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