Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Then Came The Rain

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I don't know what's going on wherever you are - but here in the nation's capital we're expected to get 35 mm of rain over the next 24 hours. Most of you, like me, are probably dry and warm in your workplace looking out at the dim morning and grey water-washed streets. Some of you might be cooped in your cozy apartment waiting to start an afternoon or night shift; but wherever you are, you need some comfy tunes to snuggle in to along with your favourite wool sweater. Throw these songs together, enjoy the last of fall with this damp day and take a few minutes to stare out the window (studies shows a few minutes a day set aside to "meditate" or stare into space can reduce your overall stress and anxiety). Tonight? Take it easy. Although I'm sure you're all painfully tempted by the wild parties Tuesday nights are known for (...), maybe settle in with a hot drink or a nice glass of wine and read a good book. If the rain really comes down, turn the music down to a hush so you can hear the downpour properly. Raindrops really aren't so bad if you're prepared with boots, an umbrella and a soothing playlist.

A Wink and a Smile - Harry Connick Jr.

Traffic in the Sky - Jack Johnson


Melt with You - Nouvelle Vague

Alex - Girls

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Dry The Rain - Beta Band
Buckets of Rain - Beth Orton and M.Ward (Bob Dylan cover)

You Could Make A Killing - Aimee Mann

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via 1, 2,  3, 4

Friday, November 25, 2011


I've never seen this promo before. And it's perfect. M83, you complete me.

For the full and prolonged, majestic song, see the bottom video:


Kimbra Kind of Friday

Happy Friday, everybody! This Friday calls for many things, but the main thing it calls for is Kimbra. I equate "Cameo Lover" to longing 50s doo-wop pleas paired with modern-day dance floor flash. You better to listen to her, too - she seems to know best as a stylish and effortlessly cool leading lady, making big statements like "dance with your demise" and "open up your heart." I here "Plain Gold Ring" and think of your typical jammed and smoky speakeasy put under a hush of silence as the sultry lounge singer hangs off the microphone, capitvating the crowd.

Shake a leg tonight!



Thursday, November 24, 2011

Love's Alive

I don't need to say much about this track, except that with the frosty plunge in temperatures and light sprinkling of snow - it feels like it's time to play my favourite song of the winter season. It's not Christmas-related and winter is more of a metaphor for the real message - yet its romantic melody, heartwarming harmonies and loving lyrics make it the ideal song to keep you centered during the sometimes offputting winter months. Since I first heard this in 2008 - I've found that it really does, like the vocalists say, provide a little light to guide you home. I hope you like it as much as I adore it. Take it away, girls.

                         Winter Song - Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles



My little Christmas tree

My Christmas centrepiece

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Andrea True Connection

Rest in peace Andrea True - who passed away today at 68 in Kingston, New York. In film, television and on the iconic dance floors of the disco era, Andrea True and her flashy disco hits were an undeniable fixture.

The song below, now timeless, remains one of the greatest of that era.

*Leave a comment below if you can name the popular 1999 song that was influenced by the small instrumental hook within the middle of "More, More, More".

Trust Some Happy Songs

Indie rock has certainly come in different shapes and sizes since its inception. Starting with a grungier sound, showing spurts of darkness and angst, followed by popular emo phases, some atmospheric trance and consistent demonstrations of garage rock and uppity Brit-rock throughout - it really is hard to say exactly why, aside from bands picking from past trends, certain sounds clump together throughout the years to set the standard for what the scene will commonly decide is "indie"-sounding at any given time.

Over time, with the ongoing popularity of bands like The Strokes, The Dandy Warhols and Arctic Monkeys - we've heard a lot of sunny and melodic garage rock storm the scene, rightfully so. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and The Kooks followed suit with whiny and spastic vocals that dance alongside the fluorescent rock beats; a sound that continues to be the happier contrast in what can be a very, very moody genre.

This sound is one I've always favoured, which is why with the September release of Grouplove's neon and kiddish album Never Trust A Happy Song, the world got just a tiny bit brighter. Dueling vocals between Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi orchestrate the youthful rock ditties which have names that sound just as playful as the sounds within them ("Colours", "Naked Kids", "Cruel and Beautiful Worlds", and "Close Your Eyes and Count To Ten", to name a few). Zucconi's happy-go-lucky screaching and sometimes mindless lyrics are all fine and well - but it can't be denied that the band knows how to use their instruments also; tossing them together underneath their jovial harmonies to deliver undeniable catchiness on each track.

Check them out, if you need to lighten up your Tuesday.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It Would Be Great

In light of his weekend concert in Toronto, which most likely changed the lives of hundreds of religious followers like myself (although I couldn't attend - large life regret), I figured an uplifting Monday tune from indie pop king M83 is only appropriate. The french electro-driven artist with a famous yelp and endless pocket full of atmospheric and profound melodies, is also currently experiencing an undeniable 2011 resurgence following his most recent release Hurry Up, We're Dreaming - the best album he's ever put forth.

This song (I kid you not) made me tear up the first time I heard it. Unlike "Wait" and "Intro", two dreamlike out-of-body indie jams that soar when blared - this one is just innocently breathtaking. On the topic of what he warned would be a new and "very, very epic album", Gonzalez said, "It's mainly about dreams, how every one is different, how you dream differently when you're a kid, a teenager, or an adult. I'm really proud of it." And as he should be. This song in particular, a seemingly misplaced concept in the middle of the first disc, is a running commentary shared by several children and a pre-school keyboard loop about the mesmerizing and beautiful life of a frog. The children, their unpretentious observations and kind-natured words represent exactly what the title of the album is all about. The album, although diverse and fascinatingly different with each click of the track, does have a theme. And it's perfectly embodied in this song. It really is mainly about dreams.

Raconte-Moi Une Histoire -M83

I heard about this frog/
It's a very tiny frog/
But it's also very special/
You can only find it in the jungle/
So far away from me/
But if you find it and if you touch it/
Your world can change forever.

If you touch its skin/
You can feel your body changing/
And your vision also/
And blue becomes red and red becomes blue/
And your mommy suddenly becomes your daddy/
And everything looks like a giant cupcake.

And you keep laughing and laughing and laughing/
Nothing is ever quite the same really/
And after you finish laughing/
It's time to turn into a frog yourself/
It's very funny to be a frog/
You can dive into the water/
And cross the rivers and the oceans/
And you can jump all the time and everywhere/
Do you want to play with me?

We can be a whole group of friends/
A whole group of frogs/
Jumping into the streets/
Jumping into the planet/
Climbing up the buildings/
Swimming in the lakes and in the bathtubs/
We would be hundreds, thousands, millions/
The biggest group of friends the world has ever seen/
Jumping and laughing forever/
It would be great, right?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Snap Into It

Today, I was in a rut. There's no explanation why - aside from my deafening head cold - but, I needed a little something to pick me up. Since candy-like cough drops and countless cups of eye-popping caffeine weren't enough, I figured I'd find inspiration for the day ahead in some really, truly beautiful notes. That's when I remembered, a week ago I discovered my current favourite band - and they were the rut remedy.

The remedy was found in former Great Lake Swimmers' member Colin Huebert's new project Siskiyou and their loyal-to-suit chilly, instrument-packed melodies. Featuring gorgeously subdued vocals shaking alongside layered instruments and chaotic arrangements - this is exactly what I needed to breathe in today. Every song is humble but triumphant, catchy but unique - resembling a beautifully organic jam between Paul Adams (Interpol), Paul Murphy (Wintersleep), Hey Rosetta!'s intrumentalists and the grassroots musical concepts put forth by the Swimmers themselves. Quiet, sensible anthems tinker alongside clanging indie-rock, releasing a range of emotions alongside Huebert's intimate vocals.

The songs are short and haunting. This collection of tracks, which apparently were laid during a crisp snap of winter in what I would assume would be a deep rural setting, are little cold snaps in themselves. Tunes like "So Cold", "Keep Away The Dead" and my personal favourite "Twig and Stones" are heavy breaths of fresh air that wake you up with each little listen. If you're feeling the November beside-yourselves as well, please listen. Siskiyou won't disappoint.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rave On

As probably the least "typically" Raveonettes song I've heard in some time, this new tune of theirs is like the melancholy slow dance anthem for the prom-goer who got stood up. The buzzing guitars and muffled dueling co-crooners are submerged in the lonely, disordered melody in this plainly mellow tune - making it surprisingly effective and worth a listen. Unlike their boppity fuzz-rock ballads fit for date night or a dash about Londontown, this one's a little dark. And with lyrics like, "How we loved and how we tried and how we fell apart," it's a little intriguing. Enjoy!

Let Me On Out - Raveonettes


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wishful Thinking

This is currently the background to my Blackberry...premature? Nah.

Being a December baby, I'm always first to jump the Christmas gun. There's really no such thing as too early for me. As soon as the spooky season is over, I'm ready for sparkling lights, cinnamon and pine aromas and a little snow on the windowsill. And, needless to say, I'm even more ready for the music. The perfect, cozy and sugary sweet holiday music.

I know that these days it feels as if September and November weather has swapped, but I'm not concerned; I know that frosty cold snap is around the corner to push us that little bit into the festive season. So, I'm going to (like clockwork) jump the Christmas gun again and try and coax a little chill out of Mother Nature with this tune. Do I like cold, wet feet the day after Christmas is over? No. But do I love a snowy breeze on the cocoa and carol-filled days leading up to my favourite day of the year? Ab.so.lutely.

Bring on the red and green!

                                                 Matt Pond PA  - "Snow Day"

Friday, November 11, 2011


This M83 song is perfect enough - but even more heavenly when performed live with Zola Jesus. Oh, how I wish this was something I could have seen. Happy Friday.

We didn't need a story, we didn't need a real world/
We just had to keep walking/
And we became the stories, we became the places/
We were the lights, the deserts, the faraway worlds/
We were you before you even existed/

Now We're Talking

I'll be the first to admit that "Lonely Boy", the recently released Black Keys song, was not my cup of tea. It literally, for no rhyme or reason, didn't do it for me in any way. This B-side, on the other hand, is a whole other story.

Throwing back to old school heavy Keys while keeping the modern blues they've mastered, the rapid, buzzing rock n' roll that scorches through speakers on their newest track "Run Right Back" is addictive. The whining guitar loop that opens the song and weaves through the chorus of the track is the most riveting car chase-ready anthem out of these boys in awhile - and seemingly the perfect quick kick to rev up their highly anticipated El Camino album.

One of the best kinds of music is that where you can only picture how unbelievable the recording session must have been. In the case of this track, I can see Pat Carney's gangly arms thumping hard on the percussion, sweat forming on his brow. And then there's Auerbach, his mouth hanging off a Neumann microphone as his sexy coined growl slithers in and out of vibrato and effortlessly high-pitched cool. Keeping with the band's ever-popular lyrical theme of a desperate lovestruck obsession with some femme fatale character, this smackdown rock track tells the story seamlessly, again.

Dive right in and enjoy - it will leave you, like me, begging for the next chapter of the story.

Run Right Back - The Black Keys

Look for the Lonely boy "12 on November 25th, and the full-length El Camino on December 6th.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

History Repeating

It's all just a little bit of history repeating. I love the resurgence of old music, when it takes on a new form - mixed and re-molded into a shiny new toy for us to play with again. The classics are just that - classic - and there's no questioning the inability to replace them. But it keeps the cycle of music alive and well when we re-invent. In fact, everything is kept alive and well when we adapt to change and pick from the past. Genres remain ever-transforming but borrow from founders and forefathers, honouring the cemented foundations of music but allowing new buds to sprout from the cracks and re-release memorable game-changing concepts into the universe and its airwaves all over again.

Take for instance, Americana music - modern alt-country and roots music that's perfect for the front stoop of a southern homestead, honouring everything from Bob Dylan's twangy folk-rock to Johnny Cash's blue-collar rhyming and country strums. The refurbished version? Wilco, Mumford and Sons, Ryan Adams and the Avett Brothers - bands that undeniably pull from the threads woven by these originators. Then, there's the electronica pop-synth from the 1980s, which was initiated by popular artists like Depeche Mode, Human League and Duran Duran along with funky keyboard effects, rave-like drug use, neon make-up and inexplicable hair. These days? You'll find popular Indietronica bands like Yeasayer, Cut Copy, CSS and Friendly Fires donning the exaggerated vocals and splashy strange sounds all over again, to modern-day hipsters' delight. Ah, and then there's classic rock. Rock that's meant for an open highway; guitar licks and howling vocals destined to coast out half-opened windows along with scraggly hair and cigarette smoke whipping in the wind - in the least Willow Smith of ways. That's where you'll find The Sheepdogs, chanelling Forgerty and his freedom-fighting harmonies; Sam Roberts chanelling Paul Simon and Wings' lovechild; and Cat Power taking a page out of The Rolling Stones and Joplin's co-written notebook. All thematic buckets of music have a shovel in them and are scooped, blended and stirred together in the most savoury of fashions when new artists emerge from the bottom of the chain. Consequently, and unrelated, we can't forget the Akons, T-Pains and Flo-Rida, who are....unfortunately, unprecedented phases of music which (fingers crossed) will just stop here.

These re-vamped sounds, just like covers, are nothing to complain about. They're fellow (not lesser) artists honouring an original idea and paying homage to a time and a place where a genre made sense; where instrument-use somehow managed to represent particular social or political situations. And the most "duh"-moment of truths - the influences which drive an artist into music are inevitably going to be driven hard into their individual sound. That's the thing about history; it repeats and will until the end of time - but the factors, players, faces and notes will always change, even if just a little. It's really the underlying beauty of it all, whether it lives on in a dusty old record or surfaces in a shiny mp3, it continues to make the world go 'round. And if you're not around for one piece of history, you're bound to catch the next wave.

Care to compare? Listen below:
                                                        Folk Rock

Classic Rock

Synth Pop


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Down Under Ditty

Tessa and the Typecast, a new pop-rock band from Australia with only one EP released a month ago, are really tossing it back to the nostalgic sounds of popular female rock leads from the early days of girl-driven indie and grunge underground rock. Her giant, purified vocals and wild red mane ever-so-perfectly fit the description of the token leading lady in an up-and-coming band. The hurried rock within Melbourne's gem of a new tune is sensationally sunny and upbeat, and therefore ideal for the laidback surfer population of the contintent down under - as well as us North American wussies looking for a vicarious escape from this fast-approaching chill.

Straight On 'Til morning - Tessa and the Typecasts

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chart Toppers

The funny thing about my music listening is, despite hours of free time spent paroozing music stores (both online and off), I always end up with more of a leg up on the underground or less-mainstream airwaves. To some, this would come across as what the kids call "hipster" or "scenester", and let me say, if you've met me - you know I am certainly neither of these stereotypes. It just so happens that the kind of music I've always liked - alt-rock, folk, electro-dance and acoustic - isn't always the most requested at the hot radio station in town. But, that doesn't mean I don't have a vast appreciation for the sound of any good song, regardless of where it plays from - and like clockwork, immediately purchase it upon first listen. It's all music, baby - and it's all good.

I also will use this very true defense - I don't really have a place to listen to these popular tunes. I don't have a car, my favourite estate sale radio recently conked out, and I generally don't hang out at great lengths (aside from shops, which I'm in quite a bit...) in places where popular jams are pumped enough for me to catch on. I can, however, count on a few of my friends - bartenders, bloggers, people with cars - to let me know what the mainstream hits are. Whether they're begging me to make them a "road mix" for their hours spent commuting or traveling for work, blabbing over a glass of wine or snatching my laptop off my knee to proactively show me - I have a handful of girlfriends who know exactly the songs I'm going to scoff at but then upload at once. And, this right here is an ode to those ladies - classy, quite eclectic but with an ear for what will hit #1 on the billboards. What would I do without you?!

Exhibit A: the newest Drake and Rihanna collaboration. Two artists you can't take a stride without hearing  and two artists who have proved to deliver exactly what the youth of the world want played. There isn't much to say or analyze about this fashionably steamy duo and tune which samples Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie XX, except for the fact that its shiny-sounding dynamic, Rapture-reminiscent keyboard loop and surface sweet lyrics are the perfect companion to strut with through the bright city streets on chilly fall nights. If you live in a city, learn to embrace a song like this. Pop your collar (in a 'stay warm' sense) and press play - it's meant for a city and it's meant for the night. If life was a pulsing dance floor with a swirling disco ball hanging above it, this song would be on repeat. It's flashy, captivating and like everything else someone insists I listen to ...undeniably catchy. Thanks again to my helpers for pointing these things out.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shake It Out, Shake It Off

There's nothing more perfect, in my mind, than hearing a song you can carry with you through a number of scenarios. Versatile sounds, oodles of instruments and a range of conveyed emotions make for the perfect flexible tune which you can adjust based on time, date and unpredictable day-to-day events.

In this case, I spent the last (upsettingly busy) week using the newest Florence + the Machine song, off her recently released album Ceremonials, as this uplifting little piece of heaven I turned to - whether I was at the point of passing out on my keyboard or running late (which I hate) to my next appointment. Everything about it is positive and comforting, and during this lunatic month or even your lunatic everyday life - maybe a little Florence is exactly what the doctor would prescribe all of us.

The music video, triumphant-sounding melodies and brave lyrics were especially ideal ingredients in soothing me while I was clearly out of my natural element yesterday, during a fairly large presentation I gave to over 250 people. Pumping from my earbuds during breakfast and winding me down once I returned home - the repeated message throughout this song was the plain perspective I found myself needing, in its most grassroots form."Shake it out", "shake it off", and "walk it off" are all verbal coaching mechanisms and remedies we've heard for the better portion of our lives. And maybe they still hold more value than I thought - because listening to Florence's booming croon coach me yesterday proved as effective as ever.

So, whether you're lip-syncing in your underwear, in need of a musical caffeine hit or wanting just a little boost to get you through your day - I have the gal for you. Remember to enjoy the rest of Florence's new album; this song is only a taste of it's overall deliciousness.

"...And I am done with my graceless heart/ So tonight I'm gonna cut it all and then restart/ Cause I like to keep my issues strong/ Its always darkest before the dawn / Shake it out, Shake it out/"