Archive for March, 2009

Hey Canada, It’s The Darcys

March 31st, 2009 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

 There’s a strong chance that as this is being written, five young men from Toronto calling themselves The Darcys are huddled in a van, driving across the great white North, intent on bringing their distinct musical vision (which blends shades of indie, post-punk, post-rock and contemporary folk) to the furthest reaches of our home and native land. Tonight, March 31st, they’ll be playing in Moncton, New Brunswick. Tomorrow Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. And the day after that they’ll be back in Halifax, where the history of The Darcy’s begins.

“Jason [Couse] and I had been at King’s for a year, going to school, and we really wanted to start a band,” recalls drummer Wes Marskell. “We found out this guy named Kirby [Best] had some demo tapes that he’d been screwing around with. We didn’t know him, so we were drunk one night and we finally got up the nerve to ask him if he’d play in our band.”

 

They also pinned him down for some reason having to do with it being Halloween and them being drunk. Luckily Kirby still joined the band.

 

“We woke up the next morning and said, ‘shit, we gotta go to band practice,’” says Marskell.

 

With bassist Dave Hurlow (and later Mike Le Riche) completing the lineup, The Darcys began gigging heavily around Halifax, playing a 50/50 set of covers and originals.

 

“We played as many shows as we could and Halifax is wonderful for that, because there’s always something going on,” says Marskell.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydKuARmONJY]

When four out of the five members of The Darcys finished their tenure at King’s in Halifax, they moved back to Toronto, where they’d all come from originally. Having initially thought that the move would spell the end of the band, they instead found that they actually all lived within a couple blocks from each other, and so despite the relocation it was business as usual for The Darcys.

 

They continued touring and in 2007 released their debut full-length, Endless Water, an album recorded in a children’s museum in Waterloo, Ontario. Positive reviews ensued.

 

“We kind of just did it to say, ‘hey, we’re in a band, we made a record.’” says Marskell.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADOKoJqBNtg]

After the band completes their current nine-week tour of Canada, the tour after it in June, and the “small one” planned after that in August, they hope to “buckle down” and finish their second album in time for the holiday season. In the meantime they’ve released a cover of Final Fantasy’s “The CN Tower Belongs To The Dead” as a free download on their website to tide over fans hungry for new material.

 

The Darcys are playing Tribeca April 2nd and The Paragon Theatre (formerly the Marquee Club) April 3rd.

 

http://www.myspace.com/itsthedarcys

 

http://www.thedarcys.ca

 

Click here to purchase Endless Water.

New Bob Dylan Song: Beyond Here Lies Nothin’

March 30th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

So in case you haven’t heard, (I barely managed to catch it), Bob Dylan has unleashed one track off his new album, Together Through Life, as a free download on his site. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! The song will only be available for one day, namely, today. So if you haven’t downloaded it, get on it. And if it’s too late…well, April 28th isn’t that far away anyways…or maybe it is…

Anyways, is the song any good? Yeah, it’s not bad, but it’s not shit-stormingly amazing either. On the plus side, Dylan’s backing band sounds great and the production gives the song a dense, exotic, almost voodoo vibe that’s not too far from the sound Daniel Lanois gave him on Time Out Of Mind. That being said, the song is straight blues (I don’t how Dylan’s gotten away with doing it for over 40 years but still I’m totally diggin’ it. When other artists resort to it though, I can’t stand it). And my biggest gripe with it is that Dylan’s usually a master of incredible opening lines, but here he starts it off with, “well I love ya pretty baby.” What? Come on man, seriously?
Still, the rest of the lyrics aren’t bad and the song’s key phrase/title, “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'”, is pretty good and there’s a couple decent lines throughout the rest of the song. Most importantly, Dylan clearly hasn’t simply dropped the ball he’s been bouncing so inexplicably well since TOOM. The song shows he’s still in strong form and hopefully, in keeping with every album he’s released since TOOM, the slower songs will more than justify the blues romps. 

The Juan MacLean

March 29th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

I’ve been listening to a lot of dance music lately. Maybe it’s because I just turned 19 and I’m all ready to start tearing shit up in the clubs. That’s right: shit’s gonna get tear-ed up, biatch. This week’s band of the week is a (sort of) duo on the always-reliable DFA label. And the band of the week is…

 

THE JUAN MACLEAN!!!

 

So really, The Juan MacLean is a dude named John MacLean, but he’s joined by Nancy Whang for the project. Both provide sexy, always-multitracked vocals for the project’s sweet 80s-indebted dance rock. Shades of New Order and other dark, synthy dance stuff from the era are apparent, which also likens The Juan MacLean to another modern project obsessed with the 80s: M83. I’m liking The Juan MacLean more though, as they focus more on song construction as opposed to atmospheric overkill.

 

The Juan MacLean, like label-mates LCD Soundsystem and Hercules and the Love Affair, give lyric writing special attention and their songs benefit immensely from it. One example of this is the song “One Day”, in which MacLean and Whang trade off lines as characters in a dramatic, romantic scenario. Instead of coming off as cloying or cheesy (ok, maybe it can be a little cheesy at times), the words are so well written and the song so well constructed that when it builds itself up to a euphoric release via the chorus, the effect is incredible.

 

http://assets.delvenetworks.com/player/loader.swf

At times The Juan MacLean’s sound can be simply too 80’s. But hey, for some reason 1987 is like the hottest thing in 2009, except for some reason, judging from documentation, it’s also way better this time around.

 

http://www.myspace.com/thejuanmaclean

 

http://www.thejuanmaclean.com/

Click here to buy The Future Will Come.

THE GREATEST THING EVER

March 28th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment


Yes. The Greatest Thing Ever has arrived. The soundtrack of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has been remixed with MCing courtesy of Dre, Doom, Common and others. It’s pretty fucking awesome. The crew that put it together’s called Team Teamwork so yeah, if you’re looking to dl it, google something like Team Teamwork Ocarina Of Rhyme or something. Otherwise you can hear it here.

Awesome Album Covers!

March 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Looks like the Ents have discovered Dark Side of the Moon and Zeppelin 4…and they used to be such nice saplings…

Still Life Still Officially Signed to A & C

March 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

About two years ago, me and my band at the time, The Fancy Claps, played a show at The Cat’s Eye down on the U of T campus. It was a benefit show for something. Something to do with getting corporations to stop funding genocides. One of the bands on the bill was Still Life Still. I was about to leave with my friends right before SLS was about to take the stage but I decided to stick around to just hear one song of their’s to see if I might like it. 

I stayed for the entire set and was blown away. I immediately asked Brendon if I could join the band. That’s how floored I was. Unfortunately, Brendon didn’t let me join the band, as he was happy with the set-up they had at the time. Damn. 
But we started talking from time to time and I told Brendon, “You guys could totally be on Arts and Crafts. You’d be perfect for the label,” and Brendon was all like “maybe…you know…if we get offered…I donow…”. Something like that.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dmUE7ucC94]
Today in the A and C newsletter it has finally been officially announced that they’ve signed SLS. Though those of us from the T.O. scene have known about this for a long time already but, at last, it has now become official. 
Still Life Still will be releasing an EP in June and a full-length in August, according to the announcement. Martin Davis Kinack and Kevin Drew produced. 
When I was in Toronto for the break I spoke to SLS guitarist Eric Young about the recording of the album and he said that the people they’re working with have been helped the band sound the best they’ve ever sounded. And they’ve been together now for ten years. 
Not only are Still Life Still my absolute favorite band from the Toronto scene (and that’s saying ALOT), but they’re also the nicest, friendliest, coolest bunch of guys ever. I wish them all the luck in the world, but I don’t think they’re gonna need it.
2009 = The Year of Still Life Still.
http://www.myspace.com/stilllifestill

The Doors

March 24th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s band of the week is one of the most popular, influential and incredible bands of all time. Though their existence (at least their legit existence) only lasted about four years (if you start counting from their first album), this band’s stature has only grown larger and more legendary over the last four decades. This week’s band of the week is…

 

THE DOORS!!!

 

Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robbie Kreiger and John Densmore were, from 1967-1971, The Doors. While Morrison was always the obvious classic rock star of the group – and possibly most potent and powerful American sex icon of recent history -The Doors as a group were one of the most unique and intriguing grouping of musicians. Of course Manzarek is remembered for his phenomenal classical-influenced organ work, but Krieger and Densmore deserve serious cred as well.

 

Not only did Krieger write some of The Doors’ biggest and best songs (“Light My Fire”, “Love Her Madly”) but his guitar playing was consistently inventive and he was always able to play, with finesse, exactly what was required. Take for instance his soloing during the jam bit of “Light My Fire”, or his use of middle-eastern scales in “The End”, or his phenomenal slide guitar on “Down So Long” or whatever the fuck he’s doing at the end of “The Changeling”. It’s good, really good. And Densmore’s jazzy drumming also added nuance and subtlety to the band’s sound.

 

But fuck it, Morrison was the heart, soul, face and balls of The Doors, as their complete inability to achieve success in his absence clearly proves. Morrison was also perhaps the greatest example of a living Adonis, Dionysus and/or Ubermensch known to modern times. He is renown for his adventurous, often drug-fueled lifestyle. His sexual voracity is legendary. But Morrison was also a poet and an intellectual, unlike many other longhaired, poon-faced druggies riding the gravy train to self-parody. His wild, inspired performance was not the pompous posing of today’s faux-rockers, but rather a combination of pure unfiltered id-expression and the art of audience-manipulation with an acknowledged debt to the dramatic theories Bertolt Brecht, Antonin Artaud and others. His combination of madness, intelligence, sensitivity and vivacity remains unmatched by any other celebrity of modern times.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL0OFrtg-BQ]

The two most crucial chapters (albums) in The Doors’ history are the first and the last: The Doors and L.A. Woman. Though plenty of fantastic material can be found in-between those two peaks, it’s on these two albums that The Doors were best defined.

 

The first one finds them bursting onto the world of rock with a sound shrouded in darkness. Morrison’s poetry is filled with otherworldly imagery, even if its simply just looking at the modern world from another perspective, like he does on “Soul Kitchen”. The album also deals strongly in sex (“Alabama Song”, “Back Door Man”, “Light My Fire”) and mystery (“The Crystal Ship”, “End of the Night”).

 

Several years after The Doors, Morrison realized that the image he had created for himself at that time, immortalized in the famous “Young Lion” photograph, had been made into a parody by the media and some no longer took the group seriously. Always smarter than many realized, Morrison shed that persona for the more grounded one of his later years. He grew a beard, cut his hair (just a little to make it look cleaner) and him and The Doors began moving the band’s sound in a more bluesy direction, with Morrison writing lyrics that were now more steeped in material reality, though they were no less distinctly poetic. Instead of “The Crystal Ship”, it was now “L.A. Woman”. His voice took on a gruff edge due to years of hard boozing. It suited the new material though. Morrison’s vibrant sexuality hadn’t decayed, but rather, it had matured with time.

 

The music on The Doors’ self-titled album remains compelling but in many ways it also feels dated, the product of another time and place. L.A. Woman however, particularly its better moments, remains as potent and vital as ever and now holds the place of my favorite Doors album.

 

http://www.myspace.com/thedoors

 

http://www.thedoors.com/

Click here to buy L.A. Woman

New Ungdomskulen Video

March 21st, 2009 | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

One of my favorite bands, Norway’s awesometastic Ungdomskulen, has released a new video. It’s for their song “I Dunno”. The video’s pretty cool. It’s simple; just what appears to be a stop motion filming of them playing live. But of course it’s the song that I’m more excited about. It’s really good. Not as mad and off the wall as what we’ve heard from them before, but still really good. ChEcK iT MoFoS.

http://assets.delvenetworks.com/player/loader.swf

Awesome Album Covers!

March 19th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

“…was to show you my cock…”

The Go-Betweens

March 15th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s band of the week is one of those great cult bands that wrote incredible songs, classic albums, and for some inexplicable reason, just never achieve any of the fame or success they deserve. And its not that they’re inaccessible or anything; it just doesn’t make sense. Bad luck. Bad Timing. Bad management. Who knows. They were to the 80s, what Big Star was to the 70s. This week’s band of the week is…

 

THE GO-BETWEENS!!!

 

From Bisbane, Australia, The Go-Betweens was formed by its core songwriters, Grant McLennan and Robert Forster in 1977. The band began with a The Cure-influenced new wave style, but over the course of time they left that behind in favor of a more classic pop sound.

 

When the time the band released, 16 Lovers Lane, its final album with the original lineup (the band broke up in 1989, but McLennan and Forster started it up again with new people in 2000), the group was at the peak of its powers. The album is a bonafide classic, one of the greatest pop-albums of all time, and the songwriting of McLennan and Forster showcased is on the level of Lennon-McCartney, Strummer-Jones, Chilton-Bell, etc. The first time I heard the album, only the first two songs, “Love Goes On” and “Your Quiet, Quiet Heart” made an impression (albeit, an immediately strong one) but I’ve since come to love the rest of the album as well.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XDmasbARtE]

Those first two songs though are just unbelievable, particularly in their lyrics. “Love Goes On” begins, “there’s a cat in my alleyway/ dreaming of birds that are blue/ sometimes girl when I’m lonely/ this is how I think about you.” Phenomenal. “Your Quiet, Quiet Heart” is slower and softer, but just as emotionally powerful. The chorus goes, “I try to tell you/ yeah, I can only tell you when we’re apart/ about this storm inside of me/ and how I miss your quiet, quiet heart.”


Other songs on the album like “Love is a Sign”, “Streets of Your Town”, “I’m Alright” and “Dive For Your Memory”, all address life and romance in a way that’s brilliantly literate, but not overtly so like, say, the songs of Belle and Sebastian. Like Blood On The Tracks or Pet Sounds, at the end of the albums ten songs, there’s a feeling of wholeness, of two writers having finally managed to write a work that will endure and inspire for generations to come. 

 

http://www.myspace.com/thegobetweensmusic

 

http://www.go-betweens.net/

To buy 16 Lovers Lane click here.