Monday, November 16, 2009

Nu Music Nite at the Horsehoe

I've fallen a little behind in talking music over the last few weeks, but wanted to get this one out tonight as it looks like Tuesday's Nu Music Nite (NMN) at the Horseshoe should be a good one.  Our first experience with NMN was last month's We are the Take and The Temper Trap gig and we're still talking about that show.  Tomorrow's gig showcases some interesting local sounds with The Most Serene Republic and Still Life Still.  I just spent some time on their MySpace pages and I'm immediately impressed with their creative edge and complex compositions.  In addition to hearing some great new music, the other hard-to-argue plus for NMN is that there's no cover charge.  Can't beat that kids.

On my music travels tonight I found that CBC Radio 3 site has info on both these bands and a really nice interface.  Missed that one, shame on me, apologies to CBC Radio 3.  I'm listening now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

U2 360∘

Last month, I had the pleasure of seeing U2's 360∘ tour.

If you haven't read about my experience, you can read about it here.

If you haven't seen U2 live and that doesn't make you want to see U2 (with the understanding that you don't dislike U2), perhaps seeing the video of the Rose Bowl concert they broadcast live on youtube on Sunday night will convince you that U2 is an act not to be missed.

You can still view the concert at www.youtube.com/u2

A few weeks ago, Sympatico featured the 10 bands that you must see before you die.

U2 is the only band on that list that I have seen.

This week it was announced that U2 was returning to Toronto next July (along with Vancouver and Edmonton).

Tickets for those with a paid subscription to U2.com went on sale today (sorry for not posting sooner - I had meant to look it up, but didn't manage to soon enough). Tickets for the general public go on sale on Monday November 2. There is also a U2 bundle that goes on sale on October 29th.

For details, you can visit www.ticketmaster.ca

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Temper Trap at the Horseshoe Tavern

Last night, The Horseshoe Tavern served up a gem.

The Temper Trap who played at the Glastonbury festival this past summer, who are currently on the A-List playlist on Absolute Radio UK (meaning they get played a LOT) and who will be performing on Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday night played at a free gig at The Horseshoe Tavern for The Edge 102.1 Dave Bookman's Nu Music Nite.

The Horseshoe Tavern is one of the few good venues in Toronto who allow any kind of camera (without a photo pass), so with the D-SLR in hand, we managed to get some great shots.
I only found out about The Temper Trap during the last week. I downloaded some of their songs on Sunday. On Monday, I found out they were playing in Toronto the next night. Normally for me to love a concert, it helps if I know the songs really well but The Temper Trap are amazing live whether you know their music or not.

They are energetic and get the crowd into their music as you can see from these videos.






Here's the set list:


I look forward to seeing them when they are headlining. It's like we have seen them from their early days and there can only be great days ahead for them.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Concert announcements catching my eye - Oct 09

Browsing NOW magazine and a few concerts caught my eye that are not "hot" tickets per se, but are for bands whose music I like, the venue seems a good fit and I'd probably go if I had unlimited budget and lots of free evenings:
  • Matisyahu - Phoenix, Nov 30th - Acidic Jewish hip hop - yes, you read that right
  • Nitzer Ebb - Mod Club, Dec 1 - yes, das man ist bak (of Murderous fame)
  • Devendra Banhard, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Nov 27th - haven't heard much, but Seahorse from a few years back was brilliant - psych retro at it's best
  • Junior Boys - Lee's, Nov 6th - Hamilton Ontario amooth stylers
  • Bill Bragg, Tues Nov 7th - a few mates going, working class hero always has a lot to say
  • Sloan - Dakota Tavern Oct 19th War Child benefit and photo exhibit - good reasons to see a good rock band
  • The XX - Mod Club Dec 2nd - worldwide tour date for alt chart toppers with lots of rave reviews, love their complex mellow sound
  • Metric - Massey Hall Oct 20th and 21st - sold out, but likely worth scalper tickets, one of Canada's best alternative bands
And a couple that I'm going to:
  • Thievery Corporation - Kool Haus Oct 23rd - smooth grooves, complex urban sounds and exotic vocal varieties, I saw them at the front side of the tour in the Spring and it was a highlight of the year, expecting similar set list enhanced by better looking date
  • Champion - Mod Club Nov 27th - great band, better performers, best venue in the city, $15 tickets - no brainer

Monday, October 12, 2009

Where I find new music: Part 1 - the personal recommendation

When someone personally recommends music to me, if I don't know the artist or track, I'll make sure to make a note (Blackberry Note usually).  If we have guests at home, most music fans aren't shy (as there's always music playing in our home and I'm always interested in hearing new music) and making a suggestion on the spot and having me sample (iTunes or TouTube) it right there and then.  If I like the song right away, I'll often download it on the fly and if the mood fits, we'll be listening to the new track minutes later.  Likewise when I'm visiting other music fans, they'll often put on music for me that they think I'll like.  I'm sure many people would possibly feel this is inappropriate for a dinner party of other social occasion.  But on the contrary, the chance to hear and talk about new music is one of the big reasons music fans spend time with one another rather than just sitting at home with their own music collection.  However, we still perhaps feel it's more acceptable to host a dinner party and you just happen to play some new music rather than inviting people over for the simply listening to music together.  That we be kind of odd, like something teenagers would do.  Like I used to do.


Case in point.  We visited my sister-in-law and her family the other night, and her husband (RSc) is a huge music fan (old school CD buyer)  He recommended a band called The Clientele and lent me their new CD.  I sampled the CD the next day, imported it into iTunes, categorized and rated the tracks and now enjoying some lovely mellow psychedelic new tunes.  Solid warm album, perfect for quiet mornings.  Thanks RSc.


Looking forward to more recommendations from my network of music fans, including my partner in crime Suze20TO, Dogtown's Eco and KS, Riverdale's RSc and SR, DC's RSe and CS, Uptown and Serbia's NF, Oakville's SHa, Ottawa's TE and Victoria's SHu.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Blog stuffer #1 - PJMixer's October top picks


 
Tools of the Trade
  
Dump of stuff I'm listening to these past few weeks.
  • Jamie T - new album is simply fantastic, poetic rhymes with irresistible beats, could be album of the year; pjtrack: Sticks 'n' Stones
  • Cage the Elephant - solid rock licks, on-the-mark recommendation from SHa; pjtrack: In One Ear
  • Florence and the Machine - strong vocals from the gentler sex and lotsa layers of sound and harmonies; pjtrack: Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
  • Arctic Monkeys - not solid all the way through, but some standouts, especially a couple of the ballads; pjtrack: Cornerstone
  • Kasabian - two brilliant singles vying for top honours in my books plus a wrath of pure winners on this stellar album; pjtrack: Fire
  • The XX - male/female duet with moody back tones, wonderful late night listening, spot-on recommendation from RSc; pjtrack: Crystalised
  • Thievery Corporation - this has been out for a while, but as I have tickets to see them for the 2nd time this year, the album is still in constant rotation fantastic grooves with tons of vocal talents; pjtrack: The Numbers Game
  • K'Naan - I keep finding more and more fantastic lyrics in this superb album from local African/Canadian rapper; pjtrack: Take a Minute
  • Dizzee Rascal - sing-a-long Brit rapper w/ some fantastic dance club beats; pjtrack: Dance Wiv Me
  • Champion - simpler rock sounds for sophomore release, but those hard driving guitar and Max's direction and groove sounds combine on many great tracks, perfect appertizer for another live gig in a few weeks; pjtrack: Resistance (Skool)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

K'naan is a Dreamer

I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one
Got problems
But we love to have fun
(Dreamer by K'naan)


Well, I was wondering what I would think of my upcoming concerts after seeing what is the spectacle of U2.

It didn't take long to find out since I went to see K'naan last night at The Phoenix in Toronto.

In case you're not aware of K'naan, he is a Somali-Canadian rapper who was born in Somalia but left in 1991 immigrating to Toronto (via New York).

There are some hard to believe facts on wikipedia about his life:
  • As the civil war continued and the situation in Somalia continued to deteriorate, K'naan's mother petitioned the United States embassy for an exit visa. In 1991, on the last day the US embassy remained open as the government of Mohamed Siad Barre collapsed their visa was approved, and they boarded the last commercial flight out of the country.
  • Despite speaking no English, the young K'naan taught himself hip hop and rap diction, copying the lyrics and style phonetically. He then also began rapping.
  • K'naan became a friend and associate of Canadian promoter, Sol Guy, who helped him secure a speaking engagement before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1999, where K'naan performed a spoken word piece criticizing the UN for its failed aid missions to Somalia.
He is a very well respected rap artist who writes about his experiences and world situations especially about Somalia and his dream that violence will end. He is also quite outspoken and doesn't shy away from sharing his opinions like he did about the Somalian pirate situation (many of these he shares on Twitter @iamknaan).

Although he won the 2006 Juno Award for Best Rap Recording, the first time I heard (or noticed) a K'naan song was when I saw this video last winter/spring:



This video spoke to me as I love dreaming (as you know if you have read this blog before) and always thought I was a dreamer going back to my childhood.

Although I wouldn't consider myself a K'naan fan per se...there are half a dozen songs that I love on his latest album. So with my husband wanting to see the concert, I went along.

In contrast to our 6:30 arrival for U2 when we walked right in (doors opened at 5), we arrived at 10:15pm to a huge lineup. Doors had opened at 9, so we were pretty surprised by the lineup...not sure if everyone arrived at 10 to cause it, but from a past experience at this venue, it takes forever to enter and it's not unusual for people to miss the opening band because they're in the queue.

K'naan took to the stage to much appreciation. The crowd seemed a lot louder and enthusiastic than for U2. Is this because by 11pm, people have been drinking for a few hours and the smaller club gives a more contagious excitement? U2's concert was also over two hours long, so perhaps concert-goers were pacing themselves...because there was definitely a lot of jumping and cheering for U2 as well.

I imagine that I am not a typical K'naan fan as I waited for my two favourite songs, only to see him leave the stage after the encore without playing them.

Are my two favourite songs (Dreamer and People Like Me) not as popular or not live-friendly?

There was quite an energy to the show (which may explain why People Like Me wasn't played which is more mellow sounding)...although he did play some quieter songs to his and my annoyance that some people go to concerts to chat rather than listen to the music. At one point when he was singing a more serious quiet song (Somalia if I recall correctly), he actually paused and asked them to "please shut the @S&# up"...to the cheers of the crowd who were listening...but I think the people who were chatting weren't listening...(mostly on the balcony I think)...but it's not unusual...there are always people chatting so if you sing quieter songs in standing room venues especially...you will hear the chatting which is unfortunate.

Here is another of my favourite songs that I recorded last night (I wish I had remembered to add some of its lyrics to my mother's day lyrics about mothers):



The other popular song that got quite a reaction was the song he performed in Ottawa at the Canada Day celebration entitled "Wavin' Flag". It's quite a long video but it really showcases the passion in the crowd.



K'naan is definitely a performer. He loves to be on stage and sharing his opinions that he's not shy to share...hmmm...kind of like Bono. So there are similarities between the two concerts with them both addressing current world situations. At both concerts, viewing was sometimes limited because of people having their arms up in the air (great atmosphere). The atmosphere was also enhanced by both crowds singing loudly to many of the songs. The main difference being in the scale and spectacle that U2 had...but the passion felt by the concert goers was great for both.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It was a Beautiful Day for U2

Wednesday, I saw U2 for my third time at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. I saw them at Exhibition Stadium in the early 1990's and in 2005 at the Air Canada Centre. The photo below was a similar view from where I was in 2005. It's not my photo because although I brought my camera, I forgot to put film in it!



I didn't get tickets initially this year for U2 because either I couldn't get General Admission tickets or I couldn't get any. I wasn't interested in being far again. Floors was all I was interested in...so when a friend of ours emailed to say he had a couple of General Admission tickets...we didn't hesitate (and that was before we knew they were compliments of R.I.M. - does that mean I should finally upgrade my basic cell phone to a Blackberry? at least hubby is on his second so I don't feel too guilty).

Speaking of R.I.M. it looks like they were the solo advertiser last night with much of the Rogers advertising taken down and "Blackberry.lovesU2" signs everywhere.

Snow Patrol took to the stage first. I thought they were amazing. I had seen them a year or two ago at Kool Haus. It was great to see them in a bigger venue with the big screen and extra lighting. Unfortunately with a U2 crowd, not everyone knows them so some people around us were talking...but I still think most people really ended up appreciating their music and their banter, well at least the people on the floor as you can see from this photo.



So now, it's been 3 huge concerts this year that I have seen from up close. The Killers at the Air Canada Centre in January, Coldplay at the Rogers Centre in July and U2 at the Rogers Centre this week. Who would have thought I would have these experiences at the beginning of the year (or even last week for that matter).

This one definitely had the spectacle of the "Biggest Band in the World". In the past I have felt that Coldplay's concerts were more about the music rather than the entertainment. I didn't think anything could top this summer's Coldplay concert. I found Wednesday (and perhaps it was because I was closer than in the past) that U2 was about the entertainment...but also about the music. The musicians were all showcased quite well with spotlights often on them.

I was initially disappointed that the bridges to the circular runway were closer to the back. This is the view from the back of the stage that my husband took (and interestingly I got annoyed at him for because I wanted to get down to the field). I even said "it's not like we would use this photo for anything anyway"...crunch, crunch...that's me eating my words...



The two bridges are covered here, but you can see that they go towards the back of the stage. I had seen a video online of Bono standing on one of the bridges singing, so I thought I wouldn't be able to see him from the front. What a pleasant surprise when I realized that the bridges moved. A few times one of them moved right in front of us so that The Edge or Bono were walking right toward us.



The runway definitely makes the venue seem smaller. They used it a lot more than I thought they would. They would take turns going on the bridges or on the runway so we did feel like we were closer than we really were (to the stage). Even Larry came out on it once playing a bongo.



One of my pet peeves with concerts sometimes is that the lighting is so low and there is smoke from the smoke machines so it's difficult to focus the camera to take a good shot. Last night, we got great shots early, so we didn't feel like we had to keep taking photos.



We could just enjoy the show. I would still get caught up in the moment when they came closer so I did video most of the times they came close, but when they were on stage, I could relax and enjoy the show.

The first time that Bono was on the bridge, I was recording the song...but sometimes, there was this black vertical line in the way. I was a bit annoyed at my "obstructed" view...


I didn't realize what the obstruction was until after I stopped recording as he walked off the bridge onto the runway. He walked towards us to a microphone that had appeared just to the right of us where he finished the song.



I was like a kid in a candy store. Having arrived at the concert at 6:30, I never imagined having such a view, especially since people had started lining up the night before.

This was the second time that the Rogers Centre had the roof open for a concert (the first time for Bruce Sprinsteen). It was so beautiful to see the CN Tower lit up. I panned to it at the end of this video:



Before the concert, I wanted two songs by Snow Patrol recorded on video. Since they were staying on the stage and the crowd were not going nuts, those videos were easy to capture. U2 was not so simple however. For some of my favourite songs, they were behind the stage, or to the side or the crowd was jumping up and down that visibility was minimal. I recorded the songs when they were on the runway or a few quieter ones. For one song (Beautiful Day), I actually recorded the big screen, just to have it because I couldn't see the band at the time.

That is one disadvantage to having floor tickets. Sometimes, you can't see....but you can't beat the atmosphere!

It was truly a Beautiful Day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Champion: a music formula that works (for me)

The band: Champion; the sound: DJ Champion, aka Maxime Morin. The guitarists: the G Strings. Singers: Betty Bonifassi originally, now Pierre-Philippe (Pilou) Côté. Formula: Base of electronic beats; generous handfuls of hard rocking guitars x 5; interesting singers with straight up blue inspired lyrics. I've only been clubbing in Montreal a few times, but from what I recall from a great night at Fou Founes Electriques, Champion personify all that is cool in the Montreal music scene.

The first time I heard and saw Champion was on TV as
they closed the Juno awards back in 2007, and right away I was hooked.

Their 2004 debut album,
Chill ‘Em All, won a 2005 Felix Award for Album of the Year in the electronictechno category. Chill ‘Em All went Gold and The Remix Album was nominated for a JUNO for Dance Recording of the Year in '07. They also released a DVD called Champion at ses G Strings that perfectly shows the energy of their lives shows, especially playing in hometown Montreal at Metropolis.

They released the second album Resistance yesterday. I had a quick listen at home last night, but it wasn't until I got a chance to listen to the album properly today with headphones that I can now say I like it. It don't think it's as strong as
Chill 'em all and the upbeat tracks are definitely closer to the rock curve. I'm not big on lyrics, and some may find the lyrics somewhat repetitive, but they work well for me as sing-a-long words for the driving, thumping electro-rock sounds. There are a few interesting tracks that explore more electronica and trance themes, with Champion's signature instrumental layering and building of electronic intros and groundwork with guitar riff crescendos and intricate rhythm patterns.I saw Champion at Lee's Palace a couple of years ago and it still remains one of my favourite concerts of all time. Unfortunately I attended solo and there's no photos or video. On a trip out to BC days after the show, my skills of persuasion failed when I couldn't sell my friends on the idea of going to see their Vancouver show. I think one of my Quebec work colleagues has seen Champion perform live (as they do a lot more shows in Quebec) but I don't know anyone else that has seen their fantastic shows in the past. But quiet a few of my friends have loved the music on the first listen ! I've waited a couple of years to see them again, and was over the moon when I found out they were going to play a free concert at Yonge Dundas Square to open the Toronto International Film Festival.

I'm proud to say my 12 year old son is a big music fan (across rock, alternative and electronic music) and in combo of learning to play guitar, he's a fan of Champion just like his old man. So I took him to the concert on Thursday. We got there nice an early as I wanted to make sure we got a good spot so he could see and I could take photographs. We chatted with a few photographers and music fans, including Stranger #22 - Sherlon. With the exception of not playing one of my faves (The Plow), Champion delivered an awesome show. What makes Champion's compositions and performances unique is that while he's live mixing the electronic side of the equation he directing the guitarists with the intros and transitions with hand signals (as you can see in some of the photos on flickr). On the DVD he talks a lot about this technique and I'm still a little amazed at how he pulls this off and creates such a well "produced" sound. I'm not certain how many fans were present, but I'm sure there were plenty of new fans afterward. The free tent in the square was pretty packed and everyone quickly fell into step with Champion's mix of driving dance beats with hard rocking guitars. New male lead singer, Pilou added strong vocals and the special appearance of Canadian Opera diva Measha Brueggergosman topped off the evening perfectly.




A little clip of the YDS crowd showing how you just can't stop moving to the Champion sound ! ( I love the guy in suit and tie holding up his BB on the left at the beginning of the clip)



Playing their hit No Heaven as their encore (poor sound, but you get the idea)

So, for me, Max has created a fantastic formula for an alternative to the often sterile sounds of pure electronic music and the dime-a-dozen unimaginative rock bands who struggle to find that killer riff and a recognizable lead vocal sound. I think his mix of his laptop creation of electronic dance beats and intricate orchestrated guitar melodies, riffs and movements is pure genius.




Sunday, August 30, 2009

Borrowed Lyrics and References

Friday night, while my husband was cooking dinner, we were watching an Oasis DVD. My husband began by selecting my favourite Oasis song...Don't Look Back in Anger.

I was debating whether I would ever see Oasis live, having missed the Virgin Festival from last year. I was saying that seeing them sing DLBIA live would be worth it...until the crowd was doing most of the singing in the chorus. I figured I wouldn't want to pay a lot of money to go listen to a crowd sing. But I was quite enjoying seeing them perform.

Being the multi-tasker that I am, while watching the DVD, I was also checking Twitter for any interesting tidbits when I saw someone mention that Oasis will never be the same. They were breaking up. I tried to go to their site (to confirm) - should I really trust Twitter with news? - but I couldn't log on to their site. I googled Oasis news and read an article quoting Liam's wife saying that they would never break up. So I let the matter go, until the next morning, when I saw in the news that Noel did confirm on their website that he had left the group.

So in honour of Oasis...I figured it was a good time to reveal my list of borrowed lyrics because two of my favourites are borrowed from Oasis. When I say "borrowed", sometimes it's intended and other times not.

What's the story morning glory
I feel so low and worthless
(It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry by Glasvegas
borrowed from (What's The Story) Morning Glory by Oasis)

The radio is playing all the usual
What's a Wonderwall anyway?
(Writing to Reach You by Travis
borrowed from Wonderwall by Oasis)

There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
(The Saints are Coming by Green Day and U2 (cover of The Skids' song)
borrowed from House of the Rising Sun by The Animals

Singing Sweet Home Alabama all summer long
(All Summer Long by Kid Rock
borrowed from Sweet Home Alabama by Lynard Skynard)

And he told Roxanne to put on her red light
(When The Sun Goes Down by Arctic Monkeys
borrowed from Roxanne by Sting)

Let the love tear us apart
I found the cure for a broken heart
(Let's Dance to Joy Division by The Wombats
borrowed from Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division)

How far will you go?
How deep is your love?
(Can't Stop the World by Gavin Rossdale
borrowed from How Deep is Your Love by The Bee Gees)

We live in a wheel
Where everyone steals
But when we rise it's like strawberry fields
(Glycerine by Bush
borrowed from Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles)

Baby I was born to run
I won't be back to kiss you goodnight
(I Won't Be Back by Daniel Powter
borrowed from Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen)

I miss my wife and family
(Frontline by Gavin Rossdale
borrowed from Rocket Man by Elton John)

And I know that it's a wonderful world
But I can't feel it right now
(Wonderful World by James Morrison
borrowed from Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong)

There we were dying of frustration
Saying, "Lord lead me not into temptation"
(Yes by Coldplay
borrowed from The Bible)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Lyrics

In celebration of the summer holidays, I'm sharing some of my favourite summer lyrics. Did I leave out one of your favourites?

School's out for summer
School's out forever
(School's Out by Alice Cooper)

Seven weeks of river walkways
Seven weeks of staying up all night
I spent the summer wasting
The time was passed so pleasantly
Say cheerio to books now
The only things I'll read are faces
(A Summer Wasting by Belle and Sebastian)

Maybe the summer will come and clear our minds
And find the impulse to love the sunshine
(Indian Summer by Manic Street Preachers)

Summer sun, something's begun,
but uh-oh those summer nights
(Summer Nights by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John)

Squeaky swings and tall grass
The longest shadows ever cast
The water's warm and children swim
And we frolicked about in our summer skin
(Summer Skin by Death Cab for Cutie)

Catching Walleye from the dock
Watching the waves roll off the rocks
She'll forever hold a spot inside my soul
We'd blister in the sun
(All Summer Long by Kid Rock)

Somewhere there is some place that one million eyes can't see
And somewhere there is someone, who can see what I can see
Someone, somewhere in summertime
(Someone, Somewhere in Summertime by Simple Minds)

I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone
(Boys of Summer by Don Henley)

Oh when I look back now
That summer seemed to last forever
And if I had the choice
Ya - I'd always wanna be there
Those were the best days of my life
(Summer of '69 by Bryan Adams)

All Summer long
We sang a song
And then we strolled on golden sand
Two sweethearts
And the summer wind
(The Summer Wind by Michael Buble)

Pop in my cd and let me run a rhyme
And put your car on cruise and lay back cause
this is summertime
(Summertime by Will Smith)

Oh sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And when I come home from a hard day's work
And you're waiting there, yes you're waiting there
Without a care in the world
(Summer Breeze by Jason Mraz)

And finally, one for K...
There's always time to complain about the weather
Seasons change in a day just like each other
But we wait for summer
Seven day holiday in the rain with you
(Caravan Holiday by Stereophonics)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lyrics about Fathers and Being a Father

After posting my favourite lyrics about mothers last month, in celebration of Father's Day, here are my favourite lyrics about fathers and being a father.

That night I don't think one wink I slept
As I slipped out of my bed
To your bed I crept
Touched your head gently
Felt my heart melt
Cause I knew I loved you
more than life itself
(Just the Two of Us by Will Smith)
this was also made into a great kids book

With all that I've done wrong I must have done
something right to deserve her love every morning
and butterfly kisses at night.
(Butterfly kisses by Bob Carlisle)

Where do I find the words to say?
How do I teach him?
What do we play?
Bit by bit, I've realized
That's when I need them,
That's when I need my father's eyes.
(My Father's Eyes by Eric Clapton)

You've got my eyes
We can't see
what you'll be
you can't disguise
Either way I will pray
you will be wise
pretty soon you will see
Tears in my eyes
(My Eyes by Travis)
written by Fran Healey the day after he found out he would become a father

First night of your life, curled up on your own
Looking at you now, you would never know
I see it in your eyes, I see it in your eyes
You'll be alright
I see it in your eyes, I see it in your eyes
(Wires by Athlete)

Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monsters gone,
He's on the run and your daddy's here,
Beautiful,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy
(Beautiful Boy by John Lennon)

I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you'll always know
As long as one and one is two
There could never be a father
Who loved his daughter more than I love you
(Father and Daughter by Paul Simon)

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
(Daughters by John Mayer)

And I only hope when I have my own family
That everyday I see
A little more of my father in me
(Song for Dad by Keith Urban)

Father I miss you so
Father why d'you have to go
So far away where I can't go
Somewhere, some place, but where I don't know
(Father by Jacques Villeneuve)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Keane at Sound Academy Review

Last weekend, I went to see my (arguably) favourite band in concert.

It was my 6th time seeing them since February 2005. I went with a friend who had never seen them but loved their first album.

The Helio Sequence was the first band to take the stage at 8. They played for half an hour. I quite enjoy their sound and was very surprised that I knew all the songs (minus one) from having downloaded their album the week before which means that their songs are instantly likeable for me.

The only thing that I was a bit troubled about (and perhaps I'm overreacting) is that music began playing before they started playing their instruments...so there were recorded music backing the two-member band (one sings and plays guitar while the other plays drums - obviously from their sound, there are more than two instruments being played). Should this bother me in today's electronic age? It didn't bother me to see Keane with a laptop by their keyboard in the past, but I guess I felt that Tim was "playing" the keyboard and the computer...so it seemed more legit...or I'm very biased towards Keane (which is true).

The two members of The Helio Sequence could not be more different. One is subdued and doesn't show much emotion (there were a few times when you saw the passion he had for the songs, but in general, he was low-key). The drummer on the other hand is crazy-animated. I only recorded one song (which is my favourite). It's not as lively as some of their other songs, so the drummer isn't as animated as other times, but I think it still gives a good representation of what they were like:




Mat Kearney was next to take the stage at 8:45 until 9:30. I had known of Mat since Grey's Anatomy showed one of his videos at the end of an episode.



I downloaded a bunch of other songs from that album, but I have to say that I didn't recognize as many of his songs that he performed that night (he also played for longer). He had a new album released a few days before the concert (that I unfortunately forgot to download) so he might have played a few from that album.

His performance was also excellent. The crowd was quite receptive and he was very appreciative. He made eye contact with many people in the audience, and you really felt like he was singing to us. I know that may sound corny, but often a band or artist is on stage and you feel like it's just another show.

I always love when bands or artists mention where they are. Even if it's just a "how are you Toronto?" I appreciate them acknowledging where they are.

I especially love it when it gets incorporated into a song. When Keane used to play Fly To Me, they would change the words and include something about the city in the lyrics (for us it was "when I'm far away from Lake On-ta-ri-o, will all your love bring me home")

Mat takes it to a new level though when he incorporates a whole new verse about the city he's visiting. I wish someone had uploaded the Toronto version, I would love to hear it again.

Here's another version about another city:


I recorded Closer To Love which is on the new album. I had downloaded that single before the album came out.



Annie Reuter from "You Sing, I Write" interviewed him a few days later when he was playing in New York. She'll be posting her review soon, so check out her blog to read more detail. I asked her to ask him about his ad-lib verse, whether it is planned in advance and whether he really goes to the places he's singing about. She told me that he does sightsee in the cities that he plays in, but that the verses are spontaneous. I'm very impressed. I wish I could remember more of it.

After his performance, he said he would be selling CD's and signing autographs at the merchandise stand. Unfortunately, the crowd started to get tighter in anticipation of Keane and I was afraid to lose my 3rd row spot so I stayed put.

Just after 10, Keane took to the stage for over 90 minutes. The crowd went nuts. The crowd was really the loudest and most appreciative I have heard in a long time...not just previous Keane concerts but other concerts as well (and men screaming as much as women - which is a change from a James Blunt concert). Unfortunately, the woman behind us had quite a pitch to her screaming, so my friend and I lost a bit of hearing from it. She was between us, so we must have looked cute. My left finger closing my left ear, her right finger closing her right ear...everytime she screamed. She eventually moved up between us which helped our ears since the sound was going forward not to the side.

My biggest complaints about Sound Academy are the stage not being as high as at other venues and the venue being long and narrow. This means that getting a good view is difficult. We were 3rd row and we still didn't have an amazing view (with no one tall in front of us). You can tell from the videos that often I have to move because my view is blocked. I am aware of people behind me, so don't like to hold my camera too high (normally I can hold it at my face level and get a great view, but not at the Sound Academy). The other problem that night was with the disorganization of the queue. It wasn't a first come first serve type of entry which was a shame for those (of us) who made a point of arriving early.

So back to Keane. I initially was concerned because Tom's microphone (the lead singer) wasn't in the centre. It was to the left (further from us). He stayed there for quite a few songs. Luckily, he did end up moving quite a bit later.



With Tom a bit further earlier on, I entertained myself by watching Tim. He had a great zebra shirt on (with shoes that matched the zebra).




The following video shows why I love Tim so much. I love watching him play, especially his feet.


It's really a shame that part of my view of him was blocked by the front keyboard, but then I got to see his face when he was singing and playing at the front keyboard.



Every time I have seen them perform in the past, it has been the 3 of them. Tom would sing and also play piano/keyboards for a couple of songs. Tim would play keyboards and Richard would play drums while they sang backup.

Last year, they added Jesse to play guitar and other instruments on tour (not sure if he will join the band permanently - he's still not mentioned on their myspace page), and Tom started to play guitar as well. I was quite concerned that Tom would lose some of his star quality by being busy playing guitar, but I was relieved when I saw them last weekend, that he only plays guitar on a few tracks. He stayed at the mike more, but he still managed to make his way around the stage quite a bit.

I can't say enough about the Toronto crowd (or about Keane appreciating the reaction). Tom was especially in a jovial and talkative mood.



It really was worth every penny. Hopefully it won't be my last time seeing them.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lyrics about Mothers and Being a Mother

Happy Mother's Day!!

A while back, I made a CD of songs about being a parent. I am now amazed how many are performed by men, so those lyrics will wait until Father's Day (bet you can't wait!! lol)

So here are some of my favourite lyrics written about being a mother or about being a child of a mother.

Unsure of what the balance held
I touched my belly overwhelmed
By what I had been chosen to perform
To Zion by Lauryn Hill

I knew his life deserved a chance
But everybody told me to be smart
Look at your career they said,
"Lauryn, baby use your head"
But instead I chose to use my heart
Now the joy of my world is in Zion
To Zion by Lauryn Hill

And although not about mothers necessarily, these lines always make me think of my daughter:
Just a perfect day
Feed animals in the zoo
Perfect Day by Lou Reed, Bono and many others



Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk
She says I began to sing long before I could talk
Thank You for the Music by Abba

I see who I want to be
in my daughter's eyes
In My Daughter's Eyes by Martina McBride

In my daughter's eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she'll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I'm gone I hope you see how happy
she made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes
In my daugter's eyes by martina mcbride

Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too
Daughters by John Mayer

This is the clock upon the wall
This is the story of us all
This is the first sound of a newborn child,
Before he starts to crawl
This is the war that’s never won
This is a soldier and his gun
This is the mother waiting by the phone,
Praying for her son
Pictures of You by The Last Goodnight

Now ending with three Canadian female singers with their thoughts on mothers:

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'coz you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me
Because you loved me by Celine Dion

I've got a good mother,
and her voice is what keeps me here.
Feet on ground,
Heart in hand,
Facing forward,
Be yourself.
Good Mother by Jann Arden

And finally, a song that reminds me of how I don't want to parent:

Be a good boy
Push a little farther now
That wasn't fast enough
To make us happy
We'll love you just the way you are
if you're perfect
Perfect by Alanis Morissette

My favourite saying to my son or daughter is that they are perfect...for me! (with all their faults and mess-ups). I'm sure that I don't tell them that enough and that I am still too critical, but I am trying to accept them the way they are.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Travis Didn't Rain On Me

Last night was a busy entertainment night in Toronto. Kings of Leon and Flight of the Concords were performing, but I was at the Travis concert at the Sound Academy in Toronto. With Travis' most popular song being titled Why Does It Always Rain On Me? it was fitting that yesterday was a rainy and cold day. Fortunately, the rain stopped before the concert (not sure if it rained during the concert) so we didn't get wet on the way there or the way home.

I have said in the past, that I am way too biased to give a fair review so I normally don't write them, but since I haven't seen an official review online yet (I love reading them), I thought I would add my two cents about the concert.

Republic Tigers were the opening act and are definitely worth checking out. My friends hope to see them headline a tour with more material. Personally, I need to know the songs better in order to really appreciate a concert. A year from now, I may kick myself for not taking the time to familiarize myself enough with their music. The lead singer was quite entertaining with his guitar, tambourine and drum...he believes in multi-tasking.

Travis played for over an hour and a half (according to the time of my photos and videos). They covered most of my favourite songs. The sound was great. This was my first concert at the Sound Academy. I had heard horrible things about the sound at The Docks (what it was previously known as so used to avoid it), but since the renovations, they must have improved the sound a lot, because I thought (and others agreed) that Travis sounded amazing.

I don't have the setlist (I wasn't planning on blogging about it), but my personal highlights were:
  • Closer (I got closer in order to get better photos and videos for this one...yes the pun was intended). This may be my favourite Travis song (after the obvious Why Does It Always Rain On Me?)
  • Fran's walkabout in the crowd to sing Falling Down (ok, I couldn't see him, but just the idea of him being in the crowd was fun)
  • Singing to Sing (ok, I sang to most of the songs, but I liked the sound of "singing to Sing")
  • My Eyes and Flowers in the Windows were both played (I had seen one or the other omitted from past setlists, so I was happy they did both).
  • Learning that My Eyes was written about his unborn child...I'm listening to that song differently now.
  • the many mentions of Toronto....I love it when a band mentions where they are...it makes the experience more personal.
  • Selfish Jean is even better live...what a great song!! Amazing how a song that isn't really a happy song, can just bring a huge smile to our faces as we sing to every word.
  • I heard that the gong (during Before You Were Young) was a highlight for many but unfortunately, I missed it - I was pretty much focused on Fran for most of the show because the lighting at the back wasn't as good and I had to pick where to look around the heads. The stage may not be as high as at other venues, or Travis have very tall fans.
  • the whole band singing Flowers In The Window together at the front to close out the show (from youtube videos, this seems to be the norm for their concerts, but I was a newbie at a Travis concert, so didn't know ahead of time)
  • Why Does It Always Rain On Me? ... what a great song and Fran made it extra special by stopping midway to ask us to do the pogo dance for the final chorus. He even sang... "Why is it raining so cold...Toronto... so cold" You can see it at the end of my video:



I have decided to start putting videos on youtube. So if you're one of my readers who enjoys seeing videos, feel free to subscribe to my youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/suze20to. (You can find the first part of Why Does It Always Rain On Me there) I'll be adding more soon.

What changed my mind was last night when Fran made a mention of all the cameras and how we should all put our videos up for Flowers in the Attic. In the past, I hesitated putting videos up. I took them for my own personal enjoyment so didn't want someone bootlegging live music, but in the last year or so, video taking has really become the norm. I have also loved seeing different perspective from concerts I have been to, so perhaps others would like to see my perspective. I don't believe that (most) bands mind like they may have in the past. I am wondering whether I should get their permission first (or at least let them know to let me know if they want them taken down). Thoughts?

A few months ago Keane put a tour archive on their website and asked people to upload photos and videos from past concerts. I am planning on doing that next. They are quite open to fan videos as they sometimes put links to videos they find on youtube. Interestingly, I was asked to stop videoing at one of their concerts (I was standing at the stage beside security, so I guess I was pretty obvious).

I noticed this morning that Travis has a similar archive for photos on their website. There are great photos there.

So, all in all...Travis live are absolutely worth seeing. They sound great, they're great showmen and they looked like they were really enjoying performing for us. After last night, they have definitely moved up on my favourite band ladder. I don't think I will want to miss them perform the next time they come back to Toronto!

Added on Thursday:
Videos are popping up more on YouTube, this is one of the reasons I have decided to start uploading videos:



I now get to see what I couldn't see from my viewpoint. Fran doing his walkabout. I get to see it because someone has uploaded their video. Perhaps someone will appreciate seeing something on mine that they didn't video (like reliving Fran asking us to do the Pogo dance). 10-20 years ago, our concert experiences lasted a few hours...now with photos and videos, we can relive them over and over again.

I also found the setlist so I can make myself a concert playlist. It can be found here. The ? for the first song of the encore was Dougie singing Ring Out the Bell.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Thievery Corporation concert review

Absolutely brilliant show here in Toronto on Saturday night. It was much better than I anticipated and is one of the best shows I've seen in the last few years.

I was a little shocked about the ticket price when I initially heard about the date, but I must say it was worth every penny. The main men of TC, Rob Garza and Eric Hilton were stationed prime centre stage but raised and highlighted towards the back to let them DJ without the show just being about a couple of guys behind laptops. Front and centre and always on the move was the bass player, making the moves with the large rotation of singers (5 or 6 I believe, including 2 South American ladies, another lady from Tehran and 2 hip hop DC lads). They had two percussionists, a sitar player, and a wonderful trumpet and sax horns duo. Large screens showed a dazzling array of images and video.

The reviews have been a little hard to come by with the Toronto date being only #2 on the tour with Chicago being on Friday night (pics). The one review of the Toronto show wasn't that positive (mainly because of venue and sound issues), but it gives you a sense of the show. I think the Kool Haus is a decent venue for its size and sound is ok if you're familiar with the material. Towards the end of the 2 hour show they got about 20 groovy ladies from the audience up on stage to dance along with the band - quite the party ! Apparently, David Byrne jumped up on stage for one number in Chicago - wow, that would have been something to see. If you're a fan of their blend of electronica and world beats then I'm sure you'll love them live.

Highlights would be opening numbers Sound the Alarm and Madala from their latest album, Warning Shots "one" singalong, The Numbers Game, and of course Shadows of Ourselves.

The set list which I found on a cool little site called setlist.fm:
Links - main site, videos (incl. a good live montage - embedded below); myspace (tunes, dates etc)



Sunday, January 25, 2009

The one and only Rolling Stones


I watched Shine a light last night. I didn't have high expectations, but I was in the mood to listen to some classic Stones and see if there was any Scorsese magic (I'd actually forgotten he's directed another concert film - The Last Waltz - which I still haven't seen - my bad).

I must say the cinematography was beautiful, especially so in HD. The sound quality was superb, although I noticed various instrument sounds were highlighted when the camera moved to them, especially from the supporting musicians. Even Richards' guitar work seemed to come in and out, but then again maybe he's struggling to stay on and that's how he plays these days. Or maybe, because of the sound quality, I've just noticed this for the first time. If the highlighting was deliberate, the effect seemed a little unnecessary.


Some would call the music of The Stones classic rock, however from this performance you can see that the sound of American blues music is solidly in their English blood. I've noticed their take on the blues on past occasions, but I think it was more evident than ever in the film, maybe it's always been there and it just took a more intimate setting to show it off rather than the mega shows we've been used to in the last 25 years.


[pause while I put on some tracks from 1969's Let it Bleed]


The duets with White, Guy and Aguilera were a great addition. With Jack White you got to really see his playful natural side, Buddy Guy's booming voice was just fantastic and the I loved the sassy and sexy chemistry between Mick and Christina Aguilera. I was also pleasantly surprised by Keith's lead on
You Got the Silver, that drugged-out dude can really sing and he really poured a lot of heart and energy into all his playing and singing in the show.

The movie was really a concert film with some intro elements from Scorsese to set the stage. There was some odd nonsense with Bill Clinton and company that seemed a little out of place. It may be a little hard to appreciate Scorsese's hand in the film with no clear directing of the performers, but I'm sure he had a big say in all elements of the film, from the choice of camera angles, editing, lighting, etc. Whatever he did, he made this intimate, bluesy and rocking performance a must see for any fan of The Stones, or any music fan wanting to find out what makes The Rolling Stones one of the best bands of all time.


The movie had a few interjections from old interviews, simple but effective. The selected excerpts showed their early confidence, their intelligent humour and a sense they already knew they would make a mark in the music world. Now in their 60's, the lines on their faces show they've enjoyed an exhausting career, but you can't fault their energy levels. It shows that youth never has to die, these kids are still just doing what they love. Jagger's non stop moves actually reminded me of
Brandon Flowers' Killer performance at Friday's night show here in Toronto.

I watched the movie by myself in my basement, but I didn't feel alone. I sung out loud a few times and felt like clapping in appreciation of their artistry on many occasions.
I've seen them live twice (1981 Tattoo You tour in Detroit and the massive SARS concert here in Toronto in 2003), but I felt I could almost call this the third, it was such a personal experience.

The film did it's job for me. It reminded me how truly great The Rolling Stones are. The New York performance shows what wonderful consummate performers they are. 40 years on and their energized and intelligent combination of classic blues and rock with the most singable and mature lyrics around is still shining bright. I'm proud to call them my countrymen.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Killer Show

Last night, I saw The Killers at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

A few months back, I posted about The Bands I'd Love To See which was prompted by having seen The Killers on Saturday Night Live. At the time, I didn't think that I would get to see The Killers from up close (with them mostly having grown to arena shows).

Last night was a great combination of a small club feel with the theatrics of an arena show. It was my first time on the floor for a general admission show at the ACC. My husband (luckily for me) humoured me and arrived at the venue 45 minutes before the doors opened which allowed us to get a spot 5 persons deep a bit right of center.

M83 began their 45 minute set at 7:30 and were very good (especially for a warm-up band). I loved the set-up with the two main singers facing each other on keyboards. The drummer was exceptional (not that I know much about drumming - but he really impressed me).

The Killers took the stage at 8:45pm after a brief countdown with the lights in the background. The crowd was instantly into it singing along to the oh oh ohohoh oh oh ohohoh of Spaceman.

The best view I had was of Brandon (the lead singer) and Ronnie (the drummer).



They were both very entertaining. Brandon surprised me at how comfortable he was on stage. In past reviews, he has been described as shy and awkward, but for me, he was very personable and he looked like he was really enjoying being up on stage (smiling and lots of facial interaction with the crowd and his bandmates). Perhaps that is not visible from further back - and perhaps live closeup videos of the band would have helped this (like I have seen other bands have).

I was really loving the show but then while they were playing Smile Like You Mean It (the 4th song), some disorderly guys shoved their way up through the crowd obviously not caring who they pushed or stepped on (it had been already completely packed in-with no space for anyone else and they were not small men who ended up standing beside me -or should I say stumbling and pushing?). I guess I was lucky that they didn't end up in front of me. This commotion got us distracted for that song, but when This is Your Life started (which I love), I tried to ignore the guys.

Joyride was next when Brandon asked the crowd to show him some sexy dancing. Half way through the song, bubbles started falling which was fun (and wet...lol).

Bones was a song which I really didn't expect. It's one of my favourite Killers song and I hadn't seen it on 2009 set lists (from previous shows). So, I got my camera out and videotaped 90 seconds of it.



I'm quite happy with the video as it does show how much Brandon moves around on stage and a minute into the video he pauses in front of where I was, then steps up closer to the audience (and touches the fans in the front rows). At this point (as you can see from the bumpy video), there is a lot of pushing forward and shoving. I stopped videotaping when it really started to get crazy. At the end of Bones, I found my husband (who had ended up almost 10 feet away from me after those guys showed up and this last shoving match) and we moved back about 5 rows where it was a bit tamer.

As wonderful as it was to have been close, being a bit further back made it great as well because we could more fully enjoy the spectacle of the light show and with songs like Human and All The Things That I've Done coming...it was worth moving back. It would have been interesting to move further back, but really the crowd was so packed in - it was difficult to move (even having moved back 5 rows had been a struggle).

So we stayed where we were and enjoyed the light show during Human. They had such an amazing performance at the MTV European Music Awards with an amazing light show and the band members in boxes. I was happy to see part of the light show incorporated into the ACC performance.



The concert wasn't all high energy dance numbers. An acoustic version of Sam's Town saw Brandon play at a piano at the back of the stage (my view was blocked by the front keyboard) was a good example of some of the quieter songs.

But the quieter moments were few and far between with the first set ending with Read My Mind, Mr. Brightside and the anthemic All These Things That I've Done which had many of the lyrics displayed on the back drop of the stage and confetti falling into the crowd.



The encore started with For Reasons Unknown followed by the Joy Division cover Shadowplay and Jenny Was a Friend of Mine.

They finished the 90 minute concert with the Guitar Hero song...When You Were Young which was a huge hit with audience especially with pyrotechnics falling down onto the stage.

For me, this concert was a 4 out of 5. It exceeded my expectations.

SET LIST:
Spaceman
Losing Touch
Somebody Told Me
Smile Like You Mean It
This Is Your Life
Joy Ride
I Can't Stay
Bling (Confessions Of A King
Bones
A Dustland Fairytale
Neon Tiger
Human
Sam's Town
Read My Mind
Mr. Brightside
All These Things That I've Done
ENCORE:
For Reasons Unknown
Shadowplay
Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine
When You Were Young

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Killers part 3

Great show, Flowers and drummer true performers. They played all their hits and my fave Joy Division cover. Better in the bigger venue than plastic performances on SNL and the like. Worth the crush.

sent from my BlackBerry

The killers part 2

Piano interlude. Second fight avoided. Great energy. Screaming girls. Still very intimate - crushed, but nicer folks a few feet back. My kind of Vegas floor show.

sent from my BlackBerry

M83

Solid opening act for The Killers tonight. Great exposure for this small band - small enough that they're putting their own gear away and the guitarist walked on this his parka under his arm and his guitar case in hand. Great start to the night.

sent from my BlackBerry

Killers part 1

We have general admission floor tickets at the Air Canada Centre.

So my gung-ho-early-liner-upper wife has us jammed in up front and still a few hours to go before they go on - I must be crazy. And a little annoyed because they don't allow booze for floor tickets.

Looking around - I'm definitely the oldest guy in the mob. Spanish banter behind me. Mob is about about 20 deep - it must look odd for those sitting down in this 15,000 person arena !

Supporting act M83 hopefully up in the next 30 mins.

Not sure if I'll have elbow space to write later.

sent from my BlackBerry

Monday, January 12, 2009

Blip.fm - another way to share and find new music

Hot on the tail of what-influences-your-music-choices, last week I dabbled a little with a new music sharing site called blip.fm. I wasn't immediately impressed, but today a few other friends joined on and if you know me, obviously I didn't want to be left out of the new community. It's like one of those things out of The Tipping Point, when there is a critical mass of users or content focused on something that is of particular interest to you - you can't ignore it for long ! You can find my Blips at http://blip.fm/pjmixer.

Blip has a few quirks, but it's method of sharing and streaming individual tracks in decent quality seems quite appealing. It services two audiences, of which I'm probably both. One, the ever-aspiring DJ who wants to be the first to tell his friends about some great music finds; and second, the person always looking for new music. From what I've been able to find out so far, it seems quite legal which is very surprising because you can preview the full version of any track in its library and search and skip through Blips to hear exactly what you're interested in. In that regard, it is much better than other streaming sites I've used like
Finetune. However, it doesn't seem easy to get a good constant and stable themed stream going, and you're constantly being drawn from the latest hip track to old favourites and questionable diddies. If you blog a little about music or use Twitter for micro-blogging, then you can look at Blip as a micro-blogging site dedicated to music. The library is quite vast and I've found I few gems already.



This snappy player will likely be heading over to the right-hand column shortly. I'll be interested to see if Blip will become a music extension to this blog and if you'll jump into the Blip community. See you on the flip side.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What influences your music choices ?

Just reading and commenting in Mark Evans' blog about how Radio 2 is igniting a renewed interest in music for him. Mark posed the question "The question is why Terfry’s show has inspired the consumer in me when there are services around like Pandora and Jango?". My comment... "Interesting note on why radio seems to drive some of our music choices over other non-personal channels. I actually just finished reading The Tipping Point and in the updated afterword, Gladwell provides thoughts on impacts of technologies on The Law of the Few: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesman. It seems that we may be building an immunity to the huge volume of data we receive through new tech channels. I'd like to hear Malcolm's thoughts on the smaller community focus of web 2.0 being a better chance at building more valuable connections online."

Although I did comment back in November that I was getting some new (old) music from Radio 2, the vast majority of my music finds continue to come from reading reviews in magazines and then taking the time to sample a large amount of music. For instance, scattered around our living room are months of Q magazines with year-end US focused publications from Rolling Stone and Spin. I've been busy correlating many of the best ofs and making sure I didn't miss any gems in 2008. A found a few new ones just over the last couple of days from Rolling Stone. Mostly American artists like Blitzen Trapper, Conor Oberst and Girl Talk that haven't quite made the impact in the UK which is my primary source. There are plenty of online reviews (metacritic being a good consolidator) but music magazines remain one of the few hardcopy purchases I make on a regular basis - I love marking them up with check marks, c/o for "check out" and other personal ratings and comments.

Personal recommendations are almost always better than what you hear from mass market channels. You build a sense of trust with the person who recommends a good band or book, especially if you find one that hits the mark, is close to your tastes or perhaps they even begin to understand your personal tastes and they tailor their recommendations to you ! There must be a little gap in the web 2.0 weave for a little more personal recommendation. Blogs, Twitter and Facebook work to some degree, but there's room for improvement and readers should make a good effort to fuel the feedback loop. I pretend to be a source for recommendations and ratings for music (here and there) and movies via my Facebook page, and but then again it all comes down to personal preference and how specific your tastes are.

Can a good, reliable source influence your tastes ? I'd say it probably has for me over the years, especially with popular music in the UK. It's taken a while for me to trust the ratings in Q, but now we seem to be in sync. One other source I go to on a regular basis is IMDB for movies. I'd say the reader voting and reviews really do provide a good guideline for me and I can invest good time in any movie scoring over 7.

So where do you get your new music from ?