Sunday, April 27, 2014

(Last) Week's Top 10s

Top 10 Songs:

10. YOUR SKIN, Macedo (2014)
9. DO WHAT U WANT, Lady Gaga (feat. Christina Aguilera) (2014)
8. BLACK ME OUT, Against Me! (2014)
7. MAGDALENA, Pixies (2014)
6. UNCONDITIONNAL LOVE, Against Me! (2014)
5. HIGGS BOSON BLUES, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)
4. SHARP, Red Mass (2014)
3. CONTROL ME, Kandle (2014)
2. SWEATPANTS, Childish Gambino (feat. Problem) (2014)
1. BEAT THE DRUM SLOWLY, Timber Timbre (2014)

Top 10 NHL 1st Round Performers:

10. COREY CRAWFORD, Chicago Blackhawks
9. RYAN GETZLAF, Anaheim Ducks
7. SEMYON VARLAMOV, Colorado Avalanche
6. PAUL STASTNY, Colorado Avalanche
5. JAMIE BENN, Dallas Stars
4. P.K. SUBBAN, Montréal Canadiens
3. JONATHAN TOEWS, Chicago Blackhawks
2. BRENDAN GALLAGHER, Montréal Canadiens
1. NATHAN MacKINNON, Colorado Avalanche

Best 1980s Toys Parody: Cockmasters

Unexplained fire and explosions? Check.
Over-hyped kids talking too fast? Check.
Toys at war with no clear definition of what makes one side ''good'' and the other side ''bad''? Check.
Avalanche of phallic symbols? Check.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Video Of The Week: Red Mass

Red Mass is a Montréal collective with a 10-person core but that encompasses over 60 contributors thus far from members of over 200 bands. It was started by Roy ''Choyce'' Vucino in 2008, so you can say he's its leader and figurehead.

Their live shows are spectacular and eclectic, like a modern-day Mr. Bungle with the showmanship and spirit of King Khan & The Shrines, who they will be touring with, incidentally, through the end of June all across North America (tour dates here).

The Hart-directed video matches the band, moody at first, setting a tone if not the tone, then bursting in pure rock energy just when it could have just as well ended. Mac De Marco and HannahLIsDead sing on the track, titled Sharp.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Top 10s This Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. VAN LEAR ROSE, Loretta Lynn (2004)
9. BLACK ME OUT, Against Me! (2014)
8. MAGDALENA, Pixies (2014)
7. YOUR SKIN, Macedo (2014)
6. UNCONDITIONNAL LOVE, Against Me! (2014)
5. CONTROL ME, Kandle (2014)
4. HIGGS BOSON BLUES, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)
3. SWEATPANTS, Childish Gambino (feat. Problem) (2014)
2. DO WHAT U WANT, Lady Gaga (feat. Christina Aguilera) (2014)
1. BEAT THE DRUM SLOWLY, Timber Timbre (2014)

Top 10 Ice Cube (Solo) Songs:

10. YOU KNOW HOW WE DO IT, Lethal Injection (1993)
9. MY SKIN IS MY SIN, Bootlegs & B-Sides (1994)
8. DRINK THE KOOL-AID, I Am The West (2010)
7. AMERIKKA'S MOST WANTED, AmeriKKa's Most Wanted (1990)
6. 24 WIT' AN L, Bootlegs & B-Sides (1994)
5. NO VASELINE, Death Certificate (1991)
4. NATURAL BORN KILLAZ (with Dr. Dre), Murder Was The Case soundtrack (1994)
3. DEAD HOMIEZ, Kill At Will (1990)
2. GANGSTA RAP MADE ME DO IT, Raw Footage (2008)
1. IT WAS A GOOD DAY, The Predator (1992)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Video Of The Week: Childish Gambino (Feat. Problem)

Childish Gambino, a.k.a. the musician personae of actor (Community) / writer (30 Rock) Donald Glover, is one insanely talented creator and performer. He's already an award-nomination-producing machine and, at barely 30 years of age, is doing it all his own way, at his own pace, in the medium he chooses, in the vehicle he decides to board.

It's not about a huge film opening, or signing with the biggest label, or appearing on every possible late-night and early-morning talk show, it's about taking full charge of every step of the creation process.

As a matter of fact, on his recent tour, though he contracted Montréal super-effects team Moment Factory to design and execute the stage and props, he wanted full input on everything created, and over 80% o the end result came from his unique vision and storyboards.

I saw him perform last year and he just blew me away; with an extra year of experience and a whole new visual experience, it can only be even better.

In this Hiro Murai-directed video for the song Sweatpants, he uses the type of visual storytelling of repetition and looping often found in Michel Gondry's video work - possibly the best reference to have when filming a music video, in my opinion, apologies to John Landis. He has the sensibility of a true indie rock songwriter, but the mental strength of a hardcore rapper - and references that could make Kevin Smith piss his pants; he is the complete package.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

NHL Playoff Predictions: Round 1

It's that time again: SPRING. And when hockey matters.

Here's how it should go...

Colorado Avalanche versus Minnesota Wild:

Patrick Roy has pretty much proved he's a heck of a motivator, and a pretty good tactician. He's got way too much firepower up-front to worry about Minnesota's decent defense, and goaltending will end up being the biggest differential, where Semyon Varlamov is better than all 4 potential goalies the Wild can throw at Colorado. It will be tight and well-fought, but the Avs will prevail.

Avalanche in 6.

St. Louis Blues versus Chicago Blackhawks:

The team everyone predicted would win this year plays last year's Champs... Chicago's too balanced and too good to let the injury-riddled Blues get the best of them, and St. Louis has to pay for messing up their core at the trade deadline by trading 4-year starter and playoff Messiah Jaroslav Halak for Ryan Miller, who hasn't been the same since surrendering the goal that gave Team Canada the gold medal in 2010.

Hawks in 5.

Anaheim Ducks versus Dallas Stars:

Perhaps a few years down the line, Dallas' dynamic duo (Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin) will rival Anaheim's (Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf). Also, the Ducks have three goalies who are just as good as the Stars' Kari Lehtonen, and there's something romantic about Teemu Selanne winning the Cup in perhaps his final season, especially if it means Saku Koivu also gets one.

Ducks in 5.

San Jose Sharks versus Los Angeles Kings:

I think it's even in the Old Testament that the Sharks aren't allowed to ever win a Cup. Plus, Darryl Sutter's Kings won it just two years ago with pretty much exactly the same team, with hard-working captain Dustin Brown, superstar center Anze Kopitar, and one of the two three best goalies in the world, Jonathan Quick. Oh, and the best defenseman this year in Drew Doughty. Sure, the teams are so tightly matched that all games may end up in overtime, whether it's 4 or 7 of them, but the Kings have to prevail, the future of mankind depends on it.

Kings in 6.

Boston Bruins versus Detroit Red Wings:

It's impossible not to root for the injury-riddled Wings (unless you're a Bruins fan, I guess). But no matter the offensive talent and heart the Wings can throw at the Bs, Tuukka Rask is just too good a goalie (another one of the top-3, in my opinion), and Boston has three full lines of forwards who can light up the lamp. Their defense is their weakest point, and that's considering Norris candidate (and past winner) Zdeno Chara can be a little slow and can't take hits as well as he dishes them out.

Bruins in 6.

Tampa Bay Lightning versus Montréal Canadiens:

Ok, so can we all agree that Carey Price and springtime hockey don't mix? Still, the Lightning without my choice for Vezina winner (ahead of Rask and San Jose's Antti Niemi) Ben Bishop will be missing too big a piece to go without him for longer than two games. They'll score 4 goals per game, but they'll win 4-3 three times, and lose 5-4 four times.

Habs in 7.

Pittsburgh Penguins versus Columbus Blue Jackets:

You always need an upset, and Pittsburgh needs a reason to ditch coach Dan Bylsma. And Sidney Crosby needs to keep on choking*. The Jackets have the reigning Vezina winner in Sergei Bobrovsky, a rising star in Ryan Johansson, and they play a hard, mean-yet-legal game. If their uniforms weren't dark blue with so many stars and they weren't from a shithole like Columbus, chances are I'd really like this team.

Blue Jackets in 7.

New York Rangers versus Philadelphia Flyers:

I wrote on my Facebook page that this one would end in 7, and the final game would go into a week-long overtime - and the winner would be the team with one surviving forward to score. I was only half-kidding. I tend to want to favor the Rangers because of Henrik Lundqvist - the other member of the top-3 World-Class goalies - and two past Cup winners in Martin St-Louis (also a two-time Art Ross winner) and Brad Richards (also a Conn Smythe winner). But their Cup with Tampa was a decade ago, and Claude Giroux's time is now. Still, the Rangers' depth on defense will overpower's Philly's shallow blue line, particularly on the strength of Ryan McDonaugh. It wouldn't be so close if these two teams weren't such intense rivals.

Rangers in 7.

*figuratively speaking, of course; Crosby is a choker in the sense that he's often said to be the ''best on the world'', yet ''only'' has one Stanley Cup to show for it. Alexander Ovechkin has double his hardware, and teammate Evgeni Malkin has the same amount, including the elusive Conn Smythe; also, Crosby has won two Olympic gold medals and was never named to the tournament's All-Star team. So, best in the world? Hardly even a top-5, in my opinion.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

This Week's Top 10s

Top 10 Songs:

10. CONTROL ME, Kandle (2014)
9. TREAT ME LIKE YOUR MOTHER, The Dead Weather (2009)
8. UNCONDITIONNAL LOVE, Against Me! (2014)
7. WE'RE GOING TO BE FRIENDS, The White Stripes (2001)
6. REMEMBER 2 FORGET, Murs (2011)
5. MAGDALENA, Pixies (2014)
4. HIGGS BOSON BLUES, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)
3. BEAT THE DRUM SLOWLY, Timber Timbre (2014)
2. DO WHAT U WANT, Lady Gaga (feat. Christina Aguilera) (2014)
1. BLACK ME OUT, Against Me! (2014)

Top 10 Epic Songs:

10. MOBY DICK, Led Zeppelin (II, 1969)
9. O'MALLEY'S BAR, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Murder Ballads, 1996)
8. THICK AS A BRICK, Jethro Tull (Thick As A Brick, 1972)
7. 2112, Rush (2112, 1976)
6. ONE, Metallica (... And Justice For All, 1988)
5. THE HALL OF MIRRORS, Kraftwerk (Trans-Europe Express, 1977)
4. NOVEMBER RAIN, Guns N' Roses (Use Your Illusion I, 1991)
3. THE UNFORGIVEN, Metallica (Metallica, 1991)
2. ESTRANGED, Guns N' Roses (Use Your Illusion II, 1991)
1. STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN, Led Zeppelin (IV, 1971)

Honorable mention to Pink Floyd's three-parted Another Brick In The Wall and half of The Who's 1970s repertoire, particularly on Quadrophenia and Tommy... Also, I'm surprised I didn't end up putting the Velvet Underground's Sister Ray in there - I thought it'd rank between the 8th and 10th positions when I started writing this and put my mind to it, then was relegated to 12th place after an hour of scanning my memories (and music collection) at my computer to come up with said list.

Jim Flaherty Is Dead

After attempting to kill the CBC by slicing its budget to death (while financing private-sector TV networks like CTV and Global), I was hoping the network wouldn't cover Canada's Conservative former 8-year Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's death except by holding an office party.

Instead, they first reported on his death like it was just anyone's, then ran a whole other story to say he will have a state funeral in Toronto.

I understand the ''state funeral'' part, not because he was in charge of running Canada into austerity until just a few weeks ago, but because his friends and Party are still in charge and that's what those people do: spend our tax dollars amongst themselves.

But why Toronto? Hold it in Ottawa - the capital - where he worked and did his evil deeds. Picture this:
Flaherty died of a heart attack Thursday. Colleagues, including opposition MPs, are remembering him as a generous friend who could spar heatedly with someone in Parliament and later laugh over a drink outside the House of Commons.
Laugh over a drink. ''We sure screwed most Canadians on that one! No more benefits for the unemployed, let's toast with this 15-year-old bourbon!''

I don't mean to be an asshole, but the media overall are acting like fucking fanboys now that he's dead, and even the NDP's Thomas Mulcair saying how ''great of a man'' he was though pretty much every single thing Mulcair supposedly stands for and has been fighting for his entire political career was in complete and total opposition to Flaherty's views.

One piece stands in contradiction of them all, and I can't just quote from it since all passages are important, so here it is, from
Flaherty was part of Mike Harris’ government in Ontario, whose cuts to water inspection services led to an E.Coli outbreak that killed seven people in Walkerton, Ontario. The same government imposed massive cuts to welfare and social housing, killing Kimberly Rogers in the process, and years later people continue to die from homelessness.

Flaherty was also part of cuts to healthcare at both provincial and federal levels. As the Council of Canadians wrote last week in an article titled Broken Promises and Abdication: Flaherty’s Healthcare Legacy, “March 31 marks the end of the 2004 Health Accord and the last day Canadian health care will have equalization payments to have-not provinces, national standards, and federal funding tied to achieving set benchmarks. March 31 is also a day to mourn the fact that we remain the only wealthy country with a universal health-care system and no national pharmacare plan.” Healthcare cuts kill, including the Tories' inhumane cuts to refugee health--denying basic health care to people who had fled rape, torture and war.

Flaherty was also proudly part of the Harper government that turns its back on global health crises—boycotting the International AIDS conference in Toronto, imposing a maternal health plan denying abortion, cutting humanitarian aid to Gaza, and defunding Sisters in Spirit that investigates missing and murdered aboriginal women.

While destroying social services, Flaherty and the federal Tories have poured billions into the military, which has killed countless people in 13 years of occupying Afghanistan, the bombing campaign in Libya, and the UN occupation of Haiti. At the same time, Flaherty’s budget policies included the New Veterans Charter—cutting benefits from veterans despite an epidemic of suicides and protests across the country.

Flaherty also pioneered the technique of using omnibus budgets to hide life-threatening cuts, from Bill C-45’s attacks on environmental protection and indigenous sovereignty that sparked Idle No More, to the more recent Bill C-4 that attacks workers—including their health and safety.

We mourn these countless victims of Flaherty’s policies of austerity.
Too soon? It's never too soon for the truth.

Worldwide Pant-less

I think the ''guitarist'' has trouble selling the fact that she's not actually playing. Or maybe she's not a guitarist, just a stand-in model who forgot to wear pants and is trying to use the Les Paul as pants. And I'm not sure she's wearing a shirt, either. But, uh ''na-na, na, na-na'', you know?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Video Of The Week: Timber Timbre

Timber Timbre are a Montréal duo consisting of Taylor Kirk (frequent collaborator of Thus Owls) and Simon Trottier (hot composer du jour); on their records, they are often accompanied by Colin Stetson (saxophone) and Mika Posen (violin), who are often replaced in  the live shows by Olivier Fairfield and Mathieu Charbonneau.

I played a co-headlining show with Trottier (accompanying Simon Leduc) at Barfly for IglooFest a few years ago (2008, maybe) and must admit I liked the sounds he could pull from his guitar, but in Timber Timbre, it's more subtle - and ironically, easier to appreciate.

I have to admit I prefer the song accompanied by its fully-animated video (by Chad VanGaalen), though, because you have to be in the right mood for just the ethereal sounds, whereas the images can fit in any context.

If the band sounds like something you may have heard before, it might be because their song Magic Arrow appeared in Breaking Bad and in The Good Wife, their song called Black Water played in For A Good Time, Call..., and their semi-hit Demon Host was featured in the end credits for The Last Exorcism Part II (for which Kirk submitted a musical score that was turned down).

This song, Beat the Drum Slowly, appears on their most recent album, Hot Dreams, which came out last week.

Monday, April 7, 2014

R.I.P. John Pinette

Another beloved talent left us before we could find a cure for mortality, yesterday. John Pinette was a very funny overweight man, who was a regular at the Just For Laughs festival, and he died at age 50 of ''natural causes''... he had long-standing liver and heart problems.

His two stand-up specials remain with us (Show Me the BuffetI'm Starvin'! and Still Hungry), as does his role in the Seinfeld finale, though most fans of that series would prefer to have it wiped out of their memory.

Here's a sample joke:
Skinny people decide what they want at McDonald's... Now skinny people, I love you, we're all God's children. But the food situation, you piss me off. You browse, you pick... get out of the line! Get out, go over there, and think! Skinny people decide what they want when they get to the front of the line; what were you doing in line, your tax returns? I knew what I wanted before I parked the car.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Top 10 Songs This Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. TROUBLE, Shampoo (1994)
9. UNCONDITIONNAL LOVE, Against Me! (2014)
8. CONTROL ME, Kandle (2014)
6. MAGDALENA, Pixies (2014)
5. CHANGES, Black Sabbath (1972)
4. HIGGS BOSON BLUES, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)
3. BLACK ME OUT, Against Me! (2014)
2. DO WHAT U WANT, Lady Gaga (feat. Christina Aguilera) (2014)
1. REMEMBER 2 FORGET, Murs (2011)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Celebrities That Look Like Mattresses

Oh God. So good.

Is Sad And Useless the best website at the moment? If not, they're damn close, and their Celebrities That Look Like Matresses (sic) post is the best page I've seen all year...

Here's a sample:

However, their Metal Albums With Googly Eyes post is almost just as good...


More often than not, I end my day having thought ''we really haven't evolved much since the 1950s'' in regards to sexism, gender equality and the like.

But once a week, I fall on old ads like this one that make me think ''oh, riiiiight'':

I mean, shit, when you put it that way, no, I'm sure she doesn't want her flaps stinking like an old kipper.

Which isn't to say we've arrived, either. As a matter of fact, I'm fairly certain we were closer to the goal in the mid-to-late 1990s than we are now.

Somewhere along the line, between putting George W. Bush in the white house as a President you'd rather ''have a beer with'' than have ''be smarter than you'', the rise of men's magazines like Maxim who may have been sarcastic when they captioned their almost-nude models' pictures but whose readership was too dumb for a second degree thought to ever emerge from their brains, and the Rise Of Redneck Culture (guns, Southern accents, pulled pork and barbecue, wrestling, wife beaters, Larry The Cable Guy, hating brown people instead of blacks being treated like ''acceptable racism'', Kid Rock, and reality TV shows glorifying child beauty pageants, dysfunctional families or junk resellers) as a whole did nothing but bring society back to at least the early 1980s.

And the Conservatives in general (and Republicans in particular) hyping up the 1950s as if the Cold War, segregation and women at home were ideals worth going back to, and pounding their message on their own infomercial network (Fox News) have done nothing to deter from dangerously falling behind again. In fact, they strongly encourage it.

Perhaps a few of them even have stock in Lux kebab soaps.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April's Blog Suggestions

I have met a lot of creative individuals in my lifetime, and vowed to stay informed and updated on/in their lives, then Life happened and it fell through.

But there are two of these people - who you may not have heard of, though you definitely should have - who have kept hacking at their dream and their voice while living normal lives and raising families and going through hardships, hard times, hard shit - and that I have moderately stayed in contact with.

In no particular order, here they are, both back in the blogging game.

First, Charlotte Martin. She is a terrific songwriter, an exceptional singer, and an even better human being. Married to Ken Andrews (formerly of Failure and Replicants, now a music producer and engineer) for roughly a decade, they have two children and live in California (though she is originally from Chicago). They take turns touring so that one can stay behind with the kids, and her fanbase and circle of friends often intertwines in an odd way that never would have been possible before the internet age. Because of that, she was able to survive and thrive even after ending her relationship with major label RCA.

You should also follow Enid-Raye Adams. She will likely write a lot less often than Charlotte, but every post will turn your life upside down. She hails from Western Canada and at some point decided it would mean a better life for her to return there, but in between she was probably on the verge of finding regular work in Hollywood; you may have seen her in Final Destination 2, The L Word, Dead Like Me, Babylon 5 and Slap Shot 2, but she has since played in a lot of TV series that were filmed in Canada, such as Fringe, The Haunting Hour and Arctic Air. She's an extremely smart person who isn't just a terrific performer but also has a couple of really good screenplays in her. She is also trying to juggle a family life with the added reality of hard economic troubles and a constant questioning of her place in the world, and her level of happiness.

They are both very open about their lives, especially their pain - though Enid-Raye perhaps more so than Charlotte, because she has this feeling that no one's reading her stuff and treats it like a diary that perhaps even her husband doesn't know about (if he does, I hope he doesn't find out about her state of mind through it at times), whereas CharMar feels like each of her readers is a close friend that she doesn't want to have worrying about her.

They are both extremely compelling and thought-provoking. And people you can't help feeling for.

Video Of The Week: Macedo

This week I decided to feature a group of indie up-and-comers, the type that is either hit or miss, who could just as well become the Next Big Thing or fall into oblivion, usually depending on one small push from one famous person, or one remarkable performance on one late-night TV show, or one impressive festival booking in the right slot...

The band is Macedo, a California act comprised (mostly) of twin sisters Michelle Alicia Macedo and Melissa Ann Macedo. The style is teenage dark pop, and this single in particular, Your Skin, really reminds me of a less-guitar-driven, softer, perhaps a tad less edgy version of Magneta Lane's The Constant Lover, a song I should have featured years ago (and can't believe I still haven't, considering it's in my top-100 of the 00s). And perhaps that's why I find it so catchy, but maybe not.

Of course, there are some oh-so-clever lyrics because we are in that age in spoken arts in general, but they don't distract so much that they overshadow the rest of the song; nor are they worthy of an award in and of themselves, either, though. Here are two:
I handed you a sentence you would never forget
(get it? like a prison sentence, or like a phrase that couldn't be repeated in song), and
I'm about to kiss my worst critic
It's cute, and a welcome change from the crappy pop too many people still listen to these days. I would have just one quip with it: it's a tad too 'rocky' at the end for my 'pop' tastes, and far too quiet in general for when I'm in the mood to rock out, like it's sitting between chairs, not knowing which to choose.

When confronted with the same dilemma, Magneta Lane decided to rock harder. Just sayin'.