>Neil Quin/Zeus

>Neil Quin! An amazing find.

I had only heard of Quin from his work in Zeus… I however felt that because there is such a great amount of instrument change within the band that they were each individual song writers. I was completely right – I stumbled upon Neil Quin’s Myspace which has a few “Zeus” that were very clearly his own.

I’ve harped on this before but they remind me so much of the Beatles.

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>Carole King and James Taylor at the Air Canada Centre; Friday May 29, 2010

>The Air Canada Centre is a place to see sports events not live concerts. I watched ninety percent of the Carole King and James Taylor show on the big screen. Our tickets were in the 300 section, ten rows back. From where I could see, King and Taylor were half the size of my index finger. I will never, ever see a show at the ACC.

Large venue aside, I really enjoyed listening to these artists. Taylor and King had all the energy and sound that they had forty years ago. Their set was planned like a stage show, they had cued images that reflected their prepared speeches throughout the performance. James Taylor was the talker and Carole King said her thank yous only.

Taylor and King entered the revolving stage, which was located in the centre of the skating rink. King had her Yamaha grand piano set up, while taylor had an acoustic guitar. They played two slower songs to start of the show. I’m less familiar with Taylor’s music so my knowledge will be very limited. The second of the two stripped down songs they started off with was “So Far Away.” Her voice was ridiculously scratchy and she had a difficult time making many of the notes. I was really wry whether as to if King could make the high notes in the rest of her tunes. We realised nearing the end that this was simply her warm up. She modestly said that her voice was not in top condition today. King really struggled with the slower songs, rather than her more upbeat tunes.

Her voice was absolutely stunning. She had a raspy sound to it that showed wear. I really liked her drive and energy that was very distinct. King is a performer, she’s comfortable keeping her dialogue to a minimum, but she dance and frolicked around like she was twenty again.

It seemed like this concert series was based on a show they played at the Troubadour in the seventies. Before seeing the show I stumbled upon this video of King’s tune titled “So Far Away” and I realised that these two people had serious chemistry in the past. It was also evident from their live show that they still have chemistry today.

Here are a few tunes that I really love, both old and new:

“You’ve Got a Friend” (1971)
“You’ve Got a Friend” (2010)

“So Far Away” (1971)
“So Far Away” (2010)

“I Feel the Earth Move” and “(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman” (1971)
“I Feel the Earth Move” (2010)
“(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman” (2010)

**you can notice in her 2010 version of “(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman” she was really pushing to get the chorus out. It’s really amazing to see just how effortless her 1971 performance was. She really pushed audience participation at her Air Canada Centre show – she only sang one of the chorus’ and it was at the very end.

I would love to see both artists again, but I think it would have been a truly remarkable show if it was at a smaller venue like Massey Hall (four night stand perhaps?). I’m really looking forward to seeing Levon Helm at Massey Hall in a month or so. This is a brilliant video from the Last Waltz – Levon’s singing and play the drums.

>Zeus at the Mod Club, Thursday May 27, 2010

>By the end of this note, I want you to love Zeus like I do. I want you to understand how I felt at this show. And finally, I want you to see how talented this band really is.

Zeus have a raw energy to their live show that few bands have that I’ve seen. Everything they do has been thought through, not hard, but in a way that they can do exciting things live in a clean, manageable way. Most notably is their serious instrument change ups. Everyone with the exception of the drummer played piano, bass, guitar and sang lead vocals.

I couldn’t help myself but to think of comparisons in seeing this show. I took two friends who hadn’t experienced the Zeus live show and I myself had forgotten just how innovative and fun they were live. We all agreed they sounded a bunch like the Beatles. My favourite tune is called “Greater Times by the Wayside,” followed by the tune “River by the Garden.” Two songs that could easily be blended together like the Guess Who’s “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature” and the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.” They always play these songs together in the live show, as it is represented on the album, tonight was no exception. I was very surprised that they played it so early in their set (probably four and fifth). It was definitely my climax of the show, as it was the very moment I craved to hear. “Greater Times…” sounds a bunch like a John Lennon tune. This song is very clearly a Neil Quin song. Whereas, “River by the Garden” is a very Ringo Starr like song, clearly written by Mike O’Brien. The tipper is if someone sings the song, it’s a safe bet to say it’s theirs.

Much like the Beatles, this band songs are very divided. However, not so much as a disjointed way, but more as a collective. I can’t help but think those songs that say Quin brought to the band are so much like those that say Lennon brought to the Beatles. Although a good chunk of Lennon’s tunes were credited as Lennon/McCartney.

Zeus also has the energy that the Beatles had when playing live. It is very evident it comes ridiculously easy to these guys, and I truly admire that. Zeus put on an extremely fun show, a show I want to dance at (and I’m not very good at dancing!).

Another comparison that came to mind was to Jason Collett. These guys have served as Collett’s back up band for as long as I’ve been sneaking in underage to see Collett’s shows. Although not altogether, Mike O’Brien has always been there, a former member of Paso Mino, Collett’s back up band from 2005/6. This comparison was an observation of how much Zeus has influenced the way Collett’s more recent albums have turned out. Both ‘Here’s to Being Here’ and ‘Rat A Tat Tat’ ooze Zeus. The first notable shift on a Collett album that I heard (and really didn’t like) was “Charlyn, Angel of Kensington,” from the weird guitar riff (Mike O’Brien) and the odd tube-like instrument that Carlin Nicholson plays imitating the streets sounds in the chorus. I really truly hated this song. After really hearing Zeus, I’ve come to realise that that song is as much Zeus as it is Jason Collett.

They closed up their set with a Genesis cover titled “That’s All,” which made it on to their first release titled ‘Sounds Like.’ It’s tremendously edgier than the soft original.

Zeus put on a real charismatic show. They’ve completely won my heart over. By the end of it, I turned to my friends and said – “Can you imagine seeing, Zeus, Jason Collett and Bahamas altogether for a revue?” My dearest friend replied – “WHEN WAS THAT?” I said calmly in return (and mighty proud) – “Oh, a few months ago…”

After the show, I was walking my bike by the venue, there was a man taking up too much of the sidewalk. That man was Jason Collett and I very politely asked him to move out of the way. He was quite engaged with the conversation to the amazing Afie Jurvanen (Bahamas). I’ve never been one to confront artists that I really admire, but I felt good just asking him to make some room for me. This is why I love Toronto, music lives here. In six months time when I don’t have the comforts of this city, that is something I’m going to really miss.

>Beach House’s "Use to Be"

>Wow! I definitely didn’t listen to this video in full.

Once you arrive at the 2:32 bit starting with “even if we tried so hard…” The original version released as a 7″ in 2008 was not featured on their album ‘Teen Dream’. Instead they’ve chopped this bit out:

Even if its simple from the start

we will give the pieces of our hearts

and when there is nothing left to pretend

we will know its coming to an end

Even if we tried so hard

we will give the pieces of our hearts

It’s always good to see you again

even if its come to an end

We could wait until the summer

see what happens to the other

We could´╗┐ stay inside all summer

see what happens to the other

Not to mention the TLC jump at the very end!

Note: I just spent the last half an hour researching where this last bit of the song came from… Frantically looking, I found it was released on a 7″ from a couple of years back. One that I had actually purchased for a friend two Christmas’ ago. All I can think of is how much I want it now, while before all I appreciated was the album art work!

VOILA! I’ve found the original version!!! –

http://listen.grooveshark.com/widget.swf

>Radiohead’s "Nice Dream" and How I Met Your Mother

>I recently got into the TV program How I Met Your Mother. After a couple of seasons of intensive watching, I reached the conclusion that this show has no good music on it. That was until the season three finale where Radiohead’s brilliant song “Nice Dream” off of ‘The Bends’ was featured. A strange choice of song but it completely worked with the chain of events.

“Nice Dream” (album version)
“Nice Dream” (Live in 1996, that’s fourteen years ago!)

>Beach House ‘Teen Dream’

>Beach House two years ago meant absolutely nothing to me.

Now, I have to say, they’re direction into more upbeat music has won my heart. ‘Teen Dream’ is my favourite album of the year for the guitar work on the album. It’s simple, pretty and distinct in each song.

I’ve sort of steadily watched more and more Beach House live videos pop up on youtube… From bad covers to poor quality videos to decent videos… To videos of Jay-Z and Beyonce watching Beach House…

Victoria Legrand’s vocals are pretty spot on as well.

I hope they can win your heart over too –

“Used to Be” (in a rock)
“Zebra”
“Silver Soul” (Live at Coachella 2010)
“Silver Soul” (The ridiculous hula hoop video… Hula hooping is my hidden talent by the way!)
“Silver Soul” (This is still my favourite “Silver Soul” video, for the teaser guitar bit at 0:07!)

As you can probably tell, “Silver Soul” is my favourite tune off of the record. It’s beautiful, simple and repetitive in the best way possible. It use to give me the chills, but due to my incredible song killing, it has lost its lustre. Every once in a while it surprises me though…

And I really couldn’t help myself, after I stumbled upon this video of Beyonce and Jay-Z at the Beach House performance in Coachella 2010…

“Two Weeks” (featuring Victoria Legrand)

>"For No One" by the Beatles

>I’m having one of those moments I so often have where I think of the Beatles catalogue retrospectively and my mind explodes. It’s really remarkable to consider just how much material the Beatles have put out, the progression of the band and the quality of the music.

I decided to listen to the ream of Elliott Smith Beatles covers… The one that stuck out to me in part because of it’s superior quality was the tune “For No One”. It’s really cute that he tries to fill in the beautiful french horn solo with his careless voice noodles.

This is a lovely break-up song… from the beginning lyric: “Your day breaks, your mind aches, you find that all the words of kindless linger on when she no longer needs you.” It clocks in at two minutes, the Paul McCartney specailty. Although Elliott’s cover brings charm I don’t think anything can top the timeless charm and simplicity of the Beatles version.

Apparently, the song’s original titled was slated to be “Why Did It Die?” John and George made no contributions musically to this track, while McCartney played the clavichord, piano and bass with Ringo on the drums. The French horn bit was performed by a fellow named Alan Civil, which more than likely made his career. Ironically, the song was credited as a Lennon/McCartney, but as always incredibly easy to distinguish.

>Susan Sontag’s Memoirs

>I recently took interest in Susan Sontag, a brilliant writer from New York. She was born in 1933 and died in 2004, at the ripe age of seventy-one.

A few weeks ago, I got my paws on her memoir titled Reborn. Her personal notes are sexy, engaging and absolutely contraversial. However, since they were her personal journals, these ideas are significantly more personal…

My favourite I stumbled upon so far is…

Can you imagine canoodling to these classic gems?

6/4/49

Shostakovich Piano Concerts
Scriabin Preludes
Franck D Minor Symphony
Prokofiev Symphony #5

[Bach’s] Mass in B Minor

Sex with music! So intellectual! (34, Sontag, Reborn)

>Matmos

>Matmos are a weird electronic band originally from San Francisco, now residing in Baltimore. The two guys in the band are a couple and one is even a professor at Johns Hopkins University.

I first heard them on the Matador At Fifteen compliation. I thought it was a fantastic simple song. I have yet to find a Matmos song I really adore, aside from the song “For the Trees”.

I found out today there’s an alternate version that’s more laid back and fudges around a bit more than the original version. I don’t like it as much, but I think it’s a good listen.

“For the Trees”

“For the Trees” (Return)

They’re playing here June 11 at the Meta Gallery (124 Ossington)!