Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Long Music Post With a Hockey Leadoff

Could I be more straightforward with my post title? I don't think so!

The Canucks/Stars game went until 2:40 in the morning -- and I watched the entire thing, all seven periods of it. So I don't think I'll be making it to that Rotary Career Symposium thing tomorrow -- is to say, rather, this morning. Especially now that I've been up the rest of the night and I'm about to start babbling about music I like.

But first things first -- hell of a game, that one. Man. Both goalies played like sieves in the early going -- especially Turco, because this is Playoff Turco we are talking about here -- but once they got going, they went forever. Especially Luongo; what did he face, seventy-five shots? And he won!

My favourite player of the night, by far, was Vancouver's Jeff Gowan; I don't think I've even heard of the guy before tonight, but right through to the end of the game (near the end of quadruple overtime) he was flying around and crushing the defencemen at top speed until they cracked.

Yes, it was quite a game. The other games were interesting, too -- especially in Nashville, poor Nashville, because that one was a thriller and a nailbiter and a heartbreaker all in one. A good night for hockey!

After all that hockey I poked around to see what the other television stations were up to and saw MuchMusic play a Tokyo Police Club video (on MuchMegaHits, no less, indicating that they're getting some major support from their label), which completely blew me away and leads me to my next topic. Between this, Ane Brun and Ron Sexsmith being used in Ford ads, and everybody and their mother loving Priestess all of a sudden, I'm beginning to wonder if the mainstream and I are accidentally reconciling. Not to sound like too much of a music geek (although, I am, so I can understand how I would sound like one), but where the hell were all these people when I wouldn't shut up about Priestess fourteen months ago?

Not that I'm complaining! Not even close -- because oh, man, is it good to know other people are actually listening to the same stuff I've been listening to! As far as I'm concerned, the less chance of people staring at me blankly when I talk about music I like, the better. And gods help any poor mainstream-fed kid who would try to look through my iPod, right now, because his head would explode.

I guess what I'm getting at here is that obviously my tastes are excellent. (Not to toot my own horn, but I'm awesome.) So, since you might well run into this stuff later anyway, here's some more new music that should be brought to your attention:

The Procession - Don't Hesitate [official site -- damn album only seems to be available in Britain so far]

Beauty. I love it. My heart grew three sizes the day I first heard this song, and if I had harmonies like these backing up everything that came out of my mouth I would never stop talking. (The smartalecks out there might contend that this wouldn't be much of a change, to which I would retort by crossing my arms and sticking my tongue out like I'm five years old.)

If you've ever heard anybody complain that they just don't write songs the way they used to, you should smack them pass this along to them at the earliest opportunity. Hell, pass this along to everybody at the earliest opportunity -- and throw in the brilliantly executed music video while you're at it, if you can.

Yes, the song and the video are both from this year. If you had told me it was possible to pull these marvels off this accurately in our modern day and age, I wouldn't have believed it; I still barely believe it, and I've both heard and watched this song hundreds of times by now. The Pipettes pull off much the same idea, but their output is subject to overproduction at times; if you're familiar with them and you've listened carefully to 'Pull Shapes' or 'We Are the Pipettes', you know what I'm talking about. Not so here, however; I can't find fault with this song or its video at all, except that I would have wanted it to be at least a minute longer because I am completely greedy.

The internet spoils us rotten sometimes, it really does.

The trio is based out of Los Angeles, sporting members both originally from America and Britain; the rest of their output is aces, too, from what I've heard of it, but this song is definitely the standout of the crop. This might well be my favourite song of 2007, and we're only a third of the way in -- but I still feel pretty confident saying that, because it's going to take quite the feat to topple this tune. If this song doesn't make you feel like everything is right in the world, I don't know what can.

The Aggrolites - Funky Fire [buy | official site]

Dirty Reggae, baby!

Like the Procession above, the Aggrolites are a revival-tinged band from Los Angeles; also like the Procession, it's initially difficult to believe you're listening to something that was released within the past year. (That'll be a post for another time; I'm a sucker for authentic-sounding music with origins you couldn't guess properly if your life depended on it.) Those are where the similarities end, though -- because where the Procession is a three-piece pure pop band, the Aggrolites are a five-piece reggae throwback explosion. Every time I hear anything by these guys I half expect a case of beer to materialize somewhere in the immediate area, because it would be both suitably awesome and thematically appropriate. This is not heavy-set, deep-thought music; this is party music, through and through, and bless them for it.

The album as a whole does get a little repetitive after a while -- because it is a long album, clocking in at over sixty-six (!!) minutes -- but that's the nature of the beast, and aside from my afrobeat collection (more on that another time) I can think of no better music to lead us into the upcoming summer. Unless it's cold all summer, as it sometimes is, in which case I intend to listen to The Pursuit of Happiness a lot and do a bunch of complaining. (The smartalecks out there might again note that this is nothing new, but... okay, I don't have anything to rebuke that at all.)

Yes, the song is supposed to cut out like that; on the album it leads right into the next song, and for the purposes of this post it'll lead right into:

Inward Eye - Disaster (SXSW 2007 Promo Version) [band myspace -- at some point they really should put out an album, and their official site seems to have disappeared entirely]

Okay, okay, I'm probably not telling you anything new on this one; if you've encountered them at all, you already like Inward Eye by now. (Or you haven't seen them yet but you tell people you like them to pretend you're cool, you scenester.) But if you haven't encountered the local brother act trio yet, then by damn, get on it! If you're looking to start paying attention to the local music scene -- and you really should, you know -- I can't think of more easily accessible and palatable fare to begin with. (Except for the New Meanies, of course, but I'm saving my deep and longstanding New Meanies love for its own post one day.) The civic bandwagon is three miles wide for Inward Eye by now, and justifiably so, so you'll have plenty of company.

From the looks of things, their next Winnipeg gig will be May 7th at the Walker (call it the 'Burton Cummings Theatre for the Performing Arts' to my face and I swear you run the risk of being headbutted); looks like they're opening for Finger Eleven, which is a definite step down from opening for the Who but admittedly a step up from when they were opening for Urge Overkill. (And I say this as somebody who likes Urge Overkill; hell, I was at that show!)

As for this song specifically -- I've heard three different recorded versions of this song so far, and this version I'm posting here is by far my favourite. (I can't in good conscience recommend the rough mix they have on their MySpace; the extraneous vocal reverb effects on that one bug the living piss out of me. It is not a decision I would have made, to put it another way.) The pre-chorus always strikes me as being uncomfortably similar to No Doubt's 'It's My Life' (remember back in the day when Gwen Stefani seemed tolerable?), mostly because the bassline apes it something fierce -- but this is a minor point, and I am more than willing to overlook it in favour of rocking out. Rock and roll!

Alabama Thunderpussy - Words of the Dying Man [buy | official site | buy on vinyl (!)]

Speaking of which. Go figure -- Richmond, Virginia fucking rocks! Yee-ahh!

If you like Priestess, and apparently you do, then I see no reason why you won't like Alabama Thunderpussy. They aren't quite as good as Priestess at what they do, which is rock hard in the grand tradition of rocking hard, but I certainly like 'em better than Wolfmother. (If The Darkness is the closest you can come to joining this line of conversation, I insist that you are slightly behind.)

This song just roars out of the starting gate, doesn't it? My oh my. The testosterone in your body just fires itself up from the three second mark onwards, especially for anybody who knows and loves a good cowbell part when they hear it. This isn't a mere genre exercise; this is working the genre as hard as it possibly can without tearing ligaments, which is just what the long-considered-dead 'hard rock' approach needs to keep it from seizing up and collapsing. Rock and roooooll--

Delays - Valentine [buy | official site]

What. What. I saw that look.

The transition from the last song to this one threw you off, a little? Admittedly, it's quite the departure from there to here; the previous song was a balls-to-the-wall heavy metal assault, and this -- however you might initially try to describe it, and good luck trying -- is not.

Well, maybe you can't appreciate this song, mister lookie-me-I'm-macho-rocker-guy, but I'm comfortable enough in my masculinity to gleefully relish this europop purebred synthbeast. It's even produced by Trevor Horn, which is how you know it has been produced properly.

If a karaoke bar had this song, I would sing it. I would! And if you think it's weird that a dude would sing along with this song, think again -- because that's a dude singing the song in the first place. Yes, seriously. Despite the Ray of Light-era Madonna mental imagery you may have come up with on first listen, Delays are actually an indie new-wave band of four guys from Southampton, England.

Nothing wrong with well-crafted pop from time to time, I say! This is a song that would probably get old very fast if the mainstream machine dug its dirty hooks into it (see: LCD Soundsystem, 'Satisfaction'), but as long as it keeps out of cellphone commercials I'm sure it will remain well appreciated in my heart.

By comparison, here's a song about which I'm genuinely angry that the media doesn't play constantly:

Lucero - I Can Get Us Out of Here Tonight [buy | official site]

If you were following music blogs online at all last year, chances are good you've heard this song already; it was huge amongst the online set, and for obvious very good reasons. The problem is, I don't know anybody else in real life who follows music blogs. In actual physical day-to-day life I only know seven other people who have ever heard this song, and that is because I was the one who played it for all seven of them.

Seven people have heard this. Counting myself, eight. And that is absolutely criminal.

Everything about this song is absolute perfection to me -- the arrangement, the performance, the production; the whisky-soaked desperation of the vocals and guitar, the driving fury of the backing bass and drums, the epic-scale hopeful eagerness of the piano line, everything. This song is no less than the second coming of Springsteen, which is impressive on its own merits and doubly impressive because Springsteen isn't dead yet.

This song will never get old, never wear out its welcome, both because it will never get its chance to and because it simply never could. In a perfect world this would be one of the songs that defines our generation, loved and cherished by folk the world over and appreciated decades from now as a classic example of anthemic brilliance. In the real world? Less than ten people I have ever met have heard this song, fewer still could name the band, and drizzling shit like the Black Eyed Peas are what this current era of music will be remembered for.

If you download anything from anywhere today, download this. I am absolutely adamant about this. This is important to me. I'll... I'll be your friend? I don't know -- how do people convince other people to do things over the internet? I've just now concluded that I'm pretty bad at it.

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I like music. Just in case you hadn't noticed! Sometimes I can be vague about these things.


Anonymous said...

Love the Meanies
Love Inward Eye
And would probably add the Harlots to the list of accessable local bands to start with
With Tele..and Projektor...and...and...

James Howard said...

And the Blair Hordeski Sandwich! And the Perpetrators. And nathan, unless they're one of those people who claim to 'like everything except rap and country'. (Despite myself, I usually like everybody except these people.)

There are quite a few accessible acts out there, it's true -- but I would suggest Inward Eye are the band most easily accessible, because damn if I've met anybody yet who doesn't like their stuff so far.

I suppose it all comes down to knowing your intended audience and matching their musical genres up properly; if somebody's used to listening to Nickleback and the Goo Goo Dolls, you're probably just going to freak them out if you try to start them into local music with -- say, offhand -- Electro Quarterstaff.

The jazz fans are an easy sell, through! Especially considering what a musical sinkhole COOL FM is, but that's a topic for another time. (Izzy's memory deserves better. There. I said it.)