Milestone songs

My parents’ wedding song was the Turtles’ “Happy Together.” The Turtles’ Flo & Eddie are a bit of an odd-ball pick by any standards, but the sentiments are all there. One of my favourite mommy blogs, Cup of Jo, did a feature on First Dances.

I have to admit I have never given this thought. I’ve actually given more thought to my requiem than the song I celebrate a forever relationship to. Inspired by reading this article way back, I thought how fitting it would be to celebrate one’s life with the Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year” (thanks, Zooey Deschanel!). Funny enough the very same Cup of Jo piece cited two Zombies tunes as wedding songs (including “This Will Be Our Year”). M Ward picked the more traditional, “Amazing Grace,” which if you can recall not-so-long ago Obama also chose to remember a lost life.

And who can forget this gem of a scene from everyone’s favourite film, Love Actually?

Or Six Feet Under‘s epic ending featuring Sia’s “Breathe Me” before she got noticed:

Here are a few more suggestions for funeral tunes compliments of Australian newspaper, the Australian, via Exclaim!

Gush: Sina Grace’s take on Jenny Lewis

Sina Grace is on my radar, but I’ve definitely seen some of his work illustrating some companion doodles for More Adventurous (see the second photo). I just know the photo below is to accompany Rabbit Fur Coat‘s “Rise Up With Fists!!” I’m a little crushed to learn that only 1000 copies of Grace’s graphic novel based on Rabbit Fur Coat will be released exclusively at the three gigs. Fingers crossed they get leaked online!

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Gush: 10 years of Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins

“Ruuuun Devvvvillll Ruuun, Deeeevil Ruuun, Deeeevvvilll Ruuuuuu-uun. From Love…”

These four words open up Jenny Lewis’ masterpiece Rabbit Fur Coat. They also are likely to turn people off of the album even faster. Rabbit Fur Coat turned ten recently, an album that’s stayed with me in. In fact, it was my full-album choice last Saturday at the bar. It’s tender (waltz “Melt Your Heart”), gritty (country ho-down “The Big Guns”) and timeless (Wilbury’s classic “Handle With Care”).

I managed to catch two gigs in support of this album – one in March at the Opera House and a second in October at Trinity St Paul church. For the latter gig, the band walked down the aisle as if they were getting hitched as they bellowed the album’s opening four words. It was incredible. I am the luckiest girl in the world. Although I am slightly crushed I can’t make their 10-year reunion in LA this Friday.

Lewis has even got a graphic novel based on the album on the market now… Only available at the three show she’ll be playing in all the cool American cities.

Now, time travel ten years to the very amazing Autumn de Wilde photo series for the album’s artwork. De Wilde wrote on her Instagram that the photo shoot was at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in LA.

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2015 Concerts

Upon finding out the Walkmen disbanded, a friend consoled me by saying that they’ll probably make solo stuff that sounds exactly like the band. He was right, Hamilton Leithauser’s tunes sound a lot like his old outfit.  I watched them play the Drake Hotel in late January. I’m in awe the boys are back in Toronto on the very same day 365 days later at the Dakota. I’m not sure how they nailed that venue, but it’s going to be perfection.

Mid-February was cold as heck, but I managed to make it out to see Toronto writer Sheila Heti’s play All Our Happy Days Are Stupid. It was happy, weird and confusing – I would expect no less than an emotional roller coaster from Heti.

Tobias Jesso Jr played a sold out show at the Drake Hotel. I heard whispers about Jesso early on in the new year and felt immediate interested him. Funny enough, beyond the album’s Adele-endorsed banger “How Could You, Babe?,” I wasn’t really in love with his music. I’m growing to like the fella more and more each day. His show was modest and sweet. He confessed the sneakers he wore were a half size to small for his 6’7 build and that the company gave them to him for free. He said he was too shy to ask for a new pair, but hoped someone would Tweet about his shoes so they’d know.

Hayden played an amazing diner series to promote his new album and I took photos for the National Post’s concert coverage. I caught his Aunties and Uncles set, where I jammed tight into the small breakfast spot and took as many photos as my index finger and camera would allow. Hayden performed generously, taking requests on request forms from each album.

In the last days of April, I went to a sold out Patrick Watson show at the Drake Hotel. The band was showcasing their gorgeous album, Love Songs for Robots. I was unhappily crammed in the back of the venue with the other media folks, who surprisingly always only pay half attention to gigs. Watson and company hopped off stage mid-set and played on top of the bar at the back of the venue, directly in front of me. They even ordered a number of shots and gave them out to the crowd. I believe they played the tune “Adventures In Your Backyard,” along with a few other unplugged songs. I was mesmerized.

In May I caught Tennis at the Mod Club. They played many non-surfy tunes from their excellent album, Ritual in Repeat. It was around this time that I fell majorly hard for the song “Bad Girls,” which of course they played. At the end of the month I saw Patrick Watson, Jenn Grant, Choir! Choir! Choir!, Joel Plaskett, Bahamas and Coeur de Pirate at CBC Music Festival. I was most excited to hear Patrick Watson’s gorgeous album live (after listening to it endlessly). The fella I went with didn’t wear enough clothing for late March, so we left part way through Watson’s set, which was as good as the Drake gig one month prior.

I only caught one day of Arts and Crafts’ Field Trip. I managed to see My Morning Jacket (finally!!) and Father John Misty. I wish I caught a few more acts – Rhye, Lee Fields, Temples and Alabama Shakes – a really endless supply of awesome artists.

In late June I caught Judy Blume at the Toronto Reference Library. She talked about love, literature and life. She’s an astounding, radiant woman that I admire so much.

A few days after Blume, I saw my Norwegian crush, Sondre Lerche play the converted shoe box, Adelaide Hall. Much to my chagrin he played alone. In introducing “Just Like Lazenby” and “Tragic Mirror” he said that he likes to write songs about middle-aged men. Sondre, despite having a ten year plus career to date, is just in his early thirties.

In mid-July I drove off to Detroit, Eau Claire, Milwaukee and Chicago to attend Eaux Claires music festival, my big festival of 2015. The festival had heavy hitters – Spoon, Bon Iver, the National, Poliça, Charles Bradley, Tallest Man on Earth and Sufjan Stevens. In addition to smaller acts that I’ve now grown to love – Phox, Sylvan Esso and No BS! Brass Band. On the first night of the festival, while camping, we got hit by a tornado. Three girlfriends and I huddled in our SUV and prayed for survival. Each one of us called our loved ones in fear we’d get carried away.

On August 10, as a part of Panamania, I caught Explosions in the Sky play Nathan Phillips Square. These fellas modestly introduced themselves by saying they were from a town south of Toronto. Every hair on my arm stuck up to the sweet swells and build ups. Very excited to hear most of  The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place.

Visited Denver, Colorado before our dollar plummeted to catch Riot Fest. Their line up had many of our acts, but a few more awesome pulls for me to visit. I caught Alkaline Trio, Thrice, The Joy Formidable, Desaparecidos, Beach Slang, Explosions in the Sky and Nada Surf. I managed to nab a media pass, which allowed me to take photos and catch the first few songs of the set up close. One of my favourite moments of the year was catching “Artist in the Ambulance” less than three feet away from the band. My ears were pounding from the band’s noise, but it was worth it.

I caught Mikal Cronin play Adelaide Hall, his first Toronto show in over two years! Cronin was pushing his terrific album MCIII. Cronin is easily one of my favourite artists of the last five years. It was about time I saw the guy play.

On the last few days of TIFF, I wiggled my way out to catch acts from the Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF). I watched Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, Wilco, Neko Case, Cake, Lord Huron and Hop Along. Due to work I only caught the second day of the festival.

The Constantines played a two or three-night residency at Lee’s Palace. The gig was filled with boys in plaid shirts. I’m constantly in awe by how dedicated and passionate Constantines fans are. They own their crowd.

My lovely friend and country superstar, Whitney Rose, played a show at the Horseshoe Tavern in promotion of her new album Heartbreaker of the Year. The album has become one of my go-to plays at the bar I work at. She’s since been signed to Six Shooter Records. Big news for the most deserving person.

In mid-October a friend bought me tickets to see on of his favourite acts, John Grant. I hadn’t heard much about Grant, but my friend was a huge fan of the guy. I was surprised by his poppy sound and his massive gay following. Grant has HIV and is living above and beyond its limitations.

Toronto-based sultry popstars RALPH played Taste of Iceland, a little festival that blends Icelandic outfits with Toronto acts. RALPH played the earliest set, but were easily the best I saw that night.

In late November I hung out with Matt Berninger for the second time this year. I stupidly drank a bit too much and got to the gig after the venue had filled up. His alter-outfit to the National is a poppy act called EL VY (pronounced like the plural of Elvis). Beyond shitty-ass sight lines, I managed to boogie to their cover of Fine Young Cannibals’ “Drive Me Crazy.”

A few days after I caught one of my favourite acts of the year, Beach Slang. The band’s bassist commented that one of his heroes was Kevin Drew, not knowing that Brendan Canning was in the audience. Canning yelled out something sassy in returned and I was rolling on the floor laughing. I was delighted to hear the band play numerous Replacements covers. This was my first visit to the Dance Cave as a concert venue. I look forward to more gigs in this space.

I caught Zeus at Lee’s Palace with openers TUNS (featuring Chris Murphy of Sloan). The gig was one of those gigs that makes you feel especially proud to be from Toronto.

In early December I was crowdsurfed over for the first time in about a decade. Some lame dude at the Get Up Kids gig decided to float over a bunch of now old-aged fans. The surfer made his way to the front and eventually hopped on stage trying to take a selfie with front person Matt Pryor as he was playing (!!!) Matt jokingly kicked him in the butt, gesturing him to move his rear off the stage. The surfer then jumped on myself and the girls behind me. I managed to move, but the poor chicks behind me got the worst of it. I was sad to not hear any selections from Guilt Show. Rob Pop also wasn’t there. Bassists were extracted from other bands (the dude who plays bass for Saves the Day and the front person from Into It. Over It.).

I finally bought tickets to the Jason Collett Basement Revue, but found myself too tired to attend. I ended up selling my tickets and hanging out at the bar as the bands did soundcheck. Knowing people in high places allows you to do such things. I managed to catch a mini set from each act playing, no FOMO here.

 

 

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Best Albums (in order of release)

Father John Misty I Love You, Honeybear

Josh Tillman is a mega babe. His cool, careless persona is endless in his live act. I managed to only catch him once this year at Toronto festival, Field Trip. When this album was released, he teased us all with the slow burn tune, “Bored in the USA.” I’m glad the rest of the album stands up (and thankfully picks up) from the band’s initial tease.

Tobias Jesso Jr Goon

“How Could You, Babe?” was my draw to this album. It’s also what’s kept me listening to this album too. I was on top of Tobias Jesso Jr from the start of the year. His advertising prepped me to get excited for something from the past. I managed nab tickets for his very sweet (and very green) gig at the Drake Hotel.

Sufjan Stevens Carrie & Lowell

I like Sufjan slow. This album is beautiful.

Mikal Cronin MCIII

This album is a bit too polished, but I still dig it. Cronin can do no wrong for me.

Waxahatchee Ivy Trip

I spent most of the end of this year getting into rough sounding girl groups. Enter Waxahatchee – she ain’t pretty sounding, but she sure is fun.

Hop Along Painted Shut

So, I encourage you all to meet a dude in a bar in an American state and visit him a month later in another one. He showed me Hop Along and shortly after left my life. I’m happy to report that Hop Along’s still here.

Whitney Rose Heartbreaker of the Year

Rose is one class act. She’s an incredibly country star that I actually love. She’s my favourite go-to when I’m opening up the bar and feeling classy. Formerly a Toronto gal, Rose has settled in Austin, Texas and has recently been signed to Six Shooter Records. I cannot wait to see what this gal gets up to.

Alabama Shakes Sound & Color

Front person Brittney Howard is badass, but makes really pretty songs.

Patrick Watson Love Song for Robots

Grab some high-quality headphones and dive in. This album is perfection. I will argue to my dying day that it’s not prog rock.

Deerhunter Fading Frontier

A bit slow, but over all pleasant. Bradford Cox can do no wrong.

Beach Slang The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us

This album is fun. This band is fun. I caught these fellas live twice this year and managed to take a bunch of photos of them at one of the gigs. The second gig I could barely see them, but their sweet and naive stage presence compensated for the shitty sight lines. Front person James Alex is one of the most sincere and humble musicians in the business showing his gratitude and modesty by the second. At the Toronto gig guitarist, Ruben Gallego, acknowledge that one of his heroes is front Toronto excitedly disclosing that it was Kevin Drew (of Broken Social Scene). Little did Gallego know, Drew’s band member and  Broken Social Scene bassist Brendan Canning was in the house. Canning yelled “WHAT ABOUT HIS BANDMATES?!” I endlessly chuckled.

Julien Baker Sprained Ankle

This is probably the sweetest album of the year. Memphis, Tennessee pee wee, Julien Baker, is a little wonder. This album is full of emotion delivered in the most basic package… And that ain’t a bad thing.

Still need to listen to…

BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah Sour Soul
Screaming Females Rose Mountain
Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a Butterfly
Modest Mouse Strangers to Ourselves
Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Laura Marling Short Movie
Death Cab For Cutie Kintsugi
The Mountain Goats Beat the Champ
Calexico Edge of the Sun
Built to Spill Untethered Moon
Dustin Kensrue Carry the Fire
Great Lake Swimmers A Forest of Arms
My Morning Jacket The Waterfall
Best Coast California Nights
The Tallest Man on Earth Dark Bird Is Home
Unknown Mortal Orchestra Unknown Love
Jaime xx In Colour
Wolf Alice My Love Is Cool
Thunderbitch Thunderbitch
Wavves X Cloud Nothings No Life For Me
Wilco Star Wars
D’Angelo/The Vanguard Black Messiah
Iron & Wine X Ben Bridwell Sing Into My Mouth
MS MR How Does It Feel
Ratatat Magnifique
Tame Impala Currents
Titus Andronicus The Most Lamentable Tragedy
Lianne La Havas Blood
Mac DeMarco Another One
The Good Life Everybody’s Coming Down
Grace Potter Midnight
Beach House Depression Cherry
Beach House Thank Your Lucky Stars
Destroyer Poison Season
Foals What Went Down
Beirut No No No
Ben Folds So There
Graveyard Innocence & Decadence
Julia Holter Have You My Wilderness
Kurt Vile b’lieve I’m goin down…
Youth Lagoon Savage Hills Ballroom
John Grant Grey Tickles, Black Pleasure
Natalie Prass Natalie Prass
Sleater-Kinney No Cities to Love

 

Gush: New Explosions in the Sky

As the luckiest girl in the world, I managed to see Explosions in the Sky twice in 2015 FOR FREE. I caught them on my home turf in Toronto and in Denver, Colorado as a part of Riot Fest. Both shows were different – Toronto at night and Denver in the day at a big music festival.

I dig the first teaser track from the new album. A short four-minute song song:

 

 

Explosions always has the best album art and band tees. See:

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A growing list of songs I never want to hear again pt 1

“Nothing Compares 2 U” – Sinead O’Connor

“Never Tear Us Apart” – INXS

“Down Under” – Men at Work

“Beautiful Day” – U2

“Don’t You Forget About Me” – Simple Minds

“If You Could Read My Mine” – Stars on 54

“Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen

“Games Without Frontiers” – Peter Gabriel

“Lay It on the Line” – Triumph

“Cuts Like a Knife” – Bryan Adams

“Sweet Emotion” – Aerosmith

Gush: Justin Vernon, North Carolina

I’ve never meet Justin Vernon, but I’ve had a relationship with his music for the last nine years. I’ve seen him live five times and have read countless interviews with him. Vernon seems like good people.

Here’s the latest thread of knowledge I have on the guy, he likes to eat and enjoys Kendrick Lamar (maybe it’s time I…).