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Archive for May, 2005

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

Hot Rock

The Seattle Times considers the deconstruction of Sleater-Kinney (Via Largehearted Boy) and The Houston Chronicle looks to the past for the band’s inspiration and the San Francisco Bay Guardian just has an old-fashioned interview with the band. SK are also gracing the cover of the new Exclaim! but they haven’t updated their website yet…

And more – Carrie Brownstein lists off ten songs to enjoy on a Sunday for Pitchfork, The Big Ticket dedicated much of yesterday’s post to Olympia, WA’s favourite daughters and links to a video for their current single, “Entertain” (Quicktime format, 20MB) and SubPop would like you to stream The Woods. Really, they do. And finally, the band are in Toronto at the Phoenix on June 18, but you probably already knew that.

Junkmedia catches up with Feist in the midst of ther US tour and asks her about the making of Let It Die.

Miles Of Music plays Q&A with Laura Cantrell and learns she rates Foreigner higher than Styx. They also review Humming By The Flowered Vine, out June 21.

Gleaned from a piece in the new Big Takeover – ex-Catherine Wheel frontman Rob Dickinson’s forthcoming solo album is called Fresh Wine For The Horses. Sanctuary Records briefly gave it a September 13 release date, but have since pulled that and it remains on the indeterminately forthcoming list. Update: A little googling reveals this podcast which has an interview with Rob Dickinson from this past March and has a few new songs scattered throughout. “Mutineer” (Warren Zevon song) is at 23m, “My Name Is Love” at 1h4m and “The Night” at 1h29m mark.

The Perry Bible Fellowship is an online comic that I think has been around for a while, but which I’ve only gotten around to reading recently. As in yesterday. The strips are completely random, just the right amount of deranged with a dash of outrageously offensive and goddamn funny. Highly recommended.

Slow day.

np – Idlewild / The Remote Part

Monday, May 30th, 2005

Clouds Taste Metallic

I never really had much interest in seeing Martin Scorcese’s The Aviator when it was in theatres – biopics don’t really do that much for me – but I decided to rent it this weekend anyway. After all, I didn’t know boo about Howard Hughes so it should have been educational at the least. And hey – all those Oscar nominations, how could I resist?

As it turns out, it was pretty good. “Lavish” doesn’t begin to describe the production values – it made me realize how rarely I see any big-money Hollywood films that don’t involve craploads of special effects. Scorcese was definitely on his game when making this film. Leonardo DiCaprio also turned in quite a good performance as the eccentric industrialist/pilot/playboy, though I felt his pretty-boy looks were working against him as the film went on. He looked like a perpetual 20-year old which took away from some of the presence that you’d expect Hughes in his mid-40s to possess. The supporting cast was also quite good, though I remain unsure how I felt about Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Katherine Hepburn. She seemed a little over the top in her mannerisms, but maybe that’s how the actual Hepburn was? I found her a little scenery-chewing in her first few scenes but settled down as things progressed.

Another thing – and I don’t know if I mean this as a complaint – is that the narrative felt hollow, for lack of a better word. Maybe Scorcese should be commended for not trying to take an obvious angle on things, for trying to keep more of a documentarian’s eye, but the whole film felt like a series of vignettes from throughout Hughes’ life without much in the way of explanation or rationale. I realize that the main point of the film was to portray the essence of the man, and not necessarily all the dates and facts, but it was a little frustrating at times – a stronger narrative thread would have made a good film even better (though The History Channel documentary on the bonus disc was actually quite good at filling in some of those holes).

I finally made it to the Toronto Comics Arts Festival yesterday although it’d been running all weekend. It’s funny – my tastes in music and film run to the indie end of things (obviously) but when it comes to comics, I’m pretty coventional cape and cowl. Maybe it’s a comfort food sort of thing, but while I’ve read some of the more high-profile indie stuff (Strangers In Paradise, Bone, Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine, etc), and while I quite like some of it (and quite dislike some of it) I always seem to come back to primarily mainstream stuff from the Big Two. So in an effort to expand my horizons beyond the spandex set, I picked up a few things that I hoped would introduce me to some new stuff.

I’d read excerpts of the Flight anthologies in Free Comic Book Day samplers, so had a pretty good idea of what I was getting with the proper paperbacks (a wide range of creators contributing pieces with an aeronautical theme). I haven’t actually gotten into them yet but am sure there’ll be good stuff in there. Brad had encouraged me to check out some of Brian Wood’s stuff, so I got a couple issues of Demo, a 12-issue series of standalone stories about people with what would usually be considered “powers”, but in a very real world context. Pretty good, I will have to find the rest of this series. Finally, I got both volumes of Scott Pilgrim, which had been recommended to me in the past by Kevin as being right up my alley. It’s a cute series done by a local guy (and set right here in T.O.) about a twenty-something slacker musician guy who has to fight his new girlfriend’s seven evil ex-boyfriends kung fu-style in order to keep her. It’s kind of roughly drawn at points and the storytelling can get a little erratic/confusing, but it’s got a goodly amount of charm and is pretty funny. Plus the characters hang out in Lee’s Palace! It’s like my life, except almost completely not. It’s also being made into a film by the guy who directed Shaun Of The Dead. Go local talent!

And oh yeah, I got this awesome Bone figurine for free from the Scholastic press table, who have done a beautiful job with the colour Bone anthologies. I leafed through the first volume of the colour version there and was very pleasantly surprised how effective the colourization is. For some reason, I’d sort of expected it to be done more primary colour-ish, but instead they use really subtle and muted tones to enhance the fantasy-like setting. I wish I could find a sample page from the collection to show, but I’m not having any luck. It’s not enough to make me re-buy the series, but it is quite lovely. And the video game is looking pretty sharp, too.

You know, I used to want to be a comic book artist. Then I stopped getting better as an artist somewhere around age 14. My grade 11 art teacher actually recommended that I don’t pain. Ever (he was right, by the way. I’m awful in the medium). Oh, cruel fate.

Scotsman.com presents a history of Scotsmen Teenage Fanclub and Filter has an mp3 from the new record to whet your appetite before it’s official North American release next Tuesday.

np – Luna / Rendezvous

Sunday, May 29th, 2005

Just Lookin'

This weekend was the annual Doors Open event wherein scads of buildings of “architectural, historic or cultural significance” in Toronto open their doors foro free tours to the public. I’d meant to check this out every year since it started but have never gotten around to it. This year, I found the time to check out a couple of nearby buildings, the CBC headquarters, the Ontario College of Art & Design and the Church of the Holy Trinity, which is famous for being where the Cowboy Junkies recorded their seminal The Trinity Session album.

The CBC tour had two components – a CBC radio drama soundstage and a couple of television soundstages. The lineup for the radio one was at least an hour so I opted to just check out the television studios. They showed us the soundstages where they shot The Royal Canadian Air Farce and The Red Green Show – since nothing was in production, they were really just big empty rooms. Which is fair – they let us in but they didn’t really have to entertain us. Similarly, the OCAD building is far more impressive (or at least distinctive) from the outside. Easily one of the most controversial pieces of architecture added to the Toronto skyline in years (I don’t really mind it), the inside is very spartan and utilitarian. It is a classroom, after all. The Church of the Holy Trinity was on my way home, hence my stopping in. It’s a church. I’d like to think they let people in to look around whether it’s Doors Open or not. Still, nice acoustics though.

Because of time and a general lack of planning on my part, I only chose buildings that were close to home. There are other pieces of architecture father afield in this town that I’d like to take a closer look at next year. I’m a little dismayed that neither of T.O.’s city blogs said anything about Doors Open. BlogTO mentions it in passing in the context of Bike Week and Torontoist ignores it completely. Bad show.

I took a handful of photos while looking around. It’s sad that I’ve gotten fairly proficient at taking photos in really dire lighting conditions – ie, concerts – but when it comes to something simple like a building, I’m quite hapless. I really have to learn to use my camera properly.

Also sort of on the topic of getting to know the ins and outs of Toronto – TTCrider.ca is a very cool site/service that has assembled a wallet-sized guide to the layouts of all 74 subway platforms in the TTC. It points out locations of stairs, elevators and escalators relative to where subways pull into the station so if you’re anal like me, you can optimize wher you get on and off the cars for maximum time efficiency. I actually already do this and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who thinks about this stuff. The guide is available to download free as a PDF or you can order one of the print versions. There’s also a neat subway station trivia section. Between efforts like this and Spacing magazine’s TTC station buttons, it’s nice to see our much-beloved/maligned transit system getting some love. Just a shame that it’s coming from the private sector and not from the transit commission itself.

Joe Pernice and his brothers from different mothers will be touring their new album Discover A Lovelier You – out June 14 – through Toronto on July 18 at a venue to be determined – probably Lee’s Palace. They always play Lee’s Palace.

And that’s all for today.

np – Son Volt / Trace

Saturday, May 28th, 2005

Severed Lips

So after much deliberation, I’ve decided to give the Dinosaur Jr reunion show July 17 at the Phoenix a pass. Hefty ticket prices aside, I just couldn’t get excited about it. I completely understand the rationale for only playing material from the first three albums – those reissues are what they’re ostensibly promoting and it doesn’t make much sense for Lou to be playing material that was written after he left the band the first time around. But while I’ve grown to appreciate You’re Living All Over Me and Bug (don’t have Dinosaur), I discovered the band with Green Mind and Where You Been. That’s what pricks up my nostalgia receptors. Of course, I may change my mind in the next month and a half, but for now, I’m going to go play “The Wagon”. Meanwhile, you can read interviews with Lou Barlow about how the reunion came about courtesy of PopMatters and London 24.

And man – J has not aged well. Nor has his fashion sense.

August 23 is turning into another of those filled-to-the-rim-with-Brim indie rock release days. The Strokes’ third album has been slated for release on that day is now scheduled for January 2006 – whoops, alongside Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl, The New Pornographers Twin Cinema, Portastatic’s Bright Ideas and John Vanderslice’s Pixel Revolt. And there’ll certainly be more good stuff added to the list between now and then.

Like the eponymous Arcade Fire EP. Someone on the Big Takeover mailing list mentioned that Merge is re-releasing the band’s debut EP, which while not out of print has been fetching silly sums on eBay, on July 23. However that’s not a Tuesday but if they got the month wrong, then it fits quite nicely. All speculation on my part based on hearsay, of course. And in this Chicago Reader interview with Will Butler from last month, they say that the follow-up to Funeral is eyeing a March 2006 release, but 10 months is a lot of time for things to get pushed back. Don’t write that one down.

And as The Shins tell Chart, don’t expect their third album until 2006 either.

Oh, and the Summer issue of The Big Takeover is now out. Interpol are on the cover and it also has the second part of their expansive Wilco interview.

Chuck Klosterman defines musical genres for Spin. Via Largehearted Boy.

I had planned to go see As The Poets Affirm at the ElMo last night, but found myself way too tired and unmotivated to get off my duff to catch a midnight set time. A pity – hopefully they’ll come back sooner rather than later and I can make up for it then.

np – Shearwater / Winged Life

Friday, May 27th, 2005

All We Do Is Talk, Static Split Screens

Cliptip is a new blogger who’s got a different spin on the mp3 blog – instead of mp3s, he’s posting videos. A laudable calling considering that online is pretty much the only place you’ll see most interesting videos these days and finding them can be a real pain in the ass.

In the latest update he links Metric’s “Dead Disco” but you can check out all five of the vids from Old World Underground here. Interesting how the band stays in uniform for all five of them, no? It’d be nice if I could report some new Metric news, like the making of a new album but they are continuing to tour Old World Underground into the underground through the Summer. Perhaps they’ll get around to hitting the studio in the Fall? But I digress – back to videos.

Here’s a vid that I found meself – The New Pornographers contributed a cover of “Your Daddy Don’t Know”, a song originally by early 80s cheese-metal band Toronto, for the soundtrack of the cheese-metal-celebrating movie Fubar. I didn’t know that they made a wonderfully 80s cheeseball video. So good. And you can download an mp3 of the track from the band’s website. If you need further reason to see/listen, the incomparable Neko Case has lead vocals on this one. She’s also the subject of this interview with The River Cities Reader (via For The Records)… And again, I am off topic. This post is like a shopping cart with a wobbly wheel – it just keeps falling off the tracks.

If you want more videos, Sputnik 7 remains a favourite site for clip cruising and I also rounded up some good sites in this post. And finally, the lineup for the second set of Director’s Label DVDs is out, and it’s pretty sweet. Next up are Mark Romanek, Jonathan Glazer, Anton Corbijn and Stéphane Sednaoui. I still mean to pick up the first set though I think the Chris Cunningham one would give me nightmares. Series two is out September 13.

Fredericksburg.com makes the unprecedented move of talking to someone who is not Jenny Lewis about Rilo Kiley – drummer Jason Boesel speaks!

The Mountain Goats’ Peter Hughes has updated his tour diary. The Toronto show is now represented in both words and images. Though I personally think my photos from the show are a little more on-topic, though with less fancy washroom content. Via Largehearted Boy.

Don’t forget that this weekend is the Toronto Comics Arts Festival, taking place over at Mirvish Village (Bloor and Bathurst) near The Beguiling. Jeff Smith, creator of Bone will be in attendance tomorrow between 2 and 5. I’d like to get my one-volume collection signed, but I expect lineups will be pretty massive. Either way, I will try to swing by at some point this weekend and take in the comic book love.

np – The New Year / The End Is Near