Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Favourite lyrics of 2008

I'm still putting last minute touches on my Best of 2008 list, so for now, here are some of my favourite lyrics of the year (I'm sure I'm forgetting some).

You take the pieces of the dreams that you have
Because you don't like the way they seem to be going
You cut them up and spread them out on the floor
You're full of hope as you begin rearranging
(The Lovers Are Losing by Keane)

Got my dreams, got my life, got my love
Got my friends, got the sunshine above
(Happy by Natasha Bedingfield)

Revoluationaries wait
for my head on a silver plate
just a puppet on a lonely string
aah who would ever want to be king?
(Viva La Vida by Coldplay)

And sing that old song, how does it go?
Look out sunshine, here's the punchline
No one gets you anymore
(Look Out Sunshine! by The Fratellis)

You make me so much better
I hope I don't make you worse
(This is Happiness by Gavin Rossdale)

Safety pins holding up the things
That make you mine
(Shine On by The Kooks)

My heart beats fast
but the clock ticks slowly
You can be my one and only
As anticipation beckons
I feel the thrill of 30 seconds
(Thrill of 30 Seconds by Skint & Demoralised)

Forgot about the accident
The words you didn't say
Forgot to call the ambulance
To take your heart away
(Hiding Place by Serena Ryder)

For now I'm faking it
Till I'm pseudo making it
from scratch begin again
but this time
I as I not as we
(Not as We by Alanis Morissette)

No I don't want to battle from beginning to end
I don't want a cycle of recycled revenge
I don't want to follow death and all of his friends
(Death and All His Friends by Coldplay)

What do you want for tea?
I want crisps
(Never Miss a Beat by Kaiser Chiefs)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Music highlights of the year

The best songs (and albums) of 2008:
  • Coldplay - 42 (epic haunting track), Yes (love the low tone vocal), Viva la Vida (track of the year) and Death and all his Friends (best rhythm riff of the year), album of the year and the best band in the world today
  • Kaiser Chiefs - Never Miss a Beat, best catchy song, incl. best lyric "what do you want for tea ? I want crisps", plus best small club concert
  • Oasis - The Shock of the Lightning, still cheeky and still rocking, now with psychedelic backdrop
  • The Fratellis - Tell Me a Lie, many fab tracks on the album, top band I still want to see live
  • Glasvegas - Geraldine, you can feel the angst on the Scots' guitar strings
  • The Dears - Crisis 1 & 2, dark and moody layers from Montreal, perhaps summing up the somber moods of 2008
  • Beth Rowley - Sweet Hours, simply a beautiful voice
  • Duffy - Warwick Avenue, tough job selecting just one track off this fantastic album, sadly, the wee gal isn't so engaging live
  • TV on the Radio - Shout me Out, complex sounds massively varied across tracks and album
  • Kings of Leon - Crawl (best guitar riff of the year - even versus AC/DC), wonderful, mature 3rd album from Tennessee boys, I'm converted and sold, hallelujah
  • AC/DC - Rocking all the Way, the list really wouldn't be complete without wee Angus
  • The Heavy - Our Special Place, eclectic album, better beats than sound-a-like Gnarls B
  • The Streets - I Love You More (Than you Like Me), Brit rap joy, album also includes must-mention clap along track Heaven for the Weather
  • The Killers - Human, quirky pop brilliance, looking forward to the big show in January
  • Neil Diamond - The Power of Two, heart felt lyrics beautifully produced from old timer
  • Jason Mraz - Lucky, super sappy duet with beach girl Colbie C
  • Elbow - On a Day Like This (anthem of the year), pastoral, emotional with strings
  • MGMT - Time to Pretend - thank you Strombo for the early tip
  • Black Mountain - Queens will Play, retro rock done right by Vancouver scruffs
  • Morcheeba - Thumbnails, deep late night instrumental electronica
  • Thievery Corporation - Hare Krsna, surprise new inventive exotic grooves from one of my early electronica faves, looking forward to seeing them live in February
  • The Kooks - Do you Wanna, sing it loud, straight up pop Rock
  • The Last Shadow Puppets - My Mistakes Were Made for You, keeping Monkey fans happy with superb Turner lyrics
  • Razorlight - Wire to Wire, passionate sounds from the rocking lads
  • Travis - Chinese Blues, the album is still growing on me, great come-back-from-the-dead rich sounds
  • Vampire Weekend - Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, last minute addition - rating and classification not quite dry, tip from my bro and making a few critic best ofs, punchy indy tracks with weird hint of Paul Simon.
I started making the list thinking 2008 was just an average music year, but now having sampled all the tracks above again, I have to say 2008 was a fantastic year for new music.

As most of you know I'm a big Brit music fan, but surprisingly a quick tally across the globe shows a healthy 11 of the 26 artists coming from North America.

Some one-hit wonders of 2008:

  • Ray Lamontagne - You Are the Best Thing, I love horns and a rough voice, may be more goodies on the CD, but this track is standout
  • Black Kids - Hurricane Jane, gentle sounds with urban feel
  • Gabriella Cilmi - Sweet about me, fantastic musical and vocal trip from a very young lady
  • Sonya Kitchell - Here to There, beautiful Canadian voice rolled into a landscape piece
  • Usher - What's your Name, guilty hip hop pop find from Victoria Secret show
Old stuff rediscovered and/or triggered by new releases:
  • Joy Division - Atmosphere, early new wave beats with ill-fated lyrics
  • Primal Scream - Some Velvet Morning, one of my favourite dance tracks but the Kate Moss vocals wasn't the kicker
  • Brazilian Girls - Don't Stop, very catchy and toe tappin' tease
  • The Wombats - Moving to New York, original version plus Paul Van Dyck Remix, nice find of missed hipsters of 2007
  • Susan Tedeschi - Share Your Love with Me, you gotta have some lady blues in your mix
  • The Dears - Lost in the Plot (best old track discovery), no that's not Morrissey singing
  • Just Jack - Life Stories, great Brit hip hop chappy pop grooves
Concert highlights:
  • Oasis (Virgin Festival) - lived up to the reputation and hype and then some
  • Kaiser Chiefs (Mod Club) - lots of bawdy fun and bouncin', almost helped surf Ricky over to the bar
  • Coldplay (Air Canada Centre) - magnificent show, energy, lighting and a lively crowd
  • Morcheba (Opera House) - groovy scene showing class electronica performance with lots of guitars
  • The Kooks (Mod Club) - always lots of fun, even with a broken ankle
  • Duffy (Mod Club) - clean sounds from the tiny Welsh chantreuse, but I found her stage presence a little uncomfortable - still on the list because she just sounds fantastic
  • John Mayer (Molson Amphitheatre) - for saying we were seated way back, the sound and performance was top notch
Apologies for the no-link post, but it would have taken me just too long to put it all together and I wanted to complete while I was in the groove. But you can listen to many of the tracks and artists on my latest Finetune playlist 2008 Big Update.

Friday, November 21, 2008

New tunes

I finally got around to creating a new playlist in Finetune. It's basically a summary of favourites of the year minus a few that are still not available on Finetune, like Just Jack. I hadn't been on it for a while, but was pleased to see a lot of new content. For those that don't have access to cheap music or good on-demand radio, I hope you'll like this way of listening to some new music. The mix is pretty broad, including a couple of slower jazz and folk tracks, to AC/DC, with lots of stops on modern British stuff.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Predict a Great Show!

A while ago, I blogged about the bands I would love to see. One of them played last night in Toronto, but unfortunately, I couldn't get tickets to see The Killers (but I will get to see them in January, so it's ok).

Things always work out for a reason, in my opinion. Since I couldn't get Killers tickets, I didn't end up having to decide if I would go to see Kaiser Chiefs (who I already had tickets to see and saw last year) or The Killers (who I have never seen). How do two of my favourite bands play in the same city on the same night?

So off to the Mod Club I went last night expecting a great show by the band who won Q Magazine's Best Live Act of 2008.

The commentors on my blog about the bands I would love to see make a good point which is the timing of seeing someone. Ideally you want to see a band at their prime...ideally in a small venue (but sometimes the spectacle of the big shows and the large crowds are great as well).

Often when you go into an event with high expectations, you are with high expectations (after a great show last year and them being named Best Live Act), I wondered if I would be disappointed.

Kaiser Chiefs once again showed why they won Best Live Act. Even though the sold out crowd was small, they didn't care and gave a show like if it was a huge crowd. Sometimes Toronto crowds can be a little laid back, but the crowd was completely into it which added to the enjoyment.

Last year when I saw them at Kool Haus, I was on the floor level. As great as that is, I got to see it from the balcony this time...we had a great view of Ricky's multiple crowd surfing!

Here's a video I took last night...if you only want the best bit fast forward to 2:20 (and don't miss him catching his microphone at 2:45)

If you're interested in reading a "proper" review, you can find the Canoe one here.

The bottom line for me is, if you have the opportunity to see Kaiser Chiefs live...don't hesitate! This concert was part of a short North American trek. They'll be back in 2009 for a proper tour. Don't miss them!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Photo Blog #6: Cassette Tapes

Click on the image for a larger image to zoom into the individual titles

I took this shot this afternoon and now looking at it, it has a lot of history in it. In addition to personal memories, for past roommates and close friends, every tape has the potential to tell a story and recall a special moment in time. For the more pedestrian
reader, perhaps the photo marks a moment in time when audio cassettes were common place and a you'd find a collection like this at any friend's apartment. I also have to give a little credit for the composition to a photo collection I saw at the Contact and Luminato festivals this year.

For the record, this collection is of the tapes that were close at hand. I've thrown out a lot of tapes over the years and kept many cassette inserts to remind me of the old content. At one point in time I counted the number of "mixed" tapes I'd made - over 100. I'm pretty sure my entire tape collection was double this number at one point in time. The tapes I've kept are mostly compilations of tracks that perhaps are a little hard to come by these days. Like records, I also feel that these compilations also mark a moment in time, maybe like a
"mlog" ! Just handling these tapes this afternoon triggered a nostalgic reflex so I played a few old records for the family, incl. New Order, The Shuffle Demons, Thomas Dolby The (English) Beat. And yes, I do still have a tape player connected to my stereo. You never know when you'll get the urge to hear Men Without Hats.

Friday, October 31, 2008

My Favourite Videos of 2008

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the bands I would love to see. One of those bands was The Killers. Ten days ago, I commented on my frustration at not being able to get tickets to see them play at Massey Hall in November. As an update to that, I found out this week that they will be coming back in January to play the Air Canada Centre. Massey Hall would have been a great venue, but I am now in possession of general admission floor tickets to Air Canada Centre!! So I am pretty excited. I have never been on the floor for a general admission show at ACC (I have for seated concerts). Looking forward to it.

In the weeks to come, I will be starting to look at the songs I loved in 2008. In the past, I have given a CD to friends of my top 20 songs. Since I have been blogging about the songs I have been loving (and have a list on the right), it seems a bit redundant. So I have decided to look at different categories, like best single, best album, best lyrics, best live act, etc.

I will start by sharing some of my favourite videos. I don't watch many videos, so feel free to add your favourite to my list of candidates. Official nominees will be announced in a few weeks.

The first one is by a band called Skint & Demoralised. I have been loving them for a few months now, but their music is not officially released on this side of the Atlantic yet. Here's the video released this week for their upcoming first single (being released in the UK in November).

He came up with the idea and it's his friend's first professional production. I love the angles, the lighting and the mystery of the paper. Part of me would love to know what was written on it, but I know that it's so much better for it to remain a mystery. Only a couple of the meetings were staged, but the best reactions were genuine. Love it. Since I first heard this song, I had such a vivid image in my mind of the song. It's interesting to see a different perspective (it's interesting to see a video of a song you have loved for a while as opposed to hearing a song the first time with the video).

Here's a video that is beautiful, breathtaking and heartbreaking (the album was released in 2007, but the video in 2008). James Blunt's Carry You Home. Again, this gives a completely different meaning to the song for me:

Here's the video for possibly my favourite song of 2008...Viva La Vida by Coldplay. Love the lighting, the colours and the fact that it's just the band and the song. I think this song is complete enough without a lot of stuff to distract from it.

Just to show that I'm not only showing artists I love, here's Madonna's 4 minutes...great dancing, great effects, great video:

A beautiful video for Adele's Chasing Pavement. Great song...Beautiful the shadows.

The Kooks' Always Where I Need to and as a Canadian loves scenes of bands playing when they're cold...great jacket!!

Oasis - The Shock of the Lightning...very artistic...very busy...takes lots of viewings to catch everything...Beatles-like if I imagined the Beatles making a modern video.

Proof that I'm getting old. I have been reading about the Ting Tings for months and haven't been able to appreciate the music. Click here for the video (viewed over 6 million times - they have disabled embedding so I can't embed it into my blog) video, but I can't get into the music.

I Will Possess Your Heart by Death Cab For Cutie
I confess, I haven't watched the whole thing yet, but I will - it's over 8 minutes long but the cinematography is gorgeous.

I will end with The Killers' new video, Human. Most of The Killers' videos for Human were disabled. This one has a Maroon 5 video tagged at the end, it's a great video but not sure if it's from 2008 or 2007. I'll look into it before I announce my nominees.

What's your favourite video of 2008?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Favourite Dream Lyrics ... part 2

A couple of weekends ago, I was listening to the new Keane CD on a drive up to Ottawa. I was struck by how many dream lyrics there were...sounded like a CD written just for me (not that I could relate to all the dream lyrics, but I do love references to dreams and they had many references to memories and photographs that I also loved).

Then, after having listened to this CD a few times, I decided to listen to an old CD I hadn't listened to in a long time entitled "Pop Favourites". I was again surprised by how many dream lyrics there were (that I hadn't remembered when I posted my favourite dream lyrics back in June).

So in honour of Perfect Symmetry...I present you with my favourite dream lyrics...part 2.

Because now I only see my dreams in everything I touch
Feel their cold hands on everything that I love
Cold like some magnificant skyline
Out of my reach but always in my eye line
(Spiralling by Keane)

I dreamed I was drowning in the River Thames
I dreamed I had nothing at all
Nothing but my own skin
I dreamed I was drifting on the howling wind
I dreamed I had nothing at all
Nothing but my own skin
(The Lovers Are Losing by Keane)

You take the pieces of the dreams that you have
Because you don't like the way they seem to be going
You cut them up and spread them out on the floor
You're full of hope as you begin rearranging
(The Lovers Are Losing by Keane)

Is this what you meant?
Is this what you dreamed of
When you were making your plans
Shaking the dirt off?
(Better Than This by Keane)

I dream in emails, worn-out phrases
Mile after mile of just empty pages
(Perfect Symmetry by Keane)

Well was it just a dream, just a dream?
Because it was real to me
(Again and Again by Keane)

believe it or not...all those lyrics are from their latest album. Now from my Pop Favourites CD...

Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won't win
(Don't Dream it's Over by Crowded House)

Dream about us together again
(Together again by Janet Jackson)

But the years went by and the rock just died
Suzie went and left us for some foreign guy
Long nights crying by the record machine
Dreaming of my chevy and my old blue jeans
(Crocodile Rock by Elton John)

and finally a duplicate from my first favourite dream lyrics
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
and the world will be as one.
(Imagine by John Lennon)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Investing in your passions

Who needs or deserves your money more - Purnomo the meatball vendor in Indonesia or Sexy Marvin, the indy rock band from Mexico ?

I'm not a great economist, money manager, investor, cash flow maximizer or accountant, so digest this post with a generous sprinkling of salt.

I've recently heard of two financial products that allow you to invest your money in some new ways. These new financial products touch on two interesting facets of everyday life, but are on opposite ends of the responsibility spectrum. Charity and music.

My cousin, and like-minded music fan, pointed me to a financial "product" a few weeks ago called
Bandstocks. The idea is that you make small (or large) investments in an unsigned musical talent. It could be considered an easy way to truly put your money where your mouth is with respect to "good" music. If you really think band XYZ is going to be the next big thing, then invest your money. It doesn't have to be much, but it can pay dividends, long term returns and provide non-financial benefits as well.

My wife told me about an interesting concept tonight about investing in individual businesses in developing countries. The investment is made easy by and was mentioned in Bill Clinton's book Giving.

I simply like the idea that you're not just donating your money to a charity or a hard up musician. Instead, your making a conscious decision to say, I believe in something strongly enough and something that I'm passionate about, and I believe it will be a success. But rather investing in Apple or pork bellies that you may not really care too much about, you can perhaps say to yourself...great, if my bet works out, everyone's a winner, but if not, I've made a pseudo donation
(I'm not certain if these investments are also tax deductible) and given someone else in the world a chance to make it. Or you could simply cozy up to the karma gods and embrace a no-strings-attached, pay it forward doctrine (but that's a whole other topic).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Almost Genius

I've been experimenting a little with iTunes' 8 new feature Genius. Specifically the Genius playlist feature that creates a playlist in your music collection based on one seed track. I don't think the smarts have been revealed yet, but the gist is that it's matching based on the complete iTunes library, mixed with ratings and playlists from other listeners and then comparing with your tracks and preferences. I did one with Viva la Vida and got quite a predictable but refreshing auto playlist of more unusual tracks from bands like Spoon and Radiohead. The one I'm listening to now was based on a Life Stories from Just Jack and it's picked up tracks from Babyshambles & Cat Power - interesting, but also mixed in Jamie Lidell (odd).

The one thing that made me a little uncomfortable was that you to share your library with Apple when you switch on Genius. As I said in
Mark Evans' blog:

I’m just beginning to play with Genius, but I definitely have some reservations about sharing my library, especially since many of my downloads are from gray area sources and they “kindly” embed an MP3 tag showing the source that I’m now sharing. In the big picture, I’m pretty comfortable with the big boys keeping my info private, but the dark side possibilities are there !

What I actually did was clear the references to legalsounds and allofmp3 from the comment meta data tags before switching on Genius.

So, Genius isn't really a genius, but it does make some interesting choices and, if nothing else, provides a new way to automatically create pseudo random, but focused playlists. And I'm amazed how fast it works. I like it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Favourite Rain Lyrics

Have I posted twice in one day before?

Well, with the rain storm that we are expecting in Southwestern Ontario tonight, I thought it was worth a second post so I am sharing my favourite rain lyrics:

Why does it always rain on me?
Even when the sun is shining
I can't avoid the lightning
Why does it Always Rain on Me? by Travis

Many's the time I ran with you down
The rainy roads of our old town
Bedshaped by Keane

Sunday afternoon
Running down the avenue
Young and free, stealing town
Then the rain came pouring down
Rain, how we’ll always have the rain
We'll Always Have the Rain by Roz Bell

All pleasure's the same: it just keeps me from trouble.
It's more than just words: it's just tears and rain.

Tears and Rain by James Blunt

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
(the whole song is so much better than just the small bit we hear on the commercial)

A little bit of rain I think is fair
But when it starts to thunder they all stare
Goodnight Goodnight by Hot Hot Heat

Under this national rain cloud
I'm getting soaked to the skin
Trying to find my umbrella
But I don't know where to begin
And it's simply irrational weather
I can't even hear myself think
Constantly bailing out water
But still feel like I'm gonna sink
Under The Weather KT Tunstall

I can't believe how many songs have rain lyrics in them. I left a lot of them out there (with these being my favourite lyrics or my favourite artists). Did I omit (or forget) one of your favourites?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Don't Look Back in Anger

Perhaps appropriate words to summarize Sunday night's Oasis concert at the Virgin Festival.

The Manchester lads lived up to the hype - perhaps the best modern rock anthem band of all time. I don't recall a concert (yes, even Coldplay) where everyone was singing along with the multitude of big hits. I wasn't at the front, but close enough to be jammed in and swaying and high clapping along with thousands of other fans. I admit I was much older than the average and at times I felt it, but the songs seemed to unite the whole crowd and we were all in it together.

I did get close to enjoy the big Brits Stereophonics and Paul Weller and along with some independents they definitely added to the great festival atmosphere, but I was there to see Oasis. The only small disappointment was not getting to see Moby's DJ set in the lineup tent. Although I wouldn't call myself a huge Oasis fan, but I do love some of their hard rocking tracks and ballads, plus I'd heard they were great live.

As I've already mentioned here in the fine print and on Facebook, the night wasn't without some drama. A guy managed to get on stage and push Noel down which of course caused all kinds of panic and confusion. You could sense that half of the audience immediately had the feeling of being cheated, expecting the moody lads to chuck it in. But the relative good mood witnessed earlier in the set won out and the lads returned to the stage 5 mins later to finish off, albeit an abbreviated set. My feelings could have been a lot different if they hadn't returned. They won a lot of points in my book.

So the real highlights were Liam's famous stage stances, the compliment of Noel's ballads, psychedelic video backdrops, Cigarettes and Alcohol being dedicated to all of us from England and everyone singing along to almost all the songs. The loudest singalong was probably my highlight, although Liam was offstage as his brother sung Don't Look Back in Anger.

The night was clear, but mud was underfoot, the sweet smell of marijuana was in the air, the bodies were moving and the sound quality was spot on.

A very memorable rock show.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Live blog - Oasis concert

Monday morning update-I did try to live blog the set list from the Oasis show last night (see below), but I was off the mark a little. But I'll leave below just for the fun of it.

Rock 'N' Roll Star'
'The Shock Of The Lightning'
'Cigarettes And Alcohol'
'The Meaning Of Soul'
'To Be Where There's Life'
'The Masterplan'
'Slide Away'
'Morning Glory' (This is the song during which Noel got pushed, so it ended early)
R and r star
New 1
Cig and alc
Acquisess/master plan (noel)
She not anyone ?
Slide away
Liam just got tackled...

Live blog - Oasis concert part 2

Monday morning update-I did try to live blog the set list from the Oasis show last night (see below), but I was off the mark a little. But I'll leave below just for the fun of it.

'The Importance of Being Idle'
'Don't Look Back In Anger'
'Falling Down'
'I Am The Walrus'

A few minutes later...
Noel track 2 - I don't mind, give me a minute
Don't look back in anger (noel and everyone)
All I ever know ? /falling over (noel)
I am the walrus

We're done.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Viva Coldplay!!

I'm back in the city after a couple of weeks away...just in time for the Coldplay concert at the Air Canada Centre last night.

If you're expecting a concert review, you've come to the wrong place. There is no way I could write an unbiased review so if you want to read about the concert, you can read a review here.

There are not many artists who will get me to the ACC (for those who don't know - it's a 15000 seating capacity arena). Coldplay is one of those that I would go anywhere to see.

I prefer to see bands when they are not as well known and are playing smaller venues. Fortunately, my favourite bands are British so although they play arenas in England, most are not as well known in North America so they will play 500-2000 capacity venues here. There's nothing like getting up close and personal with your favourite artists:

James Blunt at the Mod Club in 2005

Keane performing part of Fly To Me and Leaving So Soon at Kool Haus in 2007 (he comes closer to where I am)

At small venues, you can really feel the music...see the singer's emotions, the guitarist's skill, the keyboardist's fingers or the drummer's efforts. You can see the sweat pour from their bodies. You can see the interaction between the band members and between the band and the audience. It can give you a new appreciation for the songs. You really feel like they are playing for you.

As great as small venues can be, there is something to be said for arena shows.

My first concert at the Air Canada Centre was U2 from the second last row (almost behind the stage). Being so far away gives you an appreciation for the spectacle and the crowd, but it's not ideal (especially sound wise).

U2 ACC Sept 2005 (not my photo - but basically my view)

I saw Coldplay in 2006 from the lower bowl across from the stage at the ACC. The sound was much better. The view was great because we're elevated but they are so far away. I thought this would be my last Air Canada Centre concert.

But then, when I managed to get 3rd row floor seats for James Blunt, I couldn't resist.

I Really Want You performed at Air Canada Centre 2006.

Last night I was 30th row on the floors. It felt like a small venue because everyone was standing up from beginning to end. The confetti also fell on the floor crowd, which was a bonus. The seats are closer together on the floor (rather than in the stands) so you feel more part of the audience but having rows means that you're that much further from the stage (as compared with a small venue). In the stands, the row ahead of you is lower (as well as the stage) so your view of the stage is better.

Last night, I loved hearing the crowd sing and seeing people dancing. I did capture a few short moments.

Fix You Air Canada Centre July 30th, 2008

The beginning of Viva La Vida. I had hoped to record more for my son (as it's now his favourite song), but (to his chagrin) I decided to enjoy the moment and dance instead (perhaps in hindsight I would have preferred to get a bit more, but oh well...I really loved it last night and will remember that).

There is a fine line between getting enough footage (photos/videos) to preserve the memory and being too busy trying to capture the moment that you actually miss the live moment.

Unfortunately, in order to get a great photo, you do have to take a few. I am learning with experience when the chances are better to get a great photo (depending on the lighting). There were many songs I was able to fully appreciate last night because I knew there was no way to capture them well. So I completely enjoyed those songs. When the lighting was better, I snapped away and managed to get better photos than I expected from my location.

I was trying to decide if last night's concert was my best concert ever. It's difficult to compare them. Coldplay at the Kool Haus was so intimate, but it did not have the production of their arena shows. X&Y wasn't released yet for the intimate gig. Many of the songs were not known to the audience so the audience participation wasn't as great. The crowd participation definitely adds to the concert experience. Screaming women don't help the James Blunt concerts. Keane don't get the widespread audience participation that Coldplay get (yet). I haven't been close enough to U2 to have them be my best concert ever.

I love seeing the different perspective from different venues and different views. There are positives and negatives to all of them. It's difficult to choose just one concert as my favourite, but this one definitely is up there. Floor seats at an arena combines the intimacy of a small venue with the spectacle of an arena show. Perfect combination.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

John Mayer

I saw John Mayer perform at the outdoor Molson Amphitheatre on Monday night. I'm not embarrassed to say I've liked John Mayer for years, even when his live CD's are drowned out by screaming girls. I really liked the show and as I reported on Facebook...I really enjoyed his warm summer blues sounds. My wife just shared a review article that sums up the concert so well, I couldn't have said it better.

Pic from
mayerecho's Flickr photostream.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Patriotic (and not so patriotic) lyrics

This week, we are celebrating Canada Day and Independence Day. And on this fourth of July, I am thinking of my friends and family south of the border and hoping they are enjoying their day. In celebration, I am sharing some lyrics about both countries.

Starting with Canada:

(One little two little three Canadians)
We love thee
(Now we are twenty million)
(Four little five little six little Provinces)
Proud and free
(Now we are ten and the Territories sea to sea)
(CA-NA-DA (or the Centennial Song))
I still have a 45 of this song (perhaps I shouldn't admit to this as it wasn't mine originally - probably my parents or older sister - they may claim it back)

Another summer day
Has come and gone away
In Paris and Rome
But I wanna go home
(Home by Michael Bublé)

The morning light steals across my windowpane
Where webs of snow are driftin'
If I could only have you near
To breathe a sigh or two
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
Upon this winter's night with you
And to be once again with with you
(Song for a winter's song by Gordon Lightfoot)

Un Canadien errant,
Banni de ses foyers,
Parcourait en pleurant
Des pays étrangers.
An errant ‘Canadien’
Banished from his homeland
Weeping, he travels on
Wandering through foreign lands
(Un Canadien errant written in 1842 by Antoine Gérin-Lajoie after the Lower Canada Rebellion)
(also recorded by Leonard Cohen in 1979)

There is a town in north Ontario,
With dream comfort memory to spare,
And in my mind
I still need a place to go,
All my changes were there.
(Helpless by Neil Young - I know the k.d. Lang version)

Ain't no school bus (ain't no school bus)
Ain't no streetcar (ain't no streetcar)
Ain't no subway car (ain't no subway car)
The Spadina bus (the Spadina bus)
(Spadina Bus by The Shuffle Demons)

Coo roo coo coo coo coo coo coo...
Take off to the great white north
Its a beauty way to go
Take off to the great white north
(Take Off by Bob and Doug McKenzie)

or if you prefer

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love game to me
6 packs of 2-4
5 golden tuques
4 pounds of back bacon
3 french toasts
2 turtle necks
and a beer in a tree

Everything's gone wrong
Since Canada came along
Blame Canada
(Blame Canada as heard on South Park)

For my friends in the U.S.:

Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood
Hop a flight to miami beach or hollywood.
Im taking a greyhound on the hudson river line
Im in a new york state of mind.
(New York State of Mind by Billy Joel)

I want to wake up in a city that doesn't sleep
(New York New York by Frank Sinatra)

Everybody's gone surfin'
Surfin' USA

Brotherly love.
(Philadelphia by Neil Young)

There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
(the House of the Rising Sun by The Animals and by U2/Green Day - see below)

New birth...rebirth...Trombone Shorty
Living like birds in the magnolia trees
Child on the rooftop, mother on her knees
Her sign reads Please!!! I am an American!!!!
(The Saints Are Coming by U2 and Green Day as performed live at the New Orleans Saints game)

Do you know what it means
to miss New Orleans
and miss it each night and day

From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee,
across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea,
From Detroit down to Houston and New York to LA,
Well, there’s pride in every American heart,
and it’s time to stand and say:
I'm proud to be an American
(God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood)

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
(America the Beautiful)

Songs that have been used for both countries:

Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver (my country is not a country, it is winter)
Mon jardin ce n'est pas un jardin, c'est la plaine (my garden is not a garden, it's the plain)
Mon chemin ce n'est pas un chemin, c'est la neige (my road is not a road, it is snow)
Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver (my country is not a country, it is winter)
(Mon pays by Gilles Vigneault)

I'm a star in New York, I'm a star in L.A.
In my life there's no place for the man that I love
'Cause I'm livin' my life just to sing and be free
From L.A. to New York, from New York to L.A.
(From New York to L.A. performed by Patsy Gallant to the tune of Mon Pays)

Don't want to be an American idiot.
One nation controlled by the media.
Information age of hysteria.
It's calling out to idiot America.
(American Idiot by Green Day)

Don't wanna be a Canadian idiot
Don't wanna be some beer swillin' hockey nut
And do I look like some frostbitten hose-head?
I never learned my alphabet from A to Zed
(Canadian Idiot by Weird Al Yankovic)

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.
(This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie)

This land is your land, this land is my land
From Banavista, to Vancouver Island
From the Arctic Circle to the Great Lakes waters,
This land was made for you and me.
(recorded by The Travellers in 1955)

And to finish off, back to classic Canadian songs:

Hello out there we're on the air it's hockey night tonite
Tension grows the whistle blows-& the puck goes down the ice.
The goalie jumps and the players bump and the fans all go insane
Someone roars "Bobby scores!" at the good ole hockey game
(The Hockey Song by Stompin Tom Connors)

Last but not least (no lyrics needed),

Friday, June 6, 2008

New music finds - something for everyone

For the eclectic move and groove fan - Yaov
Sultry jazz vocals -
Melody Gardot
For some smooth down home R&B -
Lizz Wright
Singer songwriter soulman -
Jamie Lidell
Moving to some urban hip hop -
Platinum Pied Pipers (aka PPP)

I just found these last night (NOW and HMV sources) and downloaded 2-4 tracks per artist, so repeat airplay hasn't pushed them all right --> to the PJMixer Hot Music List yet.

The one trick I use when exploring a new artist is to use iTunes to see which tracks are the most popular - it's usually a good starting point.

Dream Lyrics

While out with friends the other night we got talking about favourite songs. Specifically what is your favourite song of all time?

This seems like an easy answer at first, but the closer I get to an answer, the harder I think it is. My all-time top 10 or top 100 I could answer more easily. There would be some songs for happy times and sad times. Songs I love for the melody, others for the lyrics. Some songs that speak to me or put a smile on my face. Songs that bring me back to a specific place, time or people.

So to pick just one song from all the songs that I love? I'm going to take some time with this one and report back next week.

So for now, I will share more of my favourite lyrics. Lyrics about dreaming always speak to I am a dreamer and my friends tell me I live in a rose-coloured world. Even back in high school, my entry in my yearbook was: "Usually Found... daydreaming". I haven't changed much.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
and the world will be as one.
(Imagine by John Lennon)

J'rêve les yeux ouverts
Ça m'fait du bien
(Les Yeux Ouverts by Beautiful South from French Kiss soundtrack)

and the English version of the song:
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you.
But in your dreams whatever they be, dream a little dream of me.

I am a dreamer but when I wake
You can't break my spirit -- it's my dreams you take
(Goodbye My Lover by James Blunt)

I used to be a dreamer
Couldn't fall asleep
Trying to find an answer
A reason to believe
(Live by Ben's Brother)

I want to change the world...instead I sleep.
(Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson)

Got my dreams, got my life, got my love
Got my friends, got the sunshine above
(Happy by Natasha Bedingfield)

And while I can think, while I can talk
While I can stand, while I can walk
While I can dream, please let my dream
Come true, right now.
(If I Can Dream by Elvis Presley)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Love Lyrics

In honour of my wedding anniversary this weekend, I thought I would share some of my favourite lyrics about love (not that our anniversary or love are frivolous but sharing favourite lyrics may become a regular fun thing for me to do).

With all your faults, I love you still
(It Had To Be You by Harry Connick Jr.)

When the chips are down I'll be around
With my undying, death-defying
Love for you
(Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood)

I hope all my days
Will be lit by your face
I hope all the years
Will hold tight our promises
(Atlantic by Keane)

There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be
(White Flag by Dido)

I want somebody who cares
For me passionately
With every thought and
With every breath
(Somebody by Depeche Mode)

I love you more than I could ever promise
and you take me the way I am
(The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson)

Love is the answer
for most of the questions of my heart
(Better Together by Jack Johnson)

it's the heart that really matters in the end
(Little Wonders by Rob Thomas)

So put your arms around me and then stay there forever
Let it always be this way, you and me forever
(Put your arms around me by Natasha Bedingfield)

Hope you enjoyed and have a wonderful Victoria Day weekend.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Controversial thought of the day

Just got a few quiet moments sitting in my car waiting for my 1pm meeting...

I was listening to some great tracks from the Timbaland album on the drive here. Some great lyrics and a fab urban hip hop beat.

But as I found myself singing along to the explicit lyrics I had a natural hesitation on the buddy use of the N word.

Am I allowed to say the N word as I'm singing along ? Should I sensor myself ? Am I dissin' anyone ?

Concerned and confused.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Hey PJ, put a record on

I finally got around to adding a new playlist on finetune, hope you like it - Latest rotation of tracks just in time for spring 2008. All over the map with a few old surprises, but common thread comes back to giving you something to move to. To access all my playlists go here.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

New music

I've recently switched downloading to a new Russian site as mp3sparks is still experiencing payment problems. The new one is which Eco found a while ago. Same gray area legalities as other Russian sites, but good up-to-date library and no-nonsense interface. And did I say cheap, how's 9c a song ?

So equipped with a stack of
Q mags, iTunes and sampling, and some snooty guidance from and an open mind, here are some of the many varied and interesting finds early in 2008. Note score links will take you to the great consolidated review on metacritic and the myspace links are ok but quite slow to load.

Black Mountain - In the Future. A Vancouver band I only just heard about, 4/5 in Q; 79 on metacritic. Retro psychedelica, I especially like the mellow tracks with Amber Webber singing and the the hit track Stormy High. Big enough impact to make me download some old 60's tracks yesterday (Byrds, Mamas & Papas, etc.) for a Inspired by Flower Power playlist. Playing Lee's in March. My score: 7/10.

Cat Power - Jukebox. She's an example of an artist who you need to be in the mood for and she probably won't be what you're expecting. I sampled some tracks quite a while ago, but they didn't take. A hot-off-the-press February Q review (3/5) gave me reason to sample again - this time - I discovered some lovingly assembled cover tracks sung by a lovely voice that will be getting some regular mellow evening rotation. 71 on matacritic. 8/10.

Roisin Murphy - Overpowered. I missed this one in 07. Again, re-reading some old Qs caught me in the mood. Well balanced energy for the some great dance pop. Catchy vid for single, 4/5 in Nov Q, 29th on best of 2007, 82 on metacritic. 7.5/10.

Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger. Warm production with heartfelt country rock lyrics. Another one I missed in 07, 4/5 in July Q, 27th on best of 2007, 76 on metacritic. 7.5/10.

Morcheeba - Dive Deep. I couldn't have a best of without a little electronica could I ? This is the latest from one of my faves, this time with a few guest singers. I think Enjoy the Ride is a fantastic track. They are playing here in March - anyone want to join me ? I couldn't find a Q or metacritic review, but one that I did find that stood out was the Independent's 5/5 score. Mine is 7.5/10 for the 4 tracks I've downloaded so far.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Best albums of 2007 (by request)

A quick summary of top 10 albums of 2007. I'll start with actual CDs I purchased...

Feist - The Reminder
. She's been on lots of best ofs and deservedly so. A few too many quiet numbers, but lovely variety and catchy tracks. Selected tracks: I'm sorry; I feel it all; My moon my man; Sea Lion woman; 1 2 3 4.

Justin Nozuka - Holly
. Local Toronto Kid with lots of maturity in his singer songwriter lyrics. Great live show at the Mod Club. Selected tracks: Down in a cold dirty well; Golden train; Be back soon; After tonight.

Champion - Chill 'em all
. This album dates back quit a while but I bought it in 2007 and everything else of his since them, including latest DVD. Show of the year for me at Lee's. Selected tracks: No heaven; Tavern; Tawoumga; Keep on; The plow.

Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare
. Not as good as the opener, but still lots of good stuff and fab live. Selected tracks: 505; Old yellow bricks; Do me a favour; Fluorescent adolescent; Teddy picker.

Now on to standout albums from which I downloaded multiple tracks:

Manic Street Preachers - Send away the tigers
. Fantastic tracks, warm, emotional sing-alongs. Selected tracks: Autumnsong; Indian summer; Your love alone is not enough.

Hard-Fi - One upon a time in the west
. Sophomore album, more polish, still great heart and energy. Selected tracks: Little angel; We need love; I can't get along; Tonight; Suburban knight; Watch me fall apart.

Reverend and the Makers - The state of things
. Lots of dancin' cheeky fun. Selected tracks: Open your window; He said he loved me; Bandits; heavyweight Champion of the world.

Kaiser Chiefs - Your truly, angry mob
. Second album from Brit hit makers. Lots of great tracks, fun live show at Koolhaus and fantastic video for Ruby. Selected tracks: Love's not a competition (but I'm winning); Heat dies down; The angry mob; Ruby.

And finally album of the year:

The Enemy - We'll live and die in these towns
. Coventry (my home town) youngsters with a lot to say (well). Selected tracks: This song; You're not alone; Dancin' all night; Had enough; Fear killed he youth of our nation; Away from here.

Footnote - and a few that didn't quite make the top 10 but worth noting: Timbaland - Shock value; Amy Winehouse - Back to Black (cuz it was from 2006, but got tons of playtime in 2007); Mark Ronson - Version; Tiesto - In search of Sunrise (vol. 6). And a few more that were late finds: Band of Horses - Cease to begin; Robert Plant and Allison Krauss - Raising Sand; Seal - System.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

2007 Best of

Tis the season to try and pick my favourite music for the year. And I've managed to squeeze in some of other best of comments below as well.

I'll actually start with an old tune. This one I remember from the late seventies when I was a teenager just before coming to Canada. It was re-introduced on the soundtrack to Hot Fuzz (which you can include on the best movies of the year list) and includes some classic lines from the movie ("why are you dressed like a police officer ?...because I am one"). Track #1 Sweet - Blockbuster.

The next one is an easier going track from one of the most successful British bands in the last 3 years, taken from the second album that like the first, grows on me more every time I listen to it. We were lucky enough to see them here in concert this summer - tight and energized set and one of our favourite concerts of the year. Track #2 Arctic Monkeys - Fluorescent Adolescent.

A was happy to see a bunch of young lads from my home town of Coventry hit big time this year with some great singles and a well put together debut album. Track#3 The Enemy - You're Not Alone is a great example of their gritty boyish anthems.

There were just so many great Brit bands and albums this year. Track #4 The Twang - Ice Cream Sundae is one of the many catchy tracks on their fine 2007 album.

Moving onto the dance floor for the next track. This got regular rotation play on Brit Radio and got some good dance remix attention too. Keep those feet tapping and heads bobbin' to Track #5 Reverend and The Makers - Heavyweight Champion of the World. Lots of fun sprinkled all over the album too.

You may want to sensor the next one for the kids if they can decipher the slurred lyrics. Track #6 from cheeky monkey Jamie T - Calm Down Dearest. Good video too for Sheila with Bob Hoskins lip-synching.

A quirky sing-a-long with near-to-home lyrics like "What Tune is this, but I like it...if you ask the DJ, on Monday I'll buy it" is #7 - Mr Hudson & The Library - Ask the DJ.

# 8 is my favourite track from the latest Kaiser Chiefs record. We saw them live this year and definitely rank high in the book of high energy live acts. Love's Not a Competition (But I'm Winning) is a gentler track and the only one I can think of that includes altruistic as a lyric. Q just included it in their essential downloads with the comment - artful use of parentheses. Along with this cool video (alternate feed from You Tube, which also reminds me of the great long tracking shot in Atonement), from the Chiefs, is Ruby - my favourite video of the year.

Another ballad makes #9 with Tonight by Hard-Fi. A great example of young Brits showing their more tender side. Nice live video version I just found too ! These lads are my must see for 2008 - they were a concert highlight last time around - let me know if you want me to send you a reminder when the concert is announced.

#10 is perhaps my favourite track of the year - The Manic Street Preachers - Your Love Alone is Not Enough. The song features Nina Persson from The Cardigans on guest vocals. Lots of great tracks from this year's quality album too.

There were a lot of singer songwriting ladies in rotation this year. Keren Ann - Lay Your Head Down (second choice in her MySpace playlist) is #11 with her beautiful voice overlay to this rich production number. She is playing the Mod Club in Toronto in February.

#12 follows the same sub-genre with Amy MacDonald - L.A. An unusual voice that took a while to warm up to, but now always welcome on the home playlists.

I'm are getting a lot of music from some great TV shows these days, including House and Entourage (favourite TV show of the year). I heard #13, Chicane - Autumn Tactics on one of these shows, but I can't find for the life of me remember or find out which one - sorry, system failure ! A great example of the electronic groove beats that are a PJMixer staple. A new find in 2007, but alas a track from 2000. As with a few other tracks on this list, as I'm finding the links, I'm finding a few other gems a long the way, I'll be spending some time on Chicane in 2008.

The second repeat artist from 2006 and the first Canadian contributor for this year makes #14, Feist - My Moon My Man. A very wide tempo mix on her latest album, but full of quality moments.

Number two Canadian act and #15 on this year's best of is Champion - The Plow (actually a 2006 album). This track is a little overshadowed by the massive No Heaven hit, but like #13, hits square bulls eye for sensual female vocal with electro beats, bigger in this case. Champion approaches his art by blending blues guitar and vocals with computer / synth generated beats. Fantastic stuff and their show in Toronto late summer was my concert highlight of the year. The link is their home page, scroll down to the Chill 'Em All album and you can sample some of the tracks, incl. The Plow. Other links are their MySpace page and the promo for their latest live DVD (which was one of my Christmas gifts). But the best link to share is the Ubisoft promo they did using the Jam Sessions Nintendo DS software. The live shots are from the intro of the show I've been trying to explain to a few people - I love these guys, can you tell !

Probably the most obscure track on this year's best of is Track #16, Fujiya & Miyagi - Collarbone, which I actually found on the Groove Armada Lovebox Weekender compilation. Wacky lyric to infectious tribal rhythms, probably found in the wee hours with a beverage in hand and an in-time wobbly head.

Timbaland came on the radar mid 2007 being associated with producing hits with some of the biggest pop acts of the day, however it took me a little longer to really rummage through the numbers and find some really catchy hip hop and approachable tracks. Track #17's title unfortunately butchers proper grammar like, but Timbaland - The Way I Are is great stuff.

You won't believe where I found this next one. A Michael Caine electronica compilation ! Yes, that Michael Caine. Apparently his passion for the disco is still alive and well, and from the likes of this track, he's got some pretty good taste for electronica with classic samples, in this case Nina Simone. #18 is Felix Da Housecat - Sinnerman (feat. Nina Simone).

And lastly, #19 - Devendra Banhart - Sea Horse. Definitely the most unusual name for a band and the music is very different to anything else on this playlist, and to almost everything I was listening to in 2007. A romp through the fields with flowers in ya hair, settling into some Doors-like darker moments, spinning some kaleidoscopic musical vistas and ending with a vintage Woodstock-like anthem. Quite the epic track to end on and like some very recent downloads, perhaps setting a bit of a sideline trend for what's to come in 2008.