Archive for October, 2009

The Crayon Fields

October 18th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s band of the week is a four piece from Australia with a childish, twee-like charm but that records sophisticated pop not unlike The Go-Betweens if they had a modern Phil Spector producing them. The band of the week is…

THE CRAYON FIELDS!!!
This Melbourne band sounds like a lot of other bands, but luckily they’re a lot of really kick-ass bands. Imagine the ornate beauty of The Zombies or The Beach Boys married to the fragility and literate intimacy of something like Belle and Sebastion and that’s kind of The Crayon Fields. Like their forebears, The Crayon Fields have a knack for composition and their arrangements are so precise and meticulous they feel like they’ve been finely chiseled out of kaleidoscopic clay or something.
I’ve only heard their latest album, All The Pleasures of The World, but that album kicks ass. It’s nine perfect songs, each unique, filled with it’s own touching intimate details and private confessions. The first song, the chilly “Mirror Ball” instantly smacks with it’s refrain of “I look at you and suddenly/I’m a virgin/In a dancehall”. There are other killer lines but that ones probably the most instantly grabbing and why it’s right there at the beginning of the album.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ancPtPc1u4Y]
I also like how the album doesn’t hem too close to it’s influences as some classicist tend to, but the maintain enough connection to the present to not simply be a retread of the past. The Belle and Sebastion-ness actually helps with that. So yeah, goooood stuff.
http://www.myspace.com/thecrayonfields
Click here to buy All The Pleasures Of The World.

The Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt at Rancho Relaxo, Oct. 15th

October 16th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Basically, I did a lot of work last night but was all alone and wanted to go read somewhere with people and life and stuff. So I headed over to Rancho, and even though it was already like 12 or something, I paid five bucks and I think I got my money’s worth.
Everyone was dressed up in costumes and a couple dudes with mics were singing over a kind of midi-like track playing through the PA off their iPod. This would be The Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt, which was not so much a band as…an experience or something. No, they didn’t really sing, it was more like yelping and hollering and it was really good. Everyone there got really into it and they had this crazy little dance party in the middle of the venue, which was kind of crazy to watch because everyone was in really weird costumes. Then again, hipsters dress really weird every day and it’s always fun to watch them dance at concerts. I’m just kidding hipsters, you know I love you.
So yeah, the music was surprisingly good and really heartfelt considering it was comprised mainly of what sounded like a super cheap drum machine and toy keyboard, both of which I suppose it would have been too much of a hassle for them to lug down…

Ten Most Important Albums Of The 00s (to me, at least)

October 14th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

#1. The White Stripes – Elephant

The White Stripes were the greatest band of the 00s. And I’m sticking to that story. Consider what The White Stripes (or just Jack White, really) have accomplished this decade:

-To start, Jack White was brilliant and gave them an instantly recognizable look, utilizing red, white and black because he knew those were the most striking colors in nature . He also created the little brother-sister/husband-wife mystery that surrounded the band back in the early days.

-Then, they (along with The Strokes) totally revitalized rock at the turn of the century.

-They made it totally acceptable to be a drums-guitar two piece and now some of the hottest bands (No Age, Japandroids, Dodos) are only guitar and drums duos.

-They almost single-handedly gave Detroit a short-lived rock scene, with Jack White going so far as to produce albums for other then up-and-coming Detroit bands like The Von Bondies and put together a compilation to celebrate the scene called Sympathetic Sounds Of Detroit.

-He basically made Brendan Benson a rock star, first by calling his album, Lapalco, his new favorite album on his website, and then starting The Raconteurs with him. Speaking of side projects, he’s got two (The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather; he refers to them as other bands, not side projects), both of which are pretty decent.

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-He contributed solo tracks to the soundtrack for Cold Mountain. He wrote and performed (with Alicia Keys) the theme song for the latest James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace.

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He wrote the song “Love Is The Truth” for a great Coke commercial that only aired in Australia and once in the UK.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9zgT3WzTVA]

The White Stripes also appeared in the Jim Jarmusch film Coffee and Cigarettes, and Jack White had small parts in Cold Mountain and Walk Hard, in which he was awesome.

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They had a guest spot in a Simpsons episode.

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Jack White was one of the featured guitarists (along with Jimmy Page and The Edge) in the 2009 documentary It Might Get Loud.

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The music videos they made with Michele Gondry for “Fell In Love With A Girl” and “Hardest Button To Button” are acknowledged classics.

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-He produced the Grammy award winning comeback album, Van Lear Rose, for country legend Loretta Lynn. He (ironically) played bass on the song “Go It Alone” on Beck’s 2005 album Guero. He worked with Beck on three songs, “It’s My Fault For Being Famous”, “Cash Grab Complications On The Matter”, and “Honey, We Can’t Afford To Look This Cheap” on the Conquest EP. He sang on the Electric Six’s classic “Danger! Danger! High Voltage”. He has supposedly worked with Bob Dylan on some Hank Williams tribute album and done some kind of work with The Rolling Stones. The Flaming Lips have a song called “Thank You Jack White (For The Fiber-Optic Jesus That You Gave Me)”.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SHAX4z4sLg]

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-He has his own record label, Third Man Records, which released all six White Stripes records, as well as albums by the band Whirlwind Heat. It will soon release an album by a band called The Muldoons. It recently opened up a physical store in Nashville.

-The White Stripes have won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album for their last three albums (Elephant in 2004, Get Behind Me Satan in 2006, Icky Thump in 2008) and they won Best Rock Song for “Seven Nation Army” in 2004. They’ve played at the Grammys and The MTV Movie Awards. They were also the first band to play on The Daily Show.

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-In 2007, they toured to every province and territory in Canada, including Nunavut. The tour was filmed and released as the movie The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights, which screened for the first time at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2009.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4lUgAdZ31c]

-Not to mention they’ve made six great albums over the past ten years (The White Stripes in 1999, De Stijl in 2000, White Blood Cells in 2001, Elephant in 2003, Get Behind Me Satan in 2005, Icky Thump in 2008), each a unique entry in the catalogue.

-I’ve seen the White Stripes twice and I own the live DVD Under Blackpool Lights and they’re awesome live. So awesome that they topped a Rolling Stone poll for the greatest contemporary live band.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVot-9nGeAg]

Wow. Anyone want to name another band or artist that has accomplished that much this decade? That’s right: it’d be tough.

So why is Elephant the album of the decade? Well, it’s hard to say if it’s their best (that might actually be Get Behind Me Satan), it wasn’t their breakout (that would be White Blood Cells), but it is perhaps their most classic. I mean, the leadoff single is “Seven Nation Army”, possibly the most rifftastic song since “Smoke On The Water” or “Ironman”. It was also the first rock song I ever performed live (I sang, didn’t even play guitar). Camp Shalom. 2003. That alone makes the album a classic.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VutMLnjXTY4]

But it’s more than that. If White Blood Cells was where The White Stripes really found their sound, Elephant was where they perfected it. It was also the first time they made an album that really held together perfectly and they’ve managed to continue that on subsequent releases. They could still be weird and eclectic, but somehow they managed to make it work better, make it fit in better. And Jack White was getting really interesting as a producer and record-maker: check out the Queen-esque wall of harmonies on “There’s No Home For You Here”, or the little self-help intro to “Little Acorns”.

Elephant was also the first time we got to hear Jack White really let loose with his guitar skillz on record. He wasn’t just about big, bad chords, as evidenced by the zippery solo on “Seven Nation Army”, the frantic bombast on “Black Math”, the bluesy squalor on “Ball and Biscuit” and the playful interludes on “Girl You Have No Faith In Medicine”. I think I forgot to mention that Rolling Stone named him the 17th Greatest Guitarist of All Time. Just add that to the list.

“Hardest Button To Button” was another great single. “You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket” was a beautiful little tune. “Well It’s True That We Love One Another” was a cute little closer featuring Holly Golightly. In 2006 I was writing a song and I needed a name for it and I thought about “Holly” because of Holly Golightly, who I knew from that song. The Fancy Claps song “Holly” later got my band named one of the top 25 best bands on Myspace by RollingStone.com.

Another thing I like about the White Stripes is that it didn’t come too easy to them. They didn’t ride in on a wave of hype; they broke big after six years and three albums, not a couple of songs on blogs. When they started out, people wouldn’t come to see them because they didn’t like Jack’s voice. People would give them a hard time about not having a bass, and say that the brother-sister thing was gimmicky. They totally got dissed in Freaky Friday! Some kid in School Of Rock dissed Meg Whites drumming – along with like everyone else who ever played drums! But look where they made it to! Hipsters like them, they get play on the radio, their songs are featured in movies and commercials (and they’re given a hard time for that too), their albums sell, their tours sell, they headline festivals and they still get respect from everyone from Rolling Stone to Pitchfork to Bob Dylan.

So yeah, I’d absolutely say that the most important album of the decade (to me at least) was Elephant, because it best encapsulates all that made and makes The White Stripes awesome. And music awesome. And breathing awesome. Sure, it’s not as crazy as Radiohead and it doesn’t bemoan the state of the world with drum machines and glockenspiel, but does it kick ass? Yeah it does. The White Stripes showed us that all you really need is a simple set-up, a bit of skill, and thick enough skin to weather all the garbage people are gonna throw at you on your way to the top. “I’m gonna fight ‘em off/A seven nation army couldn’t hold me back,” Jack sang then and he’s still singing it now.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-m4nf511IM]

THANKSGROOVING: Broken Telephone/EASYBOY/Phil Allister/Mirky Thunder at Rancho Relaxo, October 11th

October 12th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments


So, yeah, Thanksgiving isn’t the easiest night to put on a show, but was I going to let that phase me? Nu-uh. Actually, last night’s show went down alright. Started off a little slow, but by the end of the night, it was happenin’. Yeah. Again, I already knew these bands before I booked them so I knew they were going to be good. This is just a summary of how it went down.

First act was Broken Telephone, aka my good friend Breanna. She played a great little set of acoustic folk with her friend Amanda. Wish I took some pictures…but I forgot to…
Next act was EASYBOY, aka Eric Farber, formerly of Truman Peyote. He played a mostly solo act, utilizing some loop pedal stuff, drum machines and a synth. It was kind of on the rough side but always interesting. At this point (11-11:30ish) the place is starting to fill up.
By the time Phil Allister gets on the place is legit. People are buying drinks, filling up the dance floor. I start to calm down a little. They played a kick ass set of kind of fun, loose, colorful rock.
And then, amazingly, at around 1 am, when Mirky Thunder is taking the stage, the place is full, the stage is packed with kids jumping around and dancing. Good times keyboard inflected indie-pop abounded. Awesome end to an awesome night.
Thanks to everyone who came out. Thanks to all the bands who played. Thanks to Danny for helping me out. Thanks to the bartendar, Adam, for being cool. Thanks to Cam for great soundwork. Thanks to Dan Wolovic for letting me book Rancho. Next Groovetastic show is on Thursday, October 22nd at Tiger Bar, with Saskatoon Guitar Destroyer, Triceratops, The Playground Hooker and Datura. Be there – or you must surely be square.

Ten Most Important Albums Of The 00s (to me, at least)

October 11th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

#2. The Strokes – Room On Fire

So why did I choose Room On Fire over Is This It? Well, asides from the fact that I sincerely believe it’s a stronger, more consistent album, Room On Fire, more so than Is This It?, may have foreshadowed or inspired some of the sounds this decade was to take advantage of. For instance, I remember the first time I heard “12:51”, my friends and I were all kind of wowed by the “Nintendo sounds” (we were like, 13 at the time and we didn’t really know about synths) which was, of course, Nick Valensi’s guitar played to sound like a synth. Coincidence that we saw synths become really popular in 00’s? Also, ever noticed that Fab Morretti’s drumming sounds a lot like a drum machine? Coincidence that drum machines came back in a big way this decade? I think not…

Ok, so those are kind of far fetched accreditations, but what’s not debatable is the guitar sound they introduced. Wow! What a sound. Sure, a lot of people say they just nicked it from the Velvets, but not entirely. They were more stylish with it, more regimented whereas the Velvets were too messed to bother…and then everybody stole it. You can hear it in the work of Kings Of Leone, The Stills, Phoenix, Tokyo Police Club, Two Hours Traffic, Locksley, etc. People have even accused bands as far ranging as Broken Social Scene and Deerhunter of trying to sound like The Strokes when those guys start sounding poppy. And the reason for that is because that sound was probably the single greatest discovery of the decade and it filtered down into a lot of stuff. Better than samplers, better than synths, better than drum machines and better than any of your lame ass toys. The Strokes just strummed down, looked cool, and sounded awesome.

And then there’s Julian Casablancas’s voice, conjuring up memories of Jim Morrison’s sexy ass baritone but with the devil may care attitude of Lou Reed. Without a doubt, it was and still is, the sexiest voice in all of rock. And though not all of his lyrics were great, he would often hit on such incredible lines that it blew you away, but so subtly, you might never even notice. “Thinking bout that high school dance/Worrying bout the finals/Yes I know/Your feeling lonely/Lonely, so lonely,” he crooned in “Between Love and Hate”. “We were young darling/We don’t have no control/We’re out of control,” he sang in “Under Control”. “We share some ideas/All obsessed with fame/Says we’re all the same” in “Hard To Explain”. There’s also a line in that song (off Is This It?, I know I know) where he says, “Pretend to be nice/So I can be mean” and I always thought it was, “The chance to be nice/So I can be mean.” I kind of like mine better. That was always how I thought of Casablancas: a badass who was smarter, funnier, and cooler than you.

Room On Fire didn’t start the revolution that was The Strokes and their music, but perhaps it perfected it. True, it didn’t have “Hard To Explain”, but it did have “Reptillia”, and that probably is their most classic song. Damn good, too.

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