Well hello there. Where did you come from? And where have you been? Says here that your name is Erin Moran. Elsewhere it says stuff we can't understand. But here you've sent us an e-card that seems to say everything already. Of this we must hear more (scroll down).

(Tipped off by Wednesday Morning Download)
Catching Up
So Courtney's Kittie Radio lives again. Jack is back on the attack. And Stephin is oh so quiet. Excited about Rafer. But six years? Danzig goes down. Brit needs to sit. Jessica is a diseased, sex-loving genius. Avril has a payola problem. There was a stack of these in the store the other day. Nearly picked one up. Credentials being questioned here. And I just saw Ben Mulroney interviewing Chantal Kreviazuk on the television (I've never felt more empty inside).

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Wilco tickets for their Aug. 3 show in Toronto go on sale through here today. Further discussion/explanation.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Free Fiona, cont'd
The two songs leaked so far can now be found at the following (links fixed):
Extraordinary Machine
Better Version of Me

(And if those links fail, there's always Citizen Keith)

Apparently this might be the cover art.
And these are what some astute listeners think to be the Better Version of Me lyrics

Monday, July 5, 2004

Oh. Just one last thing...
Another Fiona track leaked this weekend. A rough mix of Better Version of Me. Links to it can be found buried in this thread over at Fiona Has Wings.

Pssst... Here's the official story from Sony (as e-mailed to me today): "Fiona Apple is currently in the studio finishing her record. She is currently working on some new ideas that she wants to flush out."
Do you think that Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Bille Joe" would be a hit if it were recorded and released now?
This late night flurry of posts is meant to over-compensate for the fact that we're going to try as hard as we can to piss off for a couple days and celebrate a birthday or two (both Dubya and Fiddy on Tuesday).

But before we go, one more thing - specifically, this, a splendid essay on the trials and triumphs of an extraordinary machine (courtesy of reader Rob Rabiee and his new blog The Tenth Beatle).
Down a lad
Toronto born James F. Arnold of the Four Lads dead at 72. Singer of Istanbul.
Eardrum battery
The Star's Geoff Chapman at the Toronto jazz fest.
This American musical form
Take the rock n' roll quiz
Happy Birthday Rock n' Roll. However old you are.
Big Boy Crudup and the little white lie
Mad New York Post love
For The Stills. And Nellie McKay.

Saturday, July 3, 2004

Weekend Reading
Ibrahim Ferrer livin' large
Hip-hop takes a jump forward with innovative Tabakin
Ronstadt still sings from the heart
Big & Rich: Country music without prejudice
Damon Dash: Wouldn't clown himself like that
Hip-Hop: Whiter by the hour
Hip-Hop: Must be Stopped
The Rockumentary is Back Or not
Hilary Duff: Sorry
This just in: James Brown is crazy I
This just in: James Brown is crazy II
The Bees: Not another Ocean Colour Scene
Britain's new rap delight
Gramophone and his readers celebrate Canada Day
Stereogum celebrates Sloan
Coolfer ponders online sales
Jay is back. And slaying CNN
Alex Ross on Dog Faced Hermans
Matos links to some moving music criticism for moms
Ultragrrrl loving the Killers
More or less embarassing than that WMD presentation to the UN?
Colin Powell sings YMCA at international security conference

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Let the fawning commence...
(As Monday's column was filed Sunday afternoon)

For the most part, Nellie McKay, every bit the performer, looks out towards her audience much as she did last week at Lee’s Palace in Toronto — singing, rapping, pouting, begging to entertain. Making eye contact like Mona Lisa. Smiling just for you. But then sometimes, in the middle of a song, she stares off into the distance and, if only for a moment, sings only for herself.

She's studying her own voice. How the words feel on her lips and in the air. Whether they shall lead or let her piano take charge. Delighting in how she can twist word and instrument. Glowing at every newfound or finally mastered trick. Furrowing her brow with every tiny warble. She is, at these moments, just a kid staring in wonder at a shiny, new toy she hasn't quite figured out yet.

These moments must be thrilling for her. They are enchanting to witness. And for all the joys of Nellie McKay circa 2004 — and make no mistake there are many — here is the greatest.

Here, specifically, is youth and young musicianhood. And this summer we're more than content to let the adults play with their elections, wars, contract negotiations, jazz festivals and show trials. Because here there is Nellie McKay. And the Killers (we'll get to them later).

McKay is quite wonderfully unlike supposed peers Norah Jones or Alicia Keys — young women who seemed to sprout grey hairs before they were legally able to sip red wine in most American states. Neither does she have anything in common with Avril Lavigne, a childish sort who generally seems half her nineteen years. The New York neophyte is of mixed cliche — wise beyond her years, but every bit her age; rushing to grow up, but anxious to indulge her inner child.

Such contradictions leave her just short of perfect. In filing his dissenting opinion in the Supreme Court of Music Criticism's majority opinion for the plaintiff in McKay's Get Away From Me v. The World, Justice Carl Wilson, a Globe and Mail appointee, cited previous decisions against Nostalgia and the slippery slope of Spunk (See The People v. Misplaced Youthful Exuberance).

Justice Wilson noted that McKay might one day present a preponderance of evidence and insight to defeat his objections, "But first she'll have to contend with the syndrome that hits, for instance, writers hired early as 'youth' columnists, who often end up stunted and typecast as navel-examiners. If a newspaper can be a claustrophobic place to work out who you are, how much worse the embalmed art of cabaret?"

The journalistic analogy is apt — McKay prone to using 1,000 words when 800 would do and seeming, to many, to be as much a gimmick as your average 20-something columnist. But Youth, in the above, is a neatly typed label placed upon a box we've kindly asked McKay to squeeze herself into. Which is funny (more "hmm" than "haha") because limits and restrictions must seem the most foreign of concepts to McKay's machine-gunning mind.

On stage last week she spoke of such forces, but only in reference to greater freedom — at one point expressing a fondness for prison. Seems she is currently trying to convince her label, Sony, to let her record her next album during a series of performances at women's institutions. She thinks she'll get booed. But is all the more excited by the prospect.

Here again is the glory of Nellie McKay at 19. She's not yet old or encumbered enough to worry about Nostalgia or Spunk or bizarre concept sophomore records or the middle-aged, wine-drinking, liberal arts professors who laugh a little too knowingly at her jokes. She knows only that she has some degree of talent for song. And that she wants to be famous and important and special and adored; not entirely how she’ll get there or even what she’ll be when she arrives. The wine drinkers watching her might think it cute. She thinks it quite serious.

At times doubt lightly taps her on the shoulder. So, in the quiet moments of public privacy, she listens. Trying to figure it out. And dreaming.


At this very moment, The Killers are the best rock band on the planet. Just ask them. Ask us in five minutes and our opinion may have changed. But get back to The Killers in four and a half minutes and they might be a different band entirely, so fresh from the Las Vegas desert are they.

A few years ago a young man named Brandon Flowers went to see Oasis, realized rock stardom was his calling and set to putting together a band. They took their name from a New Order video about the creation of the perfect band and wrote songs about murder and mayhem, drugs and darkness — four minute speed binges of guitars and synth with hooks more devastating than those of Sugar Ray Robinson. They decided to be as big as U2.

Announced Flowers to The Independent recently: "We are a great rock band — it’s as simple as that. We're as good as The Strokes, Kings of Leon and The White Stripes.” The hilariousness of that statement matched only by the sorts of things Flowers regularly screams on The Killers' rather homicidal debut album, Hot Fuss:

"I got soul, but I'm not a soldier," he coos at one point. "There is an old cliche, under your Monet, baby," he proclaims later. Ridiculous? Entirely. Meaningless? Probably. But the the Killers seem too young or too ambitious to care. Or maybe they've learned early that the best fun is always pointless.

They're also likely too naive to realize it's all been done before, as all great rock bands seemingly must be at this point (more than a half century since rock music first deflowered the Western World). It's not that new is entirely a theory of the past, just that's it's over-rated. It's all in what you borrow, steal and attempt to revive and for the Killers this means reclaiming the rock n’ roll ideals of dancing and world domination.

To these young men it must seem quite revolutionary. That it's not seems besides the point. They are as excited as they are exciting. And that is everything.
Fawning over last night's Nellie McKay show to come. First a lesson in civics.
Item #1: Liza Frulla frontrunner for recently vacated Heritage position
Item #2: Liza Frulla maybe not elected after all

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