Archive for June, 2009

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.

Stevie Nicks

June 15th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s artist of the week is the female singer from a classic band who went on to have a very successful solo career. Enormously successful commercially, few are quick to acknowledge the talent this person has as both a singer and songwriter. This week’s artist of the week is…


Stevie Nicks broke it big time in the 70s when she and Lindsay Buckingham (her boyfriend at the time) joined Fleetwood Mac, transforming it from a psychedelia-tinged blues rock outfit from the 60s into a band of sophisticated songwriters producing meticulous California pop. Stevie Nicks gave the band one of their first big hits when she wrote the classic “Rhiannon” from their first album. However, it wasn’t until their second album, Rumors, that the band became the biggest selling group in the world. 

Rumors was the result of two in-band couples breaking up, one of which was Nicks and Buckingham. Though the breakups were a source of terrible emotional turmoil for the band members, it resulted in some of the groups greatest and most popular songs, like “Go Your Own Way” and “The Chain”. Nicks’ best song on that album was the incredible “Dreams”, a simple song based around a two-note bass groove. 

After Rumours the band made the even-better (though less succesful) Tusk and maybe did a bit more before Nicks left to pursue a successful solo career. Her first album out of the gate was the pretty solid Bella Donna, featuring “Edge Of Seventeen”, e.g. the song that Jack Black sings in the pub in School Of Rock. 


So why am I blogging about Stevie Nicks? It’s not as if she’s lacking for money or fame, people know who she is – but I don’t think they realize just what an incredible songwriter Nicks really is. Take for instance the aforementioned song “Dreams”. Yeah, it’s a pretty song and all, but what’s really amazing about it and other great Nicks songs is the kind of emotional it possesses: “It’s only me/Who wants to wrap around your dreams and/Have you any dreams you’d like to sell?/Dreams of loneliness/Like a heartbeat drives you mad.” More so than about 99% of songwriters male or female, Nicks has a gift for putting into lyrical passages the most poignant and moving emotional statements. And it stems from her ability to be so vulnerable and so honest in her songs. And then there’s that sultry voice – cooing, gentle, sexy and pained.

That being said, Nicks also sometimes stumbles and uses clunky or overly mystical word choices or phrases (the entire song “Sisters Of The Moon” for instance) but regardless, a writer should be judged by their best work, not their worst. And Nicks’ best is considerable indeed. Songs like “Sara”, “Storms”, “Rhiannon” and “Bella Donna” showcase Nicks at her most brilliant. In these songs, Nicks proves that she deserves to be ranked alongside Joni Mitchell and Carol King as one of the finest female songwriters of the 20th century.

Pink Mountaintops at The Horseshoe, June 14th

June 15th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

You know the one dude at a show sometimes who is just WAYYYY to into it? He’s screaming, he’s yelling, he looks like he might be having an orgasm just standing in the presence of the band? Yeah…that dude was me last night at the Pink Mountaintops show. Though I only got there in time to catch maybe four-five songs, I was just so ecstatic to be there and to see these guys onstage. 

The place was packed and the band sounded great. Just like on the record, a haze of guitars filled up the soundscape as lead singer Stephen McBean and female vocalist Amber Webber harmonized with each other, their voices gliding and meshing together beautifully. 
The band’s newest album, Outside Love, I think, is a bonafide masterpiece. It’s a work of gentle, passionate art that approaches the subject of love from a thoughtful, ruminative, often mournful perspective. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so, as the vinyl of the album was sold out at the show last night, even though there were plenty of the other two Pink Mountaintops albums hanging around. 
I got to sort of freakishly exclaim to the band how awesome I thought their set and album were. While the other members of the band were all smiling and like, “thank you”, Stephen McBean looked at me like I was the weirdest thing he’d ever seen but still shook my hand and gave me an awkward smile. Was he high on something or just shocked at my enthusiasm? I don’t know: maybe I just look weird. Which is weird, cuz he’s the one who looks like a very well-dressed mountain man…