Pearl Jam has been around for 20 years. Crazy. Most of its been alright, some has sucked. Its music, its whats happens.

To celebrate, the band lauched PJ 20. And there’s a pretty good live version of Crown Of Thorns to go with it.

 

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Pixies in Winnipeg | Courtesy of Teenage Dogs In Trouble

Every big fan of influential Boston band The Pixies has a story of the first time they ever heard them and how it affected  them.  For me it was early winter, 1991. I was up late in my bedroom quietly listening is CBC’s late night alternative radio show Brave New Waves. It was a school night. With no introduction at the end of a set of songs by several other bands came what I thought at the time to be the catchiest intro in a song I had ever heard and these lyrics:

Got me a movie / I want you to know / slicing up eyeballs / I want you to know / girlie so groovy / I want you to know / don’t know about you / but I am un chien Andalusia / I am un chien Andalusia / I am un chien Andalusia / I am un chien Andalusia / wanna grow / up to be / be a Debaser.

Just like that I was a sold. They had me. I desperately listened to the radio, turning the volume up slightly to hear it better at the risk of waking up my family. Knowing that songs and band names were not not always announced or readily made available on Brave New Waves after they played. I didn’t move a muscle as I heard

“That was Pixies with Debaser from 1989’s Doolittle.”

That weekend I purchased my first Pixies cassette tape and the rest of course is history. A history they included the Pixies breaking up in 1993 and reuniting in 2004. That reunion & touring has lasted 7 years so far, more years than many people thought the band was capable of. With a current tour that has been celebrating the release of arguably their best album Doolittle.  It was the first Pixies album I’d ever heard and it’s still my favorite. A tour where the band is playing the entire album in track order (or at the time of the original release: Side A and Side B in order). So even though I’m reviewing the concert from two different cities it’s essentially the same show with the same set list. With the only real differences being the venues, the crowd and the atmosphere.

Unlike previous Pixies tours where the stage sets were bare minimum the Doolittle tour features giant glowing lanterns and video that coincided with each song. The show itself started with an edited version of the 1929 surrealist film Un Chien Andalou by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. The film notoriously opens with a scene in which a woman’s eye is slit by a razor, which is referenced in the song lyric and inspired the song Debaser.

Even though both shows had essentially the same set list they each had a very different feel. The Ottawa show was at the Ottawa Civic Centre – a cavernous old Junior hockey arena whereas the Winnipeg show was at the Centennial Concert hall where the symphony and ballet perform. The Winnipeg show felt much more intimate with no barrier in front of the stage. The Ottawa show had surprisingly good sound for an old barn but felt more chaotic at times with rush floor seating.  Both cities were treated to encores of songs from other Pixies albums with the only difference being a cover of Neil Young’s Winterlong at the Winnipeg show (which the band also performed in Winnipeg in 2004).

Pixies in Winnipeg | Courtesy of Teenage Dogs In Trouble

Our friends Matt Peters and Ryan Boldt decided to dust off their calculators this afternoon and do some ‘rithmatic.  They were appalled at what they discovered.  Time for some sobering statistics:

  • 6,201.  Friends, this is not the title of the newest Rush album.  This is a number we need to remember over the course of the next four years and especially during the next election.  6,201 is the COMBINED margin of victory across the 14 most closely contested Conservative ridings in Canada.  The COMBINED margin of victory. This is how close the election actually was.  In each of these races the Conservatives had a margin of victory of less than 800 votes.  Most margins were much, much smaller. See below for a statistical breakdown.
  • 14. You need to remember this number for two reasons.  Firstly, it is the number of seats the Conservatives currently have above and beyond their majority.  In these 14 contentious races, if there had been even a slightly more focused effort by the parties on the Left to consolidate their voter bases we could have easily swayed the balance of power away from the Conservatives and prevented their majority (only 6,201 votes total were needed, spread across 14 ridings).  14 is also significant because, if you can believe it, 14 votes was the actual margin of victory for the Conservatives over the Liberals in the eastern Ontario riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming.  In this riding 11,357 people voted for the NDP or the Green party.  27,887 registered electors didn’t vote at all.  Only 14 votes were needed to defeat the Conservatives.  Let that sink in.

Here are the numbers in each of the 14 most closely contested Conservative ridings.  The vote splitting is very disturbing:

 Riding:                 Labrador (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Conservatives             Liberals           Margin of Victory           NDP/Green Combined

4,234                            4,003                       231                               2,235

Nipissing-Timiskaming (Ontario)

Conservatives             Liberals           Margin of Victory           NDP/Green Combined

15,507                         15,493                    14                                     11,357

Bramalea-Gore-Malton (Ontario)

Conservatives             NDP                  Margin of Victory           Lib/Green Combined

19,907                          19,369                    538                                    18,149

Etobicoke Centre (Ontario)

Conservatives             Liberals           Margin of Victory           NDP/Green Combined

21,661                         21,635                      26                                     9,185

 Saskatoon Rosetwon biggar (Saskatchewan)

Conservatives             NDP                  Margin of Victory           Lib/Green Combined

14,652                      14,114                         538                                      1,323

Elmwood-Transcona (Manitoba)

Conservatives             NDP                  Margin of Victory           Lib/Green Combined

15,280                      14,996                          284                                     2,678

Montmagny-L’islet-Kamouraska-Riveire-du-Loup (Quebec)

Conservatives             NDP                  Margin of Victory           Lib/Green/Bloc Combined

17,220                      17,110                           110                                       14,861

Lotbiniere-Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere (Quebec)

Conservatives             NDP                  Margin of Victory           Lib/Green/Bloc Combined

22,460                      21,683                           777                                      12,183

                                

Don Valley West (Ontario)

Conservatives             Liberals           Margin of Victory           NDP/Green Combined

22,992                         22,353                      639                                      7,983

Mississauga East-Cooksville (Ontario)

Conservatives             Liberals           Margin of Victory           NDP/Green Combined

18,782                         18,121                       661                                    9,989

Winnipeg South Centre (Manitoba)

Conservatives             Liberals           Margin of Victory           NDP/Green Combined

15,468                          14,772                       696                                    9,332

Yukon

Conservatives             Liberals           Margin of Victory           NDP/Green Combined

5,422                             5,290                       132                                     5,345

Desenthe-Missinippi-Churchill River  (Saskatchewan)

Conservatives             Liberals           Margin of Victory           NDP/Green Combined

10,504                          9,715                        789                                     1,706

Palliser (Saskatchewan)

Conservatives             NDP                  Margin of Victory           Lib/Green Combined

15,850                      15,084                         766                                     2,892

Total numbers for the 14 ridings 

Conservatives        2nd place                Margin of Victory               Rest of the left

219,939               213,738                 6,201                        103,873


You’ll notice that these ridings are evenly distributed geographically throughout the country and the split affected the NDP and Liberals equally.  Also, this list only represents the closest races.  This is not a regional issue.  It is indicative of what occurred throughout the country.

Across Canada 7,867,870 people voted Liberal, NDP or Green.  5,832,401 voted Conservative. This is a difference of over 2 million votes.   A government with 39.6% of the popular vote should not have a mandate to drive through fundamental changes in policy.

6,201 reasons to get frustrated.

We can not let this happen again.  Get the word out.  Its time for PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION.

The end is nigh.  Within 24 hours of Radiohead releasing its new album King Of Limbs (of which the public was only given a week’s notice) Los Angeles band Robotanists covered the entire thing.  Impressive.  Scary.  And pretty alright.

Check it out and buy it here.

 

Magic Central

Breathe Owl Breath // Magic Central

We’ve got two new discoveries this week that are blowing our mind.  Both albums have been out for a bit.  But you need to hear them.  Now.

First up comes Michigan’s Breathe Owl Breathe and their first album for Portland’s Home Tapes label.  (We’re not the only one playing catchup with this band now.) I’ve been to Michigan – it has surprisingly dense and rich forests, the perfect places for a band like this to hide out until the time is just right.  And the time is right.

Born on the breeze of the Yann Tiersen tour, this record came recommended by Michael over at Ear To The Sound.

Intimate vocals married to plaintive acoustic picking dominate the landscape, and this record would not sound out of place next to Mojave 3/Neil Halstead or Sun Kil Moon.  What really sets this band apart is  lead singer Micah Middaugh’s lyrics and delivery.  Earthly, yet obsessed with the otherworldly.  Immediate, and yet looking beyond.

“Look down – there’s a welcome mat over a trap door. Whats on the other side? The spirit world.”

For our next piece of evidence, we present from House Of Gold: “Paralyzed by beauty. Don’t leap from the balcony… oh yes, there are handclaps.”  And then handclaps kick in.  Its this irreverence that helps set this band apart.  The playfulness, the lack of pretension, the happy-go-lucky vibe… we’re smitten.

Dragon pretty much seals the deal on our new love affair. The fairy-tale introduction to the song is the most endearing and whimsical thing we’ve heard in ages.  And a playful introduction to the little worlds that Breathe Owl Breathe create.

Andrea Morena-Beals’ voice is the perfect contrast to Micah’s plaintive whisper, sounding like some combination of Feist and Julie Doiron.   Effortless arrangements and a refreshing lack of clutter help make Magic Central an outstanding and accomplished debut.

Catch Breathe Owl Breathe opening for Yann Tiersen at The WECC on Feb. 27.

(Skip the first 15 seconds of the video. The rest of the song is gold.)

When I mention that all the ex-Dears should start a whole new band, Jon Cohen jokes that a support group is probably more appropriate.  Kinda just confirms our sneaking suspicions that Murray Lightburn is a power-hungry monster devouring any who don’t play his game.  Or, well, maybe we just never liked The Dears very much.

But the Jon Cohen Experimental is trying to make up for that.  He’s got a peppy little album out and is touring the nation right now.

Winnipeg – The Cavern – Friday January 14.

(I know, the Cavern usually sucks, but this is a good reason to go.   We should probably dedicate a whole post to our frustrations with The Cavern.)

Behold is cleverly arranged with gentle retro grooves and strong lyrics, showcasing that the “Experimental” is actually a highly creative band.  This is a one-man project done right.  Echoes of psychedelia swirl through folk-ish melodies and pop hooks.  Highlights include the title track, Brain Pollution and Don’t Be The Cloud.  The standout is probably Nightmare-Over with its horns, Calexico-inspired groove and energetic performances.

10.  LOCAL NATIVES // Gorilla Manor

They were the highlight of my SXSW, and their album continues to be a beacon of jangly, blurry goodness.

9.  MENOMENA // Mines

Thanks to Bucky from The Liptonians for introducing me.  Crazy.  Technical.  Catchy as all fuck.

8.  JOANNA NEWSOME // Have One On Me

She can do no wrong.   Evolved and evocative songwriting with production that is finding the right ways to present her outlandish voice.

7.  FRIGHTENED RABBIT // The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

With no new We Were Promised Jetpacks album yet, Frightened Rabbit satiated my need for big Scottish post-punk.

6.  THE KNIFE // Tomorrow, In A Year

Instead of an album, an electronic opera.   Proving that they are one of the most versatile and creative artists in the world right now.

5.  THE NATIONAL // High Violet

Who am I kidding… this would probably be #2 if my record player hadn’t been on the fritz till recently — meaning I couldn’t spin it enough to really dig into what is unbelievably actually an improvement on Boxer.  I was set for a let-down.  Instead, my boys delivered.

4.  LIARS // Sisterworld

Within 45 minutes of landing in Austin, I was getting stoned with Mat from Boats and watching Liars rock the Brooklyn Vegan stage at SXSW.  Sisterworld then became the soundtrack for Marcus & my post-mixing relaxations in Montreal in July.  I love it when weirdos make great music.

3.  BEACH HOUSE // Teen Dream

Like an updated Cocteau Twins, Beach House satiate my love of delay washes with sparse arrangements and beautiful voices.  I’m a latecomer to the record, but it has barely left my turntable since picking it up.

2.  JONSI // Go

A lush chamber-folk revision of the Sigur Ros sound, with impeccable production and personal songwriting.  A record to turn to in the quiet moments.   So intimate.

1.  ARCADE FIRE // The Suburbs

Its #1 on everyone’s list for a reason.  This album, just like their show at the MTS Centre, feels like its more about the listener than about the artists.  Poignant and simply profound, shedding light on the small moments in millions of lives left unturned.  One of the few albums in recent memory that demands digging into lyrics, metaphors, track order … all the things that we used to do with records.

Dave’s Top 10 Shows Of 2010

December 30, 2010

While 2009 was the year of the Lo Pub, in 2010 there was good representation of most venues in Winnipeg – with no one venue dominating my list, from the West End Cultural Centre to the Walker Theatre.  (I will never ever call it the Burton Cummings Theatre).

#10. 2010 WINNIPEG FOLK FESTIVAL (July)

With the exception of spectacular performances by the Avett Brothers and the workshop with Arrested Development, Andrew Bird & Konono No.1  it was a pretty underwhelming line up.  Especially with the 2009 line up (including Elvis Costello and Iron & Wine) considered by many to be one of the best festivals ever. 2010 kind of felt like they phoned in the lineup.  For the amount of money being charged for tickets we expect to see a more well rounded mix of new and exciting acts as well as a few more big names. Not a best of from 2004, 2007, & 2009.

#9. HEAD IN THE SAND SHOWCASE // The Cavern (October)

You know you’re at a quality concert when all 3 bands performing (Royal Canoe, Les Jupes & The Liptonians) could be the headliner.  Plus it was a packed house and the crowd was really into it.  The Cavern is not my favorite venue, but this night made it enjoyable.

#8.  HOLY FUCK // The Pyramid (September):

One of many shows during an incredible month of September.  The band delivered, rambunctiously.  A special treat.  Holy Fuck indeed.

#7. THE SADIES w/ PACK AD // The Pyramid (September)

Two great live acts that give it their all on stage.

#6.  GREG MacPHERSON ALBUM LAUNCH // WECC (April)

This album launch show for the Polaris-nominated Mr. Invitation was classic G-Mac.  A killer set that included a perfect mix of old songs and new.  It was one of Greg best shows in recent memory.

#5. DAN MANGAN w/ BURNING HELL //  Park theatre (November)

Two words:  Pleasantly surprised.  I went into this show only knowing a handful of Dan songs and never hearing the Burning Hell but left thoroughly impressed with both acts and the quality of Dan as a singer songwriter.  He had the attentive Park crowd eating out of his hand.  [Editor’s note: Here’s our review of his album Nice, Nice, Very Nice.]

#4.  RURAL ALBERTA ADVANTAGE // WECC (February)

It’s shows like this one that make winter in Winnipeg almost bearable. Awesome renditions of The Dethbridge at Lethbride & The Ballad of the RRA. High energy set, great crowd.  Another kick-ass West End show!

#3.  ARCADE FIRE w/ CALEXICO // MTS Centre (September)

This was an incredible show with the potential to make #1 on this list, only Arcade Fire had the unfortunate luck of playing just 2 days after the band that stole the proverbial show.  So by the timeI saw them I was totally blissed out and my passion for this concert plateaued quicker than I would have liked.  It wasn’t as good as their 2004 Winnipeg concert @ the Walker but it was still pretty amazing.  Calexico were stellar as usual, though their set seemed short.

#2. THE ROOTS w/ MAGNUM K.I. //  Pantages Playhouse (June)

Hands down the best hip hop show I have ever seen.  The Roots blew away my expectations of what this show was going to be.  Pure showmanship, high energy, appreciative of their fans.  Plus any live act that can rock a sousaphone as much as the Roots deserves your respect.  [Magnum K.I. site.]

#1.  THE FLAMING LIPS // Walker Theatre (September)

Pure rock spectacle!  This was one of the most entertaining concerts I have ever been to at the Walker (including Arcade Fire, Wilco, TV on the Radio AND the Pixies).  I was totally blissed out!  A perfect balance of sight, sound and spectacle.

Wool On Wolves

Edmonton’s Wool On Wolves show the early signs of being one of the bands that we’ll revere in ten years.  With plaintive and evocative songs played with a lot of fuel, this debut album has all the charm of early Wilco or Son Volt.  Here we are on the third track and the band has the balls to just let it all hang out for a couple minutes of noise, drum cacophony and general discomfort.  Perfect.

Some parts aren’t played terribly well, and really, we wouldn’t want them to be.  So many bands suffer the curse of perfection. Its refreshing to hear a record that sounds like a band playing music and not like it was painstakingly neutered in some computer for months.  A band willing to revel in the moment as it stood, on that day in that place with those people.

They’re not breaking new ground, but they’re treading the alt-roots-rock path with honesty, dirty socks, unwashed hair, and all the energy they can muster.  And that’s pretty much all we need.

If Thick As Thieves is any indication –  these guys live together, they play together, and if all goes well they’ll die together.  No, not in some Lynard Skynard fashion, but old and grizzled and perfectly content on the porch of some cabin in the Alberta mountains, still strumming out songs about a Bird In The Bush or Red Roses.

Bubble gum and peanuts.   Separately they are both tasty things that are fun to chew.  But when you combine the two, the texture in your mouth is quite … well, quite troublesome.  Dan Black (formally the frontman of British band The Servants) has replaced a live band with a laptop and a lot of hype.  He is best known for covering Notorious B.I.G.’s Hypnotic by mashing it with the drum beats from Rihanna’s Umbrella calling it HYPNTZ until the B.I.G. estate refused permission to use the lyrics forcing Dan to write his own and call the song Symphonies.

Symphonies ended up being the first track on ((UN)). Exhibit A: Bubblegum.

Dan’s attempt at blending hip hop influences with indie rock and electronica lacks focus and seems to be trying to please every type of hipster he thinks is actually listening to his album more than once. Trying to imitate all the hip singers (Beck, Robbie Williams, Rufus Wainwright, Chris Martin, Thom Yorke) ultimately makes him sound no one in particular.

This is a slick and well-produced album which shows that Dan does indeed have talent – which might trick some people into thinking this album is better than it actually is.  But regardless of catchy drum beats and funky bass on tracks like Alone & Yours, various samples & the subtle use of auto tune on Pump My Pumps, this album can’t be saved. Basic pop with polential but not very much soul. On Dan’s myspace page he lists his influences as only Sigur Ros & Jay-Z … Gum and nuts indeed.