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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Hollywood Squares
Femme Generation - Emergency
Femme Generation - Honestly, Trudy

We feel like we should know far more about Toronto's Femme Generation than we do. We picked up (or at least had a friend pick up for us) their EP, Circle Gets The Square, rather blindly awhile back simply cos we liked how it looked. And it said "Limited Edition" on the front. We're suckers that way. Emergency immediately reminded us why we liked the Tangiers when we first heard them - all twitchy hormones. Honestly, Trudy is equally hormonal, but in an 17-year-old-boy-writing-in-his-journal-about-the-last-dance-at-the-prom sort of way. Or maybe a 26-year-old-boy-summoning-such-convictions sort of way. Either way, it's brilliant. And oh the promise of so much more is made again.

Liss says: "Literally packed with goodness, combining raw guitars with keyboard riffs that add an Atari-style loopy electro edge and should please those with a penchant for leg-warmers and asymmetrical haircuts... While there's a generous offering of crunchy amped-up tunes that'll get you sweaty, I dig slightly sweeter moments like the gently loping Honestly, Trudy, which is heartfelt but not maudlin and sounds a bit like Interpol with a pulse. Rarely is a six-song EP so fucking satisfying."

Wong says: "A robust collection, stretching its garage rock muscles into several flexible territories. The songs muse on modern media’s paranoia-making machine, segueing from Uncut-like rock dance, to Walkmen-like organ-backed indie and Zen-like, Sonic Youth-style psychedelia... The group even hits pop gold on "Honestly, Trudy," a bluesy Brit-pop number that seals the deal on Femme Generation’s viciously versatile arsenal of dirty guitars, experimentation and accessibility."
House of Blues
Over at Maclean's, the esteemed Paul Wells (a man who has taught me a thing or two about at least a couple of things) is devoting himself, for the next little while at least, not to scrutinizing the emptiness of Paul Martin's political career, but to reviewing, track-by-track, Duke Ellington's 1960 album Blue Orbit. To get everyone up to speed, here's the story so far:

Aug. 25: The Idea
Aug. 26: The Preamble
Aug. 29: Track 1 - Three J's Blues
Aug. 31: Track 2 - Smada
Neither oxy, nor moronic. Apparently
Don't everybody get excited all at once cos you might crash our server, but the Canadian Urban Music Award nominations were announced today! Some of the shortlisted:

R&B Recording of the Year
Big Black Lincoln - Pimpin Life
Jacksoul - Still Believe in Love
In Essence - Friend of Mine
Melanie Durant - Where I'm Goin'
Ray Robinson - Missed Your Chance

Hip-Hop Recording of the Year
IRS - T.R.A.C.K.S. Lament
Kardinal Offishall - Bang Bang
k-os - B-Boy Stance
Shaun Rikoshay Boothe ft. Natasha Waterman - One By One
Swollen Members - Watch This

Songwriter of the Year
Jully Black
Melanie Durant
k-os
Haydain Neale
Tamia

Producer of the Year
Derek Brin
Classified
IRS
Marcus Kane
Rahmel

DJ/DJ Crew of the Year
4 Korners
Beatmatrix
Boogeyman
DJ Starting from Scratch
Jay Swing & FlipOut
I'm dumb, she's an a-li-en
Guelph singer/songwriter and candidate for national treasurehood (if you believe Rayner) Danny Michel will release an album of David Bowie covers on Sept. 21. Or so says this press release we've got right here from MapleMusic. To wit:

A follow-up to last summer's Tales From The Invisible Man, which earned Danny a Juno nomination for Best New Artist, Loving The Alien: Danny Michel Sings The Songs of David Bowie was recorded and produced by Danny, a long-time Bowie fan, at his home studio outside of Guelph, Ontario.

Track listing: Young Americans, Moonage Daydream, Ashes to Ashes, Always Crashing in the Same Car, Andy Warhol, DJ, Big Brother, Red Sails, God Knows I'm Good, Sons of the Silent Age, Lady Stardust.

(So who's going to do the Luther Vandross parts on Young Americans?)

Tour dates with Luke Doucet in the fall.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Judging the VMAs
PopWherry: Didn't Jay-Z look kinda fat in the entirely un-ph way?
Wong: Don't Want My MTV
Defamer: No Britney Whatsoever
Optimus Crime: MTV Versus Grey Matter
Gawker: Last Dying Breaths?
A Girl Called Quincy
Broken Social Scene - It's All Gonna Break (Live)

While we wait for these kids to figure themselves out and do the work for us, here's something they found long ago - the Drama Queen's theme song performed in what seems an empty warehouse on the outskirts of our nation's capital. It's like sorta being at the water's edge this weekend with 3,500 of your fellow citizens. Only sorta not. And yes, it ends exactly the same way. But, strangely, we don't mind all that much.

(P.S. Thanks to the hoster, whom we assume to be named Zac.)
Judging the Weekend
So on a scale of 1 to 372 (1 being the Marble Index, 372 being Broken Social Scene in Montreal) how would we rate Friday night's Last Last Show Ever? We're gonna say about 275. With bonus points for the spring rolls and pineapple fried rice. And the girls. They're pretty key. And how bout Liss rocking the mic between sets? Who knew she could throw down like that?

P.S. Anybody see the Hidden Cameras or FemBots or Barmitzvah Bros or...?
P.P.S. Please say somebody bootlegged the BSS show. Please?
P.P.P.S. Why must The Globe suck the fun out of everything?

Update... 8:29pm EST...
Gobsmacked! reviews from Wong, Chiu, Records, Michelle and Wong again. Plus we just remembered that Justin from Hidden Cameras told us his favourite moment was watching a young blind boy stop and groove to Jim Guthrie. Sweetness.
Above
All I is saying is that if oppressively clever-clever is a sin, we all be going to hell. Take the law firm of S, F & J. As much as we love them. Though, by means of a defense, the one they gave to Gawker was pretty good. But still... different medium... we know, we know.

Friday, August 27, 2004

My baby don't tolerate
I hope this will be appreciated for the light-hearted jab that it is... but, in a debate such as this, for dear Nellie to be derided as "too oppressively clever-clever to be anything approaching likeable"... I just kinda chuckle. I love each and every one of us (and, maybe foolishly, count myself among the guilty on the rare occasion I can summon such stuff), but if the world is unsafe for the "oppressively clever-clever" than all of us better pack up our blogs and go home.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

With Love
Where were we when the Pop Montreal line-up was announced? Franz Ferdinand, Weakerthans, Black Keys, Mission of Burma, Constantines, Death From Above 1979, Illuminati, Deadly Snakes, Keane, French Kicks, great lake swimmers, Jim Guthrie, Wolf Parade, Magnolia Electric Co, Hold Steady, Q and Not U... our ears are ringin already.
Words fer yer moms. Liss don't just write, she drops bombs
So the sky is falling. Or so Kevin Drew tells Sarah Liss:

"We're a mess as a band," he sighs, shooting a look at co-founder Brendan Canning, who's sitting beside him in this park in Little Italy on an appropriately gloomy, humid day. "If you see our name at the door, if we're on a guest list, if we go to a restaurant, if we show up at a bar, if we go as a group or a collective anywhere, we're a big mess. The stereotypes of musicians are true. We have a song called It's All Gonna Break, and it finally happened. We got lost in the 'Yeah, it's so fucking great,' and now we have to maintain something. Sure, we built it all on friends and family, but when that gets fucked up, then what? It all slowly starts to crumble."

Deep breaths. We've been here before. Still this sound serious. So maybe the sky is falling. Though we'd bet the $1.26 we've got here in front of us that the heavens will hold for a bit longer. Then? Who knows? It happens. But we all knew as much when we started caring. So don't go crying on us now. Well, alright, cry a bit. But keep it quiet alright, we don't want to scare the kids.

Anyway. See you all Friday night. Last. Show. Ever.

P.S. Just us? Or did the city feel a little... well... suspicious tonight?
P.P.S. Scott Baio?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Wait until The Globe and Mail hears about this...
The New York Times watches and listens as Diana Krall goes to war with her audience. Sort of. To wit:

At Radio City Music Hall, where she concluded a 34-city tour, Ms. Krall was not backing down. Although there were a fair number of walkouts, the capacity audience generally expressed a cautious approval of a concert that pushed pop-jazz to an unusual level of sophistication for a large concert hall.

For this she wins comparisons to Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt and, of course, Joni. Holden's thesis is interesting though. That this isn't Krall v. The Jazz Establishment but Krall v. Her Audience, which is very nearly Krall v. Krall. And (and this is really rare) it gives Krall some credit. God forbid she should have some artistic ambitions in that pretty little head of hers. Not that he's unwilling to acknowledge her limitations.

Ms. Krall is obviously reaching for something very high. If it is still not quite within her grasp, you can only applaud the courage it takes to make such a dangerous and unnecessary leap into unknown territory.

Smart. Her and him. Dunno if he's entirely right (Girl in the Other Room seemed to pass these ears rather unremarkably), but it's refreshing to see someone put some genuine thought into the matter. It's an interesting gimmick.
Shania Twain Sibling Watch
Dude. If you're going to deal drugs (allegedly), at least have the decency to use some of the proceeds to cover your rent (allegedly). That's just flagrant.
I ain't that cake
What gives with the new Amy Milan, you ask? Well. Apparently Amy put her solo stuff on hold for the Stars record. Something tells us we were once told that like six songs were done but that no release date is set. Or something. Liss or Tab prolly know betta.

Loose Fur:

Listen to the new Sarah Slean record here (dunno how I feel bout that cover art). k-os is going to be working with Kardinal on the next next record. In the meantime, Kill Bloodclot Kill is out there (but you probably already knew that). Indeed, there's a new Boy album coming. Will hopefully post a track here soon. Most of it falls somewhere between fourth-album Oasis and first-album Interpol. I hear Brenndan McGuire. Make of that what you will. And somebody tell me what happened on Canadian Idol... this dude is working the Sokyrka Watch, but he's in Japan.
Can Fiona come out and play?
Anxious to know what's going on with Miss Apple's album? Why not just call her dad?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Shania's bro loves him some blow (allegedly)
Darryl Christopher Twain faces drug- trafficking charges in Edmonton (via Bourque)
And they were all
From the latest Arts & Crafts propaganda:

STARS . SET YOURSELF ON FIRE

On October 12th, "Set Yourself On Fire", the third album in the history of Stars will be released in Canada.

Recorded largely in Montreal and mixed by Tony Hoffer (Air, Beck, Phoenix, Grandaddy), Set Yourself On Fire sees Stars build upon their already acclaimed catalogue of songs about life, love, death, heartbreak. and the need to set yourself on fire when there's nothing left to burn.

This will be the first release for Arts&Crafts International, a joint-venture between ourselves and our friends at Aquarius/DKD in Montreal.

We will be posting music from the album soon, including first single, "Ageless Beauty".

www.arts-crafts.ca/stars
And then my head exploded
Broken Social Scene are now shilling for snowboard apparel. Crazy, yo.

"There is always one member of our group that is rocking DAKINE bags, belts, or hats,” adds Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene. “I just realized that Kevin Drew (lead singer for Broken Social Scene) has my DAKINE hoodie, but of course, he already has his own so that tells you how he feels about DAKINE. But I'm most fond of the large Split Roller, that bag is perfect for touring.”

Update...
They're also going Hollywood (North). Man. They've totally sold out to the man. Man.

BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE TO SCORE NEW BRUCE MCDONALD FILM

Not only have our dear Broken Social Scene been working tirelessly on their new album but they are also just now completing the film score for THE LOVE CRIMES OF GILLIAN GUESS.

Directed by Bruce McDonald and staring Joely Collins, Hugh Dillon and Ben Bass, THE LOVE CRIMES OF GILLIAN GUESS is a wild ride through the mind of a real-life tabloid victim.

In 1995, Gillian Guess (Joely Collins) was a single mother raising her kids, lamenting her humdrum life. Then she reported for jury duty on a high-profile criminal case, slept with the accused, and became the centre of a media frenzy. Structured around Guess's appearance on a fictional talk show, the film shuttles between video, Super 8, and animation, and is McDonald's most freewheeling work to date.

Shot entirely in Vancouver, the film is set to premiere at the 2004 Toronto Film Festival.

Bruce's other films include Hard Core Logo, Dance Me Outside, Highway 61 and Roadkill.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Boobya
Janet Jackson says Bush used her nipple to distract from war

Hot potato. Thing is, things be just crazy enough (or perceived to be crazy enough) right now that it doesn't seem that implausible (though if you really sit down and think about it, it is rather implausible, even for him).

More... Aug. 25, 1:24am EST...
From the NY Post:

"I truly feel in my heart that the president wanted to take the focus off of him at that time, and I was the perfect vehicle to do so at that moment . . . I mean, it's a bunch of bulls- - -. When you see 'Fahrenheit 9/11,' it just confirms it."
All the cool kids
We're PopWherry. And we approved this message...

"Blogging is getting to be like pot. Everybody does it, but not everybody (especially those "adult professionals) is willing to admit it publicly. So one night you're stumbling around and you happen upon a bunch of ladies you thought you knew hot-boxing their own little corner of the blogosph... (Scott was right, that word sucks) and writing restaurant reviews of trendy Toronto boozeries you can only ever hope to vicariously frequent through them. Gawd bless ya, ya pickles. If only every night could be GNO."

(Also. Links at right have been updated. Predominantly on the Cancrit menu. Even got some polka now. So enjoy. And let us know if we're missing anybody who's a somebody of note.)

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Weekend Reading
Toronto institution C'est What says so long
Robert Everett-Green says so much about protest songs
Punk's lost classic is found
Bjork: No brain please
Bjork's Medulla: Needs more tunes
Nellie McKay: Wondefully bumping up against her own limitations
The Ramones: Serious personality disorders and conflicts
Justin Timberlake: The GQ Interview
Papa Wemba: Pop star, people smuggler, jailbird, demagogue
Jeff Buckley: A decade after
Shaun Ryder: Still mad for it
Dido Doesn't know when she is actually good
Lou Reed: Poignant old coot
LL Cool J: Still the GOAT
Rap Sheets cross the pond
The Prodigy: All but forgotten, except across the pond
Jill Scott: Enjoying her multiple voice disorder
Donovan: Back and trying to catch the beat
R.Kelly is disturbing, but Jay-Z still has love
Sage Francis invites punny headlines
The Perceptionists: Boston's indie hip-hop supergroup with a crap name
Usher comes of age, gets own debit card
Ozomatli: The Warped Tour's salsa-hip-hop-rock crossover collective
Unkle Kracker: Unfortunately still making music
While the music industry burns, Country marches on
***
SFJ, Carl and others are way ahead of us. Good luck trying to catch up.
Chang's got his eye on the spooks
Chromewaves with Wilco ticket deets/detes
Alex Ross on Elmer Bernstein
Defamer on Hilton Week
And Gramophone with an all-star list of guest bloggers

More...
The Globe and Mail on C'est What's last night
The Globe and The Star on Toronto's subway busker auditions (King Achilla Orru Apaa Idomo periodically rocks PopWherry's daily commute)
And the Phillipine Star mourns the loss of Elena Juatco
She's going for speed
MuchMusic is pushing their little movie so, so hard. Ricky and Amanda, probably feel like they have to shower after all the shilling. Possibly together.

And they must feel especially dirty now that it's clear their bosses have laid an egg. Or so we're told:

"An inexplicably dated, sexist Porky's knockoff... none of it is anywhere near the land of funny!"
-Liam Lacey, The Globe and Mail, 0 Stars

"If Going The Distance were a book, it would be dismissed immediately as an expensive, embarrassing exercise in vanity publishing!"
-Susan Walker, The Toronto Star, 1 Star

"Pretty stupid!"
-Liz Braun, The Toronto Sun, 2.5 Stars
(Note: elsewhere she, er, "jokes" that she's holding back so as not to anger the CHUM gods)

"Repulsive in just about every way!"
-Joel McConvey, Eye, 2 Stars
Incest: No good can ever come from this
But, hey, if they didn't love each other, who would?

"[Gary] Beals album is licensed from Farley Flex and film/TV exec's Sudhir Morar's production company, Plasma Corporation. Kindling will also release Canadian Idol runner-up, Toya Alexis's debut, S.O.B. Story By Toya Alexis, sometime in the fall. Gold and Flex are both judges on Canadian Idol. Flex manages Beals and Alexis. Gold manages fellow Idol judge Sass Jordan and will be putting out her next studio album on Kindling in the new year."

Friday, August 20, 2004

Pass the O.J. cos I got juice
Sorry, but were we out of town when everybody decided to organize some sort of anti-K-OS protest? Cos we totally over-looked the effigy burning of which he speaks on Joyful Rebellion's Crucial: "All round my hometown, they try to chop me down, but the truth will not forsake me." Er. What inspired this pity party? Where's the hate?

Clearly this is something buried deep in the past because dude's got MuchMusic on his sacroiliac. Eye's Stuberman absolutely lurves him. And even NOW's Tim Perlich is sorta impressed with the new disc. (Everybody else in this city just guests on his album.)

So I say, building on the continuing Billy Talent debate below, K-OS: Yay or Nay? That question open to all, not just people who pass such judgments for a living.

P.S. Maestro Fresh Wes v. K-OS. Who would you rather go see She Hate Me with?
P.P.S. And who would you rather see the Princess Diaries 2 with?
P.P.P.S. Or would you rather just stand them both up and go get drunk with Lindsay Lohan while Fez looks on?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Gorilla Head
Pitchfork shows a distinct lack of familiarity with Mississauga geography in a review of the Hidden Cameras' Mississauga Goddam. Unfortunately this had to happen. Sooner or later, rightly but more likely wrongly, someone was going to write the "This gay-church-folk-music schtick is so 2002" review. We defer to Mr. Gibb in this regard:

"I think a band with four boys dressed the same, playing the same boring instrument, that's a shtick that people don't even call a schtick because our society's still [considers] that normal. It's a schtick to mystify yourself by not looking at the audience, playing to each other, not to an audience. That's what creates the opposite atmosphere for us. Where there's a clear divide. We are the band. You are the audience. You pay your money. And you come and watch us. And that's it.

"So if it is a schtick, that's ok. Because at least my schtick isn't that kind of schtick."
Let's bottle it and make a fortune
Controller.Controller get smooches from Ultragrrrl in the latest Spin:
History (Paper Bag) Like a darker Moving Units, this female-fronted dance-punk band from Toronto makes you wanna bounce around your bedroom practicing your moves in case they make it to your town. (Sarah Lewitinn, assistant editor)
Your Feist. Your Post.
The National Post has reprised its summer Lives of the Artists series - weekly diaries from the interesting and irreverent - and for the past week this has meant a peek inside the daily doings of Leslie Feist. In my employers' infinite generosity (now about that raise...), two of the five dispatches from PopWherry's consensus All-Canadian starting songbird are available online for free. And they're lovely. Though you didn't need me to tell you that.

Monday: What songs are for
Tuesday: A place that sees into the past (subscriber only)
Wednesday: Understand France on one pound a novel
Thursday: Forget fatigue; the tour must go on (subscriber only)
Friday: Cultural cluelessness (subscriber only)

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The front page and the fame. Or the latter without the former.
The biggest and perhaps best un(der)written story in Canadian music remains Billy Talent (Alexisonfire a close second I'd wager), who re-entered the top ten this week. Stick around one minute more, they're better than you think. Not to sound like an old bore, but we ALL slept on these boys.
It's always mutual
The Hip finally explain their management situation and Karen Bliss is there to jot down every word.

Apparently, their split with Jake Gold (yes, that Jake Gold) "wasn't an acrimonious thing." But then Gord Sinclair sorta makes it sound kinda acrimonious. To wit:

"One of the bad habits we'd fallen into over a period of time was that we had less faith in the decisions that were being made on our behalf, in terms of what our business was. We were doing the same things over and over. So we really were looking for new management. We wanted to get a fresh perspective on what it was we do for a living in a business sense...

... The other great thing about Sam [Feldman] is he has a very broad outlook for what he's hoping to achieve with us. For the first time ever in our careers, we're actually sitting down and having long-term forecasting and strategizing on how we want to approach things, how we want to tour, how we want to record, the whens and the wheres. It's a great feeling for us to know there's someone looking down the road. We're at a stage in our career where a lot of people want to put us out to pasture."
Scenes from New York
Sometimes we wish life here was as blogworthy. Sometimes we think it probably is and we're just missing out because we spend so much time chained to our keyboards blogging about 18-year-old kids from Medicine Hat and periodically translating those bits of blog into nearly comprehensible newspaper copy. Hey, everybody's got to make a living.

For the self-hating Torontonian with a NYC fixation (so that would be everyone except maybe you), we bring news of a bum-rushed Nas, a rum-blushed (it could happen) Chloe Sevigny and a short list of things you could be doing if you were where they were. But you're not. So you can't. And until you get that job as an editorial assistant at a top Manhattan modelling agency, you're just going to have to live with it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Kalan Porter, these are your fans
Since contract negotiations with Liss broke down (What? You want a signing bonus on top of my undying respect and admiration?! Pfft...), I was forced into action last week and decided to use the bully pulpit that is my place of work to broadcast my hateful language.

It's not hate, really. I kinda like Kalan. He's just rather boring. And yes, maybe there is that crush on Theresa, but I don't know what that has to do with anything.

Anyway. Canadian teens are an unruly bunch. And though it is often the least interesting of columnist tricks to fill space, here's a peak inside the mailbag - this week's batch just far too entertaining to be seen only by these jaded eyes. They're all good kids. And, god-willing, they'll remain so passionate (though maybe find more interesting people to be so passionate about).

A small sampling:

These people have feels. They are human like everyone else. How would you like if I just went around telling people that you were a geek? You have no respect for other people's feelings. Also how can you call Canadian Idol a failure. Millions of people watch every week. You disgust me and if it were up to me I would have you fired because you cannot go around saying the things that you did about the contestants on the Idol shows -Krystn

How dare you call our Idols, the best Idols ever, no-talent singers? I would LOVE to here you sing like Jacob, Kalan or Jason. BETCHA YOU CAN'T!! And Ryan Malcolm was not a mistake. Sure, the best singer didn't win, but he still is pretty good. He can sing, and he is loved by our country (Most of it). And, you are WAY WAY WAYYY to blunt in your article. Calling Ruban Studdard fat and sweaty... now that may be true, but you don't have to go and say it!! America thinks of him as there teddy bear. I don't. Personally I think he can't sing to save his life. But ya know, I'm Canadian, so who cares about my opinion. -Stephie

that is soo rude... if u dont have anything nice to say dont say anything at all... like seriously... the idols are not by all means saying things about you are they??? they prolly dont even know you!!! all of us are discusted with your attemp to put the idols down...who are you to say those things you did... they dont trash u on CI or national tv do they??? - G

You must be a very terrible person to write such horrible things about people you do not even know. Obviously you are very jealous of the attention they all receive, and you will still be living on your meager wage writing these ridiculous articles while Kalan Porter is on his way to fame and fortune. It looks really good on you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Enjoy your life bashing people. I’m certain you will have a lot to explain to your maker when the time arrives. - Darrell

Please remind me how it is a bad thing that Kalan works on his family's farm, loves his parents, God and hockey? Are you looking for an Idol who sits on their bottom, hates his parents, is anti-religious and hates all forms of sports? What an excellent role model for Canadians, if you'll excuse my sarcasm. The boy is an excellent example of the average Canadian, and guess what else? He can sing. - McKenzie

Speaking about our judges, if they don't "f-ing care" than that's totally their problem. We are the people who vote, it's not they who decides who wins. So if we don't back up the person we vote for by buying their CDs when they win, than we can only blame ourselves when they become the next one-hit wonder (as for puppies, the way you've been talking, sounds like one just peed on the side of your leg). - Becky
The Globe and Mail: Jazz must die
The latest in a periodic series - Ask him about jazz: 'They're killing it, man'

... He's not alone in his thinking, even if he's alone in thinking it out loud. "The jazz business has become institutionalized with these festivals," he observes, giving voice to a concern felt by many Canadian jazzers whose loyalties, like his own, are first and foremost to the music's creative rather than commercial imperatives. "It's like a pot-smoker I know who said [about marijuana], 'Whatever they do, I hope they never legalize it.' It's the same thing with jazz. They've legalized it, they've institutionalized it, and they're killing it, man."

That's perhaps an unfair charge to raise within hailing distance of the Markham festival, which is offering an intelligent, if conservative lineup largely free under Hal Hill's artistic direction from the non-jazz and near-jazz programming that characterizes so many Canadian festivals each summer -- and that rubs so many of the country's jazz musicians raw...

Monday, August 16, 2004

Not recommended
From something called The Republican (as if Nellie really had a chance with a publication of that name):
McKay, a 19-year-old piano player and songwriter with a caustic - if not naive - wit, sounds exactly like a 19-year-old piano player and songwriter with a caustic - if not naive - wit.

And your point is?
The man should know better...
... than to fuck with the blog.
It's TaipEi you idiot!
We haven't had time for much weekend reading of late. Forgive please. In rare moments of solitude we've managed to conclude/discover exactly nine items of note:
1. We don't like the new Arcade Fire album as much as Sean does.
2. We like the new Elliott Smith album more than Mark does.
3. But either way, we don't like or dislike nearly as much stuff as Alex Ross does.
4. Frank is a man of his word - and Wilco are coming back in the fall.
5. The blogosphere has a new snarker-in-chief.
6. Jay takes pretty pictures.
7. Carl writes interesting stories (even if he does pick on us in members-only Internet messageboards).
8. Celine Dion will never go away.
9. Johnny Cash was so better than us. All of us. Combined.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Taking stock
Right then. For those of you keeping score at home, here are reviews of Madonna, Prince, Festival Express and two fine examples of rock lit, as well as interviews with the Hidden Cameras and Keshia Chante.

And while we're at it, why not pause to update our continuing consideration of the year so far (and yes, we did steal this idea from you-know-who).

Friday, August 13, 2004

"Let’s imagine for a second that you are an artist."
Maisonneuve's Jarret McNeill takes up the Free Fiona cause.

There's been a surprising lack of news on the Fiona front. Last we heard she was going back into the studio to start all over again. But the lack of explanation from Fiona or Sony is frustrating. And the larger silence of the Rolling Stones and Spins is... well... weird. Sort of fun watching these kids go all Lord of the Flies on each other in the meantime though.

Sooner or later the truth will out. Right?

Update... June 13, 2:32am EST...
While you wait, here's news of her sister.
"I'm not intelligent enough to do certain things to get certain places, but I'm glad, 'cos I got here, which is pretty sweet."
Nellie McKay's British invasion begins with a mostly positive piece in The Guardian (the writer does identify her debut album as "Get Away With Me" - though that might have been a better title all the same). The first two paragraphs especially go some length to capturing Miss McKay circa 2004:

Nellie McKay isn't a morning person. It's lunchtime, but she was up early to tape a TV appearance. In the lobby of a San Francisco hotel, she uncurls herself from the sofa onto which she's flopped and, brushing hair from her eyes, offers a sleepy, drawled "Hi", as if she were a 14-year-old at a slumber party.

In fact, she's the 19-year-old author of a wilfully eccentric, impossible to categorise debut album. Hailed as a prodigy in the US, critics have frothed over her ability to switch from elegant jazz to rap to complex satirical songs worthy of Sondheim. She disappears upstairs to change for the photographer; when she returns - in a shimmering cocktail dress and heels - it's as if she's thrown on the sophistication of someone 10 years older. Her skin glows under the lamplight.
Fresh Meat
Went with an enemy combatant to see Elliott Brood at the Horseshoe this evening. Banjos are the new punk rock we decided. Make of that what you will.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

But just barely
Mase with the quip of the day/week/month/year/decade/millenium:

"I mean if you got God on your side, that's better than coming in the joint with Suge Knight."
This isn't Friday. There will be no love.
Not so sorry I missed the Cure then (Jam's Jason MacNeil was impressed, though when was the last time a Jam writer wasn't impressed?)

Otherwise, not only is Usher the new Michael Jackson, but he's also the new Boyz II Men AND the new Marvin Gaye. Or so says Alan Niester. Sort of.

Hey, remember, like, long ago when we were saying all those sorts of things about Justin Timberlake. That was, like, what? Er. Last year!? Whatever happened to J.Tim? (Oh.)

Otherwise has all the makings of a decent middleweight bout. But Usher can't seem to decide whether he wants to get in the ring or not (see also: here and here).

P.S. When did again become alright to want to be Michael Jackson?
Quick! Finish this sentence before your 15 minutes of CanCon fame are up!
Kyprios slams Janet Jackson in the pages of Maclean's:

THE MOST OVERRATED SINGER IS...
Janet Jackson. She lip-synchs so nobody knows what she sounds like live.
Long ago when we was fab
Strokes news (embarrassing photo included).
Tiny Dancer
You asked for ballet, so we give you ballet - Vanessa Carlton's video for White Houses, the first single from her forthcoming album Harmonium (co-produced by Stephan Jenkins).

P.S. What do you mean you didn't ask for ballet?
P.P.S. Sometimes I feel bad for Michelle Branch.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

De La Soul inspired by Making the Band II
And other "thought-provoking" insights into life.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

DE LA SOUL READY TO TAKE YOU ON A GRIND DATE

DE LA SOUL’S NEW RELEASE THE GRIND DATE TO DEBUT THROUGH JOINT VENTURE WITH SANCTUARY URBAN RECORDS GROUP AND THEIR OWN AOI RECORDS

Celebrated hip-hop originators De La Soul are set to release their 8th CD, The Grind Date, on Mathew Knowles-helmed Sanctuary Urban Records Group (SURG) on September 28. De La Soul’s The Grind Date will be the first release on Sanctuary Urban, a division of London-based power-house record label, Sanctuary Records Group...

... With the release of The Grind Date, the group reflects on their anticipation about putting out their first album in three years. Maceo states, “To get to the point of releasing this new album it’s been a grind, but as a group we have never stopped working. Over the past three years we have been busy traveling the world taking hip hop to places like Prague, Ireland, and Poland, as well as continuing to play in the mainstays such as London and the U.S. We have also been busy designing a new limited edition shoe with Nike called the ‘De La Dunk’ that is due to arrive in stores in the fall, and we are gearing up to teach a class a NYU this fall on hip hop, as well as working on our new album.”

The Grind Date is about how everyone today grinds to reach their destiny. The idea for the title came to Pos as he watched MTV. “I was watching ‘Making the Band’ and Puff was sending Babs on a blind date,” Pos remembers. “He was like ‘Yo, we gotta just do what we gotta do to get this album poppin’. Somebody mentioned being on a grind, and from that we thought of the title being The Grind Date.”

The CD is filled with thought-provoking songs: “Shopping Bags” takes a look at how men put themselves out there in the world of dating. Pos explains, “It deals with how certain types of men go out of their way to impress women with money and materialistic things just to be with her but oftentimes gets nothing in return.” “Church” -- which enlists Spike Lee in the intro to give listeners a wake-up call like no one else can -- is a “Stakes is High” type of song that talks to people about getting their lives together. “It’s Like” talks about taking the time out to really think about things we overlook to realize how important they are. It in particular identifies with hip hop to ensure people realize that hip hop is more than a paycheck. Dave reiterates, “There wouldn’t be Escalade trucks if it wasn’t for hip hop!”

Guest appearances on The Grind Date include film-maker Spike Lee, the great storyteller Bonz Malone (Slam), Bad Boy Carl Thomas, De La Soul staple Yummi, Common, MF Doom, Sean Paul, Butta Verses (signed to Maceo’s label Bear Mountain Entertainment) and Wutang member Ghostface, while production work is done by producers such as JayDee of Slum Village, Dave West, Madlib, and Jake1.
Easy Muthafuckin' Greeley
Only Jason Greeley could make Lionel Ritchie's Easy seem vaguely threatening.

P.S. Jacob's alleged charm officially ran out tonight.
Life in Southern Ontario
Here (back in Ye Olde Ryegate for a bit) the darndest things do happen. Teachers bite students. Mennonites save lives. Bees kill cows. And unruly, girlie gangs drive down property values. But, hey, at least we're getting a new gigantoplex.
Alright already
We like to keep our kudos to a quota so as not to seem particularly fawning or smitten. But Chromewaves done done it again. Or something. And here he reminds us of these (ie. new Nellie McKay tunes!).
Swoon. Columbia is Bleeding we heard live for the first time a month and a half ago. Mickey Mouse is, on first listen, wonderful (if crazy sounding). About John(Squared). And the Ralphinader. With what might be a prediction of Democratic defeat (?). Lyrics here.

Says Nellie:
"It's about the Democratic ticket. Someone has got to hold them accountable. Everytime I hear them speak, they make me want to vote for Nader. Why did they miss that vote on the gay marriage amendment? Because they're chicken."
Rick James Redux
The Super Freak "spotted doing cocaine at a party" shocker! (Via XRRF) Mourners to walk honourary white line at funeral (note: not really) (via Defamer). And Trent directs us to a fine recap (super fine picture included).

P.S. Meet the Mynah Birds

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

"They have also played with Moist, Kim Mitchell and Blue Rodeo, to name but a few."
CanCon mediocrity, thy name is See Spot Run:

"It was a privilege [to join See Spot Run]," added Trager. "Justin and I were actually talking about it last night on the way to Tim Hortons. Just the thrill that we get every night, playing some of these songs—in particular ‘Weightless.’ It’s cool to play a song that everyone knows, and we’re actually playing it. Playing ‘Weightless’ every night is living the dream for me."
Possibly the first time Lenny Kravitz has been considered "consistent with high standards"
Pregame special ushers in post-Janet era
?uestlove's favourite Brit
Hear the new Joss Stone album here.
Black conductor fears he will remain exception
Canadian-born Kwame Ryan conducting things in Germany:

"It's a question of exposure and it is a deficit that is passed on from generation to generation. Seeing droves of black people in opera houses and concert halls is the exception, and that means the seeds have been planted for the next 20 years. I am afraid I have no optimism for the future."
Tweedy was wrong, Chrome is like Heaven
Those parts of the Toronto music universe not currently under the rule of Zoilus have long been occupied by the Chromewaves. And oh they are strong and noble forces. But kind and generous.

Things we learned from them recently:
-A bootleg of Wilco's recent show is now available
-Wilco will be back here later this year to play Massey Hall. Just. As. We. Had. Hoped.
-The world needs more cute girl bassists
-Rogue Wave brings the loud
90% of the world is covered by Google. The other 10% doesn't matter.
Using Google-obtained credit card numbers to order music through iTunes just a little too illegal for you? Well how bout just using Google to find free MP3s? (Links via Stereogum and XRRF respectively)
Somebody had to say it
Jay is justifiably sick of Shyne. Early frontrunner for most non non-story of the year (Vibe cover story so, so underwhelming by the way).

Monday, August 9, 2004

Stretch it until it could be just about anything
The latest Canadian Idol odds:

Kalan Porter -125
Jason Greeley +400
Jacob Hoggard +500
Kaleb Simmonds +500
Elena Juatco +700
Theresa Sokyrka +1200
Shane Wiebe +2000

Medicine Hat Kalan should coast to victory. He's the Christian-Canadian Justin Timberlake. God help us. Abbotsford Jacob thinks he sounds like Matt Good. Which is unfair. To Matt Good. Still, he'll have a shot as long as the judges are willing to celebrate his continuing audition for one of the Comedy Network's myriad sketch shows. (Upper Island Cove Jason defies all explanation. The thousands of us lacking in bran must identify with his obvious constipation.)

Our nation's sweetest sweetheart and, as I will write eventually in some sort of mass-produced newsprint, Canadian Idol's lone hope for redemption/justification, Theresa Sokyrka, seems to be suffocating.

(edited)
Hug Your Mom
Even if she didn't write songs for Sinatra.
Jumping to be allowed at upcoming Avril Lavigne concert
Normally this wouldn't be news. But in Seoul, it is.

Sunday, August 8, 2004

Ron Sexsmith is the new John Mayer
Not really.
The Illusion of Exclusivity
An interesting piece (note to self: look into only posting interesting pieces here, thereby making the adjective moot) about Team Nellie's plans to conquer Britain from The Times:

Nevertheless, when she hits Britain next week, McKay will seem like a star. She will certainly be treated like one — put up in a top hotel, taken out to expensive restaurants, and perhaps be seen with some of Sony’s more famous signings. More importantly, she will be presented as a star to the press, radio and TV people queuing up to talk to her. So far, most requests to meet McKay have been turned down. The carefully orchestrated PR campaign means only a few choice features will run before the album is released. Her first radio and TV appearances will be just as controlled, turning McKay into a so-called “exclusive” before she has even released a record. If it’s starting to sound like a con, well, it is a little, although McKay’s record company would prefer to call it clever marketing.
Fighting the power (note: may not actually fight power)
Yeah, sure. But this?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Attention News & Entertainment Editors:

Canadian Musicians Take On Bush
Series of "Bush Fires" concerts kick-off at Lula Lounge in Toronto then head to Montreal, New York.

Prominent Canadian musicians, including Danny Michel, Ron Hawkins, Rita di Ghent and 80s Canadian music stars Martha & the Muffins are lending their talents to the movement to oust US President Bush.

Other Toronto performers include up and comers Menew, and Nine Mile, master underground rap artists the Dope Poets Society, along with djs Zahra & Medicineman. Internationally celebrated belly-dancer Roula Said will also be performing, along with well-known Toronto spoken word artist Dwayne Morgan.

They will perform in Toronto on Wednesday, August 18 and Thursday, August 19 at LULA LOUNGE, located at 1585 Dundas St. West (www.lula.ca).

Funds raised will help pay for buses heading down to the Republican National Convention in New York on August 29. Buses are being organized by the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War.

"The outcome of the US elections will have a big impact on Canada and the world. It's our duty to make it clear how we feel about the war-mongering policies of president Bush to our American brothers and sisters," said AAW organizer Shawn Whitney and Artistic Director of Lost Carnival Theatre...


Cheers to any and all who feel so moved as to try and change the world. But if some group of c-list American musicians showed up on Yonge St. tomorrow to make it clear how they feel about the mediocrity-mongering policies of Prime Minister Martin to their Canadian brothers and sisters, Martha & the Muffins and friends would be organizing another slew of concerts to protest such an insult to our sovereignty.

Not a fair comparison given America's SuperPowers and Canada's burgeoning irrelevance? Alright, so let's say several of Luxembourg's c-list musicians...

Friday, August 6, 2004

Rick James, 1948-2004


Funk singer dies in Los Angeles
***
Zentronix: Dubwise and Hiphopcentric
Pop Life
HipHopMusic.com
Stereogum
Popular Cult
Defamer
New York London Paris Munich
ilXor

Thursday, August 5, 2004

Just a thought
What if Canada had a Mercury Prize? What if a number (let's say 20) of Canada's music critics got together and decided to create such a thing? And what if the voting worked something like this: Each jury member nominates three Canadian albums from the last calendar year for consideration. Votes are tabulated and the top seven nominees (there would have to be some sort of tiebreaker we suppose) are determined. Those seven are then sent back to jury members, who would then rank those seven from first to last. Using a points system (seven for first, six for second...) a winner would then be determined. Some sponsorship could be found to involve a cash prize. Someone might organize a rousing little party to celebrate. Promotion virtually guaranteed through the country's biggest print media outlets. Needn't be a massive undertaking at first. But something vital to promote unique, creative and exciting music from our home and native land. (Needn't be a sales restriction like the Shortlist either. No need to limit it as such - especially as the voters will likely trend away from the big and commercial anyway. Otherwise, all genres and artists welcome.) Pretty straightforward, no? So why don't we do this?

Questions? Comments? Concerns?
Name dropping Barry Melrose like a champion
City Pages' Jon Dolan with more than a mouthful on A.C. Newman:
At 35, Carl "AC" Newman falls somewhere in the foothills of the generational Himalayas that separate BTO and B2K, and he's appropriately preoccupied with the wan ravages of that capricious slutzilla Father Time. The name of his really colossally super new record, The Slow Wonder (Matador), evokes late-breaking epiphanies yanked from the maw of fraying possibility.
So... uh... that's... um... good, right?
The Hindustan Times with a warning for Toronto
Rishi Rich set to take Canada by storm
WaPo: Poverty causes homophobia
(forgive, litte behind on our reading)
Beenie Man discusses car crashes, dance hall and gay love:

"I think Jamaica is not a world dat open to the rest of the world, it's enclosed. It's not like me that go out in the world and know that, okay, gay people are born to be gay... This is their ways; you cannot change it. There's nothing they can do to help themselves, yunno. Just like a man love woman, you got man love man," he says.

"But Jamaica is a spiritual country, like I explain it to you how my grandfather explain it to me. My grandfather said, 'If a man make love to a man, the life that we know cease to exist because man cannot have kids. And if a woman make love to a woman, a woman cannot get a woman pregnant, so life as we know cease to exist. There'd be no life."

Perhaps this emphasis on the creation of life is an outgrowth of the extreme poverty endured by so many Jamaicans. "So many people are dying, too," says Beenie. "I think that's a big part of it."

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Brother Down
The Toronto chapter of the Gramophone Appreciation Society will be holding a candlelight, non-denominational prayer vigil at Dundas Square Thursday night at 9pm. Mixtapes of obscure Francophone-Irish-chamber-indie-folk-hop and crudely drawn impressionistic photos of what you imagine Sean to look like will be added to the semi-premanent shrine. Discussions are underway to have Les Mouches, Royal City and Arcade Fire perform the songs of Nina Simone in tribute. Fireworks afterwards!

(Get well soon Sean. Sincerely, Management.)
Wednesday Morning Traffic Surge
Salon's Thomas Barlett discusses the plight of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine. Salon readers go to Google. Search for further info. Land here. And we all win. Well, except for Fiona, we suppose. But hey...
l,e,g,i,t


If forced to choose, our electoral college votes would be cast in favour of Showtime. Tighter. Fitter. Darker. More productive. World domination hinges on the accent and radio's distinct lack of closed captioning. But it's just the accent, stupid.

SFJ on Dizzee Rascal's Showtime, Part I
SFJ on Dizzee Rascal's Showtime, Part II
ilXor on same
Dizzee talks and freestyles on the radio
I'd never seen a man's hair cry. Until tonight.
I was going to write that Jeff Tweedy looks unwell. But that's not right. It's just that he looks like he's gone through hell (chrome or otherwise). Well, sort of. He finds his happy place about four songs in. And then it's all smiles and sweat and squeals. Too many Puddle of Mudd fans in need of a mosh (note: the guitar solo is not always, as a general rule, cause for celebration). Still find the Mod Club a bit too dark. Or something. But otherwise more than splendid.

Anyway. I've decided that to enjoy Wilco you must ignore everything and at least grudgingly accept the idea of the unmade man. Take that for whatever it's worth.

Seen and/or heard: Jason Collett, Matthew Barber, Tony Clement (the best unemployed politician in Canada), Dave (who lived across the street from me when I was growing up in ye olde Ryegate), and an apologetic Sarah Liss (scroll down).

P.S. Why is this woman always on Ch. 39?
P.P.S. A friend reported from Bonnaroo that Tweedy looked fat. He was clearly high (the friend that is).

Update... August 5th, 4am EST...
A good guy named Lackner with a great review in The Globe and Mail
The Toronto Sun and Toronto Star chime in.

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

"Justin Timberwolf or whatever he's called."
How much longer will Mike Love be permitted to piss all over the Beach Boys' legacy?
Cleaning out the Inbox
Neko Case to release a live album: Mint Records will release Neko Case's new live album, The Tigers Have Spoken, on November 9, 2004. The album has been licensed to Anti- for the world outside of Canada. Recorded over 7 nights and at 3 different venues in Chicago and Toronto, the album finds Neko backed by a full band featuring the Sadies and steel guitar whiz Jon Rauhouse and special guests Kelly Hogan, Carolyn Mark, Jim & Jennie and the Pinetops, Paul Morstad and Brian Connelly.

While Tigers is a live album, it is not your typical career retrospective - only two of the eleven songs are from Neko's back catalog. In addition to two new original compositions, Neko wraps her powerful pipes around a surprising collection of covers written by artists like Buffy Saint Marie, Loretta Lynn, the Shangri-La's and Freakwater's Catherine Irwin. The set closes with impassioned versions of the standards, "Wayfaring Stranger" and "This Little Light", which Neko forever makes her own.


Proper studio album due Spring 2005

Meanwhile, Beta Band go the way of their namesake video player: All good things must come to an end. And so it is that after eight years of creating consistently innovative music, releasing three critically acclaimed albums and staging some legendary live shows, the BETA BAND have decided to call it a day... Always regarded as something of an enigma by the media but widely recognized to be one of the UK's most influential bands, this year's Heroes To Zeros proved not only their most successful but most cohesive and engaging album to date. Sadly, eight years of hard work and critical acclaim but little return in terms of commercial success inevitably takes its toll and a group decision was made to finally lay the band to rest.

Steve Mason explains: "The minority is always right. I left the room with silent dignity but caught my foot on the mat, and a thousand, thousand slimy things lived on, and so did I. This is adding insult to injuries. By the way, who's your fat friend?"

Adds Richard Greentree: "The Beta Band apple has over rippened and become riddled with maggots, it must fall from the tree and let it's seeds return to ground. Sincere thanks to everyone who has helped us along the way, see you in the Spring."

Right then. See you all at Wilco tonight? Well, except you know who...
You Bet Your Life
The latest odds on Canadian Idol:

Kalan Porter: Even
Jason Greeley: +350
Joshua Seller: +700
Elena Juatco: +700
Theresa Sokyra: +700
Kaleb Simmonds: +800
Jacob Hoggard: +1000
Shane Wiebe: +1500

Previous odds.

Monday, August 2, 2004

Rumble Young Man Rumble
I wasn't really feelin' this until an unexpected thunderstorm blew through. Now I see the light(ning). True story.

Further info:
Sample Les Mouches' Carload of Whatever
Elizabeth Bromstein meets the boys
Tangmonkey gushes
Carl Wilson agrees (scroll down)
As does Stuart Berman (scroll down again)
Hope I don't die before I get old
Smart girl that Hilary Duff. Cos dying and stuff is so uncool nowadays (links via Coolfer). So when exactly did it become gauche for rock stars to blow their brains out (literally or figuratively speaking)? And don't say it's always been gauche cos I just got done watching MuchMusic delight in Listed's 20 Most Tragic Deaths in Music.

P.S. On a side note, The Libertines album is surely destined to make my year-end Top 10.
"And listen to my heart go bumbitybump ..."
ESPN.com's Page 3 has been running a series on Sports and Music. Nothing particularly grounbreaking, but here's baseball insider Peter Gammons' personal Top 20 albums of all-time.

1. The Rolling Stones Now!
2. Waiting for Columbus - Little Feat
3. Pearl Jam Live at Great Woods, July 2, 2003
4. Live in Blue - Midnight Oil
5. Electric Ladyland - Jimi Hendrix
6. Live in Europe - Otis Redding
7. For Everyman - Jackson Browne
8. Loud, Fast, The Ramones: Their Toughest Hits
9. A Joyful Noise - The Derek Trucks Band
10. Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan
11. Then and Now - The Who
12. Live at The Apollo II - James Brown
13. Mr. Bad Example - Warren Zevon
14. Live in San Antonio - Lyle Lovett
15. Just Won't Burn - Susan Tedeschi
16. Blackout - Dropkick Murphys
17. An American Music Band - The Electric Flag
18. Live at The Fillmore - The Allman Brothers
19. The Best of Wilson Pickett
20. The Last Record Album - Little Feat
Magic Trick
This is certainly good news (courtesy of Gawker).

P.S. Awesome.
Speaking of latent racism
Prince, last week, in The Globe and Mail (forgive, we're a little behind on our blogging):

"When they describe me as outlandish, they mean Negro. It sounds the same to me and it's restrictive, the words they use. We like nice clothes; we can afford nice clothes . . . do you feel me?"
Russell Crowe stalker alert!
Paul Kelly (with Matthew Barber opening I think) plays the El Mocambo this evening. But more importantly - Russell Crowe might be there! Apparently he's a fan (and just so happens to be in town shooting some ridiculous movie or another). Or so says his label in one of this year's more creative/ridiculous attempts at publicity. Though I guess it worked, now didn't it?

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