Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The New Yorker: Springsteen at 62

Boss.


"...Many musicians in their grizzled late maturity have an uncertain grasp on their earliest days on the bandstand. (Not a few have an uncertain grasp on last week.) But Springsteen, who is sixty-two and among the most durable musicians since B. B. King and Om Kalthoum, seems to remember every gaudy night, from the moment, in 1957, when he and his mother watched Elvis on “The Ed Sullivan Show”—“I looked at her and I said, ‘I wanna be just . . . like . . . that’ ”—to his most recent exploits as a multimillionaire populist rock star crowd-surfing the adoring masses. These days, he is the subject of historical exhibitions; at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum, in Cleveland, and at the National Constitution Center, in Philadelphia, his lyric sheets, old cars, and faded performing duds have been displayed like the snippets of the Shroud. But, unlike the Rolling Stones, say, who have not written a great song since the disco era and come together only to pad their fortunes as their own cover band, Springsteen refuses to be a mercenary curator of his past. He continues to evolve as an artist, filling one spiral notebook after another with ideas, quotations, questions, clippings, and, ultimately, new songs."

Right on. Read more of David Remnicks's profile in The New Yorker here.





The Antlers Underwater

The Antlers

I first heard The Antlers over a year ago courtesy of their runaway blunt heartbreak anthem "I Don't Want Love," and immediately found a soft spot for their chugging melodies and laissez-faire conceptual songwriting. The Brooklyn band have since quietly become a staple on the alt-rock airwaves, whether in the form of their debut LP's toxic relationship reflections or opening live for the likes of The National on international stages.

On the trio's newly released EP Undersea, Pete Silberman's creamy howl does what it did best on Hospice - plonk a haunting trance over the listener with freewheeling instrumentals and provocative lyricism. The tunes, equally as wistful as the full-length, drag out like the tidal theme of the album and are best exemplified in the song's most breathtaking lullaby - an 8-minute ode to the eternal journey called "Endless Ladder."

Sleepy boulevard guitars pick away next to spasming Album Leaf-reminiscent keyboard effects while Silberman's breathy vibrato asks evocative questions about his journey through what seems like a lethargic existence. An EP that the band described as something resembling "the serenity of drifting off to sleep or sinking to the bottom of the ocean," sounds exactly like the former - that place in between awake and asleep when your brain thinks some large, and odd, thoughts.

Pick this EP up when you get the chance, it's worth every penny.



Monday, July 30, 2012

Dan Deacon: Summer Strolling



This song makes my heart skip a beat. Or maybe it's the fact that today I had my first coffee in almost four months? Probably the latter, but the song helps.

This sunny July track from electronic composer and musician Dan Deacon is perfect for what I love most about my life in Toronto - the hours I spend on foot, zigzagging through the mess of towering skyscrapers. To get me in step, I usually need a little beat, a little hop, a little something like this; a chipper movie montage melody that pumps this sublime feeling of comfort through my veins while I stroll. I had never considered summer a favourite season of mine until I moved to Toronto. Now I think I could settle for a life of meandering through the city, with bright ditties like this, if everything else fell through.

Happy Monday. Go have a coffee too!





Kensington


Dundas


Friday, July 27, 2012

TGIF

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Well this (w)raps up another week of hip-hop love, hopefully you've enjoyed the fly beats that populate a huge portion of my music library and are some of the reasons I crave this genre. What it really boils down to is my love of good vibes, great writers and big beats - so whether or not rap is for you, hopefully you can respect these artists as steadfast providers of those things. In this case, I'm overjoyed it's Friday - and infatuated with the instrumental behind Kane Mayfield's pronounced prose. Did you know that Mayfield just released Rhymes By Kane - a collection of his downtempo Long Island beats and rhymes over top samples of Thievery Corporation songs? Yes please.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Warning: Explicit Lyrics




Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday Mash-Up

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It's just that kind of day. Humid, sticky, mundane - and needing a little oomph. So, let's pair one of the most unique indie anthems from 2010 with some quintessential vintage hip-hop, and let everything look shiny again.

This is probably one of my favourite mashed combinations of all time; the harmonic falsetto swirling above the grizzly rap classic can't be beat. Especially right at 2:16, when the chorus flies solo alongside the beatless "hip-hop" chant - I'm convinced time stands still for a minute.



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Flying Lotus feat. Earl Sweatshirt : "Between Friends"

Flying Lotus

Flying Lotus knows how to effortlessly kick it old school. On his newest collaboration, the acid jazzy loop, downtown beat and lazy dueling vocals toss back to a time when hip-hop instrumentals and sampling were inconspicuous enough to showcase the fierce lyrical poetry of the songwriter. Beats were rarely so gaudy that they would overshadow the rhymes and make it difficult for us to judge the character or their hip-hop credibility.

Such isn't the case with this rad new track from Flying Lotus, Odd Future's 18 year-old rhyme-savvy Earl Sweatshirt and someone Tyler The Creator-sounding referred to as Captain Murphy (95% positive it's the rap Creator himself); a duet that coasts lucid verses over two mellow vibes, both equally bare bones and striking. Experimental producer FlyLo's forthcoming fourth album Until The Quiet Comes is to feature guest appearances from Thom Yorke and Erykah Badu, and if the rest of the tracks mimic this pacified psychedelic anthem fit for the main drag - then the young gun mixmaster continues to be on to something.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Throwback Monday: People Under The Stairs



"I got a solution, it's called showin' some love."

I grew up loving People Under The Stairs, the Los Angeles hip-hop duo behind eight critically acclaimed albums who, to me, represented everything golden about underground rap. Record scratching, the smack of the kickdrum and jazzy samples were some of the coined ingredients within this pair's independent movement, and the combinations undoubtedly orchestrated my love for hip-hop from a young age. Songs like this, especially on the dog days of summer, always manage to pin a grin on my face.

Enjoy the heat with these sparkling beats and groovy rhymes.




Friday, July 20, 2012

TGIF: No Doubt is Back

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My favourite cassette growing up (as in, wore out the tape to the point that my little boombox was screeching while it spit the songs out) was No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom. I loved it. I brought it with me everywhere I went on my trusty little Walkman with two Gwen Stefani-inspired twisted buns pinned to the back of my head and wacky dance moves not fit for a 6 year-old. And although the first single - which leads the way for the band's first album in 11 years - features some snazzy contemporary twists necessary for a crew of adults back in the game of "cool,"  I was so pleased to hear that the boppity first track "Settle Down" samples a little of the reggae and ska quirkiness that catapulted the foursome in the mid-90s. It's pop, that's a given, but it's got some bouncing guitar strings and  twinkling steel drum to add that special yesteryear something.

The song is straight-up fun. Stefani sounds just like she did when she was the hottest, spunkiest blonde in ska-rock - and defying all rules of gravity and industry aging, she looks like it too. Let's hope they don't revert to their poppy decline in the early millennium and keep dishing out the feel-good danceable jams.

Have a a great weekend! Shake it.




PS. Also, I would really like to party at this truck stop?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mumford and Sons: Taste of Babel

M&S - C/O of Big Hassle


If this rising, lyrically moving new Mumford and Sons anthem is any indication of what the Londoners' upcoming release Babel will hold - then the world is in for another acoustically perfect, layered and emotional folk showing from the celebrated young ramblin' men. This song pulls out all of the instrumental stops, brimming with passion from the first hard strum.
"Love the one you hold and I'll be your gold." Listen to this and I guarantee you'll have a wonderful Thursday.




Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The XX: New Single





Finally.

I, along with the rest of the world who widely who praised the English indie band's debut album, have been waiting with bated breath for another album from The xx for three years. It's about time. The self-titled runaway album was dreamy, gentle and inconspicuous in its musical genius at the time of release, but watching it slowly sweep the globe as one of the most acclaimed albums of 2009 became evidence to prove the band's indie brilliance. Now, the question is: can they do it again, but better?

I most certainly think they will. The beginning of the new track "Angels", slightly resembling Band of Horses' "The Funeral" in its still melody, is haunting - like all of their best tracks. Leading lady Romy Madley Croft's coined whisper floats overtop of the atmospheric guitar picking and hollow kickdrum, again, sounding like their best tracks. The first leaked song from their upcoming album Coexist has already set off eager fans waiting for another quick hit - but based on the unassuming sound of this introductory lovelorn ballad, I feel as if the trio will lay low until they've got the full package ready to deliver.

Enjoy this incredible first taste and look out for Coexist on September 10th.




Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New God Flow



There was a period of time when Kanye West was undoubtedly everyone's favourite hip-hop artist to scoff at. I couldn't even decide if I liked him anymore. Arrogant, entitled and picking on poor T-Swift while claiming to be God's gift to hip-hop - the industry was conflicted in deciding whether he was way off his rocker or legitimately believed in his product that much. Then, as is normally the case with any controversial firecracker, undeniable talent and artistic capacity re-converted fans one-by-one with the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - a genius lyrical testament to the rapper's belief in his prophetic talent. Slowly, he re-convinced the world he might actually be God's gift to hip-hop.

And since pulling off this re-conversion of the masses, the mouthpiece rapper has had free reign to release astounding singles, samples and compilations - like his latest, "New God Flow" - that speak to this latter belief through newly reiterated spark plug statements like, "I believe there's a God above me, I'm just the God of everything else." And on top of questionable and  hilariously catchy rhymes such as those, West can bark comparisons of himself to Lebron, Rodney King and Dr. King without yielding a slapped palm-to-forehead response heard around the world. Only Yay and a select few others can commit artistic blasphemy while musically kicking ass.

Naturally (re)speaking to his divine artistic supremacy, West and Pusha T's newest track is pure gold; a feisty gospel rant that marks the first of his G.O.O.D. compilation set to release August 7th. The forthcoming music compilation promises to feature the acts signed to West's label as well as the megastar himself, and if this first hit is any indication - I predict a powerful showing by each of the  acclaimed young disciples as well as the New God himself.



Friday, July 13, 2012

TGIF: Song of the Week

Taken By Trees is the solo project of Victoria Bergman, former lead singer of The Concretes.


Released just this week, the newest Taken By Trees track "Dreams" is the musical definition of summer bliss and relaxation - courtesy of some quirky instrumentals, breathy chanting and a wavy melody. The song draws inspiration from when crooner Victoria Bergsman (remember the girl who sang vocals on "Young Folks?") spent time in Hawaii while assessing her next recording endeavour, and man, can you hear it. This four-minute tropical fantasy is decorated with twinkling waterside guitar, sonic keys and underwater blipping - taking you right out of the urban sprawl and into her beachy euphoria. I can't think of a better dreamy ditty to start a weekend under the sun.

Here's what she had to say about it:

"But the kind of dream I am referring to in this song is more like a sense of longing, a vision of a place where things are quiet, like floating in the ocean off of Hawaii. I find that very hard, feeling at peace, feeling that things are OK just as they are. In the past I always feared that calm would lead to laziness, but now I see it more as a strength, something I want to achieve. The album is very much about that … and about finding love."



The new Taken By Trees album entitled Other Worlds will be released on October 2nd. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Channel Orange: Get It



R&B might be back.

In an impressive effort to "do him," the spark plug singer/songwriter from New Orleans known as Frank Ocean has momentarily hung up the many hats he's worn for other people - whether it be as ghostwriter to the stars, producer of critically-acclaimed mix tapes or Kanye West and Jay-Z's fresh perspective. Despite previously penning for some of the biggest names in the industry, the 25 year-old  admittedly has plenty of stories to tell from his camp, as heard through the unveiling of his own musical novel, a page-turner, a contemporary masterpiece; one that sounds unlike anything else we've been offered from the genre in nearly a decade.

After an arduous climb that began less than two years ago, Ocean has stepped out solo with a pocketful of credit and a leaked stream of what he's called Channel Orange - a reflective and rare collection of milky, beat-driven diary entries that effortlessly resemble revelations along the profound lines of Adele's 21 while sounding like Stevie Wonder and Maxwell's soulful time warp hybrid. I wouldn't say my music library is an R&B heavy one in any way, but based on what I do know about the classics, as well as what I've heard on Channel Orange - Ocean is about to make tidal waves.

More to come...look for Channel Orange on July 17th.




Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dancing with his Daughter: Bruce Springsteen

You know, I do a lot of things on this blog. I write about sounds, I write about the words...and we all know I certainly spend a lot of time writing about The Boss, Springsteen, my main man.

Since music in general is a very personal experience - one that can't be replicated for any two people or felt the same across the airwaves - it's inevitable that we feel some very strong connection to our preferred listening. And then again, sometimes we're interested in only the surface level appreciation of the whole thing. Although this isn't a problem - enjoying a sweet melody, analyzing a newsworthy guitar riff or bobbing obliviously under a strobe light - when the show, the beat and the hype disappears, it's amazing to witness - and write about -  a truly a human element that exists underneath the stripped away glamour.

This morning, my heart was incredibly warmed by a video that captures a Paris performance by my all-time favourite artist. I woke up to this viral video of Bruce Springsteen coaxing his daughter, Jessica (just a beautiful name, no?), onto stage where he was finishing his performance of "Dancing in the Dark" with wife Patti Scialfa playing alongside. Jessica shyly steps on to stage - filling the shoes of Courtney Cox during her decades past flash of Springsteen music video fame - and shares a spin with Dad as the saxophone loop phases out the 1984 classic. She's embarrassed, he's goofy; just what anyone would expect when Dad finagles daughter into an unwanted jig. It's sweet, it's real, and it's exactly the behaviour I would hope to see out of the famously grounded musician that I write about - but who at the end of the day, I don't really know at all. I know the songs, all the lyrics and even a few of the dance steps - but I don't really know him, of course. So this, as a middle of the week video treat, was an absolutely delightful discovery.

What a guy.




Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Knock Knock: New Band of Horses


As undoubtedly one of my very favourite bands, I'm always pleased to hear new Band of Horses touring or album release news. So, today was a good Tuesday! Because I heard both.

As it turns out, the Sup Pop alt-rockers announced their upcoming release Mirage Rock this morning, which will hit the shelves on September 17th along with a short UK tour to boot. Mirage Rock is the follow-up to 2010's Infinite Arms, the band's hesitantly received third album that featured a handful of attractive rock numbers, as well as another handful of forgettables. Trust me, this has never been easy to admit - seeing as my obsession with their twang-filled Americana alt-rock stands in the way - but the album simply wasn't extraordinary. Save for a few toe-tapping singles like "Laredo" and "On My Way Back Home", I've had to rely on their genius first two albums (the triumphant-sounding Everything All The Time and Cease to Begin) for the majestic Southern-rock anthems I've spent years swooning to.

Another Band of Horses disappointment? Sadly, theirs was the only concert I've ever missed in my life. I had tickets to it, something came up, I ran late...and missed their set entirely. Heartbreaking! Fingers crossed that never happens again and that the newest album doesn't leave me continuing to hit repeat on their debut and sophomore releases.

Based on this track, as well as the fact that the album is Glyn Johns produced (studio guru behind Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Eric Clapton, The Who, etc. albums), I predict nothing but acclaim, a rustic-sounding autumn and re-invigorated love for their timeless rock goodness.



Friday, July 6, 2012

TGIF




Happy Friday! From one dangerously seductive rocker girl's mouth to another, the song "Silver Springs" lives on thanks to the recent Fleetwood Mac tribute album. Drink lots of water, do lots of swimming, stay cool and listen to classic rock like this on the weekend.

PS I really believe that Stevie Nicks and Lykke Li are two of the hippest women alive. Isn't the resemblance uncanny? (I'm chanting "duet" over and again in my head right about now)





Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Best Summer 2012 Song


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Someone get me a bonfire, a cool drink, a group of friends who are willing to hum along and one big, mesmerizing rainbow sunset. Or, just as good - get me an indigo blue sky behind the still skyscrapers and neon city lights, a glass of wine and a place to prop my feet. Either way - this is without a doubt my favourite new summer song, and it's nestled in an album that makes up the rest of my summer playlist. This little ditty reminds me of Henry David Thoreau, who said that "All good things are wild and free." What do you think?


Here come chilly preacher
Stumbling 'gainst the wind
Singing love, love is something to believe in
A prayer and the sea
And twenty tons of me
Crying love, love is something to believe in

To my child of wonder rambling
All my crooked fingers pointing blame
Let it all wash out in the rain
Yes let it all wash out in the rain

Beyond the drunken focus of my aim
All my heroes twisting in the flame
Let's let it all wash out in the rain
Let it all wash out in the rain

One more for forgiveness
Twisting in the cold
Singing love, love is something I believe in
Too much my defenses
Are dangling from the chain
Oh but free, free is something to believe in

To my god I want my gypsy train
Too my child a howlin' tambourine
Let it all wash out in the rain
Let it all wash out in the rain
Yes let it all wash out in the rain
Let it all wash out in the rain

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Canadian Classic: Tragically Hip in Niagara-On-The-Lake

I was lucky enough to begin my Canada Day long weekend the way that any patriotic music devotee should - with a trip to one of Ontario's quaintest tourist destinations and a prime spot smack dab in the middle of bustling festival grounds to watch some of Canada's most esteemed rock acts.

On Saturday afternoon, my best friend Kaylee and I beat the traffic to Butler's Barracks in Niagara-on-the-Lake (not without a much-needed sangria stop on the main drag, of course) courtesy of Canadian Club's Mixed and Ready contest team - who have generously agreed to facilitate some of my live music experiences this summer out of support for Canadian music. Our road trip was everything a tune-fueled expedition should be - playlist, laugh and sunshine-filled from the first rev of the engine. Niagara-on-the-Lake was the ideal setting for this kind of Canadian music exhibition as well; a bustling summer destination resembling Pleasantville in its roaming tourist-chocked Victorian streets, sparkling waterfront and endless empty green space fit for the thousands of rowdy concert-goers celebrating our nation's birth with some Canadiana-brewed rock 'n roll. As soon as we rolled past the first sun-stained vineyard on the finest of summer afternoons, we knew we'd arrived in the Torontonian equivalent of New York City's Hampton escape.

And that was only the setting. Once on to the swarming festival grounds with our Canadian Club VIP bracelets, wedged into obnoxious lines without a single complaint - this Bluesfest-obsessed gal was truly at home. (*Sulking forewarning: In the coming weeks, I have no intention of hiding the funk I'm in due to missing out on the majority of Ottawa's beloved festival... which starts today).

Having seen talented openers The Rural Alberta Advantage and New Pornographers before (my first big interview was with AC Newman over five years ago), I was actually most elated when Death Cab for Cutie - everyone's shared high school sweethearts - took the stage and their uppity emo-rock began swirling through the sticky air via hits like "We Looked Like Giants", "A Movie Script Ending" and "The Sound of Settling." Nostalgia and little bits of my teenage self came to the surface upon hearing Ben Gibbard's over-enunciated and romantic indie croon, and for the first time in a long time - I felt starstruck. Memories of driving to soccer tournaments, kissing after high school dances and pinning posters to my bedroom walls came flooding back while Gibbard hung from the microphone and darted to left stage to duel Jason McGerr on a second drum set.


Yours truly sampling the Mixed & Ready

After taking a few breathers in the Canadian Club Mixed and Ready tent, sampling the delicious new whiskey/gingerale hybrid drink, we ventured for some remnants of food from the increasingly impatient food vendors on site. Mid-toe-tap in line, I heard a voice that any kid raised in Kingston can recognize instantly. Gord Downie, my oddball hometown hero, had taken the stage - legs flying, body swaying, "music lover" praising. And then the opening riff of "Grace, Too" swung in. Enough said.

Now, I have a strong and personal connection to this band (which hosts members who lived mere blocks from me growing up) - but since moving to Toronto, have formed an even deeper connection to the song "Bobcaygeon." Depending on how often you chant this song (hopefully often), you'll know the enchanting, peak-reaching moment when Downie yelps: "That night in Toronto..."  Needless to say, when we heard the acoustic strum of "Bobcaygeon" flow, we fled the food line-up so quickly that our stomachs became a lost afterthought. Sprinting full-fledged into the center of the crowd where we would stay for the duration of classics like "Ahead by a Century", "New Orleans is Sinking" , "It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken" (haunting when played live in the sun-setting countryside) and "Drip Drip," it was official - summer had begun, and I was incredibly proud to be Canadian.

Canadian Club will be holding a rad Mixed and Ready Cover Contest Challenge soon - calling all undiscovered bands to submit their versions of classic Canadian songs. Enter here for the chance to win studio time and $3000! Check back for more live music updates throughout the summer - the line-up is always expanding...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Back At It

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I can't think of a better new song to bring us back to life after a busy, blurry long weekend like the one that's just passed. I love The Avett Brothers and I especially love the twinkling banjos picking alongside pretty little sentiments like: "I wanna love you and more/ I wanna find you and more/ Can you tell that I am alive?/ Let me prove it to you." It just makes you want to embrace Monday Tuesday mornings wholeheartedly, even if it's cloudy and I'm going on two months without coffee. Happy Tuesday.