Category Archives: Music

Where’s My Remote Control?

Somehow, as an eight year old child, I ended up with a television in my room. It was one of those clunky brown ones that had a dial to change the channels and the volume. I used to watch Boy Meets World, Jeopardy and some weird sitcom where the girl was an aspiring tennis star. But one day I came home from school, having failed my spelling test so profoundly (I still can’t spell definately definitely properly…), that my parents removed my TV. At first I was sad and upset, but then I started listening to my radio. I had grown up exposed to my Dad’s and my sister’s music (The Beatles and Nirvana respectively), but I had never really ventured off on my own, and having no other entertainment in my room but my radio changed it all. And I loved it, I shamelessly loved every single song I heard on Mix 99.9. I loved me my 90’s AC so much I actually wrote a letter to my parents thanking them for taking away my TV and allowing me to discover the bliss that was music.

Lots of people are embarrassed by the music they listened to when they were younger, but I still love it. Even though some songs make me cringe a little, they still bring back oodles of good memories. My tastes have most certainly broadened and progressed over the past decade and a half, and while I may not feel as strongly about some of the bands I loved in 90’s, I still embrace them as part of my musical past. They were essential to my musical evolution.

The first albums I ever bought with my hard earned allowance were Oasis – Wonderwall on CD and Alanis Morisette – Jagged Little Pill on cassette tape from Sam the Record Man. Those purchases were swiftly followed by Lisa Loeb, Dance Mix 95 and Marilyn Manson. I was an eclectic little girl. But with the onset of puberty my tastes became more focused towards indie rock.

Slowly but surely, I made the move away from Mix 99.9 to 102.1 the Edge. And it was then that I truly fell in love with music. Due to the Canadian Content legislation I was exposed to huge amounts of Canadian Indie Rock, and I ate it up: Age of Electric, Treble Charger, I Mother Earth, Limblifter, Zuckerbaby, Matthew Good Band, Sloan, Econoline Crush, Flashing Lights, Moist, The Gandharvas, The Tea Party, Bif Naked, Wide Mouth Mason, The Watchmen, Sandbox, See Spot Run… I can go on and on. I had a soft spot for quirky British bands like Dodgy and Spacehog. I also loved Jimmy Eat World, Lit, Marcy Playground, and of course Radiohead. I remember buying Pablo Honey in HMV and the cute cashier boy said to me “Most people think The Bends is the best, but Pablo Honey will always be my favourite.” I think it’s still my favourite too.

I listened to Humble and Fred in the morning, and swooned over George Stroumboulopoulos the in the evenings, I loved Dave Bookman’s Indie hour and lived for Alan Cross’s Ongoing History of New Music. Though the TV never made it back into my bedroom, I did manage to discover Much Music in the last few years that it actually played music videos. I would stay up late to watch The Wedge when it had some random time-slot after Saturday Night Live was over, and I would watch The New Music and try to learn everything I could. Music most certainly was my boyfriend, and the best one I’ve ever had.

My friends and I went to every single all-ages concert we could get our parents to pay for. I saw so many shows. I saw Our Lady Peace at Maple Leaf gardens, I saw The Stereophonics at the Opera House, I saw Placebo at The Government, No Doubt at the Molson Amphitheater,  and a ka-thousand other shows. And every year my friends and I would stay up all night on December 23rd watching Kevin Smith films, and at 4am go to Humble and Fred’s Christmas Spectacular at the Horseshoe. We were the annoying pimply teenagers that are the reason I now dislike all ages concerts!

It would seem that 90’s are back in style these days. I’ve seen a lot of long chain purses, tights with jean shorts, and tapered jeans, I’ve even seen parachute pants in H&M. I cannot condone these things, they horrified me as much in the 90’s as they do now. In the 90’s I fashioned myself as a raver girl. I wore big huge brightly coloured pants, tight shirts, giant spice-girl platforms and teddy-bear mini-back packs. I even owned a few of those plastic pacifier necklaces. I wore my hair up in two high Princess Leah buns with sparkly ribbon for my passport photo. Frightening. But what I do enjoy about the 90’s being cool again is the music. Clinton’s has started hosting 90’s dance party nights, and it’s fantastic. Sadly the DJ didn’t have any of the songs I request, but they managed to play an excellent mix of dancey hits like Wigfield’s Saturday Night, and everything from Sloan to LL Cool J. It’s nice to be able to dance to all the music that I grew up hearing, the music that influenced my tastes today. The songs that made me fall in love with music in the first place.

So here are some of my favourite songs from the 90’s, some have most certainly withstood the test of time, others not so much, but I love them all the same.

Eve 6 – Inside Out

I won’t lie, I loved this entire album so much! I had visions of driving somewhere, on some dirt road blasting this out of my cherry red Jeep. Ah to be young! This album (or the follow up, I can’t remember exactly) also happened to be an integral part of a seduction playlist of a guy I once knew.

Limblifter – Tinfoil

It’s hard to get more 90’s Canadian Indie than this.

Spacehog – In The Meantime

I loved Spacehog SO MUCH. And I thought I was extra cool for finding this quirky, obscure British band before anyone else. I still have a soft spot for them, and I still think this song is awesome.

Marcy Playground – Sex and Candy

Just great. Disco lemonade? Yes. Still just great! Though I suspect my parents were slightly concerned with me siging this at the top of my lungs while in the shower…

Age of Electric – Remote Control

And finally, this song and album is just as good now as it was in 1996.


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It was twenty years ago today…

Last night in the theatre, while waiting for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to start, my friends and I were discussing The Beatles and our favourite songs. Sharing facts and legends we’ve learned throughout our lives. This conversation started because it turns out that Cat’s boyfriend doesn’t like The Beatles (wtf, I know). So she’s making up a mix tape of sorts with her 10 favourite Beatles songs and a little story to go with each of them to learn him up real good. This is a grand idea.

So today, after calling my Dad and shotgunning his complete Beatles vinyl collection (and CD, just in case), I have set off to do just that. Pick 10 Beatles songs I love, and explain why. I’m having trouble already, so far I have 27 short-listed. And that took a lot of work. I just love too much, I guess.

So, instead, today I’m just going to focus on my favourite Beatles album.

As a result of a vaguely recent refresher crash course in music appreciation, I remembered that creating a good album is a work of art. There is a distinct difference between a good album and a collection of good songs that happen to be on an album.  And in this day of playlists, shuffles and singles, I often forget that I am quite fond of (understatement of the year) listening to an album in full, and appreciating its intricate beauty (it’s ok, I’m gagging a little too), and unconsciously memorising how one song melds seamlessly into another. A good album not only has great songs, but tells a story, that flows, and it’s a story you can and want to listen to over and over again. Each song builds on its predecessor and compliments its successor. And with this in mind The Beatles, as it happens, have released one of my favourite albums of all time:

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – 1967


Anyone who knows me, and this album, would nod their head knowingly when I say this album is one of my favourites. I was introduced to this album when I was 5 or 6 years old. Old enough to have figured out how to get at it, pop it into my Dad’s CD player (I wasn’t allowed near the vinyl, and with good reason) and press GO; but young enough that there are orange juice spills, peanut butter and porridge plastered into the cracked case and liner notes. I discovered this album purely due to the cover art. The colourful outfits and plethora of people adorning the front of the CD had me hypnotised as a child, and holy shit, did I go off the deep end when I learned there were more brightly coloured pages inside! My head must have exploded with happiness with each turn! And to think I couldn’t even read yet.

Of course the artwork for that album deserves a whole discussion of its own, as it’s probably one of the greatest, most famous and parodied pieces of album cover art ever. So off you go, read up on wikipedia and we can discuss the OPP shout out and the “Paul is dead hoax” later!

But for now I will reminisce sitting on my Dad’s zebra chair, listening to that album so often, while flipping through the CD booklet in time with the songs, that even he tired of it and would plug in a pair of headphones and plonk them on my head. Unfortunately for my family the headphones did not block out the sound of me singing along at the top of my little lungs to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. I would just sit there all day listening, occasionally getting up to bop around to When I’m Sixty-Four. Sometimes my Dad was so tired of hearing it he would hide it on me. Understandable really.

As with the album art, you can go ahead wikipedia or allmusic exactly why this album is amazing, there is no need for me to go into the technicalities as to why this album is one of the greatest ever. I could wax lyrical all day about the concept, the flow of the songs, the imagery, the framing, the experimentation, the writing,  the future influences, and the musical doors it opened. But the main reason why I think it’s truly amazing is purely sentimental: It reminds me of being a kid, and just enjoying things without thinking too deeply about them. Looking at pretty colours and listening to melodic sounds. And each time I listen to Sgt. Pepper, it just gets better and better.

Now, don’t even get me started on how spectacular an album Abbey Road is…

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Lazy Sunbathers: nxne round-up, two weeks too late!

So, I was gonna do a snappy round up of all the awesome and craptastic bands I saw throughout NXNE, but I went on holiday instead. This round up is coming a wee bit late. But good bands were seen, and in the two weeks I didn’t write this I did actually manage to get some semblance of a tan, so yeah.

Also, just so alls y’all know, NXNE by bicycle is the best way to go my friends. My timing has never been more perfect. I managed to arrive seconds before each band’s first song. Usually I hit the festival  on foot, and I’m lucky if I get to the next venue in time for the third song. So bike people, it’s good times. You may even be lucky enough for some drunk dude to stumble out of the Brunnie and say “That’s a nice bike baby, but you look more fun to ride!” Grand.

My NXNE Schedule went a little something like this.

Thursday:

Arizona @ the Boat

They were fun. They had some good stage banter, and big curly dude-hair. The songs weren’t particularily memorable, but I stayed for their entire set.

The Details @ The Riv

They were really good. From Winnipeg, and you could hear that Weakerthans twang in them.

Kittens Ablaze @ The Riv

Thursday’s highlite for sure. I liked them! They’re from New York and include a saucy little cellist! So I bought their cd. I will also be marrying their guitarist.

Les Handclaps @ The Boat

French and funny. What they lacked in musicality they made up for in pure dance dance enthusiasm.

Friday:

Nothing of note. I didn’t get in to see the band I wanted to (Matt and Kim). So it went downhill from there. Though I did meet up with some friends at the Rivoli, the bands playing there made me die inside a little bit. Lamesauce.

Saturday:

BEST NIGHT by far! I dragged my friend and ex-roomie Dave out, and every band we saw was awesome!

Will Currie and the Country French @ The Reverb

Super fun! That band has many people in it. Including the token girl, who didn’t really do so much. And I am a little in love with their drummer, my new husband (I just think he’s cute as a button!). Dave bought their album, and in true music publisher fashion, I stole it and ripped it on to my ipod, then returned it. Good stuff.

By Divine Right @ Whippersnapper

Who doesn’t wanna be back in the 90’s?!?!? Exactly!

C’mon @ Lee’s

C’mon was the best hands down. They rocked so hard, my face actually melted right off. Seriously it is still in a sticky puddle on the floor of Lee’s Palace. Dude looked like ZZ Top, the bassist was his hot wife, and the drummer was relentless. Amazing. Seriously. Best Show EVER.

Hot Panda @ The Horseshoe

I saw Hot panda 2 years ago at Sneaky Dee’s, and they kinda sucked. They looked and sounded like spotty little kids. But having said that, they have improved quite substantially over those two years, and sound good these days. Yay x 100 for them!

The Lovely Feathers @ The Horseshoe

I was mostly distracted by my unquenching desire for ice cream. So I don’t really rememebr much. Also, Dave and I were hella tired, so we headed home, well to Dominion for some 3am grocery shopping. Toilet paper, toothpaste, Rainbow Chip cookies: the grocery list of champions!

And thus ended what I can piece together of NXNE.

A good time was had by all!

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Music is my Boyfriend: nxne day one

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Every June  the North by North East music festival comes to town and Toronto is over-run with dirty facial hair, skinny jeans, open bars, and stellar music. There is a lot of good stuff this year. So I am pretty pumped. For each hour time slot between 8pm-2am for the next 3 days, I have an average of 4 bands I want to see. Clearly I need to whittle that down a wee bit. Or borrow Dumbldore’s time travel pendant thingy.

I’m really digging on dancey-happy-poppy-punky stuff right now, so tonight I am skipping my Creative Writing class to go see Jaguar Love and the The Plastiscines at the Mod Club. Funtimes!

Jaguar Love:

(bio care of nxne)

Indie pop with a edge – think Billy Talent crossed with Ting Tings, from Portland, OR. The Guardian describes singer Johnny Whitney’s vocals as “Robert Plant on steroids, or Perry Farrell after a sex change.” They’ve toured internationally, hitting major festivals in Europe last year.

The Plastiscines:

(bio care of nxne)

All-female 4-piece from France who sound like a cool combo of Blondie, the Ramones, and the Slits, with a bit of saucy pop tossed in. They’ve got a new album out, they’ve got attitude, and they’ve got beaucoup des garcons in the front row at their shows.

Tomorrow night I hope to hit up the Manitoba Music BBQ and hopefully most of these shows (this is my slimmed down list).

Chang a lang Silver Dollar Room 8PM
Share Clinton’s 8PM
Arizona The Boat 9PM
Boys Who Say No Clinton’s 9PM
The Details Rivoli 10PM
Sleepless Nights Clinton’s 10PM
Ume Neutral Lounge 10PM
Whale Tooth The Boat 10PM
Armies of You Hideout 11PM
Built By Snow The Boat 11PM
Kittens Ablaze Rivoli 11PM
Natalie Portman’s Shaved… El Mocambo (Down) 11PM
The Vibrants El Mocambo (Up) 11PM
Amos The Transparent The Drake Hotel (Underground) 12AM
Les Handclaps The Boat 12AM
Parlour Steps Cameron House 12AM
Arkweld Rivoli 1AM
Grand Theft Bus Clinton’s 1AM
Oh No Not Stereo Hideout 2AM

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