well damn!

Favourite Albums of 2008

I thought I’d write a little entry about 3 of my favourite albums of 2008. For me, there was one clear release that was hands down my absolute favourite of the year, and then there were quite a few other albums that I enjoyed a lot.

Parc AvenuePlants & Animals – Parc Avenue
I was unsure of this album at first, Bye Bye Bye is such a stand out track, and the rest of the album differs so much, it’s a lot more elegant and less anthem-esque. But then I saw P&A at LOLA, and the album immediately clicked with me. There’s so much instrumentation on this album, and some great arrangements. It’s quite incredible that three guys can capture what they recorded with a pocket-ful of musicians, on stage. Every song is a little orchestral movement. It’s a bit post-rock, and a bit neo-classical and I love it.
Favourite track: Mercy

Red, Yellow & BlueBorn Ruffians – Red, Yellow & Blue
This is one catchy album. Born Ruffians create the most complicated sort of simple music. Guitar, bass and a drum, what more do you need? Red, Yellow & Blue was easily the soundtrack to my summer, it’s upbeat, fun, a bit silly and tight. The drumming on this album is unbelievable! My heart is won over by their intricate rhythms, jerky melodies and sporadic harmony. I read somewhere that Luke (the lead singer) tries to model his voice after his opera singing sister, I think it’s quite effective!
Favourite track: Kurt Vonnegut

Into Your LungsHey Rosetta! – Into Your Lungs
(and around in your heart and on through your blood) I’m sure I’ve mentioned this album numerous times through out the blog and that’s because it is hands down my favourite release of 2008. Like Parc Avenue, the instrumentation on this album is fabulous and each song is like a little movement, and like Red, Yellow & Blue the melodies are terribly memorable. The best part about this album is it tells a story. Tim Baker has an interesting method of unraveling it, and I’ve spent undefined amounts of time trying to (unsuccessfully) reconstruct it.
I can’t pick one favourite track, but if you were going to listen to just one, I’d say listen to A Thousand Suns

Live Shows: A Summary
December 26, 2008, 10:27 pm
Filed under: 2008, Live Show | Tags: , , ,

I felt like I should write this down, and what better place than here? Bands I’ve seen this year, in chronological order.

GOB @ Call The Office
Winter Gloves @ the Alex P Keaton
Constantines w/ Castlemusic, Attack in Black @ CTO
Said the Whale @ CTO
Constantines w/ Arkells, Paso Mino @ Fanshawe
Holy Fuck w/ Plants & Animals @ Victoria Park (LOLA Festival)
Constantines @ UWO (Flick Off)
Ladyhawk w/ Shotgun Jimmie, Attack in Black @ CTO
Constantines w/ Tropics @ CTO
Moneen (Acoustic Set) w/ Michou, Songs From A Room @ CTO

Yup, I saw the Constantines four times this year, and Attack in Black twice. I think I may be stalking the Cons, but I mean, it’s not my fault they play London so often! The last time I saw them was easily one of my favourite shows of the year. But I think the Moneen show comes out on top. What an awesome super-fantastic excellent way to end the year.

16 bands in 12 months, not bad for a poor lowly applied math student!

Acoustic Moneen Show @ CTO
December 20, 2008, 2:01 pm
Filed under: Live Show | Tags: , , , ,

Erik and KennyOnce again, Devyn and I ventured over to Call the Office with our friend Evan for one last musical hoo hah of 2008. Moneen are easily of one my favourite acts to see live, they have such a great stage presence, are very entertaining and put on a tight show. Last time I saw them was Cutting Edge in August of 2007, and if you account for the fact that Call The Office is one of their favourite venues, I was pumped to see them again!

Windsor, Ontario band Michou opened the show with acoustic anthems and folk ballads, setting the tone for Moneen’s acoustic set. I was impressed with how comfortable these guys seemed on stage for an opening band. Michou reminds me of Backseat Goodbye meets Death Cab with more clever instrumentation. The drummer played a wooden box, I’m sure the wooden box has a real name, but it was pretty awesome. Needless to say enough of an impact was made that the lead singer and his former roommate managed to sell me their LP Myshkin. Don’t tell them I’m a sucker for merch tables.

Next up were Songs From A Room hailing from Toronto, who quickly reminded us all that Moneen are a rock band at heart and we should never forget that. These guys were amazing, they had a great energy and their set was fairly tight. If I go on about them all I’m going to say is how awesome they were and that would be redundant. So, all I’m going to say is they need an NMC page, and if you love heavy rock, check these fellows out.

In between sets I discovered Devyn (who wore a Moneen sweater to the show by accident) is a closet stalker (she tried to push me into Hippy not once, but twice) and we went to the merch table (that Kenny and Erik were running) many many times. But we did find out quite a few interesting things.

  1. They are recording the new album in Toronto, though they’re taking a bit of a break for the holidays
  2. The short film Kenny made that appears in It All Started With A Red Stripe was made when he was in grade 11. He also told us when he was converting the film from analog to digital the machine started to eat some of the tape a few minutes in so he had to try to convert from the beginning again. When he gave it to the guy to put on the dvd he asked him to remove that first bit and only use the version that goes all of the way though. Obviously the guy didn’t because if you watch it, you end up watching the first 5 minutes twice haha.

During these Merch visits we (and by we I mean me via Devyn) requested “Panthers and Polar Bears” which received as I expected, a big laugh. It’s a song from a children’s compilation Somebody Needs a Timeout. On a side note, who asks Moneen and Propaghandi to do children’s music? Christine Fellows and Hayden I can understand, but Moneen? Moving on…

HippyEventually Moneen hit the stage. Kenny and Hippy on acoustic guitars, and Erik played an acoustic bass. They whipped out old classics, fan favourites and new stuff. They even played the first 10 seconds of “Panthers and Polar Bears” after a tiny bit of heckling. Kenny went on to explain that the only reason they wrote the song was because he wanted to say Banana Bah-nahnah in a song ahahahaha.

The new stuff sounds amazing. It’s lyrically thought-provoking and the music sounds very fresh. Their album will be well worth the wait. Kenny tried to calm the rowdy crowd down when he pulled out really quiet songs and I think eventually it worked, somewhat. Haris (their techie, honourary 5th member) had cut his hand in Brampton so he was in the hospital and couldn’t make it to the show, alas Kenny dedicated “There Are A Million Reasons…” to Haris and Hippy’s failed relationship? It was comical to say the least haha. They brought out Lucas (the guy who played the box in Michou) to accompany them, and it turned out really great! They also managed to get the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to Erik who turned 30, he looked rather embarrassed but I think he secretly enjoyed it.

Once Moneen finished their set, the crowd waited for Kenny to come back on stage to get his bag before demanding an encore, it was actually really random and strange, but they pulled out “Passing of America”, and it was craaazy. Hippy brought a drum into the middle of the crowd and got a random to play it while they finished the song. I can’t imagine how awesome it must have felt for the band as performers to be leading this moment.

All in all, I’m going to remember this show as the Moneen Hootenanny haha.

And I’m really sorry if that was incoherent, I’m on painkillers.

Top 5 Discoveries of 2008

I feel like 2008 was a great year for me musically. Prior to this year I was always stuck in some sort of musical rut, listening to the same things over and over again but I think it’s safe to say that my collection has grown immensely, and so has my appreciation for music. And that my friends is why I’m presenting you with my top 5 musical discoveries of 2008.

5. CBCRadio3.com
I had the itch to listen to more Canadian grown indie, and Radio3 just fueled the fire. Independent Canadian musicians submit their music to the New Music Canada website and the folks at radio 3 play their favourites of the thousands of musicians. R3 features an eclectic basket of music, from punk to rap, pop to country. I’m a religious listener of the podcasts and I’ve bought many albums based on the sole listen to one song on Radio3. Thanks!
CBC Radio 3 Green
4. Two Hours Traffic
The first time I heard “No Advances” I knew that Two Hours Traffic were something special. I impulsively bought Little Jabs, and it quickly became the soundtrack to my summer. It wasn’t before long when my 10 and 12 year old sisters heard the album and became attached. These guys know how to write catchy hooks, sappy love songs and win a girl’s heart.
Two Hours Traffic
3. The Dress Whites
I love pop music, and these boys wear it well. I immediately fell in love the first time I heard “The Whale”. I became hooked and began repeatedly listening to their tracks on NMC, I gave in and ordered My God, The Shame!, and after 4 months, I finally had my copy. Don’t fret, it was well worth the wait. It’s a hook-filled power-pop album that could have easily been transported from the 1960’s.
The Dress Whites
2. Joel Plaskett Emergency
I picked up Ashtray Rock in the last week of last year and immediately fell in love. It fulfills my love for concept albums, and it’s so clever. Plaskett is an excellent songwriter and has quickly become one of my favourites. Ashtray Rock explored a plethora of musical styles and I can’t wait for JPE’s release Three in 2009. (More on this release later this weekend)
Joel Plaskett Emergency
1. Hey Rosetta!
Into Your Lungs is a record I cannot put down. It touches the concept album fanatic in me, and the high school band geek who loves intricately composed opuses. I see this album as a grand operetta with various movements. It’s huge but so tight! The vocals are dead on, each song is delivered with precision and the album tells a wonderfully vague story. You don’t know what you’ve been missing until you’ve heard this album.
Hey Rosetta

Rolling Tundra Revue 2009
December 9, 2008, 1:01 pm
Filed under: Live Show, Music | Tags: , , ,

rollingtundraDear Constantines and the Weakerthans.

When I woke up yesterday morning I saw you are planning on touring together.

And then I saw that you will be playing a show in my town.

You are my favourites and made my day.

Please keep making awesome music and touring together.

Love, Jasmine.

Source: CBC Radio 3 and LiveJournal

Dates: Continue reading

Jack’s Mannequin – The Glass Passenger
December 5, 2008, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Albums | Tags: , , ,

Three years ago, Andrew McMahon, under the moniker Jack’s Mannequin released his solo debut, Everything in Transit, as an enthusiastic fan of Something Corporate I was more than excited. Unfortunately, at the time McMahon was diagnosed with Leukemia and was left to fight for his life instead of promoting his masterpiece.

The Glass PassengerI have spent the past 3 years anticipating this album. It doesn’t take a genius to guess that his next release would be heavily influenced by his bout with leukemia. This is a fan’s dream album.

I must admit, I was not a fan of this album the first…3 or 4 times I listened to it. McMahon is such a great composer and I was left thinking, “What the hell is this?”. While I was expecting anger a la If U C Jordan, McMahon gave me an album about fighting for your life a la Bruised. But I still can’t help but be slightly disappointed with the writing on this album. Sure there are some great tracks on this album, but together, they lack the cohesion this album needs.

However Crashin’ is a great opener, it kicks the record off with the lines “I wanna hear some music/Now that they’re driving us all underground”. Swim is the fight for you life song, where McMahon gives the listener a taste of what he went through. Unfortunately I find that American Love is a bit of a stick out track…not in a good way. It’s one of the many reasons the album isn’t “cohesive”. Sure it’s a great song…but it doesn’t really fit into that spot on the album, and I’m not really sure if it even fits into the album at all.

Towards the end of the album, it’s easy to see why The Resolution was released as the album’s single, although sometimes I think the transition going from the previous song into this one is a bit off. The “last” track Caves would be a powerful ending note, leaving the listener with lines like “As far as I can see/Walls are caving in/Doors got locked for sure/But I see these doors have keys”. Except a bonus track Miss California is included at the end, which like American Love doesn’t quite fit the album, but I guess can be overlooked since it’s a bonus track…right?

I’m hard on the album, because I love Andrew McMahon, I swear.

First listen: 6/10
Flow: 6/10
Individual Songs: 8/10
Discography: 6/10
Length: 4/5
Album Art: 4/5
Total: 34/50

C+/B- I can’t decide whether to make this a C+ or B-, so I give it both!
Overall, not a bad album, but not amazing either.

Constantines w/ Tropics @ CTO
December 2, 2008, 5:17 pm
Filed under: Live Show | Tags: , , ,

Friday night my good friend Devyn and I ventured over to Call The Office, here in London to see the Constantines.

Now it’s no secret that the Constantines have quickly become one of my favourite bands. These guys know how to put on a rock show, and when they play London 4 times a year, it’s hard to miss them!

Devyn and I managed to covet our spot in the front row, staking the spot out while catching openers Tropics. At first, I was a bit unsure about Tropics, but their carefully crafted drum driven riffs won me over by the end of the set. While there are just the two of them, I think they managed to successfully take control of the space to induce their rhythmic prog rock. It’s no surprise the Constantines speak so highly of them and threaten to illegally release bootlegs of their shows. Definitely a band to watch out for.

After quite a bit of waiting (not due to the Cons being “Primadonnas” as Bry came out to apologize for, but them not wanting to start earlier than advertised) the Constantines opened with Kensington Heights‘ hardest rock anthem Credit River. At first I was unsure about how this song would measure up as an opener, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The last few times I’ve seen the Cons (ie, the 3 previous times I’ve seen them since April) they’ve been giving Shine a Light the snub, but not Friday night! They played Tank Commander, Young Lions, Insectivora and Nighttime/Anytime, which all left my thoroughly satisfied.

At one point near the end of the set, Bry hung his guitar from the rafters for at least a minute, and the band were very chatty in general, giving introductions to songs and bantering while Dallas tried to revive his bass (which seemed to have died near the end).

Encore was Do What You Can Do and possibly another song, but I can’t remember! They ended with a cover of Fuckin’ Up which Bry introduced as a song by Horsey Craze.

All in all a great night, aside from the guy on acid and his “friend” that I spent the latter half of the show next to.