Saturday, April 30, 2011

Leonard Love

                                           

Don't matter if you're rich and strong
Don't matter if you're weak
Don't matter if you write a song
The nightingales repeat
Don't matter if it's nine to five
Or timeless and unique
You ditch your life to stay alive
A thousand kisses deep



                                           

 I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,
Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,
Yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new,
In city and in forest they smiled like me and you,
But let's not talk of love or chains and things we can't untie,
Your eyes are soft with sorrow,
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Perfect Song.


What a beautiful and uplifting song about love, life and everything in between. Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder - you're songwriting legends for a reason! Enjoy this song, I think it might change your life just a bit.

Just Breathe - Pearl Jam

Yes I understand/ That every life must end/ As we sit alone/ I know someday we must go
Oh, I'm a lucky man/ To count on both hands/ The ones I love/ Some folks just have one/ Yeah, others they got none.

Stay with me/ Let's just breathe.

Practiced are my sins/ Never gonna let me win/ Under everything/ Just another human being
I don't want to hurt/ There's so much in this world to make me bleed.


Stay with me/ All I see.

Did I say that I need you?/ Did I say that I want you?/ Oh, If I didn't, I'm a fool you see/ No one knows this more than me/ As I come clean.

I wonder everyday/ As I look upon your face/ Everything you gave, and nothing you would take/ Nothing you would take/ Everything you gave.

Did I say that I need you?/ Did I say that I want you?/ If I didn't I'm a fool you see/ No one knows this more than me/ As I come clean.

Nothing you would take/ Everything you gave/ Hold me till I die/ Meet you on the other side.




       

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gamechanger

In my opinion, I don't exaggerate when I say that The National can do no wrong. An avid fan of their older work, which represented a darker and harder mood-rock persona of theirs, as well as their newer, hypnotizing romantic-rock melodies - they always hit the musical nail on the head. Their music is surrounded with this recognizable aura of wisdom, passion and melancholy - a sound that's addictive to listen to, because you inevitably feel a little bit of something with the first few notes. From my experience, Matt Berninger's plain croons over swelling sounds and instruments evoke emotion in even the most impartial listeners.

"Exile Vilify", their latest single (and thank God, because since the release of High Violet last May - I've been jonesin' for more), is heartbreaking. A song that's been put to the new video game Portal 2, I'll admit my video game ignorance when I say I hear nothing whatsoever related to the gaming world in this haunting track. The song was probably pulled for the video game soundtrack after being thrown to the cutting room floor of one of their most recent albums - because the meaningful lyrical performance and magical instrumental loop seems unbelievably and typically The National in nature. I guess what I'm trying to say is, they wrote this song for themselves, not the game.

Either way, the first time I heard it, (similar to the first time I listened to High Violet all the way through), it took the wind out of me. Magical, swooping piano composition and gorgeous background strings tell me this might just be one of my favourite tracks of the spring season. The story is honest and sometimes tragic, but heroic - a feeling that I find commonly resonates in me after I spend time listening to the brilliant baritone of Berninger. Listen below:



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Capital Craze

My favourite time of year went from being light years away, to being a familiar feeling and smell that I could almost touch, as of last night. Last night, the preliminary Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest line-up was announced, and let me say - unlike the initial disappointment of reading 2010's line-up (sure it included a few goodies, but also a lot of mediocre acts) - this year I am on the edge of my seat.

Slamming down on the table over a dozen sparkling contemporary acts and classic fan-favourite rockers, festival director Mark Monahan has already outdone himself in my eyes. Who he's presented so far proves that this past year was one spent tirelessly roping in renowned names and connecting with hot-topic acts. And, it's made me even more excited to see what kind of small up-and-coming performers he's picked up along the way with the intention of inserting them in between the giant headlining musicians. Those are the kinds of teasers we've been left with, and not since the epic Bluesfest of 2009 have I been this rattled with anticipation. What promises to be an unbelievable show featuring the likes of Steve Miller, The Roots, Erykah Badu, Jennifer Hudson, The Tragically Hip, Ben Harper, Soundgarden, Blue Rodeo, The Flaming Lips and Arkells - here are who I am so far most ecstatic to see in the nation's capital during these two dazzling summer weeks.


The Black Keys: Are we really surprised though? After the rumours flew, we were howlin' for them to come. I'm by no means the only one, Ottawa waits with bated breathe to see these kick-ass rock stars make their way back to our concert grounds, post-Brothers madness.



My Morning Jacket: No need to re-iterate my love for these classic-rock-revival superstars and their comforting Americana talent. See here for further evidence.



John Fogerty: I grew up listening closely to CCR and all they had to offer. Car rides as a kid always meant for a little "Fortunate Son" or "Have you seen the rain?" and for me, lead singer John Fogerty represents youth, sweet rock and a time of social upheaval when music meant...everything.



Peter Frampton: I still remember the first time I listened to Frampton Comes Alive with my Dad, fascinated with the arena-rock classics "Show Me The Way" and "Do You Feel Like We Do", and his mouth-to-pedal talkbox trick. Listen and love the sound effect below.



Death Cab For Cutie: Most people went through a big DCFC phase, like myself, and therefore can't wait for a night in the summer breeze, kicking back and listening to the sounds of our youth. Only this time, we're legal drinking age, so the listening experience might be a little better with a beer in hand?



Girl Talk: Last but certainly not least, Gregg Gillis, the psycho-genius mash-up phenomenon known as Girl Talk, is someone most people have likely seen at some point in their festival attending career. That doesn't by any means take away from the fact that he's addictive, an unbelievable performer, and holds the title of one my favourite Bluesfest performers I've seen to date (summer of 2009, he rocked our joint - hard).





Bring on the sunglasses, sundresses, sun rays, festival romance and friends. See you in July, Bluesfest!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cure Those Mondays

If you're like me - at an office in a ghost town downtown area where everyone else is on holiday still - you probably are echoing my sentiment when I say I have a mild case of the Mondays.

First Wave from Dam Mantle
Hopefully this little track will help you out. A really interesting electro-mix by Glasgow producer Dam Mantle (also known as Tom Marshallay), called "Movement" is actually completely brightening up my day. A busy track that's full of uplifting clicks and booms, cinematic strings and jutted keyboard beats - it will surround you like a big ball of sunshine as you walk, plugged in and happy while it soars. Marshallay is quite something - that something being, exactly the kind of electronic music I love. I wouldn't go as far as saying it's predictable, unlike some of the other tracks we hear nowadays, but it manages to use fascinating musical bits and pieces while still mapping something of a theme throughout for the listeners to follow. It's certainly all over the place at times, and there are moments where you'll hear oddities and found-sound, but at the end of the day - you really capture the bigger picture. The bigger picture being, it's sort of like a beautiful and epic movie score, if the movie score was a person, and that person happened to have A.D.D.

Wherever Dam Mantle is going with his talent and his ambitious producing mind, I truly enjoy it. This track is just a bit of harmony in an otherwise chaotic land of moody Monday workers like me. Check out the rest of Dam Mantle's brand new work on his debut album First Wave from Wichita Records.


"Movement" - Dam Mantle

Friday, April 22, 2011

Songbird

14. years. old. Listen, love, feel young again. Happy Easter!



"Skinny Love" - Birdy (Bon Iver cover)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mum is the Word


"Love was kind for a time, now it just aches and makes me blind. This mirrors haunts, by eyes too bright/ That I can't see the others in my life / Were we too young?/ Heads too strong?/ To bear the weight of these lovers eyes / Because I feel numb beneath her tongue.../ Do not ask the price I pay for I must live with my quiet rage/ Tame the ghosts in my head that run wild and wish me dead/ Should you shake my ash to the wind/ Lord, forget all my sins." 

Poetry or pop? That is the question. Both? Most definitely the answer. One of my favourite developments of 2010 was to see the Mumford and Sons contemporary folk epidemic that swept the globe; a worldwide appreciation of breathtakingly wise lyricists and collectively ingenious instrumentalists. Londoners Mumford and Sons debuted their newest dreamy folk track, "Lover's Eyes", at Coachella this month - teasing the crowd with their preview of what promises to be another line-up of indie-folk hits.

This folklore ballad cranks into full gear halfway through with horns, a holler, a stomp and that classic jig speed-up that evokes spine-chilling wonder in listeners everywhere. Heavenly male harmonies and twinkling piano over rapid guitar and booming horns always leave me stunned, wondering how these pretty men are so gifted, so confident - yet so young. The concluding words - "I walk slow, take my hand and help me on my way" - like the end of a film, settle the magical instrumental chaos and lower us back down to earthy ground level.

The magnificent thing about these guys and their timeless folk melodies is that it's a sound unbiased of age, gender or era - the obsession is based on an illimitable appreciation of a voice of someone who's refreshingly awake; singing (or reassuring) about love, little life meaning and the search for a better worldly understanding. The equal parts humility and confidence in Marcus Mumford's voice is something that secures instant platinum sales for the band, and the feeling that the unknowing is a wonderful thing, in us.

The second studio album from Mumford and Sons is in the process of being recorded.

       

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Fair Lady

There's something about Brits. Whether it's their poetically pronounced language, their natural ability to gravitate towards eloquence even when they might be saying something insulting, or the fact that their Britpop sound is one of the most influential musical subgenre foundations underneath what we listen to today - I just love 'em. In all shapes and sizes, all sounds, all ages, all eras - the music out of the United Kingdom has a way of royally courting you in the most genuine of ways.

Such is also true of the influx of vocally blunt female crooners and their bouncy, Motown-meets-bubblegum pop addictiveness. First came Amy Winehouse, then Lily Allen, then Kate Nash, then Florence and the Machine, and now a little pixie-soul-princess named after the famous cockney Cinderella story character from the 1964 classic My Fair Lady. It's now 23 year-old Eliza Doolittle who's crashing the scene with her nearly effortless pipes and jumpy jazz tunes. Pleasantly honest and often coyly withholding her ability to belt, Doolittle has the appearance of an even mini-er Minnie Driver who has candidly tender girlish stories to tell.

Everything from her adorably endearing covers of Coldplay's "Yellow" and "Creep" by Radiohead, to her own hop-scotching doo-wop songwriting, has sold me on her future endeavours. At 23, she's made quite a bit of headway in her own right, and I get the feeling she won't fade so easily, and actually might rise to higher Britpop stardom than is immediately expected of her.

Take a listen to my three personal favourites from Doolittle, and see if you (like me) actually predict that she will do anything but little in her music career.



         
                                                              "Nobody" - Eliza Doolittle

         
                                                           "Pack it Up "- Eliza Doolittle

"Skinny Genes" - Eliza Doolittle

Monday, April 18, 2011

Something tells me...

...I'm into something good. I have a very strong feeling that this week is going to be a good one. I don't know why; the piles on my desk and my heavy morning eyelids would normally be exhibits of evidence to the contrary, but I'm not buying it. I think this is going to be a very, very nice week.

And I hope you feel the same way. If you don't yet, that's fine. Maybe listen to this crafty cover of a ditty made famous by Herman's Hermits, and then make your decision about what this gloomy-looking Monday has in store. Something about synth-pop crooner Inara George ("the bird") and her electro-doo-wop calmness always leaves me wanting more. In my mind and to my ears, it's quite rare she does any wrong.


And while you're listening to this cutiepie of a cover, think of all the things you can do to make this week what you want it to be, despite your work life or overwhelming amount of schoolwork. Some of my favourite moments are those spent in solitude listening to great tunes. Others are the little things, like:

  • Being curled up in my favourite big chair reading something fascinating. When I'm too tired to feel whimsically swept away by a fictional plot, I opt for an interesting biography or history of sorts. You can pick it up when you're craving a little knowledge, put it down whenever, and you'll undoubtedly still feel a little smarter after half an hour of reading. Some background jazz music usually does the trick too. Glass of wine optional but recommended.

  • Go to your local supermarket and head to the tea section, pick out a few boxes (they're not heavy on the bank account) that supposedly have calming effects or neat names. I pick out ones like Apple Cinnamon, Peppermint Ginger, Chocolatey Chai etc. and pour a healthy bowl-sized mug of that to sip with a movie on a week night. Something about it brings you down from that Monday to Friday chaos.

  • Start your weekend in a different neighbourhood. One of my favourite things is to get up early on a Saturday morning and venture somewhere (after having written down my transit plan - but really, who cares if you get lost?) that's in no way close to my house. You most likely won't bump into anyone you know and will inevitably discover a new breakfast spot, boutique or coffee shop that can be your little secret. Plug in your favourite playlist and jaunt around a new part of the city - you'll be surprised how liberating it is to realize you've made it to 1 o'clock in the afternoon only having said about 10 words so far that day.

Happy Monday.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hang on now...


As much as "Weekends" by The Perishers was a completely lyrically appropriate tune for a glowy early morning walk, I seemed to have omitted that some of my best friends are coming into town this weekend for what you might call a ceremonial painting of the town. Needless to say, it should be a dynamite one comprised of hysterical goofball women, dance moves that will earn us no new friends and countless group hugs. Let's just shift the gentle morning ballad to the side for now, and make a little room for the man, the legend, the party - Diplo. Let the real cheers' begin!


                                                 Dip Hop - Diplo feat. Dead Prez

TGIF

Happy Friday, everybody! For me, this week was one of catch-up in every meaning of the word - catch-up on sleep, catch-up on safe drinking water, catch-up on work, and catch-up on music and news. So, thankfully it's Friday and I finally feel mildly up to speed and ready for a weekend that includes a few delicious glasses of Merlot, spring cleaning and good friends.

And, what better way to start a sunny Friday than by listening to a group of soft indie-rock Swedes with romantic voices and pleasant melodies. I don't know if anyone else went through this phase the way I did, but I think I can pinpoint it back to the 2005-2006 years when I was an avid fan of the band The Perishers. Pretty harmonies, plainly sweet lyrics and that emotional indie-pop feel we grew to love during that time, thanks to the likes of these guys, Keane and Nada Surf.

Here's a song called "Weekends", which they probably would want us to listen to today, and a few others of theirs to get you back in The Perishers groove. Cheers to the weekends!



                       
                                                          Sway - The Perishers

                        
                                                    Trouble Sleeping - The Perishers


                        
Weekends - The Perishers

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Altogether Taken Apart

Let's talk mainstream! This song - or should I say, this cover - is by no means an unknown or concealed little gem, but that being said, it really is a gem. Not necessarily because the redesigned version is anything out of the ordinary or revolutionary, but because it just represents everything I love about the best kinds of covers: an artist taking a concept completely out of their comfort sphere or realm, and with respect to the original, they thematically shape and mold it into something more stylistically suited to them. So, when Cee-lo, goofy pop artist and distant relative of the peacock family, decided to twist one of my favourite Band of Horses ballads, "No One's Gonna Love You", into his own synth-pop anthem - he earns points from me for recognizing and paying homage to a type of songwriting and genre that he normally wouldn't dabble in. He essentially gives props to the great Americana indie-rock Horses.

And, what drew me to writing about this cover was actually, more than anything, the music video. Some sort of Bonnie and Clyde-esque documentary - a frivolous, wild-child couple taking their unconditional love on a cross-country tour of the American highway. It's adorable, fast-paced and spotted with hypnotizing romantic images that depict a real and unpretentious bond, that like in real life, can easily start "splittin' at the seams and tumbling down hard." Check it out - and be sure to listen to the magnificent original while you're at it.


                                                           


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Back to Basics

                                      

My. Morning. Jacket! One of the great American rock groups that we were lucky to have as part of our generation's line-up have returned with a new album - and it's back to the stripped down, folk-rock goodness that made these ramblin' rockers famous and dear to our hearts. They're back to those basics; the classic folk rock surges that we all know can be lacking in a day and age of stimulated, highly innovative and boundaryless music-making. Nothing wrong with either category, but damn, does it feel good to be brought back down to feel-good rock.

Trusted and held high as suppliers of the classic Americana folk-rock genre that holds both free-spirited strums and worldly insight, Kentucky's My Morning Jacket have taken little journeys all over the proverbial music map. Starting out with an indie roots-rock presence on their debut 1999 release The Tennessee Fire and experimenting with moments of more charged psychedelic rock over the decade, they've garnered attention more so for their wisdom, versatility and number one kick-ass weapon - the high-pitched howls of Mr. Jim James. Scruffy and goofy but with mesmerizing powerful pipes, James is the golden thread throughout the entire operation.

And, the story is no different on their country-rock title-track single "Circuital". Starting with a quiet, popping acoustic loop under James' soft croons, we're teased with interjections of upbeat acoustic spurts until we're pulled back into the gradual opening chords. Before long, they give into our impatience, allowing the slam of the electric guitar and hurried strums to sweep us up and into the real deal. The song goes from 10 to 180 in a matter of seconds, when clapping countryside drums, fluttering piano beauty and soaring electric wails put you in a euphoric state of MMJ comfort. A drawn-out outro jam that's decked with the opening magical plucks, growling guitar riffs and James' falsetto notes are the only three ingredients I need to be sure that this album is going to be one even our kids and kid's kids will play during their own summertime adventures down the road. Nearly biblical rock melodies and profound storytelling are hard to find nowadays, so it's good to know that the boys are back in town to get the job done; the job being, somehow creating music that sounds like rolling hills and fading country sunlight.

Here are an old-school MMJ track and classic MMJ cover to lead into the shiny new jam:


                     
                            "Bermuda Highway" - My Morning Jacket (off 2001's At Dawn)
                   

                   

            "It Makes No Difference" - My Morning Jacket (originally sung by The Band)



"Circuital" - My Morning Jacket




Look for the new album 'Circuital' on May 31st, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Welcome to the Club

Welcome back to the Round everybody - I've missed you! As much as my little getaway was highly beneficial in soothing my busy work-infested mind and nursing my pasty-white winter body back to sunkissed life - I missed (every day, without fail) the chance to talk about music, discover music and learn about what's happening and relevant in music. I found that after being in a beautifully scenic and fantasy-like resort, I was unbelievably lucky and at peace - but missing horribly the little joys of reading the morning news, hearing a new song on the radio (that wasn't "We No Speak Americano" at a deafening poolside volume), and not being back-handed by a sand-filled breeze everytime I was having a meaningful conversation.

But, all of that being said, my trip was therapeutic, the beach was aqua blue against the blinding white sand, ten thousand laughs were had, and wonderful new friends were made. And, I even discovered a few new Spanish songs that we were prompted to shake it to (about sixteen times a day) by the over-ecstatic resort staff. Mass choreographed dancing? Not only a thing of my dreams in the world of Dominicana.

And, a non-Spanish, non-English song was discovered - one that ultimately became the theme song of our entire week-long party. The scene was set each day with countless Bahama Mama, Pina Colada and Presidente Cerveza sips, our lazy, glistening bodies sprawled on beach chairs, disco dance floor domination under the moonlight and literal scream-laughing - all to this one spankin' new tune.

Yelle, a french pop-electro band founded in 2007 are responsible for a range of catchy french hits - those that become vices you don't admit to enjoying (because they sound like cartoon theme songs), and innovative trendy disco-pop that becomes your go-to party bop. This song easily fell into the latter category. Lead by the piercing, childlike vocals of Julie Budet, the song "Safari Disco Club" (the first track off their brand new album, which is unfortunately sparsely populated with equally as addictive songs) resembles the hoppity electro of Dragonette and CSS combined, making for a head-bobbing, two-stepping dream.

Beginning with erratic pot, pan and xylophone-tapping, the song immediately dives into Budet's pixie-shouts over funky aerial disco beats. Addictive to dance and sing to, you find yourself excited to chant the most interesting and cutely addictive french phrase of your life that slides through the chorus: "Les animaux dansent dans le Safari Disco Club." This song ended up having it's own glance. A lull in our day of lounging? Glance..."S.D.C." came on. A new round of ocho drinkypoos? Glance..."S.D.C." would blare. A wonderful song that, if possible, made the sun shine brighter, cranked the 30-degree weather up higher, and put even wider ear-to-ear grins on our face as we pranced through the dunes.

Enjoy the disco, little animals!


                     

Friday, April 1, 2011

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Today is a wonderful day. No, not the endless grind of the busy work day, the frigid edging-onto-spring Canadian weather or the fact that I have such sad Mother Hubbard's Cupboards right now that I've brought Mr. Noodles for lunch - it's what comes after that. Once the day is over and the crusty noodles have been consumed - I'll be taking flight, having a little snooze, floating in a few clouds, and waking up...in the Caribbean. Colour me excited.

Of course, one of the first things I did for the drive to the Toronto airport and the week spent plugged into my iPod while lying on a bed of icing sugar-sand was...make several mixes! And, of course, they all had to be weather, culture and vibe appropriate. I think my task was completed successfully, because these are a few of the tasty, fruity-tooty, bouncing tropical treats I made up for us:

1. Could You Be Loved - Bob Marley: Whether the original or the millennium-molded Damian Marley remix, the sounds of this bass-driven reggae song will put you on a sandy beach wherever you are in the world. Lucky for me, I'll actually be on a beach. Whoops, last time I rub it in.

2. Now That You Got It (Remix) - Gwen Stefani feat. Damian Marley: Another Marley-touched track, this song has contagious doses of 90s reggae piano and Marley's interjected hollers in between Stefani's catchy lyrics.


3. In The Summertime - Mungo Jerry: One of the jolliest summer-strolling tracks of all time - this goofy shuffle of a song sounds like it belongs in a ragtime dance hall, with foreheads sweating and heads bobbing while the ceiling fans blow.

4. Send Me On My Way - Rusted Root: Most people (who had the proper childhood movie-watching experience) remember this adorable and cheery ditty the film Matilda. With easily one of the loveliest and most heartwarming acoustic guitar loops of all time, it makes you feel smiley, adventurous and unafraid of the consequences.



5. Adrift - Jack Johnson: This beach side lullaby sways like the coming and going of the evening tide. Johnson's quiet hums and gentle picking of the guitar lie hand-in-hand with the lyrics, "This moment keeps on moving, we were never meant to hold on."

6. The Bucket - Kings of Leon: Prepare for take-off. This KOL song is one of my favourites because it is an absolute blast from start to finish - it boasts young love, spontaneity and carelessness every time it drops the hurried electric wails. "You kick the bucket and I'll swing my legs," moans my sweet little hubby, Caleb Followill.



7. Feelin' Alright - Joe Cocker: Joe, baby, sing it. As soon as I hear the opening sultry jazz of the piano loop, and then Cocker's soulful croons, I get the urge to stand in my seat (or on my seat) and start a mass choreographed dance. When his raspy vocals and back-up singers' gospel yelps combine, I can immediately see and smell it - sunkissed bodies paired off, swaying to the rhythm, back and forth, dipping each other, cheek-to-cheek. One big, sexy lovefest.

8. Stay - Tragically Hip: Without a doubt one of my favourite Hip songs, this one is pure sunshine and ease, and its perfectly orchestrated by the plain, thoughtful wisdom of Gord Downie's storytelling. A simple verse turned into a beautiful, melodic chorus - it's also marked by my favourite mid-song hook when Downie profoundly rises above the popping guitar strings to sing, "All things being balanced, its balanced and always balancing somewhere beyond everything."

9. Valerie (Remix) - Amy Winehouse featuring Mark Ronson and Baby J: Well, here we are. The epitome of lying star-fished on a beach, overlooking sparkling blue waters and achieving the heavenly state of fruity-drink-day-buzzed. This stripped down version of the Motown-on-crack original, in a nutshell, is a jet-setting reggae dream.

          


10. Groove Me Baby - King Floyd: Consider me grooved! King Floyd's classic, New Orleans shout is like a heatwave over this golden anthem. It's boppity horns and soulful rhythm will send you hop-scotching down the street (or beach, in my case - okay, last one), infecting others with your saucy and grooved-up mood.




See you in a week - I'll miss ya!