La Sera - Break My Heart

Sic Alps - Glyphs

This is Pop Download-o-rama

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Everything Is Pop Book of the Month Club

Love Is a Mix tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time

I remember reading Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity and I was struck by his simple recognition of the transcendent power of music. It was really the first time it had been articulated to me in such certain terms and it was very much relative to my own worldview. By the end of the book though, as much as the familiar pop references tweaked upon every fiber of my being, I felt a modicum of guilt to be part of this elitist music club that were lucky enough to get the joke. The book had soul to be sure but it lacked heart at its essence.

Rob Sheffield’s book, Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time conversely does have ‘heart’ and subsequently delves much deeper. The book traces the relationship between current Rolling Stone Contributing Editor Rob Sheffield and his wife, Renee, their marriage cut tragically short by her death in 1997 at age 31. Sheffield uses their own ‘mix tapes’ as a wistful guide to recall their life together in the college town of Charlottesville, VA. The magnificence of the book emerges in the author’s straightforward writing and appreciation of the music contained on those tapes and how the songs colour “their” stories. Everything from their trips to the air conditioned refuge of the local mall to the merits of concocting Zima based party beverages.

The writing is thoroughly accessible with a palpable grief as he tells the story of his loss as he celebrates Renee's life. He smartly avoids pretentious digressions into the music to focus rather on the personal and universal attachment we all invest in music. Sheffield’s book successfully encapsulates our connection to music through our connection to each other and does so beautifully.

I guess we all cling to our own life experiences and sometimes we are lucky enough to have a soundtrack accompaniment. Those plastic tapes or discs with the hand written label are the priceless vehicles of remembrance. Take the time to put one together for someone you love today.

(I would like to sincerely thank fellow blogger Beth for bringing this wonderful book to my attention.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Have You Hugged Your Ipod Today?

World's Oldest Recording Surfaces Online

As our digital age marches forward with bit torrents , MP3s, cd/dvds, and 'digi-thingamajigs' it doesn't really sound like much; But a ten second long, barely audible reproduction of an anonymous woman singing the French standard "Au Clair de la Lune" has caused a ripple of sonic excitement around the world. The reason: experts believe it's the oldest recording in history.

The recording was made on April 9, 1860, nearly 17 years before Thomas Edison's famous "Mary had a little lamb" wax cylinder recording, which most credited with being the very first reproduction of the human voice by artificial means.

This newest 'old' artifact was discovered by an audio historian named David Giovannoni, who was looking into a device called the phonautograph, an ancient device created by a Parisian audio noodler that was capable of creating visual recordings of sound waves. The machine used a needle, stimulated by sound, to scratch those waves into a paper coated with soot taken from an oil lamp. Giovannoni and his team of sonic sleuths went searching through the archives of the French Academy of Sciences, where phonautograph inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville had left samples of his work, but found none of them really reproduced anything.

That is, until now.

Giovannoni asked for digital samples of Scott's other works to be sent to him in the U.S. and his team was stunned by one particular file that contained just what they were looking for. It took countless hours of fine tuning and adjusting and some slick computer technology before the scientists were finally able to hear what was on that paper - the sound of the very first human voice ever recorded.

This is really stunning stuff! It's only 10 seconds long and almost inaudible but this just plain cool. So with this, remember then, when you press play on your iPod today that the first true recorded song in history started in this primitive state almost 150 years ago. Heck, go one better and put it on your ipod and enact some true irony whilst in shuffle mode.

Right click, file save, to get it here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Canada’s Next Great Broadcast Innovation

Last week, the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) released an official DRM-free BitTorrent of a prime time show– a first for a major north American broadcaster. Canada's Next Great Prime Minister features four young Canadians competing in a heated political competition before four country leaders for $50,000. Obviously geared to a tech savvy audience, this is innovative stuff and quite simply a smart thing to do. I certainly hope it marks the beginning of a trend for the CBC. I know they’re doing this successfully in Norway where it’s proven to be a huge win for broadcasters.

This option is the clear future whether other broadcasters like it or not. To have the opportunity of having a high quality broadcast available to downloaders anywhere is both efficient and forward thinking. Now if only other media outlets and music publishers would jump on board we could truly be on to something here.

grab this show using the uTorrent Client or Transmission for Mac. If you’re new to the concept of BitTorrent a quick Google should lead you to all the information you will need.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

“Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants”

I was watching CBC’s finest hour in television, (boldly titled) “The Hour” and was transfixed by an interview with author Michael Pollan. What drew me to the interview was Michael Pollan's seven words: “Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants.” Michael was promoting his new book called "In Defense of Food" where he analyses how the “Western Diet” came about over the last 100 years and how science has been messing with just what we put in our mouths. You may know him for writing a book called "The Omnivore's Dilemma" but his new book is a revelation. I bought it the other night and I can not put it down.

Watch the entire Pollan interview here :

Highly recommended. I’ll never eat another twinkie in this lifetime.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

If My Head Were Made of Veal, How Much Would it Be Worth?

That headline is in fact my favourite “Kids in the Hall” line ever; one of many I’m afraid. It never ceases to amaze me just how insidious their unique brand of comedy was (and is) on influencing even my own comic psyche. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t run out of my office screaming’ “My pen, my pen” to unwary ‘stylo’ stealing colleagues. Great news then that the Kids are about to embark on a North American Reunion Tour.

"The Kids in the Hall", the watershed comedy troupe of the 1990’s, are returning to their live performance roots for a major North American theater tour in 2008. The tour kicks off at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, IN on April 4, 2008 and will include approximately 30 cities in the US and Canada. Join The Kathies, Headcrusher, the Sales Guys, Buddy Cole, and people you’ve never met before (but somehow recognize from your everyday life) on an adventure into the bizarre and side-splittingly funny.

I saw them on their last "Tour of Duty" in 2002 and it was outstanding. Cue the Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and go see these guys or, or, or… I’ll crush your head.

Tell me your favourite “Kids” line in the Comments section.
(* That is my kid with the "Kids". Thanks Jack, they sure loved you! )

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Vote For the Best Record Store in Canada

In yet another valiant attempt to save our anaemic record industry and simultaneously commemorate upcoming Record Store Day... I give you, today, from the cbc radio3 website:

Please post your nomination of your favourite store on our blog today.

We'll compile all of your favourite stores and next week post the TOP TWENTY STORES that YOU will then get to vote on, starting next Wednesday, March 26. The following week, we'll slim in down to a TOP TEN, then a TOP FIVE, and finally, on April 19th, which is
International Record Store Day , we'll announce our Searchlight #1 independent record store in Canada.

CBC Radio 3 will broadcast live from the winning store, which will also receive a winning trophy and plaque, will get rigged with Sirius satellite radio stereo system, and will have a special in-store appearance from their favourite local artist that we will also broadcast live. So hop on the blog and let us know all about your favourite store and why it should be nominated! If you're shy, feel free to email us your passionate reply to

I know this will be my chance (and yours) to vote for my favourite record store – Grooves, in beautiful downtown London. Places like this are just getting all too rare. Make sure you get to the blog and vote. And heck if you don’t have a record store you like, just vote for Grooves. The proprietors, Troy and Dave are outstanding individuals and deserve all the kudos they can get.

So get out there and vote early and vote often!

But Can I Get That on Blu-ray VHS?

Funny how life can imitate pop art sometimes… After my cd lamentations earlier this week, word of an exclusive Radiohead remix for their song ‘Videotape’ emerged yesterday. But this isn’t your average I-tunes only release or downloadable torrent thing. This one, and do take that literally, is on VHS. And yes, that’s right there is but one copy. Read on.

Monday, March 17, 2008
4 Hour Radiohead Remix on VHS!

A press-release says:

A reworking like no other! Clocking in at four hours on the nose, it surely has to be the longest remix ever committed to (video) tape.

That’s right – a 240 minute version of Radiohead’s track
Videotape (the closing number on the recent download LP In Rainbows) on an extremely limited edition (only one copy available) VHS Video Cassette, with slowly mutating hallucinatory red, blue and green disintegrating visuals. Playing like something has possessed your VCR. Lovingly packaged in a one-off sleeve that references blank/ rental videotapes past and (almost)
present. See pics below.

In an age of USB-stick albums, download-only releases/ remixes and dwindling CD sales, this has to be the most awkward way of releasing a track. And VHS is one of the more unusual and outdated formats to put music on.

Is it a comment on the state of the music industry, or music PR? Fan boy tribute? Ambient epic? Inspiring idea? Bad joke? Deranged waste of time? You decide… Well… You can’t… Because you can’t really hear it. Or watch it. For the time being, there are no promo copies or blog mp3s available. The whole plan is that it isn’t widely available. Does it even exist?

So, how do you get your hands on it? We want to auction it on eBay at some point in the near future with the money going straight to charity. I hope that doesn’t sound corny. I don’t even know if we’ll be able to do that...

Happy blogging!

Video Philip M Lane
Tape James Rutledge
Case Jacob Blandy

Radiohead Extend "Videotape,"
Release Limited Edition Copy of One

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

PLAYLIST 14 - Memory and Desire Stirring

T.S. Eliot wrote that, “April is the cruellest month”. I disagree, August is the cruellest month and the reasons are numerous. The golden promises as it begins, the downward course towards grey deceits as it ends. Those carefree summer days quickly fleeting as longer nights and indistinct clouds dot our periphery. The eighth month enlivens me as much as it discourages me. The songs in this compendium suggest an infinite light to dark cycle. Dig deeply with this one and you will be rewarded. This summation musically reflective of my annual inner seasonal conflict.

This one is in two parts. The perfect primer for the endless summer that waits in the wings as we mire through the wet grey days of March.

Day Side
Memory and Desire Stirring Part I

01. Neko Case - That Teenage Feeling
02. Brian Eno – Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy
03. Beach Boys - Let’s Go Away for A While (stereo)
04. John Cale - The Endless Plain of Fortune
05. Luna - Bewitched
06. Teenage Fanclub – Jesus Christ
07. Big Star - O Dana
08. The Broken West - Shiftee
09. Spoon – The Ghost of You Lingers
10. Lambchop – The New Cobweb Summer
11. Jim O’Rourke - Insignificance
12. Gastr Del Sol - Quietly Approaching
13. Califone - The Orchids
14. Built to Spill - Kicked it in the Sun
15. Marissa Nadler – Cortez the Killer

Night Side
Memory and Desire Stirring Part II

01. Dennis Brown – Johnny Too Bad
02. The Meters - Chug, Chug, Chug-a-lug (Push n’ Shove)
03. Minutemen - It’s Expected I’m Gone
04. The Stooges - Down On the Street
05. The Dirtbombs - Natural Man
06. Mulatu Astatke - Yekermo Sew
07. Black Sabbath - Planet Caravan
08. Black Mountain - Heart of Snow
09. Evangelicals - The Water is Warm
10. Tortoise and Bonnie Prince Billy – Calvary Cross
11. (Smog) – Held
12. Joanna Newsom - En Gallop
13. Van Dyke Parks - G-Man Hoover
14. Okkervil River - John Allyn Sails
15. Daniel Johnston - Blue Clouds

Monday, March 17, 2008

You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory Stick

More Teenagers Ignoring CDs, report says
I once had a conversation with a younger colleague who claimed to have never purchased a cd in his lifetime. At first I felt a little sad for him, having never experienced the joys of Peter Buck’s liner notes or the navigational nightmare that can be found in an import Bjork single. But then it got me thinking… What if I had followed a similar consumer trajectory? I’d certainly have more money in my bank account, that’s a given; I’d have a heck of a lot more shelf real estate too. But deep down I knew I would be missing something had I not chosen the path of reckless musical consumerism. Those little five inch aluminum discs and four yards of vinyl held within them my own life story. These were the songs that guided me on the path, the songs that got me through the break ups, the songs that made me feel better when work was getting unbearable, and the songs that reminded me of every person I had ever met. That music defined me.

And that is why that headline in the LA Times Business Section made me a little heartbroken for an entire generation. Where would they stash their prized ticket stubs? Without their physical copy of Raw Power just what would they get Iggy Pop to sign at Tower Records? Or skip school to meet the Ramones just to have them sign the most important record in your teenage life?

“Gee Iggy, could you sign my download?” I don’t think so.

The downward decline and imminent demise of the cd is well documented. It is on the way out, despite all of my kicking and screaming. So just this once, go out and buy your favourite ten year old a copy of London Calling or even Blonde on Blonde on cd, vinyl anything and let them live with it. Let them grow with it. They might not get that chance in a few years. It's a certainty that their experience will be different. But give them that disc; talk to them about music. Once they discover it’s magic I guarantee they’ll treasure that disc for the rest of their lives.

Oh and one more thing... Joey Ramone really was that tall in real life.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Basia Bulat Sessions on Daytrotter

If you read my blog type thing you have no doubt seen I have a real fondness for the music of Basia Bulat. As her white hot streak towards superstardom continues some wonderful sessions to prove she is indeed no flash in the proverbial fame pan. Not to mention a Sam Cooke and Daniel Johnston cover thrown in the mix. I would swear the woman is after my own heart. Alas, I can dare to dream.

Basia's tour of North America continues. Her recent SXSW gig garnered rave reviews.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Best Things In Life are Free

Hello faithful Everything is Pop readers. Want to win a compilation of some of my favourite music and photos from the past year? I make these for friends and family every year and this is your chance to own one... My coveted limited collection could be yours by merely telling me your favourite artist and why from 2007.

Send me an email and the most creative takes it. Contest closes in ten days. I'll cover the postage and everything.

Be creative!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Online Radio Killed the Video Star

As the astute reader will note, I am a big fan of the late John Peel. His ‘Peel Sessions’ by artists ranging from the Fall to Joy Division to the White Stripes represented spontaneity and innovation in an otherwise mundane format. In a word they were magic; a singular force that influences me even now. Today, through podcasting and notable online radio presence, the likes of Nic Harcourt’s Morning Becomes Eclectic on KCRW and Seattle’s (University of Washington) KEXP, go a long way to sating my hunger for new music.

Radio sessions provide some of the best, most natural musical performances; In some cases they also provide a vehicle for artists to try out new material.
The University of Minnesota’s Radio K has posted a wonderful session by Everything is Pop favourite and London, ON native Basia Bulat. Available to stream and download in handy MP3 format I suggest you seek this one out. It’s very enjoyable and entirely fun. Look around a little too. Other sessions by Daniel Johnston, Jens Lekman and Final Fantasy are also posted.

Basia Bulat is now on tour and plays Call the Office in London, ON on April 4th.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Arcade Fire Stole My Candidate

The Arcade Fire Rocks for Obama – (This One’s For You Amity B)

At last, the intrinsic value of NAFTA is revealed! Democratic hopeful and apparent independent music fan, Barack Obama has grabbed the backing of Montreal's Arcade Fire.

The band has been nominated for a Grammy, graced the cover of Time magazine and boasts fans worldwide. Now, Barack Obama’s camp has nabbed the musicians for two free Ohio shows scheduled for last night and tonight. All in the hope of trying to swing tomorrow's critical vote. Last night's show was near Ohio University, an obvious enticement to university-age backers, so key to the Obama campaign. Their appeal with young first-time voters could be crucial to the Illinois senator in a state presently too close to call.

And just for the naysayers, (are you listening Hillary?) who may be concerned about the band’s country of origin: Of the five members who travelled to this state for shows in Nelsonville and Cleveland, Win and Will Butler are U.S.-born and Texas-raised and Regine Chassagne has dual citizenship and a father who served in Vietnam. The long and short of that being Montreal have basically co-opted the band since it is considered their base of operations.

So thank you Mr. Obama you have excellent taste. For music fans we dodged a big one this time. He could have picked Loverboy...

Sixty Year Old Dude Rocks for Madonna

I had high hopes last year when the Iggy and the Stooges unleashed a new full length release (The Weirdness), over thirty years after their last recording. Alas, it was not “my idea of fun” and mostly reeked of opportunism and juvenile poetic meter. It ranked as one of my biggest musical disappointments of 2007. The news this morning then that Iggy & The Stooges will perform for Madonna at this year’s induction ceremony at first seemed more than a little dubious. But I am willing to forgive Iggy and Co.’s sole musical indiscretion; they will always rank as one of rock’s most influential outfits. For the uninitiated, the choice of the Stooges may seem a little incongruous, but isn’t as strange as it seems: both the band and Madonna are Detroit natives, and Iggy Pop opened for Madonna at the Dublin date for her Reinvention Tour in 2004.

Other performers scheduled at the induction ceremony, which takes place next Monday, March 10th, at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel: Damien Rice (for Leonard Cohen); James Cotton (for Little Walter); Patti LaBelle (for Gamble & Huff); plus John Mellencamp and the Ventures, both of whom are being inducted.

Now… Want to read something really interesting and quite hilarious?
The Stooges multi-page concert rider as posted on the Smoking Gun website.