I've been going quite soft on the ol' blog for a week or two, so I figured it'd be wise to mix it up tonight. Fortunately, I received some intriguing news just this morning, which proved to be a promising musical project.
Remember the Deftones? You know what pissed me off about the Deftones? After producing a few groundbreaking albums in the 90s and helping to shape heavy music to come, they went so far off the deep end that it was difficult to see what was going on. White Pony was the last acceptable album and even it began to become too drawn out, ethereal and distant. By the time the 2003 self titled release came, the Deftones were so mired in their own ambient noise that one could barely decipher the fantastic band I once heard blaring Around the Fur. 2007's Saturday Night Wrist and Chino's side project Team Sleep only served to reaffirm this.
As such, it is with great caution that I listen to the first single, Rocket Skates, which the Deftones have released for their upcoming album Diamond Eyes. I am cautious, but cautiously optimistic. It's impossible not to hear the ambient wall of sound which the Deftones have become, however beneath this, I can pick up hints of if not the Fur era, at minimum a good dose of Pony. All I can say is that at least they're moving in the right direction.
-Spread your maniacal words across my dimly lit lies
After months of sporadic employment, I got some good/bad/interesting/awesome/depressing/different news over the weekend. I had been doing contract work a couple days a week, but it wasn't enough to keep me as busy as I like, nor was it enough to fuel my addiction to vinyl and CDs. Looking ahead, I'll likely be back in school in a few months, so I couldn't justify looking for full time employment. As such, I was just as surprised as anyone when I got a contract which should keep me busy full time for the next few months. While I'll miss my lazy days and sloth like behavior, I will enjoy the extra disposable income.
I celebrated this news by swinging by my local shop and picking up a copy of Dojo Workhorse. Yet another bump from Carla, DW is the solo project of Dan Vacon, frontman for one of my favorite bands, The Dudes. Dan basically wanted to create a project where he could get together with friends, drink, and make fun, laid back music. In reality, the project may have been a bit unnecessary as Vacon is the primary songwriter for The Dudes and DW ends up sounding very dude-like, however, I won't complain about more awesome music if you won't.
Compared to The Dudes, the album Weapons Grade Romantic is a bit more chilled out, slightly broader in its instrumentation and definitely more tongue-in-cheek and soul-bearing for Vacon. In short, Workhorse is pretty much my perfect soundtrack for sitting around the house in my baggy PJs, feeling a bit lonely and sipping on a glass of tasty scotch.
I've been mixing it up a lot this week, bouncing around my listening tastes from rock to hip hop to electronic to classical. The wheel just so happened to stop on a sweet blend of a few of those genres about the time I was ready to write again.
DJ Champion (aka Maxime Morin) is a name which you may not know, but his music, you probably will. Based in Montreal, Morin spent years in rock bands as a youth, however, slowly made a transition to electronic music. By the mid 90s, he was spinning under the name Mad Max. It was around this time that he also collaberated with a Quebecois composer to form Ben and Max Studios. The studio focused primarily on corporate work, generating jingles and soundtracks. Over time, Morin would come to hate his life as a jingle-shucker.
At the turn of the millenium, he'd had enough and Morin went back to his roots to create something more creative. Under the moniker Champion he began blending heavy, distorted rock guitars with electronic beats. His live performances would even feature a band of 4 guitarists, a bassist, a vocalist and himself on the tables, or at times a drum kit. While he's been dormant in recent years, his 2005 release Chill 'em all turned heads and rocketed Champion into the spotlight. After long wait, his softmore, Resistance, was released at the end of last year.
-Trying to wear my heart on my sleeve, but can't decide what shirt to wear
One of the greatest finds in my musical mind is a song which simply makes people happy. With this in mind, thank you, Carla, for showing to me a song which had me jumping around my bedroom, stomping my feet and grinning from ear to ear.
Michael Bernard Fitzgerald is a Calgary based singer/songwriter. The more I hear of him, the more I'm wanting to call him Canada's Sufjan Stevens. Brilliantly combining blues vocals with simple, pleasing chords and elaborate, layered drums, MBF creates the kind of music that is perfect to lean back and listen to, cuddled up on the couch with your most comfortable blanket. Alternatively, you're more than welcome to wear your favorite rocketship underpants on the outside and skip gleefully down a street, singing at the top of your lungs.
He's currently touring around western Canada with a full 30 person choir, and likely spreading smiles at every venue he graces.
-We can't afford to spend the time and money we never knew we had
I make it a point of avoiding crap music on this blog. The intention of this website is not to act as a 'review' per say. My goal here is not to determine whether something is good or bad, it is to recommend music which I have already determined to be good.
That said, every now and then, I can't help but take a moment to enjoy the real crap out there. While researching Tuesday's post on Ryan Dahle I took some time to see what the rest of the boys from Age of Electric and Limblifter were up to. My conclusion was simple, yet important; Dahle was doing pretty well for himself by comparison.
Todd Kerns, one of the original founders of AoE, can currently be found peddling sleeze and disgust in the city where that's all that anyone does: Las Vegas. He's hooked up with the B-movie version of a supergroup who calls themselves Sin City Sinners and is playing music which should make a grown man ashamed of himself. Yes, they've got a few catchy riffs, and yes, at one point in life, it was cool to skeeze all over teenage girls, but for the love of all things gelatinous, you're in your 40s dude.
When one of your band's notable quotes comes from Porn Star Ron Jeremy, you really have to rethink your situation.
You remember the 90's? I remember the 90's. Canadian post grunge bands were becoming insanely popular and I was able to identify with their strange, confused sound. While never making the top of any of my lists, two important bands in that scene were Age of Electric and Limblifter. However, what does one do after involvement in such iconic bands?
Ryan Dahle was sure to keep busy. After being the primary writer for most of AoE's songs, he needed to start a side project, which would eventually become Limblifter, to deal with the overflow. By the time AoE had dismantled and LL was in full effect, he was already chumming up and collaborating with Matthew Good. It took him a long time to figure it out, but eventually, it would become clear that the best path forward for Dahle would be a solo project titled, Irrational Anthems.
IR is a very catchy and surprisingly unique blend of the 90's rock which Dahle become known for, and modern, bouncy indie music. Dahle does a fantastic job of incorporating a variety of instrumentation and arranging songs which are both deep and rich, but also catchy and accessible. It's not the type of album you're going to scream along to a-la AoE's Remote Control, however, it is an album which I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.
-Time is only your enemy when you've got no friends to slow down
Continuing down the N'awlins path, we stumble across a man who was sadly lost to us just this year at the age of 78. Mr. Eddie Bo was a singer and pianist who took the funk/jazz world by storm through a number of different names.
Like Dorsey, he too went into service after high school, joining the army. Unlike Dorsey, however, Bo studied music after his spell in the army and actually studied classical piano. That style didn't last long once he met the likes of Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson. Given his immense talent as a musician and arranger, Bo would have few hits of his own, but write songs for countless stars (Etta James, Tommy Ridgley, Little Richard, Robert Parker, and Art Neville).
Bo's music is wider spread than you may know, and you probably would recognize many of his hooks which have been reused and sampled throughout the years. My personal favorite was Tarantino's use of Pass the Hatchet, which Bo recorded under the pseudonym Roger and the Gypsies.
Lastly, if you're in TO and looking for something to do on a Friday night, The Noble Rogues are playing Hard Luck Bar (812 Dundas W) this Friday, Feb 5. (Details).
-I wanna be rich and I wanna be famous, I wanna have everyone know what my name is
The past week I've hit a pretty big Funk/R&B zone, particularly looking at New Orleans inspired music. It's been cool, and pushed me to find a lot of new tunes outside of my usual sphere of influence. I've stumbled across so much goodness that I'm going to subject you to a whole week (read: 2 days) of it.
The first one is a bit of a cheat. Lee Dorsey was born in New Orleans, however, moved to Oregon at a young age. He was in the navy for a while and actually was a lightweight prizefighter right before he was discovered by producer Allen Toussaint. While his music was classified as R&B in the early 60's, one could hear him forming the early foundations of funk, right along side Rev. James Brown. He had a number of massive hits (Working in the Coal Mine, Ride Your Pony) and became quite popular, but never attained the legacy stardom of Brown.
I spent a lot of time listening to Dorsey last week and while I really enjoyed the grassroots groove feel of the songs, I found Toussaint's song writing became too repetitive after a while. Dorsey's music is the kind of thing you can throw on at a party and listen to for an hour or so, but after a while, you're going to need the DJ to be ready with a switchover.