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Alternative Music

Flame-haired American songstress Tori Amos turned 50 this month. Fifty years old! Above is her video from her first solo album, 1992’s Little Earthquakes, for the single Silent All These Years. The simple piano accompaniment throughout most of the song is very characteristic of Amos’ early works, and I actually really enjoy the vintage feel of the music video. When I think about Tori Amos entering her fifth decade, I think about the talented female musicians today, and the debates about feminism in pop culture. And there sure are a lot of talk about the feminism label amongst female musicians these days.

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Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Atoms for Peace, and Nigel Godrich of Atoms for Peace (and Radiohead’s producer) were in the news recently when they took a stance against Spotify by criticizing the music streaming website’s economic model. The musicians pulled out all albums from Atoms for Peace, Godrich’s band Ultraísta, and Thom Yorke’s solo work from the website and sparked a conversation about the modern difficulties of musicians earning a living.

The topic is elaborated in an article for The New Yorker and one in Pitchfork, and the fact that Yorke and Godrich brought attention to this issue reminds me how much I love these artists in addition to their creative work. I discovered Radiohead as a teen and have been a big fan of their work — including non-Radiohead projects such as Yorke’s solo work and Atoms for Peace, and his collaboration with Burial and Four Tet — but Radiohead will always be my first love. And one of my favourite videos by Radiohead is Street Spirit (Fade Out) from their sophomore album, The Bends (1995). The video was directed by Brit Johnathan Glazer whose work for Radiohead includes Karma Police from 1997’s OK Computer and Rabbit in Headlights for Yorke’s work with U.N.K.L.E., as well as two videos for another favourite, Massive Attack. This video, above, is absolutely perfect for the song and was filmed in the desert outside Los Angeles in black and white. The visuals are moving, breathtaking, and beautiful, and is one of my favourite videos of all time. Click above to watch.

Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is ten years old this year but I still love to play this song and feel nostalgic. The song (“My Angus Please Stay”) is a garage rock ballad written for lead singer Karen O’s then-boyfriend, and is just the perfect love song; Rolling Stone named it the 7th best song of the 2000’s, and it stands at #6 on Pitchfork Media’s top 500 songs of the same decade.

Thankfully the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s released their fourth full-length studio album in April. The band issued a music video for their second third single, Despair, three days ago from the album Mosquito which includes collaborations with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and Dr. Octagon (OMG Dr. Octagon!). The song, like Maps, showcases what the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are capable of — a wide range of styles from the punk-influenced rock of their earlier days (see “Y Control“) to danceable pop-electro hits like Heads Will Roll, to reflective love songs. Karen O’s voice is also so versatile and well suited for these wide range of styles, which makes me excited about discovering all the songs off of Mosquito.

Noisey, through Vice.com, offers a preview of all the songs off the new album, as well as very awkward band commentary showing how shy and quiet the band members are in real life. I actually kind of love this, especially considering O’s onstage band persona (i.e. jumping around in her wacky, custom-made outfits), as it show how the band members are just introverted art-nerds making rock music. How can you not love that?

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“We are Londoners so we are used to rain. But the enthusiasm and support despite the weather is amazing.”

This is what the bassist and vocalist, Oliver Sims of The xx, said to the drenched crowd on Friday night here in Montréal. And it was true. Everyone was ecstatic and there were even some free-spirited concert goers dancing in the rain. A great concert can make for a great experience regardless of the season. But Montréal is high precipitation city and hosting an outdoor concert can mean some unfavourable temperatures. The xx and Grizzly Bear landed here on a cloudy day, fragile to the threat of rain that sprinkled on and off on Friday. As optimistic as I wanted to feel about the weather that day, it ended up pouring like cats and dogs by the end of the night at Lachine Canal.

I had dressed appropriately with layers under my rain coat, had pulled on my tall rain boots, and hauled my big umbrella. But this city rains more than my hometown of Toronto — and of course Montréal gets more snow as well. At last year’s Osheaga, a violent rain storm drenched the concert for at least one of the three days of the music festival.

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Songza Concierge

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, is on day two of three for Weekend One, and I am assuming that if you are reading this you are not there.

I definitely am not, but instead weathered the storm of snow and freezing rain all day yesterday here in Montréal. (That is right. We had a snow storm in April.) Misery loves company so what is the best way to take part in Coachella when you are not there? Through Songza, of course.

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Have you seen this?

The video is a few days old and is an instalment of the Ask a Grown Man series from Rookie Magazine. You know, the online teen girl magazine founded by Tavi Gevinson, the fashion blogger extraordinaire, who is also editor-in-chief? Rookie Magazine, like Tavi, is both smart and wise, and populated with illustrations, videos, and other submissions from staff and readers, as well as the adorable Ask a Grown Man advice series that features various celebrities answering reader submitted questions regarding their love lives. Jimmy Fallon, Judd Apatow, and Jon Hamm have all participated.

So the video above features Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich of Atoms for Peace (Nigel also produces the work of Thom’s main band, Radiohead). Here, you can watch Thom and Nigel give some sound and practical advice for readers ages fourteen to nineteen on questions such as how to identify whether you like a boy, anxieties about body image, and being too shy to speak to your crush. They share personal wisdom in their answers and the result is great and sound advice for viewers of any age. Even us grown ups.

iTunes

If you are a student or someone who likes to work with music, you are in good company. I love music, I played years of classical piano (though not very well), and I love discovering artists both old and new. I once had much more enthusiasm about visiting live music concerts, but nowadays I rely on friends, music streaming services, and music review websites to lead me to new gems. Either way, I am that kind of person who always has ear buds popped into my ears: On my commute to class, working out, studying, and at home doing chores.

Hence, I started this series, Things That Go Thump in the Night, for the purpose of sharing some music favourites to readers and anyone who should stop by in this jungle that is The Internet. The musicians and tracks that I have listed are specifically ones that I lean on for work purposes, since most of my time these days is devoted to school — and this time often runs into the wee hours of the night. I love playlists, and am sort of a nerdy, secret DJ for building soundtracks to various aspects of my life. This means that I have a playlist for when I am happy, when I feel like #@*!, for running, for less intense exercises, when I want to relax, and so on. I also have a playlist that I play for studying purposes. These tracks are usually mainly instrumental, are not too slow in tempo (so that I do not fall asleep face forward in the library), and are of various genres to keep things interesting.

I sometimes get requests from friends for music recommendations for studying purposes. I always end up making these friends a burned CD with various selections from this study music playlist, which leads me to designing the CD cover and case, old school style. So I thought, why not make a few blog posts about this playlist? And here we are, at part four of this music series.

So far, I have covered three lists of favourite music for productivity. Part one covered the electronic genre, part two for alternative music, and jazz for part three. Part four of this segment is an array of different genres and musicians which I did not include in any of the earlier posts for various reasons, mainly because I wanted to minimize the length of each blog post. Hence, here I am covering some other great music resources: Sigur Rós, Phoenix, The Herbaliser, Fantastic Plastic Machine, and Keith Jarrett.

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