Archive for August, 2004

Tuesday, August 31st, 2004

Une Annee Sans Lumiere

Exclaim’s cover this month is dedicated to The Arcade Fire, whom the magic 8-ball says are going to be one of the biggest stories of the Fall. In the meantime, Tiny Mix Tapes is taking the opportunity to point out that they were all about the Arcade Fire well before it was cool, and have this interview from January to back it up. Funeral is out September 14 and they’re at Lee’s Palace October 1.

Exclaim is also running a new feature called Rock School, wherein they talk to various people around the music industry about their jobs. It’s more interesting than it sounds… check out the piece with Montreal Mirror music editor Rupert Bottenberg, in particular. The guy sounds like a total grump, but he’s probably right.

Filter ran a nice long interview with Jeff Tweedy in their Summer issue and now that the Fall ish is going to be out shortly, they’ve posted the interview online. It’s about three months old so don’t expect to read anything you haven’t read in any of the other multitudes of press clippings since Ghost was released, but it’s a good interview nonetheless. Tweedy’s also on the cover of this month’s issue of The Wire looking more like Neil Young than ever, but it’s not a very long piece and the magazine costs like $13. Sorry, not that hardcore, even if there is a nice picture of his pedalboard in there.

And related – the final salvo of new Wilco material for the year in the form of The Wilco Book by Rick Moody will be out November 15, if Amazon’s information is to be believed. Not that they’re stopping you from ordering it right now… which I did. The price was good and I can wait. Musictoday is also taking pre-orders and they have the tracklisting of the 40-minute CD of unreleased material that will accompany the volume.

If you missed Curiosa, Interpol will be touring Antics through The Docks on October 13, The Secret Machines. Hopefully this show will be better than their last one at the Kool Haus last Fall.

Of Montreal and The Late BP Helium have a venue for their September 25 show – they’ll be at the Poor Alex Theatre on Brunswick, just south of Bloor. An odd venue for a show, but maybe a good one. Tickets are $13 and are very limited. If you want one, get it fast. I *think* I’m going to go to this, but I’m not sure. Anyone want to testify to Of Montreal as a live act? Update: The Bicycles are also opening this show.

The Weakerthans have redone their website and are celebrating with a tour. No Toronto date but they will be just outside of town in Guelph on the 3rd of October with The Constantines and The Fembots at the Univeristy of Guelph’s Peter Clark Hall. My chiropractor’s name was Peter Clark. Probably still is. Coincidence? I think not.

A new Fountains Of Wayne album, which had been slated for release in April of next year, has been pushed ahead by a full five months to November 16… No other details as of yet, and I would expect that it’s a compilation of some sort. Which is fine, really – their b-sides are often as good if not better than the album material.

Gmail now has a desktop notifier that lets you know when you get email. This addresses my one main beef with my gmail accounts, but I’m still too lazy to actually use them for anything. I’ve got too many email accounts as is.

Tomorrow, being the first of September, marks the one-year anniversary of my living alone in a basement apartment. You’d think that not having direct light for that long would get to me, but I find that now I much prefer the darkness. And the company of rats.

np – Rogue Wave / Out Of The Shadow

Monday, August 30th, 2004

I'll Be Your Mirror

A film that’s been getting made under the radar (my radar, anyway) despite having much potential for greatness is Mirrormask. Coming from the collective minds of Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean and Jim Henson Studios and due out this year, the story is classic Gaiman (young girl living in a circus discovers new world where everything is more sinister than it seems), but it looks like his material will finally be brought to the screen – big or small – with anything resembling the budget to do it justice (the BBC production of Neverwhere was disappointingly low-budget). McKean gets directing duties on the part-live action, part-computer animation project which is intended to be a fantasy in the tradition of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Gaiman and McKean had a lengthy discussion about the project at the San Diego ComicCon last month, the highlights of which you can read here. Gaiman recently posted some new images from the film here, here, here and here. It looks amazing, especially considering they’re still working on a shoestring budget (I heard $4 million?). Getting established effects companies to work on the film would have been too expensive, so McKean simply formed his own. That’s taking the initiative.

They are shooting a new tv show called Kevin Hill outside my office today. It stars Taye Diggs. I remember him from an episode of Ed, he starred as Taye Diggs. I should go look for him on the street and go, “Hey, Taye Diggs!”, and he’ll go, “What?”, and I’ll go, “Nothing – thought you were someone else!” And I’ll run off and giggle like a schoolgirl. What a name – how you can not be an actor with a name like Taye Diggs? You’ll never hear anyone go, “Hi, my name’s Taye Diggs – welcome to Wal-Mart!”.

Slow day. I have the hiccups.

np – The Shins / Oh, Inverted World

Sunday, August 29th, 2004

Night Falls On Hoboken

Yesterday I saw two excellent yet very different films about New Jersey. My memories of Jersey are pretty much limited to watching my brother have brutal allergy attacks once we crossed the state line and seeing a car on fire in Newark, though I may just be making that last one up. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there.

Garden State was one of those films that everyone in my target demographic has been buzzing about since the trailer first hit the internet months ago, and with good reason – it’s almost perfectly target marketed to me and my peers. Everything about it seems very deliberately tailored to appeal to artsy-indie-hipster kids in their twenties, which would almost be offensive if it weren’t for the fact that it was written and directed by a fellow (presumably) artsy-indie-hipster kid in Zach Braff. So if we get past that nagging feeling (which I’ve had since I initially saw the trailer), you’ve got a pretty good film. On the plus side, you’ve got some gorgeous visuals, some truly funny sequences and an effevescently adorable Natalie Portman name-dropping The Shins and reminding everyone why she’s the ultimate geek-boy dream-girl (and there’s a gratuitous yet completely acceptable swimming pool scene…). On the not-so-plus side: Zach Braff looks like he’s sleepwalking through much of the role. I know that’s how his over-medicated character is supposed to be, but I felt it came off as a bit of a cop-out. And because of that, the story feels a little slim – you accept that he’s made some personal growth because he says he has. And overall, things felt a little too meticulous, a little too polished, if that makes any sense. The direction felt a little heavy-handed, but I’ll chalk that up to a first-timer behind the lens trying to get everything right and perhaps over-compensating instead of any deliberate affectation. Criticisms aside, I enjoyed it quite a bit and would like to see what sort of bonus features they slap on the DVD.

My other Jersey flick yesterday was Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, which although it’s set in New Jersey, isn’t really defined by its locale – it’s more of a universal story. In a nutshell, two stoners get the munchies, crave White Castle and hilarity ensues. The novel twist is that the two protagonists are Asian (Korean and Indian, to be precise) – yeah, we still live in a world where non-black or white lead actors are novel. Anyway, this was a ridiculously funny movie. Honest to God. Sure, it probably helps if you’re a second-generation Asian-North American. I, myself, found the scenes at Princeton wherein Harold (the Korean guy) has to deal with an on-campus Asian student’s association way too funny. Things do occasionally veer a little too far into ridiculousness, but on the whole it’s surprisingly good for what’s essentially a stoner road movie. I think the strongest point is that the two leads are refreshingly realistic and not stereotypes, not Asian stereotypes and not even dumbass stoner movie stereotypes. It may look dumb, but it’s dumb in a smart way and gets my unqualified two thumbs up.

I also liked it ’cause I bear more than a passing resemblance to John Cho and I liked to pretend it was me having wacky adventures and getting with the sexy neighbour. Not that I have a sexy neighbour. I am personally hoping that he becomes a big star so I can move to Hollywood and take all the crappy roles that he’s too good for. I will be Skeet Ulrich to his Johnny Depp. Just watch, it’ll happen.

I just realized that this week’s mp3 of the week ties in nicely with this New Jersey theme. Weird. That wasn’t deliberate. Maybe it’s a sign? I need to rent Jersey Girl!!! Ha ha, no.

Julie Doiron will tour her new record Goodnight Nobody (out September 7) across Canada this September including a stop on the 23rd at the 360. Interesting choice, booking the uber-quiet Doiron into an uber-rock club.

Steve Earle has redone his website. Well, HE probably didn’t do it. Someone else did. But I’m sure he had some input.

np – Yo La Tengo / I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One

Saturday, August 28th, 2004

It's All Gonna Break

So that is something was really have to do more often. Free concerts on the lake’s edge? Yes, please. Last night’s Broken Social Scene/Jim Guthrie show at the Harbourfront Centre showed that a free Summer concert series like they run at Central Park in New York City is viable here in Toronto… Of course, I say that with absolutely no idea of the costs involved with doing so. I just want more free concerts for my Summer evenings. Especially if they’re as good as this one was.

So about the show: I’m familiar with Jim Guthrie mainly as the guitarist for Royal City. I’d heard some of his solo stuff but didn’t think much of it beyond it being decent singer-songwriter-y stuff. Maybe I hadn’t heard the right stuff because the material he brought out for this show was good – very good – and a lot of that credit goes to the song arrangements. It seems like faint praise to compliment the arrangements, it sounds kinda like saying, “yeah – you know that part in that song where you did that thing? I liked that”, but the strings and horns really lifted the songs up to another level. His latest album Now, More Than Ever has done really well on Metacritic… I should probably investigate his stuff further. Also in his favour is that in his guitar face, possibly on the best in the city, is equally portable to ukelele. Try that, Steve Vai.

One thing to be said for these big public shows is that at least they run on time, which was awful convenient for the kids who showed up right at nine to stand in front of my seat in the front row. Yeah, because I got here more than three hours ago for the express purpose of having you show up five minutes before showtime to block my view. Thanks for making my dream come true. That little gripe aside (and it was minor because I was taller than them), it was a terrific show. Widely advertised as the Scene’s “last ever show” (it wasn’t – Kevin Drew is just a drama queen, and that’s the last I’ll say about that minor stunt), the 2-hour show managed to convey almost the same intense love-in vibe from the last time I saw them at Lee’s last June. I say “almost” because you can’t really recreate the atmosphere and ambience of a sold-out hot and sweaty club show in a refined outdoor setting with a big corporate sponsorship banner hanging over the stage, but they sure as hell tried.

They should really sell programs before each of their shows complete with a starting lineup card so you can keep score of who’s there and who isn’t. In additional to the usual core group, they were augmented by Emily Haines and James Shaw from Metric, Amy Millan from Stars, Bill Priddle (ex-Treble Charger) and probably a dozen or so folks whose names and bands elude me. John Crossingham from Raising The Fawn is still using my old Telecaster as his #1 guitar – it amuses me to no end that my old guitar has probably already seen more of the world than I ever will. All told, there were probably upwards of 20 Broken Social Scenesters on this night, sometimes as many as six guitars going at once, a four-piece horn section and countless dancers and percussionists. Truly they looked to be having a good time and the crowd fed off that, although there were probably as many curious passers-by in the audience as there were devoted fans.

The thing I’ve realized about Broken Social Scene is that they’re not really about the songs. They’re about the energy and the emotion, and the songs are mostly vehicles for that energy. If you listen closely, a lot of them are loose, jam-heavy tunes with enough of a pop nugget core to give them the necessary hooks but not really meticulously crafted pieces of songcraft. And while that may not get them very far in Performing Songwriter polls, it does go a long way in creating that intangible vibe that leaves everyone – audience and performer – breatheless. I mean, I couldn’t even name half the songs they played (not just because I’m crap at remembering them), a good number of them being new or at least not on the albums, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the performance in the least. BSS’s appeal transcends the songs, if that makes any sense.

Even though the opportunity has presented itself many times, I don’t go and see the Broken Social Scene live very often. Just twice in the past year and a bit. I think part of it is that when I do see them, it’s such an experience that I don’t want to dilute it with the realization that they can pull off that sort of performance on a regular basis, assuming that they do. I prefer to think of it as a special occasion, you know? Like farewell shows that really aren’t. Wonderful stuff.

Also making yesterday special was the fact that is was the coming out party for my new camera. Granted, a brightly-lit outdoor venue isn’t really a good measure of how it’s going to do in a dark club, but I’m still quite heartened by how my pics came out. The first 40 or 50 pics I took weren’t especially usable as I fumbled with ISO settings, shutter speed, apeture, white balance and exposure settings. Who knew that cameras with full manual could be so complicated? Eventually I found a combination that was netting me good results, though I think I’m still a little over-exposed overall. Take a look for yourself. I especially like the fact that the camera’s resolution and image quality is good enough that I can use the digital zoom to tweak in that little bit extra and not have any noticable image degradation. Nice.

I don’t think I’ll be making the Hidden Cameras show tonight, other plans have come up, but it would be nice to see what sort of reaction they’d get from the unsuspecting tourist types who are just out for a walk along the lake front.

np – Broken Social Scene / You Forgot It In People

Friday, August 27th, 2004

Not Forever, Just For Now

Thanks to a generous soul at the Via Chicago message boards, I am now the proud owner of a DVD bootleg of Uncle Tupelo’s last-ever show on May 1, 1994 at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis. Though not professionally assembled, the guy who made it for me did a helluva nice job. I haven’t watched the whole thing yet, but the video footage is reasonable handycam quality and the audio is excellent – I think he spliced a soundboard audio recording overtop the video footage. There’s even bonus materials in the form of videos and whatnot. Very nice.

The timing of me getting this boot is good, as I mentioned yesterday, I just finished the Greg Kot Uncle Tupelo/Wilco biography and it’s interesting to watch the Jay/Jeff dynamic at the very end of their relationship – they create incredible music and yet they barely interact. Tweedy is rocking his heart out while Farrar looks like he’s just going through the motions, though you can’t criticize his performance and to be fair, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how he looks every single day regardless of what he’s doing. Either way, you see this and you realize that the end was inevitable. Well, I guess it worked out well for everyone in the long run. Oh, and nice hair, Jeff. I don’t understand why this show isn’t getting a proper release – surely whatever reasoning Columbia/Legacy used to justify a Toad The Wet Sprocket live album could apply to Uncle Tupelo as well? The labels work in mysterious way… There’s a pic of Jeff Tweedy’s setlist from the show here.

Cake are playing Massey Hall on October 19 to promote their latest record Pressure Chief, out October 5. Massey Hall? Seriously? Are Cake that big, even now? We’re a long long ways from “The Distance” or “I Shall Survive”. You’ll pardon my ignorance if they in fact have some massive underground following that justifies them playing 2500+ seat venues.

I’ve been asked on a few occasions lately what’s been going on with Lake Holiday, with many assuming that we’re “on hiatus” or some other euphemism for no longer being. Not so! We’re just incredibly lazy. Actually, it’s been a Summer of great flux, so I’ll quickly go over some random points: The record is done. Or more accurately, the recording is done. No more overdubs, do-overs, re-arrangements. Everything is currently in the process of being mixed and we’re hoping to have the mini-album (six or seven songs) completed by early Fall. While it’s good to have that recording out of the way, there’s a chance we could be going back into the studio sooner rather than later to try and record some stuff in a more live environment. There’s been some personnel changes as Five Seventeen has left the band to move out west – bass duties are now being handled by the very capable Mr Brendan Howlett. We’re currently getting back up to speed on the material and working out some new stuff in preparation of playing some shows to support the record. On the more pedantic side, I replaced the tubes in my amp last night and improved the sound immeasurably (Electro-Harmonix EL84s get the thumbs up from me!) and we’re still looking for another band to share our rehearsal space. If you know anyone whose looking for a practice space in downtown Toronto, have em drop me a line.

So there, you’re all caught up. And I’m late for a dentist appointment so that’s it for today.