West My Friend “Place”
Grammar Fight Records 2012
West My Friend is:
Eden Oliver: Vocals, Guitar, Flute
Alex Rempel: Mandolin, Vocals
Jeff Poynter: Accordion, Vocals
Steven Taddei: Bass, Vocals
Place represents a milestone in the relatively short life of West My Friend. Their first full length album, following up on their self-titled EP released in 2011 will be available for wide-spread release on April 5th 2012. I’ve had the pleasure of working with West My Friend before to record backing tracks to BFA: The Musical in the summer of 2011, and I am excited to bring you a sneak peek of what you can expect to hear on Place.
The 4 piece consisting of guitar, bass, accordion, and mandolin bring a unique style. The 13 song album comes in at just under 50 minutes, making each song just shy of an average 4 minutes each. A unique aspect of the creation of this album is that the band used the fast-growing site IndieGoGo.com. It allows for groups such as West My Friend to let their fans donate money to their cause. In this case it was recording this album. Their campaign using YouTube helped them with the funding of Place.
The first track on the album, “Tic-A-Toc,” is a great opener and sets the tone for the rest of the album; a slow build to the first chorus that introduces all the elements of the band. This instrumentation is not one that the average listener will encounter on their everyday music-going experience. The mandolin and the accordion bring a distinct feeling to the band’s vibe and musical structure, the shuffling drums carry the momentum of the track throughout, and syncopated lines between the band members provide a back and forth swaying motion (dare I say pendulum like?). “Tic-A-Toc” closes with a fantastic melodic line – with the male members imitating the ticking, and Eden, the lone female and lead vocalist, leading with “Ding Dongs.”
Throughout the record, Eden’s voice has the ability to rise above the instrumentals and then sits comfortably, meshing with the gents in harmony. The production is generally consistent over the course of the record, with the accordion in your left ear and the mandolin in your right.
One of my favourite tracks on the album is “Shakes and Rattles.” It starts stark with just the mandolin and the lead vocal. The reverb suggests a large empty space, bordering on cavernous. The pseudo-sloppiness of the drums works fantastically with the reverb, and this track marks, albeit briefly, the introduction of the flute for the first time. The climax comes when Eden’s voice returns in the chorus with “Shakes, Rattles, Shakes,” and the track denouements into black with a trailing cymbal.
(“I Refuse” – with Chris Ho)
Although the band is able to maintain a high level of energy on all of their tracks, I feel that the ones with drums backing them tend to be more cohesive and convey the style of the song just a bit more. A track like “I Refuse” would benefit from a solid beat behind it, as well as smooth fills in the syncopated bits where the music drops. A few tracks later, the band shows off their strict music talent doing a version of the “Pin Oak Reel.” Each member takes the lead, with Jeff on guitar and Eden on flute, while Alex provides some rather slick mandolin lines.
“Home By The Sea” provides a change of pace from the previous mainly upbeat tracks. The male vocals, provided by Alex, are a welcome variety, the lyrics describing a dwelling the title refers to. Swelling accordion and vocals combine for a captivating timbre as the percussion rises, causing the track to lean toward a bobbing motion while boomy drums rise, wave-like, which was one of the stand-outs for me on the album.
The album closes with what feels like the music that would be playing during the credits of the West My Friend movie. “Oh Future” is a blues and folk infused track with a crunchy piano that fits into the half-ragtime style of the song. It is definitely the perfect track to end the album.
West My Friend provides a great outing on their first full length album, Place, drawing inspiration from many different styles and showing off their ability to play create lush indie, emotional folk, with a bit of roots-twang here and there. The upbeat and downbeat tracks provide a fantastic contrast in sounds that the classically trained band is able to produce. If you wish Mumford and Sons had an accordion and a female lead singer, West My Friend is the band for you. You can pick up Placeon April 5th, 2012 from their website http://www.westmyfriend.com/apps/webstore/ or at their CD release show (featuring the Kovich String Quartet) at Hermann’s Jazz Club.
“IN A SEA OF LOVE, ONE SINGER SONGWRITER TRACKS MEANING BEYOND ‘YOU’”
I’ve been meaning to write about Amy’s album Cinnamon Heart for a long time now, (which you can get for free at http://www.amywood.ca) but never found the time to do so. So I’d like to show off and talk about her latest work. Amy helped us out for Music Track Day and her song “Symphony” is finished and being mixed by Jesse Bell, so stay tuned for that!
Amy’s current project is called “Not-Love Songs,” where she creates and records covers of songs that aren’t focused on love. Surprisingly, there are fewer out there than one would expect.
Each week previous had been someone else’s material, but for her latest release, Amy showed off an original track, “Universe.” Teaming up with Julia Gummo of Gumo Productions, Amy set out to create her first music video.
Now with “Not-Love Songs,” there are three things that we need to take into consideration:
- The Video
- The Song
- The Project
I think it would be better to look at all these parts individually, as opposed to clumping it together into one whole.
Starting with the song, Amy provides us with her signature style – her lone voice accompanied by her piano. Having heard Amy’s album, I feel that “Universe” is a pristine example of how Amy composes, writes and sings.
With quick arpeggios and bouncing bass notes making up the verses, the dynamic range of the vocal is captivating. Some lines are sung at a half-whisper, while some are sung quickly, the variation appealing to the ear. Amy’s voice rises above the piano and draws the listener in, especially after the second chorus into the bridge. A held note falls and then climbs pulling you into the ending of the song.
Amy’s style can draw comparisons to many of the female artists who base their music around a piano. Sara Bareilles immediately comes to mind for me, as the vocal liking and the piano both sound similar.
Next, let’s take a closer look at the video. There are a few things that immediately catch my attention, and not necessarily in a positive way. In a music video, it is very obvious when a musician is lip syncing with a song as opposed to having the audio being included in the video recording during the shooting process. I understand this is usually not possible and that lip syncing is the only feasable manner in which to record videos, but that’s the focal part for the viewer and it needs to be done spotlessly. In “Universe” there are a few moments where the song and the video don’t line up, and it makes the video seem unnatural.
The message of the video is spelt out for us, quite literally in fact, as we see the words “Follow your path” and “and let them talk” written out on scraps of paper. I like the stop motion effect during these parts as the papers travel. It adds congruency to the other stop motion style parts – particularly the bench scene. The synchronization between the piano line and the cutting frames also works at this point.
My favourite scene occurs at 1:45 when Amy is silhouetted on the blue sky backdrop. I think this scene works because of Gummo’s composition as well as the natural elements that create the natural universe Amy is singing about. The birds that fly through could not have been timed any better, and the visual element matches well with the sonic, creating a lovely scene.
The video as a whole seems to be built of a few parts – that don’t necessarily relate to each other.
- Amy singing on a mountain
- The words on paper
- The bench scene
- Some slow motion parts
I think it would have been nice if there was a unifying tie to these visual elements. Perhaps the words could have found Amy on the mountain – and she would have followed them down to the bench, where they get caught in the tire and she rides off into the distance. The video is just missing the glue in which holds together all the composite parts.
Lastly, the project as a whole is a unique experience, inspiring us to look into the music we listen to every day, and examine how much of that involves love. Songs in which a lover’s heart was broken, or a ballad preaching one’s undying love to whomever fill a majority of our musical libraries.
Amy defines a “Not Love Song” to be:
“[A] Song that doesn’t deal with ‘before you’ ‘you’ and ‘after you’ in a romantic way. I don’t think I’m gonna write-off songs about human connection…. The point is to level the subject matter playing field out there in the [musical] world.”
I am kind of embarressed to admit – but I’ve just looked up the entire track listing of Justin Bieber’s My World 2.0, and there is not one “Not-Love Song” on the entire album. This album is certified double platinum in Canada. I think Amy’s onto something here with this idea.
Already, Amy has covered “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Steer,” and, “Life is a Bowl of Cheeries.” Accompanying each song is another music video. So far, all videos have been live – using the sound from the actual performance, with “Universe” being the first to use a pre-recorded track. Amy’s fallen off her once-a-week upload schedule (and understandably so) to finish her music performance degree, but that doesn’t mean she’s given up. Hopefully we will get to see at least 40+ Not-Love Songs over the course of this year.
You can head over to her Facebook page and offer up your own suggestions for Not-Love Songs for Amy to cover! My pick was City and Colour’s “Happiness by the Kilowatt”.
It’ll be interesting to look back once this project is done and see how the videos have evolved and if Amy ever runs out of Not-Love Songs to play! I’ve started to look into my iTunes at all the music I have based on love, and this is just one more thing to add when listening critically.
Amy Wood has set out on an ambitious journey to show the world you can sing about more than love, and her song “Universe” is a perfect example of that. If you’re looking for a fresh take on popular, check out what Amy is doing with her “Not-Love Songs” project. See the other Not-Love Songs here!
(Update: Here’s Amy’s latest Not-Love Song, with West My Friend! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agsJlmTsBAg)
This post is going to outline 11 great artists I found in 2011. This does not mean that they had their first hit in 2011 or even their album was released in 2011 – I just discovered them this year. There’s no order – no music is better than the other – it’s just 11 bands I hope you might like!
- Childish Gambino: “EP” – AKA the amazingly talented Donald Glover, I discovered Gambino after watching Community. His raps are clever and well delivered. Lots of puns and good lines (“An elephant never forgets, so my dick remembers everything.”) I loved his music so much I did a cover or Freaks and Geeks and did my best to recreate Gambino’s style and flow.
Favourite Songs: Freaks and Geeks, My Shine
- Dan Mangan: “Oh Fortune” – Shown to me by a friend, Dan Mangan’s style is the folk/acoustic stuff that I really enjoy. His voice can be calming and haunting all at the same time and his songs incorporate a lot of different musical elements. Definitely worth checking out.
Favourite Songs: Oh Fortune, Post-War Blues
- Dance Gavin Dance: “Downtown Battle Mountain” – I found Dance Gavin Dance after searching Alexisonfire on Jango radio (similar to Pandora), the lead singer is part of a new band called Emarosa which I really enjoy. This is a lot heavier than the previous three entrees – but if you like melodic screamo with technical instrumentals, then you will like Dance Gavin Dance. They’ve got a large discography but are no longer a band (I think) so you’ll have lots of music to go through.
Favourite Songs: The Importance of Cocaine, And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman
- Jamie T. : “Sticks and Stones EP” – I picked up this CD at a random book and CD sale at school for $1. It’s definitely a stellar find. Jamie is a British artist whose music is light and go lucky. A mix between acoustic and rap, it’s an interesting blend between the genres.
Favourite Songs: St. Christopher
- Kimbra: “Vows” – By now, everyone has heard Kimbra in Goyte’s Someone I Used To Know, and after listening to both of their albums, Kimbra was the one that I enjoyed most. Her music is layered and thick, and her voice rises above all the production giving you something to grasp onto all the time. There’s a mix of pop, soul, and RnB on “Vows” – so a little bit of everything for everyone!
Favourite Songs: Cameo Lover, Two Way Street
- Klaypex: “Loose Dirt” – I don’t usually listen to dubstep/techno/electronic music. But this free album definitely caught my ears. I dunno really how to review it or whatever. But I enjoyed it!
Favourite Songs: Chinter’s Will, Rain
Macklemore: “The Language of My World” – One of the strengths of Macklemore’s music is his story telling ability. Most of his songs have a linear progression and try to send a message by the end. His flow is impeccable and the songs have you going along with him as he gets angry, sad or in love. He’s embraced his story and is working it.
Favourite Songs: Otherside, White Privilege
- Nicole Byblow: “Nicole Byblow Plays All The White Keys” – Hopefully you saw my review earlier of this CD, if not –>link<– . Nicole’s a great musician, singer and pianist, her songs are witty and she’s not afraid to drop an F-bomb or two here and there. She’s definitely worth checking out.
Favourite Songs: Things I Learned When I Worked At The Hospital, About A Lover
Reason: “Fools” – A band I’ve never heard of and randomly bought their CD in HMV, they turned out to be a hidden gem. Straight forward rock and roll
that leaves you with a good feeling when you turn it off. Don’t have to say much more than that.
Favourite songs: Where Do We Go From Here, Run, The Longest Highway Home
Tim Hecker: “Ravedeath, 1972″ – Another electronic CD, but more based on the ambient and slow developing side. It’s more a transformation of sounds than typical music. Hecker was nominated for the Polaris prize for his efforts and many in the contemporary music community also enjoy his work. He’s one of the only artists I’ve listened to first, and then found out that the contemporary music world likes him too.
Favourite Songs: In The Fog I, In The Fog II
Watsky: “A New Kind of Sexy Mixtape” – Along the lines of Childish Gambino, Watsky is a rapper with clever rhymes and songs with little to no message. Best known as the “Pale Kid Who Raps Fast” on YouTube, where his video has over 16 million views. He doesn’t rap that fast on the album, but you can definitely see he has the potential to do it. It’s fun music with wit.
Favourite Songs: Kidnap Your Boyfriend, Ten Fingers
The Rural Alberta Advantage
A Tribe Called Quest
Stars of the Lid
Of Monsters and Men
Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay – 2011 – EMI
With their fifth album, and latest since Viva La Vida… in 2008, Coldplay picks up where they left off in their experimentation from Viva. For people who enjoyed Coldplay of olde, with songs like “Yellow”, “The Scientist” and “Sparks”, I would advise you to immediately stop reading this review and go listen to A Rush Of Blood to the Head. You will not like Mylo Xyloto. The album blends styles of funk, dubstep, pop and almost everything in between for an interesting en-devour from this supergroup.
To start, the title Mylo Xyloto has come under quite a bit of scrutiny in the press even before its release. Martin, a man who has named his kids Apple and Moses, is quoted as saying
“It is pronounced My-low Zy-letoe… and even the lads admit the title doesn’t mean anything. Chris says: “At the moment it seems a bit ridiculous and I accept that. “Something about it feels quite fresh. The title doesn’t have any other meaning. I think we’re a band with a lot of history now so it’s nice to come up with something that doesn’t have any history at all. We’ve had that title for about two years on a board and any other potential titles had to be written next to it. Other ones made more sense but we just liked this one, that’s all we can defend it with.”
It seems to be pretention bordering on idiocy, which some might say is a decent way to describe the band as a whole, but one cannot dismiss the fact that they have created some powerful music for quite some time now.
The title aside, the album unfolds in a continuous manner, with songs blending into each other as is the style with CD’s for some time. What is unusual about the Coldplay CD is that they have a few shorter tracks that sort of divide the CD into three almost equal parts. These short tracks play as “soundscapes”, and show direct influence from producer Brian Eno. Eno is famous in the music world for his work with legendary bands such as U2 and David Bowie, as well as being the composer for the Windows 95 introduction sound. Eno’s background in electronic and ambient music has a large impact on the band’s overall sound and these smaller soundscapes.
Specifically speaking, a few tracks stand out against the rest, but there is nothing that feels like a stand-out hit. The first single “Paradise” quite nicely reflects the direction that Coldplay is heading. Lushly filled with strings and synths, the half-time tempo of this track just begs for a dub-step remix (Oh wait – they already exist! See the end of the video). This emphasizes the departure from the bare bones of what Coldplay became known for when they first emerged. With Eno’s production, it sometimes becomes hard to find the skeleton of the band beneath all the foliage of sound.
The track “Charlie Brown” stood out to me as a song that many who liked Viva La Vida will latch onto and enjoy. The similar four on the floor beat throughout makes for a driving song with a return to the guitar based tracks. The track ends with a nice little piano homage to the yellow striped character for which the track is named. If you listen closely, you can almost begin to hear the beginning of the “Christmas Time” song in Chris Martin’s final piano lines.
A track that feels like it’s off in a whole new direction is “Major Minus”. Once it broke into the meat of the song, I immediately felt like this should be a Red Hot Chili Peppers hit from the 90′s. The chunky guitars and the “Ooh ooh’s” just scream “Higher Ground” off of Mother’s Milk. “Major Minus” doesn’t have the same energy as the early Peppers did, but the song doesn’t suffer either.
Another foray into the synth driven pop world, and bound to be their next single, ”Princess of China” feat. Rihanna is the last stand out from the album. Mostly due to the combination of Martin’s and Rihanna’s vocals, which at times can seem over produced, this track catches the listeners ear. The bridge kind of lags on, but the energy is quickly brought back with a drop leading to the final chorus and hook.
Lastly, it pains me so much to listen to the song “Up In Flames”. The simple piano and vocal track is ruined by a digitized drum set. Martin’s reverberant vocals and harmonies would be so much better suited to a real drum set. When the strings, back-ups and guitar solo comes in, the drums move out of focus and the track finally sits in a really nice place. This track could have been a hidden gem without that drum sound. I think with a few more listens, it might grow on me and become my favourite number on the album.
To conclude, Mylo Xyloto is more so removed from the Parachutes, Coldplay’s first album, and much more similar to Viva La Vida. Hopefully this distinction helps people decide whether or not to pick up the album. It’s definitely worth a listen for its production and thick sounds and interesting experimentation on the band’s part. For those who want Chris Martin to just record himself at a piano singing, avoid this one.
And now for a dubstep remix of “Paradise” – as promised!
Nicole Byblow Plays All the White Keys by Nicole Byblow (Shiny Nickle Music 2011)
Manitoba born, British Columbia educated, and now calling Ontario home, Nicole Byblow brings a sound that all of Canada can love. The young singer/songwriter who is finding her footing in the national music scene has embarked on a tour to promote her latest CD, entitled “Nicole Byblow Plays All the White Keys.” She made a stop in Victoria where I saw her play and met with her to discuss music, school, life and even a little fashion. Nicole and her piano are packed and ready to go back east with a few more stops in the prairies before heading home.
Over the years, we have seen enough examples of “boys playing guitar”, and Nicole falls into the female opposition of “girls playing pianos” which seems to be a common theme in recent musical trends. Starting with Alicia Keys and Vanessa Carlton, this movement led the way for the likes of Sara Bareilles, Sarah Slean and more.
Slean is one of Byblow’s biggest influences for the career path she chose. The Canadian Juno-Nominated singer was one of the reasons Nicole started playing piano and writing songs when she was just 16. Luckily, Nicole was able to meet her other idol at the 2011 Juno Awards Dinner and Gala in Toronto in March of this year. The spontaneous introduction initiated by her sister and singer Matt Dusk left Byblow both wide-eyed and starstruck. It’s nice to know that even people who make CD’s and tour get a little speechless every once in a while.
When listening to Nicole’s music, you can immediately hear the impact of her influences in her vocal and piano stylings. Citing Ben Folds as one of her biggest inspirations, Nicole told me of how she spent many hours trying to learn his songs. When things weren’t going well, she would write to Ben via email. She assumed that her angry rants about the difficult of Folds’ songs went unheard, until she received a reply from an artist who has sold over 3 million records in his career spanning almost 2 decades. The two pianists continued emailing and eventually Nicole was invited to meet Ben at his show in Seattle. Fully expecting to be turned away at the door, Nicole was shocked when two tickets had been left under her name. The evening concluded with a conversation at the hotel bar where Folds was staying.
Now, I think this is enough background for you, what you’re really here for is to know what her CD is like and whether or not Nicole Byblow is worth a listen. But before I give you that answer, I’ll do my best to break it down for you.
Nicole Byblow Plays All the White Keys actually comes with one of the “Parental Advisory” stickers commonly found on albums from Eminem, NWA and 50 Cent. This is rather unexpected from the girl on the cover with a white background and staring at a red balloon. Nicole’s been described as “hyper-feminine” and “delicate” and for me; this is one of the first things that grabbed me about this music: Nicole’s unabashed attitude towards profanity is rather striking. When hearing her drop an “F Bomb” for the first time in a small coffee house on a rainy night in Victoria, I instantly looked up from whatever it was I was doing and started paying attention. Not many singer/pianists of this genre have the guts to swear on their records. You’ll never hear Sara Bareilles say “I don’t give a shit” about her former job in a hospital, but Nicole is unafraid to tell it as it is. She speaks the way in her songs the way she does in her normal life and that translates to her songs. She’s not trying to beat around the bush or use a clever metaphor to say she doesn’t care; she just doesn’t give a shit.
(Things That I Learned When I Worked in the Hospital)
My favourite track from the album is “Things I Learned When I Worked in the Hospital.” Starting with the toy piano, and the rolling drums chugging along, Nicole’s witty lyrics bring you a real insight to the life of a hospital. Lyrics like, “Patient confidentiality is of the utmost importance, but you’d be surprised how accessible that information is when you have to sweep the room it’s in”, are the kind of sarcastic backhanded lines that riddle this song. The chorus reminds us “who cares what we do in the mean time, it builds character doing the things we hate all our lives,” which, in out of context is rather quite depressing. But in the nature of the song, it’s understood that this is a sarcastic inflection of the songwriter and just an excuse for her to get through her shitty job. The bridge of this song builds follows the typical pattern of most pop songs, with one slight deviation. We have all come to expect the key change going into the last chorus of songs (think “You Raise Me Up”, “My Heart Will Go On”, etc.), and thankfully, Byblow doesn’t go this route with this song.
Once you get past the occasional expletive, the music itself is simplistic in its nature. All the songs only feature piano, drums and bass guitar, with the occasional splashes of violin and the toy piano from the CD cover. It’s Nicole’s song writing and melodies that stand out musically. Some of her lyrics are complex and compact, not unlike the rap counterparts who share her “Parental Advisory” sticker, which is juxtaposed by simple melodies and hooks that make the CD a treat to listen to. The track “February” has a particularly catchy “Ooh ah” section, that later features the range of Nicole’s vocal in the bridge.
Aside from the first single “They Didn’t Think So”, which Nicole describes as a song about what would happen if Jesus came and let every person on earth ask him a question about life, the lyrical content of the album is mostly what you would expect from the genre of girls playing piano. “A Song About A Lover” and “If I’m Lucky” may not have different thematic content, but are striking and beautiful in their own right. The production quality of the entire CD is superb. Ben Nixon, who was the bass player, recording engineer and co-producer of the album, did a fantastic job in a “garage turned studio” to produce The White Keys. I can only hear one minor slight throughout the whole album, but overall I have been impressed throughout.
You will be happy to know that Nicole does play in keys other than C major and A minor, utilizing more of the piano than the album title implies. I hate to use the buzz-word “up-and-coming” to describe Nicole and this album, as I think it gets thrown around too liberally these days, but I feel that you hipsters out there need to latch onto this girl so you can say that you liked her “before she was mainstream.” Byblow’s album is a melting pot of the fairy tale wonder of Cinderella, the epic storytelling of the Princess Bride, with just a sprinkle of Tarantino-esque profanity. If you love “girls with pianos” but are missing something with a little bit of an edge, Nicole Byblow Plays All the White Keys will be able to fill that void for you. No matter what kind of music you enjoy listening to, I would highly recommend this album for anyone (even if there is a Parental Advisory on it).
This is what Canadian music is all about and I look forward to everything else Nicole Byblow has to offer.
So this is the continuation of the previous post, but more what I really wanted to talk about and less about everything that’s been going on in my life.
Over the past week, I’ve been able to meet and talk with to some great people about this whole music thing in general. Last Wednesday I went to a coffee house show put on by a girl from my music classes. I have her CD and really enjoy her music (http://www.amywood.ca) and decided to go – especially since it was two blocks from my house and I was not going to be getting anything done that night. As you might have seen – I’m that guy who goes to concerts and music events by himself and so I brought my computer and sat at the back and tried to enjoy myself without seeming too awkward. Amy and I are friends on Facebook but not super close – mostly because us CombinedMusic/ComputerScienceKids are a weird breed that rarely permeate into the social culture of the Music kids (but this is another story for another time).
After Amy came Nicole Byblow (http://www.nicolebyblow.com/) and after the initial flub of the first song and the jitters were gone – she played a really good show and I thought her music was really quite good. Being the nerdy-awkward guy I am, I was tweeting at her while she was playing her show (it’s a good thing she’s a good musician and probably turned her phone off before hand). When she was done, I bought a CD and told her that she’ll see a bunch of tweets from me later. We ended up talking more and met for coffee later in the week. It was fun to talk with someone who has already established herself in the industry (a foot in the door is still a foot in the door).
Nicole mentioned reading this blog and she actually called it a “Music blog”, which I found kind of funny, since I haven’t really done anything super musical on this here for a long time. I’ve been in touch with a guy on Twitter who works for CTV, and he’s apparently sending me some CD’s to write reviews of – so hopefully that comes and I can start writing again. There were two main reasons I had for starting this blog almost two years ago, one was just writing a chronicle of my life – in case my memory fades quicker than I hope and I can always come back to see what I did, where I was, and who I was back then. The other reason was to write CD reviews for my university paper. I’ll probably start off with writing a review of Nicole’s album “Plays All the White Keys”, so look for that soon.
And if you’re one of these new people whose just found my blog – leave me a comment? Let me know what you think! This whole blog thing is a lot more fun when you guys interact.
I later spent the evening again with Amy and Nicole and their friends listening to them playing. Again, the awkward-music-computer-science-nerd effect kicked in for me. I recognized some of the people there, had classes with them, even worked on projects with them – and yet, I still didn’t feel like I fit in. Maybe that’s just me being paranoid, maybe that’s just me being awkward, but it’s a weird cliché-y situation. Nicole referred to it as being a “party” and I joked saying that “it better not be a bunch of people sitting around politely listening to people play the piano.” It was.
It wasn’t til the next day that I realized how special that is though. And how much I want to go to more of these kind of things. I was poking fun at one of our professors who does the same thing with his classical music friends – saying we were just like him. And we were, because it’s a collection of great people in a great place sharing their talents. And that’s something really cool and I’m glad I was apart of it – even if I was the socially awkward concert guy.
You should have already heard my favourite track from her CD; “Things I Learned When I Worked In The Hospital”, so here’s a video from Amy Wood!
So I guess it’s about time I stopped whining about writing this and actually got down to writing this.
It’s here. In the last waking hours of the last day of my summer, here I am, on my computer writing this blog in between games of Modern Warfare 2 on PS3, which is something I bought this summer. After playing it lots in my second year, and then finally getting a PS3 for Christmas last year, I’ve actually been able to play again! Still working on my first nuke on my own. I’ve only done it once before and come close multiple times, but no dice as of yet. For those of you who don’t know what MW2 or nukes are, don’t worry this whole blog won’t be about that.
Aside from that, I’ve stayed in Victoria most of the summer, with one short jaunt to Calgary for my Dad’s birthday. I surprised my Mom at her doorstep, and then my Dad downtown for lunch later. My mom cried twice that one day. Thanks to all my friends who made that one happen.
I also applied and didn’t get on a TV show this summer. It was called “Operation Unplugged” and it was basically taking techno-addicted people away from their addiction and seeing how they fared in the wilderness. I had the most viewed video on YouTube (for the audition videos) for a rap I wrote but didn’t get on the show. In the process of trying to show that I was techno-addicted, I started using Twitter a lot more. I went from about 30 followers of mostly friends and random spams to 90+ as of right now. I’m slowly learning how useful it is for networking, especially in my industry. Most producers and a lot of studios are on Twitter. I’ve met one guy who would be willing to give me an internship when I finish my degree and everything. So that’s really cool.
Operation Unplugged Video
I spent all the summer working. With my side job at the Gap and then doing all the recordings that came in through the school. I was basically the go-to guy for recordings this summer. Which led to my promotion as the Interim Audio Manager at the school right now, replacing my current boss for the semester as he takes his parental leave. This summer I worked on; ESL audio tapes, the soundtrack for a play, a guitar quartet, my own covers, and this audition tape. I also did live sound for 2 separate Indian concerts and recorded piano and sax, a piano feature and dual pianos. All in all it was a great summer for me and furthering my experience as a recording engineer.
With that being said, I designed and established http://jstasiuk.wordpress.com which is my website featuring all my work and my portfolio. It links directly with http://jstasiuk.bandcamp.com which is strictly my music portfolio. Both sites are currently under construction as I work to improve them and make it one seamless site – hopefully.
So I’m working hard to get my “brand” out there and promote myself. I’ve contacted a few other recording people and through volunteering at festivals like Rifflandia this fall, I hope to network myself more into this industry.
As most of all of you know, Harry Potter came out this summer! As most of you who actually read my blog probably know, I don’t actually like Harry Potter. I never got into the books and thus I was not interested in the movies. Well Girlfriend enjoyed the series and thus we commenced the HP movie marathon of the ages. We eventually watched all of them in preparation for the final installment. I think I enjoyed maybe 2 or 3 of them out of the entire 8. To me, it’ll never match up to Star Wars in terms of an epic saga. I guess it’s up there, but it’s definitely behind LOTR and Star Wars for me. HP7.2 was a satisfactory end to the series and I didn’t care enough to complain or dislike it.
Also in this summer, I bought myself a new computer! It had kind of been a long time coming as my laptop was slowly but surely living out it’s last legs. I bought myself a new 21.5″ iMac and now have quite the Apple collection. I still use my laptop for mobile recordings and Photoshop, but other than that, I’m officially a desktop guy. I think the set-up is pretty sweet. It definitely makes editing a lot easier with my two screens.
Girlfriend went away for the entire month of May, so I didn’t do a whole lot except bum around and work. I actually just went through my facebook page to see if there was anything else worth mentioning.
- Shotgunning a beer on the 16th hole of a private golf course
- The Oak Bay Tea Party with Girlfriend and Kath
- The Hunger Hush show in Calgary
- Naniamo with Jordo and Girlfriend
- Freaks and Geeks Cover –
I think that’s all for now. Not much else that really comes to mind. School starts tomorrow. First day of fourth year. I have the potential to finish this year, it’ll take me 11 classes. 5 first semester, and then 6 the second. And I’ll be taking a Ukrainian elective which will be pretty cool. Got rep’ for my heritage.
Hope you enjoyed this quick wrap up of the summer! Looking forward to much of the same in the fall!
If this gets 3 likes on any social media platforms I will write a post by the end of this week of my top 5 albums/songs/artists of the summer and what I’m looking forward to in the fall in terms of music!
- Ode to the Summer Cottage (daleymuse.wordpress.com)
- ALBUM PREMIERE: L.A. Up-and-Comers Grouplove (spin.com)
- The summer winds… (daisyfae.wordpress.com)
- Calgary mayor makes history as Pride Parade marshal (canada.com)
Well hello there, how are you doing today? Good? Then good.
Hopefully you have seen my video for Operation Unplugged and enjoyed my song. If you’re super duper interested – it can be bought off my bandcamp for $1 CDN. I’m not looking to make a lot of money but I think that’d be cool if SOMEONE out there bought it. Anyways, it’s that video that brings me to writing this blog. Maybe it was that video that brought you here – doubtful, but it’s a possibility. If you want to download the track and help me out – you can go here!
Looking back on that video – I wish I had made two versions, one with the intro and end bits, and one without. The one without would have just been my rap and that was that. I could show this video to my family and coworkers and stuff that I don’t really want involved in my online presence. Now that I’ve sent out that video to my parents, they’ve sent it to all my family, who are undoubtedly going to stumble upon this. I try quite hard to keep myself anonymous on the internet. I try not to connect my name to any of my accounts – twitter, this blog, etc. I have quite high privacy settings on my Facebook, I am unsearchable to anyone who isn’t a friend. All in all, I just don’t like having my name out there.
But now with this video, I can’t do that anymore. My parents know now I have this blog and a Twitter amongst other things, and not that that’s a bad thing, but these are places I go to write about without having to censor myself or what have you. I try to censor myself on Facebook and Twitter as is – just for professional reasons – you never know who might stumble across that. But this blog in particular is something I like to leave for ranting and raving about my life and what’s going on and what not. Where am I going to go to complain about stuff if I know the people I’m complaining about can read it? Isn’t that defeating the purpose? Do I have to set up another blog or something where I can go to post stuff and neglect this one (more so than I already do)?
In short, no. I am not going to set up anything else to have to censor myself here. Parents, if you’re reading this and don’t like what you read? Tough – don’t come to me about it, if I didn’t bring it up with you to deal with it, then I don’t want to deal with it. That’s that. So I’m going to try and keep this as a safe-haven for me. Seeing as not that many people come here anyways – it shouldn’t be a big deal.
I’m actually really starting to come around to using Twitter a lot more. Since I’ve upped my usage lately, I’ve been in contact with people all over that you wouldn’t normally come in contact with. I asked Matt Good a question one morning, I got a shout out from the host of Operation Unplugged about my video, I’ve contacted two studios in Vancouver, one would give me an internship once I’m done my degree, and the other would give me a tour of their space if I was ever in town. So that’s been really cool.
Anywho, in other news, Girlfriend got home from Europe on Saturday. It’s been quite nice having her around again. Living alone is definitely not something I enjoy too much. Her schedule is still really wonky – this is the first day she hasn’t slept for about 14 hours – so we’re still kind of adjusting. She went to bed at 8 tonight and I’ve been up playing video games and watching YouTube videos and writing this blog. We did have a long day out and about today just hanging out – so that was really nice. I’m gonna be cracking the whip on her a little harder too now that she’s home. Things need to be cleaned and put away in a more timely fashion and I’m just not going to let as much stuff slide as I usually do when she’s got school and stress and what have you. No more Mr.NiceGuy.
I suppose I need to take a photo of myself with my new glasses for here – since I still haven’t done that. I’m actually getting a new new pair sometime this week since the guy who cut my lenses did a terrible job, and the technician at the glasses store said they’d just re-do them entirely for me. So that’s really great, it just takes a while because I have such shitty eyes. I’d like to try my old ones on for a day and actually see if the new ones make a huge difference. Sometimes I wonder if they actually did anything or not. Except my new ones are cut in such a way that switching really gives me a bad headache.
allas has put out. I’ve kind of drifted away from C&C since I met him at the AOF meet and greet, but this new album is quite good. I’ve actually pre-ordered it twice – once in a hard-copy and once digitally (with 4 extra tracks) - I would have preferred just to do the digital, but I ordered the hard copy first. Oh well. I also just started listening to the new Matthew Good album – the few tracks I’ve heard so far are really good! The new Moby has yet to grow on me though…
So with June 1st starting as of right now – the day literally just turned over as I write this – I am going to be starting a 30 day challenge. I got this idea from Phillip Defranco – one of the most famous YouTubers, who I’m subscribed to. The idea is that you set a goal and focus on it for one month. At the end of that month you assess and move on from there. My Project30 is going to be packing a lunch for work. And I know it’s not a big goal or whatever, but I’m really starting to notice a dip in my spending money from buying stuff from the food court every time I go in to work. It’s at least $10 maybe $15 a day. I usually justify it by saying “it’s only one more hour of work” – but really, that’s $50 a week (at least) that I could be saving. I’m going to be trying some new recipe ideas and keep it more interesting than just ham and cheese sandwiches all day. I somehow managed to survive on that everyday in junior/high school, so I think I can do it again. At the beginning of each week – or whenever I have a day off, I’m going to make a whole bunch of sandwiches and have them in the freezer so I can just pull one or two out and bring them to work. I think I might do pasta’s and salads that I can microwave or keep cold too. I’m going to try and keep my progress updated here and do my best to stick to it!
I think that’s enough for one night, if you stuck through til the end of this, here’s that photo I promised! Hurray.
- Iran Plans to Unplug Internet, Create Its Own (newser.com)
- Matt Good’s bittersweet symphony (canada.com)
- Social media case study: How ” nobodies ” become famous on the Internet by standing out using their outgoing personalities and their communicational skills: the Philip DeFranco case (ajmstudents.wordpress.com)
Go listen to my latest project with the Chris Ho Show. It was all recorded over one night at my recital hall. Let me know what you think!
So tonight I went to the Hey Rosetta! concert, and I was a little apprehensive at first, as I was going alone and the night seemed like it wasn’t going to turn out great. But boy was I wrong.
I’m going to try and write as much of this as I can now before I forget it all, so here goes.
The indie darlings of Canada were nominated for the Polaris Prize last year and are riding high off the release of their newest album. Seeds came on out the 15th of February, and the band is currently touring to promote the new tunes. Seeds has been rumored to be the one that is their breakout; the one that gets noticed and is the final step to international stardom. Personally I don’t agree with this. I think that Into Your Lungs, the band’s sophomore album is more rounded and balanced record. Not that Seeds isn’t up to snuff with what is to be expected from Hey Rosetta!, I just prefer Into Your Lungs.
And this band knows how to put on a good show. It was probably one of the best I have seen in the past few years, if not in my life. Their sound is impeccable and their presence immaculate.
It’s not just the mass amount of people on stage: with usually two, sometimes three guitars, a bass, piano, cello, violin, viola and drums. There is a lot of sound produced by this band. And it’s their balance and reign of that power that which makes them a great band. Although the live settings doesn’t allow for the best mixture of sounds, it still exists and is a wonderful thing when you can hear it. There are plenty of moments like in “I’ve been Asleep for a Long, Long Time” where you think the song is about to end and the lights fade, and then the back is back in with a huge last chorus.
Hey Rosetta! is one of the only bands in this day in age that I know that really uses dynamics effectively. Their range of volumes is captivating and are a huge drawing factor for me. In particular “There’s An Arc” has a perfectly executed crescendo through the first 2 and a half minutes of music. Another thing about Hey Rosetta! that strikes me is their sheer musical talent. The cellist, sometimes holding his cello with his knees, guitar around his neck playing chords and then switching back to the bow and playing with the strings in the same song is awe-inspiring. The string players themselves are very skilled and use extended techniques to extend the musical lines. The band as a collective also has the ability to nail syncopated lines and complex off-beat rhythms that shatter the typical four-to-the-floor beats of the Top-40 today.
But the biggest and most important thing about Hey Rosetta! that makes them a great band to see live, is that they look like they’re enjoying and really feeling the music. Tim, the lead singer appears almost in pain singing some of the lyrics and the rest of the band is moving and reacting to each other. As the band came out for a 3 song encore, playing a moving rendition of “Time After Time“, the sparklers came out as well. A feat that I have never seen done at a live show probably had the security guards shitting their pants, was a homage to the band’s video for “Yer Spring” and a nice way to end the evening.
If you haven’t already heard Hey Rosetta!, I highly recommend you give some of their songs a listen and hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
- In a new music world, Hey Rosetta! rises to the occasion (theglobeandmail.com)
- Hey Rosetta! is full steam ahead (arts.nationalpost.com)
Man, I want this book so bad. Christmas? I hope so!
On his 2003 song Public Service Announcement, Jay-Z delivered his now-signature opening line: “Allow me to reintroduce myself …” Of course, that’s precisely what he’s done on nearly every song in his autobiographical back catalogue – and the 40-year-old rapper does so again with his first book, Decoded.
Decoded, by Jay-Z, Spiegel & Grau, 317 pages, $40
Fans already know the basics, but Decoded clearly has outsiders in its sights. Born Shawn Carter in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighbourhood, and raised in its notorious Marcy housing project, Jay-Z spent his early years as a crack dealer – or as he’d say, hustler. That stint on the corner, with rocks in pocket and gun at hand, became fodder for his hip-hop arsenal. Later, his business successes – Forbes magazine clocks Jay-Z’s worth at $450-million – would provide boastful counterpoint to his grimy origin stories.
After 11 albums so detailed that the song December 4th even revealed his birth weight (“10 pounds, 8 ounces”), an actual autobiography could have been redundant. So the beautifully illustrated Decoded functions more as a meta-memoir. Jay uses his story and rhymes to trace not only his ascension from the streets to arenas and boardrooms, but also hip hop’s growth from New York’s boroughs to global phenomenon and his generation’s journey from crack to Barack.
Using a nonlinear narrative technique learned from Quentin Tarantino films, Jay skips haphazardly across his timeline: witnessing murders “like something out of a mob movie”; chatting up Bono and Bill Clinton in a backroom bar; Caribbean video shoots with Biggie Smalls; performing to 180,000 at Britain’s Glastonbury Music Festival; his divorcing parents divvying up their R&B albums; watching his wife Beyoncé sing during Obama’s inauguration.
But Decoded’s ground zero is always the Reagan-era arrival of crack, which turned ghettos into “battlefields” seemingly overnight. Jay-Z describes the period as “life during wartime,” and explains how hip hop saved him and black America. “Rap took the remnants of a dying society,” he writes, “and created something new.”
Without glorification or apology, Jay writes that hustling is the “ultimate metaphor for the basic human struggles: the struggle to survive and resist, the struggle to win and to make sense of it all.” As Decoded’s title suggests, the latter is his primary motive and the most interesting feature is its annotated songbook.
Ironic for a rapper famous for never writing down rhymes – Jay-Z inherited a photographic memory from his absentee father – Decoded prints his lyrics so they can be deconstructed as poetry. Allusions are unpacked, slang deciphered, references revealed, homonyms, metaphors and internal rhyme schemes noted and, occasionally, the words themselves are bemusedly dismissed as “ignorant.”
If Jay has often come off smarter than his street rhymes, then those rhymes now seem smarter, too, thanks to these fleshed-out footnotes. (Actually, Decoded would have benefited from a greatest-hits compilation).
Jay’s life actually gets less-intensive scrutiny than his lyrics – expect no tabloid fodder on his superstar wife or rap feuds – but he includes enthralling anecdotes, ranging from seeing his first freestyle rapper at the age of nine and his only post-fame arrest (“they loaded me into the back of a cruiser like a prize catch”) to privately meeting candidate Obama and a triumphant club performance with Young Jeezy of their song My President is Black.
Decoded’s gripping yet matter-of-fact flow confirms Jay’s status as consummate storyteller and cultural chronicler. But its thoughtful politics – calling out government complicity with the crack and gun epidemic, discussing the impact of endemic poverty, explaining what Hurricane Katrina meant to the black community – makes his general failure to be a similarly politicized voice on record stand out, even with this book-length argument that hard-core rap is political because it opened America’s eyes to the inner-city struggle.
Still, Jay does write “for hip hop to grow to its potential and stay relevant for another generation, we have to keep pushing deeper and deeper into the biggest subjects and doing it with real honesty.” So perhaps we can check back on Decoded’s inevitable sequel.
Good song, good cd.
I just have to post this because I love music and Lego. It’s too bad that they’re mostly Beatles albums.
21 Awesome Lego Album Covers (PICS) | Maxim.com.
I recently spent a very late night watching The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I guess the caffeine coursing my veins helped me understand the movie. I remember trying to watch it once before, and just could not grasp the concept, but that night everything was clear. So yeah, I thought it was a great movie! Moved up into one of my favourites, great cute ending. And there’s one line right at the end that’s like “Meet Me at Montauk.” And I had seen it somewhere before, and the name Montauk has come up a lot in the music I listen to. There are three bands in particular, Bayside, Circa Survive and Brand New/Straylight Run.
The Straylight Run reference is very obscure and random. But it was the first time I had heard the name actually pronounced correctly. But the other two probably have a deeper connection to the movie. I know for a fact that the Circa Survive song is based on the movie (Clearly because the title of the song is a direct quote from the movie Dur.), and I am not sure about the Bayside one, but I can hazard a guess that it was also written after seeing the movie.
I just think that this is really cool that bands/songwriters/musicians can take inspiration from things like a movie, and write a song about it. It’s almost like an inside joke between the band and their audience, and until you see the movie, you’re on the outside. So for me, watching this movie at like 4 in the morning, and then realizing that this song that I had been listening to all these years is actually FROM the movie, you kinda have that moment, and from then on, you’re on the inside.
It makes you wonder what other songs are written in tribute, or about movies. And not in a blatant way, but kind of pay homage to the style and essence of the movie itself. I know that Bayside and Circa Survive are maybe a little more aggressive than Eternal Sunshine, but they do bring out the eerie and darker moments of them movie.
This is Bayside’s Montauk:
This is Circa Survive’s Meet Me in Montauk:
And now I am going to download more Circa Survive and Bayside! Look for it in my twitter feed @GoListenTo – and follow me if you want to! </endShamelessPlug>
Have a good night! May you always be in my memories.
So I’ve been getting more flack on the Sick Puppies fan forum about my review for their CD.
So this is fun! I’m kind of enjoying being this bad guy who ‘hates’ on their band with no valid opinion and no taste in music. So I decided to listen to this album for a second time and see if I was wrong in what I said in my first review. With all my new insight on this band and that they’re not actually this soft rock band that I had originally expected them to be, I was willing to see if my opinion had changed at all.
Granted this is probably what Sick Puppies fans want. A CD with tracks very similar to each other and what they’re used to. Fair enough. I recently picked up the new Secret and Whisper album, Teenage Fantasy, and a lot of the songs on that CD are very similar to their first. And many songs on that CD are very similar to each other. So I’m not saying that songs that sound the same are a bad thing if that’s what you want.
For me, when I pick up a CD I try and come into it and give it a good representation of what I think it is in a whole. I am looking to hear something new, something different and something that stands out from everyone else. And I didn’t hear that on this Tri-Polar album. I heard a variation of a form in many of these songs. The same form that almost every band these days follows – Verse Chorus Verse Chorus Bridge Chorus. Every musician and popular music enthusiast knows this same form. Comparable to Sonata form of the Classical Era, everyone these days does it. It’s what makes a catchy consistent pop song. And a catchy consistent pop song makes money. Period. And this doesn’t stand out from the crowd. Which is why this album fell by the waste-side for me.
So there are a number of good songs on the album, and the three-piece band is comprised of great musicians. I am impressed with their musicianship, particularly the bass lines – usually more than just eight notes of the chord. But there’s nothing that stands out! Each chorus feels like it drops into half time and each verse has some kind of guitar riff, comparable to that of Billy Talent. To me it just got boring. Plain and simple. I decided to look through all the lyrics too. Regarding the Explicit Content sticker which I think was unnecessary. I found one use of profanity and maybe two songs that involve “Explicit Content” – involving sex. Now, this sticker was brought into effect with the NWA’s CD Straight Outta Compton and I just think it’s distributed a little to freely these days. Songs about life don’t automatically make them explicit, I could name hundreds of songs about life that are able to make their point without being explicit.
It may be because I am not a particular fan of this kind of music. Because to me, it all sounds the same. Breaking Benjamin, Seether, Default, Nickelback, etc etc etc. Everyone lumps those bands together, and I hope that Sick Puppies, if they reach a larger audience and larger reign of stardom don’t fall into the same category. But unfortunately, I have no reason to believe that they won’t. But apparently their fans love them long time. So we’ll see.
Now speaking of these fans. Crazy sorts. I feel kind of insulted that my review was considered half-assed. As I said earlier I try and give a good representation of the CD on a whole. That’s not including the back story of the band and not including what they’ve done previously. It does help when you try to chart the progress of the band. I feel that when you’re trying to write for a certain audience – in my case, university students – you have to write a certain way and give them something that they can relate to. Now the majority of students at my university – in Canada – have probably never heard of Sick Puppies and if they have, it’s going to be from the Free Hugs/All The Same video. So that’s what they could relate to. I said if this is what you like, you’ll enjoy it. If not avoid it. It’s a pretty fair and general review, and I think that if you (being all you Sick Puppies Fans out there who didn’t appreciate my review) were to read my review from an unbiased point of view, say if my review was for a different band (which is you weren’t half-assed and did some “research” and realized I did OTHER reviews) you will see my point. A bad or sub-par CD deserves an equal review, not for the views on a blog. One doesn’t write a CD review for his university newspaper for the views.
Well fans, if you got this far, thanks for reading. Thanks for all the nice comments about me and my musical styles. I’m looking forward to my plane ticket to Australia to see the band live – which I’ll requires a review on entirely different circumstances.
Is this lie worth defending?
Close your eyes cover your ears,
Shut your mouth.
You can act naive
But I know you’re not stupid.
(“In It For Life” – Sick Puppies – Tri-Polar – 2009)
(UPDATE: See my newest defense after a flurry of posts from the Sick Puppies Fans. Click here!)
So I did a review of a Sick Puppies CD, Tri-Polar, way back last summer. I found out recently that it ended up on the Sick Puppies fan forum. They didn’t really enjoy it that much. Saying that I’m a “crippled old fart” and apparently a female.
I find this pretty funny. I think that my review is a fair assessment of that CD and discussed it thoroughly. I will admit that the only song I’d ever heard of theirs was “All The Same” and that’s what I was expecting and based the review off of. Maybe if I were getting paid to do these reviews, I’d put a little more research into the music before I started. But nyeh. Not too choked about it.
It’s cool to see that people from all over the world are reading my reviews via my blog. And not surprising that they didn’t like it. I probably wouldn’t like it if someone bashed an Alexisonfire or City and Colour CD, so I will give them that. In my defense, I think I do have good tastes in music and I can definitely tell when all the songs on a CD sound similar and have little variation.
So to all you Sick Puppies fans out there, thanks for reading and enjoying!
I’ve put the link to the forum below. Take a look!
I just spent the past 10 minutes googling myself. There were no links to any of my blog/facebook/photos/anything other than my CD reviews for the Martlet.
This is a good thing. I hate the feeling that someone out there (a potential boss) may be learning everything there is to know about me from my blog before we even meet.
Luckily there’s a XXXXX XXXXXXX who rides horses somewhere in Texas. So all his stuff comes up first.
Me – One. Google – Nothing.
Here’s a list of the major winners from the Grammy Awards last night, stolen from the GlobeandMail.
- Album of the Year: Fearless, Taylor Swift
- Song of the Year: Single Ladies (Put A Ring On it), Beyonce Knowles
- Record of the Year: Use Somebody, Kings of Leon
- New Artist: Zac Brown Band
- Pop Vocal Album: The E.N.D., The Black Eyed Peas
- Female Pop Vocal Performance: Halo, Beyonce Knowles
- Male Pop Vocal Performance: Make It Mine, Jason Mraz
- Rock Album: 21st Century Breakdown, Green Day – This is a terrible album that should not have won. Stupid Greenday.
- Rock Song: Use Somebody, Kings of Leon – This is pretty impressive considering they were up against the likes of U2, Coldplay and Greenday.
- R&B Album: BLACKsummers’night, Maxwell
- R&B Song: Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It), Beyonce Knowles
- Rap Album: Relapse, Eminem
- Rap Song: Run This Town, Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West – This is tough because Girlfriend and I are having an argument over who is better, Jay-Z or Eminem. I’m on Jay-Z’s side. They both won two Grammy’s last night.
- Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: Run This Town, Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West
- Country Album: Fearless, Taylor Swift
- Female Country Vocal Performance: White Horse, Taylor Swift
- Male Country Vocal Performance: Sweet Thing, Keith Urban,
- Latin Pop Album: Sin Frenos, La Quinta Estacion
- Contemporary Jazz Album: 75, Joe Zawinul&The Zawinul Syndicate
- Dance Recording: Poker Face, Lady Gaga - Lady Gaga wins two Grammy’s as well. Interesting
- Electronic Dance Album: The Fame, Lady Gaga
- Alternative Music Album: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Phoenix – I am so glad to see this album one. I’ve been listening to it over the past couple of weeks and it is fantastic.
- Classical Album: Mahler: Symphony No. 8; Adagio from Symphony No. 10
- Traditional Gospel Album: Oh Happy Day, various artists
- Spoken Word Album: Always Looking Up, Michael J. Fox - WHAT?! Michael J. Fox spoken word? Weird.
- Comedy Album: A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! Stephen Colbert
The rest of the winners are kind of expected. The nominee’s weren’t that strong in every category. It’s weird that the Grammy’s accepts music put out from October 2008 – August 2009. Such old music.
One album that isn’t mentioned on that list is Booker T. Jones “Potato Hole”, I have this CD to review and will probably try and get that done sometime in the coming week.
As usual Lady Gaga was wearing ridiculously crazy outfits with plenty of ‘costume’ changes. She even got to play with Elton John as the opening number. That would be a pretty amazing experience. I think Lady Gaga and Elton John should get married. They’d have some interesting kids. Too bad he’s gay. I mean, check out the earrings on this guy.
I didn’t watch the show on TV at all, but I did happen to catch Greenday’s performance of 21 Guns which I thought was particularly terrible. I miss old Greenday. Taylor Swift won 4 awards. Too bad Kayne didn’t come ruin her speech this time. I heard he just finished his community service.
Victoria has already heard a lot of Sunday Buckets. They were the October Band of The Month for the Zone 91.3 radio station, and they played on Boxing Day down at Sugar. These six guys have jumped on the scene trying to get their name out. You can find them on Myspace, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. “In Case You Hear This” is their first album that was dropped in early July of this year.
The first track, “Aftermathematics” is a catchy pop-like tune that immediately draws your mind to Death Cab for Cutie. Sunday Buckets has a unique make-up as five out of the six members contribute vocally. In the bridge section of Aftermathematics there seems to be a small spoken word/rap vocal line, which provides a good contrast to the rest of the song.
Most of the songs on “In Case You Hear This” are very mellow and easy to listen to. The third track, “Garfunkel” incorporates the classic Mr.Rogers phrase “It’s a wonderful day in the neighbourhood/Won’t you be my neighbour?” With unique elements like that, each song gives you something new to listen to and enjoy in its own right.
Sunday Buckets does the mellow relaxing song very well, almost too well. “In Case You Hear This” needs something heavier. “Kenny the Kid” is close with a great buildup into the first chorus, but as soon as it hits, the song falls flat and all that energy is gone. I’m left here groaning wanting that huge heavy chorus!
Overall the CD sounds great and is produced very well. Sunday Buckets has definitely found their niche in the soundscape of today and are definitely a band to keep an eye on. Pick up this CD or see them live to experience one of Victoria’s newest indie hits featuring a lot of local talent.
*P.S. My roommate just showed me this, but when you plug this CD into iTunes, it incorrectly labels the title of the album, “In Case You Here This”.
The third record from Halifax’s In Flight Safety was released earlier this year. The band will be playing on Granville Island during the Olympic festivities come February. The Canadian foursome had the first single of this album, Model Homes, featured on the great Canadian teen sitcom Degrassi in early November.
Right off the top, the band brings on their not-so-unique sound. Take a cross between Coldplay, the Killers and a splash of any other pop-rock male vocal led band and put them in a blender. The result would be In Flight Safety.
The first track, I Could Love You More, is not a great way to start off a record. The band chooses to use grandiose harp runs to usher the listener into the chorus. It’s almost impossible to tell if they just found the harp tone on their keyboard and really wanted to incorporate that into a song.
Tracks like Amy Racina and Big White Elephant are soothing enough that one could probably fall asleep to the music. CloudHead is a little bit more upbeat but nothing substantial enough to make you want to get out of your seat.
Upon reading the track list on the back of the disc, one will notice that track 9 is entitled “Paperthin II” while the track after is “Paperthin”. Maybe the band wanted to pull a Star Wars move and put out the sequel before the original. Who knows; all in all, Paperthin II turns out to be a minute and a half waste of time. It could have just gone on the end of the first track and no one would have cared.
“We Are an Empire, My Dear” is nothing special. For those out there who enjoy the soft comforting rock and pop of the bands like Coldplay but not the indie aspect of Joel Plaskett, In Flight Safety would be the perfect fit.
Doing a Google search for this band you will find out: how to sneak alcohol onto a cruise ship, what the drink “rum runner” is, and that a rum runner is someone who snuck alcohol into Canada during the 1900’s. Once you do find the band, you’ll find their poorly crafted, un-maintained website. This five-piece band, with a combined age of at least 150, seems less like a professional band and more like a group of guys with some talent, and a little extra cash to make a CD.
One nice feature of this CD is the drink suggestions. In the liner notes, each track has a different suggested drink. Including, champagne, a keg of Anchor Steam, and a lukewarm 40 oz of Olde English, Rum Runner definitely just wants to get you drunk (maybe they think it might make their record sound better).
Image aside, and focusing on the music, it’s a blend of punk and rock and roll, with a splash of folk and Celtic. Traditional tunes such as “The Leaving of Liverpool” and “You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond,” are classics that you’ll probably hear down at Irish Times.
The rest of the songs have a little more weight and power in them. Rum Runner immediately reminds me a little bit of Rancid, except without the whole hardcore punk rock edge. The title track, which should be accompanied with Monthelie, is a fairly standard song from a fairly standard band.
Rum Runner can be summed up just as that: a fairly standard Celtic/rock/folk band. You would be better off passing them up for a Rancid CD and a 40 of Olde English.
Saint Alvia is one of the first bands I’ve heard that combines the screaming element of bands like Alexisonfire but a funky almost ska element of Sublime, and at times sounding like the Offspring.
It’s upbeat, thumping beats and twang of the guitar of the title track get you into the music pretty quickly. The chorus of this song sums up the band fairly well: “You gotta read between the lines, if you wanna follow me/I lead these streets of mine, with four letter words and hollow deeds.”
The highly stylized sextet from Burlington, Ontario is currently touring Europe after a small set of dates with acoustic shows across Canada. One stop included Chinook Mall in Calgary. Why a band would ever want to play a mall is beyond me, but to each their own.
Saint Alvia is able to have a good mix of styles on Between the Lines. The track “Trouble Keeps Me Busy” is a slower, mellower tune, which is quickly followed by the upbeat “Romeo.”
Between the Lines is a well-rounded CD from a socially conscious band. They’re stylistic mix provides an enjoyable listen for the average music listener.