La Sera - Break My Heart

Sic Alps - Glyphs

This is Pop Download-o-rama

Saturday, June 30, 2007


Looking for something fun and exciting to do? Watch Douglas Coupland's excellent Souvenir of Canada. My favourite documentary of the past year.

Friday, June 29, 2007

REVIEW The National - Boxer

Peripatetic Ponderings

I like to walk at night because it affords me the best time to truly listen to music. It forces me to focus on a given recording, usually from start to finish uninterrupted. I also like to listen old school with my Sony Discman and a fresh battery recharge. (My Ipod is just far too tempting to my musical ADD tendencies.) Compulsions aside, I couldn’t tell you much about that night I walked with Boxer, the new recording by Brooklyn, New York’s
the National. Suffice to say I was not run over by a car as I wandered in my aural stupor, nor did I get lost. Figuratively speaking though… Well, that’s another story entirely.

“Fake Empire” (download here) begins the disc in a flurry of piano notes, with vocalist Matt Berninger dropping unfussy observations about “making pies” and putting a “little something in the lemonade”. Like an affable drunk offering the best tidbits of life to a lonely bar room he draws you into his melancholic world. Anyone else attempting this would sound contrived and forced, the National simply make it sound natural. Songs like “Slow Show” and “Start a War” reveal a palpable intensity so rarely felt on contemporary recordings. Boxer reminded me a lot of R.E.M.’s Reckoning because of its style and the feeling it evokes. Like R.E.M.’s opus this is a record that will stick with you for quite some time. Songs like “Squalor Victoria” and the Sufjan Stevens guested “Ada”, merely seal the deal.

This record had me from the start; the effort is top-notch. Comprised of two sets of brothers—Bryce and Aaron Dessner, Scott and Bryan Devendorf—and the aforementioned Matt Berninger (plus sometime member Padma Newsom) the National are truly hitting their stride in 2007. The group met in their native Cincinnati in the early 1990s, then moved to Brooklyn, New York Following three releases on indie label Brassland Records, the band made the leap to the Beggars Group in 2005 with the sublime Alligator, an album filled with dark lyrics and song cycles that really paved the way for Boxer's successful path. Boxer is that rare record I have been waiting for that truly captivates as much as it entertains. It will no doubt feature prominently on my Year End List. It is a special recording that demands your attentions. Seek it out, you won't be disappointed.

Recommended PPPP

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

REVIEW Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation - Deluxe Edition

I was surprised this morning to hear that the ubiquitous swimming baby on Nirvana’s Nevermind turned sixteen this week. (Happy Birthday Spencer Elden) Yet another blow to a delicate mid-life crisis I have long endured. (It started when I was 15 I think) A more subtle reminder of my aging status though was the release of Sonic Youth’s 1988 masterpiece Daydream Nation in Deluxe Edition last week. In all its remastered, re-jigged, and ragged glory you would be hard pressed to find many fans of indie rock that don't have some deep connection with this record. Twenty years on and it still manages to leave me more than a little awe struck. That the record is great is a given but it's also one of a handful that helped shape the notion of what indie rock can potentially mean to a generation. Daydream Nation was a real touchstone recording. It represented an emerging punk rock scene that would eventually reach its zenith with the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind almost four years later. It also represented a departure for the band, on its way from semi-obscurity to semi-fledged “rock” stardom.

At the time of Daydream Nation's first appearance, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo, Thurston Moore, and Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) were well regarded in the critical music community. They were the New York band whose previous album Sister landed them on nearly every “best of” list only one year earlier. Daydream Nation though was the consistent one though that put them on the map and in the hearts of discerning music listeners everywhere. Songs like “Teenage Riot” to “Cross the Breeze”, the fourth track on the album reveal Sonic Youth’s vision to be nothing short of a revelation. Like only a handful of "classic" recordings, this one has aged very well. This is the record that launched a thousand xeroxed ‘zines and influenced would be future bloggers so intensely. What makes this latest release even more engaging though is the inclusion of an astounding collection of live performances, touching on every song on the album. Interestingly, the band will be taking this record on the road to perform it live its entirety this summer at select locations. What this aging hipster wouldn’t do to witness that spectacle again so many years later. At least we’ve got this disc to put on and sit under the patio lanterns, ipods blasting on the Expressway to Yr Skull.

Highly recommended. PPPPP (That's 5 POPS outta 5 Folks)

Kill Yr Net Radio

Recently I have read a number of stories about Net Radio going Dark for a Day. Not all of it, but according to the Globe and Mail at least 45 stations representing thousands of channels. The stations are protesting a ruling establishing royalty rates that will put most of them out of business on July 15. "The ruling... is expected to cost large webcasters such as Yahoo and Real Networks millions of dollars, drive smaller websites like and out of business and leave a large chunk of the 72 million Net radio listeners in the dark." SaveNetRadio has a page where US residents can locate their senators and representatives to call them today. But where the hell is the "Amazing Radioman" when you need him? Maybe Michael Moore should focus his next film effort on this digital "de-evolution"... The whole idea of internet radio has such amazing potential and for this enterprise to face such a bureaucratic hurdle now will be its death knell.

In Canada, copyright payments are structured differently than its U.S. counterparts with tariffs and licenses. SOCAN has been developing a tariff system based on a percentage of gross revenues and two other groups, the Audio-Visual Licensing Agency and Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency Ltd., offer special license agreements with individual webcasters.

Perhaps the American internet broadcasters should move to Canada and like the pirate radio broadcasters in the UK in the late sixties and seventies enlighten an information and music "needy" public that way.

If you are out there "Radioman", America needs your help now.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sam the Record Man to Close

Being a record collector sure does suck these days. With the recorded music industry on it's death bed and the compact disc all but buried, Sam the Record Man, the one-time cross-Canada music store chain, will close its iconic
downtown Toronto flagship location this month. Jason and Bobby Sniderman, sons of founder Sam Sniderman, announced that the venerable Yonge Street location will close its doors for good on June 30.

The pangs of sadness I am feeling are real. Don't laugh, Sam the Record Man was the store I HAD to visit every time I made a trip to the Big Smoke. I could always count on finding that obscure Japanese import or Clash single on vinyl in the overcrowded bins of that store. You had to search but you would always be rewarded. That was its appeal. I could spend hours in that place (and many times I did.) In some ways it felt like a home away from home to me. Discovering new music that would keep my elitist tendencies alive for at least a few days.

I guess I should have seen the writing on the wall. The stores in London closed over two years ago; Sarnia and Belleville apparently the only ones left now. I will miss you Sam the Record Man, with your yellow hand written price tags, delete bins and faded signatures on your walls. Luckily I've got a few souvenirs on my cd shelves to remind me of you. Now if only I could find a way to put the neon SAM sign in my music room. Perhaps then, I wouldn't be so sad.

Updated Links: Sam's to Auction Assets , Detailed Listings and Pictures