Gush: ‘Something to Write Home About’ by The Get Up Kids

Perhaps I’m just reminiscing on the easier times, but the inspiration of today’s music selections has been the nineties and the early oughts. I can’t help but do the simple math to think about how long ago 1997, 1999 and 2002 were. In 1999, I was just eleven and learning about fractions and integers while Matt Pryor of the Get Up Kids were twenty-one and drinking legally for the first time. In 1999 they made one of my favourite albums ever created, Something to Write Home About.

I think the most formative years for my music taste were between 2002-2004. I listened to a whole lot of crap music, but some have stuck with me. Something to Write Home About is still incredible seventeen years later:

Gush: Car Seat Headrest

I developed a weird love for the Cars’ song “Just What I Needed” last summer. I was in Detroit in the middle of the summer and I had the weird urge to hear it. It’s been a go-to happy tune of my song ever since.

I was very crushed to read about thousands of dollars of Car Seat Headrest gear being crushed to bits because of an unauthorized borrowed lyric by young Will Toldeo of Car Seat Headrest. He apparently had permission to use the music, not the words.

I got into this fella’s band pretty fast with the nineties sounding tune, “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales,” which reminds me a bunch of the build up in Nada Surf’s “Always Love.” Toldeo’s voice also sounds heaps like Beck. He’s playing Toronto in September with my artist of the year, Lucy Dacus. It’s going to be incredible.

Yesterday, I listened to a thirty-minute rave review of Car Seat Headrest’s album Teens of Denial

Gush: “How” by Daughter

Daughter just released the album Not to Disappear on January 15, which was also Elena Torna’s twenty-sixth birthday. Not to Disappear is follow up to the slow, but sweet debut full-length album If You Leave. I’m happy to report this tune is more upbeat, sounding a bit shoegazey, especially with Torna’s gorgeous Mazzy Star-like vocals.

 

And for good measure, you should probably watch this lovely performance:

Gush: ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’

I am over the moon excited for the TIFF series this fall titled Back to the 90s. A less than amazing decade for most things, it marked the revitalization of the teen film. I find myself most excited to watch the film Can’t Hardly Wait on the big screen. Do have a peek at other programming in the Back to the 90s series, I promise it won’t disappoint! Perhaps it was inspired by the Hot Doc 2014 film Beyond Clueless.


Weirdly, on my break today I heard the Replacements tune by the same name in a department store… A pretty awesome random listen. The film was named after the song and pays tribute to it True Blood style as the credits roll.

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Neutral Milk Hotel at the Kool Haus; Sunday January 19, 2014

Nearing the end of January, I can say that I attended my very first concert of 2014. I can feel that this year’s going to be a good one, based on both album releases and tours announced so far. This marks the first year of my life that I am without cheap airfare, or Daddy discounts, as I like to refer them as. Maybe this year I will even become an adult… Nah, forget that thought.

This is the second time over the last three years that I have shared breathing space with Jeff Mangum, and third for some of his band members. If you were of the lucky ones who saw Mangum play Trinity St. Paul’s Church in 2011, you were treated to one hell of a show. I am going to show my supreme weak legs to add that sitting at a show is a gift and seeing a show at a church in pews is oddly socially acceptable. Years ago, in the summer of 2008, Johnathan Rice yelled at his El Mocambo audience saying he wouldn’t play to a sitting audience (there was a “fuck” somewhere in there too).

2011 was a special year because Elephant 6, comprised of Julian Koster, Scott Spillane, and Andrew Rieger, to name just a few, played Lee’s Palace. Most fans committed to this show so quickly for the sweet hope that we’d get to see Mangum, funny enough, before the Elephant 6 Toronto gig, Mangum announced a solo tour. The Elephant 6 gig was a long-burn one, but if you were smart enough to endure their 3-hour set, you would have been treated to this glorious cover of Sun Ra’s tune “Enlightenment”:

 

Rieger, also the frontman for the band Elf Power, could easily be mistaken for Arcade Fire’s Win Butler. Elf Power opened up the Kool Haus gig, which I assume was a recent/unannounced addition, as it wasn’t posted anywhere on the Collective Concerts website. I smartly caught up on some Neutral Milk gig reviews and found that Elf Power were opening. While I only caught five songs, I felt taken straight back to the nineties.

Neutral Milk Hotel promptly entered the stage around 10pm. Within the first few songs, Mangum apologized to the crowd for their punctuality at the 1998 Horseshoe Tavern gig, they apparently kept the crowd waiting until 12midnight for their set. Mangum added, they made an extra effort to be on time for this gig.

I was most excited for the full-band set up to hear the Balkan-style music interludes that were completely lost at Mangum’s show back in 2011. The 2011 gig’s openers were a mish-mash of Elephant 6 artists, most notable in my mind years later is Scott Spillane’s contributions to Mangum’s set. Spillane hopped on stage to accompany Mangum on the French horn, absolutely stunning. This go we were treated to a five or six piece band comprised of Julian Koster, Scott Spillane, Laura Carter and a few others that I sadly cannot pin point for you right now. Mangum was surprisingly hairy, he was sporting a thick, long beard that made most of the bear-like men in the room look clean shaven. His voice was in good shape, I fortunately had a spot far enough back that I could actually hear him and not the sing-a-long crowd. However compromised was my sight, as the venue was jam packed, only leaving the back to comfortably stand, which I slightly opted for, but was also with some late-comer friends. Regardless, I have had the good luck of seeing Mangum ten rows back in a church and his bandmates multiple times up close.

I cannot stress what a spectacle seeing this band is, I am very sad that I didn’t actually get to see much this go. Koster is the finest saw player I have ever heard, which is eloquently demonstrated in the tune “In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea,” as well as some other tunes. He spent the evening between the singing saw, bass guitar, and keyboards, again most missed visually because of my back-of-the-venue spot. It’s so well-done on the studio version, you’d hardly know it was such an odd ball instrument.

Each time Mangum was left alone of the stage, I felt a rush come over me. It was either going to be “Oh Comely” or “Two-Headed Boy.” My favourite performance was easily “Oh Comely” with the band’s appearance nearing the end of the tune, as well as the three-quarter point where alone Mangum taps his guitar between slow sung words. I was surprised in looking back to the 2011 gig that Mangum had opened up with this tune.

Strangely, I began to like Neutral Milk on long runs. I suppose the fast momentum of the first half of In the Aeroplane made me move. Now, to dig deep into On Avery Island.

My good pal and writer for Canada.com put together a super list of Neutral Milk Hotel covers by some of my, and likely your, favourite bands. Discovery of the day for me is hearing Rilo Kiley play “In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea.” Girl power, Jenny Lewis, girl power.

Jesse Lacey (of Brand New) and Michigan’s Netural Uke Hotel kept Mangum’s music alive in the band’s 10-year rest. Lacey famously said he’d quite playing their tunes live, when and if the band got back together to play more gigs. I suppose he’s laid his covers to rest.

Gush: Grapes of Wrath “Isn’t There”

I never date anyone who likes the same music as me!!! It’s always a weird predicament. I once dated someone who liked late a lot of ’80s/’90s alt-rock. Tuning into one of my favourite radio shows this evening, CBC Radio 2 Drive, this tune was played. It made me think of that late ’80s alt-rock sound instantly.

Sure enough, it was a tune by the Canadian band the Grapes of Wrath, titled “Isn’t There.” Much to my surprise, despite its dated sound, the tune was actually released this year….!

What a catch!

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.

Sasquatch! 2012 aftermath three: Beck

I had a little breakthrough when I realised that Beck is married to actress Marissa Ribisi, the twin sister of Giovanni Ribisi. She’s had roles in Pleasantville, Dazed and Confused and Friends. Even more interesting is that Beck’s mother delivered Marissa and her brother Giovanni. How odd is that!!

This was my second time seeing Beck live. The first time being a very packed show at the Sound Academy in 2008 with a half view of the stage. It’s pretty astounding that that tour was in support of Beck’s last release Modern Guilt. He hasn’t even released anything in four years, despite this, his show was as fresh as ever.

I think what got me about this gig were his unfamiliar older tunes. Pardon my ignorance but I’m a relatively new Beck fan. I fully emerced myself in Beck with the release of his nearly perfect album Guero in 2005. Since Guero, I’ve hung on tight with the exception of Guerolito of which I haven’t brought myself to listen to yet. Don’t tell anyone!

It’s a nice feeling to hear tunes you haven’t heard in years and realise that you are quite familiar with the tune. It was really nice to hear smash hits like “Loser,” “Devil’s Haircut” and “Where It’s At.” A real Odelay dominated set due to the original recording band he had back in 1997. Here’s a throw back to the 1997 Grammy’s, a performance of his incredible tune “Where It’s At.” Sadly at my gig, these sweet dance moves were nowhere to be found. Can you believe this tune is FIFTEEN YEARS OLD. It can almost drive a car!!!

Jack Black and Kyle Gass of Tenacious D came out to sing “Mutherfucker” and “E-Pro” along with Beck’s lil nugget who couldn’tve been older than 10 years of age.

Now, to dig into the deep depths of my Beck collection!