Tuesday, August 1, 2017

No Fandango: Anthony Scaramucci Fired After Just 10 Days

Seth Meyers had a few killer jokes about Anthony Scaramucci's firing ten days into his job as White House Communications Director last night:

As a matter of fact, Stephen Colbert had a few choice one-liners himself:

President Donald Trump, for his part, tweeted this:
This is insane.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Chester Bennington Suicide

Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington committed suicide by hanging a few hours ago... on his idol Chris Cornell's birthday, making his death go from "sad" to "tragic".

I was never a fan of his art, and mostly snubbed those who were. LP's collaboration with Jay-Z is probably the only recordings of the rap mogul's that I never listen to.

Still, may he Rest In Peace.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Playlist

Howdy!

As you may or may not know, June 24th is the Québécois National Holiday. Now, Québec's History is a tad complicated, born by treaties between the Aboriginals and French allowing for French settling, the French-Canadian forces helping the Americans first fight off the Brits to get their own country then assisting with some tribes in the "discovery" of the West, then modified by a losing battle against the British forces that resulted in the nullifying of the Settlers Pact, and subsequent attempt by the newly-formed English-Canadian political elite to assimilate and exterminate both French and Aboriginals on the Canadian territory, yet with all minority nations showing a sense of resiliency to remain alive - sometimes in name more than in fact - to this day.

Worth celebrating? I honestly don't know. Again, there are too many points to ponder and explain, with the word "nationalism" itself bearing a very different meaning in French (existence of a nation) than in English with the current undertones (superiority of or focus on one nation more than others), but I thought it'd be cool to concoct a hopefully-not-too-cheesy playlist for the 24 hours that will encompass June 24th.

Midnight - 1 AM:

ARCADE FIRE: Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
ROBERT CHARLEBOIS: Lindbergh
SERGE FIORI & RICHARD SÉGUIN: Deux Cent Nuits À L'Heure
ME MOM & MORGENTALER: Héloïse
HARMONIUM: Pour Un Instant
BRAN VAN 3000: Forest (French and English versions)
DANIEL BOUCHER: Chez Nous
COEUR DE PIRATE: Tu Oublieras Mon Nom
DEAD MESSENGER: Fat Black Heart
LES PARFAITS SALAUDS: 200 Jours
LEONARD COHEN: First We Take Manhattan
JEAN LELOUP: Balade À Toronto

1 AM - 2 AM:

ARCADE FIRE (with DAVID BOWIE): Reflektor
OCTOBRE: La Maudite Machine
VULGAIRES MACHINS: Compter Les Corps
TSPC: Connaître La Suite
DEAD MESSENGER: Toothcomb
GHETTONUNS: Invitation To Love
GROOVY AARDVARK: Dérangeant
HOT SPRINGS: Cellophane
PLUME LATRAVERSE: Bobépine
HOLE: Gold Dust Woman
GRIMSKUNK: Gros Tas d'Marde
B.A.R.F.: Wô Wô Tabarnak
ANONYMUS: Décrisse
PRIESTESS: I Am The Night, Colour Me Black

2 AM - 3 AM:

OFFENBACH: Deux Autres Bières
ROCK ET BELLES OREILLES: Bonjour La Police
VILAIN PINGOUIN: Délinquance
MEN WITHOUT HATS: Sideways
SCARLET BEAST: Our City
CANAILLES: Titanic
BRAN VAN 3000: Drinking In L.A.
FRENCH B: Je Me Souviens
LOCO LOCASS: Libérez-Nous Des Libéraux
RAY CONDO AND HIS HARDROCK GONERS: All Night Long
ROBERT CHARLEBOIS: Entre Deux Joints
OFFENBACH: Chu Un Rocker
LES FURYS: Aide-Moi
LA RÉVOLUTION FRANÇAISE: Québécois

3 AM - 4 AM:

RENÉE CLAUDE: Le Début D'Un Temps Nouveau
JACQUES MICHEL: Un Nouveau Jour Va Se Lever
ROBERT CHARLEBOIS: The Frog Song
LOCO LOCASS: Le But
GRIMSKUNK: Looking For Gabbio
ME MOM & MORGENTALER: Your Friend
ORKESTAR KRIMINAL: Der Schmayzer
ARCADE FIRE: Abraham's Daughter
SAMIAN & KASHTIN: Tshinanu
JEAN-PIERRE FERLAND: Un Peu Plus Haut
RICHARD DESJARDINS: Tu M'Aimes-Tu?

4 AM - 5 AM:

NUANCE: Vivre Dans La Nuit
DEAD MESSENGER: The Glass Hotel
GERRY BOULET: Un Beau Grand Bateau
DANIEL BÉLANGER: Respirer Dans L'Eau
PAUL PICHÉ: Mon Joe
VINCENT VALLIÈRES: On Va S'Aimer Encore
MITSOU: Lettre À Un Cowboy
LUC DE LA ROCHELIÈRE: Ma Génération
JEAN LELOUP: Je Suis Parti
LES COLOCS: Dehors Novembre
LEONARD COHEN: Closing Time

5 AM - 6 AM:

ALACLAIR ENSEMBLE: St-Roch
GEORGES DOR: La Manic
MARTIN STEVENS: Love Is In The Air
LOCO LOCASS: Le Mémoire De Loco Locass
LUC DE LA ROCHELIÈRE: Sauvez Mon Âme
LEONARD COHEN: Hallelujah
LEONARD COHEN: In My Secret Life
ALEX NEVSKY: J'Aurai Les Mains
COEUR DE PIRATE: Comme Des Enfants
MALAJUBE: Étienne D'Août
LES COLOCS: Pis Si Ô Moins
PHILÉMON (CIMON) CHANTE: Dors Poupée Dors

6 AM - 7 AM:

KEVIN PARENT: Fréquenter L'Oubli
GILLES VIGNEAULT: Mon Pays
RICHARD DESJARDINS: Les Yankees
LUC DE LA ROCHELIÈRE: Amère America
FÉLIX LECLERC: Le Petit Bonheur
PAUL PICHÉ: L'Escalier
COEUR DE PIRATE: Des Maisons
LUC DE LA ROCHELIÈRE: Si J'Te Disais Reviens
FRENCH B.: Quitter Son Pays
LES COWBOYS FRINGANTS: Mon Pays
LES COLOCS:  Tout Seul
KNLO: Justeçayinque

7 AM - 8 AM:

BAD NYLON: Jingle Dead
ME MOM & MORGENTALER: Everybody's Got AIDS
MELISSA AUF DER MAUR: Meet Me On The Dark Side
LOCO LOCASS: M'Accrocher?
GRIMSKUNK: Head Games
MOZART'S SISTER: Mozart's Sister
GROENLAND: The Things I've Done
MARTHA WAINWRIGHT: Four Black Sheep
ALEXANDRE POULIN: Couleurs Primaires
RICHARD SÉGUIN: Sous Les Cheminées
JEAN LELOUP: Zone Zéro
BEAU DOMMAGE: Le Blues De La Métropole
VANESSA LAVOIE: Down By The Bonfire

8 AM - 9 AM:

LEONARD COHEN: The Partisan/Le Partisan
THE HOT SPRINGS: The Fog And The Horn
DEJA VOODOO: Down In Mexico
PRIESTESS: Run Home
NO JOY: Califone
DOUGHBOYS: Shine
THE DEARS: Lost In The Plot
FRED FORTIN: Mélane
SAFIA NOLIN: Va-T'En Pas
JIM CORCORAN: J'Vais Changer Le Monde
WD-40: Je Reviens De L'Est
ARIANE MOFFATT: Je Rentre À Montréal

9 AM - 10 AM:

DANIEL BÉLANGER: Dans Un Spoutnik
LYDIA KÉPINSKY: Andromaque
ARIANE MOFFATT: Jeudi 17 Mai
HARMONIUM: Comme Un Fou
FRED FORTIN: Gratte
SALOMÉ LECLERC: Tourne Encore
STARS: What The Snowman Learned About Love
THE BARR BROTHERS: Half Crazy
WD-40: D'Aussi Loin
RAID: Capitaine Vodka
GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR: Storm

10 AM - 11 AM:

LUC DE LA ROCHELIÈRE: Cash City
JEAN LELOUP: Le Dôme
LES COWBOYS FRINGANTS: Les Étoiles Filantes
TRICOT MACHINE: L'Ours
ROBERT CHARLEBOIS: Les Ailes d'Un Ange
GILLES VIGNEAULT: Les Gens De Mon Pays
PLUME LATRAVERSE: Les Pauvres
FRED FORTIN: Moisi Moé'ssi
RICHARD DESJARDINS: ... Et J'ai Couché Dans Mon Char
OFFENBACH: Seulement Qu'Une Aventure

11 AM - noon:

MARC DÉRY: Ostie Qu'y S'Lève Tard
ZÉBULON: R'viens Pas Trop Tard
JEAN LELOUP: Feuille Au Vent
LES COLOCS: Le Répondeur
MY EMPTY SCREEN: Deux Et Demi
MARTHA WAINWRIGHT: Leave Behind
RICHARD SÉGUIN: Journée D'Amérique
KANDLE: Not Up To Me
THE LINDBERGH LINE: Alissar
BRIE NIELSEN AND HER OTHER MEN: Be Alone
VILAIN PINGOUIN: Le Train
JEAN LELOUP: Printemps Été
MALAJUBE: Pâte Filo

Noon - 1 PM:

MARA TREMBLAY: Le Printemps Des Amants
GHETTONUNS: Blue Checks
LES ANTICIPATEURS: Sapoud
GHETTONUNS: Out On The Horse
LES DEUXLUXES: Springtime Devil
SÉBASTIAN HELL: Bitter End
KNLO: Mai (Ayayaye) (feat. Jam)
MANU MILITARI: Je Me Souviens 
SANS PRESSION: Vagabond Ma Religion
MUZION: La Vie Ti-Neg
YVON KREVÉ: Dans Nos Rues
KORIASS: Montréal-Nord
MANU MILITARI: La Traversée Du Lac Nasser
NOMADIC MASSIVE: Konba

1 PM - 2 PM:

LES ANTICIPATEURS: Findsemaine
MC LA SAUCE: Fuck You Estie
MANU MILITARI: Pour Chaque Goutte De Pétrole
BLACK TABOO: Police Plein De Pisse
SANS PRESSION & YVON KREVÉ: Pète La Coche
SANS PRESSION & AKHENATON: La Tendance Se Maintient
KORIASS: Nulle Part
ALACLAIR ENSEMBLE: Sauce Pois
BEAST: Out Of Control
VINCENT VALLIÈRES: Asbestos
JEAN LELOUP: Les Flamants Roses
PLUME LATRAVERSE: Les Humains
QUÉBEC REDNECK BLUEGRASS PROJECT: Tsé Quand Ça Va Ben 

2 PM - 3 PM:

LES COLOCS: Passe-Moé La Puck
BERNARD ADAMUS: La Question À 100 Piasses
WD-40: Ma Dépendance
FRED FORTIN: Tu M'Aimes-Tu?
LYDIA KÉPINSKY: Apprendre À Mentir
JASON BAJADA & JOANNE LABELLE: Tu Peux Dormir
WOLF PARADE: You Are A Runner And I Am My Father's Son
BEAST: Mr. Hurricane
PANOPTICON EYELIDS: Solar Mind
P/DO P/DRO: Jouïr
PONCTUATION: Obéïr À Ses Instincts Dans La Mesure Du Possible
MY DOG POPPER: We're Old, We're Fat And We're Slow

3 PM - 4 PM:

THE LINDBERGH LINE: Juggernaut
ARCADE FIRE: Ready To Start
OFFENBACK: Ayoye
MALAJUBE: Montréal -40
LES COLOCS: Le Pouding À L'Arsenic
BERNARD ADAMUS: En Voiture, Mais Pas D'Char
ZÉBULON: Job Steady
PLUME LATRAVERSE: La Pompe À Stime
WD-40: Gramme De Mort
LES MARMOTTES APLATIES: Détruire
BANLIEUE ROUGE: Sous Un Ciel Écarlate
BIONIC: Learn To Love The Goverment
LES HANDCLAPS: Pastiche

4 PM- 5 PM:

MITSOU: Mademoiselle Anne
JEAN LELOUP: 1990 (Original Rock Version)
MADAME: Propriétaire
THE BOX: L'Affaire Dumouthier
KANDLE: Control Me
ARIANE MOFFATT: Réverbère
DAVID USHER & MARIE-MAI: Je Repars
AVEC PAS D'CASQUE: En Attendant Que Ça Paie
DANIEL BÉLANGER: Rêver Mieux
SOUPIR: Les Larmes De Métal
NANETTE WORKMAN: Call Girl
THE BESNARD LAKES: Albatross

5PM - 6 PM:

LES SINNERS: Ne Reste Pas Sous La Pluie
LES CLASSELS: Si J'Étais Millionnaire
LES SULTANS: La Poupée Qui Fait Non
MITSOU: Le Ya-Ya
LES SKYLINERS: Wabash Blues
THE GRUESOMES: Don't Waste My Time
CÉSAR ET LES ROMAINS: Splish Splash Tout En Prenant Mon Bain
THE KINGPINS: Manon, Viens Danser Le Ska
LES DENIS DROLET: Dans Le Poulailler
RAFFY: Le Temps Des Vacances
PHILÉMON (CIMON) CHANTE: Vaincre L'Automne
LHASA DE SELA: Rising
MILK & BONE: New York
DUCHESS SAYS: Gainsbourg
JEAN LELOUP: Sang D'Encre

6 PM - 7 PM:

ROBERT CHARLEBOIS: Je Reviendrai À Montréal
LEONARD COHEN: Everybody Knows
LEONARD COHEN: I'm Your Man
LEONARD COHEN: Suzanne
LEONARD COHEN: So Long, Marianne
LEONARD COHEN: The Future
LEONARD COHEN: Waiting For The Miracle
LEONARD COHEN: Bird On A Wire
LEONARD COHEN: Dance Me To The End Of Love
ROBERT CHARLEBOIS: Ordinaire

7 PM - 8 PM:

ADAM & THE AMETHYSTS: Dreaming
LYDIA KÉPINSKY: Pie-IX
PONY UP!: Only Feelgood
THE STILLS: Still In Love
SALOMÉ LECLERC: Le Vent Nous Portera
JEAN LELOUP: Faire Des Enfants
LES HANDCLAPS: Cliché
WOLF PARADE: Dear Sons And Daughters Of Hungry Ghosts
RAID (W/ I-RONEE): Wise Up
DUCHESS SAYS: Negative Thoughts
THEE SILVER MT. ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA: Fuck Off Get Free

8 PM - 9 PM:

RAID: Prendre Le Champs
THE KINGPINS: Watch Your Back
THE CARDBOARD CROWNS: Hats Off
THE BEATDOWN: The Other Side
SHALABI EFFECT: Mr. Titz (The Revelator)
NUTSAK: Innuendo Schminuendo
RIPCORDZ: Your Mother Wears Army Boots
CAPITAINE RÉVOLTE: J'Ai Oublié
ÉMILE BILODEAU: J'En Ai Plein Mon Cass
GROOVY AARDVARK & YVES LAMBERT: Boisson D'Avril
KERMESS: Y'A Pas Grand Chose Dans L'Ciel À Soir
B.A.R.F.: Le Petit Poisson

9 PM - 10 PM:

PLUME LATRAVERSE: Lisa Belle
JASON BAJADA: Loveshit
VULGAIRES MACHINS: Légaliser L'Héroïne
HOT SPRINGS: Headrush
VILAIN PINGOUIN: Salut, Salaud
MELISSA AUF DERMAUR: Out Of Our Minds
OFFENBACH: Câline De Blues
THE GRUESOMES: Hey!
THE AMERICAN DEVICES: You Wouldn't Understand
JEAN LELOUP: Voilà

10 PM - 11 PM:

ROBERT CHARLEBOIS: Indépendantriste
HARMONIUM: Un Musicien Parmi Tant D'Autres
ALACLAIR ENSEMBLE: Ça Que C'tait
JEAN LELOUP: Le Roi Se Meurt
CLAUDE DUBOIS: Si Dieu Existe
MES AÏEUX: Dégénération
LES COWBOYS FRINGANTS: En Berne
SÉBASTIAN HELL: J'Ai La Vie Qui M'Pique Les Yeux
ME MOM & MORGENTALER: Oh Well
ARCADE FIRE: Wake Up
SAMIAN & LOCO LOCASS: La Paix Des Braves
JEAN LELOUP: Paradis City
CÉLINE DION: L'Amour Existe Encore

11 PM - Midnight:

COEUR DE PIRATE: Adieu
ME MOM & MORGENTALER: Anarchie
SÉBASTIAN HELL: Selfish
DEAD MESSENGER: Master Plan
LES DEUXLUXES: My Baby & Me 
ALEX NEVSKY: On Leur A Fait Croire
HOLE: Celebrity Skin
LES TROIS ACCORDS: Dans Mon Corps
LOCO LOCASS: Sheila Ch'us Là
VULGAIRES MACHINS: Anéantir Le Dogme
JEAN LELOUP: Isabelle
ME MOM & MORGENTALER: Pepita La Pistolera
GHETTONUNS: Ten Years Down

Suggested films to watch: Elvis Gratton, Elvis Gratton 2, Elvis Gratton 3: Le Retour D'Elvis Wong, 15 Février 1839, Octobre, Le Déclin De L'Empire Américain, Jésus De Montréal, Les Invasions Barbares, Lost And Delirious, The Trostzky, Un Zoo La Nuit, Le Confessionnal, Le Polygraphe, Le Nèg, Eldorado.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Video Of The Week: Ice Cube

If you were to categorize the best rappers of all time, chances are Tupac Shakur's in your top-3; he's in mine as well. Eminem has taken himself out of contention because his most recent material doesn't match the quality of his previous output - say, anything until the 8 Mile soundtrack; it seems he's been trying to re-do Lose Yourself all the time since then, except perhaps for Berzerk. Ice Cube, the king of squared, 4/4 rap, also makes my cut, and the third spot is a toss-up between Busta Rhymes, Mos Def and a few members of the Wu-Tang Clan, particularly Raekwon and Ghostface Killah.

In terms of rap lyricists, my #1 pick would be Public Enemy's Chuck D, who's always stayed on point regardless of how long he's been in the game, his words always current, carrying the political weight of truth. I'd probably go with Everlast (House Of Pain, Warpon Industries) in second place and, again, Ice Cube in third. KRS-One misses by just a bit, as does Tupac.

My favourite current-day rapper just might be Donald Glover, though - a.k.a. Childish Gambino: smart, incisive, good flow, diverse subject mater, equally at ease  rapping about toys from the 1980s as he is politics.

Which makes Cube the rapper I find to be most important. And, as I've mentioned here before, he's kept his output quality at a high level throughout the decades - ok, maybe his records aren't all killer and there are fillers, but his records' high points are always consistent.

For Good Cop Bad Cop, which will appear on the 25th Anniversary Edition of his seminal Death Certificate album, he tackles the subject of racism and police brutality in a post-Black Lives Mater world, and his conclusion is fairly simple: we are no better off today than in 1988 when his group N.W.A. sang "Fuck The Police".
Good Cop Bad Cop (Official Video, Explicit) by Ice Cube on VEVO.
The video was directed by Gabriel Hart.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Video Of The Week: Tonnes

Sure, these are disturbing times, and as we sacrifice Liberty for Security and Bureaucracy, we are losing our Humanity. Franz Kafka wrote about this in Der Process (The Trial) in 1915, and published it in 1925, between the (first) two World Wars.

History has, of course, proven him correct time and time again. As bureaucracies get bigger and bigger, the "Big Picture" and "Greater Good" start constantly getting cited as the reason for doing and acting in certain conventional ways, except most people are at best only 90-95% conventional, meaning we're all exceptions in certain cases, and as soon as a government, State or otherwise leadership group looks into one of our behaviours, we are all likely to fall in some of the system's cracks at some point and be judged unfairly. Because at the end of the day, The System is unfair, rigidity is unrealistic, and we are all outsiders to some exent.

And so, Montréal indie rock "supergroup" Tonnes have enlisted director Giuliano Bossa (also the band's bassist) to set this reality into our own timeline, in this military-police-led present day - and the results don't even shock anymore, as we've seen these kinds of scenes happen on TV - and not just in fiction - and in film so often in the past two decades. The song is called In Trouble and, yes, we are.

TONNES - In Trouble from Giuliano Bossa on Vimeo.

Monday, May 29, 2017

NHL Predictions 2016-17: Stanley Cup Final

Will I learn anything from not picking the Pittsburgh Penguins in any round thus far this year? Of course not!

On the other hand, for some reason, I thought I had predicted the Nashville Predators would win it all this year at the beginning of the season, but I'd chosen the Washington Capitals instead. Oh well.

Time for a correction, of course, as I see the Preds winning this.

What we have at play here is one team without its best (and lone high-level) defenseman (Kris Letang) but two of the best centers in the game in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, and the other with the best defensive top-4 in the game featuring two Norris-caliber defenders (P.K. Subban and Roman Josi) and two of the five best shut-down guys in the league in Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis.

Nashville has torn through everybody, including the Anaheim Ducks who also have a decent 1-2 punch at center with Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler...

The Ottawa Senators took the Pens to Game 7, and the Preds are just slightly less balanced on offense and tremendously better on D than Ottawa.

Subban made Captain Serious lose his cool, I can just see Temper 87 do something insane like (Marty) McSorley-stick him on the head twice (because he won’t get called for it the first time).

They say defense wins championships, it's time to put that saying to the test in hockey.

Preds in 6.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Video Of The Week: Audioslave

Well, mentioning this song in last week's post about Soundgarden and Chris Cornell kind of put me in a bind, in terms of having to showcase Audioslave's best song - the one that doesn't fall into the Pearl Jam-imitation tropes so much as just tries to give a good rock show.

In theory, Audioslave was the perfect mix: musicians who had been in the game-changing band Rage Against The Machine, a mix of rap and hard rock that tackled issues of race and politics, whose riffs were reminiscent of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, with some N.W.A. attitude thrown in to add fuel to the fire; and the frontman from Soundgarden, a hard rock machine whose riffs were inspired by those of Sabbath and Zeppelin, with some Beatles sensibility thrown in for good rock measure.

In practice, though, the Rage musicians may have wanted to kick back and make "normal rock albums" for a while, but since becoming friends with Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder and witnessing his rise to stardom, Cornell's traded away his wailing high-pitched classic rocker's voice for a Vedder-like smoother baritone that seems more like copycat than homage for the slower numbers, which really drags Audioslave's otherwise-decent output from the best it could have been (say, a Stone Temple Pilots level) to something barely more palatable than Candlebox, Creed, Bush and the like.

When they went rocking, though, such as on Cochise, seen here, they showed they could be a fine guitar-driven unit:

The video, featuring a shit-ton of fireworks, was directed by Mark Romanek, a leader in the art form, the director with the most Grammys to his name (3), as well as over 20 MTV Video Awards. He's directed clips for the likes of The The (Sweet Bird Of Truth), En Vogue (You Don't Have To Worry, Free Your Mind), De La Soul (Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)), Keith Richards (Wicked As It Seems), Teenage Fanclub (What You Do To Me), K.D. Lang (Constant Craving), Lenny Kravitz (Are You Gonna Go My Way, Is There Any Love In Your Heart), Madonna (Rain, Bedtime Story), David Bowie (Jump They Say, Black Tie White Noise), Iggy Pop (Beside You), Nine Inch Nails (Closer, The Perfect Drug), R.E.M. (Strange Currencies), Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson (Scream), Sonic Youth (Little Trouble Girl), Eels (Novocaine For The Soul), Weezer (El Scorcho), Beck (Devil's Haircut), Fiona Apple (Criminal), Macy Gray (I Try), Mick Jagger (God Gave Me Everything), No Doubt (Hella Good), Red Hot Chili Peppers (Can't Stop), Jay-Z (99 Problems, Picasso Baby), U2 (Invisible), Taylor Swift (Shake It Off), Beyoncé (Sandcastles), and Justin Timberlake (Can't Stop The Feeling), but his biggest contribution to the art form will forever remain his sober ad somber direction for Johnny Cash's cover of NIN's heart-wrenching Hurt.

He also directed the terrific features One Hour Photo (2002, starring Robin Williams) and 2010's Never Let Me Go, starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Video Of The Week: Soundgarden

Well, folks, the third of grunge's Holy Quadrinity has passed away. After Nirvana's Kurt Cobain (suicide or murder) and Alice In Chains' Layne Staley (drug overdose) , Soundgarden's Chris Cornell has killed himself as well. Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder remains, alone in sadness.

In the Greater Scheme of Seattle Rock, they themselves all joined James Marshall Hendrix (drug overdose), Mother Love Bone and Malfunkshun's Andrew Wood (drug overdose), The Gits' Mia Zapata (rape and murder) and Hole's Kristen Pfaff (drug overdose), Hendrix, Pfaff and Cobain even making it on the infamous 27 Club list of celebrities who died before their 28th birthday. Cornell was 52.

Much has been and will be said about this, and there will be much over-analyzing. I cut ties with them as favourites after two awful days in 1994 culminating in an awful show at the Verdun Auditorium (a venue where both Pearl Jam and Nirvana had wowed me the year before, among other great shows I've seen there), but they have created fine pieces of music in their careers and were good musicians. And despite Nirvana and Pearl Jam getting the credit for putting grunge on the map, Soundgarden (with Green River, which featured future members of PJ, Mother Love Bone and Mudhoney) was the oldest of its generation, having formed in 1984, with its "classic" incarnation dating back to 1990.

You definitely saw a change in the band's music and Cornell's singing style when Pearl Jam made it big, moving away from their metal roots and high-pitched vocals into more angst-riddled, bass-heavy territory, brooding melodies and a growling baritone. The evolution is extremely clear from the Screaming Life (1987) and Fopp (1988) EPs to Ultramega OK (1988) to Louder Than Love (1989) to the apex of their metal years, Badmotorfinger (1991), to the super-grungy Superunknown (1994) to its rehash/copy Down On The Upside (1996, which did have more Alice In Chains-y tones in the music), but Cornell's PJ-lite-ness really came through on all three Audioslave records. I'm surprised they didn't catch more flak than they did, because it would have been easy to categorize Audioslave alongside Better Than Ezra, Candlebox, Creed, Stone Temple Pilots and so many others as just Pearl Jam wanna-bes.

Still, on this day, I thought perhaps I could rank my favourite Cornell songs. It's hard, because all of his projects except Temple Of The Dog (created in memory of former roommate Wood) - even the solo albums - involved other songwriters, so it's difficult to pinpoint his actual involvement in many tracks, but I will omit songs such as Fresh Tendrils (a Matt Cameron number) and Head Down (written by Ben Shepard), for example, off Superunknown.

10B. BIG DUMB SEX (Soundgarden, Louder Than Love, 1989)
10A. SPOONMAN (Soundgarden, Superunknown, 1994)
9. BLOW UP THE OUTSIDE WORLD (Soundgarden, Down On The Upside, 1996)
8. COCHISE (Audioslave, Audioslave, 2002)
7. THE DAY I TRIED TO LIVE (Soundgarden, Superunknown, 1994)
6. JESUS CHRIST POSE (Soundgarden, Badmotorfinger, 1991)
5. PRETTY NOOSE (Soundgarden, Down On The Upside, 1996)
4. RUSTY CAGE (Soundgarden, Badmotorfinger, 1991)
3. OUTSHINED (Soundgarden, Badmotorfinger, 1991)
2. HUNGER STRIKE (Temple Of The Dog, Temple Of The Dog, 1991)
1. 4TH OF JULY (Soundgarden, Superunknown, 1994)

I'm not too fond of Spoonman's lyrics, but the guitar riff ranks as one of the best in rock history. I'd say the rest are all solid rock songs in their own right, and perhaps TOTD's Say Hello 2 Heaven would have warranted inclusion somewhere in there as well; I'm also surprised two songs from Down On The Upside made it here, seeing as I've always been critical of it in the past 20 years.

And maybe I could have included Black Hole Sun as #10B instead of Big Dumb Sex, as it is their biggest hit, and I still listen to it at times, but I tried to look at it objectively, which ones ring truest to my heart and have done so since they came out, and those are the eleven that came to mind right away.

Here's Black Hole Sun anyway, with the famous video directed by Howard Greenhalgh, featuring a critical view at suburban life in the same vein as David Lynch's Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet:

In any event, R.I.P.

Friday, May 12, 2017

NHL Predictions 2016-17: Round Three

I did even better in Round 2 than in Round One, especially if you factor in the fact that on both instances where I was wrong, I was right that it went to a seventh and final game...

And so we have reached the Conference Finals...

When it comes to the Western Conference, the Nashville Predators vs the Anaheim Ducks, I'm fine:
Pekka Rinne is this year's Conn Smythe winner, and the Preds' defense is just amazing - they even score half their team's goals. Not that the attack is awful, it's well-balanced and all, but I did expect more from the likes of proven scorers like James Neal. The Ducks will be assholes, they'll play rough, they'll be dirty and mean, and they'll get away with most of it without getting suspended because the Predators' powerplay will make them pay.

Preds in 6.

I'm more tormented by the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Ottawa Senators...

I want the Sens to win. I love Craig Anderson and Erik Karlsson, and it'd be great to see them match up against Rinne and P.K. Subban.  However, I've dismissed the Pens twice already, and they've proven me wrong both times, against two teams with better records than they had. But can Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby and the rest defeat Guy Boucher's 1-3-1 super-trap? Can Marc-André Fleury and Matt Murray withstand the Sens' depth, with their three lines that can score equally? Again, we're talking about a banged-up group that is without Kris Letang, that employs 39-year-old Mark Streit and whose big trade deadline acquisition was Ron Hainsey, a 36-year-old who had never suited up in an NHL playoff game before.

I might be thinking with my heart more than my head here.

Sens in 7.

Video Of The Week: Sagat

1994 was a weird and formative year for me. It encompassed Grades 10 and 11, which were my best years of high school. It was the year where I had sex for the first time. It was the first time I played in a touring band, comprised of guys who were adults - six, seven years older than I was.

It was when I first started doing "adult things" like going to clubs, and started realizing I wanted to do something creative for a living, perhaps as much as or even more so than play hockey, a decision that would be made for me by my rights being traded away in 1996.

One club anthem that year was Sagat's Fuk Dat, which got some radio and video play in an edited version called Funk Dat, which you can see below, in the video directed by fashion designers Kurt & Bart (Bart Mueller and Kurt Swanson, who designed the costumes for such films as 2010's Howl, 2013's Stoker and Dallas Buyers Club, this year's Ghost In The Shell and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 and Part 2):

By 1994, I was already buying not only a ton of CDs, but was especially fond of CD singles, which usually either had terrific rare b-sides (Pearl Jam) or amazing and/or hugely different remixes (Nine Inch Nails). Sagat's single of this song - which preceded the album release by nearly a full year - had four or five remixes that gave you the satisfaction of hearing the song without the annoyance of always hearing the same version over and over again. It's one way of not tiring the audience out.

And, like early-to-mid-1990s gangsta rap, this song deals with matters pertaining to racism-related issues the Black Lives Matter movement would put at the forefront some twenty years later.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Video Of The Week: WARPORN Industries

Twice in a row?

Yep, I can do this.

I'm really into WARPORN Industries these days... Again, Everlast, Sick Jacken and Divine Styler make the music, Chad A. Marshall films it (in colour this time, featuring a tag-filled abandoned bus and one-room shelter as well as green hills and terrific landscape), and second-school hip-hop dominates...

This is the World's End:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Video Of The Week: WARPORN Industries

Everlast can basically do no wrong (apart from his cheesy first album). His solo records are among the best music released in the 00s, House Of Pain's three albums are classics, and he helped launch La Coka Nostra into a solid career through terrific beginnings.

Now, he returns to his old-time friends (all of them save for Ice-T and the guys from Funkdoobiest) on a brand-new supergroup mixtape, launching WARPORN Industries (with Divine Styler and Sick Jacken), with strong features over the eleven tracks, including Cypress Hill's B-Real, Big Daddy Kane, Vinnie Paz, Gravity Christ, Termanology, and Rakaa.

This latest single and video, released today, is Warporn Industry, featuring B-Real and directed by Chad A. Marshall, like all of the group's clips:

Everlast's delivery is classic, and he looks like the coolest grandpa in the entire world.

Monday, April 24, 2017

NHL Predictions 2016-17: Round Two

So, how did I fare in Round One?

I was better predicting the West, accurately predicting 3 of the 4 winners, usually within a game of the series' actual length, save for the Preds, whom I had winning in seven games while they swept the Chicago Blackhawks in four straight games instead.

I had a tad more trouble in the East, accurately predicting the Caps and Sens winning, but the Rangers and Pens made their way through, with Pittsburgh appearing particularly strong.

So, for Round Two, I thought I'd start out with the West:

Nashville Predators vs St. Louis Blues:

Jake Allen performed miracles for the Blues in the first round. It's entirely possible for elite goaltenders to elevate their game in the postseason (Patrick Roy, Jonathan Quick, Tim Thomas, Curtis Joseph, Nikolai Khabibulin), and it also happens at times that okay goalies enter a sate of grace they can never replicate in future seasons but actually sustain it for an entire two months one time (Cam Ward, Ron Hextall, Dwayne Roloson). Obviously, I feel like if Allen remains that brick wall, he will be part of the latter bunch. I also think it'll be extremely difficult to do that against this Preds team. I mean, yes, there's Alex Pietrangelo  Colton Parayko and Jay Bouwmeester on defense, but it gets thin past those three. And sure, the offense features super-sniper Vladimir Tarasenko, and Paul Stastny came back from his injury and scored, but Nashville's P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm just shut down the entire Chicago offense by themselves, with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews limited to two points apiece - the same amount as the Predators' goalie, Pekka Rinne, who also happened to have two shutouts in four games.

Preds in 6

Edmonton Oilers vs Anaheim Ducks:

Connor McDavid was the best player in the NHL this season, and although his speed confused the heck out of the San Jose Sharks, he has yet to produce at the same clip that saw him be the lone 100-point player in the league. The Oilers also showed some depth in beating the Sharks, with Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins raising their level of play, Oscar Klefbom playing like a #1 defenseman and Cam Talbot looking like he should have been a Vezina Trophy finalist. But the Ducks are bigger, faster, meaner, better and deeper than the Sharks at every position; I wouldn't be surprised if they won the Cup. However, I still see the Oilers prevailing here on talent alone, but too banged up to pose a threat against the Preds in the Conference Final.

Oilers in 7


And, in the East:

New York Rangers vs Ottawa Senators:

Henrik Lundqvist was Royal against the Habs, but the Sens have a much more balanced offense - and elite talent that Montréal just cannot match, starting with Erik Karlsson, perhaps the best defenseman in the league. Their offense includes high-scoring wingers such as Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman, as well as power forward Clarke MacArthur to complete centers Kyle Turris and Derick Brassard, meaning the Sens also have the manpower up front to rival the Rags' Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, Jimmy Vesey, and Michael Grabner (the only wild-card being rookie Pavel Buchnevich, who could explode at any time); New York, however, has a suspect defense past Brady Skjei and captain Ryan McDonagh. Also, as I said for round one: never sleep on Craig Anderson in the playoffs.

Sens in 6

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals:

"The Caps have the best goalie in the world in Braden Holtby, the best goal-scorer of his generation in Alex Ovechkin, the deepest core of forwards in the East and a coach, Barry Trotz, who knows what he's doing and has instilled a system good enough for two straight Presidents Trophies, i.e. "tops in the regular season"." All of this still holds true two weeks later. But the Caps are now facing last season's champions, not a bunch of rookies. The Pens were all over the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, making likely Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky look like an AHLer in their five-game series. Evgeni Malkin has 11 points (again, in five fucking games), Phil Kessel has 8 and Sidney Crosby has 7, among others. Crosby will lose his cool at least once, possibly costing his team a game in overtime, and Kris Letang's absence will be too much to bear against a team like the Caps. Justin Williams will prevail, scoring the Game 7 winner.

Caps in 7

Friday, April 21, 2017

Video Of The Week: Athena Andreadis

Here's what happens when songwriters use songwriting software and a rhyme dictionary:

 The songs is Stronger, and the video was directed by Monika Lightstone.

If you don't know Athena Andreadis, she is an Anglo-Greek singer-songwriter who has collaborated with a ton of people in the past decade, including singing background vocals on the late Leonard Cohen's Traveling Light, off his final album, 2016's You Want It Darker. Cohen had a thing for thin, classically beautiful blondes, after all...

Now, I don't want to rag on Andreadis, as she has won writing awards in College, and the BBC's Morag Reavley called her first album, 2007's Breathe With Me, "Intimate, thoughtful, (and) original". However, you have to agree that Stronger is none of those. It's too arranged and studio-soulless to be intimate, it's too cliché'd to be thoughtful, and nothing about it is original, from the music to the chord progression to the arrangements to the insipid lyrics. Even the title is ridiculously unoriginal, what with the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Ai, Sugababes, Kanye West, Mary J. Blige and Jennette McCurdy having released songs with that title in recent years - and a shitload more that I don't know about, and a ton more before all of these.

I had looked her up when I bought Cohen's album, and it seemed at the time - six months ago - that she had registered as "alright", not "wholly unoriginal" in my mind, so it's possible this song doesn't reflect her latest album, Ready For The Sun - or it's also possible that producer Ethan Allen (Ben Harper, Sheryl Crow) assassinated her style and asepticized and dumbed it down for her to better connect to an American audience.

Either way, I had expected a much better product from her. From anyone, really, but someone who wins awards shouldn't dive this low, ever.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Bombs Versus Policy Versus Truth

So, Donald Trump told his military chiefs they could do what they wanted, and of course they used their biggest toy (non-nuclear anyway) for the first time. It's as if he's never seen a single fucking movie with enough budget to have a consultant on-set to help tell the truest version of a tale within a fictitious setting, where those guys are usually depicted as "quick on the draw".

Health care is more complex than he thought, foreign diplomacy is harder than he thought, and now he's about to learn that Generals may not be the best people to handle foreign diplomacy - all while he spends every fucking weekend playing golf in his private Florida club.

For fuck's sake.

And that's saying nothing of the Russia connection...

Here's a clip from MSNBC, and this is how their YouTube page describes the video: "The Trump administration dropped a bomb that the Obama and Bush administrations refrained from using as new ties between Trump associates and Russian agents are reported. Malcolm Nance, David Corn, and David Frum join Lawrence O'Donnell."

Read that twice if you need to, particularly the first sentence. Remember how the bombs on Syria a few days ago seemed to just be a decoy for hiding all the shit currently going on on the home front, to say nothing of the fact that they may have been a deception that was acted upon too swiftly by a President who needs to prove his toughness to the world at the beginning of his first mandate.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

NHL Predictions 2016-17: Round One

Every year, I go through this exercise in futility, putting my vast hockey knowledge to the test just to prove I'm as worthless at predicting the outcome of the NHL playoffs as the pundits on TV. For the record, I usually predict at a 60-70% clip, which makes me better than they are...

Here's what the playoff picture actually looks like this year:

Eastern Conference:

Washington Capitals vs Toronto Maple Leafs:

I thought the Leafs, being the Leafs, would not even make the playoffs, but it seems as though Auston Matthews is "the real thing". However, the Caps have the best goalie in the world in Braden Holtby, the best goal-scorer of his generation in Alex Ovechkin, the deepest core of forwards in the East and a coach, Barry Trotz, who knows what he's doing and has instilled a system good enough for two straight Presidents Trophies, i.e. "tops in the regular season". The Caps being the best, plus "fuck the Leafs" make for a short series in my mind.

Caps in 5

Columbus Blue Jackets vs Pittsburgh Penguins:

I didn't think the Pens would make the playoffs last year, let alone win the Cup. They may be balanced enough to repeat, but they first need to get out of their division, and that includes getting past the Jackets, who are making a case to become their fiercest rivals, to the displeasure of the Philadelphia Flyers. Look for this one to go all the way to seven games, and look for Brandon Dubinsky to get Sidney Crosby off his game at least twice.

Jackets in 7

Montréal Canadiens vs New York Rangers:

The Habs finished first in the Atlantic - as was expected - but still had fewer points than the Rags, who finished in the first Wild Card position and, thus, avoided playing the Caps. I want to say good things about the Rangers, how they have the most consistent goalie of the past decade in Henrik Lundqvist, how well-balanced their offense is, but their defense is laughable and they never seem to be able to beat the Habs when Carey Price is playing. Honestly, I'm not Price's biggest fan, but if he only played the Rangers and Boston Bruins, he'd set the league record for shutouts and be the best goalie of all time.

Habs in 5

Ottawa Senators vs Boston Bruins:

The Sens may have won the season series 4-0 and the Bruins may be decimated by injuries on defense, but this will be a close one. Skill versus Grit always makes for a tight showdown, particularly in postseason play, when the referees stop making penalty calls and players like Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara can punish their opponents without mercy. Tuukka Rask had a redemption season, but never sleep on Craig Anderson in the playoffs. The difference will be health and coaching, and Guy Boucher has Bruce Cassidy beat.

Sens in 6

Western Conference:

Minnesota Wild vs St. Louis Blues:

This could be the year the Blues finally make it... but realistically, no. The Wild are perhaps the deepest team in the league, without a true superstar at any position but with players who can play at that level for a while, starting with Devan Dubnyk in net, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon on defense and an offense that includes names like Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, Charlie Coyle, Eric Staal, Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Jason Zucker, Eric Haula and Chris Stewart. The Blues counter that with Jake Allen in net, Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester on defense, and pretty much Vladimir Tarasenko up front, seeing as Paul Stastny seems to be injured. Oh, and the guy behind the Blues' bench is Mike Yeo, whom the Wild fired just last year.

Wild in 6

Chicago Blackhawks vs Nashville Predators:

This could be the one where we see a major upset. The Hawks finished first in the Western Conference after a late-season collapse by the Wild, and the Preds have been looking for their game pretty much all year, trying to fit in new arrival and star defenseman P.K. Subban in their system. Well, they have, and the only question mark they have left is whether Pekka Rinne can get back to the days when he was a Vezina Trophy runner-up instead of an overpaid underachiever. Now, I don't know if he can sustain it for two month, but two weeks? Absolutely. They're a bit of a long-shot, but they're worth the gamble.

Preds in 7

Edmonton Oilers vs San Jose Sharks:

They may have gone to the Stanley Cup Final last year, but the Sharks are old, injured (notably Joe Thornton and Logan Couture), and head coach Peter DeBoer usually has trouble repeating after some team success. And now they're all tasked with stopping Connor McDavid in seven straight games over two weeks? Not a chance.

Oilers in 7

Anaheim Ducks vs Calgary Flames:

If you'd asked me which Western Conference team was the deepest at the beginning of the year, chances are I would have said the Ducks. And I did. I love the Flames to no end, but they don't stand a chance, particularly with having not won a single game in Anaheim in something like 11 years. I would have loved a Battle Of Alberta to close off the Pacific Division series, but it just won't happen. The Ducks are bound for the Conference Finals, at least.

Ducks in 6

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Video Of The Week: Joey Bada$$

Some young fellas get into rap dreaming of jewels, cars and being surrounded by promiscuous women, and those are usually the type who get airplay and have the bumping songs that play in clubs and cars with their windows open; once in a while, though, one of them has a message that needs to be heard, and early this year, that rapper is Joey Bada$$, a 22-year-old from Brooklyn.

He's still young and impulsive, still "reps his crew" Pro Era and claims to be signed to an independent label - which may have been true at the time of his signing, but now fails to acknowledge that Cinematic Records is now distributed by Sony...

Still, his All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ record, which (finally) came out on Thursday after having been announced for last August, seems to be an impactful record, and the current single, Land Of The Free, packs a nice punch in the heart of one of the two issues currently affecting the United States, racial tension.

The video, co-directed by Nathan R. Smith and Bada$$ himself, keeps the focus on the message instead of the packaging, showing him teaching history to children and facing police extremism (we're way past "brutality" when murder's involved):

He still has to perfect his skills (the introductory pre-song statement says "You know" twice in less than ten words), but his mind is clear and delivery is extremely efficient.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Video Of The Week: Cake

Cake.

With Soul Coughing, they're my favourite band that I always forget exists.

I wanted to add a few of their songs to my phone playlist this week - namely Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps, Never There, Sheep Go To Heaven, Cool Blue Reason, their cover of Black Sabbath's War Pigs, Satan Is My Motor, She'll Come Back To Me, Open Book and, of course, The Distance:

The 1990s were great about introducing us to acts that didn't all resemble each other, what with the boom in indie labels and the traveling festivals. All bands didn't have to be big at the same level, either; Cake had one extremely successful album - 1996's Fashion Nugget, with their cover of I Will Survive - but also enjoyed moderate success with 1994's Motorcade Of Generosity and 1998's Prolonging The Magic, building a fanbase that would remain loyal to them to this day. Like Pearl Jam, but on a much smaller scale.

In many ways, Cake was similar to Soul Coughing, both containing elements of deadpan-delivery spoken word, rock, humour, poetry, irony, sarcasm; the main difference was the flavouring: Cake was based on country (particularly clearer after the departure of guitarist Greg Brown and his distinctive tone) whereas Soul Coughing's love of jazz was the underlying essence behind the composition.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Luka Sabbat Doesn't Actually Explain Teen Talk

I'll classify this as "comedy" even though I'm fairly certain model and fashionista Luka Sabbat was dead-serious in this piece:


Now's a good time to wrap your face around in your palm. Death to us all.

Added bonus, an actual comedy bit on the subject by Late Night with Seth Meyers:

Video Of A Generation: Pearl Jam

To celebrate the band's upcoming induction in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Pearl Jam's official videographer, Kevin Shuss, compiled 25 years' worth of video material set to the tune of their first single, Alive:

There are tons of special guests in there, from Neil Young to members of The Ramones to every drummer in the band's history to Chris Cornell to Ben Harper to the band appearing with or opening for the likes of The Rolling Stones and The Who... it's a neat little compilation/celebration.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Video Of The Week: 2Pac & James Brown

The only song I've listened to more often than Outkast's Spottieottiedopaliscious this past week (including the hour-long loop of the horn section, which I've listened to at least twice a day, yay unemployment!) is this gem from the Django Unchained soundtrack:

That's a remix that goes by the name of Unchained, which combines the James Brown classic The Payback and 2Pac's Untouchable; the official video is just scenes from the Quentin Tarantino movie (expertly) spliced together to fit the narrative. Officially, Tarantino is listed as the director.

Should you not know who Tarantino is, he's a groundbreaking film director and the best screenwriter of the 1990s. The three films he wrote but didn't direct are True Romance (1993, Tony Scott), Natural Born Killers (1994, Oliver Stone) and From Dusk Till Dawn (1995, Robert Rodriguez).

Perhaps I could rank the films he directed in order of preference:

11. Four Rooms (1994, segment: The Man From Hollywood)
10. Death Proof (2007)
9. The Hateful Eight (2015)
8. Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)
7. Django Unchained (2012)
6. Inglorious Basterds (2009)
5. Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)
4. Jackie Brown (1997)
3. Sin City (2005, segment with Bruce Willis)
2. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
1. Pulp Fiction (1994)

I used to have a lot less love for Jackie Brown, but since it's the last of his more, uh, classic period, it has definitely grown on me. I was always high on Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster Michael Keaton, and Chris Tucker's performances, but even Robert De Niro's and Bridget Fonda's have grown on me since.