It's been years, I know.
I'd kind of forgotten about you for a while there, which seems almost inconceivable to me now, but it's been an eventful few years since we last hung out. I'll tell you about it over beers sometime.
Anyway. It's weird how I love you so much, when most country music brings me out in hives. I can't really explain why this is. I can't really explain anything when it comes to music, so it's confusing how I keep trying, but there we go.
The thing is.
We don't hang out that often. And, you know, I realise I neglect you a little bit, and for that I'm truly sorry. Because you're always there for me when it really counts.
When that perfect storm of sadness breaks over me, which it's apt to do from time to time, you're there. We hunker down on my shitty little craft made of twigs out there in the 50 foot waves and the howling winds, and we ride it out together. And then, when it's over and I'm cast, prone and exhausted and completely hollowed out, you make it all okay.
So, really, I just wanted to tell you: thanks. And I probably don't say it enough, but I think you're amazing, and I hope we see more of each other from now on.
[Patty Griffin - MySpace]
This song has been haunting me for days.
Delicate and ephemeral, it moved in one night, and took up residence as a ghost in my head.
Now snatches of it will float up from the murky dross of my conscious mind to confuse and beguile me. I'll stop, look up, lose track of what I'm doing while I try to follow it home and find out what it wants.
Who are you, I ask? What do you want?
I never really get a straight answer.
It's like that dream you wake up from and can't remember, but the mood of it stays with you all day? It's like that.
[WarpainT - MySpace]
Today is all about harmony.
The two songs I'm about to play you are, on the face of it, very different.
They have one important thing in common, however: splendiferous, heavenly melodies.
So, put on your headphones, close your eyes, and prepare to be transported.
Here's "Buildings and Mountains" from The Republic Tigers and "Estupendo" from Arsenal:
[Arsenal - MySpace] [Arsenal - official website] [The Republic Tigers - MySpace]
I must confess that up until now the career of Lily Allen has barely caused a blip on my musical radar.
I mean, I should preface that by saying that I do live under a rock when it comes to most major pop stars these days. I had heard word of Allen, yes -- but had pretty much written her off as a fake and a media whore.
Then I heard a snippet of her tune "The Fear" on the UK show Skins. Actually, I didn't even know it was her at the time, I just heard: "...I'm packing plastic, and that's what makes my life so fucking fantastic".
Intrigued, and with absolutely no idea who it was, I plugged the lyric into Google, and hey presto: Lily Allen.
Then, of course, I had to swing over to YouTube to have a listen to the track, and now I think I may have played it, hmmm, I don't know, maybe around 500 times? Today.
I f**king love this song.
It's the way she skewers our celebrity-obsessed culture in rhyming couplets (and a Brit accent), over a beat so goddamn bouncy and catchy you're hooked faster than someone can say crack.
It's a clever song -- funny, ironic, and bang on.
Guess it's fair to say my estimation of Allen has changed somewhat? Guess so.
Here she is then, with "The Fear":
[Lily Allen - MySpace] [Artist website]
I fell madly in love with Anika Moa's latest album during the two weeks I spent back home recently.
It's a gorgeous, summery treat: a perfect accompaniment to a lovely (but oh so brief!) holiday with family and friends.
You know when you have the stereo on in the background, though, and you really only give half an ear to the music? It wasn't till I got home (having been gifted the CD by my brother's boyfriend -- such a nice man) that I took a closer listen to the album. And I am now, well and truly, without a doubt, under its spell.
The disc in its entirety is a beautiful thing.
But the last third of the album? That's really something else.
You know when you hear a song and it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up? Sends a frission right the way up your spine, and then down again?
The two songs that I'm about to play do exactly that to me. I am quite honestly -- and quite thoroughly -- floored by these songs.
Here then, and without further ado, are "Standing in this fire" and "Thinking about tomorrow":
[Anika Moa - MySpace] [Buy Anika Moa's music at Smoke CDs]
Another day, another new year.
Another one? So fast? I swear, every year I sound more and more like my aged grandparents. (Before they shuffled off this mortal coil. Bless 'em).
Another new year, and some of you, my digital friends, are in a state of flux, what with moves to London, and to slow blogging, (which I wholeheartedly applaud. And intend to emulate. The slow blogging, that is, not the move to London. Although I wholeheartedly approve of the move to London, too.)
Others are jumping back into the fray, some are joining it anew, while others are blissfully and happily living their lives totally outside the interwebs bubble.
To all of you, I raise a glass: À votre santé!
And from the depths of this particularly (it seems to me) brutally cold, dark winter, I have a couple of musical delights to tickle your new year fancy. Or fancy your new year tickle, as they say.
I'll start by mentioning New Zealand's own Ladyhawke, who I've written about already, but who deserves -- and shall receive -- another post all of her own. (Up soon!)
The band I want to talk about today, though, is the Autumn Film.
Here's how the Onion describes them:
"Like a post-collegiate Fiona Apple jamming with Snow Patrol, The Autumn Film serves up a piano-drenched sincerity topped off with a voice that’s wise and heartbroken beyond its years."
Which pretty much sums up their sound nicely.
What I love most about the Autumn Film, though, is that they're into connecting with their fans directly.
Part of a project started by these very smarts folks, the Autumn Film are making their music available free to download, because "free is the new radio".
In other words, they're wanting to get their music heard, and making it easy for fans to get excited about their music and come to their gigs and get other people excited about the band too.
It's working for me so far.
I would love to know if it's working out for them commercially. I certainly hope so. I think it's a smart, creative move, and as a fan, it's pushing all the right buttons.
So here we go, here's "Sunstruck". Make sure to go check out the rest of their stuff.
And tell your friends.
The Autumn Film - Sunstruck:
[The Autumn Film - Band website] [Backstage]
Montreal seems to have more than its fair share of angel-voiced men making dreamy, melodic indie pop (Patrick Watson, Alexandre Desilets, and Karkwa to name but a few).
You can go ahead and add Éléphantine to that list.
Like the aforementioned bands, Éléphantine are literate and assured, creating atmospheric, textured and emotionally intense songs.
So far they've put out just one EP, entitled Sous le règne des lampadaires. It's a slow burner, full of yearning and beautifully layered melodies.
If this is the entrée, I'm more than ready for the main! Luckily, the band are slated to release a full length album in the winter of 2009.
Here's a taste for now, then:
Éléphantine - "Un attente d'un moment présent"
[Éléphantine - MySpace] [Buy Éléphantine's music - Blue Tracks]
(Clockwise from top left:) Sebastien Grainger, Tegan and Sara, Starfucker, Vive La Fête
When the whole world has turned into one giant, dirty, brown slushy what better way to kick off the week than with a playlist of guilty favourites?
Here they are, then, some old, some new, some borrowed, some blue:
Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains - "Ways to come home"
Sebastien Grainger was one half of the now disbanded Death From Above 1979. He's since struck out on his own and tours under the moniker Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains. I love the driving rhythm and the melodramatic vocals on this track, which comes from American Names EP. The song reminds me very much of Broken Social Scene, so now I think of it as having a quintessential Canadian sound. Which is rubbish, of course, because there is no "quintessential Canadian sound", but there you go.
Tegan and Sara - "You wouldn't like me"
More catchy than
Starfucker - "Rawnald Gregory Erikson The Second"
This song makes me very happy.
That is all.
Vive La Fête - "Noir Désir"
The chronicle of a messed up, twisted love affair from Belgian couple Danny Mommens and Els Pynoo, otherwise known as Vive La Fête.
Messy. Neurotic. Twisted.
Play it loud.
[Sebastien Granger and the Mountains - MySpace] [Tegan and Sara - MySpace] [Starfucker - MySpace] [Vive La Fête - MySpace]
Photo by Jodi Corbett
It's been snowing here for over 12 hours straight now.
A trip from downtown to home, which ordinarily takes around 20 minutes in the car, took us nearly two hours tonight.
It's beautiful out there, though. Quiet. Big, soft flakes suspended in yellow haloes around the street lights.
Here's a song, then, for watching the snow fall. Preferably from some place warm and snug.
[Silence - Jamendo]
I saw the new James Bond movie this weekend. And I can quite honestly say I don't remember a single thing about it.
Oh -- other than the theme music, that is.
Now, I don't usually make a habit of caring about the theme music for the latest James Bond flick.
But "Another Way to Die" had me at the get go.
From the very first opening bars I was prompted to sit up a little straighter in my seat. "Who’s this?" I thought. And, "What’s going on here?" The song has the requisite Bond sound: orchestral and menacing. But suddenly, right before your very ears, it's tackled head-on and wrestled to the ground by towering White Stripes power chords, all the while being wooed and severely compromised (but in the most delightful way) by hip hop vocal stylings.
It's all wrong. But somehow, so right -- a monstrous slab of genre-busting awesomeness.
Too bad the movie itself couldn't live up to that heady opening.
And it is a shame, because I loved Casino Royale (not having been much of a Bond fan before that). Daniel Craig is a very physical actor. Or, to put it another way: he is intensely physically present as an actor. He lends his Bond an explosive, feral quality that is really quite -- how shall I say? -- beguiling.
This latest Bond vehicle unfortunately manages to entirely squander his brilliance. The film has been edited to within an inch of its life, leaving us stranded in a morass of confusingly murky, choppy fight scenes, car chases and explosions. And, just to add insult to injury, there is nary an emotional payoff -- nor flashy gadget -- in sight. Quelle horreur.
[James Bond - Quantum of Solace official website] [Jack White and Alicia Keys - MySpace Video]