Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where I find new music: Part 6 - concerts

Well this sounds a little backward doesn't it ? Don't we only go to concerts by musicians we already know and like ?  Sure we do, but we may not always know all their material or perhaps the constant playing by our spouse has numbed our senses and we've lost our appreciation for their art. We may also stumble on a opening band that are new to us or we've only heard a small sample of their material.

I'll start with the later as an example.  I like the bad Travis.  I was never a huge fan, but went with the gang to see them live a few years ago.  This year, their lead singer Fran Healey released a solo album which has been getting pretty constant spousal airtime around the house.  In both occasions, I loved their live performances and has made me want to listen more attentively to their music.  Actually, now I've re-listened to Fran Healy's latest album, it sounds quite different to the bare bones acoustic performance (my preference) on Friday night.  However, his beautiful lyrics haven't changed.

I saw Elbow open for Coldplay a few years ago.  They had a few UK hits, but I didn't know a lot of their older material.  They put on a fantastic show, perhaps one of the best openers I've ever seen and as soon as I got home, I downloaded a few older tracks and listened with a new ear to songs I'd passed on the first time around.

And finally, there are the total surprises.  These are often smaller bands or local talent that I see opening for old timers or hot acts from the UK or US.  Some of these finds include: Carney who opened for The Boxer Rebellion; Von Iva who opened for Glasvegas; Diane Birch who opened for Mat Kearney; and our favourite local lads, We Are The Take who opened for fellow Canadians The Waking Eyes and The Arkells.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

New concert listings

I can't say I've been really excited about of lot of concert announcements of late, but looking through this week's NOW magazine, I few new ones caught my attention.

On my shortlist:
Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, Fri Dec 3rd, Mod Club - my brother has seen them a few times and says they're amazing live
White Lies, Sat Jan 29th, Mod Club - new album due out in January

Blasts from the past:
Gang of Four, Fri Feb 4th, The Phoenix, yes - a new album in January (after 15 years away)
Grapes of Wrath, Fri Nov 19th, Horseshoe

Maybe of interest to some of our friends:
Interpol, Tues, Feb 15th, The Sound Academy
Fran Healy, Fri Nov 26th, Mod Club - we're going to this one
Pete Yorn, Sat March 5th, Opera House
Killing Joke, Tues Dec 7th, The Phoenix
Brandon Flowers, Sat Dec 4th, Sound Academy
Einsturzende Neubauten, Sat Dec 11th, The Phoenix and Sun Dec 12th, Lee's Palace
K.T. Tunstall, Tues Nov 23rd, The Phoenix
Lowest of the Low, December 3rd and 4th Lee's Palace
Kate Nash, November 13th at The Phoenix
Mumford & Songs sold out at Sound Academy November 13th

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Song I ♥: Departure by Mt. Desolation

imported from My Life Is Like A Song

Mt. Desolation's album was released yesterday in the US and Canada. I am presently listening to it in its entirety for the first time. I first wrote about Mt. Desolation last April when I read that Tim Rice-Oxley of Keane was forming a supergroup. You can read that post here.

In June, Mt. Desolation offered a free download of one of the songs, State of Our Affairs so I know this one quite well, but it was a slow building love. It didn't immediately jump out at me, but the more I heard it, the more I loved it. It's now one of my favourite songs of the year.

I first heard Departure a few weeks ago when they released the video which I LOVED. I also immediately loved the song.

I'll be trying to listen to the album as much as I can before seeing them in concert at The Drake Hotel on October 28th. For me, a concert is always better when I know the songs.

(lyrics as copied from the Mt. Desolation forum)
I can sense departure in the air
Now it's only the past that we share
Divided at a parting of the road
Where I could ride on or lighten the load

I've been dreaming of a town
Where the lost and found
And wrongway round are bound
For departure
I've been comfortably numb
But a change is gonna come
Like a storm
Driving down through the streets
From mount Desolation's peak
To make you pure
For departure
For departure

Lover, we have fought and we have laughed
At every obstacle thrown in our path
The things have gotta change before I crack
Before I get so lost I can't get back

I've been dreaming of a town
Where the lost and found
And wrongway round are bound
For departure
I woke up at the mouth
Of a river in the south
Of this land
Where the tide and the stones
Strip the troubles from your bones
And make you glad
Of departure

I'll treasure 'til I'm dead
Everything that we have said and done
For the voice in my head
Is telling me I'd best be moving on
Cause the decent folk don't want me
Everywhere my missteps haunt me
But the fears that always stalked me
Seem to fade away

When I start dreaming of a town
Where the lost and found
And wrongway round are bound
For departure
I woke up at the mouth
Of a river in the south
Of this land
Where the tide and the stones
Strip the troubles from your bones
And make you glad
Of departure
Where the tide and the stones
Strip the troubles from your bones
And make you glad
Of departure

The death of love
The death of love
It's nothing to be scared of
It's just a light switching off

Friday, October 15, 2010

Gorillaz mixing it up

Gorillaz mixing it up Originally uploaded by PJMixer

The Gorillaz concert at The Air Canada Centre was everything I expected it to be - video and groove heavy, melodic at times, performing most of their hits with a large ensemble (25+ members, including rappers and hip hoppers, back up singers, Bobby Womack, Chicago horns, guest Arabic instrumentation, two drummers and a string section).  Clash guitarists Jones and Simonon were perfect stewards of rhythm with Damon moving between piano, guitar, melodica or just being a warm singing host and enticer.

The large video screen (see other shots) was in constant use, playing full length accompanying videos at times and comic book stills and animation with a splash of culture and historic footage.  It would have been nice to get some live action close ups of the performers.  And the backdrop logo added a strikingly colourful backdrop throughout the show for the varied sets and ensembles.  

The near capacity audience (1/2 ACC format) was enthusiastic throughout.  From my vantage point, the majority  of the audience were standing for the whole (almost 2 hour) show.

Damon didn't introduce all the performers, but I think I saw a few of them on the Demon Days DVD from their Manchester show.  I'd really like to see a DVD/BD released for this tour.

If you've read this far, you're perhaps of fan of the Gorillaz too, so If you still have an opportunity to see one of their shows on the remainder of their North American tour or world wide tour, I'm sure you won't be disappointed and you'll be singing and moving along to their wonderful beats, rhythms, raps and melodies for days afterward.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

New concert listings

The Killers' frontman Brandon Flowers will be performing at Sound Academy on December 4th.

Tickets go on sale this morning for the Live Nation presale and Friday for the general sale.

Dane Cook is coming to Air Canada Centre. So if you like comedy, tickets go on sale Friday September 24th.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Where I find new music: Part 5 - NOW Magazine

Ever since I've lived in Toronto, I've read NOW for its music, film, arts and theatre listings.  Along with staying up iwht concerts coming to town, you can sometimes cross reference a band with a new CD review or a tip on next week's hot tickets.  Today as I was browsing the concert listings over lunch I band called Mystery Jets caught my attention as my brother used to play in a band called the Mystery Dates.  A few pages further, their latest album was reviewed and got a strong 4 stars.  A few clicks later and I was sampling their stuff on MySpace and YouTube.  Great stuff, thanks NOW.

Mystery Jets are playing The Horseshoe Tavern on Monday night.

Previous posts in the series:

Where I find new music: Part 4: Streaming radio

When I'm at the office and got my head down doing email or working on some tech config, I occasionally open iTunes and pick a saved streaming radio station.  I have a few saved that provide just the right mix of smooth and mellow music, either with electronica or jazz DNA.

Here are a few of my favourites:

The trick is that when you're listening and hear something that you really like, then need to make a note of the current track because it may not be easy to review past tracks.

The track I found today was a something new from a Norwegian electrofolk band called Flunk called Sit Down.

Previous posts in the series:

New Concert Listings

Just a quick note to say that Mt. Desolation is coming to The Drake Hotel on October 28th. This is the supergroup formed by Keane members Tim Rice-Oxley and Jesse Quin. See my supergroups post for more details. Tickets go on today Friday September 10th. The album comes out October 18th. You can here a couple of songs on their website here. I have to say that I am liking Departure on first listen and State of Our Affairs has grown on me, so I am quite excited about seeing them.

KT Tunstall is coming back to Toronto. I have seen her twice and she is really great live. If you haven't seen her, you can catch her at The Phoenix Concert Theatre November 23rd. Tickets go on sale today.

Macy Gray is playing Mod Club October 2nd. Tickets on sale today.

Other interesting upcoming events:

Boxer Rebellion Sept 27 at The Horseshoe Tavern (we're going)
The xx September 29th at Massey Hall (just won Mercury Prize)
K'naan (with opening act Shad) Oct. 1 at Kool Haus (saw them both last year)
Temper Trap October 5th at The Phoenix (saw them twice last year)
Hot Hot Heat October 8th at Mod Club (I'm going)
Belle & Sebastian October 12th Massey Hall
Sufjan Stevens October 13th Massey Hall
The Dears October 13th, 14th and 15th at The Garrison
Gorillaz October 14 at ACC (PJ going)
OK Go October 14 at The Phoenix
Band of Horses October 21 at Kool Haus
Stars October 23rd at Massey Hall
Greg Laswell October 30th at El Mocambo
Florence and the Machine Nov 3rd at Sound Academy (saw them last spring)
Sara Bareilles November 8th at The Phoenix
Kate Nash November 13th at The Phoenix
Mumford & Sons November 14th at Sound Academy (sold out)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Supergroups, Reunions and Solo Projects

Imported from My Life Is Like A Song (you can view post comments here)

I started this post months ago. When I first heard that Guy Berryman of Coldplay and Tim Rice-Oxley of Keane were joining separate supergroups.

Apparatjik is a group that consists of bassist Guy Berryman from Coldplay, guitarist/keyboardist Magne Furuholmen from a-ha and singer/guitarist Jonas Bjerre of Mew.

Mt. Desolation is a alt country group formed by Tim Rice-Oxley and Jesse Quin from Keane that consists of
Andrew Lowe - Bass
Fimbo - Drums
John Roderick - BVs, Guitar (from Long Winters)
Pete Roe - Keys, BVs
Tom Fiddle Hobden - Fiddle (from Noah and the Whale)
Jessica Staveley-Taylor - BVs
John-William Scott - Bass, Guitar
Phil Renna - Fiddle, Keys

and also feat:
Ronnie Vannucci - Perc, good vibes (from The Killers)
Country Winston Marshall - Banjo (from Mumford & Sons)
Charity Quin - BVs
Jayne Rice-Oxley - BVs
Francois Deville - Pedal Steel

I was quite excited that some musicians that I love would be coming out with more music (without breaking up their original bands), but my enthusiasm waned when I heard the first few songs they released. Just because I love Keane and Coldplay, it turns out that I don't necessarily love the music of Mt. Desolation and Apparatjik.

At that point, I let this post go...but I kept hearing of new collaborations or new solo projects. It frustrates me sometimes that I hear about an album release months before it's actually released. Sometimes, I forget about it when it actually does gets released.

So to help me remember about these new releases, I decided to finish this post.

Tired Pony is a group that features Gary Lightbody (of Snow Patrol), Richard Colburn (of Belle & Sebastian), Iain Archer, Jacknife Lee, Peter Buck (of REM), Scott McCaughey and Troy Stewart. It turns out that this is also a country inspired group. I remember reading that country music was becoming popular in Great Britain. I am NOT a country music fan, so this does not excite me...but I will give it a chance.

Before hearing Mt. Desolation, I did say that if anyone could get me to like country music, it would be Keane. I haven't loved the first few songs I have heard, but will keep giving it a try.

The best "supergroup" of the year has to be Broken Bells composed of artist-producer Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) and James Mercer from The Shins. High Road is one of the best songs of 2010 in my opinion.

Freebass consists of Peter Hook (New Order and Joy Division), Gary (Mani) Mounfield (The Stone Roses and currently in Primal Scream) and singer Gary Briggs (Haven). Andy Rourke (The Smiths) was originally involved, but may not involved with them at the moment. Years after first announcing the project, they have released an album and toured a few dates. In Canada, an EP Two Worlds Collide was just released a couple of weeks ago.

Beady Eye isn't really a supergroup...but I didn't know where else to include them. They consist of Oasis members minus Noel and are set to release a single in the fall followed by an album in early 2011.

Noel Gallagher is said to have been in the studio recording drums for an unnamed musician last week. Is this the beginning of another supergroup? Or will he go solo to continue the gigs he has been playing this year? Time will tell.

If some groups are mixing it up, other groups are having reunions.

Gavin Rossdale is rejoining Bush and releasing a new album in October.
Robbie Williams and Take That are getting back together.
Soundgarden have reunited and performed together.
Roxy Music will be touring next year.

And finally some singers are going on their own.

Brandon Flowers of The Killers will be releasing a solo album in September and playing concerts....but uggg, I should have completed this blog earlier. I just found out that he's performing at the Mod Club in Toronto on Wednesday. There was a contest to win tickets, but it's closed now. Oh well, if he comes back, I'll hopefully buy tickets. I can't complain. I saw The Killers from quite close last year and I won tickets to see Coldplay's buzz gig in 2005. I can't win them all. I quite like his first single so am looking forward to the album.

Fran Healy of Travis also has been touring on his own. After touring with Travis last year (which I saw at Sound Academy), he and Andy Dunlop toured for a while as a twosome (which I missed when they played The Mod Club) and now, Fran didn't want to stop. I saw him last month at Molson Amphitheatre in a mini festival. He's so great live and he followed the festival tour with a headlining tour including dates in Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. He has a solo album coming out this fall and from the sounds of it at the concert, it will be great!

Not necessarily a band member going solo, but I read that Hugh Laurie recorded a blues album. If you're interested, you can do the research on this one ;-)

I read that Peter Hook will be taking Joy Division's classic album 'Unknown Pleasures' on a tour of the US. I'm not an expert on Joy Division but from my understanding he may have already been doing that in the UK. Again, if you're interested, check it out.

I am so relieved to finally finish this post. I'm sure that there are many other supergroups, reunions or solo projects so don't be surprised to see a part 2...but for now, I am happy to finally get all this written down and out of my head!

Toronto Concert Venues

While I've been adding some interesting concert dates, I thought I'd also take this (early Saturday morning) opportunity to rank the most popular venues in Toronto as the venue often dictates whether I'm willing to pay good money for a concert or not.
  1. The Mod Club - perfect size, high stage, great sound, always a great atmosphere.  Lots of pre and post options in the Lil' Italy neighbourhood.
  2. The Horseshoe Tavern.  Old, dirty, low ceilings, hot and often too loud.  But you can't beat the energy of the old place and they let me in with my DSLR camera.
  3. Koolhaus - large, unseated, warehouse-like venue.   Large enough for some big name acts and decent light shows.
  4. Lee's Palace - fun old joint, good size, good viewing angles and decent sound.  Seems to attract a lot of once great bands coming back for an encore.
  5. Phoenix Concert Theatre - gets pretty jammed, pretty quickly, but hosts some great artists.  Sound is usually good, but security is very strict and lineups are often a problem.
  6. Molson Amphitheatre - large outdoor venue.  Sound is pretty poor from the lawn, but can be very good in the closer seats and in the general admission area.
  7. Air Canada Centre - large arena, ok sound if you're in the lower bowl or up front.
  8. Sound Academy - this place gets a lot of good artists, but the layout is all just wrong and the sound is suspect.  Above all, difficult to get to if you're not driving and if you are driving, a nightmare parking lot.

It's about time...

We were talking last night and said we should use this blog to simply keep our friends informed on concert listings they may have missed or tips on bands that may be new to many people, but who we think you'll like.  We agreed for this blog, content is king and prose can wait for another day.  So we'll try and keep the content coming, especially as we head into cooler weather and perhaps a rush of end of year releases.


  • Gorillaz at Air Canada Centre, Oct 14th.  Really looking forward to this one - I'm going with my son and have lower bowl seats.  I have a DVD of their Demon Days concert and the performance is wonderful.  With all the guest musicians and singers and orchestral elements I have no idea what this Toronto show is going to be like, but it's a must-see for me.
  • The Boxer Rebellion at Horseshoe, Sept 27th.  Getting some well deserved attention because of their inclusion on the Going the Distance soundtrack.  Pop melodies that could be compared to Coldplay.  We have tickets to this one.
  • Katie Mulua at The Mod Club, Sept 8th.  I've always liked her soft tunes and songwriting.  Not for everyone, a little Kate Bush mixed with Carole King perhaps.  She hasn't played hear ever/for a long time and has a new album coming out.  Perfect venue choice.
  • K'Naan and Shad at Koolhaus, Oct 1st.  By now, I hope you know you K'Naan is or at least have heard his massive hit Wavin' Flag.  We saw both K'Naan and Shad this year and they are now performing on the same bill in a few cities across Canada over the next few months. Highly recommended if you're into some local hip hop, strong songwriting and storytelling by some fantastic entertainers.  Unfortunately I'm out of town for this one.
  • The Charlatans at Lee's Palace, Sept 17th.  Old time Manchest'or survivors have a new album coming out.  Should be a lot of fun at one the hottest (literally) small venues in town.
A quick mention to some others with upcoming concerts in Toronto that caught my eye - lots of great tracks from everyone: Hot Hot Heat, MIA, OK GO, City and Colour with Tegan and Sara, Kele (of Bloc Party), Vampire Weekend, Tom Tom Club, Simian Mobile Disco, The XX, The Scissor Sisters and The Foals.

I'm still a little disappointed I missed Buckwheat Zydeco last week.  It made one NOW Magazine's shows of the week, but it coincided with my Wed night ultimate game.  Priorities got a little tangled.  If Buckwheat is coming to your town, make sure you see him !

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Spring concert notes

The new (and apparently last) LCD Soundsystem album, This is Happening is getting rave reviews this week and just in time for Tuesday night's gig at Kool Haus, tickets are still available - should be a great show.

Neo soul meets some electro beats with Jamie Lidell, new album has lots of collaborators and guests, including locals Zeus - June 12th Mod Club.

Iggy and The Stooges are back together for a world tour in conjunction with a re-release of Raw Power - free at Yonge Dundas Sqaure as part of NXNE - June 19th.

NXNE Festival - 650 bands over 7 days, all for $50 - June 14-20.

One of our all-time favourite jazz crooners Harry Connick, Jr. will be playing the Canon Theatre on June 27th as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival.

TorontoJazz Festival - tons of different venues and some good free options - June 25th - July 4th.

And last but not least, Rush - Molson Amphitheatre (July 13th) and ACC (July 17th).  This tour is coinciding with a documentary that just won the audience award at the Tribeca Flm Festival - and I have to give a plug here to a couple of old friends I met through ultimate - Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen, these guys are on a fantastic hot streak of rock documentaries.

Also check out Concerts we recommend in the right hand column - something for everyone I'm sure !

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Keane and Mt Desolation

It takes so long from the time an album is announced to the time it is released. For me, lately, I try to hold off on listening to all the sneak peaks. I have found in the past that by the time the album is released, my excitement has waned.

For months, I have been hearing about Keane's upcoming release...actually it was over a year ago that I heard about K'naan recording songs with Keane.

I did watch the video for the first single Stop for a Minute when it was released, but I didn't listen to any of the songs until yesterday when I saw that the album was on iTunes for pre-order.

The video is SO good by the way:

I was quite excited knowing that new Keane songs would be entering my library in three weeks. I was also hopeful that they would be touring again. Seeing them six times so far still isn't enough.

Then this morning, I wake up to the news that Tim Rice-Oxley (the keyboardist and songwriter) for Keane has joined a supergroup.

The headline of Keane and The Killers forming a supergroup initially got me excited. Two of my favourites getting together? But it was misleading as I read on, it is only one member of each band joining a member of Noah and the Whale and a member of Mumford & Sons.

The article said that Mt Desolation would consist of Tim Rice-Oxley, Ronnie Vanucci (drummer for the Killers), Tom Hobden (violin player for Noah and the Whale) and Winston Marshall (banjo and vocals for Mumford & Sons).

However according to Mt Desolation's website, the band also consists of Jesse Quin: the newest member of Keane. It turns out that Tim and Jesse spear-headed this side project. They involved other musicians they knew.

Mt Desolation actually consists of:
Tim Rice-Oxley - Vocals, Piano
Jesse Quin - Vocals, Guitar
Andrew Lowe - Bass
Fimbo - Drums
John Roderick - BVs, Guitar
Pete Roe - Keys, BVs
Tom Hobden - Fiddle
Jessica Staveley-Taylor - BVs

and features:
Ronnie Vannucci - Perc, good vibes
Winston Marshall - Banjo
Charity Quin - BVs
Jayne Rice-Oxley - BVs
Francois Deville - Pedal Steel

So the mainstream media took some liberties in announcing that Keane and The Killers were forming a supergroup. The supergroup "features" Ronnie.

As excited as I should be at the prospect of a new band, when just recently I was saying that I needed some new music in my life, a line in the article burst my bubble.

"They will be releasing an album of country alternative songs later this year".

What? Country Alternative? Uggh.

A year or two ago, when one of my favourite singers, Ross Copperman teamed up with Heather Morgan to form a country duo: Roots & Wings, I said..."if anyone can get me into country music, it will be Ross".

Well, they didn't release any music and perhaps with Ross releasing an EP a few months ago, his own music became the priority.

So now, I will say, "if anyone can get me into (alternative) country music, perhaps it will be Tim".

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Guilty pleasures

I'm sure every music fan who is conscious of their music taste and feels they have a good grip on the quality dial of the music scene has at least one guilty pleasure.  

For me, it's Neil Diamond.  Although his earlier work and interestingly, his latest work is well respected, most middle agers / Xgeners likely heard Diamond during his sappy middle period (maybe his You don't Bring me Flowers duet with Barbara Streisand).  But I first heard Neil Diamond during a once in a lifetime trip to Singapore, Christmas 1975.  I had never been anywhere outside the UK when my family made this trip to visit my Australian uncle and family who were living in Singapore at the time. Therefore my memories of Singapore remain very vivid, the topical humid air, the exotic smells, 4pm rainstorms, new tastes and funnily enough, the sounds of Neil Diamond.  My uncle was a big fan of Neil Diamond and I recall sitting in his living room with all the windows open late in the evening, with family all around and hearing Diamond's classic live album Hot August Night.  

So today, an unusually warm (hot even) April day here in Toronto while the kids are elsewhere and my wife (not the biggest Diamond fan) is out - the windows are open, I'm taking a little breather and I put on my favourite tracks from Hot August night and I'm back in Singapore.

Also posted on my general interest personal blog.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Improvised jazz journey

A little journey I took while searching for some new jazz artists.

Improvised jazz journey Originally uploaded by PJMixer

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Concert announcement, Echo, PIL and Massive Attack

Just saw some very interesting concert announcements for Toronto.

Down beat electronica, hoping for more than just a DJ set, decent ensemble players and mix of singers (a la Thievery Corp.) would be nice

Massive Attack
Sound Academy
Toronto, ON
Fri, 05/07/10
more dates
On Sale  03/05/10

Johhny's back...

Public Image LTD
Kool Haus
Toronto, ON
Fri, 05/07/10

On Sale  03/06/10
Old time alternative...
Echo and the Bunnymen
The Phoenix Concert Theatre
Toronto, ON
Fri, 04/23/10

On Sale  03/06/10

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Moe. No.

I'm watching a concert on HDNet - it's a band called moe..  Never heard of them before.  I was been enjoying their rock sound, very good musicians, some nice on-stage energy, interesting progressions and catchy rhythms. Then I heard one of their singers.  Sorry dudes, that's probably why I haven't heard of you.  No offense, especially from this bloke who can't sing happy birthday, but vocals are very poor.  I'm not drawn to singers, nor pay a lot of attention to lyrical content, but holding these guys up as an example, it just shows how important a good voice is to the success of any band.  I sampled a few tracks on their web site, big on the instrumental laden tracks, vocals again weak.  Another singer now singing on HDNet.  No better.  If these guys had a decent voice up front, we'd probably hear more from them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Music menu

One of the ways I align my (wide) music tastes with my life is to listen to specific genres and tempos at specific times of the day.  I don't always do this and not always have my say in what music is played at home, but when I do have the turntable, and when I'm not fussy on specific bands or newer versus older tracks, then I switch on a few large, tailored playlists to fill the specific music gap in the day.   To do this my way, you need to have a pretty good grasp on genre assignments and upbeat/mellow settings.  For instance, I've been able to narrow the number of genres down to 22 and I use the Grouping attribute to indicate whether the track is mellow or upbeat.  My library isn't perfect and I don't necessarily categorize and rate tracks my wife or kids download, but for me it works quite well.

My music genres (with some examples) are:
  • Rock/pop - U2, Robbie Williams
  • Rock and Punk - AC/DC, The Clash
  • Modern Rock and Alternative - Arctic Monkeys, Metric
  • New Wave and Early Alternative - New Order, Talking Heads
  • Pop, Idol and Kids -Spice Girls, Miley Cyrus
  • Pop/Rock - The Script, The Beatles
  • Folk/Rock - Devendra Banhart, Diane Birch
  • Country - Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton
  • Electronica - Thievery Corporation, Morcheeba
  • Dance - Tiesto, Madonna
  • Hip Hop and Rap - Timbaland, Lauryn Hill
  • R&B - Mary J. Blige, James Morrison
  • Reggae and World Music - UB40, Matisyahu
  • Jazz vocal - Madelaine Peyroux, Ella Fitzgerald
  • Jazz instrumental - Chris Botti, John Coltrane
  • Blues - B.B. King, Susan Tedeschi
  • Soul - Joss Stone, Duffy
  • Soundrack - instrumental scores mostly, like Big Night and Snatch
  • Classical
  • Opera
  • Comedy
  • Christmas
So, for instance in the morning, the playlist is of course mellow, and I exclude genres like R&B, Hip Hop and Electronica.  Late/easy evenings is mellow again, but excluding Folk/Rock and most Rock categories.  For me, I can't picture listening to Madonna on a quiet Sunday morning or The Beatles when I'm tired and having a night cap.  Of course, there are many more times in the day and music appropriate for different mealtimes, e.g. some get up and go music on a weekday morning (upbeat rock/pop for instance); heading to your hockey or ultimate game (upbeat dance or punk); or jazz instrumental and mellow soul during dinner.

So how about the following menu for this coming Friday ?
  • Some gentle mellow folk/rock to greet the day, then changing folk/.rock to upbeat mode during breakfast time and some upbeat new wave for the commute.  
  • Over lunch, we go with the blues.  
  • Heading home we get urban with some upbeat hip hop & rap, but change to mellow R&B as appertizers are prepared.  
  • Some jazz vocal and mellow modern rock and alternative (to keep the kids interested) over dinner, followed by some upbeat soul for dessert.  
  • Drinks with candlelight with mellow electronica to finish your day.  
Custom music menus available by request.  Bon Appetit.

Where I find new (old) music: Part 3 - iTunes Genius

I just switched on iTunes Genius.  I have used it in the past, but haven't used it since getting our MacBook over a year ago.  There a few people who think that sharing your iTunes library is a little concerning (including my wife), but I don't see any big worry, especially considering all the other stuff I share online about myself.  The one thing I do do (yes, I said do do) is to clear the comments field for the music I have purchased from gray Russian sites.

So, with Genius, you can simply pick a track and hit the Genius button and it will create a new playlist from your library based on a set of magical and mystical attributes from iTunes users world wide.  For me, with a iTunes library that is large, but not very fat, it gives me a refreshing way to create a fresh playlist with forgotten old tracks, mixed with new tracks looking for a home.  It also has a sidebar with purchase recommendations that is good for those people who don't have a large library or those looking for new stuff.
The latest release of iTunes also creates some automatic genre based Genius Mixes with funky names like Neo-Soul, Surf/Garage Revival and Electro-Pop

I think the feature is definitely worth switching on and playing with for big music fans.

Another feature in iTunes that I haven't used much is the iTunes iMix, I've uploaded one as a test, but not published yet.  I may spend a little time composing a few if there is an audience out there for my tastes in music. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Concert and Album Lists

If you look on the right column, you will notice that I have added two new lists.

The first is a list of upcoming Toronto concerts that we recommend (or are going to). We figured this would be a better way of adding new concert announcements as we heard them, rather than posting a new blog post every time.

So keep checking the list for new recommendations and of course, keep checking Ticketmaster, Live Nation and your favourite band websites for other dates. I also follow my favourite bands on Twitter, Facebook or MySpace to hear announcements as soon as they are available.

The second list we've added are for upcoming (and recent) album releases. Dates are not set in stone as album release dates are often changed, but it gives an idea of what we can look forward to in 2010.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Toronto Island Concert

The Toronto Island Concert is back this year after being cancelled last year.

There are more band announcements to follow. For now, the following are confirmed:

Broken Social Scene
Band of Horses

There will be more bands announced in the near future.

Presale begins January 18th.

More Concert Announcements

Adding to pjmixer's post from earlier this morning...here are more concert announcements that have caught my eye:

Editors February 18 at The Phoenix
Muse with Silversun Pickups March 8th at Air Canada Centre (anyone with a GA ticket for me? lol)
Jamie Cullum March 9th at Massey Hall
Bedouin Soundclash March 12th Mod Club
Norah Jones March 23rd at Massey Hall (sold out)
Vampire Weekend March 30th Sound Academy (new album just released...thx JH)
Hot Chip April 20th at Kool Haus
Owl City April 27th at Sound Academy (daughter's new favourite)
The XX April 4th at Phoenix (tickets on sale Jan. 15th)
Hawksley Workman April 24th at Massey Hall
U2 July 3rd at Rogers Centre

Early 2010 Toronto concert announcements

The Cribs at The Phonenix this Friday, Jan 15th - still not sold out (good or bad?)
Timbaland at the Sound Academy on Jan 22nd - hoping to find hip hop co-pilot
Frank Turner at The Horseshoe on Jan 26th - new find from Kelly1122
Nouvelle Vague at The Opera House on Jan 27th - should be interesting lounge with retro twist
Clientele at The Horseshoe on March 19th - going to this one - smooth sounds of spring
Air at The Phoenix on March 23rd - would be nice
Nada Surf at Lee's Palace on March 29th - need to listen to more - CS is a big fan

And a few comedy shows that caught my eye:
An Evening with Kevin at Roy Thompson Hall on Feb 6
Steven Wright at Convocation Hall on Jan 30 and 31st

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Where I find new music: Part 2 - Blip.fm

Quick on the heels of posting my 2009 best of, I log into Blip.fm to post a new track for this new year.  In Blip.fm, after your track ends it automatically starts playing from your favourite DJ list.  So on comes this really great track from The Duke Spirit, called You Really Wake Up the Love In Me from a DJ named albertsdad.  I quickly sample and download a few tracks, sync my iPod and presto, the first new music find for 2010.  

Monday, January 4, 2010

PJMixer best music of 2009

I downloaded and listened to a ton of music this year and also went to more concerts (21, 31 artists) than I have in many years.  There are a few friends and fellow concert photographers that enjoy the same music as I do, however my tastes are quite varied and I'm finding more than ever, that perhaps my music is not on everyone's radar screen of what's good or popular in music today.  However, I do hope that you'll agree with some of my choices for 2009 and more importantly I hope you'll find something new in the lists below that appeals to your ears and rhythm.  

1. Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum.  Driving riffs, beats, and sing-a-longs across the majority of the tracks of this fantastic record - first time I heard it I knew is was going to be my number one (shortlisted for the 2009 Mercury Prize, and was named Best Album of the 2009 by Q).  The only thing missing is a North America tour !  pjtracks: UnderdogFire and Where did all the love go ?

2. K'Naan - Troubadour.  Somalia born and now based in Toronto, K'Naan conjures up a modern blend of hip hop, rap, pop and African beats with very personal and political story telling.  Fabulous.  The album was shortlisted for the 2009 Polaris Music Prize. A remix of Waving Flag has been selected as the official song of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.  pjtracks: Dreamer and Take a Minute.

3. Jamie T - Kings & Queens.  Quirky voice singing our clever, perky and potent lines make the blend of upbeat pop, rap, hip hop with a few ballads irresistible.  pjtracks: Sticks 'n' Stones and Chaka Demus.

4. The Temper Trap - Conditions.  Fantastic surprise when we saw these Aussies bring the house down at The Horseshoe Tavern a few months ago.  Credit to Suze20TO for the find, must-see live act, overflowing with energy and chart potential.  pjtracks: Science of Fear and Love Lost.

5. U2 - No Line on the Horizon.  When I first got this album I wasn't immediately impressed.  However, after quite a lot of listening, the quality of the songwriting and the music is what we've come to expect from U2 - perfect.  But what got them on the list this year was their concert performance.  Best show of the year and maybe an all time top 10, big thanks to Scotty H for the comp tickets and getting the chance to see the biggest band in the whole up-close.  pjtracks: I'll Go Crazy If I Don't go Crazy Tonight, Magnificant and Moment of Surrender

6. Champion - Resistance.  This second album from Montreal DJ and guitar gang takes much more of a rock path, but the beats from Max always get you moving and then the guitars and catchy keep you in the moment.  Superb live show a must-see.  pjtracks: Alive Again, Resistance (Skool) and Backing Off.

7. The XX - XX.  Wonderful mellow minimalist, electronica perfect for late night listening.  Thanks to Rob S for the tip on this one.  pjtracks: Crystalised and VCR.

8. Florence and the Machine - Lungs.  A voice that at times reminds me of Kate Bush (and on other tracks can really belt it out), lovely layered and varied tracks on this rather unique sounding album. pjtracks Rabbit Heart (Raise it up), You've got the Look and Kiss with a Fist.

9.  White Lies - To Lose My Life.  A great example of the renewed 80's sound found in quite a few albums this year.  Lyrics are a little dark, but the synth layers are warm and the beats and buildups are top draw. pjtracks: Death and E.S.T.

10. Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career.  Light, fair-weather tunes that put a smile on my face, but don't seem to fit our current sub-zero conditions.  Another recommendation from Rob S. pjtracks: You Told a Lie and James.

Other 2009 releases that I played a lot this year, but didn't quite make the top 10 include: The Clientele, Jet (pjtrack: She's a Genius), Manic Street Preachers, Coldplay (the live LeftRightLeftRightLeft), Sam Roberts (pjtrack: The Pilgrim), Franz Ferdinand, The Streets (pjtrack: Heaven for the Weatherand Cut Copy (pjtrack: Lights and Music).

There were a flurry of releases later in 2009 (or in the case of Metric weren't available via my regular download channel), that I've begun to listen a lot to and are very promising and perhaps would have made the list if I'd found them earlier or monopolized the stereo for the last few weeks: John Mayer (pjtrack: Heartbreak Warfare), Norah Jones (pjtrack: Chasing Pirates), Metric, Jay-Z and Timbaland (pjtrack: Timothy where you been, feat. Jet).

My picks for songs of 2009 are:

1. Kasabian - Where did all the love go ?
2. Kasabian - Fire
3. K'Naan - Take a Minute
4. K'Naan - Dreamer
5. Peter Doherty - Last of the English Roses
6. Arctic Monkeys - Cornerstone
7. U2 - Moment of Surrender
8. Jay-Z - Empire State of Mind (feat. Alicia Keys) (and with all the shots of NY in the video, on first viewing, this becomes my favourite video of 2009)
9. Jamie T - Sticks 'n' Stones
10. White Lies - Death

And to finish off the lists for 2009, a few odd tracks from other artists that got a lot of iPod playtime: Deadmau5 - Ghosts 'n' StuffReverend and the Makers - No Soap in a Dirty War; Madelaine Peyroux - Instead; The Enemy - Sing When You're in Love; Junior Boys - Work; and last but not least, what 2009 list would be complete without Dizzee Rascal's Dance Wiv Me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Quite the year for concerts...

2009 - 21 concerts - 31 artists, rated out of 5*

The Killers at Air Canada Centre (with M83) ****
Arkells at Horseshoe (with Waking Eyes and We Are The Take) - ****
Thievery Corporation at Kool Haus *****
Glasvegas at Mod Club (with Von Iva) ****
English Beat at Lee's Palace ****
Travis at Sound Academy (with Republic Tigers) ****
Gavin Rossdale at The Music Hall ***
Diana Krall at Massey Hall ****
Franz Ferdinand at Kool Haus ***
Coldplay at Air Canada Centre (with Elbow) *****
The Killers at Molson Amphitheatre (with Wolfmother) ***
Champion at Yonge Dundas Square (opening for Toronto International Film Festival) ****
U2 at Rogers Centre (with Snow Patrol) *****
K'Naan at The Phoenix Theatre ****
Arctic Monkeys at Kool Haus ***
Mat Kearney at Lee's Palace (with Diana Birch) ***
Psychedelic Furs at Kool Haus (with Happy Mondays) ***
Temper Trap at Horseshoe (and We Are The Take) ****
Thievery Corporation at Kool Haus *****
Champion at Mod Club *****
The Most Serene Republic at The Horsehoe (with Zeus and Still Life Still) ***