Friday, February 27, 2009

LAB Mixtapes: Episode 4

Sometime around the turn of the century, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation launched it's eponymous Web channel CBC Radio3. Simultaneously, Canadian Indie Music became incendiary and explosive. The Radio 3 podcast which began shortly after in 2002 delivered high-powered indie-pop/rock/folk/hip-hop on a weekly basis and has since been the source of much of the new music I listen to. Bands like Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, The New Pornographers, Metric, The Dears, The Weakerthans, The Constantines, Sam Roberts and Hot Hot Heat were typical of this almost impossibly high quality hit parade of Canadian artists that hailed from Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and everywhere in-between.

Unfortunately, Canadians getting air play on mainstream terrestrial radio remain the likes of Nickelback, Avril Lavigne and Sum41. Safe. Insipid. Dull. Predictable. Podcasts such as Radio 3, NPR's All Songs Considered and John Sakamoto's Anti-hit List continue to be the primary source and champions of exciting, intelligent and energetic new Canadian music. In turn, music fans who write their own blogs and hear how little these acts are played on Canadian radio have taken it upon themselves to popularize their favourite artists. While record labels and radio stations might rightly blame the Internet for destroying the core of their businesses they have only themselves to blame for becoming irrelevant by continuing to offer only the dregs of offerings rather than the cream of the talent pool.

Episode 4

Runs 9:51 mins.

Note: Links will launch iTunes.
Track 1. Shine a Light - Wolf Parade
Track 2. Blind Luck - The Constantines
Track 3. Nature of the Experiment - Tokyo Police Club

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's a Strange World After All

Mark Lombardi image via The Faulconer Gallery, Grinnell College

What a strange world it is. Esteemed American author John Updike passed away not long ago and as he was a contributer to the New Yorker magazine for something like 60 years, there were of course, lengthy and one might say, hagiographic tributes to him in a recent issue. By coincidence I'm reading David Foster Wallace's collection of essays, Consider the Lobster. The second essay is actually a critical (hilariously so) review of the Updike novel, Toward the End of Time.

One coincidence is just a curious occurrence. Two coincidences is a little creepy.

At work, I've been struggling to write a concise and informative document and in frustration turned to the Economist's online Style Guide which can politely/diplomatically/favourably be best described as sort of snooty. It's not that they are wrong or right, but just there is an intolerable snobbish way they explain or leave unexplained their reasoning around English language usage.

Every time I find one of these documents I wonder what exactly I was learning in school if it wasn't the mechanics and dynamics of English? I remember exactly one year of grammar - ninth grade, with "Chopper" Dale (I have no idea of his given name, "Dale" maybe?), and really the only thing I recall from that class was "Chopper's" terrible pun-based jokes (something about Mao Tse Tung = Mousey Tongue) and his assertion that pink was not a colour but a shade of red which was a colour1.

Regardless of my own struggles with English or the Economist's arrogant tone, I did wonder where I could find a book on English usage without all the 'tude. Then I started reading the next essay by DFW, which immediately followed his Updike review and oddly it was about the politics of American English usage as embodied by various books on English usage. What follows is not only his admission as a language Nazi but a discussion of the politics of American English.

Third odd coincidence. On a whim, the book I checked out with the David Foster Wallace book was "The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary".

It is a very strange old world.

1. Clearly Dale thought this was some sort of word play or an opportunity to mess with our heads. When I responded with, "The absence of colour is called black, but black is a colour so how does it hold that words like 'pink' or 'rouge' are not colours." the topic was changed. Some time later I came to think he meant, the words used to describe colours are not, themselves "colours" but words we use to describe the effect of light bouncing in our eyes. This was typical of the kind of thing that passed as discourse at Macpherson Junior High in English class. Perhaps I'm overestimating Mr. Dale entirely. I would also like to point out how forced readings of Farley Mowat in Junior High that I never again opened a book by Mr. Mowat.


Monday, February 23, 2009

how to draw a dawg

If, for some reason, you find yourself trying to impress a little kid who loves drawing dogs by actually drawing a dog yourself, then it would serve you well to watch this brief but important video:

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

LAB Mixtapes: Episode 3 

It's only episode 3 and I'm already breaking the rules. This podcast has 4 tracks instead of 3. It's not just that this is an all female, full-on estrogen rock-out, but all of these artists re-define a kind of post-folk-rock-indie labeling that is too small to contain their emotional power and beautiful voices. Somehow I doubt these ladies would all show up on some kind of Lilith Fair tour but when I think of one, I think of the other. And there is something about a strong female voice that knocks me on my ass. Freudian? Jungian? Neither of those guys could sing like this.

Episode 3
Runs 15:08 mins

Links below open in the iTunes Store:
1. Train From Kansas City - Neko Case
2. Light Enough to Travel - The Be Good Tanyas
3. I Feel It All - Feist
4. Call It Off - Tegan and Sara

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Finally Broke 10KM 

Of course it only took 3 months to do it, averaging just under 800m per outing but that's exactly how you chip away at totals - stroke by stroke, metre by metre...


Sunday, February 08, 2009

LAB Mixtapes - Episode 2

This recording includes The Talking Heads, Arcade Fire and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah which I've grouped together mainly for being "like The Talking Heads" (especially The Talking Heads). These bands also share similar musical and lyrical traits. Do I have to explain everything? Perhaps I'm wrong or maybe these songs are proof of such cosmic connectedness it makes String Theory look like a Simple Theory of Nothing and just a big scribble of numbers.

Episode 2
Runs 13:47 mins.

N.B. links open in the iTunes Store
Track 1. This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) - Talking Heads
Track 2. Une Annee Sans Lumiere - The Arcade Fire
Track 3. Underwater (You and Me) - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Seen in January

I've been keeping track of what I watch and per an entry at the Film Buff blog, I've noted the date. Here's that list from most recent to oldest:

31 - O Lucky Man
25 - The Weatherman
22 - Zodiac
18 - The Wrestler
17 -Vincent and Theo
11 - The Times of Harvey Milk
10 - Sweeny Todd
9 - Horton Hears a Who
4 - Grand Illusion
1 - The Rocket: The Maurice Richard Story