Monday, December 29, 2008

My RSS Reads: As of December 29th

Hey Kids! Here's the year's end RSS Reads ... bringing you the wacky, the charming, and the gasp-a-licious news.

Alright, let's start off with the wacky.

I'm getting more and more excited to move to London. Why? Because Star Wars the musical will be coming to the o2 Arena. My roommate Clara is going to be so jealous. (NME)

Of all the strange "Womanizer" covers there are lately -- emo-pop jock straps the All-American Rejects took their shot at it. And it's HORRIFYING. Oh, Tyson Ritter... wipe that smirk off your face. I'm siding with Britney on this one. (Chart)

John Lennon will be 'starring' in a new 'advert' for the One Laptop Per Child Foundation (im sorry, does anyone else think the name of this organization is hilarious?), and of course permission was granted by Miss Ono herself. (NME)

Now, here's the charming. Year-end recaps.

Ben Rayner listed his thoughts on the rock music that stuck. I like his simple explanations, like for Foals: "Impossibly intricate strangeness. Makes you move, makes you think." Hm.. reminds me of this fabulous time. (The Toronto Star)

NPR's Monitor Mix, by the ex-Sleater Kinney member Carrie Brownstein, is my new blog discovery. After listening to the year-end podcast by the heads of the NPR Music section and being intrigued by their theories, I checked this out. On this entry, Brownstein explained how this year as been more in the favour of songs, not albums. And she says their time theme is 'teenage'. (NPR)

And of course, another Wall-E + National Post ... post. "What Wall-E the robot taught us about love." *giggle* And it's not just about Wall-E. It's about this year's movies & their themes of togetherness. It taps on Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and Young People Fucking, too. Genius. (National Post)

And the last year-end list I'll show you holds a nice soft spot for this RSS Reads issue. Because my own name showed up in my own feeds. It's Chart's annual contributor's top 10 lists. Find mine! Now that you've got the list ... I'll explain them soon. (Chart)

But now, here's the kicker. The gasp-a-licious news.

Just days after solidifying my love for Zooey Deschanel once again, she's announced that she's engaged to Death Cab for Cutie's front man, Ben Gibbard.

This is awesome. But mainly hilarious for a few reasons. Pitchfork posted this, and they must have typed it so fast in indie glee (and sadness) that they even spelt her name wrong in the headline. But it did end in an exclamation point.

"Cue the sound of thousands of blogger hearts breaking... Isn't that just the most indie-in-2008 thing ever? It almost seems a little too perfect, as if we made it up in some kind of fantasy indie rock love connection."


Questions? Comments? Crying over the loss of Zooey and Ben? Or did you make a cover of Womanizer that you think is better? Send all thoughts to Jess at

And don't forget to partake in the poll on the right side of the page! What will you be doing for New Years Eve?

Anyways... that sums up the end of the year in My RSS Reads. Stay tuned for a new Take a Look as well as my Top 10 of 2008 post. I still have two more days, you know!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

treating myself

So yesterday was my birthday. Finally legal all over the world! Anyways, I definitely treated myself to some new music before i leave for London. Here's a peak at what I bought yesterday (Soundscapes has a boxing week sale!), but shhhh about how I'm a bit slow on the uptake.

Little Joy, Santogold&Diplo, Bon Iver, Tusks.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

I also bought this year's edition of Best Music Writing. This year, Nelson George was the guest editor, and his introduction was really interesting. It says a lot for who I am and who I want to be.

Here's an exerpt:

"The most exciting, vital role of the critic is to identify and advocate new movements, particularly those that serve minority taste and grow organically out of a community of like-minded individuals, be they a collective of DJs, music loving druggies addicted to the same substance and sounds, or bold dancers looking for their particular perfect beat. In many cases it is from some combustible combination of these elements that a true movement is born. I think that the ability to give voice and definition to such communities can be what makes or breaks a music journalist."

It's a pretty big deal.

P.S. I also saw Yes Man, mainly for my love of Zooey Deschanel, but oh man. Such a funny movie! But she is great. And so damn pretty.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Getting in the spirit

In the spirit of moving to London -- IN SEVENTEEN DAYS -- I've got a post for you all about really cool or just plain weird things going on in my new favourite city.

Kanye West is going to be moving there too ... to be a fashion magazine intern. God almighty do I want to run into him & make him angry, just to see another CAPITALIZED BITCHY BLOG POST. (Chart)

This is definitely a self-made tour I plan on doing once I get there. All around a London-style "Tin Pan Alley" which turned into a place where the Sex Pistols, Beatles, Elton John, and the Stones would record. (Londonist)

Speaking of those names, a recording studio that's housed those names, and is currently home to U2 (euch) might be closing because of the rough economic times. (NME)

And a London concert venue, Nambucca, which has seen the likes of The Pidgeon Detectives, The Black Kids, and The Libertines/Babyshambles, was hit by a fire. (NME)

My RSS Reads (new name!) as of December 21st

Hey all -- here's my second installment of My RSS Reads (grammatically and stylistically rearranged from Reads of my RSS... took me long enough.)

There's quite some interesting stuff going on actually, so these are good reads you should check out.

First, one of my favourite bands (and album of 2007), The National, are gearing up for their next album! Tres excited. (Exclaim)

Kevin Barnes is readying a new Of Montreal record already, as well as working with MGMT on a sideproject named Blikk Fang and that the soundtrack wonderman John Brion might work on it too. (Exclaim)

But in more unfortunate album news, Ben Gibbard has explained that a new Postal Service record more than likely won't ever happen. He even compared it to Chinese Democracy. That's when you know it's crazy. (Pitchfork)

Lily Allen got herself into more trouble recently with her record label when she covered Britney Spears' "Womanizer" track. I love the Lilly, but .... why'd you cover it already? I don't even see how that could have been much fun. And way to go Mark Ronson for screwing everything up. (Chart)

For Jack White, apparently newest job under his belt is journalist. That is, if you can count having a conversation with Cate Blanchett for Interview magazine at all journalistic. Cool, he interviewed her, but when it got to the point where the story became more about him, that's where the cred goes back down. (NME)

Hey all you metalheads and hardcore emo fans! Turns out headbanging can cost you your life. BEWARE. (Exclaim)

Here's some fun -- LEGO + Music = LEGO Album Covers. (Pitchfork)

Something I forgot to post last entry was this.. Rachael Maddux is awesome, I've delt with her last summer about internships (unfortunately I didnt get it, but I still love the mag and will someday try again) and I love Zooey Deschanel. Put them both together and this is what you get! (Paste)

Final note, goodbye Torontoist. I'll miss you.

Questions? Comments? Bent over Coldplay breaking up or getting back together? Giggling over the Lonely Island? Need help with your Top 2008 list? Contact jess at

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

my last Toronto show until the summer was...

Human Highway. Aka Jim Guthrie, grandson of Woody Guthrie, and Nick Thorburn, front man of band Islands and now defunct-Unicorns.

I've never been to the Tranzac before... but when we (Yahlehly & i) finally found the place (It's on Bloor! No, it's on Bathurst!) we entered, it just started snowing. there seemed to be two rooms, visible with people, guitars, listening. There were posters for Human Highway all over, but we didn't know where to go. Then I pushed open a door, right into the concert. It felt strange to see everyone else was in on the secret but us for those long seconds. But as we filtered through the hipsters, upon us was The Magic. They played a pretty sweet set, they looked like they were having fun, harmonizing nice and all, but I found a few too many moments to zone out.

Then it was time for Human Highway.. who in fact borrowed two of the members from the Magic. Brothers Geordie Gordon (front man) and Evan Gordon (who seriously looks like Ed Westwick, you know... Gossip Girl... Son of Rambow..) Anyway. The set was pretty great... for their first tour. Their first tour! And I got to see their first Toronto show. Sweet, eh?

Watch "The Sound"

They played most of the songs off of Moody Motorcycle. It was unfortunate that my favourite songs seemed more forced & awkward then some of the others played, but I didn't mind. Yahlehly whispered, "it's the band, not them."

Either way... it was just cool to see they were having fun. Guthrie and Thorburn have a brotherly, cousinly, kind of vibe to them. They didn't look at one another very often, so focused on their guitar strumming sychronization, but it was obvious they were very conscious of this baby project they've produced and how much they wanted it to go well.

Guthrie joked continually about his cats. "I've got to go home and feed them... pet them, you know?" Thorburn responded "Oh Jim, it's fine." Jim: "This isn't a very good place to be making a joke, is it?"
(Of course... my translation's probably not 100% accurate.. but you get the idea.)

Watch "Moody Motorcycle"

By the time their short set was over (I mean really, they only have one album's worth of material) and we exited (after waving farewell to Thorburn), there was a good amount of snow on the ground. We just looked at it for a moment... astonished that in two hours something like that would happen. Who's used to snow anymore?

After we got over the pretty sphere of Brunswick avenue... and trekked to Spadina, the snow more in our face than anything, we sat warming up in the subway car pondering the greatness of Human Highway's album cover. I got home... excited (to my surprise) to walk through new snow that was untouched. Pondered the subway yard in front of my house in its snowy wonder, and retreated inside. This was my last Toronto show... until it's warm outside again.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reads Of My RSS: as of Thursday, December 11th

Here's the first edition of a new feature, Reads of My RSS.
Bringing you news of the past week (or so) that's a) hilarious b) interesting and c) at least worth noting.

First off, let me explain how much news there's been this past week about the Arcade Fire. Seriously, it's like they injected happy bubbles into their PR person, possibly worried about being forgotten. Don't worry Arcade Fire, you may not be on best of 2008 lists because you ranked so high in 2007, but it's still hard to forget the track "Neon Bible," at least for me.

So, not only have they given up rights to the Benjamin Button trailer and given out cryptic hints about releasing a film, titled Miror Noir, but members of the band that are also in Bell Orchestre have announced that they're now signed to Canada indie powerhouse label Arts & Crafts, and will release their second album next year. (Pitchfork)

Keeping it on a Montreal tone, Plants & Animals have created a new video for the song "Feedback in the Field." It looks awesome, but too bad Firefox is hating on me lately with audio. (Pitchfork)

More Canadian collective news, and this time it's the ever-growing Broken Social Scene. Last week, they played a couple shows in Toronto that I unfortunately missed (although, it was more choice, I can't stand the Sound Academy) but one night included Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse and Elizabeth Powell from Land of Talk, while the next night had Emily Haines from Metric. (Pitchfork)

But, it gets worse in terms of "holy crap i can't believe i missed this show." Why? Maybe you'll start kicking yourself in the face too when you continue reading, finding out that the other night here in Toronto at the little Dakota Tavern, was Broken Social Scene, Jason Collett, Metric, Stars, and Gentleman Reg.

Yeah. Fuck.

The National Post got the scoop (and the cell phone pictures), and even though their account sounds really fangirl-ish and makes an almost horrifying comparison to a night with the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Buzzcocks, and the Damned, it's still a good portrayal of the night in the sense that you can tell everyone was also thinking "holy crap." (National Post)

A few months ago, it was announced that British rock group the Long Blondes were forced to disband after Dorian Cox had a stroke that paralyzed his right side. Sad news, right? But there's a glimmer of hope. It was announced that Cox will be getting a SaeboFlex glove that will give him use to his right hand, and therefore he will be able to go back to playing guitar.

Pitchfork put it in a new light though. "based on the way it looks, we're kind of hoping Cox forgets about music and decides to start fighting crime." (Pitchfork)

Alright, now last music-related news before I get to some other random good stuff. Grant Lawrence of CBC Radio 3 posted a few days ago a recollection of the transmission fair, where all of the top music executives got together in British Columbia for discussions. Though Lawrence may have found some mental pain in the matter, the tips he brought back were either duh-points or actutally pretty interesting. He recalled how Seymour Stein said "I signed the Ramones because they reminded me of the Beach Boys." Oof. (CBC Radio 3)

Alright, now my last three news bits are courtesty of the National Post. I personally think they have the best Arts section in any Canadian newspaper, or any other paper I've seen as a matter of fact. They're witty, daring, and overall affective in what they find to cover.

They discussed how animated features should just be nominated for Best Picture at this point. I whole heartedly agree, as any mention of Wall-E makes me all silly and giggly.

They dwelled on the fact of how J.K. Rowling's latest tale, The Beetle and the Bard, (I can't believe I don't own it yet...) is most likely going to be made into a film. Can't say I didn't see that coming. But this is good, as I've stuck it to Twilight these past few months as a true HP fan. Representin'...

And lastly, you cannot just skim over Steven Murray's hilarious Extremely Bad Advice column. Here's today's post... on how he got into giving advice in a bloody way.

That's it for this week's Reads of My RSS. Comments? Questions? Think I'm missing something huge? Too concerned about MIA's baby or Jennifer Aniston and Britney Spears's decreasing mental stability? Contact Jess at

P.S. Look to the right (if you're on the page, not your Reader) --> new poll! Get voting!

Friday, December 5, 2008

darts of pleasure

When you hear a lot of talk about how a show sold out within minutes, you expect said show to be pretty insane, right?

I wouldn't consider last night's Franz Ferdinand show to be insane, or anywhere near it.

However, the Scottish lads put on a great performance, and played all of the songs I was hoping ("Take Me Out," "40'," "The Dark of the Matinee," "The Fallen," "Do You Want To," etc...). It's just... to me, a show isn't just the band playing. In order to critique the experience, you need to take into account the audience.

Watch "Dark of the Matinee"

That being said, why the hell did I only see less than ten arms flailing about until the final song of the encore, "This Fire"?

I've seen Lee's in more of a hopping state. Granted, they were more dance oriented shows and Franz is more rock. But come on. I feel like Toronto's lost the meaning of rocking out! We need to get it back! Especially if you've been talking about the show for weeks. Even more especially for the fact that they played Lee's, not the Sound Academy or even Kool Haus.

Even so, last night it was clear how Franz takes dance beats and bass beats that can be used in any pop or electronic song, but they incorporate it into rock. This is amazing.

In October, front man Alex Kapranos explained their upcoming album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, out next year. (This tour was actually a pre-album one, but they only really played maybe 3 or 4 new songs, they sound awesome though.) Here's what he said:

It's "music of the night: to fling yourself around your room to as you psyche yourself for a night of hedonism, for the dance-floor, flirtation, for your desolate heart-stop, for losing it and loving losing it, for the chemical surge in your bloodstream."

Watch "The Fallen"

So, for the love of god Toronto, by the time Franz Ferdinand come back, you better be ready to dance.

Let's not forget... the band itself was fantastic. I was thinking Kapranos was a little awkward (I dont think he wears the leather jacket and pants the way a video costume design person must have told him he did back in 2004) and his voice could have used a little work, until 45 minutes in the set he whipped out his inhaler. Guitarist Nick McCarthy was obviously doing most of the work as he ran between guitar & keyboards, and the sometimes Big Foot-esque, sometimes pummel through the tunnel beat relationship between Bob Hardy & Paul Thompson was top notch.

Watch "Take Me Out"

Also, coming out of that night, I have rekindled my love for [now] Toronto-based band Born Ruffians. If you're one to get past Luke LaLonde's vocals, you'll find them amazing as well... brains lie behind tracks like "Hedonistic Me," "Coldness Hot," "Hummingbird," and "Badonkadonkey."

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Hey! There are new things on RoundLetters if you haven't noticed yet!

Take part in my weekly poll. This week -- who will you be leaving off of your 2008 best of list?

Check out a number of live shows in Toronto via my YouTube channel stream, but you can also head on over to the site itself right here.

Twitter's been on here a while, but if you haven't yet, follow me here.

I just updated my links -- many new friend blogs to creep!

Have something you want to tell me? Well now you can keep it between us if you want.

Soon to come themed posts: Take A Look (well, first one is below this post) and twice weekly Reads from My RSS. BestFirsts will continue. And the creative process isn't over yet!

Let me know if there's something cool you think I should be updating on, take the new email address for a spin.

Take a Look

So remember that beautiful woman I mentioned in my last post that was singing when Sam Roberts walked past me at my local pub?

Her name is Romney Getty.

She's a local too, except she's long distance.

Checking out her MySpace, her music doesn't exactly sound like what I remember from Tuesday night, but it's still enjoyable. While her guitar leans like a teeter-totter from country to folk, her deep voice never falls off. It's warm; it's the accompaniment to a hot chocolate by the fireplace in your cabin.

If you get a chance, check her out live. I guarantee you'll like it even more than just listening to her tracks.

For a twang party -- listen to "Ain't No Mistake"

My favourite song though is "All Along," for it's one-two punches of lazy guitar spirit. It can be heard on her MySpace.

Romney's album, Ramblin' Girl is available now. iTunes and everything!

Check her out here:
Dec. 16 -- J.D.'s -- Collingwood, Ont.
Dec. 22 -- The Hess -- Hamilton, Ont.
Dec. 27 -- Craigleith Ski Club -- Craigleighth, Ont.
Jan. 3 -- Alpine Ski Club -- Thornbury, Ont.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

hope : born in a flame ; carried through a gate

Mood was anxious... frightened for the future. I was ignoring it anyway. But somehow, I stumbled upon my lost friend Fate, who gave me a very significant clue to something that would help me for something I am writing. I thought, like a bit of a cynical journalist, "great. I hope people will at least be a little nicer this time. And I better get a lot of anecdotes." Turns out... I got what I wanted and more.

I did many interviews, all with locals who are in love with the walls they were in between at that moment. Amazing stories of the past fluttered around me, to the beats of the beautiful woman who was playing guitar in the back of the room.

As everyone became merrier, and I started to sink into my 'fly on the wall' position (besides the "are you the party biographer?" or "hey, you want my autograph?" in response to the fact that I had my notebook out) I started daydreaming if every person around me were a rockstar but I could never surely tell.

It was then that a very familiar face walked by me, and then two more. I thought, "hey.. now THEM i am SURE of."

James Hall. Sam Roberts. Eric Fares.

I must have looked pretty silly. And after I ran out to call my roomate who's been in love with the middle man for ages, I hitched my high journalistic horses and proceeded to get my interview with Sam Roberts.

"I don't know if I walked in on the average night or the best night of the year," he said. "Just from the photographs on the wall to the beer that's good, to the food on the table, everything seems to be top notch, you know?"

He told me he'd give me a better impression of the place after his first Polish beer.

"First of all, what I've gathered anyways, this is a very musically oriented place," he said. "Aside from the fact that there's live music playing, people can live and work and call this place their home away from home, their lives revolve around music. It means that I already feel more welcome than I otherwise would."

By this time, I felt like I had already drank a few beers myself. (Did not!) I was high on journalistic life, and I haven't had that feeling in a while. Fate may have brought me there, and him there, but it's journalism and the art of questions that kept the conversation going (I can't just reveal ALL of it to you now, can I?)

P.S. Try and imagine how great this was to me. It's not like I've never talked about him before.
Examples: A, B, and C.

P.P.S. Thanks Vanessa for taking the photos.

P.P.P. S. I obviously missed Winter Gloves & Levi Weaver. HOWEVER, I am guaranteeing you coming up will be a new BestFirst and a review of the sold out Franz Ferdinand concert in Toronto!