Thursday, June 28, 2012

Change of Tune

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It was the lovely Carrie Bradshaw who discussed the concept of "secret single behaviour" in Sex and the City; alluding to those peculiar habits or pastimes we partake in as single people, or as people in relationships who get a night off from exposure to their significant other. We all have them - even if you've supressed them slyly - so let's not try to deny the nights we make strange "meals" for ourselves, surf tabloid sites, pick our nailpolish off onto our laps or walk around naked. It happens, and we love it.

I'm convinced a similar kind of concept exists with music. The music that if, for some strange reason, a person were to tug your iPod from your hand to examine your listening choice - you would feel a little sheepish. Not sheepish in the Carly Rae Jepsen or O-Town guilty pleasure kind of way, but sheepish in the sense that no one would even expect (or understand) the song title running across the screen.

I don't think these need to be embarassing admissions. In my mind, they might be "secret single music" choices because they would be out of place if other people's music tastes are present - or because they just have particular special meaning to you and only you. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that, which is why I'm airing mine out right away.

Edith Piaf. Some days, when I'm assembling a perfectly fabulous breakfast while the sun bleaches my living room floor - I crave anything other than what the sometimes "typical" sounding radio playlist has to offer. Some nights, when I've uncorked a bottle of savoury red wine as my book awaits me, I don't feel like listening to a single contemporary track in my music library. And so, I turn to France.

With the click of a button and a deep sigh, Edith Piaf waves me through the Parisian gates. Something about the milky French coo of the legendary icon, her whimsical accent and the accompanying Parisian accordion makes me feel as if for one moment - I'm arms length away from the Eiffel Tower or sipping espresso in a downtown Parisian cafe. It's more of a little escape than anything else - and it's amazing the transformation of scenery and mood that some dreamy French cabaret can erect. For a singer whose life was one big mystery before she succumbed to liver cancer following an adult life of addiction (her last words were "Every damn fool thing you do in this life, you pay for")  - Piaf revealed everything about Paris, love and lessons in her enchanting ballads.

What's your secret single music?

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Desperate to go.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nora Ephron Remembered

Although not directly music related, I believe that Nora Ephron deserves commemoration today. As a favourite author, playwright and scriptwriter of mine, I was heartbroken to hear the legendary jack-of-all-written-trades has passed away at 71 years of age. Ephron was the definition of someone making a contribution. Whether or not you enjoyed her particular comedic and romantic prose, she put magic into the world in the form of geniusly chosen, witty words and the ability to tell a truly inspiring story.

If you've ever watched Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan's banter in When Harry Met Sally or the bubbly e-mail narrative in You've Got Mail (both two of my very favourite films), you'll understand this vast contribution. Her effortless capacity to word life, all of it's romance and experiences so blissfully was infectious. And admiring her from a young age fueled my aspiration to someday craft even a fraction of that literary or journalistic magic that pounced from paper or out of a screen the way that her frank voice did.

Here are only a few of the perfectly poetic quotes from Ephron, as well as the theme song from When Harry Met Sally, to honour the Oscar-nominated wonder. Her words are some of the reason I love any words as much as I do. And they're certainly part of the reason I consider myself a romantic and an optimist. That's the wonderful thing about words and contributions - kind of like Billy Crystal verbalized from one of her most famous scripts - once you've put them out into the universe, they're there to stay.

“I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world's greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance." - Heartburn

"The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self."
- Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail

"I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are."
- Nora Ephron

“I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
- Billy Crystal to Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” - Nora Ephron

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ware With All

Jessie Ware

It seems that in the past few years, we've been treated to this string of vocally competent, fearless female singer/songwriters who we fall in love not only for their effortless vocal talent but also their honest disposition and raw songwriting. Lyrically, vocally and melodically - we've got another must-hear to add to the list.

If you've enjoyed watching the skyrocketing careers of Adele and Lana Del Rey - then you'll love the upcoming debut album and sultry, acrobatic vocals of London R&B and soul-pop musician Jessie Ware. As the new diva on the block, Ware is starting slow (like many of her jams) - releasing sexy radio-ready and heart string pinching tracks that feel as if they've stepped out of an early 90s time warp. Mary J. and Mariah-reminiscent vocals, echoey beats and keyboard groove effects make me think the 25 year-old songstress is taking pages from the musical era which most likely fed her appetite to perform.

I already can't get enough of her honest ballads and their full-bodied melodies, especially her latest single, "Wildest Moments," where she milkily croons the romantic conundrum: "Baby, in our wildest moments/ We could be the greatest/ We could be the worst of all." Check out her new album Devotion on August 20th. I foresee big things for this one.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Season to Leave

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I have this amazing memory from two summers ago. It must have been a holiday or something of the sort, because I remember very clearly it being a picturesque summer weekday afternoon when one of my brother's best friends had come to town. We wanted to get lunch without being crammed onto a typical Byward Market patio - and were both feeling like a little adventure that involved escaping the downtown bustle. So, we got into his car and just...drove. For hours, it felt like. Once we hit a town about an hour away, we just kept going. The windows were down, Mumford and Sons were serenading us, the sunlight poured onto the stretch of highway and our end destination was some small town greasy spoon diner with double cheeseburgers and piles of french fries.

Lately I've been craving a similar sort of escape (without the double cheeseburgers, of course). To rent a car, take a bus, a boat - anything - and get outside the city limits for a little rejuvenation. Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely in love with Toronto summer so far - but there's no time like the present to let the hot cross breeze fly through the windows on a trek to nowhere in particular. I really don't know where I would go, but if the end point  involved a lake or picnic in the middle of nowhere - I would be a happy camper.

Where do you want to go this summer?

This Guthries tune (Matt Mays' first musical endeavour) from way back in 2000 is my absolute favourite wandering soul song. Everything about it screams hit the open road, no?

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Friday, June 22, 2012


I hope you've had a wonderfully sweaty and fulfilling summer week. On top of feeling like a chicken running around with my head cut off, I think the heatwave has put me into some drowsy walking coma that's been hard to shake - so I'm now very aware how much I need a few days off. Mind you, it will be a working weekend but still - at least it will be within the comfort of my home or a coffee shop down the street.

Featuring maybe some dancing on the side.

Here are a few classic tunes from the vault that promise to brighten up your Friday morning:

(I think that from 2:22 on - both lyrically and instrumentally -
 might be one of my favourite moments in music history)

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Images 1,2 via

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Throwback Thursdays

I never really understood why Glasvegas didn't continue on their road to rock stardom. The young Glaswegian's Brit-rock revivalist melodies, throaty accent-smothered pleas and wholehearted melodies were incredible from the get-go - both in the studio and in fine live form. I had the pleasure of seeing their booming romance-rock at a live show three years ago and was astounded by the sonically colossal, but soulful and sweet, delivery from atop the big stage. I was stunned right off the bat - an opening band occurrence that I always look forward to - because their socially aware working-class anthems were honest and real, but also glittery and lovable.

Now, this was their first self-titled album and consequent tour as four young blokes riding the wave as a predicted part of the indie-rock next generation.Their second album, released almost a year ago to date, was not as well-received. I was saddened to hear that it didn't live up to the grandiose chords and lyrical vulnerability of its predecessor, but nonetheless it had some endearing moments that shouldn't be forgotten, like the soaring retro ballad "The World Is Yours."

Either way, wherever they end up, we'll always have who came first - and that's Geraldine.

Breathtaking acoustic version:

And the beautiful original:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Cat Is Back

With even more grace and collectedness following a revival from the troubled depths of her early rocker days, Cat Power is finally back with another dose of triumph and perfection.

I have every single Cat Power album and song, I'm convinced. I read as much as I possibly can about her, including her incredible biography, because I consider hers to be one of the most fascinating and moving contemporary artist stories. For anyone else in the boat of loving her madly, you'll understand that watching her progress from a disconnected, spiralling grunge protege into a courageous comeback artist who's boldly turned her back on paralyzing angst - has been an inspiring journey. Releasing "Ruin" two days ago, the first track from her upcoming September release, the first original LP in six years - I was shocked to hear the lively flow of the new material. But then again, in every way - she's more alive than she's ever been.

Power, born Chan Marshall, is in fine instrumental form - mixing proud percussion and chords, an addictively rhythmic piano loop and her coined soul sister howl. Best of all? The lyrics take a page out of her Bob Dylan cover book, particularly (my favourite) "I Believe In You" in her discussion of being turned away from home, ramblin' on and learning that the "ruins" of life actually exist all over the world. It's about finding your own peace in what you believe, not where you are. Listing her travel destinations like Expedia, her brash tone and sense of self is invigorating. 

Funnily enough, the famously attractive leading lady chopped her long pin-straight coif into a short pixie cut - a look she rocked in her earliest and most tormented days of playing stages. It could be a stretch, but similar to when she re-worked "Metal Heart" from the Moon Pix original to 2008's powerful Jukebox version, perhaps the singer's re-vamped aesthetic is another demonstration of her rebuilding, but not forgetting, her past life.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Team Australia

As what I consider to be an almost-honourary Australian - having lived with two Australians and had one as a best friend for over eight years - I have always had a little soft spot for the heartwarming waterside ditties that the famously sugary Aussie indie groups release. I don't know if it's their overexposure to sun, a life spent frolicking in the sand or their overall friendly disposition - but something about the Australian population blends well with writing cute melodies and sunny ballads.

So, leave it to brother-sister indie-pop duo Angus and Julia Stone re-enter my life this weekend in fine (remixed) form. Although this precious 2010 acoustic tune was a favourite of mine over two years ago, my Saturday routine (shopping, strolling and listening) led me to a dressing room where a remixed version was blaring it right back at me again. And I must say, this swaying soft hit was not half bad with a disco beat pumping beneath it.

You see, I have this special place in my heart for "pretty dance songs." It's a weird thing of mine - maybe because I'm a bit of a music romantic - but I just love when a likeable and sweet piece of music isn't limited to the confines of a bedroom with a tub of ice cream and Meg Ryan film. If you add in a beat, some triumphant moments and a dance floor - no one overeats or wallows, and everyone wins.

So, Happy Monday! Here's the acoustic version as well as it's uppity transformation. Enjoy moving and grooving to the cuteness:

Friday, June 15, 2012

No Driving Allowed

If you've spent even five minutes reading Diplo's twitter, you'll know that he's highly arrogant, sort of inappropriate and hilariously strange. The year of 2011 gave him that privilege though; the electronic/dubstep producer and DJ born Thomas Pentz had his spinning fingers in nearly every single industry cookie jar available to him upon tasting fame. Hosting radio shows, embarking on Canadian tours with skyrocketing oddities Grimes and Skrillex, authoring a book and working with more artists than Weezy as part of his development plan - Diplo dipped everywhere.

The result? A number of wildly successful collaborations in dancehall and dubstep - most notably with lady emcee MIA, Scissor Sisters and Chiddy Bang - and sold out shows where sweaty crowds of EDM fans writhed before the dapper (and dreamy) DJ as he blasted beats from his holy turntable podium.

His newest six song release is no different. It's progressive, rapid and impossible to sit still to - attributes possessed by the rising star himself that might act as his method to success. The title track, in particular, takes a speedy and pumped-up page out of dance-punk duo The Prodigy's 1996 handbook. Back when the eccentric electronic pair emerged from UK's house scene, their music was often praised for it's positive health benefits; up-tempo rave favourites that matched the human heart rate, therefore making for adrenaline-induced workouts and productive exercise. On the other hand, however, physicians suggested that music so closely matching the rising heartbeat could be highly dangerous for those behind the wheel  - as it was proven that with the rise of the song and hasty heartbeat, entered the rise of the driver's speed limit as well.

So, although the car keys should stay tucked away - this hot new Diplo beat shouldn't. Hold a house party or lace up your runners and let him  work his bone-rattling, muscle-moving magic.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Baby Love

It seems to be a common theme lately - rockers putting their pens to paper to write about new life, domesticity and a calmed kind of happiness. Peaking Lights, a husband and wife electro-pop duo, have followed suit in taking nearly seven minutes of this ethereal chant to praise their new son Mikko - and let me just say, it's hard not to feel the love. From first dreamy pulse of the piano and lead songstress (and proud  Momma) Dunis'  haunting coo about her "beautiful son" and how "dreams are sweet when they turn real" - I was entranced in the profound sunset sounds. All the way from the flickering keyboards to the interjecting bluesy and hopeful riff - it's the most blissful musical toast to new life.

Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Round Pegs in Square Holes

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"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do." - Steve Jobs

Kindle recently released the nine most highlighted quotes from the Steve Jobs autobiography - and this one never fails to give me chills. Isn't it the perfect message to share on a gloomy Tuesday morning? Lately I've been waking up with a pressing urge to make a bigger difference, similar to the way the great late Jobs insists in this quote. I have no idea what I'm going to do or how I'm going to do it. But I think that feeling that way is always a start?

Happy Tuesday, go get 'em.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Metric and Lou?

I think the same thing is running through the mind of most others who have grabbed a copy of Metric's newest release, Synthetica - and that's, "How did they get Lou Reed on the album?"

Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Metric, Emily Haines and their progression into Canadian indie notoriety over their many years on the scene - but I was still a little surprised to hear Reed, the veteran songwriter behind The Velvet Underground and his own solo success, had been chosen to duel Haine's lulling schoolgirl vocals on the track "The Wanderlust." My surprise expanded when I also discovered that, despite my overall indifference with most of Metric's newer material, it's actually a really lovely song.

As you can guess from the title - and perhaps from listening to the rest of the album and Haines' insinuated exhaustion with the hyper-connected, device-laden internet world we live in - the song is a pretty plea for fateful romance following a life of roaming, impulsive journeying. Throughout the song - a sort of bright aerial flash of 80s-sounding sweetness - Reed's typically moody howl converses with Haines in the song's choruses, next to a starry electric guitar and echoey, retro kickdrum. Although an unexpected and odd pairing, the generational gap surprisingly isn't jarring - and the contrast between the two is actually as dreamy as the song. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Spring Anthem

Last year, this song came into my life along with the rest of Newfoundland's Hey Rosetta!'s album Seeds. As soon as I heard it - in all of its Tim Baker, multi-faceted, heartwarming glory - I knew it would forever be my spring anthem.

Today I'm wearing a wildly floral skirt, sipping peppermint tea and planning to actually (gasp) take a lunch to read my book. That, to me, calls for what I think is the most refreshing song of the spring season.

What's your favourite spring song? You better decide - spring will only be technically here for so much longer!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Walkmen Wave

Over a decade after their inception, The Walkmen haven't lost even a fraction of their intrigue. If you've ever owned a Walkmen album or caught a live show only to see lead singer Hamilton Leithauser effortlessly hanging off the microphone stand while the addictive rock pours out from behind him, you'll understand the magic of their longstanding collaboration all of this time later. This NYC indie-rock collective have so successfully pulled off a diverse and continually thought-provoking discography; one that will be forever chock full of likeable riffs and Leithauser's coined croon, but one that's also now grown from angsty post-punk to this wonderfully mature and increasingly powerful rock sound. After keeping a close eye on them all of these years, their recent release is obvious proof that growing up has been very, very good to The Walkmen.

Evidence of the latter can be found on the back cover of their the newly released Heaven - which features has a photo of the rockers and their toddlers - as well as Leithauser's warm messages to his longtime mate on the title track ("Don’t leave me, you’re my best friend/ All of my life, you’ve always been"). On their sixth studio album, aging has come with a content sound that's just as commanding as the noisier rambunctious tunes they penned when their rocker lives inevitably didn't have as much enlightenment and meaning - pre-adulthood, marriage and children. The musical serenity of the veterans heard on this album, coupled with their ever-present chemistry and melodic knack, secures what I've heard from Heaven as some of my favourites this year. Here are a few of the new up-tempo new songs, which have been on near-constant rotation in my life this week:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Soundtrack Slice

Although this was a movie I wasn't sure I would enjoy (or even go see), after watching Snow White and the Huntsman I came away a) pretty impressed with the effort put into the film and b) really glad they picked Florence Welch to sing the epic soundtrack anthem "Breath of Life." It's a grandiose, intense kind of track - very much like the fantasy plot - and her bellowing holler, paired with a booming orchestra, nails the over-the-top concept.

The jury is still out on the actual film itself, but the verdict's in on the song; Florence can do no wrong. There's a subtle sweetness to the melody you'll hear when the beat of the drum and climbing instrumental quiets down; it's quite moving, really. Check it out:

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Only Thing

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My last and most favourite lesson from The Happiness Project is "there is only love." For someone who's quite the romantic, this rings true - but for anyone who's looking to choose their battles wisely, act instead of react and add some enlightenment to nearly any experience, this is the most important resolution and commandment to live by.

This is my favourite band right now, and I think they speak to that. The perfect folky blend and the most heartwarming songs.

This is my very favourite song right now.