When I first arrived in Alberta before the new year began, one of the things I noticed on the way back to my sister’s place from the Edmonton airport was a bumper sticker on the car ahead of me. It said ‘You’re in oil country’ and had the Edmonton Oilers hockey team logo. I certainly wasn’t surprised since in any major Canadian city, the residents wholeheartedly support their local hockey team. The same can be said of the smaller cities and towns across the country that diligently cheer on and wear the colours of their hockey team, whichever level it plays at. Read the full column at The St. Paul Journal.
Column: Have fun, stay single
Like many people, I grew up with the idea of someday getting married, starting a family and then gradually getting old alongside work and a couple family vacations to Cape Cod or Disney World. Maybe even taking a few more trips to some exotic places with the misses when we eventually sold the farm, metaphorically speaking (I’m not a farmer). I can recall having visions of these future events or places for as long as I can remember. However, it is only now that I have another vision: being on my own. Read the full column at The St. Paul Journal.
Untouched Sounds – Episode 5
Andy Smith (drums) and Carmen Elle (vocals, guitar) make up Toronto based band Army Girls who released an EP called ‘Close to the Bone’ in the fall of 2011. They like playing for their friends, sweating their ass off on stage and Motown Records, among other things.
Untouched Sounds is a Toronto-based web series documenting new and exciting music acts.
Album Review: Arcade Fire ‘The Suburbs’
Read the full review of Arcade Fire’s third album The Suburbs on AUX.
Quarter Music – May 28
More news about Arcade Fire’s forthcoming album The Suburbs, musicians boycotting the state of Arizona and ex-Oasis members finally deciding on a new band name. Hear tunes by The Dandy Warhols, The Besnard Lakes, Crystal Castles, Rage Against The Machine and the second half of a ’90s playlist featuring Sloan, Beck, I Mother Earth, Goldfinger, Eels and Radiohead.
Listen to it and previous episodes at Quarter Music.
*Quarter Music is a weekly music show I host and produce featuring a round up of the week’s top music stories, concert reviews, specifically chosen songs and playlists. Listen live every Friday afternoon from 5-6 p.m. on Centennial College’s Internet Radio Station.
Quarter Music – May 14
News about a Kurt Cobain inspired exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, Metric writing a theme song for the upcoming Twilight movie, the auctioning of a Beatles press conference tape from 1966 and Blur potentially recording some new material. Hear songs by Beach House, Stone Temple Pilots, Kele, The Shins, The National and Nirvana. Also hear a Canadian playlist featuring The Golden Dogs, Sloan, The Rural Alberta Advantage and Patrick Watson.
Listen to this episode and others at Quarter Music.
Five of the Best Thrid Albums
*Written and published for AUX
Awhile back we posted about bands overcoming the ‘sophomore slump.’ In most cases their second albums proved they were professional musicians with more than a dozen or so good licks. The third album however is probably as tricky as the second and truly shows what they’re made of and what they have to offer. We’ve seen third albums flop, but those unmentionables are for another day. Today rather we highlight the best and what turned out to be most groundbreaking third album releases that ultimately put the band’s name on the lips and in the ears of everyone across the globe.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz! (2009)
For those only familiar with the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s through their song “Maps,” one of the greatest alternative rock love songs, all they saw in It’s Blitz! was a hand crushing an egg. That’s before taking a listen obviously. Following 2006’s LP Show Your Bones and the EP Is Is, released a year later, Yeah Yeah Yeahs catapulted themselves to the big screen, or big stage, with 10 songs and four acoustic takes. The sound on It’s Blitz! is nothing revolutionary and is unsurprising for fans of the band as the edgy rock/synth combo is still present. If anything singer Karen O’s shows off some vocal skill, especially on the acoustic takes, and the band as a whole reveal they are not limited to explicit in-your-face alternative rock like on their previous albums.
Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)
It’s difficult to think of third albums and have Radiohead’s OK Computer slip your mind. Numerous articles, chapters of books and people in general have devoted themselves to just less than 60 minutes of music created by four English lads from Oxford. The animated video for the album’s lead single “Paranoid Android,” directed by Magnus Carlsson, is a staple for the ‘90s and the song itself is memorable for everyone growing up during that time. We can talk about how many bands were influenced by this album till the next decade and that’s what makes this music so worthy of being dubbed one of the best alternative rock albums ever. It was the first step in the long musical journey Radiohead as a band would pursue in terms of sound. With its politically driven lyrics and collection of creative images, the album is responsible for part of the success the band has today.
Metric – Live It Out (2005)
“Bam-chick-a-bam, chick-a-boom-boom-boom, sha-lang-sha-lang-boom.” Technically the third although released as their second, their first album Grow Up and Blow Away was re-released in 2007, Metric’s Live It Out stands alone as one of the best Canadian indie rock albums of the last decade. After a long eerie intro and soft vocals from singer Emily Haines, “Empty,” the album’s opening song launches you into a heavy guitar/drums assault. The rest of the disc goes back and forth between chilled out and hard rocking snyth tracks that, although done by so many other bands around this time, remain both original and memorable.
Hole – Celebrity Skin (1998)
Call Courtney Love what you want, perhaps Courtney Michelle, but there was once a time when her band Hole was one of the best female fronted alternative rock bands on the planet and even received Grammy nominations. Could you imagine Courtney Love going up and collecting a Grammy Award? Musically this album marked a slight change for Hole as they adopted a more polished version of their previous raw grungy take on alternative rock. Love herself had a transformation around this time as she started to shape up her image and landed roles in the movies, The People vs. Larry Flint and 200 Cigarettes. Whether their latest, Nobody’s Daughter lives up to this album is undecided, although we’re pretty sure it won’t as we sadly watch the reformed Hole, or Courtney Love, getting up on stage trying to get back the musical prowess she once had.
Blink 182 – Enema of the State (1999)
With lyrics like, “I’d ditch my lecture to watch the girls play soccer, is my picture still hanging in her locker?” Blink 182’s Enema of the State solidified the new wave of pop punk and set a precursor for the legions of bands to follow. It was the first album with drummer Travis Barker and was Blink’s first popular album. For those who had known the band in their Cheshire Cat, Dude Ranch days, this album was nothing knew as they once again took on writing upbeat tunes based on love lost and jacking off in weird places. To accompany their witty, but most of the time immature themes, the band captured their thoughts through music videos by running naked through the streets or imitating current boy bands like the Backstreet Boys and what not.
Quarter Music – April 30
News of forthcoming albums from The Killers’ Brandon Flowers, Black Mountain and How to Destroy Angels consisting of Trent Reznor and his wife. Also hear news about an upcoming tour featuring Alice in Chains, Deftones and Mastodon and who Courtney Love says will play her husband in the upcoming Kurt Cobain biopic. Hear a ’90s album playlist and other tracks by Black Lips, Land of Talk, Nine Inch Nails, Goldfinger and Pilate.
Listen to this week’s episode and others at Quarter Music.
Quarter Music – April 16
Details of forthcoming albums from Chromeo, Ozzy Osbourne, Wavves and Tokyo Police Club. Other news about Iggy and the Stooges coming to Toronto and the best voted guitarist of the past 30 years. Hear a Coachella themed playlist with songs by Camera Obscura, The Cribs, The Soft Pack, The Twelves and Echo & The Bunnymen. Also hear tracks by Efterklang, The Morning Benders and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Listen to the episode.
Quarter Music – April 9.
Details of a John Prine tribute album, Joy Division’s Peter Hook taking Unknown Pleasures on tour, the full Lollapalooza lineup and Crystal Castles’ upcoming shows with LA’s HARD Festival. Hear the second half of a space out playlist with songs by Mazzy Star, Boards of Canada, Beach House and Zero 7. Also hear tracks by the Sex Pistols, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Metric, Girls and The Spinto Band.
Listen to the episode here.