The Marlees

September 15th, 2014 | Mp3 Posts | 0 Comments

themarlees

Montreal’s The Marlees manage to sound like they’re from another planet (Marlee’s World, apparently, as that’s the title of their latest album) and, at the same time, like they’re recording in some dank, dim basement or warehouse. They also sound like they’re big Phil Spector/girl group fans. (via Weird Canada)

Terror Pigeon!

September 14th, 2014 | Mp3 Posts | 0 Comments

terrorpig

I think I saw Nashville’s Terror Pigeon! a couple years ago. If I’m correct, they were playing with Gobble Gobble or Born Gold (same peeps, sorta) back at the Kapisanan Philippine Centre in Toronto. I believe it was one of Daniel Woodhead‘s (aka Moon King) shows, which were always incredible. I could be wrong about all this…

…But if I’m not, the ‘band’ was one dude with an iPod basically starting a party and everyone was getting into it. Also the music was really cool – the kind of hyper-fun ADHD genre that’s popped up in the last couple years.

Anyway…Looks like Terror Pigeon!‘s got a new album dropping in a couple days called LIVE IT UP BEFORE YOU DIE. True say. Though I remember the older stuff being more jovial, from what I’ve heard of the new stuff, it’s got a beautiful melancholy to it, like that feeling that only comes around at 5:00 am when the party’s over and you’re lying on the couch half-awake with some girl’s head in your lap. (via Portals)

Music From Far Off Places

September 13th, 2014 | The Mix | 0 Comments

ancientycity

When you’re a young person in North America, you think the world is very small. Movies and music and everything ‘good’ comes from here, or England. And maybe Sweden too. But if you’re curious, as you get older you start to wonder about the books they write in Uzbekistan, the music they listen to in Turkey, and the movies they watch in Poland. And as you continue to explore, the world opens up, and you realize what a wealth of art exists out there just waiting to be consumed and appreciated. And with the internet, we actually can appreciate all these amazing things from all the places that seem most remote from us.

Lately I’ve been trying to really explore the music from the countries we don’t really hear much from, at least in relatively mainstream culture. This is a little mix with music from the past and relative present, from countries as diverse as Nigeria, Japan, Lebanon, Turkey, Israel, Poland, Russia, Finland and India. I made it for others who are curious.

What If? (aka The F Word)

September 12th, 2014 | Film | 0 Comments

whatif

What If? – released in some places as The F Word – is an indie teen comedy that just barely transcends its abject indie-teen-comedy-ness by virtue of a cast of talented young actors and a handful of solid creative decisions. It’s also set in Toronto, which scored points with me for sentimental reasons.

Daniel Radcliffe plays Wallace, a relatively down on his luck med school dropout who just broke up with his cheating girlfriend. While at a party with his friend Allan (GirlsAdam Driver playing a less interesting version of his character on the show) he meets Allan’s cousin Chantry (adorably played by Zoe Kazan, legendary director Elia Kazan‘s granddaughter), a clever ‘indie chick’ who works as an animator. The two hit it off and Wallace ends up walking her home, only to find out while getting her number that she’s got a boyfriend. Not looking to get friendzoned, Wallace lets her number float off with the wind (apparently we don’t have iPhones to put numbers into in Canada?). As fate would have it though, the two meet again soon outside of The Royal after both seeing The Princess Bride there alone. Wallace ends up walking her home again, and his and Chantry’s chemistry is so irresistible that Wallace gets sucked into the friendzone. He then spends the rest of the movie (predictably) trying to get out of it.

The movie’s greatest asset is the chemistry between Radcliffe and Kazan. Or actually, Kazan and everyone she comes in contact with. Not only is she physically cute, but she plays Chantry with such believable charm; the kind that just emanates off a great young actor, like Richard Dreyfuss in American Graffiti or The Apprenticeship Of Dudy Kravitz. Radcliffe does a fine job as Wallace as well, though poor guy, next to the 6’3 Adam Driver he looks painfully short. Not like I should be talking, not being tallest guy in the world either… In any case, if only the script would just chill the fuck out and let these two talk for five seconds without every comment being a witty retort or some kind of audaciously sexual joke that our generation should apparently identify with, maybe we could actually take the relationship seriously. It’s as if the producers were like, “it’s not funny enough – more sex jokes!”

A fairly decent mindie soundtrack and some nice animation help the overall product, but if only they would’ve cooled it with the ‘witty’ banter, What If? could’ve been more than just a fairly enjoyable ‘teen movie’. But at least the film does showcase the talents of Radcliff and Kazan, who both again prove their solid acting chops. And to be fair, I walked out of the theatre with a smile on my face. Credit where credit is due.

XAXAXA

September 11th, 2014 | Mp3 Posts | 0 Comments

xaxaxa

The first band I’ve ever heard of from Macedonia, punk rockers Bernay’s Propoganda, apparently decided a while ago to grab another guitarist and start the second band I’ve heard of from Macedonia, XAXAXA. The music they’re making is still punk, but it’s maybe more kind of pop-punk now. Their new album Sami Maži i Ženi, their third apparently, is available on bandcamp pwyc.

Beiju

September 7th, 2014 | This Is New York | 1 Comment

beiju

Former Night Manager-member Caitlin Seager wrote a song about social media for what appears to be her first track with her fluorescent new project Beiju. It’s cool. (via Portals)

Ida

September 6th, 2014 | Film | 0 Comments

Ida, Sundance Film Festival 2014

I went on the March of the Living a couple years ago. It was the first time I’d ever been to to Poland, even though three out of four of my grandparents were born in (what was at least then) the country. It was a very interesting experience.

Poland used to be home to around 3.2 million Jews. To put that in perspective, if Poland had 3.2 million Jews today, it would have the third largest Jewish population in the world after Israel and America. Only about two hundred thousand of them survived the war.

Understandably, the ghost of the what was once European Jewry still lingers in Poland, and the country continues its attempt at coming to grips with this. Pawel Pawlikowski’s film Ida can be seen as one such effort. It is the story of one such Jewish ghost who returns to haunt those who remain.

The title character, Ida, is a young nun who has grown up in the convent and is about to take her vows and confirm herself for G-d forever. Before she does though, one of her superiors (the head nun? I’m not sure how it works…) tells her that she must visit her sole living relative, an aunt named Wanda. When she does, she learns from her aunt – a judge and former prosecutor for the communist government – that she is, in fact, Jewish, and her parents were murdered in the Holocaust. She was handed over to the church as a baby, and so spared from being slaughtered along with them.

It’s hard to tell exactly how Ida receives the news, as her entire characters comes across as a blank slate coloured in only by religious ritual. Wanda, however, sees in her the sister she loved and lost, and more or less drags her along on a mission to find out where her parents were buried and transfer their remains to the family plot in the Jewish cemetery.

Along the way we see the damage the war and the communist regime has had on Wanda, as she drinks, hooks up with random men, and every now and then breaks her pissy demeanour to say something honest and show just how painful Ida’s appearance in her life is, reawakening old, painful memories. At one point she says to Ida, “I won’t let you throw your life away!” And we see how Ida too is forever lost to her, too far gone from her Jewish past and family and too engulfed in the world of Christian ritual and belief for the two to ever truly connect. Wanda wishes that they could, seemingly because she sees buried somewhere in Ida the only remains of the her sister’s soul.

The defining quality of the film is its understatedness. Though there’s not an extreme shortage of dialogue, it is for the most part quiet, calmly delivered. Rather, it is the film’s black and white cinematography that speaks to the viewer. Ida, in particular, cannot be understood through her speech at all; the viewer is forced to try to pierce her placid exterior to see from her movements, her facial expressions, her lack of expressions, how she is processing her incredible experience and hitherto unknown history. Actually, it would have been good if Pawlikowski took more time with Ida to explore what this news that she is Jewish and that her parents were murdered in the Holocaust actually means to her, as what should be the film’s focal subject is treated by its main character as an almost superfluous detail.

The cinematography’s other triumph is capturing the feel of post-war soviet Poland in its dreariness and confusion, caught between the old world and the slowly but surely encroaching new Western-dominated one. An excellent and very classical European soundtrack assists in this.

To me, Ida came across as something of an allegory for the death of Polish Jewry. Either it was murdered like Ida’s family, assimilated and erased like Ida herself, or removed of its own volition, like Ida’s aunt Wanda. All that is left of it is a memory, a faded black and white photograph, and a thunder of silence. I’m not sure if this was Pawlikowski’s intention – perhaps he simply wanted to reflect on a time and a place in Poland he remembered – but that’s what I saw in the film and what I see in Poland, a far off place that will always be one of memories inherited or imagined.

Eytan Tobin

September 3rd, 2014 | Mp3 Posts | 0 Comments

eytan

Eytan Tobin is one of my home boys from back in T-dot. He made this EP recently, a couple tracks of slurred neon synths and beats called For Everyone לכולם, and Rare Beef Records is putting it out September 9th.

Rich Aucoin

September 2nd, 2014 | Mp3 Posts | 0 Comments

richaucoin

Halifax’s human endorphin-producing machine Rich Aucoin has a new album coming out called Ephemeral. Dropping September 9th, the full-length apparently syncs up with the 1979 claymation film adaptation of The Little Prince, which is just so perfectly Rich Aucoin. For those joining the party a little late, Rich synced up his 2007 Personal Publication EP with the animated The Grinch cartoon from the 60s.

If you can’t wait until the 9th to hear the full album, it’s streaming over at Exclaim.ca.

Obscurity Points // Wipers

September 1st, 2014 | Features | 0 Comments

wipers

Wipers almost can’t be considered an obscure band simply because so many people and publications have written about them and their obscurity. Among those who have named them as an influence, the list, according to wikipedia, includes Dinosaur Jr., The Melvins, Nation Of Ulysses, and most notably, Kurt Cobain. And yet I’ve never heard anyone in real life talk about Wipers. Unlike other cult acts like Big Star and Death, there’s yet to be a big festival circuit documentary about the band. All of which, I guess, means we writers have to keep writing about them.

Started by Greg Sage in the late 70′s in Portland, Wipers played what we would now call proto-grunge punk, though Sage claims that at the time, what they were doing was too weird for the ‘punk’ tag. As the legend goes, their first three albums, Is This Real? (1980), Youth Of America (1981) and Over The Edge (1983) are the classics, perhaps some of the best records to emerge out of the Northwest punk scene of the era. Recently I checked them all out and the rep is legit: these albums are punk classics. They feel confidently assembled with a sharp lo-ish-fi sound, consisting of rough but catchy pop songs and one or two more experimental tracks each; none of the three are too long or too short. And there is something just a little weird about them, a little ‘Portland’, keeping them interesting after all the years and bands later.

The band continued to release albums through the 80s and 90s, and I’m looking forward to checking them out, but the general word is that the first three are the ones to beat. But who knows, maybe I’ll have to do a feature on one of those if it turns out there’s an unappreciated classic hiding in the discography, which is sometimes the case.

According to Pitchfork’s feature on the band, Sage was invited to open for Nirvana on tour, and that could’ve been their breaking out moment. And Sage passed on the opportunity. What if he hadn’t? Would Wipers have broken out and become one of the defining grunge bands of the era? If so, maybe nobody would be writing about them anymore – they’d be a product of time and place. The upside is that the best cult bands are often the ones who were passed over in their time and so become timeless.