Saturday, December 27, 2014

Things I Listened To In 2014

I'm too out of it to make a normal ''best of'' list with rankings and stuff. Also, there weren't that many records I purchased that made me want to listen to them all the way through repeatedly. Perhaps it's because Radiohead didn't release anything, or I've become jaded. Or music sucks now. Wait, no, that's not true: Against Me!'s record, from start to finish, made my summer and fall. That, my friends, is how you make music with a message.

What I know for sure is that the song I listened to the most in the first six months - by a fair margin - was totally outside of my usual comfort zone: Lady Gaga's Do What U Want (both the version with R. Kelly and the one with Christina Aguilera, which ended up being my favourite).

But in the past month, The Osmonds' Crazy Horses, from their 1972 record of the same name, has been spinning on YouTube, in my mp3 player and as a ring tone nearly non-stop. I have listened to it more than any other songs - not only combined, but times three. If I end up killing myself, that song may be to blame (you're welcome to put Donny Osmond on trial, though he barely played wheezing keyboard on the track).

2014 also saw me listen to a lot of music from years past, namely Nine Inch Nails' fantastic 2013 opus Hesitation Marks (as well as a lot of their 1994 tour de force The Downward Spiral), a lot of Ice Cube, six or seven Jay Z songs over and over, some Beyoncé from last year, Nirvana's In Utero, Pearl Jam's entire discography up to Binaural, with maybe three songs each off their last four records, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Mother's Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Megadeth's Countdown To Extinction, some Suicidal Tendencies, and a ton of Montréal bands.

But 2014?

As far as albums go, these hit a nerve a little:

Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues
USA Out Of Vietnam's Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes (re-release)
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra's Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything
Jack White, Lazaretto (though it's my least favourite of his discography so far)
Caribou, Our Love
Aphex Twin, Syro
Elephant Stone's The Three Poisons
Sacral Nerves's self titled release
Robert Plant, Lullaby... And The Ceaseless Roar
Beck, Morning Phase
Jenny Lewis, The Voyager
Guillaume Beauregard, D'Étoiles, De Pluie Et De Cendres
Jésuslesfilles, Le Grain D'Or
Philémon Cimon, L'Été
Monogrenade, Composite
Kandle, In Flames
Common, Nobody's Smiling

And I don't think the fact that I know people in nine of those acts has anything to do with me liking their music. If anything, it might be the other way around.

I didn't go head-over-heels like many of my friends over Sun Kil Moon, Swans, Run the Jewels and The War On Drugs, though they had their moments.

As for songs, I'm going with these, in addition the the aforementioned Gaga mega-hit, in what is close to a preference order:

Nikki Lane, Right Time
Meghan Trainor, All About The Bass
Kandle, Not Up To Me
Joseph Arthur, Walk On The Wild Side (Lou Reed cover)
Childish Gambino (feat. Problem), Sweatpants
Arctic Monkeys, Arabella
Interpol, All The Rage Back Home
The Pack A.D., Big Shot
Nicki Minaj, Anaconda
Red Mass, Sharp
Queens Of The Stone Age, Smooth Sailing

I have yet to pay attention to the D'Angelo record. Same for J Mascis. I hear great things, though, but I need to get that Osmonds song (and All About The Bass) out of my system first. My cousin had the Hozier CD playing on repeat on the drive home from visiting my dad and grandma last night; I didn't mind it too much.

Marijuana As A Gateway Drug

When I was a kid, you couldn't watch The Transformers or G.I. Joe after school or on a Saturday morning without seeing one of those Ronald Reagan-inspired ''Just Say No'' ads, telling kids weed was a gateway drug to harder stuff, like cocaine, heroin and communism.

They forgot to mention performing fellatio on horses. You're welcome, Nation.

And thank you, Jared Kreft, 30, of Wasau Wisconsin, for sacrificing all future employment opportunities to bring this scourge to light.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Video Of The Week: Donny Osmond

Watch it, go, just remember you're suffering because something amazing will follow:

Let's get this straight, I'm not featuring Donny Osmond's Soldier Of Love video this week because it's any good. It's the most awful thing I've seen in December, and I've watched news footage of murders. Ironically, it's not just bad because it was directed by Michael Bay, it's also terrible because it's late-80s dance pop à la New Kids On The Block (Osmond looks a lot like Jordan Knight here), complete with pretend-tough-guy leather jacket, beautiful models (considering the era) and lyrics that imply Osmond is exactly the opposite of what he is (''You've heard I'm a rebel with a heart of stone / I'm a restless spirit that nobody can own'') and has some measure of what sex is (''Deep in the night / can't get enough'').

Oh, and the keyboard-led ''band'' dressed and combed like The Clash kills me, too. But back to the sex: Osmond has said time and time again that he married a virgin and never cheated on his wife, with whom he is still married. He's only been with one woman, and has never had oral nor anal sex, as per this Howard Stern interview:

Find out more about his youth, his fame, his fall from grace and semi-redemption in this interesting, loaded-yet-complacent hour-long interview with Piers Morgan:

It's actually an interesting story, one that I never would have had the patience to look into had it not been for this 1972 track, Crazy Horses:

This track is fucking heavy, so much so that I never thought a boy band sang and wrote it, but rather pictured tall, bearded men from Sweden (or Tennessee) with guitars shaped like axes, lightning and/or dildos wearing fur with blood still on it from not having washed it after removing the skin off of dead reindeer and foxes. Real fucking Vikings.

Imagine my reaction when I realized The Osmonds were the band who sang it, with Donny at the keyboard making the pre-noize high-pitched whirring signature sound of the almost-heavy metal track about... car pollution. Yeah, that was also a bummer, as I'd originally thought it was about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding from the mountains come to teach humanity a hard lesson. Oh, well, you win some, you lose some, but with Crazy Horses in tow, this one is still all-win.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Video Of The Week: I Am Snow Angel

Winter's got us in its grasp, and will have us for four more months. Might as well get used to the cold.

And so I Am Snow Angel (Julie Kathryn's musical project fusing ballads with electronica) releases a video for a song that fits perfectly with the mood I'm in: trying to find a party in the midst of a season where even trees look dead and your limbs can freeze and fall off.

Directed and filmed by Alexander Cherney with nothing but time-lapsed landscapes (none of them of a frozen tundra, I might add), they bring a sense of warmth and analog to the distant voice and digital instruments used, to produce a nice mixture that blends well together:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Video Of The (Past) Week: Jeffrey Lewis

It's pretty hard to fathom that I haven't featured this one yet, as I watch it at least a few times per week and listen to it daily, as I have for the better part of the last decade, since 2005's City & Eastern Songs, which this track is from.

Director Mark Locke does a fine job of just sticking to the lyrics - an innocent Jeffrey Lewis annoying his idol Will Oldham on the NYC subway to the point where the ''master'' ends up raping the ''apprentice'' on empty train tracks, akin to Oldham's own song A Sucker's Evening (off of the Palace record Arise Therefore).

Sure, 2014 isn't the ideal place in which to view a rape metaphor, particularly one in which the victim then has the revelation that in the end, the music industry ''fucks'' all artists who dare share their thoughts and ideas, as a system.

Many have seen Lewis ''feminizing'' himself by being on the receiving end of the rape, and therefore associating ''womendom'' with ''weakness'', and it's fair to say that in 1500 years of Anglo-Saxon arts history, literature and politics, there is a bit of a systemic bias towards giving men more authority than women - at times, even more rights. Religion is good at that, too. But I do feel that Lewis had no such designs, even subconsciously - he's pretty good and consistent on keeping his ''penis-having'' in check.

I'll write later this week (I hope) about where I see our society heading in terms of equality and power struggles (ask me today and I'll say I think we're fucked, and provided we don't start everything over from scratch, will remain so forever), but for now, I thought I could just throw this superb low-budget time bomb out there:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Video Of The Week: Babes In Toyland

It was hard to find a video this week. I hesitated a lot. Today was the 25th ''anniversary'' of the Polytechnique killing, where one man murdered 14 women in a higher-education school in Montréal, in 1989. Because they were women, because he couldn't stand Equality.

Geneviève Bergeron (born in 1968), student in civil engineering.
Hélène Colgan (born in 1966), student in mechanical engineering.
Nathalie Croteau (born in 1966), student in mechanical engineering.
Barbara Daigneault (
born in 1967), student in mechanical engineering.
Anne-Marie Edward (
born in 1968), student in chemical engineering.
Maud Haviernick (
born in 1960), student in materials engineering.
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (
born in 1958), student nurse.
Maryse Laganière (
born in 1964), school financial employee.
Maryse Leclair (
born in 1966), student in materials engineering.
Anne-Marie Lemay (
born in 1967), student in mechanical engineering.
Sonia Pelletier (
born in 1961), student in mechanical engineering.
Michèle Richard (
born in 1968), student in materials engineering.
Annie St-Arneault (
born in 1966), student in mechanical engineering.
Annie Turcotte (born in 1969),
student in materials engineering.

Fourteen women, most of which were to become engineers. Probably a lot of them would have been mothers. All with lives, families. In their 20s or early 30s. With some amount of time left to impact our society.

I tried to go with a soft song, something soothing. I thought of something political, with a direct message, clear.

But here's the thing, the way I look at it: 1989 in Montréal wasn't so bad in terms of equality, and it got better for a decade to include just about everyone by the turn of the millennium. BY LAW, and by obligation, on all fronts. In terms of rights and equality, not many had actual complaints, apart that things were slow at times (same-sex marriage eventually passed, and though pay equality was passed as law in the early-to-mid-90s, it still hasn't been made into effect completely even in government).

But it's been downhill for the last decade, so much so that 2014 feels like 1944, and it's like our parents' social gains from the 1960s and 1970s were for naught. And it didn't take a step back in more comfort to compensate for the loss of rights; equality was just stolen and wiped away.

And instead of looking at the bigger picture, everyone is just fighting their own little fight, looking at their own situation, trying to stop it from regressing too much (''I don't wanna pay fare on a bridge'' / ''the SAQ - i.e. voluntary tax on alcohol - is too expensive'') - but our whole social net is being taken away every day. Women's rights are under attack every day at the Federal level, with ''private bills'' regulating women's own bodies introduced my MPs narrowly defeated thus far but gaining support and traction, particularly in the places with the hundreds of missing and possibly murdered women, aboriginal and otherwise. (And every time I write or read a single sentence about these women, I think of the violence I witnessed in Winnipeg, and the bodies alongside the highways from Manitoba to Alberta, with vomit in my mouth and chills in my spine).

The government should be there to provide or at least help with 4 things when they take half our money from our pay cheques and 15% more on each purchase we make: health, education, infrastructure, and protecting (ALL) individuals' rights. If they can't, we don't need them and should be able to do what we see fit with that 65% of our money given back to us.

As usual, I digress.

The point is women's rights have stepped the fuck back way too much in the past decade, with the redneck-ification of North America. Anti-feminism and racism are back to levels I once thought would never be seen again - particularly the under-handed attempt at making women feel like lesser beings.

Granted, I see a lot of self-pity and victimization coming from their side, stuff I don't see or hear about when researching or talking to folks from the 1960s and 1970s - but a lot of it is warranted, and some of it seems like a crouch before delivering an uppercut. Or so I hope.

There is no reason in this day and age, on this continent - heck, on this side of both oceans - to not have human beings be equal in every single aspect of life. It goes for gender, it goes for lifestyle, it goes for race, it goes for tastes. As long as you're not impeding on someone else's rights, a human being shouldn't be bothered, attacked, or denied anything they have the right to have (food, shelter, respect, well-being, defining their relationship - or not - health care).

And so I went with Babes In Toyland, the punk band from Minnesota who fused feminism, punk rock and selling records the best, in my opinion, and with Bruise Violet in particular because it's from their superb 1992 record Fontanelle, co-produced by Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo, and mixed by Skinny Puppy's Dave Ogilvie:

The song itself is less punk and grungier than some of their other stuff, but that's 1992 for you.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Video Of The Week: The Smashing Pumpkins

I could have chosen any of at least 10 videos to feature The Smashing Pumpkins, and I really almost went with one featuring Melissa Auf Der Maur on bass, and also hesitated putting their best song up (Bullet With Butterfly Wings), but ultimately I went with this one, released a couple of weeks following my 15th birthday, for Today, by acclaimed director Stéphane Sednaoui:

Despite the band being from Chicago, the Pumpkins are generally lumped into the ''grunge'' category for mixing quiet verses with heavy and loud choruses, and having lyrics that lean heavily towards the very personal but often incorporating tremendous amounts of sarcasm, such as this track, claiming ''today is the greatest day I've ever known'' and yet dealing with extreme depression (perhaps even to the level of being suicidal).

A sharp contrast to the subject matter is the use of bright colours, and all the extras making out all over the desert throughout the video.

At the time of its release, I remember thinking the Siamese Dream album the track is from to be better than Nirvana's Nevermind, but not as enthralling as Pearl Jam's Ten; both Seattle bands would release tremendous albums later in the year - In Utero and Vs, respectively - that would blow Siamese Dream out of the water, and it took until the follow-up record, the two-disc Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, for me to finally claim the Pumpkins had made a masterpiece.

I liked that the Pumpkins, like Pearl Jam, took their influences everywhere and anywhere, including wearing their love of 1980s alternative on their sleeves. You can definitely hear Billy Corgan channeling The Cars in many overdubs of power chords, as well as 1970s arena rock; on Mellon Collie, you can tell he was inspired by U2's turn to studio doodling (à la Zooropa and Achtung Baby) as well as what Trent Reznor was able to accomplish with Nine Inch Nails, particularly off The Downward Spiral - and Siamese Dream is the low-fi, pre-dating, low-budget version of that. And while Disarm and Mayonnaise may be the best-written pieces on it, Today is the best-produced straight-up rock number on it, and the one that had the most impact - despite my soft spot for Cherub Rock's opening minute.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Video Of The Week: Beyoncé

The First Rule Of Pop is: Beyoncé can do no wrong.

The Second Rule Of Pop is: Beyoncé married Jay-Z and is still the biggest pop star on the planet, further proof that she can do no wrong.

She shocked last year when she released Beyoncé to little fanfare and advertizing, and now with the Platinum Edition set to hit the shelves (two more songs, 4 new remixes, accompanying videos or each, collectible photo albums and tour diaries), she made a seemingly home-filmed video of the new track 7/11, featuring her crew of dancers, including Quebecer Kim Gingras:

I think she could use a little more polish lyrics-wise (the repeated line ''man it feels like rolling dice'' ad nauseam is reminiscent of the same album's Drunk In Love ''riding on that surf board'' endless repetition, plus every line that follows gets the repetition treatment as well), but since she can do no wrong, I have forgiven her.

Still the Queen Of Pop.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


The last few weeks have been trying in my immediate circle with health scares and warnings, ranging from heart conditions to burn-outs and depression to erectile dysfunction to my own appointments and checkups regarding diabetes.

But the word that came back the most often this week was cancer.

One of my brother's best friends, in his early 20s, wrote this heart-wrenching piece - in French - about his current condition with leukemia, which in turn brought my immediate family back to memories of a painful past.

I also decided to bring my Twitter profile back to life - I went from having hundreds of followers to between 50 and 60, a figure that seems to change daily for some reason. No, Traci Lords is no longer following me. (insert sad face here). And I wasn't there a week that I learned more people I know were afflicted with cancer. Three people I know well were diagnosed in 2014, all in their thirties.

And that's in addition to Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray's confession that he has Stage-4 colon cancer and whose only hope at this point is to extend his life, because it's too late to cure. He knows he won’t overcome his battle, but joked he wanted to prolong overtime, like during the famous 1980s game between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals: ''Let’s go to extra overtime and keep playing, like the game we played against the Islanders many years ago, and we went to four overtime periods'', Murray said.

In the long run, no one survives Life. We are all just visiting and must make the most of what we have, try to find happiness and, ideally, try to help mankind evolve. And no one is immune from accidents, but seeing someone who knows his time is up, and trying to make the best of it while not dwelling on the fact that he's nearing the end really hits home. Hard.

And he becomes the second Senators hockey operations member to seemingly spend the end of his life as an actual member of the team in just about a decade, after Roger Nielsen in 2003.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Video Of The Week: The Dollyrots

Formed in Florida but based in Los Angeles from the minute they decided to be a full-time band, The Dollyrots were always about punk rock's primal energy mixed with pop, fun and cuteness,  so it's no wonder their original indie label (Lookout!) was also the one that launched Green Day.

For their 15th music video in 10 years of professional music-making, director R. Ian MacLeod decided to have the band (singer-bassist Kelly Ogden, guitarist Luis Gabezas and part-time drummer Aixa from Go Betty Go pretending to play Stacy Jones' parts) and various characters pose and dance in front of green screens and white backgrounds, with added effects popping up, including the complete lyrics to Get Weird.

And it's a fun song, in the same vein as the rest of their songs that have appeared in movies, TV shows and film trailers - it just lacks the actual element of weirdness. And perhaps a bit of edge, a bit of balls. Or a message. Some consistence, like former label-mates Green Day, or the owner of their second label Joan Jett.

I like art for art's sake (Radiohead), and I'm not adverse to straight-ahead rock, and The Dollyrots score a fine 7/10 on that scale, but they have 5 albums now, and Barefoot And Pregnant is their second after a $33,000 Kickstarter campaign that was originally slated for $7,500 - perhaps it's time they added a bit more value to their output.

I suggest taking a full year to make their next record, keeping their feet on the ground by raising their kid (Ogden and Gabezas are a couple in ''real'' life), and listening to one ''message band'' per week and nothing else - I suggest the following 52: Bad Religion, Joan Jett, Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine, Ani DiFranco, Bruce Springsteen, John Fogerty, Sonic Youth, Hole, Tupac Shakur, Public Enemy, Fishbone, Meshell N'Degeo'Cello, Living Colour, Stevie Wonder, Sex Pistols, Me Mom & Morgentaler, Megadeth, Suicidal Tendencies, Infectious Grooves, The Clash, Social Distortion, Green Day, Fugazi, Outernational, Jack White, Placebo, Pennywise, Nine Inch Nails, Vulgaires Machines (sure it's in French, but they'll get the gist of it), Sahara Hotnights, The Raveonettes, The Minutemen, Ben Harper, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Damian Marley, SuperHeavy, Dead Kennedys, Against Me!, The Mahones, Hawkwind, Crass, Flux Of Pink Indians, X, Ghost Mice, The Nightwatchman, P.J. Harvey, Bikini Kill, and Amanda Palmer / Dresden Dolls.

But there's a good base with The Dollyrots. They can carve out a guitar-driven pop song, they just need to take some polish off the production and not sound so calculated, so maybe just work a bit on their lyrics and delivery. But it's good stuff, I own three of their records myself, and never go more than 10 days without listening to at least a couple of songs all the way through.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Top 10 Songs This Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. FIRE, A Devil's Din (2014)
9. CONTROL ME, Kandle (2014)
8. SHARP, Red Mass (2014)
7. DEMON, Kandle (2014)
6. THE TITAN ABOVE US, Moloken (2011)
5. RIGHT TIME, Nikki Lane (2014)
4. LAZARETTO, Jack White (2014)
3. TWO COFFINS, Against Me! (2014)
2. NOT UP TO ME, Kandle (2014)
1. IN MEDIA REST, Anti-School-Year (2014)

Top 10 Love Songs For Broken Hearts:

10. ESTRANGED, Guns N' Roses (1991)
9. TIME AFTER TIME, Cyndi Lauper (1984)
8. WHAT IT TAKES, Aerosmith (1989)
7. I REMEMBER YOU, Skid Row (1989)
6. BLACK, Pearl Jam (1991)
5. MAPS, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2004)
4. HAPPY TOGETHER (The Turtles cover), Frank Zappa & The Mothers (1971)
3. I MISS YOU, Blink-182 (2003)
2. THE SCIENTIST, Coldplay (2002)
1. I COULD HAVE LIED, Red Hot Chili Peppers (1991)

Video Of The Week: Die Antwoord

Die Antwoord were never my cup of tea, really. And this time, the South African zef superstars went electro-pop with Ugly Boy, a ''shocking'' subject matter of a girl not falling for the pretty guy, shock-full of hits in the face, blood spilling, blood-like paint on walls, celebrity cameos, an Aphex Twin sample, and what the internet knee-jerk reactors were quick to assume was blackface.

So let's start with that, the Richard D. James masks, from the Windowlicker video, in which some were white, some were black. It wasn't blackface, it was the opposite: it was face-face. Everyone had Aphex Twin's face, except the ''super RDJ mask'' with the teeth. Die Antwoord's video just has that mask. As far as I can tell.

As for cameos, Jack Black in scar tissue is a sight, as is Dita Von Teese in her daily clothing. Marilyn Manson was himself, probably because he went with the ''ugly guy'' shtick in 1994. I'm not entirely sure why Flea's in there doing contemporary dance, but ok. Cara Delevingne is the model with the facepaint; she's starting a career as an actress, too, so expect to see a lot of her in the next 3 to 5 years. Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs is in there too. Perhaps under the RDJ mask.

Let's talk about the music itself. The sounds are centered around Aphex Twin's Ageispolis, and the lyrics borrow as much from Roy Orbison (''anything you want, you got it / anything you need, you got it / anything at all, you got it'') to Sade (''this is no ordinary love'') to Deez Nuts (''unfuckwithable'') to Mick Smiley (''I believe it's magic! magic!'')  to film titles (''There Will Be Blood'').

But we're in postmodern times, they're a post-racial act, playing post-rave pop for post-adolescent young folks who will never know what it's like to go to a post office.

As the boys in Sloan used to say: ''If we feels good, do it / even if you shouldn't''.

As for the subject matter of giving love to someone others are repelled by, it's been tackled by Christina Aguilera this decade (in Beautiful, among others), TLC the one before that, and Smashing Pumpkins (most songs, but Ugly is the most obvious example) and Pearl Jam (''so I'll just lie alone and wait for the dream / where I'm not ugly and you're looking at me'') in the 1990s. Probably some in the 70s and 80s, too.

Every decade needs to bring that point home, but to glorify purposely looking ugly, Manson seemed to put a lot more thought into it 20 years ago, personifying the essence of what it meant, not just in his appearance but his entire art, and almost every quote given in the media as well.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Flipbook Squad

Did you see Vladimir Tarasenko's goal the other night, when the St. Louis Blues forward showed speed, determination and a lot of agility and ability in deking out half the New York Rangers? Here it is:

But it looks even better animated in flip-book mode, by The Flippist:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Canadian Environment

There's yet a another petition making the rounds in Canada, asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper to not go overboard in allowing the complete destruction of our environment. It's a weekly occurrence, it seems.

He does not see the small picture, let alone the big one.

Whether (or not) federal elected officials prefer to support big businesses instead of the people who elected them and whom they represent is irrelevant.

The bottom line remains: if they allow anyone or anything to compromise our environment, we are all screwed. And not just Canadians. Pollution and devastation knows no borders, no boundaries.

Even the businesses who pillage nature to sell it back to us need it to not be a finite resource. That's in addition to biodiversity proving everyone its actual food sources. Basing decisions we know are wrong on some half-assed biased research is worse than just a skewed lack of vision, it's step-by-step suicide.

I mean, shit, right, the companies have proven for a long time that their profit-driven ways go in just one direction with blinders on, and always need us to protect them from themselves - not help them fuck the rest of us up more.

This is a fast way to get to a post-apocalyptic world, when ''I told you so'' won't mean anything anymore.

Darren Aronofsky and Leonardo DiCaprio took a trip to the Albertan tar sands earlier this year and came back with a troubling report. Once pioneers in progress and progressive views, and formerly the voice of reason on the international scene, Canada has become the laughingstock of the international community, particularly on environmental and scientific issues.

Ironic that the country who wouldn't let the U.S. back out of the Kyoto protocol now won't even come close to meeting its own objectives on the matter.

Bad Cops, Bad Cops, Whatcha Gonna Do?

Here is a list of recent ''awful cop stories'' excluding those involving them killing someone.

They came to light after this video was leaked:

Again, I come from a family of - I hope -presumably good cops, including one who arrests other cops. I know the ''guy culture'', and I understand some might feel underpaid for the shit they have to go through.

But police committing crimes should be subjected to twice the penalty a citizen would, on one hand. And there should be no level of tolerance of minimizing crimes they might have to deal with.

I'm as appalled in this video by the cops' talk of ''turning a blind eye'' as I am of the rape ''joke'', as a principle, but this is exactly what people refer to as us living in a ''rape culture''. If you can't trust the police to take you seriously, when they are merely the first step on a long and arduous ladder of justice, then the case is hopeless from the start.

That's why a lot of sex crimes go unreported. Events like this one, precisely. As much as news stories about rapist cops, maybe more so because it occurs more often.

You want to make jokes? Grab a microphone and get on a stage. When you're paid and wearing your uniform, take your job seriously. Or quit. Or volunteer to get raped yourself.

Go Texas, eh?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Top 10 Songs This Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. MORNING, Beck (2014)
9. TWO COFFINS, Against Me! (2014)
8. SHARP, Red Mass (2014)
7. THE TITAN ABOVE US, Moloken (2011)
6. FIRE, A Devil's Din (2014)
5. LAZARETTO, Jack White (2014)
4. NOT UP TO ME, Kandle (2014)
3. DEMON, Kandle (2014)
2. CONTROL ME, Kandle (2014)
1. RIGHT TIME, Nikki Lane (2014)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Video Of The Week: A Devil's Din

With their most recent song, A Devil's Din are trying to make lemonade out of a tragedy - the fire of the building that housed their jam space - by writing about their misfortune, and making a video asking for donations so they can re-equip themselves:

Obviously, being gear-less makes for a sound that isn't stellar (and the video even pokes fun at that), but you can definitely feel their hearts in the right place, and trying to make do of a shitty situation.

In just 8 hours, they came up with decent riffs and (perhaps obvious) lyrics, and a song was born. Good work, all told.

Feel free to help their cause, by Paypal-ing

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weirdness Of The Week: Poodle Workout

Ah, Japan!

(Technically, this was made by Panasonic for the Beijing Olympics, but still...)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Video Of The Week: Nicki Minaj

If only because it dethroned Miley Cyrus from a YouTube record (most views in its first week), this song is totally worth featuring. Of course, it's basically just replacing one twerker with another, but at least Nicky Minaj has talent something.

Sir Mix-A-Lot might say that something is a ''big butt'', hence the sampling of his classic ode to derrières, Baby Got Back, throughout the song, which both emphasizes Minaj's own, but also reverts it back to her appreciation of large penises, hence Anaconda.

The metaphors are obvious, the visual aids are sophomoric, the idea is funny yet unsophisticated... but it works. Better and more subtle than Black Eyes Peas, anyway.

As in many Nicki Minaj videos, director Colin Tilley put forth a dazzling array of colours to catch the eyes of those less enthused with the singer's silhouette, and even added eye candy for fans of the other gender with the cameo by Drake, seen getting a lap dance at the end of the video.

It's hyper-sexualized candy for teenagers and young adults, and fodder for critics of sexism and the depiction of women in our era. And for ''concerned parents who'd want to hide this from their kids'', but really, 1. the lyrics have enough swear words to make those people kill themselves anyway, and 2. if you can't control your own kids, don't try to control those of others.

A quick word about Drake: after seeing him in this and Anchorman 2, I have concluded he's better when having fun in small doses than when actually singing. Please: more cameos, less singles.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Scorching Flame-Out

If you had never heard of the AHL's Adirondack Flames before this week, you were... well, normal. They are the seventh incarnation of a franchise that started out as the Maine Mariners in 1977. Their NHL affiliation has been with the Calgary Flames since 1993, but it had previously been the farm team for the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers. This year is their first in Glens Falls, NY after relocating from Abbottsford, B.C.

It is not the first AHL team to be based in Glens Falls, though, as the Adirondack Phantoms (Flyers affiliate) and Adirondack Red Wings (Detroit's affiliate) had ensured a continuous presence in the area since 1979.

But two games in, and a player by the name of Trevor Gillies has already been suspended for 12 games (for attempting to seriously injure youngster William Carrier).

The ''worst'' news, though, comes from having to can their mascot, Scorch - if it ever really existed - because in addition to looking like a red turd villain from the Power Rangers, this was its unveiling, ''overpowering a fireman'':

And, of course, post-9/11, you can't have fire winning against firemen. Though this one was an actor. From Glens Falls, the hotbed of acting. Which probably means both he and the teenager inside Scorch will ''never work in that town again''.

A mascot taking the fall for the team losing its first two games and coming as a distraction from the Gillies assault? That's new. Free publicity for a new team in a specific market? Now, you're talking!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

We Will Become Unicorns

There's a unicorn at the end of every rainbow, and to ride it one must follow the rain to the exact spot where it meets the sun. It's an oasis in a sandbox, atop a mountain and overlooking the ocean. It's where birds sing instead of chipping, where bears hibernate even during the summer, and squirrels help young girls braid their hair.

And the unicorn stands tall and majestic, living proof that everything eventually falls into place, like a reward for good behaviour and effort.

I have been that unicorn for some, and others have been it for me. But to be your own unicorn, for yourself, is a gift only you can strive for.

It was Thanksgiving in Canada yesterday, and while it's good to be humbled by where we have come as a species, to look back and be grateful for all the help we've received in our accomplishments, it's also good to keep in mind the work that still lay ahead.

Some of us are zebras, some are studs, some are ponies and many are donkeys. Becoming unicorns might require some help, a little bit of input from the outside world, but it's also work one has to do on their own.

I want to be a unicorn again. For someone else, maybe, but mostly for myself.

And, yes, someone dared me to write something with unicorns as the main subject matter. Doesn't make it any less true.

Funniest And Most Honest Video This Week

Once more, courtesy of Cassetteboy, this time with a remix of BBC News footage:

Prime Minister David Cameron once again made the cut.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

2014-15 NHL Season Preview: The Awards

And so I went with my Eastern Conference and Western Conference predictions... might as well dig myself an even deeper hole and try to predict the various award winners.

President's Cup (regular season champs): Chicago Blackhawks
Prince Of Wales Trophy (Eastern Conference Cup finalists): New York Islanders
Clarence-Campbell Trophy (Western Conference Cup finalists): Los Angeles Kings
Stanley Cup Champions: Los Angeles Kings
Conn Smythe (playoff MVP): Jaroslav Halak

Art Ross (points scoring leader): Alex Ovechkin
Rocket Richard (leading goal scorer): Alex Ovechkin
Hart (MVP voted by the press): Steven Stamkos
Ted Lindsay (MVP voted by players): Steven Stamkos
Vezina (top goalie): Ben Bishop
Calder (best rookie): Johnny Gaudreau
Lady Byng (most sportsmanlike): Martin St-Louis
Norris (best defenseman): Shea Weber
Bill Masterton (perseverance/comeback): Nathan Horton
Frank Selke (best defensive forward): Tomas Plekanec
Jack Adams (top coach): Lindy Ruff
King Clancy (humanitarian): P.K. Subban
Mark Messier (best leader): John Tavares
GM: Garth Snow

NHL Preview: 2014-15 Season: Eastern Conference

The power structure hasn't really changed in the East, compared to last season. Most teams remain with the same question marks, despite minor roster changes - barring an Ottawa Senators-type exception here and there.

Eastern Conference:

The Atlantic Division:

1. Boston Bruins

Perennial contenders, the Bruins have lost Johnny Boychuk and Jarome Iginla, but had the means to replace them internally, which might mean some adjustments for 10 or 15 games, but once they've settled into their groove, they'll be back on track. They can surely afford testing stuff out because they have Tuuka Rask, the reigning Vezina trophy winner and definitely a top-3 goalie. I see Loui Eriksson come back to his usual 60 points per season with more ice time and no injuries, though the Bs just might have trouble adjusting to the NHL's crackdown on diving this year.

2. Montréal Canadiens

Their Final Four finish was no surprise, really, if only a year ahead of schedule. Carey Price no longer has the burden of trying to be the best goalie in the league now that Dustin Tokarski can step in at any time - the future is also bright with Zach Fucale waiting in the wings. With Price concentrating on just being the best he can be (a guy who stops 91% of shots faced), Norris Trophy winner - and possibly next captain - P.K. Subban can lead the team like he did in the playoffs. Sniper Max Pacioretty is barely 25, and Alex Galchenyuk is a superstar in the making. The present's not bad either, with one of the best and most consistent two-way centers in the world in Tomas Plekanec and one of the league's top-5 defenders of the last decade, Andrei Markov. Nathan Beaulieu makes for a very reassuring insurance policy should Markov or Subban get injured - or tremendous trade deadline bait.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning

Forget the 4-game sweep at the hands of the Habs - they didn't have Ben Bishop in nets, and the Vezina nominee is the real thing. Steven Stamkos is one of the two purest goal-scorers in the game, and likely a Hart nominee for years to come. Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Ryan Callahan, Nikita Kucherov and Valtteri Filppula make for a strong supporting cast, and Jonathan Drouin might win the Calder this year. It looks like Victor Hedman is becoming a Norris trophy contender, and I like the addition of Jason Garrison for the powerplay. They will need more help on the back end, though, as the rest of the D isn't all that mobile nor physical.

4. Detroit Red Wings

Never count the Wings out. They played half the season without their first line, their starting goalie, and maybe even their whole defense, but still managed to squeak into the playoffs on the strength of Gustav Nyquist and the rest of their AHL affiliate's contributions.

5. Ottawa Senators

Ha! Here's how I started my post on the Sens last season: ''How do you replace the team's heart and soul when the captain decides to leave as a free agent?'' Well, the same can be asked this year, only the answer is clear (Kyle Turris), and so will the end result be: a step back. Goaltending will be a strength with Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner, the defense will have improved after a year's experience kicking in, and Clarke MacArthur might score even more goals with actual first-line playing time, but part of acquiring experience is growing pains, and this year will hurt a little bit.

6. Florida Panthers

Roberto Luongo will be back in Vezina-nominee form, and the future looks bright with Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad and Erik Gudbranson; there is veteran leadership in Stanley Cup winner Willie Mitchell and, to a lesser extent, Brian Campbell and Shawn Thornton, but it won't be enough to make the playoffs. Perhaps in a couple of years... when they're playing out of Québec City.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs

Oh, look, the Leafs are into ''fancy stats''. By the time the playoffs start, the team will have fired their coach and GM, and the ''new era'' will be ushered in... with the same results. There are keepers on this team: Phil Kessel is a heck of a scorer, and Jonathan Bernier might be that goalie. Nazem Kadri's cool, but tainted by the Leaf Stink. That's about it, though.

8. Buffalo Sabres

I hate to be like everyone else and put the Sabres behind the Leafs, because I like their young crop of kids, and the veterans they brought in to keep the ship afloat until the youngsters are ready are trustworthy and reliable. There's something about having Jhonas Enroth as the #1 goalie that scares me, though.

The Metropolitan Division:

1. Pittsburgh Penguins

''The Pens have the actual best player in the world (Evgeni Malkin) as well as the guy most people think is the best in the world (Sidney Crosby)'' - that much remains true from last year's post. Pittsburgh now have a new GM (though they chose the wrong one), a new head coach, and pretty much a new bottom-6. I am under the impression that Marc-André Fleury will either leave town or share the net with the Carolina Hurricanes' Cam Ward before the end of the season, but that won't make much of a difference. The Penguins' fate rests in the hands of Crosby, Malkin, and Kristopher Letang - three guys who have a tendency to get injured and/or almost die.

2. Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom are tremendous offensive weapons, the likes of which new head coach Barry Trotz has never led before. There'll be growing pains, but they'll work around their differences and make it work. I see them winning their division in 2015-16 when they are familiar enough with each other, but for now, a second-place finish seems reasonable. Brian Holtby needs to find consistency, and having Justin Peters as the backup might put him in confidence - though if I were Trotz, I'd be having nightmares already. The defense improved by 50% just by stealing Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen (as well as their defense coach) from Pittsburgh, enabling John Carlson to keep developing at his own pace.

3. New York Rangers

So they won't have their top centers for a third of the season... with Henrik Lundqvist in nets and a defense comprised of Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Dan Boyle and Kevin Klein, they'll be able to win their fair share of 2-1 games. They still have the ageless Martin St-Louis, Derick Brassard, Rick Nash and Chris Kreider to hold the fort until Derek Stepan comes back. I'm not worried about the Stanley Cup finalists.

4. Philadelphia Flyers

Ok, so they're the opposite of the Rangers: a devastating offense led by Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and perhaps Vincent Lecavalier, but a defense that was already thin when Kimmo Timonen was signed - and now he's probably out for the season, slotting Braydon Coburn, Andrew MacDonald, Mark Streit, Luke Schenn and Nicklas Grossman in positions they might not be comfortable with. Oh, and kudos to goalie Steve Mason for getting back on track, I hope it lasts.

5. New York Islanders

GM Garth Snow may just have sent his team straight to the playoffs by adding Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk to his other summer acquisitions, star goalie Jaroslav Halak and forwards Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin and Cory Conacher. They already had MVP candidate John Tavares and linemate Kyle Okposo to build on, and coach Ted Nolan is a great motivator.

6. New Jersey Devils

Exit Martin Brodeur, enter full-time Cory Schneider. That's the storyline, but that's not the right one. No, the real story is how the once offense-starved Devils now have a legitimate top line with the ageless future Hall Of Famer Jaromir Jagr now joined by 30-goal man Mike Cammalleri to play with Travis Zajac. Stefan Matteau might put his ego in check and eventually make a decent NHL player, Martin Havlat may still have gas in the tank, Patrik Elias and Adam Henrique may remain consisent, and the nameless defense might hold up. That's a lot of ''ifs'' - too many to slot them in the division's top-4 teams - but enough positive answers to those interrogations will at least make the Devils watchable, which I don't think has ever been said about this franchise.

7. Columbus Blue Jackets

I don't see them regressing too much,but the early-season injury bug and the drama surrounding RFA Ryan Johansen will prove to have been too much to bear. If the Jackets have any sense, they'll get rid of Johansen and move forward without him, even in exchange for another ''problem child'', such as Winnipeg's Evander Kane (and a draft pick). Brandon Dubinsky, Cam Atkinson, Scott Hartnell, Jack Johnson and Nick Foligno have enough heart to keep as a core, it's just a matter of adding two 60-point players to the mix to bring Columbus back into (playoff) contention.

8. Carolina Hurricanes

Ladies and gentlemen, the worst team in hockey. Not just that, but they lost half their scoring in the pre-season when Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner fell to injury. The fact that they only have two ''guys I would want on my team'' (Andrej Sekera and Justin Faulk, and not as first-pairing defensemen) speaks wonders.

The playoff picture:
Boston (1A) - NY Islanders (8)
Montreal (2) - Tampa Bay (3)
Pittsburgh (1B) - Philadelphia (7)
Washington (2) - Rangers (3)

NHL Preview: 2014-15 Season: Western Conference

Almost every team in the NHL has improved this off-season, whether by adding players from other teams (via trades or free agency), or promoting younger talent in-house. Talent-wise, the NHL has never been better. Which means that while some teams may have improved, they could still drop in the standings because the opposition got even better. This is the case in the West, what with the veritable arms race at the center position this summer.

Western Conference:

The Central Division:

1. Chicago Blackhawks

One of the two best teams in the league - with the Los Angeles Kings, both vying for ''dynasty'' status - although Chicago usually has better regular seasons. This is the last season before Jonathan Toews' and Patrick Kane's monster contracts kick in and may force the team to liquidate more assets than just Nick Leddy, so this might be their last ''window'' to a Stanley Cup... though with their development system, I can see them contend after a short two-year ''experience-building'' drought. Corey Crawford is a top-10 goalie. The defense corps is second to only the Kings'. Having the choice between Brad Richards and Teuvo Teravainen to center the second line is a luxury no other team - save L.A., again - has.

2. St. Louis Blues

As it was last season, this is Ken Hitchcock's Moment Of Truth with the Blues, except this time they attempt to win with Brian Elliott manning the net rather than Jaroslav Halak - a step back. Except they have finally brought in a legitimate #1 center in Paul Stastny, slotting David Backes where he should be, at #2. The rest of the cast is similar to last year, with the Big Three of Alex Pietrangelo (now paid like a Norris winner), Kevin Shattenkik and Jay Bouwmeester (three 2014 Olympians) on defense, and Vladimir Tarasenko, T.J. Oshie and Alexander Steen to help Stastny out up front. I predict another strong showing in the regular season, but the West is so competitive that they won't make it far in the playoffs.

3. Minnesota Wild

If the Wild didn't have so many question marks in net (Josh Harding's health, Niklas Backstrom's consistency because of health and age, Darcy Kuemper's lack of experience, Ilya Bryzgalov waiting in the wings), I might have been tempted to slot them in first place. Adding Thomas Vanek to an already-scary and proven top-6 (Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niedereiter) makes for an offense that very well could finish first in the league in scoring. Their defense is steady, and any one of the kids they have down in the AHL could fit on their bottom pairing - and the same can be said for the 12 guys that could play on their third line, let alone the fourth. The Wild are the deepest team in the league.

4. Dallas Stars

The Stars moved from just outside the playoff picture to second-round playoff talk just by hiring Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky (a.k.a. last season's top line for the Ottawa Senators) to their second line, behind Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. It wouldn't even matter who the other wingers were if they weren't Valeri Nichushkin (a first-line talent) and Antoine Roussel (a bruising winger who could develop into a 30-goal, 100-PIM power forward). Their defense isn't as proven as the top three in their division (Sergei Gonchar is particularly long in the tooth), but Kari Lehtonen is a world-class goalie - provided he stays healthy.

5. Colorado Avalanche

The Avs surprised a lot of observers by winning their division last year, but they will not be able to repeat. Not because ''advanced statistics'' will bring them back to earth, nor because they lost Paul Stastny - Nathan MacKinnon will replace him in no time. Semyon Varlamov will have another terrific season, and Tyson Barrie will keep improving as their leader on defense. Adding veteran help in the form of Jarome Iginla and Daniel Brière will also help Alex Tanguay steer youngsters Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog in the right direction. Ryan O'Reilly might be on his way out, but even that's not a deterrent. It's just that all teams will be prepared for the Avalanche now, and Patrick Roy's squad will take no one by surprise; that, and the fact that the division leaders are so strong will relegate the Avs to ''wild card'' status... which is fine, and probably perfect for Roy, who will use their ''underdog'' status as a motivational tool come playoff time.

6. Nashville Predators

The Preds are the most improved team in the West, because they went from having Mike Fisher as their #1 center to slotting both Mike Ribeiro (an All-Star-caliber pivot) and Derek Roy (who might no longer be the player he once was) ahead of him. And how do you help a pure passer and playmaker like Ribeiro? By giving him 40-goal man James Neal (Evgeni Malkin's former linemate) to play with. That, to me, sounds like two guys producing 70 points each that weren't there last year. Add that to a superb defense corps led by Shea Weber (perhaps the most well-rounded defender in the game) and Seth Jones, and a comeback performance by Pekka Rinne and, should the Blues falter, the Preds could move up in these standings.

7. Winnipeg Jets

Ondrej Pavelec's game has fallen a lot, but even if he suddenly stopped 92% of all pucks going his way again, the Jets just aren't deep enough to even put a dent in the strongest division in hockey. Andrew Ladd's a fine leader, Dustin Byfuglien's a force wherever he plays, Evander Kane is a sniper (though troublesome at times, and he might not finish the season in Winnipeg) and Blake Wheeler is a legitimate top-line winger. Mark Scheiffle might turn into something, but even then, that's the extent of their offense. The team's strength is on D, with Byfuglien, Tobias Entrom, Jacob Trouba, Zach Bogosian, and Mark Stuart. They might need to trade one of them to improve their offense, and another to solve their goaltending issues.

The Pacific Division:

1. Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks got younger by allowing/forcing Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu to retire.They may have solidified their second line for the present by trading Nick Bonino for (the oft-injured) Ryan Kesler, and Dany Heatley's a cheap gamble to complement Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on the top unit. Can youngster Cam Fowler run the defensive unit for a top contender? Can the young tandem of Frederik Andersen and John Gibson get the job done in nets? Can coach Bruce Boudreau get enough out of this team to finish atop their division? I believe the answer to those questions is ''yes''. Are they / can he make them Stanley Cup contenders? No.

2. San Jose Sharks

Let me copy and paste my intro to last year's post: ''I could totally live in a world without the San Jose Sharks. Even the Stanley Cup wouldn't see a difference.'' This is probably the year they implode for good. In a weak division, though, they can still finish second - in the regular season.

3. Los Angeles Kings

For once, I'm not worried about the Kings' offense, what with Marian Gaborik playing with Anze Kopitar. A healthy Gaborik gives you 40 goals, an injured one rests for the playoffs - I see that as win-win. Superstars Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick have a habit of half-coasting through the regular season and turning the switch on come playoff time, and two Cups in three years with a Conference Finals in between them tells me that could be the right thing to do. It'll mean cold sweats to their 25,000 fans from January to April (they have no idea hockey starts in October, either), but another Conference Final finish in June will forgive all.

4. Edmonton Oilers

This is the year the Oilers almost make the playoffs, probably losing out to the Avalanche in the wild card race, by a point or two. Their offense is stacked, their goaltending in finally stable, their defense and breakout will vastly improve, and they've added expensive experience in free agency, with Cup winners and finalists to lead the way. The Great Leap Forward has begun.

5. Calgary Flames

I like how they're rebuilding, I like Jonas Hiller in nets, I like that despite their brand of truculence, they still kept the diminutive Johnny Gaudreau to woo the fans, I like having Bob Hartley around to teach the kids how to play, I love Mikael Backlund and the slew of talented forwards in the pipeline. This will be a fun team to watch in the playoffs... two years from now.

6. Vancouver Canucks

John Tortorella
wasn't everything that was wrong with this team. Not having up-and-comers to fill in for the aging players getting injured was mostly it, coupled with the worst-trading GM of his generation. Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin still have some magic left in them, and Alexandre Burrows still has gas in the tank; the uneven Radim Vrbata will score 30 and still frustrated fans, and the defense will miss 200-man-games to injury. What sinks this team is, essentially, the trade-off in nets: present-day Ryan Miller is no Roberto Luongo. I'm not even sure he's better than backup Eddie Lack.

7. Phoenix Coyotes

''The Seattle Portland Québec Phoenix Arizona franchise isn't done going through harsh times.'' I wrote that last year when I predicted they'd finish 6th in their division. They'll contend for last-place overall - in the NHL - this season. If the bottom teams could be relegated to the AHL like certain European leagues do, the Coyotes would be fighting it out with the Jets (ironic, isn't it?) and Carolina Hurricanes to stay alive... and they might lose. Beyond Mike Smith, Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, all I see are question marks, some I don't mind (Sam Gagner, Antoine Vermette, Mikkel Boedker), others I'd avoid at all costs (Martin Hanzal, Shane Doan's age, Martin Erat).

The playoff picture:
Anaheim  (1B) - Dallas (7)
San Jose (2) - Los Angeles (3)
Chicago (1A) - Colorado (8)
St. Louis (2) - Minnesota (3)

Gold Lion

I thought I was among the only households with a pet lion:

Turns out some Hollywood types have the full-size versions of them in their homes:

That's the home actress Melanie Griffith grew up in, with mother (actress) Tippi Hedren and father (director) Noel Marshall, and lion Neil, as the family was ''researching'' living with large cats.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Video of The Week: I Am Snow Angel

I Am Snow Angel is Julie Kathryn's project-without-her-own-name,  shock-full of synths and lash production interspersed with 8-bit sounds; this would not have been out of place 10 years ago, when The Postal Service were making a huge splash within the indie-rock/soft electronica scene.

Directed by We Are Films and Patrick Ermlich, the video for Crocodile is just as the song is: lavish, polished, beautiful and soft, full of blue and white and pretty boy Hardy Winburn.

It works well in the middle of a sad night, at the top of a sad week. It's a ray of light with a dark message to contrast with the black heart of a good soul.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Funniest And Most Honest Video Of The Week

Courtesy of Cassetteboy:

Ironic that it comes right after Prime Minister David Cameron (the subject of the video) made video parodies legal and protected speech...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Top 10 Songs This Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. THE TITAN ABOVE US, Moloken (2011)
9. SWEATPANTS, Childish Gambino (feat. Problem) (2014)
8. WALK ON THE WILD SIDE (Lou Reed cover), Joseph Arthur (2014)
7. RIGHT TIME, Nikki Lane (2014)
6. DEMON, Kandle (2014)
5. ALL THE RAGE BACK HOME, Interpol (2014)
4. NOT UP TO ME, Kandle (2014)
3. SMOOTH SAILING, Queens Of The Stone Age (2014)
2. CONTROL ME, Kandle (2014)
1. LAZARETTO, Jack White (2014)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Video Of The Week: Moloken

Hard music. Swedish band. Cars and roads. Nature. Mustaches.

Dead body. Dragging. Digging.

Moloken have scored huge with this song and video for The Titan Above Us, the first track off their 2011 album Rural, a 7-track opus where the shortest track lasts 3:25 and the longest one clocks in at 16:23.

Originally a side project for The Pookie Syndrome's Kristoffer Bäckström, the first line-up started playing together in 2007 and released an EP entitled We All Face The Dark Alone in 2008; the 2009 full-length Our Astral Circle was released to critical acclaim and featured no less than three untitled songs.

Their current line-up has Kristoffer on guitars and vocals, his brother Nicklas Bäckström on bass and vocals, Patrik Ylmefors (of Overlord Industries) on guitars and drummer Jakob Burstedt (formerly of Lithany, which Kristoffer was also in).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Video Of The Week: Allan Lento

Allan Lento's a cool guy, a contemporary legend among a circle of like-minded Montréal singer-songwriters, and the bridge between many eclectic music scenes in town. Everybody loves him, because while he's talented and diverse (he has written over 300 songs he can play live, he's done spoken-word shows, some almost-theater performance pieces, and has a wicked sense of humour), he's also affable and comes up with these great ideas for shows and projects that would include a lot of other participants.

More often than not, he's all about making other people happy.

This song, Crazy On The Beach, is very different-sounding from most of his catalogue, yet it fits so well in it because of its surrealist lyrics and overall vibe; the reason why I'm choosing this video as Video Of The Week - apart from its superb images of Jamaica - is because, for once, it seems about making Allan Lento happy, rather than everyone else around him. It's a nice 180-degree turn. And he looks great surrounded by summer weather and sand and water.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Video Of The Week: The Pack A.D.

I started the week with The Pack A.D., so I might as well end it the same way...

Rocket isn't my favourite song off their Do Not Engage record, but I must admit that starting the day with a post-apocalyptic video set in a desert felt pretty great, particularly after a chilly night where I left my windows open. So kudos, director Jimi Cuell, for instilling warmth in my day through a Mad Max-versus-Girl Power clip that inexplicably takes an animated and colourful turn at the end.

And good on everyone involved to dress the girls like everybody else, and not have them be showing (more) skin just because they have a different chromosome.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Alice In Chains, Monster Truck & The Pack A.D. @ Metropolis, August 24, 2014

It was a fine evening of rock last night at Metropolis.

It started with The Pack A.D., who were in fine form. Drummer Maya Miller knows exactly when to simplify things à la Meg White and when to pound an off-beat à la Keith Moon, and as the backing vocalist and master of ceremony, always adequately takes the between-the-songs spotlight off of Becky Black, who uses the 10 seconds she needs to gather up the energy to burst out another garage rock gem. As the first of three bands on the bill, we expected 20 minutes of hard rock from them; instead, we were pleased to get double that.

Next up was Monster Truck, who have been in town and in our province often since winning the Best New Artist Juno in 2013, most recently a couple of weeks ago at an outdoors festival - I forget whether it's Osheaga or Heavy MTL, which both take place at the same venue and are organized by the same people. If Lynyrd Skynyrd had a child with AC/DC, the music it would produce would be pretty much what Monster Truck provides; get that child a godfather like Mark Slaughter or Chris Cornell for the range of vocals, and you're dead-on.

By itself, their songs are ok. It's riff-based Southern Rock with lots of ''girl'', ''baby'', ''love'', and maybe some ''driving'' in the lyrics; the type of stuff that's fine as background music while listening to a rock station on a road trip, but maybe not something I'd buy in CD or MP3 format. However, these guys can play, and their live sets have an energy I've rarely seen anywhere else before. They are confident, in control of their instruments, and most of all, happy. All four of them sport smiles that could end a forest fire and impregnate all the birds and squirrels. They're more fun to watch than a barrel full of monkeys on acid (*please don't give acid to monkeys). I might eventually be tempted to buy a DVD of theirs.

But the main event managed to remind everyone in the room whose show it really was. Alice In Chains, despite the death of two founding members (vocalist and part-time guitarist Layne Staley, and bassist Mike Starr) are as good as they ever were. If anything, they now have the consistency to give high-quality shows night in and night out, which may not have been the case when at least two of its members were heroin addicts.

Jerry Cantrell remains a pitch-perfect guitarist (though I don't agree with those who consider him a guitar god/virtuoso), and Sean Kinney is also one of the most reliable drummers to come out of the 1990s Seattle scene, so that went according to plan; Mike Inez - who also played with Ozzy Osbourne, Slash's Snakepit and Black Label Society - might be an improvement over Starr for the sheer fact that he's enjoying every second of it (huge smiles, interacting with the crowd, throwing picks - think of Suicidal Tendencies / Metallica bass player Robert Trujillo); and William DuVall is a heck of a frontman.

He can hit Staley's notes, but he's also energetic, doing rock-star poses and moves like a cross between Beck and Scott Weiland - but with a much larger vocal range: there's some Corey Glover (Living Coloür) deepness and richness in there, there's that sardonic Axl Rose voice from Mr. Brownstone at times, but the Staley-meets-Freddie Mercury thing really hits you. And he can play guitar well - he took a few solos during the evening, and when he felt he may not have hit a note right, he didn't play it. He stayed within his means and rocked the fuck out.
Photo: Éric Robillard
Here's the setlist, and album each song was from:

1. Dirt (Dirt, 1992)
2. Them Bones (Dirt)
3. Dam That River (Dirt)
4. Hollow (The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, 2013)
5. Again (Alice In Chains, 1995)
6. Check My Brain (Black Gives Way To Blue, 2009)
7. Your Decision (Black Gives Way To Blue)
8. Man In the Box (Facelift, 1990)
9. Grind (Alice In Chains)
10. Nutshell (Jar Of Flies, 1994)
11. Phantom Limb (The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here)
12. We Die Young (Facelift)
13. Stone (The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here)
14. Sludge Factory (Alice In Chains)
(encore break)
15.  Cold Gin (Kiss cover) tease
16. Got Me Wrong (Sap, 1992)
17.Would? (Singles soundtrack, 1992; Dirt)
18. Rooster (Dirt)

In addition to the quality of the show, I'd be remiss to not point out that three feet to my right was the largest and most violent mosh pit I've seen since 1996. Kudos to no one getting killed. Keep it classy, kids.

Alice In Chains: 8/10
Monster Truck: 7/10
The Pack A.D.: 8/10

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Top 10 Songs This Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. JOAN OF ARC, Arcade Fire (2013)
9. STOP!, Jane's Addiction (1990)
8. WALK ON THE WILD SIDE (Lou Reed cover), Joseph Arthur (2014)
7. SMOOTH SAILING, Queens Of The Stone Age (2014)
6. CONTROL ME, Kandle (2014)
5. SWEATPANTS, Childish Gambino (feat. Problem) (2014)
4. RED LIGHT, Eddie Murphy (feat. Snoop Lion) (2013)
3. RIGHT TIME, Nikki Lane (2014)
2. ALL THE RAGE BACK HOME, Interpol (2014)
1. LAZARETTO, Jack White (2014)

Video Of The Week: EMF

Sure, I prefer their darker stuff, the more ''80s-alternative'' sound found in songs like Lies, but I've been feeling down enough lately that a good pick-me-up was warranted.

Three reunions later and just 10 of 23 years off in band history which is like most bands who don't take hiatuses, EMF are still at it, usually performing on the summer festival circuit in Europe.This is their most-known and ''popiest'' hit, Unbelievable, but all three of their records kick ass.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Top 10s This Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. THE DISTRICT SLEEPS ALONE TONIGHT, The Postal Service (2003)
9. LOVE BITES, Def Leppard (1987)
8. WALK ON THE WILD SIDE (Lou Reed cover), Joseph Arthur (2014)
7. NOT UP TO ME, Kandle (2014)
6. ALL THE RAGE BACK HOME, Interpol (2014)
5. LAZARETTO, Jack White (2014)
4. SWEATPANTS, Childish Gambino (feat. Problem) (2014)
3. RIGHT TIME, Nikki Lane (2014)
2. SMOOTH SAILING, Queens Of The Stone Age (2014)
1. RED LIGHT, Eddie Murphy (feat. Snoop Lion) (2013)

Top 10 Robin Williams Films:

10. MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON, Paul Mazursky (1984)  
9. DEATH TO SMOOCHY, Danny De Vito (2002)
AWAKENINGS, Penny Marshall (1990)
ONE HOUR PHOTO, Mark Romanek (2002)
6. DEAD POETS SOCIETY, Peter Weir (1989)
GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM, Barry Levinson (1987)
, Vincent Ward (1999)
2. INSOMNIA, Christopher Nolan (2002)
1. THE FISHER KING, Terry Gilliam (1991)

Top 10 Robin Williams Performances In Film:

10. HOOK, Steven Spielberg (1991)  
DEATH TO SMOOCHY, Danny De Vito (2002)
MRS. DOUBTFIRE, Chris Columbus (1993)
GOOD WILL HUNTING, Gus Van Sant (1997)
INSOMNIA, Christopher Nolan (2002)
ONE HOUR PHOTO, Mark Romanek (2002)
PATCH ADAMS, Tom Shadyac (1998)
THE FINAL CUT, Omar Naim (2004)
DEAD POETS SOCIETY, Peter Weir (1989)
1. THE BIRDCAGE, Mike Nichols (1996)