La Sera - Break My Heart

Sic Alps - Glyphs

This is Pop Download-o-rama

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hey Everybody - It’s Time to Dig out Your Old Poppy Family Albums

Neil Young Tops Canadian Album List

Last week author Bob Mersereau's new book was released in Canada. Authoritatively titled, The Top 100 Canadian Albums, the hardback compiles the best albums recorded by Canadians in the last 50 years. Like any such book, many favourites are excluded and a few dark horses are included, but it's a terrific, comprehensive volume in which Mersereau plays arbiter, editor and chief bottle washer. (The fact that Eric’s Trip and Simply Saucer were included pretty much confirmed sealed his credibility for me.)

To arrive at his top 100, Mersereau polled nearly 600 music journalists, retailers, musicians and DJs — of all ages — from across the country. The list is based on a tally of their top ten selections.

This one is quite different from the usual fare of this ilk. In fact it’s surprisingly earnest and refreshing in its approach. For instance, many acts who enjoyed great record sales in their heyday aren't included. They might have sold, but as Mesereau explains, “they didn't make great records of impact or influence.” The book is successful because it achieves a balance between the monumental and the unexpected, records that have stood the test of time and those that might have staying power. He could have made this a lot easier for himself.

Neil Young has the number-one album, Joni Mitchell the number two. Bands such as The Guess Who, Rush and The Band, all of whom were true music pioneers in their way, are featured prominently.

Without further adieu… The top 100 albums, according to Bob Mersereau's book.

1. Harvest, Neil Young (1972)
2. Blue, Joni Mitchell (1970)
3. After the Gold Rush, Neil Young (1970)
4. Music From Big Pink, The Band (1968)
5. Fully Completely, The Tragically Hip (1992 )
6. Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette (1995)
7. The Band, The Band (1969)
8. Funeral, Arcade Fire (2004)
9. Moving Pictures, Rush (1981)
10. American Woman, The Guess Who (1970)
11. Songs of Leonard Cohen, Leonard Cohen (1967)
12. Reckless, Bryan Adams (1984)
13. Five Days in July, Blue Rodeo (1993)
14. Twice Removed, Sloan (1994)
15. Up to Here, The Tragically Hip (1989)
16. Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Neil Young with Crazy Horse (1969)
17. 2112, Rush (1976)
18. Court and Spark, Joni Mitchell (1974)
19. Whale Music, Rheostatics (1992)
20. Acadie, Daniel Lanois (1989)
21. Day for Night, The Tragically Hip (1994)
22. Rust Never Sleeps, Neil Young & Crazy Horse (1979)
23. Gord's Gold, Gordon Lightfoot (1975)
24. You Were Here, Sarah Harmer (2000)
25. Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Sarah McLachlan (1993)
26. Road Apples, The Tragically Hip (1991)
27. Gordon, Barenaked Ladies (1992)
28. You Forgot it in People, Broken Social Scene (2002)
29. I'm Your Man, Leonard Cohen (1988)
30. Tonight's the Night, Neil Young (1975)
31. Decade, Neil Young (1977)
32. Miss America, Mary Margaret O'Hara (1988)
33. Surfacing, Sarah McLachlan (1997)
34. One Chord to Another, Sloan (1996)
35. Songs of Love and Hate, Leonard Cohen (1971)
36. Cyborgs Revisted, Simply Saucer (1979)
37. Ingenue, k.d. lang (1992)
38. Melville, Rheostatics (1991)
39. Love Tara, Eric's Trip (1993)
40. On the Beach, Neil Young (1974)
41. Not Fragile, Bachman-Turner Overdrive (1974)
42. The Best of the Guess Who, The Guess Who (1971)
43. Let it Die, Feist (2004)
44. The Last Waltz, The Band (1978)
45. Night Train, The Oscar Petersen Trio (1963)
46. Down at the Khyber, The Joel Plaskett Emergency (2001)
47. Harvest Moon, Neil Young (1992)
48. Cuts Like a Knife, Bryan Adams (1983)
49. L'heptade, Harmonium (1976)
50. Teenage Head, Teenage Head (1979)
51. High Class in Borrowed Shoes, Max Webster (1977)
52. Hejira, Joni Mitchell (1976)
53. The Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould (1955 and 1982)
54. Forgarty's Cove, Stan Rogers (1977)
55. Wheatfield Soul, The Guess Who (1968)
56. Si on avait besoin d'une cinquieme saison, Harmonium (1974)
57. Dancing in the Dragon's Jaw, Bruce Cockburn (1979)
58. Frantic City, Teenage Head (1980)
59. Hymns of the 49th Parallel, k.d. lang (2004)
60. Hot Shots, Trooper (1979)
61. Robbie Robertson, Robbie Robertson (1987)
62. The Trinity Session, Cowboy Junkies (1988)
63. Ron Sexsmith, Ron Sexsmith (1995)
64. Nothingface, Voivod (1989)
65. Come on Over, Shania Twain (1997)
66. Everything I Long For, Hayden (1995)
67. Outskirts, Blue Rodeo (1987)
68. Joyful Rebellion, k-os (2004)
69. Sit Down Young Stranger/If You Could Read My Mind, Gordon Lightfoot (1970)
70. Love Junk, The Pursuit of Happiness (1988)
71. Jaune, Jean-Pierre Ferland (1970)
72. Somewhere Outside, The Ugly Ducklings (1966)
73. Electric Jewels, April Wine (1973)
74. Sundown, Gordon Lightfoot (1973)
75. Left and Leaving, The Weakerthans (2000)
76. Clumsy, Our Lady Peace (1997)
77. Harmonium, Harmonium (1974)
78. Share the Land, the Guess Who (1970)
79. Greatest Hits!, Ian & Sylvia (1970)
80. Steppenwolf, Steppenwolf (1968)
81. Ladies of the Canyon, Joni Mitchell (1970)
82. Bud the Spud and Other Favourites, Stompin' Tom Connors (1969)
83. Shine a Light, Constantines (2003)
84. Shakespeare My Butt, The Lowest of the Low (1991)
85. Clayton Park, Thrush Hermit (1998)
86. Smeared, Sloan (1992)
87. Living Under June, Jann Arden (1994)
88. The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Joni Mitchell (1975)
89. Bad Manors, Crowbar (1971)
90. Official Music, King Biscuit Boy With Crowbar (1970)
91. Lightfoot!, Gordon Lightfoot (1966)
92. Mad Mad World, Tom Cochrane (1991)
93. Rufus Wainwright, Rufus Wainwright (1998)
94. Face to the Gale, Ron Hynes (1997)
96. Hobo's Taunt, Willie P. Bennett (1977)
97. Cowboyography, Ian Tyson (1986)
98. Favourite Colours, The Sadies (2004)
99. The Way I Feel, Gordon Lightfoot (1967)
100. A Farewell to Kings, Rush (1977)

Disagree with Mr. Mersereau? I welcome your additions in the comments section.

Special Canadian Playlist due soon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

w00t – The Digital Revolution Will Not be Televised (But You Can Download it)

Bob Ostertag, sound artist and professor of technocultural studies at UC Davis, just released a new sound recording entitled "w00t!" on his website. The katamari-inspired "cover" art, co-option of the sounds of many popular games, and intelligent writing about digital art in the internet age fits the bill perfectly for mention on this site.

Unlike Radiohead and NIN with their massive followings, catchy songs, and built-in marketing, Bob has a long standing and well-known reputation of ingenious sound artistry and political writing. That is to say, he's not selling a lot of records, but he is paving the way for artists of the future. (Like Thom Yorke’s and Trent Reznor’s projects, remixes, of course, are encouraged! Bonus points if you can mash up all three.)

w00t was composed entirely from fragments of music from computer games. The names of the games are listed on the download page. The w00t art work is a collage of images from these same games, made by artist John Cooney.

Download it here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Actually It is Easy Being Green – Blog Action Day Today

After a week of nothing but Radiohead it’s time to turn our attentions to another pursuit. Today is Blog Action Day, and Everythingispop is on board to help bloggers around the web unite to put a single important issue on everyone's mind: the environment. Consider this "blogger's Earth Day," to help get related blogs, on your radar. The result, get a few more people on board for the green.

My contribution? Links. Let’s forget about music for two hours and check out who is participating in this noteworthy event. Click to your heart’s content into the extended green blogosphere to see what people have to say about the planet. With any luck, this'll be the first day of many that green topics get their due in blogs around the world.

Please visit these links.

The power of the blog never fails to impress and inspire.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Radiohead Sell 1.2 Million Copies Of 'In Rainbows'

(Everything Radiohead week continues, all sweetnesss and rainbows. Just wait til the eventual backlash hits...)

By Scott Colothan on 11/10/2007 Gigwise has learnt that Radiohead have sold an amazing 1.2million copies of their seventh album ‘In Rainbows.’

The band and their long-term management company Courtyard Management have remained tight lipped about the exact sales figures, seemingly in a bid to add to keep a mysterious air around the album.

But speaking to a source close to the band last night, we’ve discovered that the Oxford band have achieved this monumental sales figure.

Even if every person who downloaded the album paid just 10 pence, the band will still rake in a massive £120,000. That figure is likely to be higher, with many speculating the average figure will even out at around the £1 mark.

With growing media hype around the release of ‘In Rainbows’, these unprecedented sales figures look certain to keep on rising. If they finally announce a world tour, audience figures are expected to be higher too.

Thom Yorke and co. will cash in again when the payments clear for the ‘In Rainbows’ box set which are on sale for £40 a go.

As expected, Radiohead are the clear victors of this radical way of releasing their album. Their success should prompt other big names to follow suit.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Review of Sorts – Part II – Radiohead – In Rainbows

Five songs into it now and “All I Need” is rapidly emerging as a potential highlight of the first half of this record. Starting as a meager, reverb soaked piece, the song transforms itself with a stunning orchestral flourish. It is also the most "Radiohead like" song on the record. Not a criticism though, more a guidepost for potential listeners. "Faust Arp" follows and contrary to my hopes is not a direct homage to the German Electronic 1970’s minimalists Faust. But then again I am hardly qualified to know what goes on in the mind of M. Yorke. The song rather, is a acoustic number threaded with enough strings to raise Serge Gainsbourg. The resultant song would have been a good fit on their 2003 release Hail to the Thief.

Next up is “Reckoner”. Certainly recognizable at least in title to the song originally debuted in very different form on their 2006 tour. A notable rocker back then, the number now devoid of the rocking spirit that made it a real concert highlight. Not entirely disappointing, just unexpected.

The laid back "House of Cards" appears next and has a very isolated feeling to it. Very much in keeping with the overall feel of the record. What surely will be a potential highlight of their upcoming 2008 tour, the presentation possibilities with this song are numerous.

“Jigsaw Falling into Place” and “Videotape” fittingly end the record with Thom Yorke at his most vocally astute and lyrically passionate. Definitely more sedate than first group of songs I discussed but entirely appropriate in the most awe inspiring sense. I recall hearing Kid A for the first time and feeling similarly enthused.

In the end is it worthy of the hype? Is it worth the five year wait? ABSOLUTELY. This one is a stunner. Radiohead have reinvented everything with this project and are clearly at the top of their game. I urge everyone to investigate this band further, hopefully in a live environment. They are a truly significant musical entity and I hope they will continue to be so for many years. This band inspires me and enervates me. Their creativity particularly with In Rainbows, astounding. I am very much looking forward to the physical In Rainbows package that will complete this experience and offer some b-sides to boot.

Can you tell I like this thing? I just wonder how I'll get Thom Yorke to sign my digital download next time we cross paths.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A REVIEW OF SORTS Part I – Radiohead – In Rainbows

(Radiohead's new album In Rainbows was available to download this morning, with fans choosing exactly how much they wish to pay for the album.) For the record (no pun intended), I paid for the discbox option and the digital download portion was part of that package. Acquisition of said 160k bitrate mp3 files earlier today was efficient and surprisingly fast (less than 2 minutes). With that distribution method alone Radiohead have singlehandedly set the record industry on its ear. Creatively speaking though it's still early and my critical opinions on this one will change. They often do. This has been the case with me for every Radiohead release since 1993. For that reason, it's best not to write a conventional review directly. Further, due to the fact because it's not yet fully clear whether I should be critiquing Radiohead the corporate entity, who have made a soundtrack to their latest commercial outing, or Radiohead the musicians, who have made another album full of conceptual minutiae for fans to love worldwide. For now I offer a review of sorts; Remarks and observations on something important in my life, in all of our lives perhaps. Life changing? Not really. Life affirming? Indeed.

One particularly hot August night ten years ago I had an unusual brush with celebrity behind London’s Centennial Hall. A small throng of fans had gathered for a chance meeting with Radiohead who were in town promoting OK Computer. As he left the building, head “Head” Thom Yorke wryly commented that I appeared to be, “…the only one at the show without pimples”. Marginalization by celebrity is such a capricious thing, (damn you greying temples for belying my age!) but what a story for the grandchildren.

Yes, my teenage days are quite behind me at this point but this morning I felt like I was 15 again. Today I, like so many others was downloading the new Radiohead release, In Rainbows; today, for the first time in a long time I was truly excited about a new music release. My excitement in fact was two-fold. First, that I finally have some new music from the most important band on the planet and second, that this brave step in music marketing was actually working. The new Radiohead distribution model is genius and record companies had better pay heed. The future is now.

Bleary eyes aside, it seems rather appropriate that I hear In Rainbows for the first time in the early morning. These are my initial impressions. The first two tracks "15 Step" and "Bodysnatchers" are like that time in the morning just before the sun begins to squash the darkness of the night before. Announcing its presence quickly and assuredly, the record feels like the calm ‘after’ a storm. It feels exceptionally bright and airy and lacks the compression of earlier recordings. No heavy chords and little to no guitar strumming, In Rainbows is a record full of empty space. For as much as Kid A revelled in its darker themes this one absolutely sparkles. That is not to say it is a cheery romp. The third song “Nude” makes that clear immediately. The fourth track Weird Fishes/Arpeggi was somewhat familiar since the demo showed up earlier this summer throughout the interweb. The results though, even more captivating this time as the song is fleshed out, the treatment exquisite.

To be continued.

Monday, October 8, 2007

PLAYLIST 7 - Thanks for the Pepperoni

As promised a playlist to celebrate Thanksgiving Day; at least here in Canada. Happy Columbus Day to our American Neighbours. Either way…

Thanks for the Pepperoni

October Is Eternal - Of Montreal
Be Thankful For What You Got - Yo La Tengo

Thanksgiving Day - Ray Davies
I Thank You - Sam & Dave
I Thank the Lord - Mighty Voices Of Wonder
Thanks for the Killer Game of Crisco Twister – Minus the Bear
Thank You Branch - The Books
Thank You For Sending Me An Angel - Talking Heads
Thank You For Talkin' To Me Africa - Sly & The Family Stone
Cheer Me Up, Thank You - New Buffalo
Thank You Baby – Little Lois Barber
Thank You- McMaster and James
Thanks For The Pepperoni - George Harrison
Thank You Very Much - Kaiser Chiefs
Thanks, But No Thanks - Sparks
Thank You Friends - Big Star
The Thanks I Get - Wilco
You To Thank - Ben Folds
October In the Railroad Earth - Jack Kerouac

Friday, October 5, 2007

RIAA Wins File-Sharing Suit, Woman Fined $222,000

Haaaarrrr Matey, At Least Yer Not Walkin’ the Plank.

A jury in Duluth, Minn., found Thursday that a single mother of two children was liable for infringing copyright on 24 major-label recordings and awarded the record-industry $220,000 in damages. (And you thought DRM Free I-Tunes tracks are exorbitantly priced.)

The woman, Jammie Thomas, was the first accused infringer to take the Recording Industry Association of America to trial. The association has sued more than 20,000 consumers since 2003, warning them they could face fines of up to $150,000 per song for downloading copyrighted music off the Internet without paying for it. The industry blames such file-sharing for a precipitous sales decline in recent years. Most of the cases have been settled with the consumers paying fines of about $3000 to avoid further litigation. But Thomas insisted she did not download copyrighted songs and make them available for sharing in a folder on the Kazaa peer-to-peer network.

A key ruling during the trial undercut the defendant’s case. U.S. District Judge Michael Davis ruled that the prosecution didn’t have to prove that other Kazaa users downloaded copyrighted files from Thomas’ file. The recording industry merely had to demonstrate that she made them available for sharing.

A 12-person jury deliberated four hours after two days of testimony and ruled that Thomas must pay $9,250 for each of the 24 songs named in the lawsuit, including tracks by Aerosmith, AFI, Green Day, Journey and Guns N’ Roses.

With its wave of lawsuits, the recording industry has taken the unprecedented step of suing its own customers to stem file-sharing. The RIAA says the lawsuits have mitigated illegal sharing, even though music file-sharing is rising overall. The group says the number of households that have used file-sharing programs to download music has risen from 6.9 million monthly in April 2003, before the lawsuits began, to 7.8 million in March 2007. Perhaps more telling though, Big Champagne, a media measurement company, finds that more than 9 million consumers are sharing files at any given moment, up from 3.8 million when the lawsuits began in 2003.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

REVIEW - The Lightning Bug Situation - A Leaf; A Stream

For eight years I attended the smallest elementary school in the known universe. At a time in my life when my willing suspension of disbelief was being put to its first big test, my grade five class exchanged Christmas presents. This was something we had done annually since I started school a handful of years earlier. Political correctness had yet to skulk into our young lives and the intentions of said “Secret Santa” tradition were pure and as I would discover, even life-changing. This is the story of how a simple Yuletide tradition changed me forever and how it reminds me of my favourite cd so far this year.

As I have recently rediscovered, the unbridled anticipation of a ten year old can be a powerful if not affecting force. (Imagine if that energy could be contained. Small villages could be powered sufficiently for years.) But I digress… As was the practice every year, Santa would make an appearance minutes before noon on the last day of school before Christmas break. The paunchy red and white one would dutifully visit each classroom to hand out the aforesaid gifts. Wrestling with an almost “Shakepearian” sense of “to believe, or not to believe” that year I earnestly waited, along with my sugar fueled classmates for the big man to grace our classroom and dispense with the loot. The fact that Santa was wearing the school superintendent’s same gold rimmed metal glasses merely reinforced that sinking feeling tugging at my gut that morning. The usual squeals began as “Superinsanta” dug into his sack of presents and one by one drolly called our names. (Think Principal Skinner with less glitz.) That day, there would be no sitting on knees or long, wish list confessionals; we were in Grade Five after all. Rather, this year only seasonal greetings, a candy cane, and a single wrapped present would be the rule. Efficiency is always cruelest for the young folk, but in the end we all learn to adapt. This time though I was third in when my name called out. Third! Not bad considering the W’s usually suffer unendurable waits for everything otherwise. I made my way to the front of the class to collect my booty. I didn’t look at Santa too closely because I needed this to be real just one more time. “Gold Rims” handed me a small, red and green tissue paper carefully wrapped box shook my index finger and handed me a broken candy cane. The present, weighty in my estimation meant something good. I opened it to find a Hallmark Christmas card box. “Ahhhhhh, the old gift decoy diversion tactic “, I recalled. Without any hesitation I opened that package. I found, much to my ten year old minds delight, a toy revolver inside. This was not the orange plastic fluorescent tipped child-safe guns that you can buy today. This was the real deal; A metal beauty with enough caps to last me until Easter. My pulse quickened as I held the pearl grip and felt the weight of the toy in my hand. This was exciting and the kind of thing my mother wouldn’t let me buy in a million years. Some grade fiver and their mother had clearly done it right.

Agreed, that nothing says Christmas like toy weaponry but when I walked home that afternoon I remember the pure elation I felt from receiving a gift of such substance. Now, despite obvious contemporary violent associations the gift was by no means representative of that. Just the opposite in fact; I remember everything about that day because of that one secret Santa gift. I remember the cold, bracing air of that day and the sound of the snow under my boots; I remember the purplish colour of the sky as the sun began to set on my usual walk home. I remember the smell of smoke coming from the neighbours chimney. I remember it was a perfect day and it set my spirit sailing. A measuring stick by which I would measure the quality of twenty thousand days to come.

If you have stuck with me this long you will no doubt wonder what this has to do with a new cd I received from San Francisco last week. To cut a long review short, this is a “toy revolver in a box” cd. When I listened to this disc it took me back to that perfect day so many years ago. The atmospheric and intimate songs and dialogue that inhabit this recording reminded me of how a person’s intensely personal experiences always become a part of them and how they can resonate within for years and years. They affect you and they change you. Listening to the stories and songs on this disc remind you of your own stories (good or bad) and the listening experience becomes a truly palpable one. In the end the disc is almost entirely familiar because of the way it makes you feel. Listening to this disc is why I remembered my Christmas story and why it affects me to this day.

The Lightning Bug Situation is the nom de plume of San Francisco guitarist and songwriter Brian Miller. His latest album, A Leaf; A Stream is a intensely delicate collection of pop songs ranging in subject from the birth of his daughter (Message to Myself After Franny Was Born) to the death of a beloved family pet (Topher's Last Song). The tunes are interspersed with spoken heartfelt interstitials featuring the voices of his immediate family. A recent review likened the results to a Roger Waters recording were he an indie artist. Accurate to a thematic extent but this one is entirely unique. The results, quite unlike anything else you will hear this year.

A Leaf; A Stream is a well tempered sounding record about life events; things that change you and things that go awry. Miller digs deep to recount the stories of his life and others; sometimes he remembers to laugh and other times he offers only a fuck you. It is through these stories that you remember your own. The effect is wholly one of a kind. If you have followed my reviews you will know that I like to walk and listen to new music. That nights’ walk was profound. Almost in tears twice this recording is affecting and deeply personal.

When so many recordings merely move your feet, this one will move your soul. The songs and stories on A Leaf; A Stream are intensely personal and as a result they breathe life back into your own stories. With unlikely song titles like Iraqi Man and Baby Daughter, 2007 and The Unhappy Robot Version of Me vs. Coldplay, this disc offers a listening experience that is unique and most unforgettable.

I urge you to seek this cd out. It is highly original and deeply moving. High praise perhaps but once in a while one leaves you awestruck and reminds you of that purple sunset thirty years ago.

PPPPP Highly Recommended

Buy A Leaf; A Stream.

Brian is also the other half of the Speakers. Check them out as well.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hotel Chevalier - Wes Anderson (Darjeeling Limited)

Hotel Chevalier is Wes Anderson’s short film that serves as a prequel to his upcoming feature, The Darjeeling Limited. Jason Schwartzman stars in the same role he brings to life in Darjeeling; Natalie Portman playing his sultry, mysteriously bruised love interest. Chevalier is beautifully shot and, like all of Anderson’s work, lovingly made with exquisite attention to even the minutest of details. Portman is gorgeous, too, exhibiting an intense sexuality that’s rare in Anderson’s cinematic world. The film was originally set to run in theaters as an introduction to the feature, but Fox unfortunately cut it at the last minute. Instead you can download it free from iTunes; you will however need to sign up with the US store to access it. Hopefully it will show up on Youtube soon as well.

Chevalier is a wonderfully rich film, one its director intended to, “play out like a piece of short fiction while Darjeeling would unspool like a novel.” Like most Anderson works, it also features a memorable piece of music, Peter Sarstedt’s “Where Do You Go To My Lovely.” The memorable song leads off the Kinks-filled Darjeeling Limited soundtrack, which you should seek out at all costs. (You must remember how much you loved the Life Aquatic soundtrack.)