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?

Friday, March 6, 2009

SPIN updates

Hey all, if you're somehow wondering what I've been up to, I can give you a little bit more of an insight here. But for a bigger insight, please visit my abroad blog.

Pretty much the extent of the music I'm getting here is very little, surprisingly. I recently saw Passion Pit play an in-store and Elliott BROOD play, and neither of these bands are British.

Passion Pit was an interesting experience. It was right after I had to drop off my boyfriend at the airport after he visited me, so I wasn't in the best mood, but I needed the music to make me feel better. PP was a good choice, as I love their upbeat tracks off Chunk of Change. I started really listening to them when I got here, so it was a little bit of meaning. Anyways, I got there early so I waited forever. It was an in-store at this place called Pure Groove Records (fun fact, there's a street scene in my video, and that same street was featured in About a Boy, because that movie takes place in my neighborhood) which actually isn't really a record store ... it had like, 20 records behind their bar. Strange, but cool, in a weird way... Anyways, I somehow made friends with the store's intern and we chatted. I ended up bugging PP's people about getting an interview and lo and behold met Columbia Records (UK) Senior Press agent, he gave me his card. This other reporter told me he was grumpy because he was hungover, so be nice, but as soon as I mentioned SPIN he was quite jolly. So ... watched the band, filmed my stuff, and then waited forever again to get an interview. Ended up talking to drummer Nate Donmoyer.

Result: HERE.

Elliott Brood was a great time, one of the best since I've been here. Why? Because it was all about CANADA. Besides having the most random opening acts (The Barker Band -- good live sound but if they just pushed a little more, would be much better, also the lead girl looked way miserable and bitchy // Punch and the Apostles -- ridiculous! also the accordion player looked like a corpse ... ps their new single is called "I'm a Hobo") I was worried that nobody would dance or get into the Brood, because, how would they know who they are? But I was so wrong. Mainly because the place seemed to be ridiculously all Canadians, or just super enthusiastic drunk British people. Every time someone from the band mentioned Canada, the place went wild. It was awesome. It made me feel like I was at the Horseshoe, and I miss it so much. Anyways, I also wasn't expecting the Brood to put on that great of a show. They did a great job and rocked out as much as you can on a banjo and ukeleles (actually thats a lot). This crazy man totally destroyed their set and upset the Brood, but they pulled through.

Result: HERE.

Feedback would be great! How do you like what I'm doing for SPIN Earth so far? What should I be doing different? (No use suggesting anything about equipment, really.. I'm stuck right now). Also, if you're a Twitter-er, follow them here and while you're at it, follow me. Oh, and follow Muted Magazine! New issue out soon.

Paint the Blackhole Blacker

Alright. So I listened to St. Vincent's newest song, "The Strangers," before I watched the upcoming video. I'm listening to it again because I need to get this video out of my head.

I watched listened to all ten minutes of it. Blasphemy.

Really, points of obsurdity:
-Miley, herself.
-' "Sex on Fire" is one of the greatest songs eeeveeeer!'
-The boy that cried when he met her because he was her biggest fan, was all "I LOVED your last episode" and she said "oh yeah which one?" and he said "um.. the one with your dad... wait... I dont remember..."
-How many people can you have talk at once? for god sakes.
-Count how many times Miley says "like" and please tell me what you got.
-Right at the end, purely, "i looove weiiirdos"
-Also ... this just makes Radiohead x10 cooler.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

taking a moment to appreciate

I'm in the magazine business whether I like it or not. Some days I'm imagining doom falling in forms around me as I watch the failing process continue. When Chart ceased its' magazine format, it hit me pretty hard. Glossy paper, while not as great for the environment, has been my love. And seeing it go down like this, especially when I (still) hope to get a job in the industry, is hardly any fun.

So today, I'm taking a positive approach (except for a bit later on in this entry).

The other day, I received a package from my grandparents. They sent me the three magazines they know I'd like to have: Paste, SPIN, and Rolling Stone.

I noticed two trends in the issues that came: their ways of taking on a recession and still being original, and.... Lily Allen.


Paste is probably my favourite magazine, and has been for a while. In this issue, their 50th, titled the Lovefest, it's PACKED with goodness. In the matter of four pages you can read about sleek new earphones, an Italian chair made to hold books in every crevise (I want it SO much), an ad for their first book, "An Indie Rock Alphabet Book" ('story time is cool again!') a bit about Kevin Drew directing Feist's "The Water", and the nice list "The Paste 7", which is bits and bobs (look at me being all British) that are SO COOL that the editors find (Nick Marino found LeafCutterDesigns.Com and it looks awesome.) I'm drooling, can you tell?

Paste is great for finding out about new bands -- it's rare I know the band they have in their breaking section. They don't focus on the obvious.

A big thing Paste did this month was take their Sampler CD that comes with every issue and make it digital. At first, I was upset. Then, thinking clearly, I realized this was a fantastic decision. "This is great," I said to my boyfriend as I leafed through the issue for the first time. "With all of these magazines making cuts or going under right now, this is an amazing way to save money and make sure that doesn't happen." Paste said it for themselves. "Each year, Paste ships more than 2 million cds. That's over 100,000 pounds of poly-carbonate plastic and paper sleeves, shipped millions of miles." Really, as Paste boasts themselves to be a green magazine, ("After you've read every single word of this magazine and shared it with all of your friends, please recycle it -- or add it to your leather-bound collection of Paste magazines and save it forever" says under their contributors list) this brings up their level of respect.

Check out this issue -- in theme for Valentines Day, there's Neko Case reporting on her 17 favourite things (1 being CANADA), "so and so loves this" with every article, and a spread of musicians posing with their beloved instruments.


SPIN is very close to Paste in my books. Not only is it my newest employer, but I generally enjoy reading it and approve of the choices of artists they cover. They have fantastic visuals, quick and quirky Q&A, and an ear out for catchy songs. Sometimes they get too close to Rolling Stone, but on slow months, it's hard not to completely stray away from the only big things (such as when they both covered Amy Winehouse almost identically.) And sometimes they go with more pop culture acts (like when they covered Fall Out Boy, Paramore, etc, but hey, I used to love both of those bands too. Brandon Flowers is big in this issue though, and I'm not a fan.) This issue they have Big in 09, featuring Ladyhawke (the girl), Cut Off Your Hands, Glasvegas, Bon Iver, Andrew Bird, King Khan, and Animal Collective. None of them are breaking, but SPIN's probably right; these bands established themselves towards the end of 08, so therefore they'll still be talked about a great deal in 09.

**This month, I saw both SPIN and Paste have done another great thing in terms of recession, going by the way of how the public reads, and technology. They have incorporated the digitial issue. It's actually something the Eyeopener considered months ago, but never followed up on. I think that SPIN and Paste doing this was a good idea.


Rolling Stone made a change a few months ago to a different format of pages. I actually like this a lot more, as the big pages always stick out from my MegaMag (missing it a lot right now ... and oh man blast from my blogging past) and it just looks cleaner. This is probably the only thing about Rolling Stone I like these days, and even still the fact that they changed their layout means they just jumped on the bandwagon.

There's hardly any originality in this magazine anymore. I haven't read a feature and been like "hm, that was really good" or found an interesting new band I wanted to check out, in god knows how long. It seems that RS is not only slow on the uptake, but they keep choosing the same people to profile, are a bit too obvious with their political sides, and really, they've made their move from the music magazine it once was glorified in Almost Famous to the pop culture rag it prides itself to be now. What's up, Jann Wenner? Since when did you just want to please people? I really don't see this magazine pleasing anyone lately, anyway.

This month, they even let Patrick Stump review an album, because it was his dream to do so. Why on earth would you let him review an artist he loves so much, though? How is that fair? Yes, we all report on artists we love, but if we want a higer opinion of Stump, I'm not sure if this was the way to go.

Their podcasts have been lacking (and not even been done), their breaking artists past their breaking point (not in Pop music standards though, I guess) and they're not bringing up any new boundaries. I used to idolize this magazine. I used to have a subscription. People used to laugh and say "someday we'll read your articles in Rolling Stone." Now, I hearing they're auctioning off their internships, and I've decided I'm done with it.


Now, for Lily Allen. She is everywhere and I love it. I think she's ridiculous, beautiful, and talented. Yes she sings about sex. Yes she sings about drugs. Doesn't everyone these days? Haven't they for ages? Why is she getting so much flack for being honest, and well, normal?

Rolling Stone's scathing review says: "No longer content to be a quirky confessional songwriter, Allen has decided that she is a 'social critic,' a job that she lacks the insight and the maturity to pull off."
--Really, RS? REALLY? You're critiquing a pop star, which is all you show these days, and you think she's doing it wrong? Lily's probably laughing about you right now.

SPIN's editorial says: "Allen is also a mass of contradictions: an unapologetic extrovert who loathes the tabloids and paparazzi, and a critic of celeb-centric culture who's not at all above indulging in same. It all makes for a wild read." And their review of her new album is the complete opposite to Rolling Stone's: "But unlike Winehouse, Allen has turned fame's lemony side into fresh new songs."

It's clear to see RS is Team Winehouse and SPIN is Team Allen, now.

Paste has their own Lily Allen paper doll! With boozed up party dresses, a mac computer, and cute jewelry. This is the true Allen.

Phew. I know it got negative towards the end, but the fact is I still love magazines. I love everything about them. The noise you hear when you flip the page (and that sometimes you have to lick your finger to get it to move), the bold layout, the section titles, and even the subscription fliers that fly out with every shake. I know I'm in the right business and to leave it would hurt, a lot. The industry can still count on me as an avid fan, but I'll always be critiquing and reading. Paste, SPIN, and Rolling Stone give me quite enough of substance, as you can see.

Monday, February 9, 2009

RSS Reads: As of Feb. 9th and it's a doozy

Alright, so I haven't updated my music news in a while and I won't in another long while as Ryan's finally coming tomorrow!

So, in light of me being exhausted already (weekend in Manchester, check it out on my Abroad Blog) and that I'll be bringing so much news to you right now, it will be very brief. Enjoy!

Alright, so everyone's going nuts over Twitter..
-David Bowie denies any ties with it (NME)
-Erykah Badu births to it (Pitchfork)
-Pitchfork gives you guides to the rockstars who use it (Pitchfork)
-So does CBC (CBC Radio 3)

Now, here's some awards announcements:
-Independent Awards announced, pretty good (National Post)
-Grammy performance videos (Pitchfork)
-These two missed out on the grammies for lameness (National Post)

UK things:
-Pete Doherty to teach. At a University. In Dublin. (Pitchfork)
-New evidence on the Sid and Nancy debacle in film. [it's playing in London soon, yay!] (Exclaim!)
-The two inches of snow caused insanity in London last week. So much so that Coldplay, Blur, and Radiohead canceled an event they were going to have there.
-Sigur Ros gave away music in a London newspaper, bringing happy commercial-like times to all. (Pitchfork)
-Amy Winehouse's soon to be former house in Camden Town was messed up more than she could do herself. (NME)
-The Virgins managed to offend the most powerful British popstars in one hit. (NME)
-Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) is coming back to London. (Londonist)
-Noel Gallagher thinks he can be Britains future Prime Minister. Better name than Boris, at least. (NME)
-London-based artist thats everywhere, Lily Allen, has admitted to being normal. Again. (NME)
-Guy that was sacked from Arctic Monkeys was depressed. ORLY? (NME)
-Famous Beatles cover band played on the iconic rooftop before the Bobbies came. (NME)
-Yet somehow John Lennon's sons still don't know how to share. (NME)

Canada things:
-Ticketmaster, why, whyyyy? (National Post / Exclaim!)
-Seeing Toronto (AND RYERSON) in the headlines feels good: for putting on the first deaf concert. (NME)
-The Acorn must be so giddy right now. (National Post)
-Whatever @ recession, record labels won't die! (National Post)

Fun things:
-NPR makes fun of SongSmith. (NPR)
-Now Thats What I Call Music is made into TV. (NME)
-NPR makes more fun at bands with strange names. (NPR)
-Best Week Ever shows off the remix for Christian Bales meltdown. (BWE)

Oh, and watch what you blog. (Exclaim!)

Questions, concerns? So upset about Chris Brown and Rihanna and you need someone to talk to? Or still laughing at Christian Bale? Email

Saturday, January 31, 2009

life just got a little busier

Recently, I've acquired two new jobs that are pretty exciting.

Some friends from Ryerson put together an online music magazine about a year or so ago, named Muted Magazine.

Another classmate and I are now the new Features editors for the site. Make sure to check it out sometime in February! I'll have more details soon. And if you want to write for Features or have a band you'd like to see covered, let me know by emailing

Back in September, I heard about SPIN Magazine looking for new International Correspondents in Toronto, supplying video reports on concerts and all musical happenings in their cities. In October, I made two videos, the longer versions can be seen here and here. Since then, they've been edited down.

It took a couple of restless months, but I can now say I am one of the Correspondents for SPIN's new program, SPIN Earth. I'll be bringing you concert footage from London and Toronto. It's not public yet, but when it is, I'll be sure to let you know!

So it's safe to say blogs might get fewer and far between as I'm taking on these two tasks with full force, beginning my heap of work for City over here in London, and you know, trying to be normal. I have a lot coming up though; more album and concert reviews, RSS news (this past week or so has been ridiculous for music geeks), and more. Stay tuned! (I've always wanted to say that.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Take A Look: The Dodos

I've been meaning to write about this band from San Francisco for a while. I purchased their album "Visiter" back in November and have been listening to it A LOT since then.

It's simple why this record is so great. It's a formula. Pretty basic, but somehow it works in its own way for The Dodos.

Catchy, fast drum beats
Toy keyboards
Simultaneous strumming
Soft vocals, laced with quiet harmonies

Really. Just listen to "Red and Purple". Download the track here.

There's nobody here
To tell us a joke

We tear off our ears

The fire that we stoke
You wrote me a note

The pages were blank
And I, I should have known

Invisible ink

I know that I am yours and you will be mine

Come and join us in the trenches
Red and purple by our side

Say you'll never leave us
In this company of mine.

And if that's not enough, just listen to the album and you'll find you won't be able to press pause. The songs roll into one another as if they were just waiting to be played on a road trip or on a day when you just want to stay in your room and listen to music, lying on your bed with your eyes closed.

It's not just red and purple that you see when you close your eyes. Try it out.

My second favourite track off of this record, after "Red and Purple" and before "Fools" is the bashful guitar-picking "Park Song". It's delightfully cute and will be stuck in your head for days. Download it here. And for the lyrics, go here. You're going to want to sing along.

Went to the park today
Watched all the dogs as they played

None of them barked, they just hanged

Think I'll buy a dog when I get paid

Saw the girl I know from my job

I think that she must think that I'm retarded

I act so dumb when I get started

Time to cut my hair and get it parted

Friday, January 23, 2009

RSS Reads: As of January 23rd

It's been a while since I've updated the RSS Reads section, and now that I am, boy do I have lots of good music information for you. So I'll try to keep it brief.

Well, last time I talked about Zooey & Ben getting engaged. Since then, I've found this and realized the hilarity all over again. (Best Week Ever)

Whether Lily Allen is buying a beach, making out with lesbian twins, or terrorizing paparazzi here in London, (seriously I see her face at least twice a day, but not personally) she's accidentally sending nudie pictures to the Kaiser Chiefs. (Chart)

I still love Lily, though. I don't care how crazy and out of hand she gets. It just gets funnier.

Speaking of London, the BRIT Awards were announced this week, with the front runners being Coldplay, Duffy, and Radiohead. (Chart)

I just have a couple problems with the nominations though: Radiohead nominated for British Group but not British Live Act, all the International Albums are the same nominations for International Act (and fooey on all of them anyway), and Coldplay in general.

Cheering me up though is the fact that M.I.A. was nominated for an Oscar for the song "O...Saya" in Slumdog Millionare. I saw the movie yesterday, loved it. (Pitchfork)

Remember the O.C. and their 'prime music taste'? Well, creator Josh Schwartz is working on a new web series that include four-minute episodes with 15-second bits of bands playing. (CBC Radio 3)

In more collaboration news, members from the Constantines, Attack in Black, and Miracle Fortress have started a new label named You've Changed Records. Clever, eh? And of course their first release is the Attack in Black side project Baby Eagle. (Exclaim)

And now onto a new release: Cadence Weapon, with his new pay-as-you-want album, Seperation Anxiety. I don't really like whenever bands do this and the press is all "ooh they pulled a Radiohead" -- is this really Radiohead's claim to fame? (National Post)

Anyways, I haven't gotten the album yet, but am planning on it. Cadence is slick.

As much as I love John Mayer (yes, still, although just not as much as I used to) and his one-episode of John Mayer Has a TV Show back in 2004, apparently someone else wanted him back, as he might be getting his own variety show. (NME)

Remember when Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse were targeted on a terroris hit list? Turns out it was planted. (NME)

I just liked this picture of Donovan and his crazy imagination. (Exclaim)

Now, I'm actually bringing you some "rap" news.
Lil Wayne: I just loved this headline. "Lil Wayne Works On Rock Album, Horror Movie". It's like that rock film IS the horror movie. (Paste)

And then Bob Boilen from NPR decided to go gangster with his new look. (NPR)

And finally, the joke of Joaquin Phoenix. (National Post)

Am I providing you good music highlights? Or do you have something else to say about it? Sick of Lily Allen and Lil Wayne, or wishing the O.C. would come back to life? Well then, email Jess at

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Drool-worthy 2009 Albums

I'm already ridiculously excited for the rest of 2009 in terms of music. We already know that despite the list I gave for 2008, it was a pretty disappointing year compared to 2007.

But now, I've got my hands on some new albums for this year, and I'm going gaga over them.

Coconut Records -- Davy
I love Jason Schwartzman. Seriously. When Nighttiming came out in 2007, I was so into it. It was also around the time when The Darjeeling Limited was playing, and I had a chance to see Jason and Wes Anderson on Canada's MTV Live show. I remember he passed out gum to everyone and Wes was wearning funny socks. Anyways, Nighttiming was this jem that came out of something nobody remembered: Phantom Planet. Jason went back to his music love, bringing future indie darling Zooey Deschanel into the limelight and even Kirsten Dunst. The songs were cute, simple, and on his sleeve. Now, with Davy, he gets a little deeper. Starting out with "Microphone" you know the rest of the album is going to get good. You are my voice, my microphone, he sings. He's letting you do the interpreting. Now, it's only 9 songs. But it's enough to tide me over with his little guitar strummings and toy piano toilings until maybe another year and a half from now.

Matt & Kim -- Grand
As I was listening to this album yesterday, I thought "wow, their first self-titled was fun and cutesy, made you remind of great childhood times, but this you can tell is the evolution into a more mature version but it's like when the grown-up learns how to find their inner child." And then today, I see two reviews, one in Paste and one in Pitchfork, that basically lay out the same idea. This pair really knows how to work their fans, but you can tell they put a lot of thought into this album and how they were going to beat a sophomore slump. Songs like "Daylight," "Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare," and "Don't Slow Down" are my favourites so far, and definitely on repeat already. (P.S. Want to read a two year old interview I did with the band? Go here. They detail their meaning of fun: Kim: We should make t-shirts that say “pursuit of fun.” Matt: No, that would be cheesy.)

M. Ward -- Hold Time
I can't believe I've been missing out on M. Ward all this time (besides She & Him.) His sleepy voice and intelligent lyrics are too close to too much I can handle. Today I listened to his 2006 album Post-War and it was beautiful. Now onto this album, which I don't believe is out yet, and 20 seconds into the first track I already love it. I loved him since I saw She & Him play and witnessed the way he gazed at Zooey in a friendly loving way. And when he sang one song that night, the crowd went nuts. Now I know why. "Never Had Nobody Like You" will have you swooning.

Franz Ferdinand -- Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
They may have been disappointing in Toronto's concert in December, but this album is promising. "Ulysses" is fun, has a fantastic yet similar beat to my favourite "40'" off of their first album, and opens the album feeling intimate as Alex whispers "come on, let's get hiiiiigh" into a ascending riff. This is similar to their other albums because all the while you're listening to it, you just picture your feet stamping the ground. Maybe even a little fist punch? Or maybe just some hip shaking. Take your pick. (Also, I love they way he says Ulysses... more like U-ly-sees). I find a new way, baaaaby.

Okay. That will feed your music fix for now. But I still have four more albums to asses. They're not 2009, but still good. There's some British talent I'm looking into via Broken Family Band, The Wave Pictures, The Hoosiers, and then there's of course the newest hype-band, Passion Pit.

P.S. For a more in-depth update on what I'm doing in London, check out my Abroad Blog.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rock and Roll Tour

Today I Saw:

One of the birth places of rock and roll in London, near Chinatown.

Where Paul Simon used to Busker.

Where Bob Dylan used to be popular.

Where nobody recognized Elton John and Mick Jagger.

Where there's a road named after a Lou Reed song.

Where, on that street, is a recording studio that housed Bowie, Beatles, and more.

Where the Rolling Stones met one another.

Where Jimi Hendrix had his last show.

Where Judy Garland had her last show.

Where all the Harry Potter premieres are.

Where the Sex Pistols were formed under Vivienne Westwood and Malcom McLaren's watchful eyes.

Where Pink Floyd used to play all the time.

Where Paul McCartney's offices are.

Where the Beatles played over Apple Studios for the last time.

and more. It was a good day. Then I went to go see Edward Scissorhands, the musical/ballet. Beautiful, beautiful day.

Ahoy from Londontown!

I have a short blip for you.

Yesterday, I visited the city of Bath. For the recap, go to my new Abroad Blog.

In the city, right before I entered the Roman Bath Houses, there was this busker. He glowed like the rest of the people in the city.

He was singing "Imagine". I thought it was appropriate in so many ways.

There were other nice buskers around the city that evening, but this guy stood out.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Top Albums of 2008

Finally, here's my top ten albums of 2008 post! I'm keeping it short description this year because let's face it, I'm lazy. And tired. And getting ready for London. (Two days!) Also, I'll be adding on my honorary list, haha.

Here goes.

10. The Danks -- Samples
I saw these guys play twice this year (review 1, review 2) and even though they're pretty much Two Hours Traffic's other half and yearning to be closer to the Strokes, their energy is infectious. Samples, just a little EP of seven songs, is charming, gritty, and has the raw charm that a first EP should have. I see big things in the future for them. Check out "Treaty Connector" and "Sold Me Out".

9. Woodhands -- Heart Attack
This record is amazing, basically. I didn't really get into it until later on in the year, which is why it's further down my list, but it's just so. much. fun. They've earned top honors with NOW and Exclaim (and probably more that I missed) and Eye Weekly in March during CMW. It's so deserved. It's one hip-nerd beat after another. Check out "Dancer" and "I Wasn't Made For Fighting".

8. Sam Roberts Band -- Love at the End of the World
You knew I couldn't leave this album off the list, it was pretty obvious. Now, I don't think this record was as good as the others, but it definitely held its own. It seemed that Roberts was more focused on the lyrics than the music, but it's not a big deal. It had a grown up vibe. I saw Roberts play these songs three times this year, and it was never dissapointing. Check out "Lions of the Kalahari" and "Detroit '67".

7. Girl Talk -- Feed the Animals
This was another obvious choice for me. The mashing has gotten better; bringing back the forgotten 90s rap is always fun. This was my summer/fall party record, definitely. You don't need a playlist, just put this record on. I don't know how long this fad will last, but it was a fad I graciously accepted this year. Check out "No Pause" and "Like This".

6. The Ting Tings -- We Started Nothing
I really don't care that these guys are iPod darlings. This record was cute, fun, and jammin'. Their harmonies really work well together, but each shine on their own just as well. Katie's voice sounds like one that could get annoying, but it never does. She's dead on, pop, and loving it. Jules' drumming is the kind that's lazy dancing, but knows its cool. And his vocals always come in at the exact right time, like in the end of "That's Not My Name". Check out "Shut Up and Let Me Go" and "We Walk".

5. She & Him -- Volume I
Really, this list is turning into more than obvious if you've been following my trends this year. Zooey is my one and only woman crush, and M. Ward is just as ooey gooey. This record fills you with warmth, love you've never noticed, and a desire to be a musician if you aren't already. These two combined their talents and really made magic this year. I can't wait to see what's next. Not to mention, their live show was the cutest show I've ever seen. Check out "I Thought I Saw Your Face Today" and "Sweet Darlin'".

4. Tim Fite -- Fair Ain't Fair
Oh Tim, my friend, you've done so well. This record was so much fun but I could sense a twinge of sadness. It's one thing to entirely use samples, but it's another to really input what you want to convey onto someone else's work. It's the best form of recycling. This record played a huge part to my summer, and seriously, between this album and his others, there are some notes or vocal chords i hear in other songs always thinking its Tim. Therefore, good factor of stickability. Anyways, if there's any way to make a great record even better is how you display it on stage, and Tim was the best with this. He upstaged every band he played with this year, and well deserved. Check out "Big Mistake" and "Yesterday's Garden".

3. Cut Copy -- In Ghost Colours
Holy music to get your heartbeat going, Batman! This was another spring/summer favourite of mine. I saw them back in May and I swear I left the ground many times in the crowd. This was the record I blasted in my room when my neighbors were being annoying and loud, or even if I just needed some dance moments to myself (always the best, and least choreographed). This was a headphone favourite as well. Man, the Australians know how to do the new wave+new new wave best. Check out "Lights & Music" and "Hearts on Fire".

2. Foals -- Antidotes
Beautiful, carefully placed rock. I still can't get over how great this record is. Just one hit after another. It's messy, but worked out that way. It's like they happened upon all of these songs by accident, like they didn't even know the level of their talent. I played this record so much this year. It just seemed to far away, mystical, and imaginative. Where one piece puts together another piece and it just always, always works out. I saw them in May and it was their first Canadian show, but also one they didn't think they did too well on, but I thought it rocked. They're playing in London in March with Bloc Party, and I'll go only for them. Check out "Red Sock Pugie" and "Electric Bloom".

1. Plants & Animals -- Parc Avenue
Beauty, just... beautiful. So much is packed into one record, and it doesn't sound cramped in the slightest. This is my number one album for so many reasons... because countless times did I play this record, talk about this record, etc. I saw them play only once after missing them twice, but it was great. They had a huge part in my musical of 2008. I'm not going to go into more detail of this record, because I already described it here. Check out "Bye Bye Bye" and "New Kind of Love".

And now for the honorary list members, which all were really amazing and I wish could be on my top 10 but just slightly didn't make the cut. Here they would be if added on after 10.

11. The Dodos -- Visiter
12. My Morning Jacket -- Evil Urges
13. Human Highway -- Moody Motorcycle
14. Winter Gloves -- About a Girl
15. Hexes & Ohs -- Bedroom Madness
16. Of Montreal -- Skeletal Lamping
17. Sigur Ros -- Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
18. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -- The Real Rarities
19. Mardeen -- Read Less Minds
20. Little Joy -- Little Joy

More honorable mentions...

black keys
born ruffians
brendan canning
cadence weapon
chad vangaalen
death cab for cutie
elliott brood
jason mraz
jim noir
the kills
land of talk
mother mother