Monday, December 20, 2010


[NOTE - totally forgot to add the Poirier record which is easily my favorite dance record of the year. See below)

Okay, I'm going to try to keep this as short as possible. I've submitted my top 20 to UMFM, and thought that I should post it on here. To be honest, I'm not one to obsess over lists like these that terribly much (I much prefer reading other peoples). So, if you were to ask me in an hour what my top 20 records of the year are, with the exception of the top 5, it would most likely be pretty different. The top 5 here though are records the rest don't even really come close to. If you want a mix, please don't hesitate to ask.

Here goes nothin'

Records that just missed the cut:
Titus Andronicus, (The record is about 8 songs to long to crack the top 20). Salem, Books, Baths, Little Women, Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, The National, Dave Holland Octet, Chicago Underground Duo, The Bad Plus, Vex'd, Badawi, The Bad Plus, Mount Kimbie, Frog Eyes

If they were not EP's they would definitely be here:
Kurt Vile - Square Shells, Destroyer - Archer on the Beach, all of the James Blake releases.

Top 20:

20.) Tomboyfriend - Don't Go to School

19.) Teengirl Fantasy - 7AM

18.) The Shining - Black Jazz

Norwegian free-jazz group goes prog-metal. What's not to love. (if you watch the video you have to at least wait until the 3:30 mark - is that a saxophone I see?)

17.) Owen Pallett - Heartland

16.) Warpaint - The Fool

15.) Future Islands - In Evening Air

14.) Freeway and Jake One - Stimulus Package

13.) Land of Talk - Cloak and Cipher

12.) Actress - Splazsh

11.) Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafitti - Before Today

10.) Forrest Swords - Dagger Paths

Probably had the best chance of the bottom 15 records to eventually crack the top 5, but it's still too young for me to have it any higher. A great cousin record to Gang Gang Dance's Saint Dymphna.

9.) Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise

Sweet melodic techno that builds well off of one of the genre's finest releases This Bliss.

8.) Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal

7.) Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

6.) Christian Scott - Yesterday You Said Tomorrow

Awesome post-Katrina New Orleans Jazz. Scott's concert here this past June was easily the best show I saw all year (all decade??).

5.) Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

This may be a little bit backlash related, but as much as I love this record (and I really do), the record is really not deserving of all the hype. I can't help but think that it's the collaborations that make this record work as (with the exception of the whole Sarcophagus - esophagus line) Kanye's performance on this record is not necessarily his best (and Jay-Z's appearance is borderline brutal). Nicki Minaj steals the show clearly (EVERY TIME she raps, not just on "Monster"), and Rick Ross, the Rza and that dude from Bon Ivery do a fine job as well. But outside of the guest spots, the record is really only good, not great. That said, from "Power" through to "Monster" is some of the best pop music you'll ever hear.

5. 1.) Poirier - Running High

Proving yet again that as much as I like to rock out, I like dancing even more.

4.) Women - Public Strain

I haven't loved a rock record this much in ages. "Eyesore" is particularly beautiful. I think I've said enough about this record elsewhere.

3.) Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me

Carl Wilson recently criticized this record for its lack of editing. Honestly I can't find a song on this record I would want to take out. If I were to rank this records in accordance to the number of times I've played them, Have One On Me would win by a country mile.

2.) Janelle Monae - The Arch Android

I can't help but see/hope Afro-futurism becoming the next big musical genre. Especially considering how awesome this record. I mean seriously, the record is 70 minutes long and, with the exception of the misguided Of Montreal collaboration "Make the Bus", the record really never loses my attention. Plus, how can you not help but love someone as ridiculously awesome as Janelle Monae?

1.) Darkstar - North

This is the record I've been waiting the Junior Boys to make since Last Exit. A perfect blend of dubstep, wonky, synth pop and crooner vocals. I could listen to this record a 100 times and it would surprise me every time. Here's their wonderful cover of The Human League's "Gold".

Friday, December 3, 2010

Out to Lunch

So, maybe it's been a while since I last posted on here. Sorry about that. It's been pretty freaking busy in my life lately. To make it up to you I'm working on what hopes to be a killer year-end wrap up that I will be posting between the 17th and 20th of this month (after all my papers, and before I leave for the holidays). To set things up you should first go a check out Fact Magazines top 50 albums list which I always find provides a nice counterpoint to many of the North American based website lists as it introduces a bunch of unknown British acts, and is unapologetic about its love for hardcore electronic music. Then, check out these videos from artists who will all be appearing on my list.

Little Women

Freeway and Jake One

The Budos Band

Oneohtrix Point Never



Future Islands

Joanna Newsom

Monday, November 8, 2010

One the Program Today ...

Just a heads up. Tonight the wonderful and talented Bucky Driedger from the Liptonians and Royal Canoe will be co-hosting the show with me. Bucky's a great guy, with excellent taste in music so it will be fun to hear what he brings tonight. He'll also be talking with us about the upcoming Liptonians album fundraiser happening on Saturday at the Park Theatre with Wool on Wolves and Henry and the Nightcrawlers. Should be a blast!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Is this comical or tragic?

I don't really know what to do with this. Help me out.

First the lyrics of Gang of Four's "Natural's Not in It"

The problem of leisure
What to do for pleasure
Ideal love a new purchase
A market of the senses
Dream of the perfect life
Economic circumstances
The body is good business
Sell out, maintain the interest
Remember Lot's wife
Renounce all sin and vice
Dream of the perfect life
This heaven gives me migraine
The problem of leisure
What to do for pleasure

Coercion of the senses
We are not so gullible
Our great expectations
A future for the good
Fornication makes you happy
No escape from society
Natural is not in it
Your relations are of power
We all have good intentions
But all with strings attached

Repackaged sex your interest
Repackaged sex your interest
Repackaged sex your interest
Repackaged sex your interest
Repackaged sex your interest
Repackaged sex your interest

The problem of leisure
What to do for pleasure
Ideal love a new purchase
A market of the senses
Dream of the perfect life
Economic circumstances
The body is good business
Sell out, maintain the interest
Remember Lot's wife
Renounce all sin and vice
Dream of the perfect life
This heaven gives me migraine
This heaven gives me migraine
This heaven gives me migraine

And then of course ...

I guess that's one way to interpret "the body is good business".

Monday, October 18, 2010

One the Program Today ...

"What does it mean to be able to enjoy uncertainty?"

The above quote comes from this article by Bill Bahng Boyer, where the ethnomusicologist explores the relationship between Western conceptions of human subjectivity and technology, looking particularly at the change in the musical experience in light of the development of the iPod shuffle. I don't want to say too much about the article here (other than that you should really read it). However, it has inspired me to finally do something on my show that I have thus far been unwilling to do. For tonight's show I'm giving up control to my iPod, pressing shuffle and then pressing play. Each set I play tonight will be initially determined by the shuffle function of my iPod, which will randomly choose the first song of each set. Following this, I will do my best to make a 15-20 min. long set arising out of the randomly chosen song.

This could prove to be difficult, or extremely easy, depending on what ends up coming up randomly (and no I won't be censoring anything), as I will still also be determined by Can-Con rules and the fact that I'm supposed to be playing mostly new material. I'll post the playlist first thing tomorrow, and will have further comments then.

Wish me luck!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Back in Business

In order to truly start blogging, one must begin at least one post with "Well it's been busy lately. Back to normal activities." Well it's been over a week since my last post, so here it goes. I've been busy lately. To make it up to you, here is what I've been listening to lately.

New Releases

The Bad Plus: Never Stop

ver Stop is first album by Minneapolis trio The Bad Plus to feature only original compositions. After making a name for themselves for wonderful jazz arrangements of pop classics like Tears for Fear's "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" or Rush's "Tom Sawyer", here The Bad Plus re-display their own pop sensibilities with originals such as the title track "Never Stop" or "Beryl Loves to Dance". While clearly still living firmly within the jazz tradition, these are songs that could easily be re-done by countless pop artists. As such, the record serves well to draw attention to the line connecting the likes of Monk, Oscar Peterson or even Cecil Taylor with Prince, Janelle Monae and, at times, Rihanna. A great jazz record, that ought to be remixed by Timbaland (I'm totally serious).

Mount Kimbie: Crooks & Lovers

Surprise! Another great electronic album. Seriously, when did electronic music get so freaking good? First it was the likes of Pantha Du Prince, Actress, and Four Tet pushing awesome records at the beginning of the year. Then came in T++, Vex'd, Flying Lotus and Baths with equally strong records. More recently it's been artists like James Blake and Teengirl Fantasy that have been providing strong beats to excite the masses. It's a good time to be a fan of electronic music for sure. With regards to Crooks & Lovers, an album that is currently skyrocketing up my list for favorite records of the year, it's their re-working of the more formulaic elements of dubstep (something which has resulted in the horrible label "Post-Dubstep" being used to describe the bands sound), that sets them apart from others. This is dance music first and foremost that proves to be a rewarding listen time and time again.

Other new releases I'm currently loving:
the new Deerhunter and Women records (obvie)
Dave Holland Octet - Pathways,
Salem - King Night,
Zola Jesus - Valusia EP

Currently looking forward to: New records from Darkstar, Panda Bear, Blank Dogs and Tomboyfriend. Especially Tomboyfriend!! What a wicked name for a band.

Nostalgia! Nostalgia! Nostalgia!!

Matador at 21

Enough has already been said with these release celebrating 21 years of one of America's most beloved record companies that I won't go into too much detail here. I will say though, that Matador at 21 has done what all good compositions ought to do, in that it has encouraged me to go back and listen to some of my favorite Matador releases over the years. The past weeks have been filled with records like Helium's The Dirt of Luck, Yo La Tengo's Painful and I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, Guided by Voices, Chavez, Pizzicato Five and a host of others. That and the release comes with it's own set of poker chips!!

That's all for now!

Monday, October 4, 2010

When Baseball Meets Pop Culture

UMFM is currently going under some major renos, and tonight the studio will be in the process of moving across the hall. This means of course that there will be no show tonight. Tomorrow I will be previewing some of the artists that I have been listening to a lot recently as a means to make up for this.

In the meantime, let's get ready for some post-season ball. For some reason, Baseball and and independent music seem to go hand in hand. Bob Pollard (who is a regular at Boston's Fenway Park) is currently working on the soundtrack for an upcoming documentary on Pete Rose. Stephen Malkmus is OBSESSED with fantasy baseball. Craig Finn has his Twins, while The John Darnielle and Eddie Vedder have their Cubbies. There's Yo La Tengo, who supposedly got their name from an inside joke running around the New York Mets locker room shortly after the whole Bill Buckner incident. And then there's local peggers like John K. Samson and Michael Petkau (not to mention local film director Guy Madden), who too are baseball nerds.

Needless to say, Baseball and pop music, for some weird reason, seem to go hand in hand. Here are some personal highlights of mine.

To start, it's not music. But who can resist Mr. T. "One, two, three strikes you out!" Classic.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Today on Scene and Not Seen - Sun Ra and The 'Noise of Jazz

Subcultures represent 'noise' (as opposed to sound): interference in the orderly sequence which leads from real events and phenomena to their representation in the media. We should therefore not underestimate the signifying power of the spectacular subculture not only as a metaphor for potential anarchy 'out there' but as an actual mechanism of semantic disorder: a kind of temporary blockage in the system of representation. (Dick Hebdige, 1979)

The above quote comes from Dick Hebdige's monumental study on the relationship between style and social resistance. Looking at a variety of different 'subcultures' developing in post-war England (ie. The Teddy Boy, The Skinhead, The Mod and The Punk) Hebdige attempts to illustrate how these cultures, formed predominantly in response to the culture and lifestyles of the dominant classes of the day, provided British youth with a means to short-circuit and disrupt the powers and ideologies propped up by mainstream society, powers and ideologies that elsewhere serve to keep them subdued and in the minority. Subcultures represent 'noise' in the sense that they serve to break apart and bring into disarray typical systems of representation; taking daily objects (for punks, objects such as safety pins, tubes of vaseline or even the Union Jack) and reordering them in a way to make them seem like nothing but nonsense.

While there is much to be critical of Hebdige's analysis of the social functions of style (such as his depiction of the active participant in a subculture vs. the passive/disinterested participant in the mainstream, or even his unquestioning assumption of the possibility of a true subculture as such), his narration of the place of 'noise' in popular forms of music, in many ways, provides us with a helpful way of reading the work of Sun Ra. It is fairly easy to write-off Sun Ra's project as yet another vain form of escapism (this time arising out of the free-form jazz tradition), as Sun Ra sought first and foremost to provide his listeners with the means to imagine life outside of this world. While this is certainly part of what is most appealling about the pianist, looking at Hebdige's reading of noise, it seems to me that Ra's other-worldness can also be read as a form of resistance, seeking to re-read this world in a new light, in the hopes of uncovering new possibilities and potentialities. Much of his music is nothing but nonsense, taking one of the great African American triumphs - jazz - and stripping it of western conceptions of harmonic construction (a lack of melody, closed chord progressions etc ...), infusing it instead with a bizarre blend of Old Testament and Sci-Fi imagery. He took that classic American art-form that gave us "Ain't Misbehavin'" "Autumn Leaves" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and transformed it into sonic (and with Ra you can also add visual) nonsense. Like Hebdige's 'punk' figure, Ra's music can be seen as another form of stylistic resistance, seeking to make this world seem 'other-worldly' and as such infuse it with a messianic hope illustrating how the way things appear isn't necessarily the way they are.

All of this is but a means to say you should listen to tonight's show as I will be playing a selection of tracks from ESP-Disc's recent box set Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra. The box set is a wonderful collection of some of Ra's more bizzare moments (which, considering Sun Ra's generally out-there aesthetic is saying something), and does well to illustrate just how 'this-worldly' Ra's declaration that "The Space is the Place" is.

Until next time ...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Carl Wilson on Superchunk

I feel like I should probably link this article from Carl Wilson on Superchunk's recent reemergence. Like usual, he's right on point describing the band as representing the 'anti-slacker version of 90s indie culture," and even more on point in his claim of Pavement's musical influence being overrated and Superchunk's being underrated. Not that I don't of course love Pavement (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is an amazing record, and the guitar on "Stereo" still gives me goose bumps when listening to it), but I've always been somewhat uncomfortable with the heaps of praise given them, particularly with regards to Slanted and Enchanted which I've never been able to fully get behind. Much of what they accomplished as a band, and much of what is attributed to them (like the whole slacker thing) had already been done by other artists, by the time they showed up on the scene, and in some cases (like with The Fall's Hex Enduction Hour) with much more interesting results.

All of this is to say, yet again, that Superchunk deserves more props then they have thus far received (they gave us the Arcade Fire, and Neutral Milk Hotel for crying out loud, not to mention three of the 90s strongest releases in No Pokey For Kitty, Foolish and Incidental Music).

In other news, the new Black Mountain kicks ass. Here's the epic "Let Spirits Ride" (big props to J-Rod, who reminded me about this earlier today).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Spectacle that is The Flaming Lips Live

My review of last night's Flaming Lips and Ariel Pink show is now up on Stylus.

For the most part, I thought the show was success. Both groups put on quite the spectacle (although the Lips' set had WAY more props and theatrics), but both groups could have done better with their song choices. Ariel Pink went with more of his rock-oriented songs like "Butthouse Blondies" and "Little Wing", which made for a more rock-oriented show than I was hoping for. I REALLY wanted to see how some of his more fuzzed out pop-songs like "For Kate I Wait" or "Immune to Emotion" played out live, and that didn't happen.

With regards to The Flaming Lips, I hate to be that guy, but how could they not play ANYTHING from The Soft Bulletin? Sure their catalog is huge, but this is for many fans (myself included) their strongest record to date. Given that this was their first time through town, this omission really surprised me. That said, the giant laser hands more than made up for it.

Next up ... The Liptonians turn Wilco tonight at Cinematheque.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Ariel Pink Day!!!

I know it's kind of silly, but I'm REALLY excited about tonight's Ariel Pink show (opening up for The Flaming Lips at the Burton Cummings Theatre). Sure, I'm also excited about finally seeing the Lips live. But I think I know what to expect with them - Wayne Coyne doing something crazy involving either a.) some ridiculous costume or b.) no costume (or clothes) at all. But with Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, I have no clue whatsoever. His whole DIY meets hauntology meets 1970's adult contemporary aesthetic is so off the wall that I can imagine what the live show will be like. So, to get you ready, here are some highlights.

The Playlist - Sept. 20th

Below is the playlist for last night's show. I'm working on a review for Women's new record Public Strain for this week and will try my best to post something on that later this week using some of the material from last night's interview with Chris. It's really exciting when a band you like is actually somewhat articulate about what they are trying to do, and this was the case Chris. And, he's a Tim Hecker fan!

Anyways the music ...

Set #1
1.) Flaming Lips - "Buggin'" from The Soft Bulletin
2.) Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - "Round and Round" from Before Today
3.) Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - "Jules lost his Jewels" from Worn Copy
4.) Calexico - "Stray" from The Black Light
5. ) Arcade Fire - "Rococco" from The Suburbs
6.) Tokyo Police Club - "Bambi" from Champ

Set #2
1.) Women - "Eye Sore" from Public Strain
2.) Women - "Heat Distraction" from Public Strain
3.) Surf City - "Zombies" from Kudos
4.) Wire - "Lowdown" from Pink Flag

Set #3
1.) Teengirl Fantasy - "Cheaters" from 7AM
2.) Actress - "Futureproofing" from Splazsh
3.) Oneohtrix Point Never - "Returnal" from Returnal
4.) Depatterning - "The Trappings" from Depatterning
5.) Shad - "Rosegarden" from Tsol

Until next time ...

Monday, September 20, 2010

On the Show ...

Today I talk with Chris Reimer, guitarist/vocalist from Calgary noise-rockers Women in anticipation of Saturday's show at the Royal Albert. Their upcoming album Public Strain is easily one of the years best guitar-based records. So much noise! So much goodness!!

Also, I'll be previewing this weeks exceptionally solid list of live shows, focusing particularly on Ariel Pink, and Calexico (who are opening up for the Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire respectively), as well as tomorrow's performance of Yankee Hotel Fox Trot by Winnipeg's very own The Liptonians.

If that weren't exciting enough, I'll also be previewing new releases by Surf City, Teengirl Fantasy, Teen Daze and Grinderman, as well as giving away a pair of tickets to Tokyo Police Club's September 26th concert.

It's going to be a great show, so make sure you tune in.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Adorno and Bieber Fever

It is probably correct to assume that most listeners, in order to comply with what they regard as social desiderata and to prove their "citizenship," half-humorously "join" the conspiracy as caricatures of their own potentialities and suppress bringing to awareness the operative mechanisms by insisting to themselves and to others that the whole thing is only good clean fun anyhow.

In order to become a jitterbug or simply to "like" popular music, it does not by any means suffice to give oneself up and to fall in line passively. To become transformed into an insect, man needs that energy which might possibly achieve his transformation into a man.

Theodore Adorno (1941)
from "On Popular Music"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Below is yesterday's playlist. In the future, I will have podcasts available on the UMFM website coinciding with these lists. For the most part, yesterday's show consisted of a bunch of comfortable (and predictable) songs. I couldn't help but play tons of the new Superchunk which simply just kicks ass. Also, I've linked O Paon's website. Please take a gander. She is an extremely gifted songwriter that one can only hope takes off soon. Take a look and enjoy!

Superchunk - "Digging for Something" from Majesty Shredding
Miles Davis - "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" from Bitches Brew (Legacy Edition)

Set #1
Talking Heads - "Seen and Not Seen" from Remain in Light
Talking Heads - "Listening Wind" from Remain in Light
A Certain Ration - "Life's a Scream" from The Old and The New
PiL - "Swan Lake" from Metal Box

Set #2
Superchunk - "Learning to Serf" from Majesty Shredding
Superchunk - "Crossed Wires" from Majesty Shredding
Superchunk - "Ribbon" from Incidental Music 1991 - 1995
Superchunk - "Throwing Things" from No Poky for Kitty

Set #3
Freeway and Jake One - "One Foot In" from Stimulus Package
Eric Chenaux - "Warm Charleston" from Warm Weather
Siskiyou - "Funeral Song" from Siskiyou
Ryan Driver - "Am I Still too Late" from Who's Breathing?
O Paon - "Raffinerie" from Courses

Young Rival - "Modern Life" from Young Rival

Monday, September 13, 2010

One the Program Today ...

13 years ago deciding that I needed to begin immersing myself in American college rock, a friend of mine made me a bunch of tapes, . As a high school student I was somewhat familiar with the Canadian indie scene (and 13 years ago 'indie' actually stood for something), obsessing over Murder Records and Mint Records and catching every episode of Much Music's The Wedge, but knew next to nothing of what was going on south of the boarder (with the exception of some of the bigger names like Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr and The Pixies). So when I put those tapes on, and got my first taste of bands like Guided by Voices, The Magnetic Fields, and They Might Be Giants, I was overcome with excitement. Here was a whole entire culture of music that I had yet to explore.

Of these tapes, there were two that particularly stood out from a North Carolina band named Superchunk. My first experiences with Incidental Music and Foolish are ones that I continue to hold dear today. There was a rawness on these records that I had yet to hear another band utilize so well. Clearly influenced by the east-coast punk scene of the 1980s, yet determined not to fall into typical punk-rock cliches, Superchunk (or at least the Superchunk of these two records) were making punk sound like what I had wanted it to sound like for years. I couldn't get enough of it, and through them was introduced to a wider scene of similar bands (Modest Mouse, Mission of Burma, The Clean etc ...), that further immersed me into the culture of college of rock. As Carl Wilson put it recently "in 1994, I kinda would have given my life for Superchunk.” 3 years later, I felt the exact same way.

All of this is to say, that I was super pumped to find out that my first broadcast of my new radio show would be airing on the eve of the bands first release in over 9 years, Majesty Shredding. I've only had the chance to go through the record once, so I'll say more specifically on the record at a later time. I will however be previewing a few of the tracks on tonight's show alongside some Superchunk classics. So if you're wanting a brief taste, tune in tonight.

In the meantime, here's the video for the first single "Digging for Something."

Also for tonight, on the show there will be some giveaways, as well as some new tracks from Eric Chenaux's new record Warm Weather which is as beautiful as one would expect.

Again, tune in tonight, 6:30-8:00 pm on UMFM 101.5

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What is this? A new blog??

Hey, so welcome to my new blog for my kickin' new radio show "Scene and Not Seen." Just for information's sake, Scene and Not Seen is UMFM's new Monday free-range radio program that will run every Monday evening from 6:30-8:00. I'll have more info on that in the coming days.

This blog will feature playlists from the radio show, interviews, write-ups, news and commentary surrounding the Winnipeg music scene. So make sure you come by and check things out every once in a while. On the weekend I'll be posting some more stuff on what my show will be focused on and what to expect on my first show happening this Monday. In the meantime, here some kick-ass classic jazz ...

Cannonball Adderley - Jive Samba

Theolonious Monk - Epistrophy

and one of the jazz tradition's many high points ...

John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy - My Favorite Things

Until next time ...