Fiona Apple gush

After being subject to Fiona Apple’s 2005 release Extraordinary Machine over and over, I realised that I actually kinda liked the odd coos of Ms. Apple.

I can’t even begin to describe to you how charmed I am by her new tune “Anything We Want.” It makes me feel oddly liberated.

Hope you like it too!

Yeah! Weddings contest and music

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am a total sap.

I find this contest completely charming. It was open to engaged couples in the LA area who are looking for a lovely free wedding this year. These three couple who I feel equally smitten by all have some terrific elements to them.

The National couple (http://www.yeahweddings.com/vote/brandonlily.html)

The Myspace couple with the dude from Local Natives (http://www.yeahweddings.com/vote/kelceymelanie.html)

The red head couple (http://www.yeahweddings.com/vote/chelseamike.html)

I wonder who’ll win!

Also, the National Couple made a really nice mix CD that I wanna put together (including their artwork):

The National ‘Boxer’ gush, love

Approximately, one year ago, I fell in love with a little band called the National. Thanks to a few good Australian folk, one of which you can get to know better here (www.chriseclectic.com), I finally made my way to one of their gigs. I often get asked what are my favourite concerts I’ve been to, without hestitation, the Air Canada Centre gig in Toronto has to be one of my favourites.

To steer myself back on track as to why I am writing this post – I found a little image on the Music vs. Misery Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/musicvsmisery). The image below is from a record store, who’s employed a National-loving employee. As I learn to love the National more and more, I completely agree with this statement!! Boxer has grown on me. Most recently today, the surprisingly lovely tune “Apartment Story.”

There’s a really heartwarming contest being held through Yeah! Weddings (http://www.yeahweddings.com/). One of the couple finalists happen to be a pair that bonded over the National… The song they relate to most is “Apartment Story” (http://brandonloveslily.tumblr.com/post/25624197873/when-we-met-one-of-the-first-thing). I always find it interesting to delve into Berninger’s lyrics to find something just a bit more deep than I hear just from his monotone vocals.

I’ve only fallen in love a few times in my life, but easily the National has been one of my biggest loves!

Sasquatch aftermath five: Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaries

I love a good pun, but what I love just a bit more than a good pun is Charles Bradley.

If you haven’t come across Bradley yet, I highly recommend getting your hot paws on some of his music. The 64 year-old performer had modest beginnings as a chef amongst other things to keep him busy. In his spare time he performed in a James Brown cover act as none other…

It should come as no surprise that Daptone discovered yet another talented over the hill performer.

Seeing Charles Bradley is really something else. I remember writing down that he and his band were going to whip through Toronto without knowing his music too well. It’s really heartbreaking to find that you missed something that you wish you could’ve been at.

Bradley has heart and a bunch of amazing dance moves. I’ve never seen anyone hip thrust over the age of sixty before so this was quite the treat. As good of a singer he is, it’s his stage presence that gives his live shows the authentic soul feel.

I started writing this post not to gush about his performance last month but to tell you folk in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area that an amazing documentary called ‘Charles Bradley: Soul of America’ will be playing as a part of the Toronto Open Roof Festival (http://openrooffestival.com/events/). This is the Festival’s third year running and I have to say after attending a few screenings last year, I can confidently say that the Open Roof Festival is a wonderful artist contribution to the Toronto community. In the past years they’ve had bands open up the film accompanied with brown bagged popcorn and Amsterdam beer (as it’s held at the Amsterdam brewery). This year, they’ve added a food provider for each event!!!!

My point here was to tell you Toronto folk to go see this Charles Bradley film this Thursday!!!

 

 

Destroyer at the Opera House; Saturday June 23, 2012

Meet Destroyer, the creation of frontman Dan Bejar. You may know Bejar from his contributions in the New Pornographers as a sometimes member. He also teamed up with Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade and Carey Mercer of Frog Eyes to create the band Swan Lake.

Dancing between many different acts and experiencing a moderate level of fame, the Vancouver musician has experienced a great wave of fame from his most recent release Kaputt. I’ve had the great opportunity to see Destroyer twice within the last twelve months in very different environments. It was really exciting to see him play a sold out Toronto show at the Opera House, a warm domestic welcome.

The gig started at around 10:00pm however Destroyer had no opening support. As a part of the TD Jazz Festival, I suppose it was treated more as an individual showcase rather than a normal ticketed event. I perused the crowd to scour down Jazz Festival passes and as I suspected, few people were attending the Destroyer show because of the jazz festival, rather people were there for Bejar and company.

It was really impressive to hear “Hey, Snow White” as the encore tune. Like many of his other performances of that evening, the band wanked their way into the tune with noodling and noise, essentially nonsense. The very distinct guitar riff was eventually played and with that sign, my heart skipped a little faster because of the tune. I had mainly known the tune as a cover that the New Pornographer’s did without Bejar for the ‘Dark Was the Night’ compilation. While the main message of the tune was delivered, it sounded very different from the version I was accustomed to hearing. Without a doubt, hearing this tune made the evening for me. There’s something especially satisfying about hearing the familiar.

Destroyer has a certain oddness to them that distinguishes their efforts from other Bejar projects. While Bejar is the blood to the band’s veins, his live shows share the limelight with the other seven people on stage, it’s very evidently a shared effort. His support plays a variety of instruments such as the trumpet, saxophone, flute, and keyboards to contribute to his extremely eclectic sound. Of course, what makes Destroyer so dynamic is Bejar’s odd vocals. I remember when I first intentionally listened to Destroyer in the wake of the glowing reviews of ‘Kaputt,’ I purchased a copy of the album on vinyl. Between the glowing reviews and the gorgeous album artwork, I figured this album would be love at first listen. Sadly, it wasn’t. I found myself completely stumped by Bejar’s distinct sounding vocals.

After seeing Destroyer’s live show twice, I can see why so many artists and fans respect his work. It’s because it’s light listening.

I use the word “light” because the term “easy listening” gets lost in the sea of deceased crooners and the long catalogue of Michael Bublé albums. Bejar’s tunes, beyond the odd vocals, are genuinely pleasant, breezy tunes. The sound that Destroyer captures heavily nods to the sax heavy, smooth tunes of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, however fuses together its own original take. Other artists such as Washed Out and Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon’s side project Gayngs, both nod to the genre as well. I think what sets Bejar apart is how genuine and accessible it is, no George Michael knowledge required.

Also, it’s probably also worth checking out a New York man who shares the same name as Dan Bejar. The New Yorker embraced it to the point where he now physically resembles Bejar. Read this article for New York Bejar’s accounts of his first in-person look at Destroyer Bejar (http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2011/03/21/110321ta_talk_sanneh). 

Guelph Jazz Festival: Line Up Picks for 2012

I’m pretty excited to have such a fantastic jazz festival here in Guelph. Here are some acts that I’m interested in seeing (songs to come once I delve deeper into their music):

MARY MARGARET O’HARA & PEGGY LEE 

 Margaret O’Hara, the sister of  comedian Catherine O’Hara. This Peggy Lee is not the Peggy Lee you’re thinking about, but a cellist is from British Columbia.

COLIN STETSON

For the longest time I couldn’t shake hearing Colin Stetson. It wasn’t until his gig at Massey Hall playing in Justin Vernon’s band Bon Iver that I saw the brilliance that he makes. Watching this man play the sax is explosive and unbelievable.

 NELS CLINE & GLENN KOTCHE

Nels Kline and Glenn Kotche are two parts of a little Chicago band called Wilco. Nels Kline was dubbed 82nd best guitarist of all time by The Rolling Stone.

ABDULLAH IBRAHIM

Abdullah Ibrahim turns 78 years old this October and is still touring. He’s traveling fast behind Dave Brubeck’s wake. Ibrahim, who was born in Capetown, South Africa moved to the Europe in the sixites where he met Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. Later in his career he scored the film for the Juliette Binoche film Chocolat.

I Love You, Man approved:

CHARLES SPEARIN HAPPINESS PROJECT

The first time I saw Charles Spearin showcase the Happiness Project, I was in the deep depths of the Dakota Tavern. No one really knew what was going on or had any idea what Spearin had up his sleeve but I found myself completely in awe of everything he was creating. The Happiness Project is an innovative initiative that fuses together linguistics and music. While I by no means would put it under jazz, it’s experimental and new – so I can see why he fits very nicely in the Guelph Jazz Festival.

NXNE: Friday June 15, 2012 – Bleached, the Smoking Popes

North by Northeast is South by Southwest’s little sibling. 2012 marks Toronto’s sixteenth year running the festival spanning over 50 venues showcasing a variety of artists from across the globe. For the past five years or so I’ve made good effort to attend and be a part of the festival. North by Northeast separates itself from other festivals because it’s so accessible to the public. For just $50 you can attend all five days of live gigs and if you’re lucky enough to have the time and funds you can grab a badge that’ll get you into concerts, movie screenings and conference happenings.

This was the first year in a while I made no effort to make it out, as it turns out the festival found its way to me more or less. However you have to be completely blind to have missed Bleach at NXNE 2012 as they had a three night stand at the Silver Dollar. I comfortably strolled out to the Silver Dollar at quarter to 12 midnight just before the LA (mostly) girl group Bleached took the stage. A pal had described them as the rougher version of Best Coast. I ran out just before the beginning of their set to buy some tokens so we could jet to our next venue even faster. I trekked back to the venue to find that a hundred more people filled the Silver Dollar especially to see the California babes. I waited in a short line to get in with no trouble but fighting my way through the crowds to find a pal. The Silver Dollar is the perfect venue for the rough, unpolished coos of Bleached. I was amazed to see how young the gals looked. I however later found out that they used to be in the band Mika Miko, a group that I had vaguely heard about before. Continuing in both bands are Jessica and Jennifer Clavin, sisters who hail from the San Fernando Valley, or more casually known as the Valley, where the slang term Valley girls was born from. While they do have sunshine blonde hair, the Clavin sisters do not embody or resemble Valley girls in the slightest. What really made Bleached’s sound stand out to me was their ability as a four or five piece to make a fuller sound than the three piece Best Coast ever could. I thought their rough sound and vocals were eloquently supported by solid backup vocals of the two other girl players in the band. Their sound is definitely inspired by a rougher sound heard in the late ‘70s to early ‘80s, straight off of a Pebbles compilation.

Feeling a little inadequate right now? Me too. It’s time to dust off Michael Azerrad’s book ‘Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991;’ a book on the history of alternative rock and a line from both the book and an old Minutemen song that Bleached uses as their tagline on their Twitter account (http://twitter.com/hellobleached/).

To close the night, I had the pleasure of seeing the ‘90s Vagrant pop punk band the Smoking Popes over a decade after the peak of their fame. The band is mainly based around three members of which are all brothers – Matt, Josh and Eli Caterer from the American Mid-West. The band claimed that it was only their third time throughout their career playing in Toronto and they told the audience that it makes every Toronto performance very special. I appreciated the optimistic mindset as the band only dragged in about thirty people to their 1am performance at the Great Hall – their only one of the weekend.

The Popes apparently had always struggled to escape their image which paled in the numerous comparisons to the Alkaline Trio. I hope that a  reunion of the band will evoke a much needed resuscitation of their fun-pop tunes.