Archive for June, 2009

The Flaming Lips

June 28th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s band of the week is a well known group of fearless freaks. They’re a little freaky, a little fearless, and a whole lot of awesome. For over twenty years this band has managed to create numerous classic albums of relevant neo-psychedelia, paving the way for a host of imitators and bands that count them as a key inspiration. Though they began as just a bunch of punks on acid, they’ve matured into an institution of audio euphoria and one of the biggest names in major label-signed “indie” rock. This week’s band of the week is…




Led by the awesomely grey-haired Wayne Coyne, The Flaming Lips began as a very noisy band that also happened to like weird sounds and hallucinogenic drugs. As the group matured over the course of several classic albums, they edged closer and closer each time to that signature euphoric sound they have now.


In the mid-90s, a minor hit single with the wonderfully titled, “She Don’t Use Jelly” helped them gain an audience and a record deal with Warner Brothers. As time went on, the Lips got better, weirder and crazier. In ’97 they released Zaireeka, a four-disc album with each disc meant to be played simultaneously on different stereos for a quadraphonic listening experience.


Many would claim that The Flaming Lips broke with The Soft Bulletin, an album now considered a modern masterpiece. Pitchfork even placed it as the third greatest album of the 90s. The Soft Bulletin found Coyne and company almost-entirely ditching noisy guitars in favor of lush synthestration. Lyrically, Coyne aslo dealt with the more pressing issues of life, love and death as opposed to the sometimes more wacky or clever lyricism he’d used in the past.



The Lips followed that masterpiece with another one in Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, a concept album that dealt with the themes of technology and humanity. Again the Lips pushed themselves, making use of strange synthesizers and complex drum-machines. Even so, the Lips adapted themselves beautifully and the album was critically and commercially lauded.


In recent years the Lips have released the ok At War With The Mystics, the tripped out long-in-the-works movie Christmas On Mars, and their next album, the double-disc Embryonic, is slated for release in September. At this point though, it really doesn’t matter if the album is a masterpiece of complete shit, The Flaming Lips have already solidified their reputation as one of the most consistently awesome bands of the last twenty years and their exceptional discography will be treasured by warm-hearted stoners for decades to come.

Awesome Album Covers!

June 27th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Is that “dragon” wrapped up in…christmas lights?!?!?


June 23rd, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s artist of the week is multi-talented, multi-faceted performer and producer who has worked in various radically different genres of music. A nice Jewish boy from Toronto who spends a lot of his time in Paris apparently, people are familiar with his work as producer of Feist’s albums Let It Die and The Reminder, though few are aware of his own substantial body of work. This week’s artist of the week is…

Originally known as rapper Chilly Gonzales, Jason Charles Beck got his start in the music industry as leader of the band Son. They released three albums with Warner Brothers before Gonzales moved on to his next musical venture. Gonzales relocated himself to East Berlin and became a rapper, adopting the name “Chilly” Gonzales. He released three rap albums on the German label Kitty-Yo before moving on to his next phase: a classically-influenced solo pianist. 
In 2004, Gonzales released the excellent Solo Piano, an album which went on to become his best selling album to date. The album is an exquisite collection of instrumental piano compositions that showcase Gonzales’ incredible skills as a subtle and nuanced composer. 
In 2008 he released Soft Power, a great album indebted to the soft rock of the 70s which also featured tracks that harkened back to his skills as a rapper and a classical composer for piano. 
I gotta run off to a party right now so I’ll just write that his last two albums are my favorite. His rap albums are fun and showcase his extraordinary skills as a producer but are goofy and featherweight in comparison to his other work. A prodigious talent, I can only imagine what Gonzales’ next brilliant project will be.

Toronto Digs Dinosaur Bones

June 23rd, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

In the chorus of the song “Royalty”, Dinosaur Bones lead singer Ben Fox sings in his Julian Casablancas-esque midnight coo, “The bourgeoisie got me playing for free.” Contrary to the impression I was under though, Fox is not a communist.


            “That particular song or chorus is about like jumping through hoops to play the game of making it as a band,” says Fox. “Having to do things that you don’t necessarily want to and the struggle that is maintaining credibility while having to play the game.”


The bourgeoisie must like what they see: the Toronto-based indie-rock quintet, Dinosaur Bones has been in existence for roughly a year and half and they’re already playing Edgefest. Not only that, but they’ve already got over 70,000 views on their Myspace, and the other week I heard the aforementioned “Royalty” playing from the sound system of a College St. restaurant.  


Dinosaur Bones began when lead singer/songwriter Ben Fox – tired of living in Montreal where he’d been in school – returned to Toronto with a bunch of songs he’d written while in La Belle Province. He set out to start a band and so he grabbed a couple old band mates and…


“Badabing,” says Fox. “Dinosaur Bones.”


One band member in particular seems to have benefited immensely from Fox’s return and Dinosaur Bones.


“He [Fox] found me. I was wandering the streets aimlessly, I had a beard about six feet long, and he found me and cleaned me up,” says bassist Branko Scekic (jokingly), a well-known (and often pant-less) fixture of the Toronto music-scene. “He saw a twinkle in my eye and gave a kid from the ‘burbs a chance. He saved my life basically when it comes down to it.”


With the lineup solidified, the band began playing shows frequently, often alongside their friends’ bands like Boxes and Bags, Still Life Still, La Casa Muerte, The Miles, Kaliedascope City, and others in the new generation of rising Toronto indie bands. Along the way, they even had time to release an eponymous EP that was well received by the likes of Hero Hill, N.Y.E. and


            Dinosaur Bones are planning to begin recording in August for what will be their full-length debut. The group is currently touring around Ontario, with NXNE performance at The Horseshoe set for June 19th, followed by their Edgefest performance at Downsview Park the next day. And following that, the band plans to continue touring in the fall.

NXNE 2009 Day 3: In-Flight Safety/The Cliks/Wintersleep/Dinosaur Bones/No Age/Homosexuals/Darlings Of Chelsea/Bionic

June 21st, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

So yeah…My third day of NXNE pretty much began when I went down to Yonge-Dundas Square around 7-ish and caught In-Flight Safety. I interviewed this band for the Dal Gazette back when I was in Halifax and they’re really nice guys. Their performance was solid and it was great to see them playing on a huge stage in Toronto after seeing them last play the little one in the Dal Grawood.

The Cliks were on after and didn’t impress. Sounded like the kind of stuff NME overhypes.
Wintersleep was on last and they were alright. Songs like “The Archeologist” were big and awesome and got the crowd excited, but they didn’t have enough really rousing songs and the rest of the set was a little too mellow for a standing outdoor crowd that was there to see a real headliner.
Next was The Horseshoe where Dinosaur Bones were playing. In case you don’t know, these guys are a T.O. band on the up and their set at The Horseshoe finally convinced me they’re going to make it to the next level. The NXNE Horseshoe Dino Bones performance was the best  I’ve seen them give and they played a bunch of great new songs I’d never heard before. Sometimes Dino Bones live shows suffer from their songs being not-danceable enough or maybe even a little slow, but this time they played faster and even made the beats for certain songs more danceable. They’ve got the look, they’ve got the sound, they’ve got the songs and they’ve got the fans. I’m seriously predicting that Boxes and Bags and Dino Bones, if they play their cards right, are gonna be the next two Toronto bands to break, following Still Life Still and Spiral Beach.
We walked up to Lees after to check out No Age. The audience was craaaazy. There was a huge mosh pit at the front of the stage that was just going nuts from the start of the performance to the end. Even when the band was just doing a bit of feedback experimentation everyone was moshing to the formless noise. The new songs they played sounded good but weren’t anything different from the last album. All in all a good performance.
Next stop was Sneaky Dees to see The Homosexuals. I thought they were going to be some new, young band of cheeky brits but instead arrived to see a 59-year-old punk onstage heckling the audience. Turns out The Homosexuals were a band in the 70’s that was recently “reformed” by frontman Bruno Wizard with new members. Sounds bad, but actually, it was kind of amazing. Wizard had more stage presence and rock star magnetism than any other performer I’d seen during the festival. The music was great also. The Homosexuals’ 70s punk wasn’t only great, but didn’t sound dated in the slightest. Despite having never heard their music before the show, Wizard’s performance converted me completely…he was also wearing nice shoes…
Ran over to the Elmo afterwards and saw Darlings of Chelsea before Bionic. Darlings of Chelsea were incredible. This indie-rock band with punk leanings sounded huge, loud and dangerously cool. Bionic were a metal band, and even though I despise the vast majority of metal bands, they had a good vibe about them. I had very few complaints about NXNE. The bands were great and it was like all the good looking girls in Toronto finally came out to some concerts.