Monday, March 31, 2008
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
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
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.
Everyone, 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
Watch the entire Pollan interview here : http://www.cbc.ca/thehour/video.php?id=1992
Highly recommended. I’ll never eat another twinkie in this lifetime.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
"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.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
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 email@example.com.
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!
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...
Video Philip M Lane
Tape James Rutledge
Case Jacob Blandy
Radiohead Extend "Videotape,"
Release Limited Edition Copy of One
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
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.
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
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
48% of teenagers bought no CDs at all in 2007, up from 38% in 2006. Music downloads continue to grow, though, with iTunes leading the way.
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's tour of North America continues. Her recent SXSW gig garnered rave reviews.
Monday, March 10, 2008
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and the most creative takes it. Contest closes in ten days. I'll cover the postage and everything.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
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 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...
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.