Sunday, January 31, 2010

Video Of The Week: Plajia

Well, that was easy.

As I was looking for a Video Of The Week, friends of UnPop Montréal Plajia released their brand-spanking new video, basically a 'live jam' performance of their new song, Kyaan Done.

Fittingly, the room is postered with Beatles memorabilia, as this song is the most Beatle-esque they've ever recorded - they're usually more 'modern' in their sound. A decent departure, though, much welcome - especially with the ton (plethora?) of Montréal bands that sound like Radiohead these days.

While the band's singer, Patrick Pleau, is currently preparing solo shows, including one at the prestigious Place-Des-Arts, that I'll be writing about the next day - I'll be in attendace - the band is, in fact, in the midst of recording new songs, for a new record we can hope to see released this year.

In the meantime, a strong single to help us through the harshest month of winter (kudos for airplay on MusiMax!):

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Had A Dream... A Fucked Up Dream...

I woke up with a weird feeling this morning, my dream was messed up.

I was living in a huge second-storey apartment in a four-storey building, lots of people were coming-and-going, regulars from my life, my mom, the Lady Of The House, a few friends...

For some reason, I don't think my particular apartment had an entry door.

Walking down the stairs to the sidewalk, I came across my upstairs neighbours (folks that don't exist in my actual life), barely dressed, wearing only skimpy black leather outfits, but too small to be S&M, maybe borderline fetishistic if anything - and they were going to my downstairs neighbours'. They asked if I was going too, and I replied something along the lines of ''not this time''. In fact, I wasn't aware that anything was going on there, and my curiosity was awoken. Now I wanted to know exactly what was going on there...

So I tried peeking in from their living room window, which had a view on the huge lawn. It also showed me an outside view of my building, a luxurious modern castle-like construction made from dark brown bricks. And every time I was close to seeing something, I was either caught by someone inside, or interrupted by a passer-by who thought I was a thief - not to mention by my 'people', who wanted me to come back home and 'fulfill my obligations', even though in my dream it was never clear just what those obligations were.

So it turns out to be an orgy downstairs, and I'm not the biggest fan of that type of congregation, so I decide against asking in and head on home, only to find that my ''baby girl'' needs me - that's right, I have a daughter. The longer the dream lasts, the less clear it is how it is that I became a father (I'm nowhere close to this in real life) - but I am, and I have to make do.

Unfortunately, I have an appointment with some sort of lawyer/notary/suit-and-tie dude downtown, and am already late for it (now that, I can relate to!), so I have to find a way to carry the baby and head there... I can't find anything better than an empty 12-pack of imported beer (the type that once open has plenty of holes of the sides), so that's her ride.

We get to the building, and it's this massive all-glass structure in the middle of a highway, on top of another highway, and the main lobby door also serves as the elevator going upwards, and it's barely one-person deep and three-people wide - again, all glass, all see-through. In my dream, I was scared shitless looking down, if this were to happen in real life, I'd probably refuse to go up at all - which, incidentally, is what the kid was thinking. She was crying and screaming loudly, trying to escape her box... when I was awoken by my cat meowing at me for breakfast.

I wonder what would have happened had I gone in the elevator, and what the meeting was about.

Freaky thing...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Peruvian Flute Bands

Ever since I saw the South Park episode on Peruvian flute bands a year late (I must have seen it this last October, but the episode originally aired on October 22nd, 2008, during the show's twelfth season), even though it was pretty much a metaphor for avian flu, I've been seeing those damn pan flute duos, trios and full-blown bands almost on a daily basis, whether it's on the street or they're playing in the subway.

Those fuckers are everywhere. I just can't get away fom them, they're a plague; it's like they killed and replaced every other musician-panhandler-busker in town, except for the (in)famous one-armed alcoholic from Guy metro.

I wonder if they're making any money at all. I've played two kinds of flute in my youth, maybe I can cash in on this... or maybe I'm becoming Cartman and about to get myself in a huge pile of steaming trouble.

Two Marcel Hossa Autographed Cards

(reposted from my collectibles blog, I wanted to share it here as well because of the story behind it, as I had a terrific time with Marcel, spending a whole afternoon talking with him, both seriously and just shooting shit)

Ah, Marcel Hossa. Probably the biggest bust in recent Montréal Canadiens history. In a team known for disappointing first-round draft picks, this one might have hurt the most. They chose him, of course, because he's Marian's little brother, and they were hoping he had some of his sibling's hockey genes - and he did, although, obviously, less. The problem is he doesn't have Marian's work ethic.

Drafted in June 2000, he had yet to average a point per game in juniors (a feat he did achieve the following year), so taking him in the first round put undue pressure on him to perform at a high level, especially when picked ahead of fellow first rounders Brooks Orpik, Alexander Frolov, Anton Volchenkov, Brad Boyes and Niklas Kronwall and other 2000 picks Nick Schultz, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jarrett Stoll, Antoine Vermette, Dan Ellis, Paul Martin, Michael Rupp, Ramzi Abid, Kurt Sauer, Dominic Moore, Niclas Wallin, Lubomir Visnovsky, Michel Ouellet, Travis Moen, John-Michael Liles, Roman Cechmanek, Paul Gaustad, Jean-Philippe Côté, and a certain goalie named Henrik Lundqvist.

While in the Canadiens' organization, he managed just 17 points (9 goals) in 44 NHL games, as well as 104 points (54 goals) in 144 games with their AHL affiliates Citadelles de Québec and Hamilton Bulldogs.

The Habs traded him to the New York Rangers for semi-tough utility player Garth Murray, before they gave up on him themselves and sent him packing to the Phoenix Coyotes. He currently plays for the Dinamo Riga of the KHL.

These autographs were gathered in person at the Canadiens' Jamboree outside the Bell Centre right before the 2002-03 season got under way - a season he began in the AHL, as he was sent down to the Bulldogs just a couple of days after I met him.

It was a bizarre day in September, where the barricaded area in front of the team's home arena held mostly children and overweight adult, and all the players were signing whatever was presented to them, but most people were after José Théodore (who had just won the Vézina and Hart trophies), Saku Koivu (the team captain who had just won the Bill Masterton trophy and beaten cancer), and local-boy star-to-be Mike Ribeiro. Those three shared the main booth in the middle of the staging area, while the rest of the players walked around and roamed to see the different kiosks set up to please fans. A few of those other players seemed to find the event bizarre, such as Donald Audette, who was taken aback by kids screaming his last name ''Hey Audette, sign this'', and not even showing a glimpse of politeness, while others didn't really look like they wanted to be there at all (read my account of meeting Jeff Hackett here, and Éric Chouinard here, both from the same day).

What was weirdest about that day was the one player management had high hopes on and were trying to sell to fans was standing in one corner, all alone, by himself. Either no one recognized Hossa, or no one really cared about the player who was still a considered rookie despite having already played 10 games in the NHL (3 goals, 1 assist - 4 points - and 2 penalty minutes and a +2 rating). He really looked bored out of his mind but intent on staying outside for the complete half-hour the team was ''strongly suggesting'' its players to stay out for, so I went up to him for a chat. We ended up talking all afternoon, just about uninterrupted.

He was a really cool guy, relaxed, apparently not adverse to having a good time, without giving into excess like others I'd met or played with. We talked about my own junior career, which had ended just about when his started and he inquired about the City, its night life, its Culture, its landmarks, its districts. He was eager to learn and time just flew by. We even made plans to meet up once in a while for food and/or drinks, so he could learn about his new surroundings.

Unfortunately, since he was sent to Hamilton, those plans were not to be. And having seen last season how certain people can become a bad influence on hockey players (and with Ribeiro and Theodore primed to get on the party train themselves), I'm not sure an independent musician who gets paid as often in drinks as he does in cash would have been seen by the organization as the ideal person to have around one of its players...

All in all, though, it was a really good day. He signed both of my cards and even complained about Upper Deck's lack of originality for having put the same picture on two of their different brands' cards (a situation I had seen years earlier with Alain Chevrier's Pro Set and O-Pee-Chee cards). He signed the 2002-03 Victory card (#115) in blue sharpie and, upon realizing the ink was coming off and smudging (that was before I heard that erasers can help keep ink in by removing some of the cards' polish), he signed the 2002-03 Vintage (#336) Rookie card in black.

His signature is the exact same both times, looking like a # sign, followed by a dude wearing a hat and a Japanese-looking sign for ''fish'' underneath, but he swears it says 'Marcel Hossa', and I believe him.

Video Of The (Last) Week: Julian Casablancas

Singer and primary songwriter of New York ''2000s garage-rock pioneers'' The Strokes, Julian Casablancas released a solo record in the first week of November, 2009; while many were expecting a full-on rock record, those who'd heard a few Strokes' demos from singles or bootlegs knew there would be a chance that keyboards would be an integral part of the record, seeing as how Casablancas, the son NYC Elite Management agency boss John Casablancas, has a tendency to write all of his band's complex harmonies on keys before transposing the arrangements to guitar with the rest of the band.

However, I'm sure no one expected a full-on 80s-style record. It's usually not my type of sound, but this one, I feel, is actually listenable. The video reflects how the record sounds, what with the outdated fonts, Prince-like ''girl'' band, cheap colouring effects and whatnot...

I actually saw this video for the first time on Thursday and immediately thought ''this is it, the video for this week!'' but was too busy to take the time to sit in front of a computer and get it done - so many things to do this weekend, including my mom's birthday.

So here it is.

Fun trivia: Julian is actually three weeks older than I am (he was born on August 23rd, 1978). So, in three weeks' time, he's managed to release a solo record and 3 band records more than me. Talk about being productive in a short time span!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And The Survey Says...

The world of market research and I have a long history together... it may have gone - I won't say sour, maybe... stale... but it definitely started off on the right foot.

It was probably 1994, I was 15... a girl called my parents' place, where I was still living at the time, to conduct a survey. I took the bait and spent the next 15 minutes or so on the phone, then proceeded to ask her questions: her name, age, where she worked - and if I could go meet up with her afterwards. She wasn't allowed to answer those questions, but I can be persuasive, and she did. And we did meet up, seeing as she worked at Alexis-Nihon, at the corner of Atwater and Ste-Catherine, a 20-minute walk or 10-minute bus ride from my place.

We went for a drink, exchanged phone numbers and called each other for a week; come Friday, she and a half-dozen of her friends gathered at O'Toole's (now another sports-themed pub) at the corner of St-André and De Maisonneuve. For some reason, later that night, continuing the party at one of her friends' place, more privately, the subject of sex and size arose, and it was determined that she would not be able to handle a package like mine, especially since, and I quote, ''even a couple of fingers'' could bring her pain.

A few more phone calls followed, for maybe a week or two, during which she told me she had heart problems and would be going for surgery, after which time we could meet up again. We never did. She never called me back, and didn't pick up when I did.

Fast-forward to the end of 1999, back from New York, trying to juggle finishing my second CÉGEP degree and going to Concordia for my first film B.A., money was scarce. After trying to lure me for months, my terrific friend Alexandre B-D convinced me to join him into conducting surveys on the phone for a place called Createc +.

The first project I worked on - I shit you not - was for Linda Lingerie and, lo and behold, my very first call was a completed survey, with a woman who, when I asked her for her age (it was part of the questionnaire...) said: ''45 to 54, how about you?'' - I was 19 at that point. She asked where I was calling from - Montréal - and she told me she was a flight attendant (yes, a stewardess) and that she came to my City pretty often, and asked if we could hook up.

So my first two experiences with the 'survey life' were two 'successful' attempts at hooking up; it was a gold mine of pussy waiting to be excavated.

Ten more years of market research, however, has not yielded a single other such case, but at least the freaks who work there are fine, fun people.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Video Of The Day: Wyclef Jean

In light of the earthquake in Haiti, a thought for those who were injured, who died, and those left standing.

A thought to the diaspora as well, as Haitians are spread just about everywhere on this planet, particularly in North America, shaping us as we are shaping them.

Wyclef Jean first burst onto the scene as the frontman of hip hop group The Fugees; from the get-go, he wore his heritage on his sleeve, and as soon as he came into money, he made sure to help spread it in his country of origin as well. Sure, some of it was lost to local corruption, but that just made his resolve stronger in bringing aid directly to those in the street.

We might lose track of this from some of his more recent contributions to modern music, cameos on songs that don't mean anything, collaborations with pop stars (Shakira), film stars (The Rock) or divas (Mary J. Blige) - but the guy is a heck of a humanitarian.

Shout out. Props.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Video Of The Week: Damian Marley

Sure, you could call him by his complete name, Damian Robert Nesta Marley or by his nickname ''Junior Gong'', and you could insinuate that without his father's successful career, his might be a bit less bright. You would, of course, be wrong.

He is the only Jamaican reggae artist to receive two trophies on the same night, a feat he achieved in 2006 (he had another one in 2002), surpassing his father, Bob, his father's numerous collaborators (from Peter Tosh to Bunny Wailer to Lee 'Scratch' Perry), his famous brothers Ziggy, Stephen and Ky-Mani -as well as the many dancehall artists who've made it to the U.S. airwaves in the past two decades.

Unlike his brothers, whose style resemble that of their father, Damian's approach is closer to 'toasting', a style closer to American rap. Like them, however, his lyrics more often than not deal with poverty, human rights and helping those in need.

This song here, 'Move!', from 2005's record-setting 'Welcome To Jamrock', incorporates Bob Marley's 'Exodus' in the chorus; if anyone's allowed to cover their dad, it's the kids. Either way, though: a good song's a good song, and this one would have been one even without the wink.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Adventures In Lo-Fi

Today, I'm a zen fucking master. Like a one-day resolution of sorts.

I've been in the exact same spot for the past 12 hours now, sitting in front of a computer, with 3 hours left, and it's time to make the most of it, and the only way to do so is to let go of the world outside these four walls.

There is no time (6:30 PM), no date (January 5th, 2010), no weather (metres of snow! freezing cold!), no neighbours (downtown!), no circumstances (work!) to take me away from my goal.

Yet I don't know what my goal is. But I won't let that stop me. I can't.

I'm resilient. I also just realized I'm like a Beastie Boy: I can go 4 paragraphs without actually saying anything.

People talk to me, trying to steer me away from my goal, but I won't let them; I answer their queries hoping it might clue me in as to where I'm going, but it's always just a dirty path that ends as soon as it turns away from the highway. So onwards I continue, on the road to finding out what I'm heading towards.

It could be a wall, for all I know, but my brakes are new and I'm not speeding anyhow - had 3 cans of Pepsi to wake myself up, but nothing else 'cause I'd like to sleep tonight.

I'm in need of another week in Cuba, for new adventures in lo-fi; I'd settle for a week in Florida, if need be. Relaxing, beach-side, no care in the whole damn world even if only for a limited time... in the company of people who want to be in the vicinity - far from everyone else.

And the stories would write themselves.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Video Of The New Year: The New Year

Yeah, I kind of made a mistake throwing that Arcade Fire video up so quick: I forgot it was the week in which New Year's Day was happening... and since most people think of the U2 song of the same name, usually, during this time, I thought of going the other way and present you with a song that also presents the day's celebration in contrast with the fact that, really, it's just another day, like the eve and the day after.

Our resolutions to try to make better actions, be better people, take more responsibilities, do more for mankind - they usually hit the way of Christmas decorations pretty fast, even more so in sub-freezing temperatures like Canada gets in February, where survival is the key word and minus-40 celcius is the fact.

So, since I missed posting it here on time, I'll play it tonight at my Day-Late New Year's Show at Casa Del Popolo.

A beautiful video by a relatively unknown band.