La Sera - Break My Heart

Sic Alps - Glyphs

This is Pop Download-o-rama

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Under the Covers (with Emm and Danny)

I have always had a certain fascination with cover songs; One artist reinterpreting another’s work to make said piece their own or in some cases simply to rehash the tried and true. Leave it to venerable CBC Radio to expand on the theme and make a great show of it.

Under The Covers - Your chance to hear the greatest cover songs on the planet! From 60's soul to indie rock, bluegrass to rock n' roll, you'll be surprised by the stories behind many of your favourite songs.
Danny Michel and Emm Gryner find out what's behind the new trend of "instant covers", examine how cover song duets can change relationships, and get the scoop on how musicians really feel about their work getting covered.

Emm Gryner and Danny Michel (above) are two of Canada's most acclaimed indie musicians, who also happen to be huge fans of cover songs. Danny loves David Bowie so much he released an entire album of Bowie covers (Loving the Alien) back in 2004. And Emm Gryner covered some of her favourite heavy metal and punk songs on her Juno-nominated album, Girl Versions.

Air Times
On Radio 1 Saturdays at 9 pm (6 AT, 6:30 NT)
On Sirius 137 Saturdays at 2 pm

Devo Sues McDonalds Over Happy Meal Toy

Recently, my son bemoaned the fact that his beloved Happy Meal toy was American idol themed and he hoped he could exchange it for something “more cool”. Apparently he wasn’t the only one who took umbrage to this theme. Devo (the band) are suing the bosses of McDonald's over the use of the band's likeness in a Happy Meal toy.

The band claim the "American Idol" tribute figure, New Wave Nigel, was based on their famous image, as seen in their "Whip It" video.

(New Wave Nigel could not be reached for comment however, his lawyer , the Grimace issued a terse “No comment.” )

Devo bass player Gerald Casale, who came up with the band's odd jumpsuited look, says, "We're in the midst of suing them. They didn't ask us anything. Plus, we don't like McDonald's, and we don't like American Idol, so we're doubly offended."

Hmmm… I wonder how many people took double offense to the release of Devo 2.0 last year?

“Crrr-ack that whip!”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Guelph Jazz Festival Announces 2008 Main Stage Concerts

The 2008 summer concert season continues to get hotter with this announcement for locals (and those willing to travel for great music.) The Guelph Jazz Festival will introduce two formidable U.S. acts to local audiences for the first time (John Zorn and Tortoise), along with a 10-person Dutch ensemble (ICP Orchestra) and a returning Japanese pianist and her new quartet (Satoko Fujii ma-do). All five shows will be at the 785-seat Main Stage of the River Run Centre in Guelph, on three successive days: September 5–7, 2008.

All ticket and additional artist information can be found
here when they go on sale on July 2nd.

For fans of new avant garde jazz it doesn’t get much better than this. Chicago’s Tortoise put on mesmerizing performances.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Just in Time for Summer- The Baseball Project is Here!

What happens when two great songwriters decide to focus their talents upon their favourite sport? Nope not that Wilco tribute to synchronized swimming you’ve been waiting for. Rather, you get the highly entertaining debut disc from The Baseball Project, Volume One: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails. The album is the brainchild of Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate, Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3) and Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, Minus 5, and R.E.M) whose unhealthy love for music is undermined only by an even more unhealthy love of baseball. They'll be joined on stage by drummer Linda Pitmon (Miracle 3, Golden Smog) and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck.

It was just that lineup too that were the featured musical guest on the Late Show with David Letterman last Friday night. Have a look at the video below.

This is a great recording and certainly a lot of fun for the summer of ‘08. (Ted Fucking Williams might just be the song title of the year.) The album is due July 8th on Yep Roc Records where they are currently streaming it in its entirety.

Stream the album here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Best Music of 2008 So Far

Everything is Plagiarism, Plagiarism is Everything – If it’s good enough to do it once, do it again and again… Not exactly a meme and certainly not original rather we’ll call this a continuation of an idea. LOL Listz if you will. Thank you once again to our lead in the West, Barbara the Bad Tempered Zombie for planting the seed.

This list contains the new music that has most engaged me for the first six months of this year. The stuff that I love and I know will ultimately appear on my Year End List.

Without further adieu my top 11 (just to be different) best cd’s of 2008 so far.

1. Rook – Shearwater

A refined effort that exceeds its predecessor Palo Alto in scope; An epic cd with subtleties that reveal themselves with every listen.

2. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

I love this record because it takes me to another time. Appalachian roots channeling the Band with a refreshing new spin. This is THE one to watch this year.

3. Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! - Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

This is a record with attitude. Remember last year’s Grinderman record? This is the logical extension with a superior swagger.

4. Lie Down In The Light - Bonnie "Prince" Billy

In 1999 Will Oldham’s I See a Darkness was one of my favourites. This is its antithetical twin. Wonderful stuff.

5. Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea - Silver Jews

David Berman has finally made a record that I love from start to finish. Nary a misstep here.

6. Hold On Now, Youngster… - Los Campesinos!

Everyone needs a fun cd throughout the year and this is it. With energy to spare Los Compesinos will keep you moving. Like the Ramones without the leather jackets, goofy hair, electric guitars, New York attitude or inhaled solvents.

7. In Ghost Colours - Cut Copy

Think Depeche Mode without the artificial heart. A beautiful, sonic wall of dance music that will breathe life into you.

8. Third – Portishead

So dark and so well worth the wait. Not content to rest on their laurels this one is just as stunning as their debut.

9. Trouble In Dreams – Destroyer

Whenever I listen to this record I think of the best of 1970’s California pop. I hear Fleetwood Mac, I hear Todd Rundgren, and I hear Jackson Browne. Dan Bejar may elicit the sentimental in me but his voice is a distinct and endearing one.

10. April/ Nights - Sun Kil Moon/ Mark Kozelek

A true artistic achievement in writing. Kozelek has made the best record of his career. Relationships dissected and distilled into these compelling tracks.

11. Parc Avenue - Plants and Animals

Montreal’s own, Plants and Animals have made a beautiful debut rock record that would be regarded as a high water mark for any band. More subtleties are revealed with every listen.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Your Weekly Download Lowdown

Girl Talk - Feed the Animals

Greg Gillis, a.ka. Girl Talk’s new album Feed the Animals is now up for download on the Illegal Art Website. The download is being offered too using that Radiohead band model of paying whatever amount listeners deem worthy,(even if they wish to pay nothing). It should be noted though, Girl Talk does have some incentives if you do choose to pay, The download variants are as follows: Five dollars gets you the digital FLAC files and a seamless mix of the album, while ten bucks will get you that and a physical copy of Feed the Animals when they become available in September. For ten thousand dollars Girl Talk will come to your bedroom and recreate the album up close and personal and then make you breakfast.*

Please note, if you choose to download the album without payment you’re met with a series of options of why you decided not to offer some capital investment; basically an attempt to make you confront your own searing download guilt. My cursory listen of album reveals a much more focused and flowing effort when compared to Gillis’ previous stellar effort Night Ripper. Avril Lavigne, Kanye West, Rod Stewart, and even Procol Harum all get dropped in the mix and so far this Girl Talk is totally intoxicating.

Move over John Oswald, there’s a new kid in town.

* Blogger imaginations are a wonderful thing.

Spoon - Underdogs And Their Old Tricks Of Brilliancy

I won’t spoil this one with unnecessary verbiage. All I can say is to head over to our good friends at Daytrotter for an absolutely free download, sans any semblance of guilt. The mighty Spoon have recorded a session the includes a stunning Paul Simon cover of Peace Like a River.

Mmmmmm, sublime.

The Future is Now, or at Least Very Soon

Joe Strummer Documentary on DVD July 8th

The Future is Unwritten - Julien Temple’s stunning documentary focusing on the life of the late Joe Strummer is set to be released July 8, 2008 on DVD.
I blogged about this documentary master stroke earlier this year and many of you had asked me to update the DVD release date. For the unititiated, The Future is Unwritten is an intimate portrait of the fiery artist who fronted the “only band that matters”. Joe Strummer of the Clash defined punk rock and went on to become an icon for his generation. Sadly, his untimely death in 2002 sealed a legacy that should have gone on for another fifty years.

Directed with precision, flair and a deep passion for the subject by Julien Temple, the film is his career masterpiece. The Future is Unwritten features Strummer’s own narration as well as interviews with the likes of band mate Mick Jones, Sex Pistol Steve Jones, and Martin Scorsese.

The DVD will include a myriad of bonuses, such as director commentary and 100 minutes of music and deleted footage. Definitive perhaps but I really do miss Joe Strummer’s musical presence. This DVD will go a long way in helping to restore a little of that.

And when you’re finished watching your DVD
check this out. I recently heard about this organization on a KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic podcast with Billy Bragg.
Jail Guitar Doors is an independent initiative set up by Billy Bragg with the aim of providing musical equipment for the use of inmates serving time in Her Majesty’s prisons. It takes its name from the b-side of the Clash’s 1978 single “Clash City Rockers”.
Great to see Joe’s politics do live on.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Canada's Polaris Music Prize Long List Announced

This is exciting. I don’t envy the judges this year. They'll have their work cut out for them with the caliber of this talent pool to choose from.


The Long List consists of the top 40 full-length Canadian records released from June 1, 2007 to May 31, 2008, selected by the 180 members of the Polaris Music Prize jury.

The Polaris Jury will now vote from the Long List to determine the 10 album Short List, which will be revealed July 7 at the Drake Hotel in Toronto.
2008 Polaris Music Prize Long List

The Acorn - Glory Hope Mountain
Attack In Black - Marriage
Black Mountain - In The Future
Born Ruffians - Red, Yellow and Blue
Buck 65 - Situation
Basia Bulat - Oh, My Darling
Cadence Weapon - Afterparty Babies
Cancer Bats - Hail Destroyer
Caribou - Andorra
City And Colour - Bring Me Your Love
Constantines - Kensington Heights
Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
Destroyer - Trouble In Dreams
Fred Eaglesmith - Tinderbox
Kathleen Edwards - Asking For Flowers
Christine Fellows - Nevertheless
Gatineau - Gatineau
Hayden - In Field And Town
Veda Hille - This Riot Life
HILOTRONS - Happymatic
Holy Fuck - LP
Islands - Arm's Way
Karkwa - Le volume du vent
Corb Lund - Horse Solider! Horse Soldier!
The New Pornographers - Challengers
Pas Chic Chic - Au Contraire
Sandro Perri - Tiny Mirrors
Plants And Animals - Parc Avenue
Ghislain Poirier - No Ground Under
Protest The Hero - Fortress
Justin Rutledge - Man Descending
Sadies - New Seasons
Shad - The Old Prince
Socalled - Ghetto Blaster
Stars - In Our Bedroom After The War
Tegan And Sara - The Con
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band – 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons
Two Hours Traffic - Little Jabs
The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour
Wintersleep - Welcome To The Night Sky

Rainn the Rocker

Rainn Wilson is a very funny man. Deliberately quirky and thoroughly original he is best known for his role as Dwight in NBC’s The Office. Others will remember him as Frances Conroy’s hapless housemate and off kilter love interest on HBO’s finest hour, Six Feet Under. He recently wrote a thoroughly entertaining blog for Rolling Stone magazine about his experience at the Washington’s 2008 Sasquatch Fest. I particularly enjoyed this astute festival observation:

"There is a specific breed of northwest rocker and rock fan. Unlike the pale, skinny, black jeans and ’80s stud-belt-wearing junkie look of the East Coast set, the northwesterners are a scruffy, cordoroy-wearing, unkempt thrift store crowd of music nerds. Henceforth they shall be known as “nwerds.” Pale, yes. But not junkie pale. TV-watching, basement, rainy Seattle pale. There’s a difference. And they’re a fleshy lot too. I fit right in."
The man is clearly a perceptive type whose eye for detail is a big part of his comedic stylings. His new movie, The Rocker currently due for August release will surely be no exception. I have a feeling we’re going to love this one.

The Rocker tells the story of a failed drummer who is given a second chance at fame. Robert "Fish" Fishman (Rainn Wilson) is the extremely dedicated and astoundingly passionate drummer for the eighties hair band Vesuvius, who is living the rock n' roll dream until he is unceremoniously kicked out of the band. Twenty years after his rock star fantasies are destroyed, just when Fish has finally given up all hope, he hears that his nephew's high school rock band A.D.D. is looking for a new drummer. They reluctantly make him the newest member of the band, giving him a chance to reclaim the rock God throne he's always thought he deserved, and taking the young band along for the ride of their lives.”

Peter Cattaneo of The Full Monty fame is directing from a script by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky. In addition to Wilson, Demetri Martin (The Daily Show) adds some comedic and musical talent to an impressive supporting cast that includes Christina Applegate and the 'hi-larious' Jane Lynch (Walk Hard and Best in Show).

Toronto’s NXNE Music Festival Organizers have secured Rainn Wilson to host an exclusive screening of the Rocker at 9:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 14 at the Royal Theatre, located at 608 College Street in downtown T.O. An NXNE festival pass will gain you free admittance. As well 'Nwerds' are encouraged to attend.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Everything is Iggy, Iggy is Everything

Everybody’s favourite lizard-skinned, peanut butter lovin’ rocker Iggy Pop and his band the Stooges are on tour this summer. With two dates in Canada (Montreal and Toronto) this is your chance to witness the seminal outfit up close and personal. Having seen Iggy on a number of occasions I can tell you the experience will be mind-blowing. With energy and intensity to spare to Stooges are still in a league of their own.

Iggy Pop & the Stooges - 2008 Tour Dates

06/14 Seaclose Park Isle of Wight, UK Isle of Wright Festival
06/16 Royal Hospital Kilmainham Dublin, IE Some Days Never End
06/20 Parco San Guiliano Venice, IT Heineken Jammin' Festival
07/04 Skanevik Blues Festival Oslo, NO
07/13 La Grande Armada Rouen, FR
07/19 Garden Nef Party Festival Angouleme, FR
07/26 Race & Rock Festival Seinajoki, FI
08/03 Osheaga Music and Arts Montreal, Canada
08/06 Massey Hall Toronto, Canada
08/08 Terminal 5 New York, NY
08/24 Clapham Common London, UK Loaded In The Park
08/28 Zitadelle Berlin, DE
08/30 Rock Am See Konstanz, DE
09/16 Amphitheater Gelsenkirchen, DE
09/18 Hamburg Stadtpark Hamburg, DE
09/22 Ice Rink St. Petersburg, RU
09/24 B1 Moscow, RU

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

UPDATE - Playing the Building

POST UPDATE - The latest
episode of Boing Boing TV features Xeni Jardin visting David Byrne in NYC where he gives her a tour of a the Battery Maritime Building that he has turned into a giant musical instrument, part of his Playing the Building series of sound installations.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Neko Case Live from Walt Disney Concert Hall

In my ongoing attempt to fill your collective Ipod… Hot on the heels of that killer Basia Bulat/DevotchKa set last week, NPR is streaming Neko Case's stellar performance at LA's Walt Disney Concert Hall. As many of you know, Neko truly shines in a live setting and this show is no exception. The full concert was recorded live on Nov. 16, 2007, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

The Setlist:

Hold On, Hold On (excerpt)
Hex (excerpt from Live from Austin, TX)
Things That Scare Me
That Teenage Feeling
Deep Red Bells
Margaret vs. Pauline
The Tigers Have Spoken
Dirty Knife
Star Witness
Lady Pilot
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Hold On, Hold On
John Saw That Number

Download the whole thing here in MP3 format

Stream the show from here

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

New Music Reviews

New Music on the Everything is Pop Radar

The Virgins
The Virgins
Atlantic Records

“Then, one fine mornin', she puts on a New York station
You know, she couldn't believe what she heard at all
She started shakin' to that fine, fine music
You know, her life was saved by rock'n'roll”

Rock and Roll
The Velvet Underground

I’ve always been struck by the uncomplicated power of Lou Reed’s youthful expression in that stanza. Expectant and dutifully iconic I was reminded of this (in the best possible way) as I listened to the debut release by the Virgins. Although it’s unlikely this record will save your life, it will make it a whole lot more enjoyable. This Big Apple based four piece have released a very good ‘summer’ record. Not one for tanning in the sun, this is the one you wait for in the wee small hours on a dark street corner. The one they put on as the real parties start and the darkness is punched by dueling car stereos. This is a record that drips as much of humidity as it does sexuality. Forty years on fine, fine music, girls, and drugs just refuse to go out of style.

The Virgins debut album is one deeply informed by the city from which it came. It really feels like a New York record. The music is angular, funky and marinated in a variety of music styles, the lyrics anxious and hormonal. From disco to punk to new wave this one covers a lot of musical territory. The disaffected vocals of singer Donald Cumming’s the perfect counterpoint. Tracks like the Chic influenced Rich Girls and Love is Colder than Death are catchy and impressive.

The Virgins is a terrific debut to be certain but their second release will be the telling one. Amalgamating their influences to forge their own distinctive hybrid will spell success. If they do it right and they’ll be playing on a lot more than that New York station.


UPDATE: The mighty have a newly recorded session from the Virgins posted now. As always I recommend you add this to your download agenda. It’s a good one.

Young and Sexy

The Arc
Mint Records

Vancouver’s Young and Sexy are the beauty and truth antithesis to the previously mentioned Virgins The former, all sunshine and unhurried musicianship, a shimmering pop four piece with a mean slide guitar and reverb effects to spare. The Arc is the disc you put on coming back from the beach with the setting sun at your back. Both bands are fun, to be sure but they do have distinctly different intentions. Four albums and ten years in now Young and Sexy know their direction well. Using Beach Boy style harmonies, textured guitar and even the occasional orchestral flourish their crafted ‘indie’ pop production is top notch; And on the Arc, they do it better than they ever have before.

This music can not help but warm the surroundings. Co-vocalist Lucy Brain’s wonderful vocals suit the well crafted pop and work to really set this band apart from other 'indie' comers. She is a true highlight on this record and the energy on Young & Sexy Vs. The Arc is palpable. With summer upon us now I can’t think of a better soundtrack.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Life, Death and Rabbits

Cathy Cahill's new exhibition, Life, Death and Rabbits will be opening in Montreal at the Verdun Cultural Centre, 5955 rue Bannantyne, on Wednesday, June 4 at 7 pm.

From Cathy's website.
I am currently illustrating Life, Death and Rabbits, the story of the many dramatic events in my life – both happy and upsetting, which all seemed to happen at once. In this series the people are depicted as rabbits. Besides being aesthetically appealing, the rabbits symbolize fertility, abundance, steadfast vegetarianism and vulnerability – all of which are going concerns in my life at this moment.

La vie, la mort et les lapins est une série de dessins qui racontent une histoire dans laquelle il y a: un accident tragique, un déménagement, un mariage, les funérailles et une grossesse… L’histoire représente une vie pleine d’évènements tristes et heureux qui se passent dans une courte période de temps.Cette histoire autobiographique est peuplée par des lapins qui symbolisent la reproduction, l’empathie et la végétarisme.

Visit her website; this is the most creatively wonderful piece of work I have seen in ages. Better yet, attend the exhibition, running from June 4th to July 11th.