Archive for March, 2011

Reviews: Hannah Georgas, Take Me To The Pilot

March 31, 2011

So, here is my first review blog.  Remember, I’m not a reviewer: I’m a music lover.  But, if it helps you discover a new band or appreciate something you might not have, I’ll take a bit of the credit.  The rest should probably go to the artist themselves, though…not probably…must!  I’ll start with a PDQ (pretty damned quick) synopsis, and then ramble!

For those who I promised an R.E.M. review…I’m giving the album another day or two to sink in…it’s had less play than these two so I don’t want to mistreat it.  HERE WE GO!

Hannah Georgas – This Is Good

PDQ: Songwriting greatness from a unique voice!

I saw this lady at the Indies…and then again at the Juno Block Party.  The second time, I had her CD sitting in my pocket, literally the first CD I have purchased at HMV since…well, since I can remember! I’m pretty sure Sam’s was still around, though.

That is the second time I’ve featured that video in this blog.  The song is that good.

The album is great from beginning to end.  Hannah is playful, sounding folky one second, poppy the next, and…circusy?!  Surprising!  Which is great to have from a songwriter rather than expected or typical.  She caught me off guard the same way that Aimee Mann does each time I hear one of her new tracks.  There’s a distinct sound, but no carbon copies.

Chit-Chat, Bang Bang You’re Dead and The Deep End are standouts for me, though I only choose those because I think I’ve listened to them ‘slightly’ more often than the rest.

…the album title is accurate…that’s all I really needed to say!  It is good.

http://hannahgeorgas.com/

Take Me To The Pilot – Take Me To The Pilot EP

PDQ: Catch Winnipeg Pop-Punk quartet has a lot to say and the skill to say it!

Fair warning, I’m working their new video.  But I have no cut of the pie as I’m an intern, so I can be pretty fair and balanced (the real kind of F&B).  Here goes!

This new Winnipeg quartet caught my attention awhile back when my co-worker played ‘Call the Cops’ over and over again…I guess while deciding if we should work with them or not.  Subconsciously, I began to think I recognized the band and song, mainly because it was so catchy.  If I were to do the traditional “X meets Y” thing I’d probably take a dash of Get Up Kids, a pinch of All-American Rejects, a splash of the Wombats and maybe even cook them in a cast-iron pan seasoned with Crash Test Dummies.  Yes…I’m cooking them.  That’s how I roll.

‘Call the Cops’ is by far the standout track…but that doesn’t take from my two other faves, ‘Green Eyes’ (a sweet sweet ballad that actually made me a bit teary near the end the first time I heard it) and ‘I Was Alive for 15 Days in the 80s’…which better be the second single, and I’d better get to hang out while they film the video!!

My prediction is that in 12 months we’ll be hearing about these guys the same way Sum 41, Simple Plan and other Canadian pop-punkers took the country (…and the US…too much?) by storm.  I’m also really looking forward to a full length album!

TMTTP on MySpaceTwitterFormspring

Comments, questions and concerns are appreciated!! After Album Cover Friday tomorrow I’ll get the R.E.M. review online!

Transfigure Tuesday: Cover Songs I’ve Discovered This Week

March 29, 2011

…what?? I had to find a word that kinda meant ‘Redo’ that also started with T…like, as in cover songs…as in the musician TRANSFIGURED the song!  Good?  Did I succeed?

As with my album covers on Friday (which stuck…let’s see if this one does) I seek out covers here…for better or worse…and share them!  My goal is to challenge you to see past your inner-hater and maybe even see the good in some of these tracks.  In some cases, it should be easy…because they’re awesome.  In others, it may be more difficult.

The end result…hopefully you don’t write any spiteful comments to me here, or bitch slap me next time we meet on the street!  LET’S GO!

Morgan Page – Strange Condition (originally by Pete Yorn)

Sent my way after a request for ‘New Dance Covers of Older Songs by Female Artists’ went unheard for about 24 hours (thanks Dakk!)  The song is originally by Pete Yorn (original below) and one of my faves.  What do you think??

Hanson – Optimistic (originally by Radiohead)

Before you throw darts and pour hot oil give it a listen.  I think it’s pretty well done.  You can strongly believe it’s far far inferior to Radiohead, but don’t go bashin’ the Hanson boys for tackling the track. Original below:

The Punch Brothers – Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box (Originally by Radiohead)

Let’s continue the Radiohead trend!  Another awesome live version cleverly arranged for…live performance!  Another band tackles an experimental Radiohead track.  They do good?  Nice mandolin, eh?  Original below (live for better comparison??):

So…what did you think?

The Junos: The Morning After…

March 28, 2011

Sunday's big winner...did you know he was first nominated in 1974 but didn't win till 1994??! BIG UPS!

It’s Juno monday…when artists shuffle along Yonge Street doing the walk of shame for what they did last night, whether it was drink too much or drink too little.  Some celebrated (Arcade Fire, Neil Young, Shad)…some where lucky enough to get some spotlight without needing to worry about awards (Dallas Green and Sarah Slean)…some got the spotlight but…little else (…Drake…shut out!)

Here are my highlights:

  • Drake was legitimately entertaining as a host…his pre-recorded bits (Lloyd Robertson the gamer, Bieber the McLachlan fan and Old Money) were pretty damned funny, and aside from his half-assed intro to Tokyo Police Club he was tight…big ups!
  • The BIG highlight of the night was the tribute to the classic Canadian songs (I’ll touch on below), but Sarah Harmer (performing Joni Mitchell’s ‘Carey’) and Dallas Green (with Neil Young’s ‘Old Man’) totally stole the stage…the entire performance was genius, but they stood out to me with Sarah’s Joni and Dallas’s Neil.
  • Sarah McLachlan’s performance…the song was kinda bland, but she looks BEAUTIFUL and I was actually kinda unexpectedly excited to see her!
  • Arcade Fire’s first acceptance speech, giving shout-outs to Montreal bands like one of my faves, The Unicorns, who have pretty much been forgotten in the last five or six years.
  • Neil Young’s speech for the Humanitarian Award…fricken tight.  I was smiling all the way and kinda…naah, SUPER proud to be there to hear it.  What a humble man!

There were a couple of lowlights:

  • Shania Twain TOTALLY deserved the Canadian Hall of Fame nod…but her speech was abysmal! I was confused what she was trying to say, and at the apex of confusion she pulled out “I should be wearing a Canadian flag!” to get cheers…she then said something else equally patriotic, and ended her speech with how much she loves Canada’s lakes… “…and bush.”  The crowd laughed pretty loud for that one. Not to take away from the deserved award…but her speech was bad!
  • Music playing off the New Artist winner…what are we, the Oscars?? I wanted Hannah Georgas to win, but Meaghan was doing a good job with her speech…if you take the amount of time saved up from the other quick acceptance speeches she had plenty of time to finish her last couple of sentences.

Also, we got some VERY cool ‘past performance’ footage at the ACC during commercial breaks …I wish viewers at home got to see them too, including Platinum Blonde and kd lang.  I was almost more entertained by them than by the show!

A few things I realized:

  • The show is REALLY amazing live, but on the screens (and from past  viewing experience) it was just so-so.  You do miss a lot by not being there
  • The sound is damned good live…I always remember award shows sounding like crap on TV, with people singing all pitchy and craptastic.  I need to check some footage after the fact, but live it was on the money
  • …if you let teenaged girls in…they will scream at the predictable times (Bieber, Down with Webster, Faber Drive, etc.)
  • …live tweeting in an arena is balls.

Finally…Canadian music is REALLY cool!  I mean, we only really stepped up and became a songwriting nation in the 60s, and those songwriters were a part of the american folk movement.  Our ‘classics’ are songs by Gordon Lightfoot, or The Band, or Neil Young!  When we talk about golden-oldies from Canada…we talk about awesome tracks!

And when our younger artists sing those tracks…it’s pretty mind-blowing.  Overall, we may be a new nation musically…but there’s very little to complain about.  Dudes…our Hall of Fame includes a guy who rocked red leather pants!

Canadian Hall of Fame Ass!

Next year, I’m gonna try to mooch a press pass and maybe get me a location with wireless or ethernet.  Until then, take the time to listen to some of the winners…AND to some of the nominees as well!  Congrats to everyone who took home hardware, and more importantly to everyone who was nominated…you’re all winners, and I mean that!

Roo’s Juno Picks!

March 27, 2011

See...she's furry! Go Hannah Georgas! 😀

Booyah!  First off, I’m not one of them critics who does crazy shit for their ‘Award Picks’ articles.  I’m going by gut, by what I want, and maybe mentioning who I think will win.

Secondly…I’m only gonna pick from categories I feel I have some kind of knowledge for…I won’t be guessing who should win Contemporary Christian or Classical Album of the Year…’cause I don’t know!

Thirdly…to see how well I did, or didn’t do, follow me on Twitter @Potoroo tonight as I will be at the Junos and live-tweeting the results…unless of course the show is so spectacular I can’t take my eyes off it!

Quick note…some awards have already been handed out, as follows:

Karkwa – Francophone Album of the Year (sweet)

Arcade Fire – Alternative Album of the Year (…oh, really?)

Deadmau5 – Dance Recording of the Year (Unexpected!)

Neil Young – Adult Alternative Album of the Year (Quelle Surprise!)

Said the Whale as New Group of the Year (…erm…actually, surprise!)

Shad – Rap Album of the Year (Thank GOD!)

Now…the ones that apparently matter for broadcast!:

Juno Fan Choice Award:

Tough since it’s Fan Choice!  But I can tell you, Bieber and Hedley have CRAZY fans so I’d say they’re neck and neck, but I think Hedley fans are more organized.  I would actually predict HEDLEY will win this one…but there’s organization and then there’s brute force.  Bieber may pull it off.

Single of the Year:

Young Artists for Haiti will win…hands down.  It should be noted that Drake and Hedley are both essentially nominated twice here thanks to that charity single.  I can’t see kd lang or Classified doing too well, sadly.

Album of the Year:

Between the Biebs and Arcade Fire…unless they skew results to suit the Grammy’s, I actually predict Justin Bieber will win this one.  He sold a crapload of CDs, probably more than the other four combined…oh wait, Drake is there…let’s just say Drake and the Biebs sold a lot of CDs but Biebs sold more.  The question is: will they go by sales and popularity or artistic skill?  I guess we’ll see tonight!

Artist of the Year:

Although giving it to Drake would be semi-logical (the man ‘did’ take the urban world by storm, and has a jet plane named after him), and passing it to Biebs will get the most screams (he ’caused teenage riots in Australia!!), I actually expect it to go to Neil Young.  If Leonard Cohen can win Best Male Vocalist in a year where his competitors have beautiful voices, Neil Young can win Artist of the Year decades into his career.

Group of the Year:

Arcade Fire. Love BSS…but Arcade Fire has to win this one.

New Artist of the Year:

Desperately want Hannah Georgas to win, but expect Caribou will.  Maybe they’ll save Hannah for songwriter…oh shit…she’s against Neil there…

Songwriter of the Year:

Went to Dallas last year, I honestly expect Hannah or Royal Wood to win…I’m putting my hopes and dreams behind Hannah Georgas.

Pop Album of the Year:

Biebs…what?! It’s a good album, I listen to it, it’s poppy, so this category was made for it.  You think Sarah McLachlan’s gonna win?  I didn’t even know she had an album out!!

That’s it for me!  I’ll tweet-y-tweet tonight and keep folks up to date if anything happens…like Drake falls off the stage, or as predicted earlier by me and a friend on Twitter, Sarah and Alanis announce that Sarah Harmer is their love child.

Booyah!

Awesome Album Cover Friday: METAL!!

March 25, 2011

Throw up the horns!  It’s Metal Friday!

Please…no arguments on whether something I’ve chosen is metal or not…it’s not Bieber, and it’s not Diddy, so it’s metal enough 😉  Enjoy! And be warned…there is a bit more blood than usual this week!

My favourite! The band rocked live too!

This one is pretty...simple but...oddly metal!

 

Sometimes ‘Metal’ can be really really pretty!

...like...really really pretty!

...and sometimes...

For my heterosexual readers...this is hot, right? I got it right...it's sexy, right?

Damn right!

FUCK YAH!

HELL NO!

For my gay readers...this is hot, right? I got it right...it's sexy, right?

Very...VERY awesome!

For those who are curious...I consider the Alien from the film 'Alien' to be very hot...Eddie is also pretty hot, especially in this cover! Please...don't judge me...

 

And finally, the album cover I consider the most metal, the one I associate with metal and have done so since I was a baby-child…

…to this day…I never noticed that he had some 1.5″ Fan Club pins on his jacket…

…METAL!

Anywhoo, I hope you enjoyed this week…it’s not quite over: expect a lot of Juno talk this weekend as I’ll be in attendance at both the Juno Awards and an after party and will likely be live-tweeting!  Follow me @Potoroo if you’d like to follow along!

Also, for the inspiration for this head over to Final Girl and check out her Awesome Movie Poster Friday collection, and her awesome blog, dedicated to all things horror!

Who the hell is…??? – Juno Edition!

March 24, 2011

On February 13th this year, the internet was abuzz late in the night with question marks, all caps, and confusion.  I mean…a completely unknown band…one that no one had ever heard of EVER just won the big one!  It was as if the entire music-loving community had been shot in the face.  A Tumblr account was created to document the travesty.

Now, to be fair, I totally get where these people were coming from when Arcade Fire (…you know…that completely unknown and unheard of band) won the Grammy for Album of the Year.  I do!  From a music lover’s perspective, Arcade Fire is a band you ‘seek’ and ‘discover,’ not one you hear much on radio or see much in the pop culture-verse.  I was turned on to them just after their second album Funeral was released…but had never heard of them before then.

From a different perspective, a friend recently (very) nearly spat his drink out when I had never heard of something called ‘Dragon Age 2.’  Apparently a video game…are they even called video games anymore?  When Halo 3 came out a roomie of mine became very excited…I then learned what Halo was, also that a t-shirt and hat that he wore (that I thought was actually some sort of military design thing) was based on the game.

It is fricken rude to treat someone like they’re stupid for not knowing the obscure band…or obscure video game…that you have known about for years.  My friends don’t do that to me with video games (apart from a shocked face and initial high pitch ‘YOU DON’T KNOW xxxxx???’)  It’s also rude not to share with people who may be interested in your knowledge.

As such…I have pulled some YouTube videos of awesome songs by awesome artists nominated for this year’s Juno Awards that you may not have heard of.  I’m not gonna write bios and crap, though I will include at least one of the awards they are nominated for in the flavour text.  Let’s get started:

Hannah Georgas: New Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year (also playing tonight in Metro Square, Toronto, with City and Colour, for free):

Karkwa: Francophone Album of the Year, Alternative Album of the Year (don’t worry about knowing french, the songs rock anyways…won the 2010 Polaris Prize):

Royal Wood: Songwriter of the Year (Peterborough boy!  Definitely deserves this nod, hopefully will give him the boost he deserves)

Caribou: New Artist of the Year, Electronic Album of the Year (…some may find it weird I have Caribou here for two reasons – 2010 was a huge year for him, plus he’s been making albums for a decade…please, keep that in mind, and look at what he is nominated for…yup…New Artist of the Year…you so funny, Junos!)

Anyone I’m missing here?  Someone you see in the Juno List that you don’t recognize?  YouTube ’em, or check their MySpace page!  This is most definitely the week to discover some new artists!!

 

What’s Gonna Happen: Part 2!

March 23, 2011

“…spending on CDs by people who had no computer (and were therefore unlikely to download and use BitTorrent) dropped by over 40 percent from 1999 through 2004” – A 2004 US Consumer Expenditure Survey cited in Ars Technica

In one of my previous blogs I was saying (off the top of my head…without ANY authority mind you) that downloading habits ‘may’ have inspired the pop music…and the amateur celebrity culture…of today.

I find this statement to be incredibly fascinating, especially since we know sales have gone down even further since 2004, but even back then people who had no easy access to the scourge that is P2P had stopped buying CDs

As a counter to my ‘What’s Gonna Happen?‘ blog (good job Roo, counter yourself, you hippity-hopping flip-flopper!) I’d like to note that part of my message (…and the message of MANY blogs before that) ‘was’ positive even if it was lost in my ‘We’re All Gonna Die!’ tone…

…the ‘record’ industry is in the crapper…and how we access, get, purchase, consume, or ‘whatever’ our music is changing…

…but the MUSIC industry is doing just fine!!! Musicians are weeds popping up everywhere, writing music about everything!  Musicians are always going to exist…my fear was more about people making a living off music, and how the downward turn could deter some great musicians from ever getting the chance.

We can be all utopian and say that the TRUE artistes (please pronounce that as ‘are-teests’) will battle through and suffer starvation and misery to pursue their craft.  They will.  And musicians will write songs as a hobby and put it on YouTube, or tour on weekends, or use their day jobs time-off to work on their next album.

Everyone will find a way…

I just think it’s a valuable idea that those interested in music and musicians keep coming up with creative ways to allow artists to live off their craft, and devote time to their creations.

A musician gave a talk at my school about a year ago and said that his time is generally spent 80% on business, and 20% on music, and that was a very liberal guess…it was probably closer to 90% business, 5% music, and 5% crying because he’s so hungry.

Even 80/20 sounds good to me, so long as the 80 isn’t being wasted trying to find revenue streams that people aren’t interested in paying for.

‘Some’ will be able to make a living through touring, merchandise sales, self-marketing on social media and selling their own CDs, physical or digital.

‘Most’ will have to find another way.

I’d just hope that people consider the ‘Most’ instead of the ‘Some’ when they think about the direction a career in music is going.  Not everyone is Radiohead…not everyone has a history and career before they start selling their albums ‘pay what you can.’  Not everyone is k-os, who can do the same with a live show.

The band you haven’t heard of, who wants you to hear them, and would like to make a few bucks off you if you like them…they’re the one’s I’m talking about.

So yah, enough waxing poetic or whatnot…I’m gonna turn my attention to finding those clever ways, talking about actual MUSIC rather than the theory behind making money at it, being upbeat and happy and blissfully dumbdumb, and hopefully entertaining the pants off you all…

…and I do mean that…

…the pants…

A Snapshot!

March 23, 2011

What does this mean?  Yes, this is my current ‘Most played’ screen on iTunes.  Some clarifications are required:

  1. I listen to most of my music on my iPod…I think this is just played ‘in’ iTunes
  2. I had to wipe my computer recently…at that point, the #1 was Josh Pyke with many hundred plays
  3. Triple J Hottest 100 always dominates my life in the early part of the year
  4. Vyto B is my new fascination and obsession, so I listen a lot

Still…I have a LOT of diversity there, from hardcore dancey stuff to folk that borders on country, from stuff that hipsters would deny liking to stuff that hipsters…would mock me for liking.  It’s still interesting to see actual numbers and stats…when sitting at my computer, this is what I’ve been listening to the last month or two.

Your turn!  At the very least, if you use this program or one that tracks the number of times played, check it out…what does it tell you?

 

What’s gonna happen???

March 22, 2011

I am guilty…I am as guilty as anyone else.  From the late 90s I have downloaded free music from the net, and I used the same excuses as most people: I’m hearing the songs free on the radio (though…it seemed much more innocent back then!) …why not hear them free on my computer?

Keep in mind, there was no easy way to walk around with the music back then.  I literally only listened to the music on my computer!  Which was big and bulky and slow.  And downloading was a pain…I could’ve walked to the Village Music Store in downtown Erin and bought the CD before the download was finished!

…and I was downloading the stuff I didn’t want to spend $20 on…like 80s Retro hits, or that ‘one’ song by the artist I didn’t like but didn’t mind…or that big album by an artist I see in stacks at the used CD store in Guelph for $5 because everyone bought it but no one liked it.

The problem with a good thing is that the consequences aren’t visible, and the future can’t outweigh the now.  I was listening to an episode of Radiolab and they touched on the concept of the ‘Now’ you and the ‘Future’ you…for instance, in the case of quitting smoking, the ‘Now’ you wants to quit…but the ‘Future’ you is weak and doesn’t have the same resolve that you have right now.

The ‘Now’ me wanted to listen to a tune and found it online for free!

The ‘Future’ me is watching the record industry go to hell in a hand basket, and wonders if buying my favourite artist’s albums might have made a difference.  Humour me for a bit…and please remember, I’m kinda rambling…consider it a thought experiment!

Imagine for a moment a different ‘now’ – a new future from your past – in which you had bought ONLY the music you liked.  You didn’t splurge on the latest U2 album ’cause it was popular, or that pop album because there was one song you liked.  If you like u2 or pop, let’s say you focused on them…in my case, I’m thinking stuff like Broadcast, the Jayhawks, and later Franz Ferdinand (which I *did* buy, btw…all of those) or even more obscure stuff, more indie.  You and I focused on buying albums, going to shows, and dumping ALL my music-money into the stuff I loved.

…would that genre be all powerful now?  If I and all my friends and the world (…or you and all your friends and the world) supported the  music YOU loved, would that music be strong, the Top 40 be dotted with the next generation of your music?

…if this is how it works, then I guess the world loves the predecessors of Taio Cruz, of Jason DeRulo, of T.I. and Usher and P. Diddy…

We complain that the labels are conservative and not opening up to great artists who have to remain indie…but if they’re conservative, then it must mean that the Top 40 today is born out of evolution, meaning that it was the support of the populace that grew us from Boy Bands to Grunge back to Boy Bands and into electro-dance-urban and the rest of the pop we hear on the radio and in the bars today.

And Rebecca Black is only doing the same thing the major labels did without a major label.

Honestly, how is Friday any different than ‘Baby?’  I’m gonna backtrack and mention that I think Baby is actually a fricken amazing pop song, it does everything pop should.  Although I’d LOVE a world where Mumford and Sons, Phoenix and Art vs Science are the Top 40…I understand that pop means ‘Popular’ and despite piles of angry comments on YouTube and hater sites, Bieber is popular.

…and so is Rebecca Black.  My roommate was singing Friday yesterday…but after he repeated the title in an effective copy of Rebecca Black’s voice, he uttered “Ooooo–oooh”…a la ‘Bieber’…a la ‘Baby.’  Because, at least during the chorus, they can be easy to mix them up.

We brought this on ourselves.  We downloaded  music instead of supporting it, and all the media had to gauge the pulse of the world (because, trust me, they AREN’T going to sift through thousands of blogs to figure it out) was what the labels told them, and what the labels knew was what we were buying, and what we were buying was pop, and urban, and dance.

I may be way off…this is more theory than reality, but I don’t think I’m that far off.

And what happens when no one is buying music anymore.  How will musicians make music, unless they have rich parents who pay music ‘factories’ to make their little girls stars, or little boys playing guitar on YouTube and being discovered by an insider?

It’s almost impossible to say, because the ‘Future’ me is going to have to deal with it, and even though I’m trying to figure it out the ‘Now’ me is living in a different time.  I just hope I make the right decisions from now on.

Random…Blog-like…Survey?

March 22, 2011

Randomness…anyone wanna see any of the following in future blogs?

  • Album reviews
  • Show reviews
  • Video Blogs…aka Vlogs…featuring my ugly mug?

Also…what do you like?  Dislike?

  • My weird flights of fancy?
  • My random … and misuse of punctuation…and talking to myself and stuff?
  • My strange analyses and stitching…and stuff

Curiosity killed the…Roo?