Friday, May 29, 2009

LAB Mixtapes: Episode 12

There's a pretty clear bloodline between Sonic Youth, the Pixies and The Breeders, so I won't really elaborate. Recently, iTunes made this Julie Doiron song the free download of the week and I was struck by how much it reminded me of The Breeders album Last Splash. I see other iTunes Listeners bought Cat Power, but maybe that's because they already have Last Splash and Dirty in old fashioned CD format. Enjoy the distortion, it's there for a reason.

PS. I realize having "Gigantic" from The Pixies may be redundant but that song kicks ass, so if I want it in there - it goes in there.

Episode 12
Runs 12:14 mins

Links open the iTunes Music Store
1. Gigantic - The Pixies
2. JC - Sonic Youth
3. Saints - The Breeders
4. Consolation Prize - Julie Doiron

PS. I'm actually writing this two days before Good Friday and I can't help but wonder if there's not a hidden Christian theme of redemption, revelation and forgiveness in this mixtape. Probably not. Right? Nah? JC doesn't mean Jesus Christ and Saints well that's just, um, about a summer carnival thing. Right.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Just one more photo of the scene of the fire across the street. Our street has at least 4 trucks and numerous other emergency vehicles parked while emergency services continued to investigate the cause of the fire (it's been at least a couple of hours since the fire was out and they're still in there). It's a gut-check seeing smoke pouring out of a neighbour's house so I'll be taking a closer look at the smoke alarms and making evacuation plans first thing in the morning.


Fire on Fern Distinguished & Extinguished

Described by one fire fighter as a "major event" but it seems to be out at this point. It was pretty amazing to see fire fighters smashing windows and running into the breach. I'm a little more appreciative of the station house being just a few blocks away.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

LAB Mixtapes: Episode 13

I never really imagined having a Coldplay song in one of these sets. Yet, here it is - with a twist of lime. Each song in the mixtape this week is culturally displaced and remixed. British power pop performed as Cuban Big Band. Irish Art Rock fashioned as a Reggae tune and finally a reggae classic sounding like a piece of rootsy Americana. Nothing is as it seems through the looking glass.

It's proof of the strength of these songs that they are so successfully re-imagined. "Radiodread" wins for best pun and is probably the best example. Radiohead songs all performed as reggae? It works brilliantly. Radiohead are just one of those bands whose influence is seen merely by the number of artists covering their songs working in completely different genres: reggae, jazz, classical. Another great collaboration is Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer singing Bob Marley's Redemption Song. These two older artists interpreting Marley is sublime and inspired.

Episode 13
Runs 11:56 mins

Links below open the iTunes Music Store
1. Clocks - Rhythms Del Mundo
2. No Surprises - Easy Star All-Stars
3. Redemption Song - Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

After a couple of years of talking about it, I finally found a rain barrel. I didn't get a chance to set it up yet. It's been raining too much.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

I love taking lunch on the rooftop garden, especially with friends who have never been there before. Firstly, it's a fantastic spot, and secondly it makes you feel like a big time insider (even if thousands of people know about it). Unfortunately it's a perfect place to forget what time it is and seeing as today is a perfect Friday to totally F***k off that makes for a deadly combination.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Seen in April

3 - Gran Torino
18 - Saxondale
19 - Appaloosa
Season 1 & 2, 30 Rock
25 - What Just Happened
28 - Bringing Up Baby

Sheesh. Not much seen last month. Probably has something to do with watching two seasons of 30 Rock, one half season of Saxondale, playoff hockey and going out to see a play instead of a movie.

One strange side effect of using Twitter has been that I've noticed how much other people go out. They have something to tweet about whereas I could really only say "on couch", "sitting on sofa" - not really very interesting. So I thought I have no reason not to go somewhere other than my own inertia.

This week I've decided not to turn down an oppotunity unless I actually have something else to do. After seeing two films, and a book launch, I'm already pooped. Not sure how long I can keep up being social just for appearances.

Sent from my phone.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Urban Spiritual

Image via Flickr

It's difficult to describe my experience tonight other than "near spiritual".

Some context. On a whim I decided to go to an ersatz book launch as part of Pages Books' TINAR event (This Is Not A Reading Series) to hear designer/author Reif Larsen talk about his book "The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet". I was a little more mobile because I'd ridden my bike to work so I wasn't too worried about getting to the event, which was at the Steam Whistle Brewery. The brewery is housed in the old rail yard round house South of, what we all know as, the Skydome, as such it offers some remarkable views of Toronto's skyline. While I was enjoying the event, I decided to leave early as it was getting dark and I thought it was best to hit the road. Stepping out into the twilight, I was struck by Toronto's illuminated high rises standing before a big purple blue sky. All the clich├ęs were there. Ribbons of clouds, shredding through a darkening sky. Pin lights from buildings punctuated shadowy buildings that defined the city. Garish neon seemed luxuriant and the asphalt streets seemed more like murky still rivers. They don't call it the magic hour for nothing. Maybe they should call it the "insipid romanticism hour".

I shook off the awe and started my ride home. The first portion of the route is beneath the Gardiner and West bound on Queens Quay. This would be treacherous in full daylight but is even more terrifying in the fading light of early evening. Despite several lane changes and many (MANY) cars stopped or parked in the bike lane, I eventually made my way to the safer ground of the bike path. The idea being it would be so much safer to ride on a bike path without any car traffic to contend with. Of course, I didn't realize there wasn't any light at all on the path and my tiny LED wasn't really helping much. Then something special happened. My eyes adjusted and I turned a corner where for the next five kilometers I was riding only meters away from Lake Ontario on my left and Toronto's tremulous city scape on my right. One of my favourite pieces of music came through my ear buds and for the next eleven minutes I floated over black tarmac and swooped through the trees while the lake's shoreline sparkled beside me, the city lights lay out before me and the night sky's giant inky-dark sheet billowed above me.

I was probably only going 40KM/hr at the fastest downhill section but it felt like flying at 30,000 ft and for those few moments I was falling through Toronto's pavement-black night and slicing the atmosphere. By the time the song ended I had been delivered to Roncesvalles and was only a few moments from home.

That music I was listening to is from Animal Collective called Pride & Fight. Here's that song:

You can buy the song in iTunes.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

At a Pages TINAR Event

Wetting my whistle at a literary event. You'd think by now I'd know not to attend these things alone. You'd think I might recognize a single soul but nope. Not a one. Which explains why I'm bothering to post this at all. Thank God it's finally starting.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

LAB Mixtapes: Episode 11

Pianissimo may mean to play softly but there's nothing too soft about this week's tracks. From the romantic swooning of Royal Wood, to the Prog-rock inspired sounds of Plants and Animals, to the airy and atmospheric Patrick Watson, each of these songs are anchored by the piano and by a kind of bigness. At times they verge on an almost "twee" sound but in the end, the strength of the songwriting comes through and leaves you wanting more.

Perhaps you think this music sounds kitschy and pretentious to your troll-like ears. That's okay. To get through this life you must learn to accept when you are wrong and that you are just being a bit of a jerk. This set starts like a Merlot but finishes like a boiler-maker. If you wind up in AA don't call me unless, as one of your 12 steps, you're calling to apologize about being wrong about this music.

Episode 11
Runs 11 mins

Links open the iTunes music store
1. Mirror Without - Royal Wood
2. Luscious Life- Patrick Watson
3. Bye Bye Bye - Plants and Animals

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