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...