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.

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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.

Collect all 7

A quick browse through most reviews for Arcade Fire’s newest – The Suburbs – reveals an ironically short-sighted focus on the sounds within.  Sure, they’ve been listening to some Depeche Mode to go with their Springsteen influence.  Sure, they’ve got some cool arpeggiating synths and a leaner, tougher sound.   Sure, its a welcome left turn after the heavy-handed bombast of Neon Bible and youthful yelp of Funeral.

But what about the underlying forces moving this record.  Shortened attention spans in a tech-mad world?  Lets choose We Used To Wait as our first single and reminisce about writing letters through the mail.  Everyone talking about singles and the death of the ‘album’?  Lets release a 16-song concept album about the very geographic phenomenom at the root to society’s current shortcomings.

The heart of this album is, surprisingly, hopefulness.  Win Butler is calling out for a more meaningful existence, for deeper connections, and some sense of rightfulness in a society slipping further into sectarianism.

“Now our lives are changing fast.  Hope that something pure can last.”

Half Light II (No Celebration) calls out “Some people say we’ve already lost.  They’re not ready to pay the cost.”  Later summed up “One day they’ll see its long gone.”

And my favorite, a gentle swipe at Seth Godin, or his lackey Bob Lefsetz: “The music divides us into tribes… you choose your side and I’ll choose mine.”

Alienation from a world that lacks a meaningful centre – “They keep changing all the names of the streets I grew up on.”

A call for purpose instead of posturing – “The kids are still standing with their arms folded tight.  I know its heavy, I know it ain’t light, but how you gonna lift it with your ams folded tight.”

Its not all a cohesive, barbed and reflective trip down childhood memory lane – but given the subject matter, its oddly fitting that there are a few dud songs.  Cul-de-sacs of incomplete ideas (Sprawl I) and, well admittedly, the never-ending references to ‘the suburbs’ and ‘sprawl’ get a little monotonous.  Maybe thats the point?  If so, its a clever way to diffuse criticism.

Oddly, its the most specifically topical songs which fall the flattest – “The Suburbs”, “Suburban War” and “Sprawl I” all lack the reflective immediacy and swagger otherwise dominating the album.  Its as if the concept ultimately got imposed onto an otherwise impressive and cohesive song-cycle.

The raw urgency of Ready To Start, Half Light II, Month Of May and Sprawl II contain new magic for a band that could’ve rested on its laurels and proven formula.

So yeah, sure, there’s a different sound.  But this isn’t a band dealing with the shallow surface, so its a disservice to the very nature of art to approach this album on such shallow terms.  Its time to move downtown in your listening.

Majestic!

Courtney Wing’s new album The Bouquet Of Might & Fury is a mighty impressive opus.  Conceived as a response to a request to perform on CBC Live, Courtney has turned that corner from “an artist with potential” to “an artist”.  Bouquet Of Might & Fury magically weaves heartfelt vocals into string section backdrops with operatic ornaments.  It is undeniably intimate, holding your focus while the grandeur swirls behind you.

Amid playful melodies, whimsical flair and otherworldly imagery, Courtney sings of the heart’s trials and adventures.  And he’s found an outstanding cast of supporting friends to flesh out the big vision – members of Godspeed You Black Emporer, Torngat, Arcade Fire, Be Good Tanyas – and even the Record Of The Week Club (transplanted Manitoban Jen Thiessen).

Check out Courtney Wing with Royal Canoe & Dryer – Tuesday April 6 @ the WECC.

Dan Mangan - Nice, Nice, Very Nice

Dan Mangan - Nice, Nice, Very Nice

Dan Mangan is nice.  And you know what they say about nice guys.  But if Verge has anything to say about it, Dan will be a household name very soon.

His new album Nice, Nice, Very Nice has been a slow burner.  At first his plaintive and very literal lyrics put me off, Dan’s delivery straight as an arrow.  But I’m getting used to it and getting into it.  I’ve come to appreciate the unflinching honesty and self-histories.  The directness.  I think we need more honesty in music right now.

There’s no pretense or bullshit.  Just a man, writing songs about the world he experiences.  This has been done a thousand times before, but these songs hold up, and the production holds up, and everything feels like a sign of good things to come.  I’m on my 4th time through the album, and find that I smile more and more with each listen.

The pulse of Road Regrets serves as a great invocation.  Robots lets down, but is quickly made up for with The Indie Queens Are Waiting – a duet with Veda Hille.  Veda’s bird-like voice contrasts Dan’s rustic intimacy perfectly.  Sold picks up where Road Regrets left off, frantic hand claps and all.  Fair Verona and Et Les Mots Croises highlight the middle of this album, with their effectual and ever-personal passages.  Set The Sails aches with the high hopes and sordid failures of Vancouver, personified and reflective.

Nice, Nice, Very Nice harkens back to the idealistic days of mid 90’s Canadian folk.   And it announces the arrival of a talented new troubadour onto our national scene.

OFH

OFH

Oldfolks Home is releasing a new single every week in December.  And they’re free!  Crazy.  Download ’em from Myspace or Facebook.

Christmas sucks.  Except for this.

Go get ’em.

Wooden Arms

Wooden Arms

Setting a certain mood can be a tricky thing. Sights, Sounds, smells, lighting, and environment, all have a role in setting a certain tone for someone. For Polaris Prize winner Patrick Watson setting a mood for an album seems to come naturally. Wooden Arms, the band’s sophomore release on Secret City Records features beautiful strings (Fireweed), evocative male/female vocal harmonies (Wooden Arms, Big bird in a Small cage) and spoons, glasses & other found objects as percussion instruments (Tracy’s Water).  There’s even a mega phone in Tom Waits-esque Traveling Salesman.  All are essential components in the mood mastery of Patrick Watson.

I could easily describe the album as beautifully textured, dreamy, haunting or spacey (Patrick has even described his music as Spacey folk). In fact the first time I listened to it I found myself lost in the music — before I knew it I was already on the fifth track. And if that is the mood this album is trying to set, then bravo! Many of the tracks flow seamlessly and fluidly between each other.  I challenge you to expand your horizons – this is a great album worth getting lost in.

Snow Blindness Is Crystal Antz

Snow Blindness Is Crystal Antz

I’m glad someone in Canada is drinking the pickled crazy juice.  Is there an artist in this country more irreverent, more playful or less caring of what you think than Chad Van Gaalen?  Its refreshing to get some music made for its own sake, which considers the art and artist first, and one’s indie image second.  His muse is indeed peculiar.  Even two-headed … nay, three-headed — and wearing pink suspenders.  For this single-minded artistic independence, this blog will continue to champion him.

Black Mold is Chad’s electronic alter-ego.  A collection of experimental glitches, melodies, science experiments and found sounds.  No lyrics.  Just a man and his gadgets in a basement somewhere in the 403.

19 tracks in all – flying firmly in the face of the current 10-track max on any given release since … well, since apparently nobody listens to albums anymore.  Except us?  We like albums.  And so, thank you to Chad for Toxic Lake.  And for No Dream Nation.  For somehow channeling Anti-Pop Consortium and Chris Clark (Warp’s unsung heroes).

Snow Blindness Is Crystal Antz flows well and you’ll be hard-pressed to discern your favorites until a couple attentive listens through.  There are a lot of great moments but the strength of this album ultimately lies in its ability to create and sustain a mood throughout the entire setlist.

[Racket]

November 16, 2009

FYI. New new new!!!

So new you don’t even know you’re reading this yet.

[This fist ain’t gonna pound itself.]

Fuck ya!  Cinematic and melodic indie hip-hop!

There’s a lightness, a youthfulness, a vigour, a hopefulness to The Lytics self-titled debut EP.  Playful synths bounce around great flow, absolutely infectious melodies wrap around your brain, and all the while I’m wondering… they’re from here?

Big City Soundgirl is getting all the “single” attention, but its Checkin’ On My Pumas that showcases the skills of A-Nice, Munga, Ashy and B-Flat.  Last Bit carries these grooves to the end.

There are Jackson 5 and Paul Simon-esque musical ideas throughout.  These boys aren’t just a bunch of beat-thumping ass smackers.  Worldly experience, humility (stay humble!), and great melodic sensibilities wrap around lyrics both fun and intelligent.

Buy it!