Archive for January, 2012

Triple J Hottest 100 – This Thursday!

January 24, 2012

Yup, I’m a blogger telling you not to pay attention to me on Thursday!  Maybe…come back Friday or next week…when I’ve ingested the results!

THE SCOOP

For years now, I discover the BEST music via a cool radio station in Australia, Triple J.  They always seem to have a finger on the future-pulse of North America.  That is…shit that’s popular in 2011 will be popular here in 2012.  They predicted huge tracks by Kings of Leon, Mumford and Sons.

In January 2011, before anyone cared here, Foster the People had made their list.  Also on the list, and just hitting it big now, a little fella named Gotye.

So yah…I suggest you watch the Triple J Hottest 100 on Thursday, through the site or streaming audio.  You’ll be glad you did!

“Something Weird This Way Comes” Episode 2 – ‘The Beast That Killed Women’

January 17, 2012

Hospital Smoking: A Lost Art

As some of you may know, I run a summer camp for geeks.  This summer camp has a stereotype attached to it that people get naked, run around, and wear funny costumes.  Ironically, the most recent movie we have reviewed for ‘Something Weird This Way Comes’ is about people who go to camp…get naked…and are terrorized by (you guessed it) a guy in a stupid costume.

Now…I defend myself by saying that we don’t get naked (unless showering) and the costumes are not stupid:

He's climbing an f'ing tower, how is that stupid????

The film, ‘The Beast That Killed Women,’ is about a nudist camp, has a guy in a gorilla suit, and a fair amount of naked ladies chatting about what’s going on around them in echoey rooms.  I say fair amount because they, apparently, dress up for parties (at the nudist camp), sleeping (at the nudist camp) and anything other than wandering the woods aimlessly, having picnics, or jumping into pools.

The men…they mostly wear shorts.

To hear the podcast about this fantastic film, click here!

We also have a Facebook Page devoted to the podcast, that you can check out if you enjoy it!  Like us if you like it!

Anywhoo, thought I’d update you on my comings and goings!  More music info to come soon!

Futurecop! – Crying On The Dancefloor Vol. 3

January 12, 2012

If you read my blog with any regularity you know I love these guys.  Their 80s Fantasy Space Disco music is amazing.  Their soundcloud describes them as:

Imagine riding a unicorn towards the Northern Lights whilst wielding a lightsaber and simultaneously transporting the listener directly to both their childhood past and their future!

I love it!

Here’s their new remix…download it, listen, love, laugh, dance!

 

The Hunger Games

January 12, 2012

Yes…I read Young Adult novels.  They’re my favourite, in fact.  From Francesca Lia Block’s ‘Weetzie Bat’ novels to popular series like Harry Potter, I’ve always been more drawn to YA than anything else.  I fancied myself a Young Adult writer about a decade ago…had 36,000 words of my novel written.  At which point I discovered that I’m a horrible…horrible writer.

That said, I finished The Hunger Games today, and Suzanne Collins is NOT a horrible writer…she’s not even a bad writer…damnit, she’s a GOOD writer.  How about that reversal thing I just did there, eh?

…yes, that’s why I don’t write Young Adult novels…because of that.

THE STORY

The story was fantastic, a bizarre blend of post-apocalyptic and technology-based sci-fi.  I’m used to Road Warrior styles, or The Road…I wasn’t expecting technology to play such a huge role in Earth’s future when so many people are starving and struggling to survive…oh…wait…

…is The Hunger Games really any different than modern day?  …now I’m depressed.

We follow Katniss in this futurescape where North America is divided into 12 Districts (what happened to the rest of the world??)…actually, 13, but the 13th was decimated after a war which led to the Capital becoming a dictatorship over the 12 lesser regions.  Each region has a strength, and District 12 is coal.

There are boys…but she’s not a boy-obsessed prissy flower, quite the opposite.  The way they play the love story that is required for any story of this sort is…not normal…and is quite awesome I must say.  But let’s not talk about boys (…right now, anyways…)

I don’t want to get into too much detail here…or accidentally go into spoiler world…but lets just say Katniss ends up ‘somehow’ (twisty?) becoming chosen (a Tribute) for the Hunger Games: a televised competition where teens from each district are pitted against each other in a free-for-all battle to the death, the victor awarded with food and luxury.

PUBLIC RELATIONS

I could talk about the characters (each one is very layered and fascinating, unlike a glittery supernatural storybook that has been popular of late), or about the setting (the arena is well-detailed and reminds me of the wilderness of Canada), or the specifics of the plot…but you can read it, or watch the movie when it comes out.  What I want to talk about…is Public Relations.

…AH!  You were wondering ‘Why the f*** is Roo writing a book review?‘ and getting ready to fire an arrow through my throat, weren’t you!  But now you can’t…because I pulled it back.

…it is still a book review…and I still suggest you read the book if you like SciFi, Fantasy, or just good stories.

But yes, PR…because, as I was reading, I realized…this book is all about PR.

It goes against the nature of the main character – raised in a world where she has to hunt for food, avoid pissing off authority, under the thumb of the capital – but through the book she comes to realize that to survive she needs to look good (she has a stylist before the games begin), interest people (she has an interview before the games), and gain and hold favour of those watching (during the games she regularly makes decisions specifically to maintain an image).

All of this is happening while she’s under constant threat of death, starvation, hypothermia.  She’s battling a bunch of kids who are trying to stay alive as well…but she needs to maintain her image…because it could give her the edge she needs to survive.

The sequences with the stylists (the head stylist is one of my favourite characters, and will hopefully be played well by Lenny Kravitz in the film), discussions with her handler (being played by Woody Harrelson in the movie, which is cool!), and knowledge she’s gained from previous games are fascinating.  The push and tug of reality against the ‘augmented reality’ of…for lack of a better word…publicity, or her image, is an extra layer I’m not used to seeing in novels of this type.

Think of it…imagine if Harry Potter had to be wary of his actions, just in case the newspapers printed something bad.  If, when he was scheming to break the rules of his school, he stopped to think “But how will this play on television” and then work a strategy into his plan.

It’s brilliant.  It’s a great way to twist the genre.  Most of all…it’s a very clever way to take something unimaginable – a teenager forced to kill other teenagers for sport – and make it not just ‘human’ but, in a strange way, relatable.  Modern.

REALITY

In reality, in the music industry, at work, with the family…we all have to keep these things in mind.  It’s like office politics, or dealing with complex problems in close relationships.  Public Relations is really about keeping yourself in check and ensuring that you are showing what you want the world to see.  I, for one, don’t really pay attention to my own image…what you see here is what you get for the most part.

But, in the back of my head, there is a bit of Katniss there.  That nagging thought of ‘How will this action be interpreted, and how can I get the same result but end up with a positive interpretation?’

It’s a layer I wasn’t expecting.  And the reason why I highly recommend the book to anyone who’s got some time to kill…

…heh…time to kill…

Anywhoo, if you agree with me or think I’m way off, I’d love to hear from you!  Comment here or find me on Twitter @Potoroo

What do Canadians do in the Winter?

January 11, 2012

Honheehonhee from Montreal.  Great track, great video!

Paul Jago, The Gandharvas, and Said Dog

January 11, 2012

This is kind of a ‘jumping the gun’ report…let’s call it news…and in the age of Twitter and the 24 Hour News Cycle I’d say it’s fine to jump the gun a bit when something exciting happens.  Let’s paint the picture…

It’s the early 90s.  Rural Ontario.  A young dude, not yet grown into his pink hair, is music-obsessed and always looking for something unique.  He was raised on a strange concoction of radio pop (New Kids, Tiffany, and the more recent hip hop explosion) and obscura bizarro (Captain Beefheart, John Cooper Clarke, The Jazz Butcher).  There is a new genre emerging that bin boxes at CD stores calls ‘Alternative’ and, shockingly, one of his favourite bands (aforesaid Jazz Butcher) is shelved there!

…Alternative…I guess it’s the weird shit he likes to listen to!

As Alternative broadens, and bands like Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins find their way into the bin, it starts to look like this dirty rock (…grungy perhaps?) is taking over…when all of the sudden a song is played on the radio.  A song that sounds nothing like the other tracks being broadcast.

He buys the album within the week, ‘A Soap Bubble And Inertia.’  Rhythmic.  Melodic.  Complex and chaotic but not like Captain Beefheart…it’s catchy, hooky.  It becomes his favourite album.

Not long after a second album comes out, ‘Kicking in the Water,’ and it actually, somehow, manages to outshine the first.  Every song is a new experience.

And finally…’Sold For A Smile’…it was more rockin’, more rock radio friendly…or so it sounded.  From the small University town of Guelph, and before the internet became a powerful beast, it seems like the band has made it…was breaking into the US…they’re even coming to play the University!  But for some reason everything…just…stops.

(shift in perspective in three…two…) I never really knew why the Gandharvas broke up.  There are dozens of possibilities: they didn’t get along anymore, they owed the label so much after three albums that they couldn’t continue, the third album just didn’t sell, or maybe people just didn’t get it.

I had heard from a friend that Paul Jago, the lead singer and songwriter in the band, was in London.  That he had heard some of Paul’s 4-Track Demos of upcoming solo music.  They never materialized.

The next I heard, he had left music and moved to the states to study rocks.  Honestly, my first thought was ‘Good for him!  I hope he loves it.’  But I also thought to myself… “Damn…I was hoping I’d see him again.”

Note the date…a month and a half ago.  I stumbled across this video when I revisited the Facebook group for the Gandharvas and saw three videos, this one was titled ‘Thanksgiving Treat.’  It’s strange the number of things I discover through random acts.

I don’t know if the rest of the Gandharvas fans have noticed yet.  The views are under 100…they should be much higher.

Further inspection has found that Paul is now performing roots rock with his wife under the name Said Dog.  He’s still studying rocks.  But music seems to be back…maybe it’s never left.

Now…to the jumping the gun part.  I write all of this…before I’ve listened to any Said Dog music.  Everything is free on the site, just head to www.saiddog.com and you can grab it.  I’m almost too scared to.  Which makes no sense.  Years ago I heard he had 4-Track demos and wanted nothing but to hear them.  Now I hear he has full fledged songs and I’m nervous!

Maybe I should just do it.  I mean, I got back together with my high school bandmate and we did just fine.  It’s hard to dive into the new music of your high school musical mentor, years after you thought it was all done.  I guess there’s only one way to find out…

Click…

 

The Shins – Simple Song

January 10, 2012

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a new music review, but I’m listening to The Shins new track, ‘Simple Song’ and am only two minutes in…and I’m all giddy!

When I first heard ‘Wincing The Night Away‘ back in the good ol’ ‘Sound City Beaches’ day I remember being very excited.  The Shins had a unique sound, a strange experimental blend of pop and rock, being playful and simple while being complex and fresh.  ‘Kissing The Lipless’ drove me mad…what was it that made it sound so different from the rest?

Unlike a lot of music…I gave up.  Not on The Shins…I gave up trying to figure them out and just enjoy the music.

And that’s been my approach to the band ever since.  So when I saw ‘Simple Song’ all I could think was…damn, did I have it right all along??

Their music…it’s simple…but not really.  The point is, treat it like it’s simple – a lullaby, a nursery rhyme.  Just enjoy it for what it is!  A well-written, fun song.

You can listen to the new Shins track on Sparkups, a pretty cool daily music blog, or do as I did and check it out on Rdio.  I ‘really’ should be getting some kind of sponsorship at this point from them!!

The Long Courtship

January 5, 2012

I was reading an article about the current race in the U.S. to name someone to run for the Republican party…I should note that I am not endorsing anyone or either side here, I’m going to be talking about music!

Take Mitt Romney…he recently won in Iowa, though barely.  I don’t really understand U.S. elections, but in simple terms he tried to win Iowa four years ago and essentially did as well now as he did then.  Four years ago, he lost to another candidate…oh, I should also mention that he won this time with fewer votes…so like…it’s victory, but not ‘Fist Pump’ levels.

The thought I had came when I read this line in said article:

That’s not much progress for a candidate who has been courting Iowans off and on for five years.

That changes the whole story to me!  It’s not like this guy went to Iowa four years ago, dicked around for awhile, then came back hoping opinions had changed…he’s been courting them.  He’s been going back to the state, making speeches, having parties, and trying to sway the favour of one group of people for four years…and in the end he was where he was four years ago, except this time with a bittersweet win.

Two things come to mind:

  1. It takes hard work to even take small steps.  Romney ‘won’ but only just, and those four years of ‘courting’ may be what pushed him ahead of his competitors.
  2. If people don’t like you no amount of market research, schmoozing, advertising and face time can fix that.  Romney may have won because people were sick of everyone else, or the whole biz, which gave him an edge.

Now, think of this as a musician.  If you’re playing the same city…over and over again…and no one is coming to your shows that really means you haven’t reached your audience.  To reach them you need to find them, court them, give them what they want.  Play great shows, engage them online, offer super fans special bonuses like backstage hangouts or hang out at the bar after the show.

But…if you’re playing over and over again…and courting people…and four years later you’re exactly where you were…you have to ask yourself: do I ‘love’ this?

If the answer is yes, then hell keep DOING it!  We need more musicians who are playing because they love it.

If the answer is no…then I think it’s time to reassess your situation.  I’d say it’s time to read the signs and realize that people just aren’t that into you.

** I’d like to add a positive un-Lefsetzy coda…People aren’t into you as you currently are.  Maybe it’s time to experiment:

  • try something new
  • collaborate
  • co-songwrite with another band
  • do a side project
  • try a different creative outlet for a few months
  • go on a vacation and bring your guitar for inspiration
  • learn a new method of recording that changes how you think about songwriting (I’m currently learning Ableton which is a big change)

…it’s never the end, just maybe a sign that things need to go a different direction

And again for citation purposes, the article was in CNN and you can read it by clicking here, though honestly…I stopped reading at about that quoted line up above!!

Something Weird This Way Comes – Episode One

January 4, 2012

Heya folks!  I apologize for being gone for the holidays…I’ve been LAZY!  Well, a bit lazy.  I did a podcast!

If you’re a fan of B-Movies, Camp and Exploitation Flicks then you may be interested in catching this podcast, ‘Something Weird This Way Comes,’ featuring me and an awesome dude named Moe (check out his ‘Drunk on VHS‘ show, available on iTunes!)  Our first episode is about the 1957 giant grasshopper classic ‘The Beginning of the End‘!  Please give it a listen, and if you like it share it around!!

Once I learn how to embed a player I will, until then, PLEASE CLICK HERE TO GO TO OUR PODOMATIC PAGE!

Now, coming soon will be my 2011 Year in Review series, and new info as it comes my way!  I’m still around, just sleeping…a lot…yah!

Tell me what you think please!  I’d love to hear what you think! 😀