Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On Christmas Day The World Ended

Last year I started a tradition of writing the a Christmas song and making a video for it just before Christmas day. This year's song "On Christmas Day The World Ended" is my second Christmas classic, it is destined to be played in preschool Christmas pagents and Christian Bookstores across the nation for decades to come.
If you're so inclined you can buy the tracks from my Bandcamp page Here.

Merry Christmas! Thanks for your support. Cheers for the New Year!

Oh and here's last years Christmas video "Everyone Cries at Christmas" if you were at all curious..

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Review Round-up - Creed, Do Make Say Think, Lightening Bolt, YSP!WSD!, Hellothisisalex, Daniel Johnston, The Idlers, The Flaming Lips, Chris Kirby

It's that time again. Here is a round up of all the CD reviews I've done for the Scope over the last couple of months. Enjoy.

Full Circle
Has it really been 8 years? Wow. It's seems like just yesterday when Creed were the biggest, shittiest, 5th generation grudge band dominating the radio with their tasteless, overblown, chest-thumping power ballads. But it's been 8 years since Creed put out their last album "Weathered" and left the modern rock world with nothing but Nickelback to fill their void. Now *Finally* they have reunited and delivered "Full Circle" which is "probably" their best album (I wasn't curious enough to actually re-listen to any of the previous ones) with Creed giving a more concentrated effort to appear to be "Edgy" and "Metal" (for the first couple of songs at least) and not at all like ageing, washed up bags of sadness. Scott Stapp has the lyrical subtlety of a sledgehammer and a sac of kittens. Regardless if it's Godsmack or R Kelly they're trying to emulate, Creed are the auditory equivalent of a glass of piss warm Red Bull and a bag of Styrofoam peanuts.

Do Make Say Think
The Other Truths
Is it a sign of the times / the failing music industry when more and more modern recording artists seem intent on making movies or at least music that sounds cinematic nowadays? This could always be said of Toronto's premiere post-rock (what an awful genre term! let's never use it again) instrumentalists Do Make Say Think whose long form instrumentals always seem to evoke a strong visual synesthetic sense. The Other Truths is a detour from the direction of their previous album "You, You're a History in Rust" which had them stripped back and recording in a barn to capture a more "authentic" band sound. But this time around they are very much in a studio artist mode densely packing arrangements with orchestras and thickly woven guitars. The four 10+ minute tracks (each titled cheekily "Do" "Make" "Say" and "Think") ebb and flow epically but with much more vigour and exciting dynamics then usual. The final product is a finely crafted and rich audio layer cake from experts in their prime.

Lightning Bolt
Earthly Delights
For the last few years there seems to been a weird trend in hipster music to purposefully make music sound like shit. I'm not necessarily saying purposefully making shitty "music" but to make the music of highly regarded and popular acts, who should have access to decent recording gear, sound like it was recorded with the built in microphone from a 1989 Magnasonic boombox and mastered by a living compression pedal. No band more clearly defines this aesthetic then Rhode Island's Lightning Bolt. On their latest album the drum and bass duo turn up the psychedelics, dumb down the riffs and turn the oppressive wall of relentless static way the hell up. The duo's modus operandi has always been total sensory overload and although the album occasionally slows down the onslaught of blast beats and nonsense riffage to fine druggy sludge, on the whole it is near a Merzbow level of audio carnage clearly not meant for those of a milder disposition.

You Say Party! We Say Die!
Most people seem to focus on the "Party" part of Vancouver indie/disco/punk band You Say Party! We Say Die! and not the "Die" part. Through all the upbeat energetic club beats and sing/shouting histrionics there is a pronounced dark and gloomy streak. Always catergorized as a band best appreciated live rather then on record, YSP!WSD!'s new album XXXX does a much better job of conveying them as more then just a pile of drunken scenesters. The songs have a deeper maturity then you would expect and work best when mining the lonely nightclub atmospheres. I will say this though: Hipsters nowadays have got to get off the cocaine and stop trying to sound like Berlin or the Psychedelic Furs, the tacky vintage casio tones were a fun novelty four years ago but you can't live in a Degrassi Junior High episode your entire life, even though many people would clearly love that..

The Accidentals
Hellothisisalex is an electronic duo formerly of Corner Brook fame who now live in dirty old Ontario. The duo's new album "The Accidentals" is a light fizzy concoction of 8bit analogue beeps and bloops with playful jaunty melodies. Many of the song titles reference Newfoundland locales such as "On the shore of Walden Pond" or "Blackpoll Party at Lobster cove Head" but the tunes are more prone to elicit images of Konami games rather then lobster pots or heritage sites, although the fog horn sample on "The Paper House" does set a bit of a nautical scene. The retro Gameboy tones are kept pretty dry throughout and the bass deficient buzz of the keys can grate the ears after awhile, especially to those of us who are sick of the ubiquitous 80's Nintendo nostalgia music circuit ala Dan Deacon, but there is enough enthusiasm and invention present on this short offering to make it worth the while.

Daniel Johnston
Is and Always Was
Some people will try to make you feel bad for enjoying Daniel Johnston. While it is true that a large part (if not most) of his fame comes from stories related to his mental illness, this attitude that by listening to him and buying his albums we are taking advantage of his disorder and belittling him or making fun of him somehow is misguided to say the least. Yes, part of Daniel's appeal through the years is in his unusual delivery and his bent ways of writing pop songs that do show evidence that he is damaged in ways that most of us aren't, but that's only part of the equation. The new album is a lushly produced and arranged collection of pop gems that truly emphasizes Daniel's gifts for satisfying melodies and raw heartwarming sincerity while providing the needed variety that has escaped most of his early home recordings. "Is and Always was" is the most accessible and lovely album of Daniel's career.

Keep Out!
I've always found the phenomenon of dance bands with overtly political messages in their songs a little bizarre. You'll never find an audience less concerned with the lyrics then an audience at a disco, and you'll never find a singer with a harder job of being heard then the singer for an 11 piece dance band. Is it the fact that people are less likely to be paying attention that gives the frontman more gumption to throw in controversial political statements? Is the idea to subliminally influence the dancers while they're distracted? The idlers new album "Keep Out!" seems to be circumventing these questions by being surprisingly laid back and stripped down and putting Mark Wilson's voice front and center in the mix. Compared to their high energy live shows which are all bombast and over-stimulation Keep Out! is a refreshingly mellower change of pace and the songs seem more like songs rather then musical backing for Wilson's politics. A groovy little album that wants to give a message but not at the cost of a good tune.

The Flaming Lips
The strongest release from the Lips since 1999's The Soft Bulletin, Embryonic finds the Flaming Lips moving away from the overblown grandiosity and fursuit and fake blood shtick that's been their bread and butter for the past 10 years and finds them returning to their experimental roots with some inspired results. There is scarcely a single radio friendly moment anywhere on the sprawling two disc set and the buzzed out confrontational production aesthetic seems to be designed solely for the purpose of dissuading casual listeners. The songs take the form of elaborate jam sessions with an unmistakable love of 70's era German prog with less of the Beach Boy's on space acid pop the Lips have become known for. Wayne Coyne pulls back the melodrama in his voice and the band lock into fuzzy hypnotic grooves with more aggression and menace then they've shown in decades. Not all the 18 tracks are classics but the band hasn't sounded so much like "a band" in ages and the album just gets richer and richer with repeated listens.

Chris Kirby
Vampire Weekend
Chris Kirby is a musician who wears his influences on his sleeve. Drawing a straight line to classic blue eyed Philly soul Kirby's new album Vampire Weekend, with the able help of producer Gordie Johnston of Big Sugar achieves a lush vintage sound with big punchy arrangements, sweet horn sections and a tight well tuned (and this time more keyboard driven) backing band. The songs have a lot of bounce and playfulness to them but if your looking for any kind of lyrical depth or original sentiments look elsewhere. Most of the tracks on Vampire Weekend are of the classic "you-no-good-two-timing-heart-breaker" variety but Kirby's voice and demeanour is way too musical theatre precious and affable to sell any kind of emotional turmoil, not that you'd want much turmoil on a mostly agreeable, breezy pop cabaret album like this. The album has a rich well developed sound but the material is ultimately too light for it's own good.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Spooktacular!!!

Hello poor neglected blog, how are you doin'?
If any of you people out there are confused and still wondering what to do with your Halloween festivities, might I suggest you check out The Levee for a delightful selection of bands such as AE Bridger, Local Tough and Ye-Yeti (plus special guests?).
I did the poster for it, first time in a long time since I've done a show poster, I think it turned out pretty good. Should be fun fun fun fun fun fun fun times.
Go To The Show!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review Round-up - Amelia Curran, Gwar, Mount Eerie, Spring Breakup, Our Lady Peace, Yo La Tengo, Wax Mannequin, Hidden Cameras, Vicar

I realized that I haven't updated the review section of the blog in a couple of months. So here are all the reviews that I wrote for The Scope since July. Enjoy my godless opinions on other peoples music. Cheers

Lust in Space
Recently while watching the captivating Youtube infomercial for "The Tenth Annual Gathering of The Juggalos" (look it up you will not be disappointed!) I came across the shocking news that GWAR Still Exist! The last time I had listened to or thought about Gwar was 1997 when at a house party my friend Trevor borrowed my "Scumdogs of The Universe" cassette tape and never gave it back. Somewhere in my subconsciousness my mind erased all mention of Gwar from of this traumatic experience. But Gwar never ever stopped and with the newly released "Lust in Space" marks their 15Th official album. So has anything changed about Gwar in the near twenty years since 1990's hit album Scumdogs? Hell no.. The prosthetic and polystyrene covered masters of party thrash metal and juvenile gross out humor still pound out the power violence and scatology and dick joke obsessed lyrics with much more ferocity and freshness then I ever remembered them having. So can one go back in time this many years later to when one wanted nothing more then to be sprayed with fake blood and pummeled with foam hammers? No not really. But 14 year old boys will always exist and so will Gwar. Amen.

Amelia Curran
Hunter, Hunter
On her much anticipated new album "Hunter, Hunter" Amelia Curran delivers the goods with her trademark rich sonorous voice and it's cool detached restraint. Restraint is the key word with this album, the arrangements are pulled back to tasteful swells of gently plucked banjos, slow muted trombones, accordions (etc) all making sure to never get in the way Amelia's voice and guitar. Even on the liveliest songs like the Tom Waits inspired jazzy romp "The Dozens" Amelia reigns it in with a smooth composure. While the album is designed for mellow evenings and I enjoy the laid back atmosphere; I feel it needs more of a kick in the pants here and there and seems to drag out a lot in the first half, but the album's standout tracks like "Mad World, Outlive me" and "Loves Last regard" are truly lovely and are the best examples of Amelia's craft. Amelia's tales of bad or doomed relationships wear a strong Leonard Cohen influence placing an emphasis more with metaphor and esoteric imagery rather then spelling out a narrative directly and as a result the album is a bit hard to absorb on the first listen and best rewards those who are willing to give it some repeated turns and it is an album that well deserves it.

Spring Breakup
Kim Barlow and Mathias Kom are Spring Breakup, a songwriting duo created during a Yukon winter devoted entirely to songs about the endings of relationships. The songs run the emotional gamut of true sorrow and despair, detached indifference, to almost happy and upbeat. The pair of them make ideal collaborators. Both share a sharp sardonic wit, a gift for intricate wordplay and simple but engaging melodies. The album is a bare-boned affair stripped down to just their Ukulele and Banjo and two voices, Mathias' deep baritone well complimenting Kim's rustic croon. The duo keep the strumming light and slow with just the minimum amount of bounce needed to keep the songs from devolving into depressing dirges when the duo croon sentiments like "you said we were Ginger and Fred, we were Sonny and Cher, but it was more like Tina and Ike then Rogers and Astaire". But while the sentiment may be dour at times the album is breezy and entertaining with a palpable charm. Their genuine chemistry when the two of them trade lines like "you're so beautiful I could stareat you all day/ you look strangely like me/ and it turns me on" make The Spring Breakup ultimately much more of a beautiful marriage then an ugly pro-longed divorce.

Mount Eerie
Wind's Poem
Wind's Poem first four minutes twelve seconds opens it's gates to the listener with a punishing rising tsunami wall of impenetrable guitar squall and blast beats coated in a thick lo-fi crust that Phil Elverum's fragile mumbling voice floats over, just barely audible against the violent feedback. On his latest album the prolific songwriter Phil Elverum has finally shed the a lot of the gentle and overly precious balladeering that had gotten a bit ubiquitous and stale for the last few years. "Wind's Poem" has Elverum finding that captivating balance between raw experimental ambition and listening accessibility giving Mt Eerie their strongest album in many years. The pace throughout is glacially slow with styles varying from dark minimal, ambient meditations to several brutally grinding tracks like "The Hidden Stone" and "The Mouth of the Sky" that straddle the line halfway between underground Black Metal and Kevin Sheilds style shoegaze. As always Phil's ear for arrangements is utterly exquisite as his lyrics mine complex narratives on the darkness of nature. Wind's Poem is a rich and uncompromising album that is not intended for casual unadventurous listeners.

Our Lady Peace
Burn Burn
It seems in recent years Raine Maida; leader singer of Canrock staples Our Lady Peace has been taking vocal coaching to tame the adnoidal fury of his yelping weasel voice into a more mid-range modern-rock radio friendly croon. This is unfortunate. While in the early days listening to him sing was akin to piercing your septum with a burning drill bit, at least it made the band a bit distinctive. When their old songs would come on the radio you would say "Oh! it's that heinous singer from Our Lady Peace" nowadays he's been watered down to almost sub-Chris Martin boring, you don't know if you're listening to Our Lady Peace or some new Rob Thomas track. The songs on "Burn Burn" are so middle of the road, so painfully uninspired that desite all the uplifting lyrics about how "the sky is blue" and how "we all have wings" you'd just wish someone would shove him down a flight of stairs just to get some kind of interesting response from him (just for the record I'm not advocating anybody doing that).

Yo La Tengo
Popular Songs
For the last few years New Jersey critic darlings Yo La Tengo have crossed the line from "introspective and hypnotic" to plain boring. The first half of their new album "Popular Songs" doesn't help much to rectify this. Apart from a few inspired moments like the upbeat rocker "Nothing to Hide" and the stately ballad "I'm on my way" (which is as beautiful as anything they've ever made) the trademark drowsy vocals of Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley seem to be struggling to keep awake more then usual. While nothing on the first half is particularly offensive you could call all of it album filler to lead up to the last three songs which make a 35 minute suite of everything Yo La Tengo have ever been good at. The last three songs move from 9 minutes of pure trance inducing fuzzed out grooving to 11 minutes of delicious ambient rumination to 15 minutes of feedback soaked free form guitar histrionics. You could call it a great mini-album within a bloated major release.

Wax Mannequin
In a world so filled to the brim, over-saturated and sick to death with acoustic guitar playing singer/songwriter dudes, it's hard to find a character as original as Hamilton Ontario's Wax Mannequin. The gruff voiced, rose covered balladeer's new album "Saxon" isn't much of a departure from his previous albums, maybe slightly sparser and more restrained then usual but it is an further refinement of his Tom Waits psychedelic folk by way of Foreigner sound. Every song bounces to a strange jaunty beat as he skillfully crafts very melodramatic verses around greedy volcano gods, oil barons and an apparent obsession for drowning. The album suffers a bit from a draggy middle section despite the hidden Cyndi Lauper quotes. The song "Treading Water" is a little too aptly titled maybe. But in the final third Wax Mannequin really shines in a strong one-two punch of fist-shakin'-boot-stompers that run his already coarse voice ragged in gleeful abandon. It's a stirring entry in the canon of a truly unique Canadian character.

The Hidden Cameras
Origin: Orphan
One could be forgiven for shoving indie pop sensations The Hidden Cameras into that league of performers like T.Rex or Bon Jovi or Bob Dylan who basically spent their whole careers writing the same song over and over and over again. Previously one could only notice that the CD track changed when the chorus would switch from Ah-wooo-ah's to doo-doo-doo's. But you had to admit it was pretty damn catchy song. On their latest album The Hidden Cameras actually summon the bravery to change it up a bit. The arrangements get much more variety with keyboards and orchestras featured prominently, the tempos shift and slow down occasionally and many more genres and styles are explored. But while it's admirable and totally necessary that they moved out of the signature sound they've been pedaling for 8 years now there is nothing on this album near as catchy and enjoyable as their best earlier material. It's an unfortunate catch 22 where you either tread the same water you always have or move on to different areas you aren't as well adapted to. But it's a step in the right direction at least.

A solo offering of Tyler Lovell (bass player of local prog weirdos the AE Bridger band) YAIC is a brief but very potent Ep of intense and abrasive experimental rock music. The EP runs heavily on hypnotic rhythms and angular, menacing, repetitive lines which function as a trance inducer while more and more disconcerting and discordant ingredients are poured on top and shift in and out of the mix. The sounds are all heavily manipulated and and very densely layered in a way that recalls old school krautrock pioneers "Can" at their most aggressive or early "This Heat" with sharp piercing guitar lines like rain of needles skirting the edge of the periphery. There's a cinematic quality to the music but it wouldn't be a movie you'd bring grandma to This is not music for everyone, or even most people, but if you are someone who has a need for challenging but rewarding (also violent) music that is not afraid to throw some ugliness into the mix, you should seek this out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ultimate Internet Dream Band Addendum: Tonetta777

Most people are boring, some people are prudes, some other people are shameless, and some take shamelessness to a point where it is heroic and sublime. While I was making the previous list I made the terrible discovery that the man who was my first choice for frontman singer/songwriter of my Ultimate Internet Dream Band had his youtube account suspended; in an atrocious act that I can only take as youtube's own personal vendetta against love, life and happiness.
My subscription to Tonetta777 was 90% of the reason for checking my youtube front page everyday. Every week he would upload 5 - 8 videos of him dancing mostly naked to his latest track of catchy, Totally Obscene, creepy as hell, fractured but infectious pop/funk tunes. His profile had no information at all and in all 300+ videos he had up only the byline "MUST SEE..." was written on them. He was a mystery.. I was so sad when I couldn't embed any of my favorite Tonetta moments, but now I happily discovered Tonetta has another account (!) it appears to be an older private account that he switched over to public to host his backlog of videos. How long until youtube suspends this account due to "term of use infringement" who knows? But for now here are some of my favorite Tonetta777 tracks for your delinquent eyes.

This was the first Tonetta video I saw and I think it's still my favorite. Definitely one of his more menacing tracks.

The other favorite of mine..

a couple more..

This one might have gotten him kicked off. I seem to remember this was one of his last that he posted.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Ultimate Internet Dream Band

I already have an awesome band, but a man can dream can't he?
Lets just pool our Youtube resources and put together the ultimate Internet Dream Music Ensemble right here anyway.

I'll start with this guy as my Drummer:

On Keyboard:

Lead Singer (I might take the bassist as well):

Or maybe this person as Lead Singer? I don't know...

Or Maybe this Woman as Singer/Songwriter? I can't decide.. Goddamn it!

On Rhythm Guitar:

On Lead Guitar:

Every good project needs a Guest Rapper. I pick Eli:

And this other guy as well:

This would be our banjo player and he would repeat this performance every night:

And then there'd be this guy:

If you have any other suggestions for players put them in the comment section below.

Monday, August 31, 2009

SUPERGOD!! ~ The Party Controls The Gun - volume: Horse + volume: Lazerbeam

above: volume: Horses. click here to download from Mediafire

above: volume - Lazerbeam. click here to download from Mediafire

Continuing my SUPERGOD! Give Away Fever! here are the second and third albums in my SUPERGOD! series, "SUPERGOD!! The Party Controls the Gun - volume: Horses and volume: Lazerbeam". I made these while I was working on "The Pervert" album and I released them simultaneously as companion CDs back in 2007, I literally spent 95% of my time recording music that year. All the audio bits flow into each other like the first SUPERGOD! album, but this time I was nice enough to break them into separate tracks for listening convenience. This also gave me the opportunity to give my songs silly names which is where 90% of the appeal of SUPERGOD! material comes from. The material is much the same as the first one except a good bit darker, more or less random, a bit more "song" oriented and more polished then the first one.
I read an interview with Tom Waits where he was talking about his albums and how he purposefully puts the most challenging and abrasive song on the album first so it would quickly get rid of any "casual" listeners, as those are the worst kind of listener, and keep any active/interested ones (That's probably nothing like the actual quote but I can't find that interview anywhere right now so I'll go with that). I always liked that idea so most of my albums start with something horrible or ridiculous sounding. These two albums are the best examples of that theory as they both start with pure abject terror. I never made that many copies of these albums so you've got the opportunity to own something pretty rare here, so if you do listen to them tell me what you think.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New SUPERGOD! Video - "A Scalpel Scrapes The Crust off the Sky"

I went and made a fancy new SUPERGOD! video for you fine people to feast your eyeholes at. I was all in epic mode when I recorded the song yesterday. The footage is from last weekend when me and my ladyfriend went up Signal Hill to do some illegal kite flying (we didn't know it was illegal at the time, I only found that out the other day, flight paths my ASS!). I named the song "A Scalpel Scrapes The Crust off the Sky" for obvious reasons. In other SUPERGOD! news I'll be sharing another couple of old SUPERGOD! albums here later on in the week, so look forward to that. Anyway tell me what you think of my video.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Download the First SUPERGOD! album for Free

On a whim today I started up a Mediafire account and decided to christen it with the first self-titled SUPERGOD! album I put out three years ago. It's a ridiculous 40 minute affair (all one continuous track) whose main purpose was for me to get to know my recording gear a bit better and work on some wacky ideas I'd been brewing for awhile. You'll here chanting inanities, random freak-outs, experimental drones, disconcerting atmospheres, Steve Reich-y experiments, some soul balladry, some Godspeed You Black Emporer rip-offery, lots of Residents rip-offery and much more.

I'll post up the next two SUPERGOD! albums shortly, as no one cares about those albums anymore so I might as well give them away for free.

Download it Here


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What I've been up to Lately

That's Me, Victor Lewis and Alison Corbett playing a little set at The Eastern Edge Gallery a couple of weeks ago. Ahhhh.. I remember a time when I used to play music in public a lot.. I got to get back on the go with shows. Anybody need an opening act?
Blogging, Mastering other peoples albums and not working have gotten in the way of my productivity lately. I will eventually get an album done. sometime..
This poor neglected blogspace....boo hoo..
I figured I'd give all you people who still follow me on this RSS feed and haven't switched over to my new one yet an update on what I've been doing in my new Scope home over the last few weeks. While also telling you to GO LOOK AT MY FRIGGIN' NEW BLOG!
  • Then I did a piece on visiting awesome Yukon based songwriting duo The Spring Breakup (who I was playing with the night of the video above).
I then did my most ambitious concert blogging effort ever with a mighty three part post about the Mt Eerie/Julie Doiron show at the George Street United church.
  • Part 1 was a 3 video post of local opening act Danny Keating who played awesome.
  • Part 2 was a 4 video post of Julie Doiron and fellow Sackviller "Calm Down it's Monday"
  • And Part 3 was a 4 video post of Mount Eerie, whom I have been a long time fan.
I got the 24 Hour Art Marathon coming up this weekend which is always the highlight of my year and I'm really excited about it. I'm gonna tackle a 4' by 5' painting this year so I'm gonna be worn out (but not too warn out to not take some vids).
Also, tomorrow is Night Music at The Ship with the Cara Coleman Band (and possible a mini reunion of The Origin of The Sound Band (Woo!)) and it's also Trailercamp's big reunion show, so I'll probably be editing shit for a fortnight at least.
Anyway, that's my life from the last few weeks. Stay tuned for more of the same.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Hey folks who have kindly subscribed to this blog or just read this blog occasionally or just happened upon it by accident, I have news. These Stones are Meant for Throwing has now officially moved to The Scope's website! It now called "Throwing Stones At You" and from now on you will have to look there to continue to read my adventures of looking at bands in St John's and to read my reviews and such.
A couple of weeks ago Elling (head editor at the Scope) told me he was looking to provide more regular daily content on The Scope website, he said he enjoyed the silliness I do over here and wondered if wanted to do it over there. This is cool beans for me as it is a larger built in audience with more official status then this here cheap blogger rag. I just posted my first entry over there today, this one all about The Satans last show from the weekend past. The Satans were always at the top of my list of bands I wanted to cover here but could never get to their shows with the camera for some reason, so I'm really happy I could christen my new blog home with some videos of them.
So what are you going to do with this old place you might ask? Well I'm not going to delete it or anything foolish like that. This is still an important archive (for me at least) of bands I care about and I'll probably end up recycling a lot of this stuff for the new blog eventually (I have that much faith in my laziness). But in the meantime I'm thinking about other ways I could you use this blog space. I've always wanted to turn this into an album sharity blog for local releases, but I would want to make sure that the bands I post up would be cool with me spreading their albums around for free. That involves something I've always hated which is correspondence. Also I would have to get a mediafire account and crap. But I do have tons of out of print local releases that I'd love to talk about and share with people. If you're reading this and are in a band and like the idea of me sharing your albums at no profit to you other then extra people hearing it, tell me and I'll do it.
Other things I could use this old blog space for:
* Stupid youtube clips I find.
* Unsolicited opinions of popular culture.
* Unsolicited opinions of the arts
* Shameless self promotion
* Animated gifs
* Angry rants and troll baiting (you have no idea how much rage I suppress)
* Shameless reposting from other blogs
* More Shameless self promotion

Anyway, change is good. Or maybe it's not. Who knows? now there is more of it in different places. I'll be keeping busy in the meanwhile.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Album Reviews - The Dardanelles, The Once, Tony Benn

Well it's that time of the fortnight again. Time to re-post my reviews from this weeks scope here for your perusal. This week they are all local, all acoustic folk, all self titled debut albums, all pretty good. This weeks Scope is particularly awesome as it is the annual "New Music" issue with an ass load of bands covered and my favorite band in town made the cover. Although I gotta say they could've chose a shot that made them look a bit more active. I think every shot of Andrew Waterman should be of him screaming and covered in blood. Maybe this is just me. Anyway, here are my latest three reviews. enjoy them and check out the links if you can. Always check out my links.

The Dardanelles
The Dardanelles debut self titled album is an taut, dynamic and energetic mix of various strings, squeeze boxes and worldly influences. The Dardanelles are tight. The seven piece folk combo effortlessly weave a dense tapestry of swirling reels and dervishes that they make flow naturally while never letting up on the whirlwind pace. The production is crisp and lush but never overdone and thankfully stripped of any tacky studio trickery and affectations leaving just the raw textures of the instruments and the expert hands guiding them. I'm gonna avoid any talk of "authenticity" or adhering to traditions because frankly I'm the farthest thing you get from an expert on Newfoundland trad music. All I can say is that to me this album reveals a depth of interplay and a relentless energy that can only be experienced at the best kitchen parties and even when mixing in the more exotic foreign material the songs flow naturally and sweetly.

The Once
Geraldine Hollett's voice is an instrument like a deep warm river of sweetness and honey. Thankfully her band The Once know this well and on their debut album have built all the arrangements like a shrine or alter to properly display that lovely instrument. It is an album of tasteful covers; half traditional and half more contemporary (but not obvious) classics, all with strong and somewhat dark narratives that take good advantage Geraldine's theatrical pedigree by pushing the dramatic envelope, the stark a capella reading of "Marguerite" in particular has Geraldine taking on the role of the lead character and full on emoting her emotional breakdown to stirring effect. Their version of Leonard Cohens "Anthem" is stellar. My biggest complaint about the album is the cover. Look at it. It has to be one of the dullest album covers I've ever seen.. Three red rectangles and some Times new roman lettering do not a compelling visual make. Try harder.

Tony Benn
Irish ex-patriot and current local singer-songwriter Tony Benn's new album travels onto a lonesome road with a simple directness and a strong and sorrowful voice. Most of the album is stripped down to just guitar and vocals with occasional band arrangements and female vocal choruses punctuating it at times. The album keeps a sparse and quiet tone throughout with Tony's voice evoking a steady but sad, contemplative quality that draws comparisons to Damien Rice or John Martyn and on songs like "Her Hair Came Down" and "Walk with you" he let's it soar to devastating and beautiful effect. The lyrics are direct and unpretentious but are lacking a little in depth and originality, the simple sentiments in songs like "Please don't say goodbye" don't offer any new insights we haven't heard many times before, but this is a small qualm in an album as perfectly suited for cloudy Sunday listening as this one.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vicky-Lou and Brad Power

Hey folks, it's been a pretty quiet weekend for yours truly. I didn't get up to much mischief and I didn't get any real band videographing done either. I did take some video of the Lantern Festival, but I'm gonna sit on it until I have the time to edit it into something or until I have a computer that will do what I need it to do. But I did take some footage of my hero Victor Lewis and his stunt guitarist Brad Power playing a subdued set at The Rose and Thistle last Thursday. It's been awhile since I've seen Vic do his solo set material and it was nice to have Brad there providing the edge and the atmospheres. In this first video we have Victor and Brad doing a pretty upbeat version of the classic murder ballad "Stagger Lee" I'm more used to this version then any other but Vic's version here is not without it's charm.

The next video is of an ambitious cover Vic and Brad worked out for for a 60's French pop song. It's ambitious because Vic and Brad don't speak any French. I can't really tell if the phonetics are correct but it sounds like proper music to my ears.

Also, for all you 7 or 8 regular Throwing Stones readers, in the near future keep your eyes peeled to your RSS feeds for exciting "These Stones are Meant for Throwing" news. It's real exciting, or it might not be. No hints.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Japan Batteries and some Sorcerer

Japan Batteries are a new indie-ish acoustic/electro band that are getting some good buzz around town. Darrell Hopkins is a friendly acquaintance of mine from university who wrote me up to check out his new band and hopefully bring my camera. The band is pretty good I gotta say, Darrell has always been a singer with a warm and engaging presence and I think I was immediately won over by the strobe-light attached to his head..

As a friendly bit of criticism and knowing that they are a really new band I would suggest that Darrell stay a bit further away from that fast paced talk/sing/rap style that brings him dangerously close to Dave Matthews territory. I made a promise that I would shoot a poison dart into the next person I find singing a Dave Matthews cover, so I just felt like I needed to state that bit of rudeness. I like this next song, it's got a good kinda Mark Bragg vibe to it and it reminds me that I also promised I would write more songs with catchy stops and starts. Who did I promise these things to?....um.......... jesus?

Also during that night I couldn't help sneaking over to CB's to catch "Sorcerer", who I was told were a fun stoner metal band, and it had been a long time since I'd seen a good stoner metal band, and they were a lot of fun. They played in complete darkness as you can see (or not see) here, and I'm not sure but they may have only played covers that night. I'm not sure if this song is a cover, but I think it is. If anybody can tell me one way or another please do.

AE Bridger at Night Music

AE Bridger returned to scene in grand form after a few months absence to concentrate on school and whatnot. Armed with a new set of songs he took to the job of hosting this months Night Music at the Ship with two full drum sets, a full time keyboardist, and the usual vast array of effects pedals and battery of guitar pyrotechnics. I took a bunch of videos but tragically two of my favorites (one of which was 19 minutes! and the other was the only video where I start taking the video from the audience perspective and end up filming the band from behind the keyboards I was jamming on) were destroyed by my computer (which an asshole to me constantly). But never fear here are three fresh AE Bridger videos of a shorter variety from that same show.
Nothing made me happier this week then watching AE play "Smelly Tongues" by my heroes The Residents-

This one ends with an impressive percussion jam.

And here are two swell new tunes I medley'd together

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New CD Reviews in The Scope + Fiery Furnaces and Swords

Well the new issue is out and they ran a couple of my CD Reviews this week. But I have a couple of other ones I did for them that they never ran so I figure I'd stick em' up here. In other Scope related news, Elling got me to conduct an interview with Banjo picker and worldly music collaborator Jayme Stone, he's playing in Bowring Park on Saturday as part of the Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival. Everyone should go check him out, you can read the interview here. Anyway, here are some reviews:
The Dead Weather and Precious Fathers ran in the Scope and Fiery Furnaces and Swords did not.

The Dead Weather
The debut album of Jack White's new supergroup/side project The Dead Weather is a bit of a mixed bag. Featuring members of The Kills, The Raconteurs and Queens of the Stone Age. Jack White's duties take an uncharacteristic step away from the spotlight by (mostly) sticking with the drums while backing up singer Alison Mosshart, although he is the producer and co-writes 7 of the songs so the focus is never completely away from him. There is plenty of swagger and bravado soaked into this album and if nothing else Jack White as a producer is a master of getting guitars to sound wickedly bestial, but here the riffs miss just as often as they hit. The greasy high plains groove of "60 feet tall" and the oppressive grind of "New Pony" attack the body in just the right way while Rote rockers like "Treat me like your Mother" and "I Cut Like a Buffalo" come across as an uncomfortable fit of Rage against the Machine and Black Mountain. Bottom line, The high points of this album compare favorably to most of White Stripes catalog but the low points reek of "disposable side project"

Precious Fathers
Alluvial Fan
Vancouver based instrumental band Precious Fathers' new album "Alluvial Fan" is a dense soup of cavernous guitars, grandiose swells and dramatic dynamics, but it never strays too far from a warm emotional center. The band constructs it's songs from slow tidal crescendos and wide screen cinema-scope releases, always with a steady driving pulse behind it moving it forward. While the album is decidedly on the introspective and meditative side of the Tortoise/Do Make Say Think canon of epic post-rock, the album never feels morose or overly melancholic. It's hard to describe the sound without using the word "cinematic" or imagining wide open vistas while you listen to it, the songs go for gradual understated shifts as opposed to sudden shocks and if there is a major problem with the record it's that it lacks the immediacy and the show-stopping technical showiness to grip the listener fully on the first listen. This album takes time to fully digest and reveal itself but if you're the patient type of listener then it's well worth the effort.

The Fiery Furnaces
I'm Going Away
After the success of 2004's "Blueberry Boat", a strange, and catchy pop opus that won over the hearts of hipsters and music geeks all over, The Fiery Furnaces have spent the last 5 years steadily releasing albums that perversely try to alienate themselves from their audience. Although I admired their willingness to experiment wildly and to keep challenging their fan base's expectations, I just couldn't actually find much to enjoy in the albums. "I'm Going Away" is an excellent return to form. In this album the songs come first and formost and the band hasn't sounded as natural and happy in ages. While there is plenty of weirdness and progressive flourishes present, this time none of it comes across as a hollow gimmick. Matthew Friedberger's trademark excessive wordplay is thankfully reigned (a bit) and the songs are allowed to have proper Hooks(!). The Friedberger sibling have finally stopped being so concerned with the avant-garde and made an album that is actually charming and enjoyable from start to finish.

album: [Monument of] Swords
This is the type of music I like to listen to on headphones while walking around a Wal~Mart the day before Mothers day or while waiting in outpatients at St Claires for five hours. The kind of music that expresses and transposes your epic existential disgust for societies most dehumanizing institutions while it hypnotizes you in it's oppressive waves of panoramic, Teutonic brutality and incomprehensible screaming about mythological warriors. This is metal but it's not very easy to headbang to. The riffs are slooooow and relentlessly churning in a thick gravy of dissonance with only brief clean strummed respites to break it up. [Monument of] SWORDS gets the formula of epic discontent just right for those days you'd sooner push thumbtacks into your skull then go to Services Canada.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another weekend at Holdsworth court = Mopey, Local Tough, Pathological Lovers, Mudflowers, Cyanides, Justin Guzzwell

This weekend I was just itching to test out the new camera further and during this weekend pretty much all my favorite bands were playing simultaneously. I had to make some hard decisions and try to make the best of everything. I took a shitload of videos. I pretty much did nothing else yesterday except edit and upload 9(!) new videos for you all to enjoy.

First of all I was out at CBTG's on Friday and got a couple of good Local Tough videos, including this one which I think is my new favorite live video ever, just for visceral shirtless carnage and audience participation.

They also played some new material which is kinda rare for them.

But it was on Friday night that I went totally OCD on videographing everything that I could. I decided to go to Mopey Mumble Mouses CD release party at Distortion. There I got to see Justin Guzzwell's new band "Justin Guzzwell and the Crooks" and they were really good, the edition of Brad Morgan on bass made Justin's intense ivory punishing live show 10 times more palatable. Justin has an unique sense of structure to his progressions and an interesting sense of dynamics. Here's one of my favorite songs of his "Mornings that Shake Me"

and this spirited one: "Dependable"

I then snuck across the deck to catch The Mudflowers at CBTG's, but unfortunately only caught the last two songs. They remain on the top of my list of bands to properly give blog treatment to. In this video they are playing their sweat covered encore to a packed CB's crowd at the end of their second full set that day (they also played an all ages show early that day). It's a pretty good Joy Division cover but I would've preferred to film one of their originals. I will keep my eye out for them in the meantime.

Meanwhile back at Distortion my friend Jordan Young was doing his scronky Cyanides thing that he does, so I caught him on digital film doing a short new one called "Sacrificial Seal"

I then snuck back into CB's and caught The Pathological Lovers doing probably the best version of Bonnie Tyler's only classic "Total Eclipse of The Heart". The audience was hella into it as you can hear. My only issue was with this giant motionless jerk guy in the front row whose head was directly in the way of my view of Jody Richardson. I had to extend my arm way out to the side to get Jody in the frame at all, so the video is kinda shaky (I tried correcting it much as I could). Being an overly tall guy who likes to get at the front of the audience myself, it may seem like I am being a hypocrite swearing at this other tall guy, but this dude was clearly not enjoying himself and was just standing there without moving or doing anything besides drinking and blocking everyones view. I wanted to chuck something at his head so badly!

Then of course I went back to Distortion and watched Mopey Mumble Mouse perform for the first and last time as a 7 piece band as they tore through songs from their new album "I Am Happy Being Nothing". I was quite the show and it was their third full set that day, Yet there was no fatigue showing at all and this set was in fact much more andrenilized then their second set I watched early that evening. Here is the Theatrical Ballad "Compassion Comes From The Barrel of a Gun"

and here is a service industry themed hardcore stomper of their's "Food Fair" (I'm sorry but the audio for this one turned out kinda crap)

Anyway, fun times to be had for all who look for it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday Night at Holdsworth Court with a *New Camera*! Woo!

Well, as evidence bellow this post shows I was able to somewhat fix Michelle's camera (sorta) and take few more videos with it. But this week Michelle surprised me with a brand spanking new Canon Powershot SX10!, it is her camera technically but we are both under the assumption that I might never give it back. So on Friday night I went out to test what it can do. I was down at the newly renovated Levee to watch some of my favorite band and film them, and the SX10 did such a better job then the old A430 I can't get over it.

Anyway, even though I only put up videos of them just a little while ago, here's Colonel Craze and the Hunch doing what's possibly my favorite song of their's "My Only Hope is a Wet Dream" as shot through the new camera, Check out the extreme close-ups it can do:

The blurry dream sequence effect is something I added because I was bored and I wanted it to look like the lens had fogged up from the heat, because it was Goddamn hot in there. I finished mastering their new album the other day, and it is the best thing you will ever hear...Period.. Camp outside Fred's records until the day they release it. It is that good.

Next up was SURGEON who I covered here a few months ago, if anybody can remember back that far. I've been looking forward to filming them again with my improved technology, since they are such a technological band (they have 2 E-bows!!). They are a super tight-package of epic noodle rockers. I heard someone criticize them as "like video game music.." but I don't think that shouldn't be a deterrent, their songs have epic adventures and dynamic action like a classic Mega-Man game. I don't know the names of these wordless songs, but here are two of their tracks:


When Kill Popoff came on I figured I'd try to record their set without using my (girlfriend's) Edirol for sound and this proved to be ill advised as the new camera's microphones are way too sensitive and the end product was a jarring mass of buzzed out distortion. So unfortunately I can't use any of the Kill Popoff videos. I then went next door to check out The Kremlin who I haven't seen in ages, as a card carrying member of the KDPC (Kremlin Dance Party of Canada) it is a sin and a shame that I haven't blogged about them yet. But when I got there it was around 2:40am and it was disgustingly sweaty in there, my arms were tired, the sound through the PA system was just awful, The band was on the dangerous side of intoxicated and Comrade Lenin's guitar seemed to explode and disentigrate after a couple of songs. As one of my favorite local bands of all time it would've been a diservice to put up those videos. It occurred to me that The Kremlin are a band that already have a sizeable amount of good quality official music videos, so within the next couple of days I will give them a proper throwing-stones write up here. Anyway, I'm off. Talk to you all soon.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Night Music at The Ship with McKudo

Didn't mean to take this long put this up but here it is. When I first had the idea to start a blog I wanted to make a blog where I would share my many bootlegs of Night Music shows and talk about the local bands in them. I'd have to talk to Craig Squires about that but I still might do that one of these days. In the mean time I'm gonna try to take some videos every month of the Night Music jams. Last week McKudo hosted the night, they had added Josh Ward on six string bass to the original group of Adam Staple on drums and random things, Sean Panting on left handed guitar and Rob Power on keyboards and percussion. It was a super fun show. They did improvisations to washing machine and moose call instructional tapes. Here is a video of the moose call one:

They also did the best version of Led Zeppelins "Black Dog" I've ever heard and I'm still kicking myself in the ass because I didn't get the camera ready in time to catch it. I caught the two open Jams this time though. Here is the first one (Michelle took the video) with me playing the upside-down left handed guitar (all my licks came out inverted!) Craig Squires on Saxophone, Rob Power on keyboards (that's a Keyboard Bass you're hearing here), Debra Jackman on crazy vocalizations and CBC radio's Mack Furlong on drums.

The next jam is also very long but it really goes to interesting places I think. This Jam features Alison Corbett on Violin, all of McKudo in their regular roles, and Romano Di Nillo playing a fancy percussion box. This jam gets really trance-y and interesting if you let yourself get into

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mopey, Novaks and Plaskett reviews

I got some more album reviews published in todays issue of The Scope. Instead of just hyperlinking them like last time, I'll just paste them up here for your reading convenience.

Mopey Mumble-Mouse
I Am Happy Being Nothing
Righteous local weirdos Mopey Mumble Mouse hot off the heels of their 2nd RPM challenge album, release their new full length disc I Am Happy Being Nothing. The album plays like a concept album with all songs—from the WGB cover “Babylon Mall” on down—dealing with Mopey’s rabid contempt for big box stores, blatant commercial capitalism and the de-humanizing industrial trappings of modern day life. The album is by far the most energetic, brutal and confrontational release from Mopey yet. Songs like “Young Professional” and “Food Fair” come at you like a bucket of snarling, frothing werewolves in a swirling centrifuge. The album is a party bag of hardcore punk, experimental pop noise, and melodramatic cabaret that Curtis Kilfoy’s impassioned vocals and the bands endless enthusiasm sell every second of.

Stream or download the album from here!

The Novaks
Things Fall Apart
(Sonic Records)
In the four years since The Novaks last album they’ve had to re-invent themselves as a power trio. As a result Things Fall Apart is much more riff oriented, and the band has moved to a more hard hitting classic rock sound which is more early AC/DC or T-Rex than The Heartbreakers. The change does them good, Mick Davis’ swaggering, woozy howl is better served in a boogie-rich, amped up environment then in the more jangly sounds of their earlier material. I got really hooked into picking apart his vocal theatrics—the way he extends the “staaaaaaaarr-aahh” in “Billy The Kid” is borderline ridiculous (but awesome) and the way he twists and contorts “truuu-uuuu-uth” in “Sometimes I Gotta Go Down” is truly perverted. The big glammed out hooks dig in deeper the more you listen to them and the beats do their job getting your fists pumpin’.

Joel Plaskett
This is an odd day and age to be releasing triple albums. This is a day and age of iPods permanently set to random play, careers made on a single shared mp3 download and world tours to support 4 song ep's. Who has the patience and enough ability to concentrate nowadays to listen to close to 2 hours of mid-tempo, mostly acoustic folk pop? Not me really, but I did. Joel Plaskett decided to go the way of modern day Prince and release his triple disc, numerology obsessed "Three". On it are a good few very enjoyable tracks with sparse arrangements, tasteful acoustic flourishes and intimate vocal harmonies, but as with all projects like this where the main selling point seems to be showing off the artists great prolificness; the bloat gets in the way and chokes the listener with a profundity of half baked, middling ideas. With stronger editing Joel could've sliced the album down to one enjoyable single disc instead of trying the listeners patience with an extra 14 or so uninspiring songs about sunshine or the road. Sadly Plaskett couldn't pull a "69 Love Songs" out of his ass, so do what most people will do and find the 8 or 9 songs that move you the most and keep the rest in the recycle bin.