Sunday, December 31, 2006

Critic's Choice (Part 2)

Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury (buy)

I received the Clipse much-hyped album Hell Hath No Fury for Christmas. Many critics, bloggers, and general hipsters have called this the best rap album of the year. It has even topped several album of the year lists. Which leads me to wonder how much hip-hop do these people really listen to? Not to say that this is not a good album, in fact, it is far superior to a lot of the crap that was released this year. Yet in a year that saw strong releases from Ghostface Killah (two albums no less), Lupe Fiasco, Rhymefest, The Roots, J-Dilla, Cadence Weapon (received in 06), etc... Hell Hath No Fury is hardly the best of the bunch. A good portion of the album focuses on the harshness of the drug dealing trade. Despite all the money that can be made, the life of a dealer is a short one. As there is always someone wanting to take what you have. There is a great line in the song Nightmares (ft. Bilal and Pharrell Williams) that states "They be thinking nice car, nice crib/I be thinking how long will these [guys] let me live." The problem with this album is that it pretty hits two sides of the same coin. When the Clipse decide to let loose on few “fun” tracks what do they talk about? All the great stuff they can buy thanks to selling drugs. It is this type of contradiction that ultimately hurt the album. It would have been nice if they had branched out and covered more diverse subject matter. Still, the rhymes are tight for the most part; and the Neptunes grim synthesized beats are top notch. Hell Hall No Fury is a good album, but not the best rap album released in 2007.

Here is the latest single from the album Wamp Wamp (What it Do)[ft. Slim Thug].

Happy New Year

Friday, December 29, 2006

Mel Gibson's Apocalypto


I'll admit it, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. I would even go as far a saying it's one of the most entertaining action movies I've seen all year. Sure the film does not actually shed much light on why the Mayan civilizations became extinct. Was it because one group thought to impose its values/beliefs on another? Were they all just a bunch of savages? Or was it the emergence of the white man? Lets face it, plot has never been Mel Gibson's strong point as a director. You need look no further than "Man Without A Face" and "The Passion of the Christ" for examples of this (Bravehart being the rare exception). As a director, Mel has always thrived on his keen visuals sense. Which is why I think Apocalypto works so well. The action sequences and the fantastic art direction more than make up for the paper-thin story.

Although the film is even more violent than The Passion of the Christ, I thought the violence was better used in this film. I loved the little details that Gibson puts into the film. The mist of blood that hangs in the air after a brutal strike, etc... I also liked that he showed the various medical techniques that Mayans used to heal wounds. The makeup and costumes effectively gave every single person a distinct personality and social standing. Sure there are times when Mel wants us to make comparisons to America's current and past actions. Yet he does not quiet succeed on that level. At the end of the day Apocalypto is nothing more than a visually stunning Rambo-style action flick minus the guns/explosions. Yet, it was far more inventive and entertaining than most of the blockbuster that came out this year.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Critic's Choice (Part 1)

TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain (buy).

Return to Cookie Mountain has been receiving critical praise since it was released a few months ago. Despite enjoying a couple of the songs I sampled (Dirtywhirl and Province), I still had reservations about picking up the album. This was mainly due to the fact that I hated their previous album, Desperate Youth Blood Thirsty (buy), which was also highly praised. I just did not get their brand of artsy/experimental rock. Luckily my experience with Return to Cookie Mountain has been much better. After listening to copy I received for my birthday, I can honestly say this album is a vast improvement. It is far more accessible than its predecessor. The thing that surprised me the most on the album is the harmonies. The harmonies on the quieter songs, such as A Method, are what really draw you into the album. While I still think TV on the Radio's style is an eccentric taste, I can see why this album made almost every single top ten list.

Here is the lead single of the ablum, Wolf Like Me. I'm not even going to bother discecting the symbolism:

As a bonus, here is a nice "fan made" video for the song Tonight. I think it fits the vibe of the song perfectly.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Pass The Sherry, Baby.


SherryBaby follows a single mother, Sherry (Maggie Gyllenhaal), as she tries to reconnect with her daughter after spending time in prison. To Sherry's surprise, but not the viewers, reconnecting is much tougher than she anticipates. Mainly due to the fact that her daughter has been raised by Sherry's brother and his wife for most of her life. It also does not help that Sherry is a recovering drug addict. Who is always one step away from falling back into old habits.

This film has all the typical clichés of a "TV Movie of the Week." There are even allusions to an event in Sherry's childhood that may have led her down this troubled road. Yet the funny thing is, the film still works. All the credit has to go to Maggie Gyllenhaal, whose performance alone makes the film far better than it really should be. You may not like Sherry, but Gyllenhaal makes sure that you at least understand how Sherry sees the world. Yes, the film would have been better served with a more original plot. Yet, I still highly recommend the film based on Gyllenhaal's work alone.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Pursuit of Sappyness

I received the new TV on the Radio album for my birthday this past week. I'll talk more about it in a future post. I also got a copy of the film Sherrybaby (thanks again, Pauline), which will also be discussed in a future post. For now, I will talk about a film that I saw last night.

The Pursuit of Happyness

This film had all the makings of a classic Hollywood tearjerker: 1) A big name actor showing a vulnerable side. 2) An "inspired by a true story" plot about a man prevailing despite hitting rock bottom. 3) Heart-wrenching dramatic scenes. 4) A cute kid to provide a little levity. Yet with all of that what do they do? Add a Will Smith voice over to really emphasize the point. The narration hurts the film more than anything; there was no need for it. Which leads to the main problem I had with the film: it underestimates the audience.

The audience knows what to expect from the film based on the trailers. Yet the film beats you over the head by explaining the significances of every major scene. For example, Chris Gardner (Smith) and son are alone by the water in a rare moment of joy. It is pretty obvious that they haven't had much to smile about, which makes the scene touching. Oh wait, here comes the voice over to explain that...they were alone and that it is a rare moment of joy. Or, how about the great scene towards the end; when Gardner is talking to his future bosses. Despite tears of joy coming down, Gardner fights to maintain the level of dignity he has shown throughout the film. It's a great scene to watch guessed it; the narration comes in to explain that he is now truly happy.

To me the saving grace in the film are the performances. Will Smith does a really good job in the film, as does his son Jayden and Thandie Newton (who gives a great underrated performance). It's just a shame that the film trust the actors to get the overall message across. If they every make a follow-up film, I hope it's called "The Pursuit of Subtly."

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I Like My Globes Golden

Update (19/12/06): Fixed the link issue, you should be able to access the songs now.

The Golden Goble nominations were announced this past week. Here are a few random thoughts about this year's selections.

Random Song 1: The Arcade Fire - Intervention (BBC Radio Rip) (band's website)
Random Song 2: Spank Rock - Rick Rubin (buy)

The Golden Globes


Figured Babel and The Departed would be a lock. Glad that The Queen is making a strong showing at many of the critic awards. Little Children has been on my must see list since it played at the T.O. film fest. As for Bobby, I think the Hollywood Foreign press wanted to ensure celebs are at the proceedings. I could easily list a ten films more deserving.


Mirren is the hands down favourite and she deserves it. Overall I really like the five selections. Gyllenhaal was receiving praise all summer, unfortunate the film didn't get release wide enough for more people to see it. Oh well, there is always DVD.


Exactly what I expected to see, with the exception of the second Dicaprio nomination for Blood Diamond.

Random Song 3: Love Is All - Felt Tip(buy)
Random Song 4: Nas - Black Republicans (ft. Jay-Z) (buy)


Borat and Thank You For Smoking were pleasant surprises. I figured Little Miss Sunshine would be a lock, although I don't think it will win. I am hoping to see Prada and Dreamgirls over the holidays.


Some rather interesting selections in this category; my initial gut reaction is that Meryl will take it.


To be honest I can never predict this category; ever year it is full of surprises. Although I was a little shocked that Depp got nominated again, I was glad that Cohen and Eckhart received nods. I was actually expecting Ferrell to appear in the drama section.


Oddly enough, I still don't have any desire to see these three. Well possibly Monster House...


Lets ignore the fact that two US films are in this group for a moment. I am really happy to see The Lives of Others, Volver, and Pan's Labyrinth on the list. All three were among my list of favourites from this year's Toronto Film Festival.

Random Song 5: George Benson - Footin It (buy)
Random Song 6: Band of Horses - The Great Salt Lake (buy)


Really pleased that both Barraza and Rinko got recognized for their work. Hudson seems to be the favourite right now. She has received nominations in every single critic's awards (including Toronto) so far.


Walhberg was the pleasant surprise of this group. Although he was entertaining in the film, the competition is too stronger for him to win.


Pretty strong group of directors. Although I wonder if Eastwood would have been nominated for Flags if the studio didn't bump up the release date of the companion, piece Iwo Jima.

Random Song 7: Twista - Overnight Celebrity (buy)
Random Song 8: The Shins - Phantom Limb (buy)
Bonus: Teddybears - Yours to Keep (ft. Neneh Cherry) (buy).

Ipod Workout Plan: Teddybears - Yours to Keep (ft. Paola). Although I posted the album version above. The version featuring Paola is currently being used in Virgin Mobile holiday ads

Monday, December 04, 2006

Mash Potatoes

A few mash-ups today...

Random Song 1: De La Soul vs. Cheers - Ooh Cheers (by Lenlow)
Random Song 2: Bjork vs. Sea & Cake vs. Jeremy Steig - Hidden Howling Bird (by Lenlow)

Danger Mouse

Encore from the Grey Album. While Girl Talk has been crowned “mash-up king” of 2006. Danger Mouse will always be remembered for making mash-ups trendy in the mainstream. Who knew all you needed was the world's most well known rapper and say the biggest rock group ever. While it may not “wow” technically speaking (for that see Girl Talk), it is still a great album to listen to. It still holds up well two-years later. Anyone else find it odd that both the new Jay-Z album and the new Beatles album came out within weeks of each other this past month? Coincidences? I think not.

Random Song 4: Marvin Gaye vs. Lipps - Sexual Town
Random Song 5: Girl Talk - Minute by Minute
Bonus: Danger Mouse - 99 Problems

Ipod Workout Plan: Keisha Chante - 2U from the album 2U (buy). This song is always playing when my alarm goes off in the morning. The beat is permanently stuck in my head. Curse you morning radio...

Random Song 5: Gnarls Barkley vs. Prince - Crazy Times
Random Song 6: Nickelback vs. Nickelback - Nickelback to Back
Bonus: Girl Talk - Summer Smoke

Sunday, November 26, 2006

For Your Consideration

I saw For Your Consideration and The Queen (highly recommend) this past weekend. I posted my reviews for both films here (under the handle Draxhall). Random Songs this week are inspired by Dave Chappelle's Block Party which was on the tube this past week.

Random Song 1: Jill Scott - A Long Walk (buy)
Random Song 2: Cody Chesnutt - Smoke and Love (buy)
Bonus: Erykah Badu - Tyrone (buy)

The Blow

Parentheses from the album Paper Television (buy). When I first saw the video for “Parentheses” I had one of those I’ve heard this song before moments. After a little searching I realized that this song had been on my Ipod for quite sometime. The Blow’s avant-pop style is definitely an acquired taste. Yet songs like “Parentheses”, “True Affections”, and “Pile of Gold” are reason enough to give The Blow a listen at least once. The video for “Parentheses”, below, is a good indication of what to expect from the album…again they are a acquired taste.

Random Song 3: Dead Prez - Hip Hop (buy)
Random Song 4: The Roots - Love of My Life (ft. Common) (buy)
Bonus: Mos Def - Umi Says (buy)


I’ll Do Whatever You Want from the A Little Place in the Wilderness LP (buy). Although Memphis just released their second album this past August, the band is more known for their affiliations. Singer Torquil Campbell is the co-lead singer for the group The Stars. On this album Torquil re-teams with Chris Dumont to make a more of there trademark lush pop sound. While the album has a very relaxed vibe to it, I wished there were more upbeat tracks included. The standout tracks for me were “I’ll Do Whatever…” and “In The Cinema Alone.”

Here is the great video for “I’ll Do Whatever You Want”

Random Song 5: The Fugees - Ready or Not (buy)
Random Song 6: Talib Kweli - Get By (buy)
Bonus: Blackstar - Definition (buy)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

500 Pieces Means 500 Float,10000 People Means 500 Don't...

Random Song 1: Teddybears - Cobrastyle (buy)
Random Song 2: Jay-Z - Beach Chair (ft. Chris Martin) (buy)

Snoop Dogg

That's That Shit (ft. R Kelly) from the album Blue Carper Treatment (buy). One always needs to be careful when writing choruses. For example, "That's that shit..." lends itself to various interpretations. Still, considering the amount of legal problems between Snoop and Kelly, it's impressive that they even found time to record the track.

Random Song 3: The Rosebuds - Kicks In The Schoolyard (buy)
Random Song 4: Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K. (buy)

Emm Gryner:

Almighty Love from the album Summer of High Hopes (buy). In a recent interview with Q Magazine, U2's Bono listed this song as one of the great songs he wished he had written. Sadly "Who Let The Dogs Out" did not make the list. Here is a clip of Emm performing a cover of Michael Jackson's "Beat it" (poor video quality).

Random Song 5: Pernice Brothers Somerville (Buy)
Randon Song 6: The New Pornographers - The Jessica Numbers (buy)
Bonus: Voxtrot - Trouble (buy)

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Having seen Borat twice now, it is time to focus on the other big pop culture flick...Casino Royale!! Sure there are many Oscar caliber films that I still need to see; but all my highbrow snobbery goes out the window once a new bond film hits the screen. Don't worry George Lazenby, I still say "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was a decent film. Sure it was no "Goldfinger", but it was far better than "Moonraker", "A View to a Kill", and...*shudder*..."License to Kill". Here are a few female artists who probably won't be Bond girls anytime soon.

Bond Approved: Shirley Bassey - Goldfinger (buy)
Bond Approved: Paul McCartney & Wings - Live and Let Live (buy)
Bond Approved: Chris Cornell - You Know My Name (Casino Royale) (buy)

Sierra Swan

Copper Red from the album Ladyland (buy). Artist hate being compared to others, yet it is really tough not to think of artist like Tori Amos and Aimee Mann (who actually appears on one track) when listening to Sierra Swan's music. Not that this is a bad thing. Yet unlike the previously mentioned artist, Sierra incorporates more traditional rock conventions to her songs. It will be interesting to see what direction her future albums will take.

Random Song 1: K-os - Valhalla (feat. Sam Roberts & Kevin Drew) (buy)
Randon Song 2: Vivek Shraya - Logic Vs (myspace)
Bond Approved: Duran Duran - A View to a Kill(buy)

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins

Rise Up With Fist from the album Rabbit Fur Coat (buy). Although I like this particular track, I have never been a big fan of Jenny Lewis. I found her Rilo Kiley albums to be rather disappointing. Still, she gets a few points for including Sarah Silverman in her Hee Haw themed video.

Random Song 3: Jamelia - Something About You(Mr. Oizo Remix) (buy)
Random Song 4: Sparklehorse - Shade and Honey (buy)
Bond Approved: A-ha - The Living Daylights (buy)

Ipod Workout Plan: Gwen Stefani - Wind It Up from the forthcoming Sweet Escape album (buy). Somewhere the original von Trapp kids are shaking their heads in shame. Lets just hope that yodeling does not become the new fade in music.

Random Song 5: Ciara - Get Up (feat. Chamillionaire) (buy)
Random Song 6: Clipse - Me To (buy)
Bond Approved: Carly Simon - Nobody Does It Better (The Spy Who Loved Me) (buy)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

How I Loathe Parking Tickets...

Short post today. Hopefully I'll post more once life slows down a bit.

Random Song 1: Kristy MacColl - New England (buy)
Random Song 2: Sarah Harmer - Loadstar (buy)

Jordan Croucher - Feelin' Fine (f/ Classified & Jay Bizzy).

One time Canadian Idol hopeful, Jordan Croucher, is looking for his piece of the entertainment pie. The song can be found on Classified's album entitled Hitch Hikin' Music (buy).

Random Song 3: Ludacris - Girls Gone Wild (buy)
Random Song 4: Ghostface Killah - Ghost Is Back (buy)

Fergie - Fergalicious (buy)

Geez, Willy Wonka is one thing, but the Girl Guides (link)? Is nothing safe from Fergie's path of destruction? I'm not even going to bother making a joke about the "cookies" Fergie's selling. Seriously, I'm above that...really...don't give me that look....

Random Song 5: Al Green - L-O-V-E (love) (buy)
Random Song 6: Johnny Cash - Jackson (buy)

DJ Shawdow - Enuff (F/Q-Tip & Lateef the Truth). (buy)

This goes out to K-Fed, apparently he'll be needing a few boxes for packing purposes. Keep your head up, Kevin. You still have your rapping career to fall back on. (try writing that with a straight face!)

Friday, October 27, 2006

On The Road Again

This week I previewed Wincing The Night Away, the new album from The Shins. Overall I really enjoyed the album; I will talk more about it closer to the release date (currently set for January 23, 2007). In other news, a minor flood somewhere in the area has knocked out the main phone lines until Wednesday. Thankfully my cell is with another provider, although the silence is rather refreshing. I'm am also expriencing problems uploading songs. This is mainly due to the system upgrades EZArchives are currently doing. So the songs today are taken from the Pitchfork blog. I will have my own weird blend of tunes back up shortly. Anyways, I’m off to Montreal to see the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens play.

Random Song 1: Talib Kweli - Listen (stream only)
Random Song 2: Swan Lake - The Freedom

Viva Voce – Get Yr Blood Sucked Out


Although Viva Voce has been around for a few years now, I only recently stumbled across them. This is mainly a result of their John Lennon inspired video for the song "From The Devil Himself". At first glance, I was about to write this band off as another White Stripes clone. Yet it quickly became clear that I couldn’t have been further from the truth. The husband-and-wife duo of Kevin and Anita Robinson create an interesting blend of psychedelic rock and eerily soothing harmonies. While a few tracks (most notably “So Many Miles”) breakout into “jams sessions” at one point or another, it never truly disrupts the flow of the song. Besides From The Devil..., Two of my other favourite tracks on the album in are “Special Thing” and "We Do Not Fuck Around”. Both songs are perfect examples of the continual contrast between up-tempo tracks and softer songs that are found on the album.

There is nothing like sticking it to “The Man” with a good old-fashioned Lennon-style protest. Here is the great video for From The Devil Himself:

Random Song 3: Earlimart - Don't Think About Me
Random Song 4: Girl Talk - Smash Your Head

Ipod Workout Plan: The Hold Steady – “Chips Ahoy” from the album Boys and Girls In America (Buy). I have heard that the media can be intrusive but this is taken things a bit too far:

Random Song 5: Nina Simone - Turn On Me (Tony Humpries Mix)
Random Song 6: Gwen Stefani - Wind it Up (stream only)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Breakfast At 1pm, Must Be The Weekend

Saw The Departed this past week, I will hopefully have a blurb about it posted soon on EZ1 Productions.

Random Song 1: Cadence Weapon - 30 Seconds (buy)
Random Song 2: I'm From Barcelona - We're From Barcelona (buy)

The Roots – Game Theory


Rapper Cadence Weapon had been praising The Roots’ Game Theory album on his blog Razorblade Runner (link in sidebar) long before it was released to the mass public. While I don’t think it is the album of the year (too early to make that call), it may find its way on the year-end top ten list. This is probably The Roots strongest album since Things Fall Apart. While I enjoyed both Phrenology and the weaker (by Roots standards) Tipping Point, those albums were missing that little extra punch that previous works had. The same cannot be said about Game Theory which features a plethora of outstanding tracks (including “Here I Come” and “Long Time”). The strangest thing about Game Theory is that it was released on a major label, Jay-Z’s Def Jam, yet it is the bands most independent sounding album to date. There are no “commercially minded” tracks on the album. Instead the band has produced an album that will remind audiences why The Roots are still one of the most talented, and innovated, bands working today.

Here is a clip of The Roots performing “Here I Come” and “Long Time” on the Early Show back in August.

Random Song 3: Regina Sepktor - Samson (buy)
Random Song 4: Jay-Z - Show Me What You Got(Roc-a-fella records)

Ipod Workout Plan: Peter Bjorn and John – Young Folks (Featuring Victoria Bergsman) from the forthcoming Writer’s Block album. I have been looking forward to this Scandinavian group’s album ever since I heard their Amsterdam track a few months back (previously post here).

Random Song 5: Beck - Cellphone Dead (buy)
Random Song 6: My Project Blue - Control Of Me (buy)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Raging In Silence

I re-watched Spike Lee’s documentary When The Levees Broke on the weekend. If you haven’t seen the film yet I highly recommend it. Hopefully I’ll be catching the Departed and The Prestige later on in the week. In a rather nostalgic mood today, which explains a few of the “random song” choices.

Random Song 1: The Dirtbombs - Do You See My Love (For You Growing)
Random Song 2: Femi Kuti - Truth Don' Die

K-OS – Atlantis: Hymns For Disco


In the bouncy song “FlyPaper”, K-os playfully states: “ I’m not one to repeat myself/ but if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” This line perfectly encapsulates his latest album, Atlantis: Hymns For Disco. On the album K-os repeats the genre-mashing formula that he flirted with on his debut Exit; and perfected on his Joyful Rebellion album. There is truly something for everyone on this album. At its core Atlantis is a hip-hop album, featuring great songs like “ELEctrik Heat-the seekwiLL” and “Equalizer” There are also elements of classic soul, dance (the infectious “Sunday Morning”), reggae, and rock. Indie music fans will gobble up the song “Valhalla,” which features vocals by Sam Roberts and Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew. K-os once again shows his spiritual side on “Ballad of Noah.” The song not only features rappers Kamau and Buck 65; but it also has some of K-os’ most personal rhymes to date. As an artist K-os continues to divide his time between singing and rapping. The most welcome changed between this album and Joyful Rebellion is the content. K-os spent the majority of his last two albums lamenting the current state of Rap. Chastising MC’s for the lack of creativity in their beats and rhymes. While I agreed with his message, it did get tiring hearing it over and over. Thankfully on this album, K-os is happy to merely lead by example and let his music speak for itself. This allows K-os to be much more loose on this album. Instead of trying to save the hip-hop world, he is simply out to have a good time. As a result, Atlantis is K-os’ best album yet.

Funny, I don't remember any of my teachers in high school being turntable specialist! Of course a lot of my memories are pieced together with old Degrassi episode; so for all I know it could have happened. Anyways, here is the video for “ELEctrik Heat-the seekwiLL”:

Random Song 3: Ghostface Killah - Cher Chez La Ghost
Random Song 4: Tokyo Police Club - Box

Ipod Workout Plan: Lady Sovereign - Love Me Hate Me from her North American debut Public Warning (which comes out in a few weeks). The self -proclaimed "biggest midget in the game" has grown on me over the last year and a bit. She proved that she was much more than a female version of The streets in the UK. Unfortunately some people in North America are already dismissing her as mere a female Eminem. Hopefully, with this album, Lady Sovereign will finally get some notice for her own talent. (video version is a fan remix)

Random Song 5: Tenacious D - Tribute
Random Song 6: Yodacock - Shelby
Bonus: Yodacock - The Sun

Friday, October 13, 2006

Transformers...Robots In Disguise

I was originally going to talk about The Roots new album in this post. Instead I’ve decided to focus on another album that I purchased around the same time. I’ll try to address The Roots in the next post.

Random Song 1: TV on the Radio - Dirty Whirl
Random Song 2: K'naan - Strugglin

The Dears - Gang of Losers


Gang of Losers is somewhat of a departure for The Dears; as a result some of their hardcore fans may need a few listens before it all sinks in. The band has traded in their well known, and beautifully dark, orchestral sound and produced a straightforward rock album. While on paper this may be cause for alarm, the stripped back sound fits the bands new optimistic outlook on life. The lead single “Ticket to Immortality”, which was written for lead singer Murray Lightburn and keyboardist Natalia Yanchak’s newborn daughter, immediately lets you know that you are not in typical Dears-land. The upbeat, and inspiring, tune is much livelier than previous songs by the band. Instead of wallowing in the muddy waters of our sorrows, the band wants to encourage people not to give up just yet. This becomes very evident on songs such as "Hate The Love” Although The Dears sound is much happier, they have not lost their political edge one bit. The track entitled “White Only Party” is a scathing look at racism in today’s society (especially in the world of rock music). While the latter half of the album, which features “Fear Makes The World Go Around” ”Ballad of Human Kindness” and “Find Our Way To Freedom”, is very much focused on the United States current “War on Terror”. People often do not to see their favourite bands changing directions. Yet in this case I think it works quite well. This slightly happier version of The Dears is definitely worth checking out. It will most likely take a few listens before it wins you over…but it will.

There is something about hearing a parent singing to their child “The world is really going to love you…I promise you” that gets me every time. “Ticket to Immortality” from the Gang of Losers LP:

Random Song 3: Hidden Cameras - Awoo
Random Song 4: Nas - It Ain't Hard To Tell

Ipod Workout Plan: MSTRKRFT - Work On You from the album, Looks. This is dedicated to all those people who could not afford Transformers back in the day. As a result, they had to settle for...(shudder)...GoBots.

Random Song 5: The Most Serene Republic - Jazz Ordinaire
Random Song 6: Classified - The Maritimes

Monday, October 09, 2006

Meet Me In Outer Space

Random Song 1: K-os - Sunday Morning

Lupe Fiasco – Food and Liquor


The much anticipated, and much delayed, debut album had a lot to live up to. A lot of the hype surrounding Lupe Fiasco was generated by his brilliant summer single “ Kick, Push.” Considering that the rap industry has been dominated by the shallow quest for “platinum grills” and “26 inch rims.” The song gave hip-hop fans, and even those who had given up on the genre, hope of something more meaningful. While it seemed that the weight of the hip-hop world was being placed on Lupe’s shoulders, he somehow rose to the challenge. Food and Liquor is an album that wants to be more than today's typical rap joint. There are no dark gangster beats, no Lil Jon crunk-style party tracks. In fact, songs such as "Hurt Me Soul" and "Daydreamin'" make a point of documenting how the current state of rap is corrupting this generation. Yet Lupe does not limit his view to just the rap world. Fiasco aims for longevity, and shows it by hitting on issues ranging from absentee fathers to the war in Iraq. Whether you are a fan of hip-hop or not, you will undoubtedly find Lupe’s album refreshing.

Here is the video for "Daydreamin'" featuring Jill Scott and one funky robot:

Random Song 2: Hole - Malibu

Ipod Workout Plan: Incubus - Wish You Were Here from the Morning View album. Remember when Incubus was all the rage? Ya, I try and block that memory out as well. Still I must admit that the band was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. Not sure why really, but once every couple of years I get the urge to listen to Incubus' blend of quasi mellow, quasi-rock, quasi-dj spinning, quasi-metal,, what was I saying?

Random Song 3: Toby Rand - Throw It Away
Bonus: The Killers - When You Were Young (Can't stand this song, yet I can't get it out of my head)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

...And We're Back

After a brief break, I have finally got around to updating this page once again. My thoughts on this year's Toronto International Film Festival have been posted on EZ1 Production's review page (click here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). A lot of interesting things have happened in the world of music in the past couple of weeks: Beyonce held a free show downtown; Virgin records/mobile held a two-day festival that featured practically every hot band working today; Final Fantasy's latest album (link) won the inaugural Polaris Music Award; and a reunited A Tribe Called Quest showed that they still had the goods after 10 years (more on that concert later). I also picked up a few new cd's which I will talk about in the next couple of posts. For now, here are some random pictures I took while at the film fest this year.

Random Song 1: Rhymefest - Devil's Pie

Saffron Burrows, Jeff Goldblum, Parker Posey and director Hal Hartley at the "Fay Grim" premiere.

Random Song 2: Emily Hanes and The Soft Skeleton - Our Hell

"The Last Kiss" premiere: Zach Braff, Rachel Bilson, Jacinda Barrett, Michael Weston, Eric Christian Olsen, and writer Paul Haggis at the end.

Random Song 3: Rapture - The Devil

Best marketing trick ever! Would you believe this is a contest to win a Fine China set?

Ipod Workout Plan: John Legend - Save Room from his new cd, Once Again. It seems John has been saving room for many people...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My Life On The Big Screen (Part 2)

Well this will most likely be my last post for a while (at least until Sept 19th or so). The film festival madness starts for me on Thursday night with the German film "The Lives of Others", and the midnight screening of the comedy "Borat" (Click here for trailer). So far I am set to see 30 films, but I may slip in one or two more depending on how things go. Single tickets for the festival go on sale to the general public tomorrow (Wednesday Sept. 6th) at 7 am (link). Keep an eye on the review section at EZ1 Productions Lounge for my full festival recap (handle is Draxhall) in another week or two.

The Breakfast Club (buy) Simple Minds - Don't You (Forget About Me)
The Godfather (buy): Nino Rota - Love Theme From The Godfather

TIFF 05: Clifton Collins Jr., Catherine Keener, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman at the premier of Capote.

GO (buy): No Doubt - New
The Life Aquatic (buy): Seu Jorge - Life on Mars

TIFF 04: Don McKellar greeting fans after the screening of his film Childstar.

Reservoir Dogs (buy): The George Baker Selection - Little Green Bag
The Godfather (buy): Nino Rota - The Pick Up

TIFF O5: Keanu Reeves, and Twilda Swinton for Thumbsucker.

Magnolia (buy movie): Aimee Mann - Deathly
Magnolia (buy CD): Aimee Mann - Momentum

TIFF 04: Jeromy Irons, and Joseph Fiennes at The Merchant of Venice screening

Last Night(buy): Peter Seeger - Guantananmera (live)

Aimee Mann - Save Me from the Magnolia (love this film!) soundtrack. Now lets play the classic game "name that actor!"...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

My Life On The Big Screen (Part 1)

I haven't posted in a while mainly due to the fact that I am in the midst of film festival preparations. Similar to Rocky running up those famous steps, I have been conducting my own two-week training regiment. This mainly consists of watching a whole bunch of movies and getting as much sleep as possible. As my decision to attend this year's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was rather last minute this year, it has taken me a while to get back in to prime form. Keeping with the film fest theme, here are some songs from various soundtracks that I enjoy. I have also included some photos I took at previous T.O. film festivals (I'll post a few more in Part 2).

The Sweet Hereafter (buy): Sarah Polly - The Sweet Hereafter

TIFF 05: Jeff Daniels, Noah Baumbach, Laura Linney for The Squid and The Whale

Dead Presidents (buy): James Brown - The Payback
Run Lola Run (buy): Franka Potente & Susie Van der Meer - Running Three

Tiff 04: Roger Mitchell (far left), Mystery Man, Daniel Craig , Rhys Ifans for Enduring Love

Love Jones (buy): Dionne Farris - Hopeless
24 Hour Party People (buy): Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart

TIFF 04: Javier Bardem at The Sea Inside premier. The film ended up winning best foreign film at the Oscars.

Tomb Raider (buy): U2 - Elevation
Oscar & Lucinda (buy): Thomas Newman - The Church of Glass

TIFF 05: Aaron Eckhart, William H. Macy at the Thank You For Smoking screening.

Lauryn Hill - The Sweetest Thing from the Love Jones Soundtrack.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Snakes On A Plane.

Finally the wait is over! Tomorrow Snakes On A Plane hits theatres, and I am anticipating that it will be filled with B-Movie cheese. Frankly, I am hoping that it falls into the "so bad that it's good" film canon. If you haven't received a personal phone call (or email) from Samuel L. Jackson yet regarding the movie, I'm sure he will get to you soon. In the meantime you can listen to the message I received here. Gees...Beer Fest last weekend, Snakes On A Plane this weekend, who says these are the dog days of summer? As you have probably figured out by now, this weeks post is serpent inspired (albeit very loosely).

Random Song 1: Cobra Starship - Snakes On A Plane (Bring It)

Charley Pride

You are probably asking yourself two things: One who the heck is Charley Pride? Two what does he have to do with snakes? Surprisingly enough, he is probably most logical choice to have in this post. Charley's big break came when he released the song Snakes Crawl at Night in 1965. At his peak, Charley Pride was easily one of the biggest names in country music. He not only helped to pave the way for black artist in country music, but in the industry on a whole. As my mother is a big fan, I have listen to a lot of Pride's music over the years. Although country music has never appealed to me, I do admire what Pride has done for music in general. Plus there is no denying the man's talent.

Charley Pride performing "Kaw-Liga" on television (Hee-Haw I believe). The song can be found on The Essential Charley Pride album:

Random Song 2: Paula Abdul - Cold Hearted Snake

The Deadly Snakes

It's not a good time to be a snake right now. They are getting their tails whipped on planes, they have been a punch line for jokes online for over a year, and Cobra still can't defeat G.I.Joe. So it makes since that after 10 years, Toronto's The Deadly Snakes are calling it quits. They will be playing their last show next week (August 25, 2006) at the Horseshoe Tavern. At least they went out on somewhat of a high note; their last album Procella (released last fall) received good praise from the critics. Here is Closed Casket from their Ode To Joy LP.

Random Song 3: Joss Stone - Snakes and Ladders

R. Kelly

I know what you are thinking. You figure that R. Kelly made this eclectic mix because of his legal issue. You're waiting for me to do a Chappelle style lampoon regarding the trouser-snake. Shame on you...okay, the thought did cross my mind. Nope, R. Kelly is makes the list for his song Snake. Love him or hate him, R. Kelly is one of the few artist that has still been able to produce number one albums despite the allegations against him. Not even Michael Jackson has been able to do that.

Here is "Ignition (remix)" from the Chocolate Factory album.

Ipod Workout Plan: Ok Go - Here It Goes Again from Oh No. So, last week I declared Gnarls Barkley’s latest video as my current favourite video of the year. I know, I know, a rather lofty title to bestow so early in the year. Well that was last week; there is a new champ in town. Sorry Gnarls, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Ok Go's video is just too good to ignore, which is saying a lot considering that I normally cannot stand this band. I thought their singles "invincible" and "A Million Ways" were pretty bland. Which, I guess, was to be expected from this band. Ok Go has built a name for themselves mainly due to their gimmicky dance numbers, rather than their actual music. Yet with this video, they actually put their "unique" moves to good use. Too bad the rest of the album is not as good as this song.

If this video doesn't make you want to hit the gym, I don't know what will:

Thursday, August 10, 2006

New Package, Same Pop Taste?

As both the Taste of the Danforth and The Festival of Beer begin tomorrow, I may be in no condition (a.k.a. a tad tipsy) to post anything. So I figured I would get this one in early. I received my second Summer Burn CD in the mail last week (another great mix), but I will go into more detail another time. This week I am in a pop kind of mood.

Random Song 1: The Roots vs. New Order - Crystal Seed 3.0

Justin Timberlake/Timberland

If we are to believe the first line of the new single "Sexy Back", then Justin Timberlake is on a one-man mission to bring sexy back. When did it ever leave? A more appropriate title for the song would be "Timbos Back". It seems famed producer Timberland has become the pop defibrillator this year. He single handedly saved Nelly Furtado's career by producing her chart-topping album Loose. Now Timberland is poised to have is second number one album out in only two months. Timberland has re-teamed with Timberlake to provide a "more futuristic" edge to Justin's Future Sex/Love Sound album (in stores September 4, 2006). If we were to judge the album based on it's first single, the "future" sounds a lot like late 90's Euro electronica. I think "My Love", which features rapper T.I., is a much better indicator of what to expect from the album. Personally I think this should have been the first single, and not annoying Back. The synth-heavy track provides a more mature sound than Timberlake's last club hit "Rock Your Body". The last time the "Timbers" joined force was for the Britney-did-me-wrong ditty "Cry Me A River". That song was a massive hit and help to shed Justin's boy band image. With Timberland producing a bulk of the tracks on Future Sex/Love Sounds, I fear I will be saying "I can't believe I like that track..." for sometime.

Who ended up winning the Justin vs. Britney battle? I think we all know who is laughing all the way to the bank...K-Fed. Anyways, here is "Cry Me A River" from Justified:

Random Song 2: Hot Chip - The Warning


A wise man once said "you gotta know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em, know when to walk away..." unfortunately Fegie misinterpreted the advice. Instead of converting her Black Eyed Peas fame into, say, an acting career; Fergie will be releasing her solo album on September 19, 2006. In an attempt to show off her witty side, Fergie has entitled the album The Duchess. That's right, Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson is playfully comparing herself to Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson. Although I'm sure the humor will be lost on her fan-base who are to young to know about The Duchess Of York. Sure Fergie has come a long way from her Wild Orchid Talk To Me" days. Yet listening to the album's first single "London Bridge", you cannot help but think she folded her ace card too soon. Fergie had a good thing going as the hook-girl for B.E.P. Many will say that the Black Eyed Peas were better before Fergie. This is true, but they were also broke as hell too. The last B.E.P. album with Fergie, Monkey Business, sold more in one week than their three non-Fergie albums combined. The point is both sides need each other. Without the rest of the Black Eyed Peas to shield her, Fergie's vocal limitations become blatantly obvious. Also, if a weak song like Bridge is your first single, what does that say about the rest of the album?

We have the Black Eyed Peas uber-hit "My Humps" , from Monkey Business, to blame for Fergie's solo venture. Curse those lovely lady lumps:

Random Song 3: Swan Lake - All Fires

Ipod Workout Plan: Gnarls Barkley's " Smiling Faces" from their debut LP St. Elsewhere. Current front-runner for video of the year in my opinion:

Friday, August 04, 2006

Irie Blue

Three Dave Chappelle shows added and all sold out in less than 2 minutes. How is that possibly? I'm still trying to figure that out. Heck, even the Rolling Stones do not sellout that quickly. I smell a fix going on... Anyways, as we are in the midst of Caribana festivities this long weekend, I decided to revisit some songs which I have not heard in a while.

Random Song 1: The Mighty Sparrow - How You Jammin'

Irie Classic 1: Chaka Demus & Pliers - Murder She Wrote

Kevin Lyttle (featuring Spragga Benz) - "Turn Me On" from his self-titled album

Random Song 2: Richie Spice - Earth Ah Run Red

Irie Classic 2: Buju Banton - Champion

Beenie Man - "Dude" from Back To Basics

Random Song 3: Barrington Levy - On The Telephone

Irie Classic 3: Shaggy - Mr. Boombastic

Sean Paul - I'm Still In Love With You Boy from the Dutty Rock album

Ipod Workout Plan: Two video's today: The first one is Shabba Ranks early 90's hit "Mr. Loverman" from Caan Dun (Best of Shabba Ranks). That song is followed by In Living Color's classic spoof of the video entitled "Mr. Ugly Man".

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Infanta

This past week I found out that the Decemberists are coming to town in November, no word yet on when tickets go on sale. If that wasn't enough, Dave Chappelle is coming to town in August for a one-night only show. Tickets for Chappelle go on sale Monday. Judging by the various people who emailed me about the show, interest for Dave is extremely high.

Random Song 1: Tom Scott - Today

Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds


A few weeks ago I received a copy of Final Fantasy's new album He Poos Clouds (thanks again, Min). After listening to the album a few times two things instantly came to mind: 1) awful title for an album, and 2) what a difference a year makes. Last year Owen Pallett's Final Fantasy project merely consisted of himself, a violin, and a looping machine. The result of those three elements was his debut album ...Has A Good Home. Recorded in just six days, it was a minimalist indie pop album with several classical elements. The album gave Final Fantasy is own distinct musical identity. He was no longer viewed as that guy who plays violin on other peoples albums (e.g. The Hidden Camera's, Arcade Fire, etc...). Fast-forward a year and things have changed for the better for Mr. Pallett. Every aspect of the production has improved greatly from the first album. The new album sounds like he finally acquired a full backing band when recording. Everything is much bigger on this record. Just listening to tracks like This Lamb Sells Condos and Song Song Song you immediately see how much he has grown as an artist. The inaudible scream that were used in the background of a few tracks on the first album, are back again on this album. Yet there is more force behind them and they are better used this time around. Despite the awful album title, Final Fantasy has avoided the sophomore jinx with this solid follow-up.

Let it be known that Little Red Riding Hood is easily the worst waitress ever. Judging by the flying unicorn, I think she may also be smoking that wacky tabacky. Anyways, keep an eye out for Owen Pallett's cameo as the dishwasher in "This is The Dream of Win and Regine" from ...Has A Good Home.

When I saw Final Fantasy a few years back he covered Mariah Carey's "Fantasy" with the help of some friends. He flies solo in this clip:

Random Song 2: Sufjan Stevens - The Henney Buggy Band

Black Sheep - A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing


Nostalgia is a tricky thing as our minds often make memories seem greater then they really were. Such is the case with Black Sheep's 1991 debut album A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing. I came across this album at the mall the other day; and immediately started reminiscing about how great this group was "back in the day". I was even shocked how well several of the tracks held up today. The one thing I seemed to have forgotten though was how one-dimensional this group actually was. Besides a few poignant tracks about the state of society, half of the album focuses on sex. At the time, they probably thought they were being edgy. Yet 15 years later these tracks come off as rather juvenile. The exceptions to this include standout tracks like "Flavor of the Month" and "Strobelite Honey". While you may not remember the group’s brief moment in the spotlight, you have surely heard their material. If you have been to any bar and/or club in the past 10 years, odds are you have unknowingly danced to part of their song. The simple verse that starts "engine engine number 9/ on the New York transit line/ if my train goes off the track..." from Black Sheep's massive hit "The Choice Is Yours" is frequently sampled by most DJs today.

Why the air trumpet wasn't as successful as the air guitar beats me. "Flavor of the Month from the A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing LP:

Random Song 3: Ice T - I'm Your Pusher

The Decemberists

Can a band be too smart for their own good? That always seems to be the question when it comes to The Decemberists. All three of their previous albums (Castaways and Cutouts, Her Majesty the Decemberists, and 2005's Picaresque) have received enormous critical praise. Yet the one negative comment I often hear is that their music is too literary. Which is funny considering that those same people constantly complain about the lack of intelligence in music nowadays. The beauty of The Decemberists is that their songs are narrative driven. They have fully realized characters, and plots that cover: forbidden love, struggling actors, cursed orphans (the somber "Leslie Ann Levine"), lost love, sea shanties, 18th century chimbly sweeps, the absence of testosterone (the amusing "The Sporting Life"), the lure of Los Angeles, etc.… Although I have seen The Decemberists perform twice already, I am really looking forward to the November show. I cannot wait to hear the new material live. The groups first major label release, The Crane Wife, is set to hit store in October. Tour dates are listed on the bands myspace page.

Worried that The Decemberists only talk about centuries past? Trust me, they know their current events as well. Here is "16 Military Wives" from Picaresque:

Keeping with the war theme, sort of, here is the "The Soldiering Life" from Her Majesty:

Ipod Workout Plan: Black Eyed Peas - Pump it from the Monkey Business album. Not a fan of B.E.P but this song is a guilty pleasure. Plus this fan made video is more entertaining than the official video for the song:

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sometimes I Rhyme Slow, Sometimes I Rhyme Quick

Picked up a bunch of CDs recently, I will try to get to them all over the next two posts.

Random Song 1: Camera Obscura - Come Back Margaret (KCRW Session)

Rhymefest - Blue Collar


Southern hip-hop has been dominating the rap market in the last two years. Yet with the commercial and critical success that both Kanye West and Common received for their respective 2005 albums, people are starting to take notice of Chicago's rap scene once again. Now with the release of Rhymefest's debut album Blue Collar, Chicago is quickly becoming the hip-hop hot spot. Blue Collar has been in heavy rotation on my cd player lately. Not only is Rhymefest a ridiculously talented rapper, but he also brings a sense of fun back into hip-hop. He is able to incorporate sharp humor into his songs without ever fallen into cartoon-like territory (the exception being "Build Me Up" which is just a good way). The album is designed to appeal to a wide range of people. Even if you do not normally listen to rap, there will still be a few songs that should win you over. There is a nice balance of between the tracks aimed for commercial radio (such as Brand New featuring Kanye West); and songs that display Rhymfest's lyrical talents. For an example of the latter just listen to Dynomite (Going Postal). I hope Blue Collar becomes a mainstream hit because Rhymefest is far better than half the rappers out today.

The best part of Rhymefest's "Fever" performance on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show comes around two minute mark. Rhymefest decides to freestyle for a bit and provides a gem of a line: "Jimmy Kimmel next time let me sit on the couch." Click here to see the official video for the song.

Did I mention that Rhymefest already has a Grammy? No. Well Rhymefest and his buddy Kanye West co-wrote a little song about walking that turned into a massive hit. Here is the Grammy winning song "Jesus Walks" from The College Dropout album:

Random Song 2: Animal Collective - Turn Into Something

Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche


A few weeks back a friend sent me a very interesting article entitled "A Case Against Sufjan Stevens" that was posted on All Music's website. Although the article's intent was to point out the flaws in Sufjan Stevens music, it actually made me want to listen to him even more. The first time I encountered Stevens' material was when I received a copy of his acclaimed album, Illinois, for Christmas last year (oddly enough from the same person who sent the article). Illinois was the second concept album in Sufjan's 50-States project. Each song told unique story about the people and places that made up Illinois history. I know some people who found the album too slow, while others thought it was too depressing. Personally, I loved every minute of it. I thought the writing and instrumentation on the album was fantastic. Needless to say, it ended up topping my "Best of 2005" list. Which brings us to The Avalanche, a disc full of outtakes and extras from Illinois recording sessions. Originally Illinois was supposed to be a double album, hence why there are 21 tracks on The Avalanche. Overall, this is a good album but your level of enjoyment will depend on how you view it. As a B-side album, it far superior than any other B-side record out there. As a regular album, it is not as strong as Illnois but still solid nonetheless. My main complaint with the album is the three alternate versions of the Illinois hit song "Chicago" (Illnois version linked). I find they constantly disrupt the flow of the album. Still, thanks to songs like No Man's Land and The Perpetual Self, Or "What Would Saul Alinsky Do?", I am willing to let the Chicago thing slide. Now I need to start catching up on Sufjan's pre-Illinois albums.

Here is a live performance of "Casmir Pulaski Day" found on the Illinois album:

Random Song 3: Girl Talk - Hold Up

Corinne Bailey Rae - Corrine Bailey Rae


Sometimes the best purchases are the ones that you did not plan on buying in the first place. Such is the case with Corinne Bailey Rae self-titled debut album. I stumbled across her album at the record store, and had a vague recollection of hearing one of her songs. While I wasn't sure if it was the same artist, I figured the price of the disc was low enough to take a gamble. Luckily three tracks into the CD, I heard the song that confirmed my guess was correct. Overall the album has a nice jazzy vibe running underneath its soulful exterior. This is evident when listen to songs like I'd Like To and Trouble Sleeping (KCRW Session linked). Many critics have tried valiantly to compare Corinne Bailey Rae to every female artist from Billie Holiday to Macy Gray. I will not attempt to make such comparisons, as I think she has her own unique sound. She has enough talent to make her own mark on the music industry. I just hope she can produce a solid follow-up album, and avoid going the Macy Gray route (aka. forgotten after one album).

As for that song I "vaguely recalled" hearing, it was her single "Put Your Records On":

Ipod Workout Plan: A Tribe Called Quest - Find A Way. A friend recently informed me that a reunited Tribe is coming to Toronto in September. Since A Tribe Called Quest found a way to tour, I found a way to get tickets. Let the countdown begin...: