This is a musicblog. Every weekday we post a couple of mp3s and write about them. Songs are only kept online for a short time. This is a page from our archives and thus the mp3s linked to may not longer be available. Visit our front page for new songs and words.

May 31, 2003

cherry blue skies

Our visit to CBC MusicWorks to see Boy was great fun, if perhaps the strangest rock concert I've ever seen. The "MusicWorks Warehouse" is really just a dilapidated, frigid chamber at the back of the Ottawa CBC studios, with the addition of a fake (warehouse) wall, equipped with graffitti. The graffitti says such punk things as "VOLT" and "HIP-HOP". I've never seen the show on TV, but it looks like it's basically American Bandstand, but for radio-worthy Canadian rock instead of American pop, and none of the acts are particularly high-profile -- this is public broadcasting after all. Dan and I sat for many hours, watching the taping proceed. Host Joey Jeremiah seemed likable enough, if slightly incompetent. (He kept calling Stephen "Boy" Kozmeniuk, "Nathan," resulting in take-after-take.) The audience was almost entirely 15 year old kids who had been dragged by their junior-high teachers. They swayed with moderate enthusiasm. Boy performed well - he didn't look like I expected: too grunge, not mod enough, but he definitely had his shit together. The performances were solid - and it wasn't too painful to hear each of the four songs performed several times. "French Diplomacy" is indeed the stand-out, but I wish I could have heard the string section properly! I guess the sound was wired for TV, and not for we lucky studio observers. I'll also go down in history was the one who suggested that Boy replace "shitty" with "shoddy," in "Joey," in order to let him bypass tight-ass CBC censors. It's not my fault he (and I) almost burst out laughing, each time he said it.

The most morally vacant part of the vening was when Joey Jeremiah quizzed one of the teenyboppers in the crowd on semirandom musical knowhow. Everything was fine (the kid was almost funny, in fact), until they did a Take 2, and things were repeated word-for-word. Watching a child pretend to hem-and-haw over questions, and pretend to be surprised at her correct answers, was one of the most excruciating things I've ever seen. CBC producers are going to Hell.

Dan and I snuck out before the final interview with Boy - we were there for the music, after all, and couldn't really bring ourselves to be exuberant for another forty-five minutes.

Oh -- It seems Boy changed his name from Stephen Kozmeniuk to "Stephen Noel." What the fuck? Lame lame lame.


I'm listening to A Beautiful World, by Thicke. It's terrific white-boy soul, from the son of Alan Thicke. The kid's surprisingly talented, and the record has great range - from stripped-down ballads to hip hop and rock'n'roll. It's earnest and competent, and I'm not embarassed to be digging it. Kudos to Anne for tuning me into the fellow.

Tomorrow - The Microphones! I'm still hoping to find someone to go with me. People seem to be scared off by my inability to encapsulate Phil Elvrum's sound in terms rock-radio listeners will understand. Anyone have suggestions?

Here's my Bluesfest listening schedule, at least using the performers who are booked as of today. Artists in bold are must-sees, artists in italics are things I might take in. I realize there's some overlap, but that's what my magical time-stopping abilities were for.

Friday July 4
6:15 K-Os (Main stage)
7:45 Ben Harper (Main stage)
9:30 Oh Susanna (Roots Stage)

Saturday July 5
1:45 Golden Famile (Roots Stage)
2:40 Torture King Sideshow (Birdman Stage)
7:45 Elvis Costello (Main stage)
8:00 Deadly Snakes (Birdman Stage)
9:30 The Sadies (Roots Stage)

Sunday July 6
5:30 The New Deal (Black Sheep Stage)
6:20 Gordon Downie (Main stage)
7:45 Cesaria Evora (Main stage)
9:30 Cinematic Orchestra (Black Sheep Stage)

Monday July 7
9:00 Sum 41 (Main Stage)

Tuesday July 8
9:00 Sheryl Crow (Main Stage)

Wednesday July 9
9:00 Great Big Sea (Main Stage)

Thursday July 10
7:30 Hawksley Workman (Roots Stage)
7:45 Kool and the Gang (Main Stage)

Friday July 11
6:15 Nina Nastasia (Birdman Stage)
9:30 Orchestra Baobab (Black Sheep Stage)
9:30 Howe Gelb (Giant Sand) (Birdman Stage)

Saturday July 12
3:00 Jim Bryson (Sacred Stage)
4:00 The Trachtenburg Family Slide Show Players (Acoustic Stage)
4:30 Howe Gelb (Giant Sand) (Sacred Stage)
7:45 'Have Love will Travel' (Blues Bros) (Main Stage)
9:30 Antibalas (Black Sheep Stage)
9:30 Jim Bryson and the Occasionals (Roots Stage)

Sunday July 13
5:00 The Trachtenburg Family Slide Show Players (Acoustic Stage)
5:30 Kate Fenner and Chris Brown (Black Sheep Stage)
7:00 The Sights (Birdman Stage)
7:45 Blue Rodeo (Main Stage)

It was interesting sorting through the Bluesfest schedule, because I, uh, don't like the blues. I kept feeling like the organizers were trying to trick me into checking out straight-ahead (or garage-)blues performers. But I staunchly refuse. Probably. Unless someone makes some recommendations.

Posted by Sean at 11:32 PM | Comments (6)

May 30, 2003

lost in translation

According to Ain't It Cool News, My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields is doing the soundtrack for Sophia Coppola's upcoming film, Lost in Translation. The Virgin Suicides was one of those films whose aesthetic really resonated with me - I really liked how it felt - so her new one would have been appealing anyway. Though the soundtrack wasn't great when heard on its own, Air and Sloan's contributions were superb in the film proper, so it's exciting to hear Shields' name attached. I'm not a massive MBV-fan, but I imagine this as something closer to Neil Young's disjointed guitar-work on Dead Man, with shoegaze thrown in. What's more - bonus! - Bill Murray stars! Murray's quietly become one of my favourite dramatic/tragicomic actors over the past five years. I had never paid him any notice in those old, stupid comedies, but his turns as Polonius in the Ethan Hawke Hamlet, and (of course) Blume in Rushmore, struck me with a powerful honesty and skill. Lost in Translation is now officially in my "can't wait to see it" list with. (The other films on said list are The Return of the King and the Charlie Kaufman-penned, Drew Barrymore/Jim Carrey sf lovestory, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).

Posted by Sean at 11:48 AM | Comments (1)

May 26, 2003

been a while

Oof. It's been a while!

Spent a busy couple of weeks - A came down to Ottawa on the 17th, and I visited her in Montreal last weekend. I listened to lots of music, but not very much made an enormous impression. Here's the stuff that did:

Radiohead's "There There" - this wasn't a standout when I was listening to the muddy unmastered version, but in high-fidelity, hoo boy! A perfect mix of rock and melancholia - I love those drums in the background - there's something absolutely wonderful about the way Thom sadly sings the first repetition of "Just cause you feel it / doesn't mean it's love." I've only seen the video in crabby Real format, but Ro assures me it's unsettling Wind-in-the-Willows wonderful when viewed on a teevee.

My Velvet Underground box-set came in the mail! Only $25 USD for five CDs - all of the velvets' LPs, and bonus material. Hooray! I am so glad Dan managed to get me to give these boys (and girls) another listen.

Broken Social Scene - You forgot it in People. This one just doesn't get old - varied, lush, intelligent... even just the sound of a few of the tracks (the vocals on "Stars and Sons", the guitar on "Late nineties bedroom rock for the missionaries") is enough to get me excited. Rumour has it BSS just scored a (big) label deal, they're at work on their follow-up, and a b-side record is on its way... I can't wait.

Nina Nastasia - "Superstar" (mp3). At first I didn't get it, but after successive listens, the slow-blossoming of this song has me head-over-heels. The Blackened Air was a beautiful, dark, imperfect album. I am so psyched for her new one - and what's more, she's coming to Ottawa for bluesfest (Yay!).

Beyonce Knowles ft. Jay-Z - "Crazy in Love". What The Flirtations' "Nothing but a Heartache" was supposed to be: horns stompmarch forward, affirm affirm affirm. Stripped of Destiny's Child's unnecessary melisma, this track is direct, confident, kick-ass. I dig it.

I bought the new Arab Strap, Monday at the Hug & Pint. First impressions are that it's beautiful - finally, a genuinely amazing album from a band that's long been genuinely amazing. Aidan Moffatt's mopey drinking-and-lusting monologues have been joined by some of the loveliest string arrangements this side of Damien Rice. Finally Arab Strap sounds beautiful - it's the breathing soul that lives in the drunken Scots.

Nick Drake - "Know". I've long known this song, but I had never really - really - listened to it, till it came on towards the end of a boring Nick Drake documentary. The film was mostly pretty shots of Tamworth-on-Arden, with Drake songs in the background: this sounds fine at first, but not after thirty-five minutes. Anyway, I shouldn't complain: I heard the genius of this song for the first time, as the camera rested interminably on a windblown tree. Everyone thinks of Nick Drake as a sad musician, but listening to "Know," the ache is almost painful. The uncaring, incessant pulse of the guitar, Nick's broken-and-bitter weariness, the almost angry way he sings the first line. Jeepers.

Posted by Sean at 8:01 PM | Comments (1)

May 14, 2003


So who wants to join me to see the strange and wondrous Microphones at Ottawa's Saw Gallery, June 1st?

Posted by Sean at 1:40 PM | Comments (3)

May 13, 2003

disappointment squared

So it seems I didn't win an iPod in the Stephen Malkmus trivia contest. I knew only one of the answers, going in (RUSH), but used 2 hours and google-fu to score the rest.

So why am I not even on the list of runners-up?

Because for some reason "Kim's Bedroom" doesn't count as a real band. I'm not really sure who Kim's Bedroom is, or why it doesn't, but Google told me it was one of his earlier bands, and who was I to disagree?

Next time, I guess!

It looks like Gomez isn't actually opening for Ben Lee, contrary to what the Ben Lee website says. (sigh) Bollocks.

Posted by Sean at 3:31 PM | Comments (0)

peel slowly

Thanks to the magic of eBay, the VU Box-Set, Peel Slowly (or something like that), is on its way to me, for a slim $25 USD. Five CDs, including each of the Velvets' long-players and a motley crew of demos, out-takes, etc. Hooray.

Clinic's Walking With Thee was a massive disappointment. After the revelation Internal Wrangler was, Walking With Thee remains just as uninteresting as before. It lacks the variety of texture I.T. possesses, relying too much on garagey noise and sneers. Sad day.

The [Banquet of] Bees version of "A Minha Menina" is superior to the Os Mutantes original. But the thing that's killer on the Os Mutantes track is that bumblebee bass sound. Hoo boy. It makes me want to be a beetle, doing a scampery little dance on my bed.

Posted by Sean at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2003


Spent a weekend in Montreal. Finally burned my copy of the Broken Social Scene record so that I can listen to it (stripped of asinine copy protection) in my walkman, and listened to that for most of the trip up. On the way back, The Dears were my soundtrack. Both felt too noisy on the bus - the crowdedness and white noise and bad head-rests had already put me in a bad mood, and the records felt almost oppressive. I tried putting on some quieter stuff, though (Will Oldham, Julie Doiron,) but simply felt bored. Boo.

On the plus side, this evening I downloaded an mp3 rip of an Iron & Wine radio performance on KCRW's "Sounds Eclectic". KCRW is like the most amazing radio station in the world, it seems, playing deliriously good music - including stuff from NPR and CBC. The rotten part is that it's based out of California.

On the bright side, thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can listen to KCRW - and the station's archives - from as far away as snowy Canada. It's in RealAudio, but the quality is pretty good, and the stream is nice and secure. The Sounds Eclectic Archives are amazing: cool tracks, and in-studio performances by acts such as Bright Eyes, the Flaming Lips, Beck, the Flaming Lips with Beck, Damien Rice, and more. You must must must listen to the best bit of the Iron & Wine set: "Upward over the Mountain." It was the finest track off his (excellent) record to begin with, but this version has even more of the slow-growing urgency... If you like sad and quiet acoustic stuff - Nick Drake, Simon and Garfunkel, Bonnie Prince Billy, etc. - you'll love it.

On Friday, I was checking to see which shows were listed in Montreal over the weekend. Browsing Montrealshows' May listings, I was gobsmacked to see that Gomez was playing (!!!!). It had somehow slipped under my radar... Of course, by 'somehow,' I mean that they're opening (inexplicably) for Ben "Gwyneth Paltrow's Ex-Boyfriend" Lee, and I hadn't exactly researched that show in depth.

Regardless, this is Gomez (!!!). The Beatles aside, Gomez was my first favourite band, and though In Our Gun was a muddle, their first two records are thick, bluesy masterpieces. Julian - who is still climbing ropes and washing bathrooms with toothbrushes at boot-camp - is going to be so disappointed when he finds out he's missed them - they've been on our "Will Travel To See" list for years, now (along with Songs:Ohia, Radiohead and Sigur Ros).

Anyway, tix are at the Cabaret (good), only $16 or so (good), but the show is this Wednesday night (bad). I have work till 4, and work the next day. I could still make it (and come home in the earlyearly morning), but things are further mitigated by my sister's return to Canada after three months in Europe, that same night. She'd probably understand if I was absent, however - it is Gomez, after all.

Posted by Sean at 12:15 AM | Comments (0)

May 7, 2003

avril from the block

Just when I thought this album couldn't get any better, "Nobody's Fool" came on. Avril faux-raps! It's like The Streets, only vomituous! And from Napanee.

Posted by Sean at 6:50 PM | Comments (7)

let go

I am very disappointed at how much this Avril Lavigne record is not-good. "Sk8er Boi" and "Complicated" are great deals of fun - those are the tracks I had heard before pursuing the album proper - but nothing so far is anywhere near as yayitssummerdoodoodoodoo. The fatal flaw is probably how severely Let Go suffers from "Marketing". The songs shift from style to style, as if ensuring that there's something here for each demographic ("Losing Grip" is angry Alanis chickrock, "Sk8er Boi" is pop-punk, "Unwanted" is enormous, bombastic 'modern rock', "Tomorrow" is the pretty ["pretty sucky!"] ballad, "I'm With You" is American Idol-worthy...). I'd much rather she focused, Smash Mouth style, on her one killer genre.

Also: the muttered sexual stuff on "Things I'll Never Say" is very punk.

Posted by Sean at 6:44 PM | Comments (2)

May 6, 2003

a testament to youth in verse

Since it's not going to make the cut for my review of the New Pornographers' Electric Version, I might as well tell you: Dan Bejar (Destroyer) sounds like Stephen Malkmus' long-lost brother, like Uncle Drosselmeyer perched on a grandfather clock - wry, dark and wise.

I've been on a bit of a music burnout since listening to all that Grateful Dead this past weekend. I keep scanning my CD racks, trying desperately to find something I want to listen to. So far nothing is clicking, except for a wonderful track you can download here - Tom Zé's "Vai (Menina, Amanhã de Manhã". Oh, and Will Oldham's "Ohio River Song," and that weird record by Stars of the Lid, Tired Songs, but that's best for falling asleep to.

Universal asked me if we wanted to do a feature of Sam Roberts. Not sure what that would entail - an interview maybe? I don't know the guy at all; is he any good? Does anybody care - apart from radio DJs? He is a Montreal boy done good, though... Please advise!

I've also been having a lovely correspondence with David Neufeld, the (incredible) producer of the Broken Social Scene's You Forgot it in People, among others. I called attention to him in my review, and before I knew it, he had written me an email. A really, really interesting fellow... We'll see where this leads.

Boy, who recently moved to Toronto, will be doing a short tour, playing in TO (opening at The Rivoli), Montreal (Le Swimming) and Ottawa. A year ago, he was a revoltingly talented Whitehorse kid with a really good self-recorded album. Now, well, it looks like things are finally happening for him. (His website suggests there's a new album. Holy smokes.) Do check him out if you can - though I've never seen him live, Boy's (first) record is somewhere between Is This It? and Odelay (though his voice hints at Rufus Wainwright).

I'm trying to buy Clinic's Internal Wrangler on eBay, but people are giving me trouble.

Posted by Sean at 9:19 AM | Comments (1)

May 5, 2003

iTunes Store: 1 / RIAA: 0

iTunes Music Store Sells Over One Million Songs in First Week.

Holy crap! One million songs bought for $0.99 in a single week... from among Apple users (3% market-share, remember) in the USA alone.

Wow! Go music lovers! (Go Apple!) Finally, some proof that labels needn't be such paranoid dumb-asses about downloadable, burnable tracks.

Now if only the service would drift up north, Krispy-Kreme style... (oh, and it'd be nice if some indie labels were invited on board coughcoughcough).

Posted by Sean at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

May 4, 2003

radiohead hotline

If you want to listen to the mastered version of Radiohead's Hail to the Thief, and you live in the USA or Canada, call toll-free:


Once you make it through the bizarre Yorkean voicemail hell, the songs will be at your ear. [courtesy at ease]

[update 5/4/03: ack! I left out the last digit of the phone-number. There you go!]

Posted by Sean at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

May 3, 2003

bluesfest ahoy

I've been moving, and had little spare time in front of a computer. Also little time for music listening! But all that should change now.

The schedule for the Ottawa Bluesfest is coming in, and holy crazy cow god! The blues are one of the only genres of music I've been known to declare an acute dislike for - though this dislike refers primarily to electric blues - so it comes as a bit of a shock that the lineup for Bluesfest looks so fucking good. I shouldn't be that surprised at this point: the festival's been getting less and less bluesy with every passing year.

Anyway, check out some of the lineup highlights: Ben Harper, Elvis Costello, Gord Downie, Great Big Sea, Kool & the Gang, Blue Rodeo, The Trachtenburg Family Slide Show Players, Cinematic Orchestra, Orchestra Baobab, Antibalas, Jim Bryson, Howe Gelb (Giant Sand), Oh Susanna, Golden Famile, The Sadies, Nina Nastasia, The Dirtbombs... And the schedule is far from complete (rumours abound with regard to Sonic Youth, among others).

It's $85 for the pass, but probably money well spent! I may look into volunteering, to see if I can't squeeze out a cheaper route... Hopefully someone will want to join me, either way!

Ooh, and Royal City, Sarah Slean and Katherine Edwards are playing Tulipfest...

Posted by Sean at 4:59 PM | Comments (3)