Sunday, December 30, 2007

Absurdist electronica

This is how electronic music should be made and played - old school machinery and wires all over the place. This is Dan Deacon, owner of the hottest hairdo in pop music today.

The music doesn't start until the 3:30 mark of this clip - but viewing the whole thing provides some good context for a great/catchy/jittery tune... Overall, its a bit like watching someone preform in their bedroom in front of their mirror: mildly cringe worthy.

"I try to write music that I think, if like, really cool 6 year olds got together and had this stuff and they were like let's write the most awesome music ever..."

Video Dan Deacon live in studio

MP3 The Crystal Cat by Dan Deacon

Basia Bulat

Hands down The Best Musical Performer to come out of Canada in 2007... Basia Bulat. Certainly eclipses everyone's favorite 1,2,3,4'ing iPod ad singer-songwriter anyway.

Basia Bulat's rookie album, "Oh my darling", is taking a while to get out there - it was released in the Spring, but didn't show up on iTunes until Fall. It still is not available south of the border (release date: February). It is well worth the wait and since I'm useless at describing stuff...

MP3 Snakes and Ladders by Basia Bulat
MP3 In the night by Basia Bulat
MP3 Before I knew by Basia Bulat
MySpace page

She has also finally come out with a video (as basic as it is)... here she is zithering around with some woodland creatures:

VIDEO In the night by Basia Bulat

Oh... and like Feist (and in the name of full sell-out disclosure), she too has her own commercial (VW Eos; "Little Waltz"):

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Year in Review - Best of '07 Part IV

Best Music Video of 2007: Lyckans Undulat (Band: Detektivbyrån; Director: Daemon Film)

This video has it all… cool use of the dissolve technique and time-lapse videography, an easy to follow/ slightly off-kilter plot, a cockroach, petal vomit, over-sized lollies, shots of the mother-nation (Sweden) and some short, non-egotistical footage of the band playing live. Key to it all is the way in which the fast-paced visual imagery lines up with those frenetic instrumental sounds (as when the song slows momentarily as darkness descends and the twirling fire lady pops into view). It doesn’t hurt, too, that this is one of the best songs I’ve heard all year. In a word: Flawless!

It is because of the clever use of dissolving images that this video is best viewed in its proper format... download here. From their amazing website you can also check out the video clip documenting the purchase, and playing, of Anders Flanders' new accordion (exciting!)... AND download a great selection of Detektivbyrån tunes.

Best video of the year? Hell, Detektivbyrån are best BAND of the year! Here's more... Video Hemvägen (Live Nyhetsmorgon 2007) by Detektivbyrån

Gushing over. Here are some other fine examples of visual imagery set to incredible music from the year that almost was...

2. Peacebone by Animal Collective (strange, but with a cool car)

3. Thou shalt always kill by Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip (appropriate walk-about/ rad beard)

4. Open your heart by Lavender Diamond (roller skating dance fest)

5. Top Ranking by Blonde Redhead (Miranda July doing her long-limbed thang)

6. Australia by The Shins (thieving, conniving band-members run amok!)
7. A brighter beat by Malcolm Middleton (great facial expressions/ fine balloon acting)
8. Manchester by The Beautiful South (chav alert!)
9. Kids aflame by Arms (great story - too bad the video no longer exists... anywhere!)
10. Can’t tell me nothing (alt. version) by Kanye West featuring Zach Galifianakis and Will Oldham (skimpy clothed beardo-weirdos getting their groove on - hilarious)
11. D.A.N.C.E. by Justice (cool t’s)
12. Belarus by Low (the loneliness of the cross-country skier)

The end.

More Christmas Music

A talented and mildly amusing version of the Twelve Days of Christmas that includes an "Africa" segment (the closest this blog will ever get to offering up any Toto)...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Musical Hero

Finally! I found the perfect role for me in a pop-quartet: keyboard holder/ head turner. And if that doesn't work out I could always just stand there and wiggle my body a bit...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bad Santa

Those crazy Brits! Always laying down odds on anything that moves and competing for the coveted Christmas #1 song slot!. Malcolm Middleton (and his current single "We're all going to die") has come outta nowhere to show them top 40'ers what's what and currently sits at 4th favourite with odds of 12/1. "We're all going to die" is strangely uplifting... as in your going to die so get out there and make something of yourself. This time around he's decided to star in his own video - showing the world his best side and in no way perpetuating a Scottish stereotype:

VIDEO We're all going to die by Malcolm Middleton

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ministry x3

I work in a converted convent. A former nunnery. My office is on the same floor as the chapel that continues to function today as a catholic church. The chapel is smack dab in the middle of our offices so to use one of the exits, or to get to the washrooms or kitchen area, you have to walk through the public chapel foyer. This usually is no biggie - just nod in the direction of the po-faced volunteers, breathe in the stale air, utter a few hail mary’s and Bob’s yer uncle.

In the summertime, the chapel - in all its stained-glass and historically significant glory - is chalk-a-block full of weddings. Given the site’s popularity, these events spill into mid-week, thus affording us government workers the occasional glimpse into the joy and wonderment of nuptial bliss during the holy union of two radiantly smiling persons. That and the gifts are usually left, unguarded, in the foyer.

The other day I was re-entering the compound at lunchtime when I noticed a hearse out front. What the hell? It turns out our building also hosts funerals from time to time (as I suppose all catholic churches housed in government offices do). That day was also happy-holiday-free-pizza-day in our Ministry so there was a lot of laughter filling the air, and spilled tomato sauce staining the carpet. But, in competing with the sombre event taking place concurrently within our cozy walls, it was pretty much a case of Ministry vs. Ministry. It was like a Pixies song in there (quiet, loud, quiet, loud… i thought of that one myself!).

When it was time to leave the building and move my car I decided, in order to save time, to risk it and attempt to cross the chapel threshold. As I pushed on the swinging door to the chapel foyer I ran smack into a besmocked fellow who was solemnly putting away his pendulous ball of incense as at-the-ready pall-bearers gathered around the casket behind him. I decided not to attempt to excuse myself and shimmy past the casket and quickly turned on my heels and went the other way. Thank the lord I didn’t get a ticket for being late in moving my car.

Which brings us to this industrial classic featuring cars and a ministry...

VIDEO Over the shoulder by Ministry

Friday, December 14, 2007

Year in Review - Best of ’07 Part III

From Flash to Crash in 6.8 seconds flat

Once a hidden gem in the blog world, Young Folks by Peter, Bjorn and John is now a staple of dusty, crackling grocery store stereo systems the world over. I’d say that the karaoke version is not far off but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere already (yup, it is - just googled it). All that’s left is the “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” treatment. Whistling will reach a whole new level of competitiveness.

I have spent my life wondering why the music I like isn’t more popular, only to become hugely frustrated and annoyed when something does slip through from my world to that of the mainstream. I never understood why James never became the next U2 or REM; I’m happy to own “Neutral Milk Hotel” to (relatively) myself; I’m saddened, a bit, that Beirut has suddenly and surprisingly become media darlings (who’d have thought that ALL those horns would take off?).

Speaking of the relative merits of success… here’s Morrissey’s response to then-stadium-filling band, James and their rise to modest levels of stardom in the early 90’s:

VIDEO We hate it when our friends become successful by Morrissey Caution: lamé alert

Sticking it to the (Great White Northern) man

You can buy an iPhone in this country but you can’t use it (unless you know how to hack into the thing or if you stand on the beach directly across the strait from Port Angeles’ AT&T signal). As well, Canada (minus Quebec) got TiVo only a few weeks back and Netflix is nowhere near being made available here.

But hold on to your beaver-pelts, earlier this week we were graced with the Canadian release of downloadable television programs from iTunes, something that has long been available south of the border. Here’s a complete listing of available programming, conveniently marketed as “your favourite tv shows”: South Park; Little Mosque on the Prairie (what the hell?); Corner Gas; Degrassi TNG; Drawn Together; The Hills; The Rick Mercer Report; Robson Arms; Dragon's Den; The Sarah Silverman Show; Instant Star, Avatar and… in a fit of overt stereotyping… old hockey games (cleverly repackaged as “Stanley Cup Classics”).

What, the bargain bin had no room for Littlest Hobo?

VIDEO Bob and Doug's May two-four weekend special

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Tomorrow, England are expected to hire famed Italian Fabio Capello to be their new manager and to lead them back to World Cup glory in 2010. Becks told the search committee, "go get my boy Fabio", but I think they didn't get the one he meant.

Fabio Capello (football coach and owner of stylish eye-wear)

Fabio (professional airbrush model and owner of some abs, some pecs, some hair and a rather square-looking jaw)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Year in Review - Best of ’07 Part II

Best album of the year: Proof of Youth by The Go! Team

”do you wanna rock the house and turn this motha out?!” In the era of one-sorta-hit-wonders, it’s a relief to find a cohesive album. All the better then when that album transports you, via jump rope, to the streets of Harlem by way of Brighton, England. Here they are in all their dual-drumming glory at this year's Glastonbury Festival: VIDEO Titanic Vandalism (live) by The Go! Team

Best album of 2007 honourable mention nods go to...
23 by Blonde Redhead
Flying Club Cup by Beirut
Wincing The Night Away by The Shins

And by the way… the hands-down most over-hyped album of 2007: Neon Bible by Arcade Fire

They are much fitter

The latest British singer-songwriter to be labelled the next best thing, Kate Nash, is all of 20 freaken years old. When I was her age, and in the year she was born, I too was once the star of the stage while performing an impersonation of Roger Daltry in a university residences lip-synching contest (we trashed our “gear” 20 seconds into “my generation”, just like the real Who). Apart from that, and of course our full-bodied hairdos, good ol’ Kate and I have very little in common. Shocking! Perhaps I should grow up and, pipe and slippers in hand, retire sleepily to the drawing room with some Journey, Kansas, Yes or Chicago… for an electrifying dose of prog rock. Ha.

Jenny Lewis look-a-like Nash (no relation to hoops star Steve, or CBC icon Knowlton… that I know of) has gone from regular teenager, to MySpace darling, to Q magazine award winner all in one year. In that span she’s come up with a killer tune, the piano-driven “Foundations”. This is golden and, for some strange reason, the juvenile girl-boy break-up theme doesn’t make me squirm (but then again, it’s no secret I’m a big fan of the RomComs). In the hands of an artist of lesser quality, and without Nash’s English accented talk-sing style, these lyrics would be vomit-inducing: "You said I must eat so many lemons, 'cause I am so bitter. I said 'I'd rather be with your friends mate, cause they are much fitter'". But she pulls it off and I’m convinced it is singularly due to her saying “Bit-ta” instead of “bitter”!!!

Overall, Nash has kinda got that Lily Allen/ female Arctic Monkeys thing going on in the way her songs tell a story and in the way she, genuine or forced, affects that accent with words like the aforementioned “bitter” and “con’t” in place of “can’t”. Good stuff. I’ll save “carry on wayward son” for when I’m 50.

Here’s the sanitized version of “Foundations” as heard on the latest Paste sampler: MP3 Foundations by Kate Nash

And here’s the overly literal visual interpretation of the song: VIDEO Foundations by Kate Nash

Monday, December 10, 2007

Year in Review - Best of ’07 Part I

Biggest Influence: Sweden

Even in its heyday, Australia only ever offered me Hunters and Collectors, The Church and a bit of Midnight Oil. But in just one year, Sweden has pretty much consumed my musical scope entirely. The bands I’ve gotten into that share an affinity for curling up on their POÄNGs, plunking some Pippi in the DVD player and chowing down on a smörgåsbord of meatballs and glögg include, but are not limited to: Loney Dear, I’m from Barcelona, The Knife, José González, Elias & The Wizz Kids, the Teddybears, Peter Bjorn and John, The Field, Moonbabies, Shout Out Louds and Detektivbyrån.

But that’s not all! Apart from music, there remains a surfeit of cool things that come out of this damn fine Nordic nation. For example, nine tenths of the Vancouver Canucks call Konungariket Sverige their home. And the Vancouver Canucks rule of course (when they’re not sucking that is). In addition, one of the finest footie players to ever pull on the hoops of Celtic, Henrik Larsson, is a Swede.

Sweden has a rich history in the field of popular music (and heavy metal!). Today, the country appears to be at the forefront of a new wave of both electronic music and gently satisfying bubblegum indie-pop as well. Proof of this… these days more Swedish songs than those of any other country employ the holy trinity of modern pop music: handclaps, whistling and ukulele! Throw in some xylophone/glockenspiel, tambourine, some horns and the odd cow bell and I’m-a done for.

So, in an attempt to give a little something back to the nation that I have reaped so much from this year, and in recognition of the entire country receiving the coveted FBS “Biggest Influence” award… here are a few unsolicited/ eye-catching/ promotional musical-entertainment-themed headlines for usage by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce (free of charge):

Sweden: The new Iceland
Sweden: Very few Finns live here!
Sweden: We’ve recently cut our hair-metal emissions by 15%!
Sweden: We’re not really from Barcelona ya know!
Sweden: We’re sorry about Roxette. That was a mistake.
Sweden: Blonder, bolder and less-ABBA’esque than ever before!
Sweden: We speak English better than you!

VIDEO Take me to the ballroom by Moonbabies
VIDEO Tonight I have to leave it by Shout Out Louds
VIDEO Young and hairy by Elias and the Wizz Kids

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Lykke Lykke Baby

Lykke Li has a pretty good voice and, overall, I like this video - lots of interesting characters (including what appears to be a - no offence to long-hairs - dumpster diver on piano) as well as the use of some nice, muted colour tones. But I think the fact that the beat has me going "ice, ice, baby" and that I have to squint from the brightness of the light shining directly into the camera lens will not garner this song a coveted position on the FBS year in review best-of. Unlucky! Anyway, Lykke is all of 21, from Sweden of course, and has already sung with fellow Swedes Peter, Bjorn and John and Shout Out Louds. Worth a grab then: MP3 Little Bit by Lykke Li

VIDEO Little Bit by Lykke Li

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Robot High School

“Memorize the rules and learn to behave, but when I got to school I forgot. Forgot. So they put me in a special classroom, where everybody is a robot. Robot.”

It’s… the Depeche Mode-a-like, and obviously robot-loving, My Robot Friend (consisting of one member, Howard Robot) with his song, Robot High School: MP3.

The video can be classified, I guess, as strange. But what is strange really? I’m sure we’ve all imagined, at one time or another, dressing up like a Devo reject, cranking up some oversized cylinder and having a levitating black ball crush red-paint filled balloon after red-paint filled balloon.

Evil levitating black ball!

VIDEO Robot High School by My Robot Friend