La Sera - Break My Heart

Sic Alps - Glyphs

This is Pop Download-o-rama

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Everything is Pop Best Music of 2010

Wow, only a couple more weeks and 2010 will have come and gone.  Once again the ubiquitous list making begins as another year of music has come and gone. So dear reader I offer my official Everything is Pop register of the top twenty five albums of 2010. My selections are based on carefully considered variables that range from musical excellence, subjective intuition, repetitive plays, creativity, favour and still most importantly, originality. Yes this assessment is far from perfect but it represents accurately the new music that resonated with me most throughout the year.

Once again, I did not have a great deal of difficulty in preparing this list as it seems to begin to manifest itself in my list making mind by the time autumn rolls around. This year in song 2010 has been an exceptional one marked by so many new discoveries and those familiar artist efforts. 2010 was a year marked by huge changes in the music industry. It is a different world entirely in so many ways and yet somehow musicians of every genre are stretching creative, artistic and even marketing limits to open new doors of opportunity. Their unstoppable dedication inspiring and very much the root of why I love music as much as I do. “Innovative” and “spectacular” would be the immediate terms that seems to come to mind when summarizing the year in song 2010.

And with that statement, the list begins…

Everything is Pop Top 25 for 2010




01. Sharon Van EttenEpic

Brooklyn singer songwriter Sharon Van Etten is possessed of an extraordinary and stunning talent. Her ethereal voice, the very perfect vehicle to convey the heartbreakingly beautiful lyrics that compose her stunning 2010 release, Epic. Her second official full length is a very personal and very direct statement. This is a record of immediacy that you will hang on every note.  I recall hearing her song “Love More” for the first time and it actually made my heart ache.  Her forlorn tale of being kept a prisoner of love so completely arresting and emotive.  Down to earth and singularly stunning, Epic is my favourite record of the year. I cannot wait to see what lies ahead for this amazingly talented musician. Following this confidently blazed path I have a funny feeling she will be a fixture on my best of list for years to come.

Standout Track: "Love More"


BOMBsessions: Sharon Van Etten from BOMB Magazine on Vimeo.




02. The Arcade FireThe Suburbs

When I first heard this record I knew that it would place prominently in my year end assessment of music. It is an undeniable masterstroke of sixteen stellar tracks. Its major strength is the depth of conceptual exploration of the records title subject matter. The Suburbs is all so very relative; on this disc the band ambitiously exploring their past growing up and their journey as a band and human beings. It is that recognition and familiarity that endears the record so completely to the listener. An unrelenting recording from start to finish this song cycle is one of the truly great musical achievements of 2010.

Standout Track: "Sprawl II (Mountains Become Mountains)"



03. Beach HouseTeen Dream

A record released so early in the new year I was afraid it might get lost in the shuffle eleven months down the line. Thankfully its impact has not lessened. Teen Dream being the near perfect late night listening soundtrack for yours truly. The Baltimore duo have delivered a sophomore record that is more defined and even sensual in its approach; Vocalist Victoria Legrande’s swooning voice a veritable force of nature. Immaculate.

Standout Track(s):"Take Care", "Zebra"


Beach House "Silver Soul" from Sub Pop Records on Vimeo.


04. The National High Violet

Expectations were high for Matt Berninger and company for this record and I think it succeeds remarkably. Five years ago the National were a band struggling for recognition. Flash forward so many years and this is a band clearly at the top of its game. High Violet is very much possessive of the” angsty” lyricism and atmosphere found on previous efforts but this one goes confidently beyond. This is a band very much aware of its own identity and making it their greatest strength. Well crafted and solid, songs like “Terrible Love” and “Lemonworld are faultless.

Standout Track(s):  "Lemonworld",  "England"


05. Twin ShadowForget

Forget is a record that would not have sounded out of place had it been released thirty years ago. Those staccato electro drums and dusty synthesizers so very eighties. This album should however not be confused as mere nostalgia as this soulful record is far from revisionist pap. This is a record brimming with hooks for a new generation of awkward dancers. George Lewis Jr.’s debut is so impressive because it is so heartfelt and very genuine. Therein revealing its greatest appeal and reason for inclusion in this list.

Standout Track: "Tether Beat"


06. Olenka and the Autumn Lovers And Now We Sing

And Now We Sing should will win the 2011 Polaris Prize because it is just that great. Forgive my partiality but London, Ontario based musician Olenka Krakus and her Autumn Lovers have achieved that very perfect union of instrumentation and lyricism on this, only their second full length release. But it’s Krakus’ remarkable and perfect voice that seals the deal on this one. One listen to “Odessa” will convince you of that. When I reviewed this record in October I pronounced that your favourite song would change with every listen. It’s mid December now and that hasn’t changed at all.  I just know every word now.

Standout Track: "Odessa"




OLENKA - Berlin from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.



07. Final Fantasy (Owen Pallett)Heartland

Another record that I feared might get lost in the onslaught of releases as it made its way into my hands over eleven months ago now. Heartland remains just as impactive and stunning as the first day I heard it; revealing bits of itself with every new listen of those brilliant stories in song. Owen Pallett is such a talented musician his narrative work singular in the realm of music today. I positively shudder in anticipation when I think of where he will be five years from now.

Standout Track: Lewis Takes Off His Shirt


08. Laura MarlingI Speak Because I Can

At only twenty years of age British singer songwriter Laura Marling seems to stun me at every turn with her uncompromising talent and ability. To simply label her wise beyond her years would not do justice to the talent and grace she possesses. A quiet record that speaks volumes in every way.  Marling is fully aware of her gifts and demonstrates it capably on every single track of I Speak Because I Can. I love this record because of the huge steps foward she continues to take. To think, she is only two albums in, this record, like Owen Pallett’s promises greatness ahead for us as fans of her music.

Standout Track: "Rambling Man"



09. Caribou Swim

Swim is yet another fantastic contribution to Dan Snaith's canon of recorded work.  This one ranks as one of, if not the best of them all.   A darkly austere, at times moody (but not depressing) release that runs somewhat counter to his previous sunshiny upbeat efforts.  Swim captures handily the artist's intention to create "dance music that sounds like it's made out of water."  Snaith abandons both traditional song structures and the rock sounds he experimented with on Andorra to create something entirely new.  This is a record for those late night listening sessions when the dancing has stopped but the mind has not.

Standout Track: "Kaili"


10. The Lightning Bug Situation - Call

Brian Miller has created a small masterpiece with this, his latest the Lightning Bug Situation record.  Each song like a little piece of his heart.   His lyrics like tiny stories, easily evincing relative feelings in the listener.  This may be a quiet record but it seethes with intensity.  My best friend recounted listening to this record for the first time and almost "being afraid to breathe for fear that she would miss something in it".   A beautiful testimony to the power of this amazing record contains. Call is very autumnal record that affected me deeply.   Sweet Soul music in its truest sense.

Standout Track:  "For Nancy, With a Bruised Heart"




11. Sam AmidonI See the Sign
12. Sufjan StevensThe Age of Adz
13. The Black Keys - Brothers
14. John GrantQueen of Denmark
15. Tame ImpalaInner Speaker
16. The Tallest Man on EarthThe Wild Hunt
17. Best CoastCrazy For You
18. Morning Benders - Big Echo
19. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
20. How to Dress WellLove Remains
21. Laurie Anderson - Homeland
22. The Walkmen - Lisbon
23. Avi BuffaloAvi Buffalo
24. Spoon - Transference
25. DeerhunterHalcyon Digest

What were your top three records this year?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Mountain Goats Record Due in March


John Darnielle is a prolific musician. Not Robert Pollard prolific but his announcement of a new Mountain Goats record due out in early 2011 keeps him in the upper echelon of recording productivity. (Don’t forget that exceptional Extra Lens record from earlier this year.) The new record is called All Eternals Deck, and will be released by Merge on March 29th.

The Mountain Goats website offers this interesting teaser as to what we can expect:

The album is called ALL ETERNALS DECK, and if you have ever watched say a 70s occult-scare movie where one of the scenes involves a couple of people visiting a storefront fortune teller, getting their cards read, and then trying to feel super-hopeful about what they hear when what they're visibly actually feeling is dread, then you have a pretty decent idea of what the album is all about.
Check out the intriguing tracklist below. (I’m looking at you Liza Forever Minnelli).

1. Damn These Vampires
2. Birth of Serpents
3. Estate Sale Sign
4. Age of Kings
5. The Autopsy Garland
6. Beautiful Gas Mask
7. High Hawk Season
8. Prowl Great Cain
9. Sourdoire Valley Song
10. Outer Scorpion Squadron
11. For Charles Bronson
12. Never Quite Free
13. Liza Forever Minnelli

Lastly from mountain-goats.com. Some of us might get to see Mr. Darnielle in the new year!

The album's coming out on Merge in the U.S. on March 29th, 2011; Moorworks has got it for Japan, and our good friends at Remote Control in Australia are holding it down down under, and will release it on March 26th. I hope we get to tour all those places and more next year!
In the meantime, to celebrate the Mountain Goats 5000th follower on Twitter this week: An unreleased song from the prolific one – Tyler Lambert’s Grave

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

All I Want for Christmas - Part One

As a public service I will be periodically posting interesting gift ideas for the music lover in your life. Part One via Gang of Four and Yep Roc Records. Scratch and sniff book? Vials of the band’s blood?

The perfect gift for that “hard to buy for” music aficionado in your life.

Blood? Really?


Content (Deluxe Box Set)
Gang of Four
Andy Gill of Gang of Four writes to fans, "We're amazed at how little, in general, musicians write about what it's like to be alive today while so many songwriters choose to write about love or getting laid or getting down on the dance floor. Great subjects, but there's so much more," There's so much more in the diaspora of music and culture, in fact that for the release of C O N T E N T, Gang of Four's first album of new material in 15 years, the band has personally designed The Ultimate Content Can. Pictured on the cover of the standard CD and vinyl version, The Ultimate Content Can will contain, in the band's own words, "an art piece Jon and Andy have done on ceramic tiles depicting the last 40 years of world history, a book of lyrics, a book of Rotoscoped photographs of the band's emotions, vials of band members' blood and a scratch and sniff booklet which reflects the key areas of human activity." A must have for Gang of Four fans and chroniclers of pop culture alike.

Only Available 12/1-12/15. Don't Miss Out!!!

Each Ultimate Content Can will contain the following items:

* CD copy of C O N T E N T including the track "2nd Life," exclusively available with this package
* Smells Book: Scratch n' Sniff book reflecting key areas of human activity
* History Book: art piece on ceramic tiles depicting the last 40 years of world history
* Blood Book: vials of the band's blood!
* Emotions Book: Rotoscoped photographs of the band's emotions
* Words Book: lyrics

The Rural Alberta Advantage Departing in 2011

Indie Canuck trio the Rural Alberta Advantage knocked us all out with their stellar 2009 debut album Hometown so it's been a while since we've heard new music from them.  That will change on March 1st of next year, when they follow that up with a new album called Departing.  The record will be released in Canada,via Paper Bag and in the U.S. through Saddle Creek. (See the artwork and tracklisting below.) The details of the new record are still unknown, but it was recorded with producer Roger Leavens at Toronto's Boombox Sound.


The band is in the middle of a tour now (dates below) and no doubt another full blown tour will be announced soon. I’ll be the first to let you know when they are playing your hometown.  Unless of course you can get over to Manchester, England tonight where they are playing the Deaf Institute.  With the joyous noisy clatter this band is capable of creating their choice of venues might not be as ironic as it seems.


In The Summertime from Digital Safari Academy on Vimeo.

Departing

01 Two Lovers
02 The Breakup
03 Under the Knife
04 Muscle Relaxants
05 North Star
06 Stamp
07 Tornado '87
08 Barnes' Yard
09 Coldest Days
10 Good Night

Tour dates:

12/8 Manchester, UK - Deaf Institute
12/9 London, UK - Luminaire
12/10 Brighton, UK - The Hope
12/15 Hamilton, ON - Casbah
12/16 Toronto, ON - Lee's Palace
12/17 Montreal, QC - Il Motore
12/18 Ottawa, ON - Ritual
1/12 New York, NY - Mercury Lounge

Your Download Lowdown – Christmas 2010 Version


A great and timely download from the great folks at the Line of Best Fit. A merry follow up to last year’s Ho Ho Ho Canada, Ho Ho Canada Deux hopes to provide an antidote to hearing the same old Christmas tunes year after year. Thirty festive tracks in all including fifteen songs that have been specially recorded for them.

From the Line of Best Fit:

The compilation includes new compositions, covers, traditional songs (including one in Norwegian), the occasional curse word (you have been warned), and sleigh bells and festive cheer aplenty. We’d like to thank all of the artists involved for their time and effort in putting this together-please be sure to click on their names to find out more about them and find out what they are up to in the next few months. The artwork was created by Jon Janes using an image of Clear Creek, Yukon by Michael Edwards.
Track listing. (* Compilation Exclusives)

Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada Deux: Part One: (Not So) Silent Night

1. By Divine Right: ‘Mall Santa’*
2. Paper Lions: ‘Jingle Bells’
3. The Mountains and The Trees: ‘My Favourite Sweater (Happy Holidays)’ *
4. Great Lake Swimmers: ‘Gonna Make It Through The Year’
5. Ox: ‘Xmas In the Jailhouse’
6. The Zolas: ‘Snow’
7. Baby Eagle: ‘Fearfully and Wonderfully’ *
8. Boxer The Horse: ‘Material Xmas’
9. Adaline & Frederick: ‘Let’s Stay Inside’
10. Sean Nicholas Savage: ‘Snowflake’
11. The Russian Futurists: ’100 Shopping Days Till Christmas’
12. Kashka (Kat Buns of Forest City Lovers): ‘Picture Books In Winter’ *
13. Nat Jay: ‘Green Trees, Red Hearts’
14. Hooded Fang: ‘Tundra Nights’ *
15. Teen Daze: ‘Medley In D (Holy Holy Holy/ Christmas at Sea/ Goodnight, Sleep Tight)’ *

Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada Deux: Part Two: Frozen Outside / Warm In

1. Leif Vollebekk: ‘I’m Be Home For Christmas’ *
2. woodpigeon / Laura Leif: ‘Winter Song’ *
3. Snailhouse: ‘Believer’ *
4. Evening Hymns: ‘Just Like Christmas’ *
5. Ruth Minnikin: ‘Fur Elise’
6. Superfantastics: ‘Northern Lights’
7. Steve McKay: ‘Sounds Like Christmas’
8. The Weather Station: ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ *
9. The Wilderness of Manitoba: ‘We Three Kings’ *
10. The Details: ‘Strings and Ribbons’
11. Artur Dyjecinski: ‘Christmas’ *
12. Basia Bulat: ‘You Are A Gift’
13. The Provincial Archive: ‘Coventry Carol’ *
14. Kris Ellestad: ‘Jeg Er Så Glad Hver Julekveld’ *
15. In-Flight Safety: ‘Fairytale of New York’

Grab this here folks. It might just provide the perfect accompaniment to the next months festive goings on in your lives.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November News: New Decemberists in January!


It must be November as Decemberists news has arrived today.  Just in time to warm our winter weary hearts, The King Is Dead, the Decemberists' new album, arrives January 18th in North America via Capitol and a day earlier in Europe via Rough Trade.   But this is where it gets even better. The new album will be available in all the usual formats, a special edition as well as a deluxe limited-edition box set, which will feature the album on CD and 180-gram white vinyl, as well as a DVD, a unique Polaroid photo, a hardcover book, and an art print-- all in a linen-wrapped clamshell box with a foil-stamped cover. You might just have the coolest coffee table in town if this piece were to make its home there.




Here's the details.  Only 2,500 of these boxes will be available. For the box, the band teamed up with the Polaroid film manufacturers the Impossible Project and the photographer Autumn de Wilde. De Wilde took photos of the band's recording sessions in rural Oregon and L.A., and each box will come with a unique photo. The DVD contains Pendarvia, a 30-minute documentary about the making of the album by filmmaker Aaron Rose. The 72-page hardcover book features photos from de Wilde and illustrations from Carson Ellis, and the Giclée print is of an Ellis illustration and signed by Ellis herself.

Friday, November 26, 2010

RIP Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson

Early yesterday morning came sad news that one of the great pioneers in electronic music has died. Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson died in his sleep, at aged 55. As a founding member of Throbbing Gristle, he was part of one of the most experimental, influential and notorious British groups of all time. Considered to be the first industrial band, their music spanned styles from machine-like noise to pure electro-pop.

Formed in 1975, their performances (which included performing naked and vomiting onstage) inevitably created considerable controversy. At the time, British MP Nicholas Fairbairn famously gave the band their ultimate seal of hypocritical condemnation/approval when he pronounced the band "wreckers of civilisation" – shortly before he was arrested for indecent exposure himself.

Christopherson helped Throbbing Gristle frontman Genesis P-Orridge form the similarly influential Psychic TV Christopherson and his partner John Balance (pop's firstly openly gay duo) formed the pioneering band Coil. Fronted by Christopherson, Coil produced intensely dark music that appeared in the films of Derek Jarman. Prior to this, Christopherson worked as a designer for the hugely influential design agency Hipgnosis, creating iconic record album cover for the likes of Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel.

RIP Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson

Longtime friend and collaborator Chris Carter shared this fond remembrance of his friend:

From boingboing.
Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson
27th February 1955 - 24th November 2010


Peter Christopherson, affectionately known as Sleazy, died peacefully in his sleep on the 24th of November at his home in Bangkok, Thailand.
The music and art world has lost a great talent whose unique approach ignored the conventions of the day and often challenged the status quo.
Sleazy's playful and inspiring creativity saw him pushing boundaries as a musician, video director and designer throughout his life. He had recently returned to Thailand from Europe, where he had played a short but spectacular series of live shows as a member of Throbbing Gristle and in the newly formed trio X-TG with Cosey Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter.
Sleazy's visual art career included work as a member of the influential British design agency Hipgnosis, creating iconic record sleeve artwork in the 1970s for Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and, later, Factory Records. He took the first promo photographs of the Sex Pistols, created a highly controversial window display for Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's clothing shop, SEX, and went on to design the logo of the hugely popular fashion company, BOY. In 1976 Sleazy met Cosey Fanni Tutti, Chris Carter and Genesis P-Orridge and together they formed electronic music provocateurs Throbbing Gristle and Industrial Records, creating one of the first independent record labels of the era and laying the foundation for a new genre of music. The band was infamously described in the Daily Mail by Tory MP Nicholas Fairbairn as "the wreckers of civilisation".
TG ceased operations in 1981, after which Sleazy formed Psychic TV with Genesis P-Orridge and they produced two albums. The second, Dreams Less Sweet included his future life partner Jhonn Balance as a member, with whom he went on to form Coil and to release an extensive body of work up until Jhonn's passing in 2004. Subsequently, Sleazy left the UK to live in Bangkok, Thailand and to continue his artistic and musical vision in the guise of The Threshold HouseBoys Choir and Soisong.
Following their original break-up, Throbbing Gristle's legacy steadily grew within the music and art world, leading to their reformation in 2004 and a series of sold-out performances, including in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall.
At the time of his death, Sleazy was in the midst of assembling what was to be Throbbing Gristle's next project: a cover version of Nico's Desertshore album.
Peter was a kind and beautiful soul. No words can express how much he will be missed.
Throbbing Gristle / X-TG
Cosey Fanni Tutti
Chris Carter

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Black Friday, Not Just Record Store Day Jr.


Got this from my friends at Record Store Day today: 
This Friday, of course, is Black Friday, and word is out that your local indie record store may just be the place to be this Post-Thanksgiving-Shopping-Melee-Day. And that’s because indie stores across the country will be the place to get special releases created just for you, for giving and getting this holiday season, and they’re scheduled for release on Black Friday.

Now, this is not Record Store Day, Jr. or RSD 2 or Son of the Return of Record Store Day. This is just a group of special releases that you can only find at record stores. Some of them are uber-limited, some of them are available at record stores before they’re available anywhere else. But they’re all special, and they kind of fly in the face of what Black Friday has become, which is “I have to shop, let’s see how fast and cheap I can get it over with”. The magic of these pieces is that every one of them is something someone will really LOVE to get, and you’ll really ENJOY giving.  And you’ll have the extra nice feeling of supporting a local independently owned business during the holidays. So check out the list of titles
LOCATED HERE, and keep in mind that not all stores on this page will carry everything, so start a conversation with your local store. Or print this out as a WISH LIST and hide it where your gift-giving loved ones are sure to find it.

On top of that, you should know that RECORD STORE DAY 2010 t-shirts and POSTERS of course make great gifts as well, and in the spirit of holiday shopping, they are now at their lowest price ever: $10. Get ‘em while they last,
RIGHT HERE.

And finally, a little something we’re thankful for: YOU. We couldn’t do what we do, which is shine a light on the glory that is the record store, if you weren’t out there supporting them. So thanks. And keep up the good work.

So many special Black Friday releases to get you our to your favourite independent music store on Friday. Get out there and find that special release for yourself or your favourite music fan. With the holidays just around the corner you might just find something amazing.


Let England Shake in 2011


As the year end lists are being compiled some bright news all ready for the year ahead. PJ Harvey's eighth album entitled Let England Shake, will be released February 14th via Island, according to her website. The album was recorded in an old Dorset, England church with longtime producer Flood and veteran Harvey collaborators John Parish and Mick Harvey, will feature in her live band along with drummer Jean-Marc Butty. Upcoming European PJ Harvey dates are listed below:


PJ Harvey:

02/18 Brussels, Belgium - Cirque Royale
02/19 Brussels, Belgium - Cirque Royale
02/21 Berlin, Germany - Admiralspalast
02/24 Paris, France - Olympia
02/25 Paris, France - Olympia
02/27 London, England - Troxy
02/28 London, England - Troxy

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Don’t Miss the Correction Line Ensemble

I would be remiss if I neglected to tell all of you about the amazing concert coming to this city on Thursday night (November 18th) at the Aeolian.


The Correction Line Ensemble is a newly formed chamber ensemble involving six highly creative musicians from diverse backgrounds, weaving together an engaging and seamless conversation between classical and modern music: Cristina Zacharias, a Toronto-based violinist who specializes in early music; Leanne Zacharias, a Brandon-based cellist specializing in contemporary music and pedagogy; Ed Reifel, a Toronto-based percussionist of classical and modern music; Robert Honstein, a Brooklyn-based composer from the classical music tradition; and Christine Fellows and John K. Samson, two Winnipeg-based narrative songwriters

Together, these six musicians create and perform arrangements of original repertoire by Honstein, Fellows and Samson, alongside classical repertoire arranged for cello, violin, marimba/percussion, piano, electric guitar and six voices, bridging the gap between musical genres and disciplines. To experience this kind of interaction and movement between genres in one concert is unique.

Of the Correction Line Ensemble Robert Honstein wrote:

It’s a pretty exciting group, with each member bringing considerable experience and accomplishment to the table. But more than being incredibly talented musicians, these guys are awesome, wonderful people. If I weren’t making music with them I’d probably trek up north anyway just to have a beer.

Plan to attend. This is a one of a kind opportunity to hear some amazing musicians.


The Correction Line Ensemble pairs Bach, Bartok and Honstein with works by songwriters Christine Fellows and John K. Samson of the Weakerthans.

The Aeolian and LOLA presents: The Correction Line Ensemble
November 18, 2010 20:00 - 22:30

Tickets available at The Aeolian Box office, 795 Dundas St. E, 519-672-7950 and online: http://www.ticketscene.ca/events/2934 and
Cash only at Grooves, L’Atelier Grigorian, and The Village Idiot.

$22 advance
$25 door
$15 with student card (not availble online)

The Aeolian
795 Dundas St. E
London, ON

Monday, November 15, 2010

Clear Eyed and True – A Special Blog Post in Two Parts

Everything is Pop Exclusive Download from The Lightning Bug Situation -  Part One

The maple leaves are blanketing my front yard for the second time in as many months. (It’s been a very blustery autumn.) The familiar greens of the neighbourhood swapped with decidedly more earthy hues. Fall has made her presence felt; her now familiar beauty all breathy and wise. Time to contemplate, celebrate and commiserate.

Seasonal poetics aside, today I have a very special treat for Everything is Pop readers. I am equally thrilled and privileged to offer this exclusive download to you, for your listening pleasure. “Fall” is a single from the brilliant new album by the Lightning Bug Situation, Call. And if that were not enough you can also download the accompanying artwork by John Dezort, a fantastic remix by Nick Burcher and even a previously unreleased song called “Your Heart Behind Pale Skin”. 

All of this for free!

Download Here!


Some of you may recall I named The Lightning Bug Situation’s A Leaf: A Stream as my record of the year for 2007. (You can also read my review here.) The Lightning Bug Situation is the project of the Speakers' Brian Miller. Please visit his blog here.

You can also purchase Call here:  (I would wholeheartedly recommend this.)

Thank you so much Brian Miller (The Lightning Bug Situation) for your awesome generosity.

Want to know more about this amazing recording?  Read Part Two

Clear Eyed and True – A Special Blog Post Part Two

Discussions on the Record - Call by the Lightning Bug Situation

Once in a while a record comes along that resonates with me on every basic level. Emotionally, spiritually and even physically. The music, the lyrics and even the artwork exploring very human themes in turn revealing certain universal truths . Radiohead's Kid A did that for me, as did Tim by the Replacements. Both are very different records but they became a part of me because I can relate to them on a deeply personal level. Over time they become a part of me in a sense because they help to explain me. Not an easy task at the best of times. Albums like this are rare gems and I hold them in very high esteem. Another record that has done that to me is the new release by the Lightning Bug Situation entitled Call.

Rather than doing a typical record review I have opted to discuss the record with my dear friend and fellow blogger Barbara (the Bad Tempered Zombie). The discussion, a series of questions from each other on our thoughts and observations on this very special album.  You can see her fab observations here.  Mine are included below.  (A HUGE thank you to her for playing along).

Tell me about the first time you listened to this album.

I first listened to Call on a very early morning drive. The combination of brisk temperature and colourful display of autumn leaves somehow seemed the perfect incidental visual accompaniment to the music on the disc. At first jarring, deliberate and mechanical the music evenly morphed to this very warm incandescent atmosphere as it progressed. It has a very cinematic quality. I remember the record made me feel as if I was watching an old home movie shot on Super 8 film- All faded colours, vaguely identifiable faces and uncomfortable smiles from the past flickering by me. It sets up some powerful imagery; couple that Brian Miller's lyrics and I really felt drawn into his world. The effect is compounded as his songs always seem to remind me of my own past. For that reason Call at once brought me a certain amount of sadness but also brought me great joy. I guess thats why I immediately replayed the disc as soon as it ended.

To take your question a step further though, the first time I really truly listened to this record was two nights after this as I took an evening walk around my neighbourhood. It was here I was better able to focus on and discern Miller's profound lyricism. That night was a different listening experience than the previous one because of those lyrics. At one moment putting a smile on my face, next questioning my skills as a Dad and quite nearly bringing me to tears. His small stories so very affecting and reassuring because ultimately you see one's own universe in them. That is their power and testimony to his talent. We know sadness and heartbreak but we also know beauty and truth (to turn Miller's phrase) will “heal our insides” and everything will be all right. The fact that the record ends with a sound fragment of Brian laughing felt very reassuring to me.

What colour are these songs?

This is a very interesting question. I say so because of the fact that I perceived four very distinct colours as I listened to this record right from the start. (My apologies if any synesthesia is showing.) The first colour, a robin's egg blue, then light brown, tan perhaps and lastly dark, dark blue, not quite black. (Understand that this is only a perceptual assessment of mine.) The colours are very distinct though and seem to get bolder and more pronounced as I continue to experience and grow with this album. To give you perspective on those colours the robin's egg blue, imagine a faded blue sky from an old photograph or postcard. The light brown, the colour of decaying leaves or earth in the fall. The dark blue almost blood like. All of these colours so very organic, representing, I think the cycle of life. This in turn, mirroring the very organic instrumentation and song styles of the album.

What makes this album so powerful?

I touched on this earlier but I think its the flashes of recognition in Miller's lyrics that allows the listener to become a part of the story he is trying to tell. His condition reminds us of our own and it is that sense of relativity that endears the record to me completely. Themes of doubt, love, fear, wonderment, joy and even death are head turning themes. As a listener then, it makes for a very powerful listening experience. I swear I did a full-on double take when Miller uttered this line in “Groundhog”
“I swear I've been thinking the same thought since I was one.”
To explain. I have very strong recollections of my youth. A series of disjointed images at best , but all very clear. Now, I may be stretching the meaning of the line but for me that youthful soul is still very much a part of me today. Wiser but intrinsically the same. That mindset never truly goes away. A good thing too.

I think so many records I listen to work as a form of escape but my favourite ones are the ones I go to for comfort. To remind me of the good things and the bad and that we are not alone. Call is exactly that for me and very, very powerful.

The lyrics are intensely personal, but simultaneously universal. Which lyrics struck particularly close to home?

Another great question. I suspect I could name a favourite line in every song on the album. Avoiding the obvious though, I would say the line in “For Nancy, With a Bruised Heart” absolutely slays me every single time though.
“I hope this song comes on and heals your insides.”
A sentiment so hopeful, earnest and heartbreakingly beautiful that hearing it just makes my eyes sparkle. (You know what that is code for.) Miller may have been comforting his wife Nancy with this one but for me it describes in one simple sentence the single intention of every mixtape or CD I have ever shared with anyone. To use your phrase, that one hit VERY close to home.

The other line from “Pull” the opening track on the album.

“I'm stuck under a pillow, a pillow made of stone. ”
I guess it reminds me of how we can easily take the simplest of things or concerns and eventually let them burden us completely. Perhaps its telling us we should be tossing the simple concerns aside and deal with the bigger issues. The important one. That one too kinda hit close to home.

You’re being sent on a one-man mission to Mars and you can take only one track with you. Which one?

That's really tough, but for those one-man missions to Mars I would have to say “Fall”. A song about my absolute favourite season. The song is also very representative of everything I love about the Lightning Bug Situation. From the simple, clock like instrumentation to those haunting, yet stoic and reassuring lyrics.

“I wanna be a good Dad, clear-eyed and true."
I'm pretty sure with a line like that it might just give me the necessary encouragement I need to stay on track and focus on my Martian mission

Describe Brian Miller’s voice. Does he remind you of anyone?

Hmmmmm, that one is tough. His voice so clear, with a troubled fragility that belies a weary yet wise storyteller. The perfect complement to his little world lyricism. It is a voice that is quite singular but does contain certain elements of others. Brian Miller's voice reminds me of a couple of artists. For instance the timbre and clarity of his voice at times reminiscent of John K Samson from the Weakerthans. At other times his voice is evocative of Mark Everett of Eels.

What one word best describes Call?

Beguiled

For the uninitiated, what’s the best way to listen to this album?

Nothing beats walking with this record. It really does work as the perfect soundtrack for the present season too. Reminding us to soak the allure of it all in. A beautiful record for beautiful times. Be forewarned though you might just want to hit repeat and do the whole walk over again.


You can order a copy of Call here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New R.E.M On the Way in the New Year

Guest Stars A-plenty On This One

Tidbits of information have been emerging in the blogosphere of late concerning R.E.M.'s upcoming 15th LP. Officially titled Collapse into Now, the band once again brought Garret “Jacknife” Lee to handle production duties. In an interview with Spin, bassist Mike Mills revealed more information about the record; namely that it will feature guest spots from Eddie Vedder, Peaches and once again, Patti Smith.

Mills also disclosed the directions Collapse into Now has taken via Spin.
"With Accelerate, we were trying to make a point by making the songs as short and as fast as possible," he said. "So we wanted this new one to be more expansive. We wanted to put more variety into it and not limit ourselves to any one type of song. There are some really slow, beautiful songs; there are some nice, mid-tempo ones; and then there are three or four rockers."
The bassist also declared that the album promises to be "very personal, very human," a departure from the more direct and openly political Accelerate.

This time out R.E.M. switched up their method by scheduling sessions in different cities -- Berlin, Nashville, New Orleans -- with breaks between to write and rewrite songs.
"It's also fun for us to go to the cities we really love and spend some time," says Mills. After a day's work in the studio, the band would go out to dinner. "It's really important to go out, get great food, shrug off the debris of the day, and just be friends and have a good time. In Berlin you drink beer and eat wurst. In New Orleans you eat Cajun food and drink Sazerac. In Nashville we ate a lot of fried chicken."

There's no word as to the exact release date, but it is expected to be out sometime in spring 2011. (Nor was there any explanation for Peter Buck’s new Prince Valiant haircut... ed.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Playlist 28 - The Ghost Of Rockschool


It's been forever since I've done a playlist and I simply can not turn down a special request for music to mark a special occasion. Well ghosts and ghostesses it's Hallowe'en and it's time to turn up the music. (One must keep the creatures away after all.)

This Hallowe'en themed playlist should be more than long enough to keep you rocking well into the eeeeeee-vening.

Happy Hallowe'en!

Snake Eyes - Ganglians
Everyday Is Halloween - the Postmarks
The Ghost Of Rockschool – Belle and Sebastian
Found Love In A Graveyard - Veronica Falls
Marrow - St. Vincent
Living In Danger - Anni Rossi
Shankill Butchers - the Decemberists
Evil, With Evil, Against Evil - A Sunny Day in Glasgow
Transylvanian Concubine - Rasputina
Chrissie Kiss the Corpse - Of Montreal
Secret Vampires - bis
Werewolf - Cat Power
Oh, I Buried You Today - the Raveonettes
Pajama Party In A Haunted Hive - Beat Happening
I Wish I Had An Evil Twin - the Magnetic Fields
the Monster Mash - P:ano
Skulls - the Manhattan Love Suicides
Graveyard - Chad Van Gaalen
Zombies – King Kahn and The BBQ Show
Caskets - Damien Jurado
Beautiful My Monster – Husky Rescue
Mystifying Oracle - Brown Recluse Sings
Tokyo Witch - Beach House
If You Take Away the Make-Up (Then the Vampires They Will Die) - Tullycraft
They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh! - Sufjan Stevens
Black Cat - Broadcast
Ghost Ship In A Storm - Jim O'Rourke
The Ghost Of Tom Joad - Junip
The Ghost Who Walks - Karen Elson
Anyone's Ghost - The National
Space Ghost Theme I (WFNX ) - Pavement
The Ghost Of You Lingers – Spoon
Superstition - The Kills
Cemetery Gates – The Smiths
Black Eyes - Shearwater
Witchcraft - Light Pollution
Bones - Electric Tickle Machine
Graveyard’s Full - The Growlers
I Died So I Could Haunt You - Stars
The Witch - The Rattles
The Witching Hour – Wild Nothing
Standing on Ghosts – Two Door Cinema Club
Friendly Ghost – Harlem
Coffin Trick - Atlas Sound
Mr. Vampire - The Torches
Halloween - Sonic Youth

Thursday, October 28, 2010

And Now We Sing

There is something about the fall that I find particularly stirring. Perhaps it’s the explosions of unrefined colour that swathe every treed landscape around here; perhaps it’s the sense of urgency so many silvery clouds and cold frosty mornings imbue within me. I know what lies around the corner and these days feel like a series of gifts. The very ones you have to lock in your heart for safekeeping because by mid-February you’re going to need them. That is always the way.

And Now We Sing, the new record and second full length from London’s own Olenka and the Autumn Lovers feels like a succession of gifts too. Fourteen exceptional songs each comprising a small treasure that will twist around your heart and seize it from the get go. These songs, some of the best I have heard from anyone this year. (Hyperbole be damned.) This is simply one fine record from start to finish. Don’t be surprised if this one figures prominently on the Polaris Prize list of nominees next year.


Olenka Krakus, along with her band of Autumn Lovers has delivered a fine blend of Eastern European tinged folk and urban Canadiana. And Now We Sing, a collection of folk ballads and celebratory songs succeeds because of its grand diversity- Quiet as can be in one moment and rollicking in the next. I imagine this record performed around a roaring campfire- Violins and guitars drawing the listener in and around, warming and enlivening the soul with perfect harmonies. Topping it off, Krakus’ extraordinary voice and wise beyond her years lyrical capacity will leave you more than a little awestruck. With a voice that rivals the sweetest of singers (“Lark”), next delivering poetic words that cut as deep as a sharpened knife (“No Coins”). For the uninitiated, think Gogol Bordello fronted by Patti Smith with Wilco playing in the background.

Standout tracks “Motel Blues”, and my current favourite “Go” showcase the stellar guitar work of Autumn Lover Blair Whatmore. His pedal steel and guitar skillfully weaves its way in and around this record. The results add an original and entirely playful layer to augment the rich sounds of the band. 
Produced by Olenka Krakus, And Now We Sing is a powerful achievement that demands repeated listening. Your favourite song will change with every listen.  The record is a  perfect heartfelt antidote for cold nights and burning soul fires.

Lock this one in your heart too. You never know when you just might need it.

PPPPP

Olenka and the Autumn Lovers:

Olenka Krakus - classical guitar, lead vocal
Sara Froese - violin, vocals
Simon Larochette - trumpet
Daniel Mancini - drums
Kelly Wallraff - cello, vocals
Blair Whatmore - electric guitar, lap steel, mandolin, accordion

Occasional contributions from:

Shawn Clarke - saxophone, glockenspiel, vocals, guitar

http://www.myspace.com/olenkalovers


Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, Pop Montreal 2010
Uploaded by brooklynvegan. - See the latest featured music videos.

Olenka and the Autumn Lovers have been gradually releasing And Now We Sing on a recent tour of Eastern Canada, premiering the disc in every city they visited. Now its London’s turn as their homecoming show and record release happens this Friday night at the Aeolian Hall.


From Olenka and the Autumn Lovers:
first and foremost, some of you may be aware that Friday will be Blair's last show with the band. it's sad news, but we wish him well in his future musical pursuits. we hope you guys will make an extra effort to come out and see him off.

secondly, our dear friend and bass-guru, Kevin Brasier, is taking the train all the way from Sackville, New Brunswick to join us for the show. we had the fortune of playing with Kevin during a few of our recent Maritimes dates, and we can't wait to share the stage with him again this Friday.

also joining us at Friday's show will be Shawn Clarke on saxophone, Kelly Webb on trumpet, and Christian Hegele on keys/piano. that's right! a fairly large brass contingent and a dollop of keyboard sweetness!

also, Kite Hill will amaze you. we've played a bunch of shows with them over the past few weeks, and each night they get better and more inspiring. we can't wait to share their music with you guys.

finally, Marc Gammal at APK Live has invited us all over to his lovely new venue for an afterparty. bring your tickets to bypass the line, and i think if you mention something about the show to Marc, you get a treat... or a trick, not sure. you'll have to try your luck.


WHERE: Aeolian Hall 795 Dundas St.
WHEN: Friday Oct. 29, 8:30p
HOW MUCH: $15 adv, $20 @ door

thanks for your love and support,

O and AL
And Now We Sing will be available for sale the night of the show.

Concertgoers are invited to the official after party at The APK Live (340 Wellington St. at York, downstairs). Kite Hill is also on the 9 p.m. bill at the 795 Dundas St. (at Rectory) hall. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, plus applicable charges.

Visit http://www.myspace.com/olenkalovers or http://www.aeolianhall.ca/ or call 519-672-7950

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Am a Tribute

Guided By Voices Homage on the Way


As the Guided By Voices Hallway of Shatterproof Glass reunion tour continues to successfully chug along through various US dates, news of a special tribute recording for Dayton’s finest has emerged. Along with a cover from the Flaming Lips, artists lined up to contribute their takes on Guided by Voices tracks for the homage LP include: Cymbals Eat Guitars, La Sera (aka Kickball Katy from Vivian Girls), Blitzen Trapper, the Clean's David Kilgour, the Breeders' Kelley Deal with Buffalo Killers, Elf Power, Of Montreal's James Husband, Drive-By Truckers' Jason Isbell, and Thurston Moore, whose previously released version of "Stabbing a Star" will be included.


The news comes courtesy of Pitchfork, which adds that the album and a bonus digital EP with GBV covers from smaller bands is due out on No More Fake Labels early next year. There are still a few artists yet to be announced but so far things are looking quite stellar.

Guided By Voices Tribute LP:
The Flaming Lips - Smothered in Hugs
Western Civ - Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory and My Valuable Hunting Knife
Cymbals Eat Guitars - Gleemer
Sorry About Dresden - Echos Myron
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Everywhere With Helicopter
Crooked Fingers - Tractor Rape Chain
Elf Power - Man Called Aerodynamics
I Was Totally Destroying It - I Am Produced
The Pneurotics - I Am a Tree
La Sera - Watch Me Jumpstart
Kelley Deal with Buffalo Killers - Scalding Creek
Blitzen Trapper - Hot Freaks
Superdrag - A Salty Salute
David Kilgour (The Clean) - How Loft Am I
Thurston Moore - Stabbing a Star
James Husband (Of Montreal) - Buzzards and Dreadful Crows
Twin Tigers - TBA

Digital EP:

Marie Stella - Little Lines
Free Electric State - Weedking
Mass Solo Revolt - Gold Star for Robot Boy
Gregg Yeti - Quality of Armor

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wire Announce New Album


Legendary U.K. post-punkers Wire has announced it will release its 12th studio album Red Barked Tree on January 11th. Recorded throughout 2010 by Colin Newman, Graham Lewis and Robert Grey; the record will be released on the band’s own Pink Flag label.

While the album comes out in January on CD, the band will issue it early — on December 20th via digital outlets. Fans who purchase it through Wire’s mail order store will also receive a free live EP called Strays.

Wire is previewing the new album by offering up a free MP3 download of “Two Minutes” (via Pitchfork) - a raucous and exciting two minute affair well worth your download bandwidth. You can download the full track here.

Album tracklist below:

Wire - Red Barked Tree

1. “Please Take”
2. “Now Was”
3. “Adapt”
4. “Two Minutes”
5. “Clay”
6. “Bad Worn Thing”
7. “Moreover”
8. “A Flat Tent”
9. “Smash”
10. “Down To This”
11. “Red Barked Trees”

The band is also hinting at an extensive tour with details to be announced soon. Thirty five years in, it’s nice to see the band producing relevant and exciting material.

Don’t Go Frightening My Rabbit

Frightened Rabbit Set to Release Singles Box Set

Scottish indie quintet Frightened Rabbit released their latest album, Winter of Mixed Drinks, in March of this year, and followed it with a hearty round of international touring and appearances. As the Selkirk scenesters close the book on 2010 though, a compilation of all the singles from the album in a box set of vinyl seven-inches has just been announced.
The limited edition collection will contain the singles "Swim Until You Can't See Land," "Nothing Like You" and "Living in Colour" and the upcoming "The Loneliness and the Scream."

But this is where it gets really interesting … The B-side of the latest single — "The Loneliness andthe Scream," due out November 22nd in the UK and on December 8th in North America — is a cover of Elton John and Kiki Dee's 1976 hit "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." The Frightened Rabbit version is a duet between Scott Hutchison and the Hold Steady's Craig Finn. (Curiously, the original being the first single I ever purchased. ed)

Hutchison explained the inspiration behind the cover in their press release:
“The B-side has been an idea of mine for a couple of years actually, two guys singing the Elton John/Kiki Dee duet. When I was making a list of the ideal Kikis, Craig Finn was at the top. I couldn't believe it when he agreed to do the part. I imagined it sounding like two drunk guys doing the whole 'I love you, man' speeches towards the end of a drunken night."
The box set will be available via the FatCat Records website and will be limited to only 500 copies. To coincide with the release, Frightened Rabbit will be heading out on a UK tour. See the dates below.

Tour dates:

11/20 Bristol, UK - Anson Rooms
11/21 Manchester, UK - Academy 2
11/22 Newcastle, UK - Northumbria Uni
11/24 Stoke, UK - Sugarmill
11/25 Nottingham, UK - Rescue Rooms
11/26 Exeter, UK - Phoenix Theatre
11/27 Brighton, UK - Komedia
11/29 Leeds, UK - Cockpit
11/30 Wolverhampton, UK - Slade Rooms
12/1 London, UK - Shepherd's Bush Empire
12/3 Glasgow, UK - Barrowlands
12/5 Glasgow, UK - Barrowlands
12/8 Belfast, UK - Empire
12/9 Dublin, Ireland - Academy
12/11 Minehead, UK - All Tomorrow's Parties


FRIGHTENED RABBIT - HEAD ROLLS OFF from Joe Tunmer on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

LOLA 2010 in Pictures

By special request, a few of my favourite pictures from LOLA 2010.  A resounding success all around.  Huge kudos to the organizers for an amazing weekend of music and art in London.


Rogers Mainstage LOLA 2010

Rogers Main stage decor LOLA 2010


Caribou

Caribou with Jeremy Greenspan (Junior Boys)


Text of Light (Lee Ranaldo, Sonic Youth)

My Brightest Diamond

Rhys Chatham Trumpet Trio

Art in the Park LOLA 2010

Land of Talk

Land of Talk

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

“This Pricey Stuff Makes Me Dizzy”


It’s been a busy year for The National since the release of their acclaimed High Violet. Touring, festival appearances, television, all the wine, world domination and, as we all know, if it’s worth releasing once the deluxe reissue won’t be far off. News that the bustling Brooklynites have announced plans for a lavish reissue of the aforementioned record. The reconfigured recording will come repackaged in a two-disc reformat with unreleased songs, live recordings and rare B-sides.

The album will make a reappearance on November 23rd via 4AD, and contains tracks omitted from the original release, including “You Were A Kindness” and “Wake Up You Saints,” plus the B-sides “Walk Off” and “Sin-Eaters,” as well as an alternate take of “Terrible Love.” The package will also include three live songs.

The reconfigured High Violet will now look like this:

Terrible Love
Sorrow
Anyone's Ghost
Little Faith
Afraid of Everyone
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Lemonworld
Runaway
Conversation 16
England
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

Bonus Disc:

Terrible Love (Alternate Version)
Wake Up You Saints
You Were a Kindness
Walk Off
Sin-Eaters
Bloodbuzz Ohio (Live On KCMP)
Anyone's Ghost (Live At Brooklyn Academy of Music)
England (Live At Brooklyn Academy Of Music)

Listen to the National in a fantastic live session on the Current this past summer.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Karkwa, Karkwa, Karkwa

Say what you will Jan Brady the Polaris Music Prize always seems to be a surprise when it comes to the pronouncement of a winner. Last night’s finale was no different as Montreal proggy, indie rockers Karkwa took home the Polaris Music Prize for its fourth album, Les Chemins de Verre (Audiogram).  (The first francophone band to do so.)

Yesterday’s much ballyhooed ceremony at CTV's Concert Hall at Toronto’s Masonic Temple featured performances by all ten of this year’s shortlisted artists – Broken Social Scene, The Besnard Lakes, Tegan and Sara, Shad, Caribou, Owen Pallett, Dan Mangan, Radio Radio and The Sadies.

The band – singer Louis-Jean Cormier, keyboardist Francois Lafontaine, drummer Julier Sagot, drummer Stéphane Bergeron and bassist Martin Lamontaigne – was formed in 1998 and have released three albums prior to Les Chemins De Verre, including Les Tremblements s’immobilisent, which won a trio of Felix Awards in 2006.



Previous Polaris winners are Fucked Up (2009), Caribou (2008), Patrick Watson (2007) and Final Fantasy (2006). Voting by a 200-member jury resulted in a 10-title shortlist of Canadian albums released between June 1, 2009 and May 31, 2010. An 11 member gala grand jury then selected a winner while the event took place. The band was presented their $20,000 cheque by the previous year’s winner (Fucked Up’s) Damian Abraham.

Sirius Satellite Radio and Radio 3 broadcast the ceremony live across North America, and around the world on the web at radio3.cbc.ca. The gala was also webcast live on Muchmusic.com and will be broadcast Sept. 25th at 9pm ET on MuchMusic with repeat airings no doubt to follow ad infinitum.


Find more artists like Karkwa at Myspace Music