Friday, January 20, 2006

If you still download illegally (i do it sparingly, but mainly because of the viruses that inevitably overflow your poor computer when you do it) try to find "It Isn't Exact" by the Bees. It's from their early days of just Paul and Aaron in the shed and boy is it lovely. It's got that lazy and sweet sound that they perfected on Sunshine Hit Me. It's not every day that you find a Bees song you haven't heard, so i'm playing this one over and over today.

ALso, check out "Jackel head" which is from the same Bees era. It's more in their 60s psychedelic style.


One more thing, please don't make Canada a Conservative ruled country...

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Random thoughts from 2006.

I really dig pop-culture, but by no means is my knowledge of it complete. I mean, whose is? Well some people try to be all knowing, taking in all the movies they can, listening to the years' hot records and watching the top-rated tv shows, etc. Personally, my approach is a lazy-man's approach. I half-assed check out things that seem to be of interest and if i dig, then i check them out some more. Having said that, i present my random thoughts on things enjoyed and not enjoyed this year.

Most enjoyed DVD - Little Britain season 1.
A brilliant mix of silly men in drag (shades of Python and Kids in the Hall) and excellent comedic performances made this british series a great follow-up to the Office, which endeared itself to me the previous year. Little Britain has great premises that really get the laughs thanks to the hilarious portrayals by David Walliams and Matt Lucas. Sure to have you busting that terrible english accent out to not impress your friends with your bad imitation of Lou and Andy.

I also must through a shout-out to the great Arrested Development season 2, where the character of Gob finally came into his own, stealing every scene he was in. "Yeah, the man in the 5 thousand dollar suit, come on!"

Best movie of the year - Walk the Line
ok, so i only saw about 5 movies, 2 of which were Wedding Crashers and 40 year old Virgin (both i liked) but nothing got me more than Walk the Line. I saw it in the theatres twice, just as i saw Troy twice the past year (haha...), and it was awesome. Joaquin was fantastic he had me totally convinced, even though he didn't sound like Cash that much, his presence pulled it off.

Hon mention to Grizzly Man, the movie i was completely depressed by amongst a theatre of laughing viewers. See this documentary if you can.

The movie that needed an hour cut from it - King Kong
It was great, amazing, spectacular. Oh the effects! Oh the action! but really, do we need all that storyline...3 hours worth? I want Peter Jackson to make a 100 minute movie next time around.

Series that finally showed some balls for the first time in 20 odd years - Star Wars 3: Return of the Sith
This movie kicked ass, and so did the characters. Who knew Ewan McGregor could be badass with that goofy beard?

Most dissapointing album of the year - Kings of Leon "Aha Shake Heartbreak"
By no means a bad album, but just incredibly disheartening to hear the Kings trying to be hip dance-rockers, when they were true-blue southern rockers... I used to believe every dirty word out of Caleb's mouth...but now...

Hon. mention to the White Stripes' album, whatever it was called...i've already forgotten...sorry Jack, i just don't want to hear you play piano, go get your guitar again.

Best Concert - Arcade Fire
Hands down. I don't even really like their songs, but they blew me away live. They had the crowd in complete rapture, it was near spiritual. I couldn't have been more impressed and despite my personal reservations about them, i'll never question their legitimacy amongst the top bands of our age.

Released 2 too many albums and needs an editor award - Ryan Adams
4 discs of material...whoo i was tired listening to it all. Some of it was awesome, check out "magnolia mountain", "let it ride" or "sweet illusions" from Cold Roses, but when it's all over 3 albums, it's just too much. How are we supposed to take him as sincere when he releases so many songs all on the same old themes...the man's ego is really getting in the way me thinks.

Best super-gay song - Franz Ferdinand "Do You Want To"
So gay and so damn good. Gay in that way that Blur's "Boys and Girls" made you mince about. Well it made me mince about at least.

Song of the Year- The Redwalls "Build a Bridge"
It's nothing new and sure it bites Joe Cocker's cover of "with a little help from my friends" but man this song brings the good vibes.

Hm...that's about it for now. I may think of some more.

Later Alligators.

Friday, January 13, 2006

1


1) The Bees - Free the Bees

From the second i first heard "I Love You" i was captivated, I knew i needed to find as many songs as i could by this band. When finally i got my hands on a british copy of "free the bees" i was blown away by every song. Sure they sounded like a 60s group, and what do you expect when you put a bunch of hairy englishman with drums, guitars, bass, hammonds, rhodes, and loads of brilliant songs into Abbey Road?
And talk about brilliant songs. From big rockers like "Wash in the rain" and "Horsemen that left me with visions of long haired guitarists trapsing across festival stages, to the psychedelia of "These are the Ghosts" where we're urged to "think of a lesson as a weapon in love and teach your sister teach your brother", this album has it all. It gets quiet too such as the beautiful waltzing "the Start" and the soul inspired "I Love You" as well as mastering that beatlesque pop with "No Atmosphere" and the awesomely fun "Chicken Payback".
In short, the Bees are exactly the kind of music i like. Sometimes it rocks, sometimes it's sweet, sometimes it's weird, but always it's with a positive word and a keen ear for melody and rhythm.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

2


2) Hal - Hal
"What a lovely dance, wasn't looking for romance...but i found it".
That's how Hal's debut begins, with a crashing chord and some simple words floating on one of their briliant melodies, before a soaring synth lifts the chorus to sky high pop-rock bliss. Bliss is i think the right word. Hal are happy little guys, singing about sore eyes and keeping love as your golden rules, so if you're not one for the sacharrine maybe stay away. Having said that, there's more to them than just goo. The songs are well crafted, starting with their basic piano, guitar, bass and drums lineup, and adding plenty of extra keys (be it organ, piano or synths), loads of percussion, and a whole lot of harmonies. Inevitably Hal get the Beach Boys label, and that's fair, but these guys sound more like the 70s to me, which is just enough to distance them from another bunch of Irish popsters, the Thrills.

Another thing I especially like is that earnest quality that Hal have. There's nothing ironic, cool or hip about them, and for whatever reason, that endears them to me a whole lot more than say the New Pornographers.

I've listened to this record over and over and i must say, for me, it's close to pop-perfection. However, the question remains...what album was better this year? You may actually already know the answer...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

5-3


5) Matt Mays& El Torpedo - Selftitled
This album really came out of nowhere for me. I didn't like "Cocaine Cowgirl" when i first saw the video, but eventually i heard the album at the Cave's Cavern Lounge of all places, liked what i heard, so i bought it. Within a couple days i was spinning it multiple times a day. Matt Mays' tough, blue-collar voice reminded me of what i liked in my favourite roots-rock veterans like John Fogerty and Levon Helm of the Band. The guitar heavy sound is augmented by lots of organ and the occasional dash of pedal steel. It's a fine sound, melding the heavy distortion of big guitar rock with the finer side of country-rock.. Mays' voice may seem overdone to some, but when he's singing about the Canadian coast, such as on the great "the Good People", it sounds totally authentic to me. Bonus points: easily the best guy amongst any 'rock-star' i've met, and he puts on one hell of a show.
4) The Coral - The Invisible Invasion
The first Coral album was fantastic. It was exploding with energy and ideas, but still showed their inexperience. Surely their next albums would be even better. The followups, "Pass it On" and "NightFreak and the Sons of Becker", were pretty unimpressive compared to their debut, the latter a really lame set of seemingly unfinished ideas. Fortunately, the Coral's newest disc makes good on the promise of their selftitled debut, finally combining their love of psychedelic atmosphere, the bizarre and rock n roll. I love the way every song is loaded with sounds, be it weird organs, odd ambient noises, or one of those ridiculous squiggly guitar sounds that only the Coral can do. James Skelly's voice is lovely and even, sounding perfect in the still "Late Afternoon" and maniacal on "Arabian Sand". But i must say, i do miss when he lets his voice get a little bit rough, such as on "I Remember When" from their debut. However, it's perhaps the only missing ingredient on what is a fantastic pop record.

3) The Blue Van - The Art of Rolling
Easily the most kickass straight up rock record of the year. Take your classic 60s combo of guitar, bass, madman drummer and organist and you have the Blue Van. They don't sound a thing like modern music, but too bad. They're so damn good it's hard not to get swept up in one of their rave-ups. I listened to this cd close to 20 times in the space of 3 days once, i was that hooked. It's the most simple and exciting music that got made this year. Want to check out a track? Try "Product of DK" and just try not to bob your head with the music.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

8-6

Made a little mistake on the last post, it's only 11 songs, not 12.

8) Queens of the Stone Age - Lullabies to Paralyze
No Nick Olivieri? No problem. The queen's resident madman is nowhere to be found on Lullabies, but frontman Josh Homme saves the day anyway. Opening with Mark Lanegan's gravelly voice on "this Lullaby", running through hard-hitting rockers, "Medication" and "Tangled up in Plaid", and ending with the sweet "Long Slow Goodbye", Lullabies is another great QOTSA album. The entire disc is given a dangerous vibe, thanks to the demonic sounding "Burn the Witch", easily one of the best songs of the year, and the wonderfully sleezy "You've got a killer scene there, man...".

7) Mando Diao - Hurricane Bar
That magic combination of Gustaf Noren's sneer and Bjorn Dixgard's booming holler is above all else what makes Mandio great. The 2 are a great vocal duo, each bringing what the other can't, lending instant credibility to the exciting rock of Hurricane Bar. While the song-writing lacks the raw brilliance of their debut, Bring 'em In, it's still fantastic stuff. Like a supercharged Oasis, they dress up pretty brit-pop melodies in a dirty garage rock aesthetic, using little more than electric guitars, organ, bass and drums. But Mando stop short of borrowing Oasis' stoicism, they cut loose letting screams and 'yeah's fly, making for a far more exciting record than Oasis ever made.

6) the Redwalls - De Nova
If you can get past the inevitable, that is, the fact that Redwalls front man Logan Baren sounds almost identical to John Lennon, particuarly resembling Lennon singing in his "Dylan" voice, you may just like the Redwalls. De Nova is filled with great 60's style rock and soul, each song stacked with classic sounding harmonies and guitar fills. It's certainly nothing new, the majority of these songs would fit perfectly on AM radio circa late 60s/early 70s, but the Chicago foursome write and execute the songs with such quality, it's hard to ignore. I love Beatle-esque pop, and De Nova was an album i never grew tired of going back to. Note: for one song by these guys, check out the great "Falling Down", a very catchy and clever 'fuck-you' to the FCC.