Friday, November 27, 2009

Is it me?

I was at the Horseshoe last night to see Hollerado. I don't care who you are, but it is impossible to dislike this band. However, I digress from my usual fanboyism to touch on another point. Headlining the show was Malajube, however for what it's worth, I could have paid my $15 (steep, but the Manotick boys made it worthwhile) to watch Hollerado and then leave. I genuinely tried to give Malajube a chance, and truth be told, did find myself getting into a few songs, however generally, the whole experience felt very forced.

Music should never be forced.

I started to wonder... is it me? Am I just incapable of 'getting' indie music these days? Do I simply lack the sophistication? Am I some rock homo-habilis who simply hasn't developed my indie-frontal-lobe?

Of course not... I am infallible.

So I set out this morning on a mission of finding music outside of my comfort zone. My intention was simple: find a band which under typical pretenses I should not enjoy, and yet through miracle of modern technology (read: nuclear penguin) find myself pleased.

Enter The Notwist; a german, ambient electro-indie band. These guys have actually been around for 20 years and are insanely popular in Germany, however I'm not German and 20 years ago I was probably still listening to Fred Penner (whom Jesse shouldn't be allowed to listen to ever again).

Maybe it was something about the mechanical, clock-like beat, the flowing, smooth vocals, or the cool-ass video, but I found myself really digging their track Chemicals. I had a good dig through their 20 year library as well and discovered that a lot of their music is pretty damned catchy.

Oh... and while we're on the subject, fuck Arcade Fire.

-Wash me dirty, hang me to dry, let me be your pretty little lie

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Playin on the black keys alone

The Black Keys have long been one of my favorite bands. As such, when they announced the coming of a hip hop side project, I think somebody peed in my pants. Sure enough, months later, only days before the release of Blakroc, the hype surrounding this project was all completely justified.

Working with the likes of Mos Def, Rza, Q Tip, Raekwon, and Pharoahe Monch (as well as a few others) this project takes hip hop back to its organic roots of soul and blues. Keeping as far away from the record labels as possible, Auerback & Carney produced the entire album in a Brooklyn studio with as little non-artist collaboration as possible. Watching the Webisodes of the recording, you can tell how laid back the sessions were. No real formula was created to say, "you're taking this verse, you get the breakdown, you've got the hook." Everyone just kinda felt the songs and spit out what they wanted to say.

The album drops black friday (the 27th) and I highly recommend you pick it up and give it a first listen to in your brand new Blakroc Camero (I wish I could make this shit up). If you're an impatient little bastard like me, today (the 25th) the album is streaming on the Blakroc website at 11am and again at 11pm.

You want my opinion? This shit is revolutionary and genre defining. In an industry of so much repetition and formulaic song production, my hat goes off to anyone who's ready to try something completely original and stir the pot a bit, particularly when I already revere them as demi-Gods.

-If I die she could make my heart beat

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Your name could doom you all

As I'm slowly coming off my last Vultures hit, I picked a bit of Canadiana as a come down. Way back in February, I made a little note about a Canadian 90's supergroup being formed from members of I Mother Earth, Our Lady Peace and The Tea Party. Months later, I'm back here to tell you that Crash Karma has been gigging (in fact, opening for Stone Temple Pilots) and has an album recorded and ready to drop in the new year.

The video below is pretty low qual, so I recommend checking out some of their tracks on myspace. I'm reserving judgment until I can hear the old album, because as a huge 90's rock fan, I feel like I should give these guys the chance they've earned. That said however, my early feelings are that these guys are setting themselves up for a fall. I have no real issues with their songs, but that's the biggest problem; they've been too safe. This band literally sounds like a collaboration between I Mother Earth, Our Lady Peace and The Tea Party... only done 15 years ago. What I think the guys missed is that it's almost 2010 and music (and listeners) have changed.

There is something to be said for going back to the good old days and reviving a genre of music (look at the number of successful 70's revival bands: Wolfmother, The Answer, The Darkness). I suppose I feel that still living in the 00's (or Naughties as I've heard it called) it's a bit early to be reviving the 90's. Next you're going to tell me that we're going to turn a blind eye to genocide in Africa, start wearing plaid again, enjoy a period of unrivaled, unjustified economic growth, watch the US interfere in Middle Eastern politics, and try to adopt a failing, easily ignored global environmental policy.

But that'll never happen...right?

-Spire of knowledge leave me blind

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Strange little scavenger indeed

There are a lot of things in this world that get me excited; food, sunny days, rainy days, meeting women, Guinness, poker, white shoes, public speaking and even reading the newspaper. I'm a pretty high strung kinda guy. Still, as in anything, there is always room for improvement, and my energy is no different.

I have a very large capacity for fan-boy-ism, however once again, a whole new world was opened to me by Them Crooked Vultures. From the first moment this band's rumor hit the surface, I have sniffed out and stalked their every move, because I theorized (correctly) that this band would be the most epic thing to happen to rock n roll in the past 20 years.

I love being right.

While I have marked calendars many a time, and consider Tuesday to be one of the most important days of the week (and if you don't know why... for shame), I have never waited in front of a store for an album release. I can proudly say that while I was only there for 2 minutes, I was let in by the HMV employee on Queen this morning, immediately proceeded to grab 2 copies of TCV (Willsy needed one too) and sprint home to cherish the work of 3 rock virtuosos.

In short... I've got my day all planned, what the hell are you waiting for?

-It's rock n roll baby, it's bigger than you and me

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Open Wide

So, I don't always have to spend my days hunting down mind blowing new music. Every now and then, I find it important to trace back through your roots and listen to the bands you loved years ago. Often, I find as your musical skill, understanding and appreciation grows, you will find a whole new swath of things which you had never seen before.

In line with this theory, I picked up the just released Live! Montreux Switzerland DVD featuring Wide Mouth Mason's two performances at the famous jazz festival. They're a band whom I've loved for years and celebrated so many singles over and over again. However, watching this DVD gave me new respect for the musicianship, complex songwriting, and trueness to the blues & jazz that this band upholds.

If you're in Montreal, I'm expecting to see you at 3 Minots on Friday night.

-I'm a good man gone horribly wrong

Monday, November 9, 2009

Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference

Maynard James Keenan has always been one of my heros, and on the top 10 list of people I would love to meet. After spending years fronting Tool, one of the most musically experimental rock bands in the history of the genre, he decided that he had too many friends and that he wanted to play. In addition to the more popular, A Perfect Circle, Keenan spread his twisted little thoughts across countless one offs, EPs, soundtrack singles and internet phenomena. All the while, the man who seemingly never sleeps was also busy building up his own vinyard and organic food collective.

Something struck him in 06-07 when Keenan realized that he had done enough collaborations to almost fill an album; Puscifer was born. Working with such names as Danny Lohener (NIN), Lisa Germano (Iggy & the Stooges), Lustmord, Tim Alexander (Primus), and Brad Wilk (RATM), Keenan began to create a twisted new variation of Trip Hop which was both dark and sinister, but also cheeky and self-mocking.

Today's bump exists because Puscifer is back at it, and with one of the strangest collaborations yet. Tomorrow marks the release of "C Is for (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference HERE)", thus continuing with the tradition of ridiculous album names. The first single, which you can listen to below, is a joint effort with Milla Jovovich (yes... THAT Milla Jovovich... as though there's another) called The Mission. In addition to a trippy beat and some creepy vocals, it features a very clever video involving a dancing CGI cowboy, and some background which resembles Google Street View on meth amphetamines.

-I've got no plan, but I'm not planning to lose

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Smokeless Stoner

It's funny; I've never been a stoner in my life and yet I've always had an uncontrollable draw towards stoner rock. There's something about the slow, drudging, head bobbing beats and thicker than molasses guitar riffs that jive right with me. Maybe I've got the music thing right and I'm doing life all wrong: I should really be smoking copious amounts of ganja to match my habits with my listening taste.

During my previous year in England, I chucked out a lot of stoner bands for you to see what might stick. I was hanging onto one but never did have a chance to write about them until returning home. The Kings of Frog Island have one of the greatest stoner names ever. In fact, it's quite relevant, as the boys are from Leicester (the inner city of which is called Frog Island).

Formed in 2003, this sludge trio has since released 2 full length albums and gained a great deal of notoriety in (surprise, surprise) Germany and Scandinavia. It's precisely what you've come to expect from my posts; mammoth riffs with ethereal harmonies laid over cooler-than-shit hopping beats.

Yes, we've come to that point where I've already said more than enough and I need to shut up and let you listen to the song.

-If a picture's worth a thousand words, then a song is worth nothing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Almost Worthwhile

On Sunday night, I spent 2 hours watching one of the worst movies of my life. Observe & Report, featuring Seth Rogan, was quite simply a painful experience. However, this is not a movie review site, so I won't get into describing the intimate details of why this movie was worse than having sex with a cactus.

Always the opportunist, I chose to make positive of this situation by realizing that the movie did have one good thing going for it: the soundtrack. The best part about the soundtrack was that it did not use well known hits of the 80's & 90's, nor did it continue the circle of media dutch-rowboating (thank you Kevin Smith) by putting in the upcoming single from the next big rub-one-out-angsty-rock-band. This meant that I had some research to do.

I stumbled across a few gems, however the diamond in the rough for this movie was found in the form of a 70's progressive jazz-rock band named Patto. Since frontman Mike Patto died of Cancer in 1979 at the tender age of 36, there obviously hasn't been any material in a while. However, sometimes, it's nice to just be able to listen to the legacy.

Patto is a chilled out cross between Miles Davis, T. Rex's Slider, and a sheet of acid so large it could cover a California King. Long, tripped out songs are accented by powerful, repeated melodies and then laid back to just sit for a while. It's the perfect music to listen to while sitting down, slowly nodding your head and saying to yourself, "I am the most epic human being to ever grace this beautiful earth."

You know... that or you could have sex to it.

-I don't love you so you're ok with me