Saturday, May 23, 2009

Round Letters is moving

Hi guys,

I've decided to move RoundLetters over to an easier blogging system, WordPress.

From now on, for all of your music updates and trademark Jess storytelling, please visit

I'm updating more often there, with concert listings, news, reviews and more! Check it out!!!

Thanks for following me on Blogspot, I hope you can do the same for me over at WordPress, please add me to your RSS Feeds!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Abbey Road: Don't Pass Me By...

On Tuesday, my childhood best friend Ashleigh who's also on exchange in London (deep breath) and I went to go visit Abbey Road.

It was a beautiful day, the sky was so ridiculously blue, just like when I was in Gothenburg, Sweden, not even a week before. In this part of Westminster, the buildings give off a warm glow in the sunshine. Flowers were in bloom, everyone had their sunglasses in tow and I was walking with a jump of excitement in my step. I was finally going to such an iconic place in the history in music.

Abbey Road -- the studios -- have housed acts (besides the Beatles) such as Radiohead, Green Day, U2, The Killers, Morrissey, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sigur Ros, and a handful of acts I never assumed deserved to record there, but oh well.

But really, this place is ONLY about the Beatles. It is not acknowledged anywhere else on their outdoor premises of any other musical entity. The studios painted over their front gate white so over the years, devoted fans and tourists could scrawl their "Imagine Peace" and "All You Need is Love" mementos all over. There's a bus stop right in front of the studios, and everyone in the bus always looks amused or confused.

After gazing at the wall for a while, Ashleigh and I found a spot on the side of the gate to write our thoughts. I chose to write the song title, "Don't Pass Me By" along with "...09" and "Jess + Ashleigh". Ashleigh then signed her name above it along with "Buffalo, NY" in a heart. Taking after her, I decided to write "Jessica L. 09 CANAM" down the side. Fully represented.

Then we saw the timid other tourists standing on separate sides of the intersection, looking nervous. After all, it's quite the busy intersection, mainly filled with taxis looking grumpy. But they have to stop for anyone, even if they're just standing there looking like they want to cross it. But we got our turn.

Visiting Abbey Road was a huge part of my life, and one of the greatest moments of being in London. I'm moving back home to the States/Canada in less than two weeks, and I'm glad I've been able to check that off my life list. Like any child growing up in the 80s/90s my dad blasted the Beatles as early as I could remember. I remember sitting in the car on the way to Long Island or somewhere, going over a bridge, my brother singing Yellow Submarine when he was a little tot. It wasn't until a couple of years ago I was fully able to appreciate the band on my own, but since then it's grown into a huge, delightful history lesson, and Abbey Road was a field trip of creativity and daydreams.

Going home, I saw the moon, and realized I could document it for you, readers at home, the moon a la the other side of the world.

Behind the Scenes (sort of) with ONCE

I was in Dublin this past weekend with a group of my friends. While we had loads of fun in a pub named Gogarty's, going out for meals, walking around sight-seeing and going to the Guinness Storehouse, the one thing that was playing through my head the entire weekend was the soundtrack to Once.

I hadn't watched the movie in a long time, but I knew it took place in Dublin and that it happened around where I was walking to and fro three times every day from the hotel to town and back. I kept playing the situation: guy is busking, girl comes up to him, they fall into a confused love, and they make beautiful music.

Dublin is wonderful for music. There's a busker every five steps, in all sorts of genres. Whether it's traditional irish, rockabilly, that heartfelt guitar tune, or a full out orchestra. There's plenty of record stores there too, but I didn't get a chance to go see them. I did get to go see a traditional irish music pub crawl though.

Here are some buskers I saw:

I thought I missed out on some joke -- everyone and their mother seemed to be outside busking. But it was beautiful to see. It really livens up a part of a city that otherwise is merely focused on shopping. Busking really has been a staple of my UK life.

Anyways, here's what I have to show you about ONCE. Click any photo to enlarge.

The movie starts out with Glen Hansard "Guy" playing his guitar on Grafton Street at night.

Here, Guy is chasing after a lowly theif who ran off with his guitar case of change. They just ran into St. Stephen's Green, a lovely little park at the top of Grafton Street that winds its way into ponds full of birds, blooming flowers, fountains, and pathways.

As were the last two photos, this next photo is mine; of where Glen chased the man through the HMV.

Here, Guy is busking to a crowd on Grafton Street, similar to the photos I showed above of other buskers.

Guy is busking and the Hare Krishnas come past him with their own music. Funny story... when I was in Dublin, at one point I was waiting to cross a street towards my hotel and one one side of the corner there was a big guy dressed up as a leprachaun, on another side there was a line of people linked together shouting through a megaphone at a fur store, and then coming through the middle were the Hare Krishna's all jolly, skipping, banging their tambourines to "harreee krishnaa haaaareee krishna!" It was maybe the most stand out moment of the weekend I have.

And here, Guy and Girl walk off into Grafton Street, happy to be with the other.

You must have fallen from the sky
You must have come here in the pouring rain
You took so many through the light
And now you're on your own.

If you're an avid reader of the blog, you'll remember my post from when I went to go see Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova play as the Swell Season, the band that formed from the movie, back in the fall. You can see my videos and read my review here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

RSS Reads: As of March 19

I haven't updated your musical news in about a month or so now, so here's an ultimate update. Read on.

In celebrating the new release of Hazards of Love by the Decemberists, here are two awesome write ups of the rock opus. Charts, haikus, and all. Talk about album review. (Paste)

Broken Social Scene are keeping themselves in the limelight by having a book written about them and also managing to sing in a movie. (Chart)

However, Nashville band Kings of Leon are taking their publicity to a new level, by starting a complete uproar backstage at the BRIT Awards. (NME)

But Lily Allen always takes the cake. They freak out when she pukes (NME) and they absorb her lyrics to find out the obvious, especially when it's the name of the album (NPR).

Snoop Dogg is picking up on it as well. He recently converted to Islam (NME) but probably rebuked it after trying to rap with Paris Hilton. (National Post)

The more I'm writing this, the more I'm realizing how attention-grabbing each of these stories are made to be. And with that, I present to you Iggy Pop's jazz album. (Pitchfork)

Wait, wait! It gets better. Noel Gallagher had won the Best Blog at the Shockwaves NME Awards a few weeks ago, but admitted he has 'never' used a computer. Hmm... (NME)

I'm really getting ahead of myself now. Pete Wentz is afraid someone's trying to kill him. Really? I could say so much about this, but I'll spare you. (Chart)

Actress turned rockstar Juliette Lewis has spoken out about ditching her band The Licks because it just didn't work anymore. She now is backed by The New Romantiques. Classy. (NME)

Oh, here's another... Ryan Gosling has turned to music, maybe from being so confused about Rachel (forget her! p.s. someday i WILL see you on the streets of T.O.) and recorded quite a spooky video with a bunch of kids -yikes- named "In The Room Where You Sleep". It really says so much. (Chart)

Jack White has a new band. I liked this mainly for the opening line: "You first have to wonder just how many side projects one musician needs." (Paste)

Jens Lenkman doesn't need the spotlight, but he's upset about how much attention his ukelele is getting. Therefore, what's a man to do but cast his iron steed aside? (Exclaim)

In slight well-deserved news, Klaxons have been forced to completely redo their second album because their major label wasn't a big enough fan. Boo urns. (Exclaim)

And if they're looking for a modest-model award, The Cribs have got it. (NME)

Coming back from... hiding... The Beatles now are still in the fore-front of your memory because if you go to Liverpool Hope University, you can tooootaaallly study them and come out of school... what... what job would you get?! (NME)

Oh, I'd so much rather study things like music vs. sex (NME) and music vs. pain. (CBC Radio 3)

CBC has figured out how to really get into bands on Twitter. (CBC Radio 3)

And even if you're a nobody, but know technology, you can be cool too. This is just... ridiculous to me though... (National Post)

And even if you're technology, you can try and be hip like your older brother. Is this good or bad? (CBC Radio 3)

Now I'll leave you with a couple good fights. Besides the fake Ben Folds and Torquil Campbell argument, there's these, which are soo much better.

Radiohead versus Miley Cyrus AND Kanye West - so great - you can also listen to what started Miley's side here, but don't for one second mistake I'm rooting for her. Radiohead all the way. (Chart and Pitchfork)

And then there's Wayne Coyne and Win Butler, which proved to be sad and hilarious at the same time. (Pitchfork and CBC Radio 3)

And that's it! Phew. A lot of stars looking for attention in the last month, that's for sure. Now let's do them all a favor and send them mental hugs. Or you can just whine more about Rihanna and Chris Brown, ask for advice over how you should feel about it, anything really to Jess at!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

In the daylight anything feels like home

I'm going to have a good day today. How do I know this? Because I fully woke up this morning while watching Matt and Kim's video for "Daylight".

I knew "Daylight" was a fantastic way to start an album, but now a day, wow!

You can see that this couple has changed so much since their last album, and not just their music. Since when did Matt get contacts? Kim's dressing a little better, and looks a more healthy weight. They're finally not denying they're a couple.

But all in all, if their cuteness doesn't brighten up your day, please let me know and I'll try and find something that does. Challenge?

Infectious, much?