Well, well, well. The week from hell is now behind me, and we’re set in for a nice, long relaxing week. The boss is away for the entire duration of this week, and if you’re reading this, I’ll assume that my trans-city powers have been activated and I’ve been able to send this column out from the not-so-safe confines of Maison Freisens right smack dab in the middle of Scooterville. Yeah, I’m in Edmonton this weekend to hang with a friend who flew in from Toronto to cover the Junos and to have some laughs, and to have some fun. Or at least attempt to, up here in Edmonton. Sorry, that’s my Calgarian-bias creeping in here. It’s not that I don’t like Edmonton, it’s just that I wish that this place would, you know, get with the times and stop living in the 80s. Enough with the mullets and pretending that you still have a half decent hockey franchise, you jokers*.
As for the Juno shite? Well, I was able to hobnob around with a bunch of Canada’s ‘elite’ in the music industry, which was pretty cool. I have to say that it’s pretty f*cking weird seeing Fefe Dobson walking around with say, Murray from The Dears or Ryan Malcom (our Canadian Idol….ugh). Add in the fact that our Prime Minister was there and it created a very weird vibe. Imagine going to a party where George W. Bush, the Bitch Queen of MTV, Clay Aiken, the Flaming Lips, and Eminem were all attending.
ANYWAYS, enough babbling from yours truly, your humble servant and music nerd. Today is Sunday, which means it is my job to bring you…
– So the top story ties into the party I was at, as Canada’s Heritage Minister, Helene Scherrer, promised to ‘fill in the holes’ to make file sharing illegal up here in Canada. This was met with obvious applause and cheering from the industry types at this party I was at. I don’t know exactly how Scherrer is going to fix this problem, and I’m pretty sure that Scherrer doesn’t know how she’s going to fix this, either. Honestly, this was just your atypical pandering to your audience and I don’t think much of anything will be done by the federal government to try and clean up filesharing…considering they have enough problems of their own to be dealing with. Ha, ha ha.
– Um, for those of you who have no idea what you a Canadian judge ruled that file sharing is a’okay up here in the Great White North. Earlier this week, a Federal Court judge ruled that downloading and sharing files does not constitute copyright infringement in and of itself. As such, 29 lawsuits that were filed against Canadian p2pers was thrown out as the judge stated that there was no evidence either way that the supposed copyright breakers ‘distributed or authorized the reproduction of sound recordings’, saying instead that all they did was to place ‘personal copies into their shared directories which were accessible by other computer users via a p2p service.’
The judge went on to say that he couldn’t see the difference between a library that places a photocopy machine in a room full of copyrighted material and a computer user that places a personal copy on a shared directory linked to a p2p service. The Canadian equivalent of the RIAA, the CRIA, plans to appeal this decision in a move that surprises absolutely no one.
While I’m happy at the ruling itself, I’m not sure I entirely agree with the exact ruling that the judge handed down. The library analogy, while semi appropiate, ignores the fact that libraries are allowed to loan out hordes of copyrighted material to people to use, and tend to be publically funded. I won’t be surprised at all if this ruling is overturned, but as of right now, anything’s fair game up here! Woo!
– John 5, the numerically enhanced guitarist for ‘shock’ rock group Marilyn Manson has parted ways with the group. Meanwhile, Manson and his cohorts are in the studio working on some material for inclusion on a ‘best of’ compilation that’ll be due out later this fall. Look for a cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ to make it’s way onto this spin.
– Record label EMI is putting itself on the chopping block in a series of cuts that will help to ‘maximize efficiency and effectiveness in the changing global music marketplace’. Approximately 20% of the label’s staff will be let go, and certain acts will also be dropped from the label. Despite what some of you may be thinking (hi, RIAA goons), this is not cause for alarm, as these sorts of cuts have been ongoing pretty much since big business was invented. The old truism of ‘do more with less…NOW’ rears it’s ugly head.
– Okay, so by now everyone’s heard the whole brouhaha about Dre nixing his Detox album. ABBA reported on it earlier this week, but the OTHER big news coming out this week regardin das hippity hoppity would be the announcement that the Roots are going to be releasing a new album in June. The Tipping Point. The album is going to feature a slew of guest appearances including Jean Grae (not to be confused with the TK using Jean GRAY of X-Men fame…), Devin the Dude, Bilal, Jaguar Wright, Martin Luther and Dave Chappelle of the Chappelle Show appearing on it. Producers that have contributed to the disc are 9th Wonder, the Neptunes, Rjd2 and Scott ‘Dre’s Album Is Going To Make The Blind See And Courtney Love Talented’ Storch. Should be a good disc, as I happened to like 2002’s Phrenology.
– More lawsuits are coming from the recording industry this week, although this time they aren’t aimed at Americans. According to NME’s website, lawsuits hit “Europe” today, with 247 suits being filed against p2p users in Denmark, Italy, Germany and….Canada?
Umm, someone should go and tell NME that we’re no longer part of the Crown, having achieved Confederation waaay back in 1867. Also, someone should go and tell NME that Canada is not part of EUROPE. But then again, no one really seriously takes what NME has to say seriously anymore, so I guess there’s no real issue here, now is there? Hoo ha!
– Justin ‘I’m 27 but I look like I’m a white James Brown’ Hawkins, vocalist of The Darkness, is apparently going to be filling Freddie Mercury’s shoes at an upcoming 30th anniversary gig later this year, so sayeth ABBA. Now, okay, you f*ckers, this joke has gone too far. Yeah, is the Darkness album amusing? Sure it is! Are the guys who play on it actually pretty talented? Sure! Should an idiot scrub from Wankershire, England be allowed to ‘be’ Freddie Mercury at a tribute show alongside the original members of Queen? FUCK NO!!!
Seriously. Enough is enough, guys. Ha ha, joke’s over. Go back to working at the gas station job you had before the record industry execs decided to make stars out of your limey asses.
Gah. I mean, Freddie Mercury. He shared the stage with BOWIE. There’s just SOME things you don’t do, and this whole fugly mess ranks right up there with Ian Ashbury from The Cult hooking up with The Doors and forming The Doors redux. What’s next? The Beatles II? Sickening.
– PJ Harvey will be coming out with a new CD in May, after going more or less unnoticed for the last 4 years or so. Uh Hu Her will be coming out May 31st in the UK, with a US release to follow shortly thereafter. This album is the follow-up to 2000’s Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, which narrowly missed the Billboard Top 40 and earned her a Mercury Music Prize. Tracklisting for Uh Hu Her is:
01 The Life and Death of Mr. Badmouth
03 Who the Fuck?
04 The Pocket Knife
05 The Letter
06 The Slow Drug
07 No Child of Mine
08 Cat on the Wall
09 You Come Through
10 It’s You
11 The End
12 The Desperate Kingdom of Love
– Preproduction for a Michael Jackson movie has begun here in my hometown of Calgary, AB. VH1 is planning a film that’ll detail everything from the dizzying heights he enjoyed as the Prince of Pop and as a baby-dangler, to the now current legal problems he’s facing as a result of being one complete and utter screwball. What I don’t exactly get is WHY Calgary of all places. Surely LA would have a higher ‘weirdo’ quotient….what’s this? Hart Family? Oh. Oh shit. Nevermind.
– For those of you who were planning on checking out A Perfect Circle’s most recent set of dates this past week, looks like you aren’t going to be able to right away. Lead man Maynard James Keenan fell ill prior to a show in Las Vegas on Monday, prompting the show there to be cancelled in addition to a March 31st show in Sacramento, an April 1st show in Long Beach and a April 2nd date in San Diego. The San Diego and Long Beach shows have been rescheduled for April 6th and 7th, resulting in the postponing of shows in Boise, Spokane and Vancouver.
In related APC news, the band looks to wrap their current tour up by June and then go their separate ways for awhile. Keenan will hook back up with his Tool bandmates to continue work on the latest Tool disc, while guitarist/songwriter for APC, Billy Howerdel, will begin work on a solo album.
– In a story that’s just a little too weird NOT to see inclusion here at Sunday Bloody Sunday, a French rock star (I know, I know, I’m just as surprised as you that they exist…now that I’ve pissed off the French, let the comments fly about the fact that all you dear readers are surprised that CANADA has any ‘rock stars’…), Bertrand Cantat, was sentenced to 8 years for beating to death his girlfriend, Marie Trintignant, last July in Lithuania. Yeah, a French dude murdered someone in Lithuania and is now going to jail over it. What the hell. This isn’t make to provoke any of my American readers, but, I had honestly thought that we here in North America more or less had the market cornered on insane celebrity behavior, as it’s usually the PRESS and PAPARAZZI that are the crazy ones over in Europe.
What’s even more amusing with this whole spectacle is that Trintignant was known for portraying brutalised women in a number of films over the years, and that Cantat had argued that her death was nothing more than a tragic accident. Really weird case of art imitating life, I suppose.
If anyone has any information regarding what Cantat SOUNDS like (he plays in a band called Noir Desir), shoot me an e-mail and lemme know what you think of him, and what you think of this situation. I’m of the mind that this was just another pompous rock star who got a little too hot under the collar and…blammo. Kind of like a wussy Steve Austin or OJ Simpson, I guess.
– No book recommendation this week as I found nothing due out/forthcoming that was all that interesting. For extra credit, go and pick up Stephen King’s book On Writing, if you fancy yourself a writer and are looking for a way to get your game on.
Anti-Pop: Give Them Blood And They’ll Love You For It
I always do plugs last for the column, as I need to wait for everyone to get their stuff posted. I’m also using a really old and slow laptop to type this up, so I’m going to dispense with the flowery write ups for everyone. It doesn’t mean that I don’t LUVS YA.
So, going backwards we have:
The Undisputed 411 Music Zone Writer.
Mr. YOU plays a prank. I’ll let you find it yourself.
And Tom is back again.
Okay, well, the Junos are tonight, which are more or less the Canadian version of the Grammys. By that I mean, they’re a music awards ceremony that tends to honor the ‘best’ in those fields, but is wholly Canadian and is 100 times worse than the Grammys themselves. Why is that, you ask? Well, unlike the Grammys, us poor Canuckleheads have none of the glitz and glamor that surround the Grammys. No cool performances or anything like that. Nah, we just have an awards ceremony that’s essentially….an awards ceremony. Profound, isn’t it?
Anyways, since I did my own predictions and blathering on for the Grammys…why don’t I do something for the Junos? I need something to brag about to show that I ‘know’ more than those stupid record industry types, so, without further adieu, I bring you the 2004 Junos!
Single Of The Year
Billy Talent – ‘Try Honesty’
Nelly Furtado – ‘Powerless (Say What You Want)’
Nickelback – ‘Someday’
Our Lady Peace – ‘Innocent’
Shaye – ‘Happy Baby’
Who should win: Billy Talent, if only because the rest of the titles on this list nauseate me to the Nth degree and Billy Talent aren’t THAT bad for being the new kids on the block. Nickelback’s best days are behind them, so I doubt they’re going to pick up anything except a token nod this year. And don’t get me started on Our Lady Peace or Shaye….the latter of whom has been less than a blip on the Canadian musical radar this year.
Who is going win: Either Billy Talent or Nelly Furtado. Since I’m expecting Nelly to rack up the wins ELSEWHERE, look for this one to go to Billy Talent.
Album Of The Year
Michael Buble – ‘s/t’
Celine Dion – ‘One Heart’
Nelly Furtado – ‘Folklore’
Sarah McLachlan – ‘Afterglow’
Nickelback – ‘The Long Road’
Sam Roberts – ‘We Were Born In A Flame’
Who should win: Well, I’m going to be biased and go out and say that the only one really all that deserving of a Juno is Sam Roberts with his debut full length. It’s a well put together record, it sold well, and he’s been hugely popular the past year and some. However, Sam is going to be overshadowed by the return of Sarah McLachlan and industry pet Nelly Furtado (remember that ‘I’m Like A Bird’ song? That was her…), and is also going to be going up against Michael Buble, who will forever be known as the most blandest man ever to go and rip off Frank Sinatra’s schtick, but somehow has become the darling of soccer moms and enfeebled old farts the nation over.
Who is going to win: Sarah McLachlan or Sam Roberts. McLachlan can’t afford to get snubbed after being out of the spotlight for 7 years, but Sam had an amazing year and looks to be continuing to be going places, so look for this one to become the battle of Lillith Fair against suburban Jesus. In a narrow victory, my money ends up on The Jesus.
Artist Of The Year
Who should win: Anyone who isn’t Shawn f*cking Desman. Canada’s answer to Justin Timberlake does not deserve to be nominated for ANYTHING, aside from a shit kicking. Yes, I’ll take a Celine victory here if it means that Desman’s continued ‘success’ isn’t encouraged.
Who is going to win: Anyone who isn’t Shawn f*cking Desman. That is a result I can easily live with.
Group Of The Year
Our Lady Peace
Who should win: Barenaked Ladies actually almost went back to form with their latest, while the guys who basically wrote the book on Corporate Rock Sell-Out 101, Finger Eleven, enjoyed their biggest year to date with their crappy nu-metal disc. I don’t know, this category is a real crapshoot and I can’t be bothered to care about any of the groups listed here. No one really deserves to win here, but I’ll go BNL simply because they’re the lesser of the five evils.
Who is going to win: Nickelback, I think, in order to give a half nod to them. They can’t really give THAT much attention to them, as their fifteen minutes are almost up, but to ignore them completely in their home province would be plain stupid. So….eeh. Hannah’s ‘finest’ gets it here.
New ‘Artist’ Of The Year
Who should win: Someone who isn’t on this list. Seriously, were we lacking that badly for new talent this year that we couldn’t have dredged up something a little NICER this year? For those of you who are truly observant, you’ll notice that I have the word artist in quotations here. That’s because none of these jokers are people that I’d call ‘artists’ on their good days and believe me, NONE of these guys have very many ‘good days’.
Who is going to win: Are you kidding me? In what will most likely be the easiest decision this year, Michael Buble by a landslide. Unless the industry completely loses their minds and rigs it so that say…Kazzer, idiot that he is, actually ends up winning this.
‘New’ Group Of The Year
Three Days Grace
Who should win: The Dears, despite the fact that they’ve been around for 10+ years and are hardly a ‘new’ band. For a more detailed explanation, check out Sound Advice at the end of this spiel.
Who is going to win: This category really comes down to 2 worthwhile choices: Billy Talent and Three Days Grace. Since I think that Billy Talent is going to win another award with best single, I expect Three Days Grace, who have been able to break through into the States, which apparently counts a whole hell of a lot more than decent songwriting and musical talent, to walk away with the victory here.
Songwriter Of The Year
Kathleen Edwards – Failer
Nelly Furtado – Folklore
Sarah McLachlan – Afterglow
Ron Sexsmith – Rarities
Hawksley Workman – Lover/Fighter
Who should win: Hawksley Workman. No ifs, ands or buts.
Who is going to win: Nelly Furtado and her army of songwriters who helped her write this track. I honestly don’t know why the industry has got such a hard on for Furtado. I mean, her first CD was fairly good and I actually ended up getting comped for a show she did up in Calgary, but her latest was a pretty rancid endeavor. But whatever, Nelly needs to show the disenfranchised Portugese-Canadians that yes, even you can win a Juno if you try hard enough, so let her get it here.
Rap Recording Of The Year
BrassMunk – Dark Sunrise
Choclair – Flagrant
IRS – Welcome To Planet IRS
Mr. Roam – Tom Strokes Presents The ClasSix Plus Six
Sweatshop Union – Natural Progression
Who should win: BrassMunk. One of the more interesting rap albums I’ve heard that came from Canada. For those of you who don’t know who these guys are, imagine a bunch of rappers using a horn section to rap over as opposed to your traditional ‘beats’. For every song. It sounds pretty cool and stands out from the rest of the shit that’s out there. The IRS CD was pretty good, although I never had a chance to listen to it more than one or two times so I don’t know how it holds up after repeated listenings.
Who is going to win: Choclair. Because why should the industry take a chance on a new artist when an old standby like Choclair can maintain the status quo just fine? The poor man’s version to Jay Z will take the victory here. Whoopty f*ck.
Rock Album Of The Year
Billy Talent – s/t
Danko Jones – We Sweat Blood
Nickelback – The Long Road
Sam Roberts – We Were Born In A Flame
Sum 41 – Does This Look Infected?
Who should win: Sum 41 and Nickelback’s discs sucked a proverbial dick, while Danko Jones did absolutely nothing worthwhile this year with his new disc. Seriously, he’s becoming more and more of a joke as he seems to put out a new album every year and it sounds worse and worse as time goes by. This goes down to Sam Roberts and Billy Talent and really, I can see Sammy walking away with it here….not Eileen. Yeah, okay, I’ll stop with the lame lyric inspired ‘puns’ here.
Who is going to win: For once me and the Junos will agree and Sam Roberts will get the award here.
Alternative Album Of The Year
Buck 65 – Talkin’ Honky Blues
Constantines – Shine A Light
Joel Plaskett Emergency – Truthfully, Truthfully
Stars – Heart
Weakerthans – Reconstruction Site
Who should win: The Weakerthans. Bloody brillant CD that I just recently started getting into. I was never a big Propaghandi fan, so sitting down and listening to these guys was a pleasant surprise given my expectations of them. The Constantines would also be acceptable for an award here, as their CD is quite good as well. The rest…eeh.
Who is going to win: Buck 65. This guy is horrible as a ‘rapper’ and I don’t know what else he is trying to accomplish with his CD. I can’t stand him but the industry seems to be in love with him, so, what do I know about ‘good’ music? Apparently a whole lot if I think this yahoo sucks.
And that’s the Junos! Tune in to CBC later tonight if you live in Canada to watch, if you want (although I would advise against it), and you can start reading again if you’re a non-Canadian who finds this talk of an awards show to be painfully boring.
This week we’ll be taking at a Juno nominated group. For those that read my Juno picks, you’ll know that the band I’m going to be writing about here are Montreal based group, The Dears. However, since there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the week for me to fit in, I’m going to go a little skimpy on the details. With that said…
The group was formed way back in 1995, with lead singer Murray Lightburn heading up the group. Numerous personnel shuffles have occurred over the years, with the current line up being Natalia Yanchak doing synth and vocals, Valerie Jodon-Keaton also doing vocals as well as keyboards, Rob Benvie on guitar, Martin Pelland doing bass, with George Donoso Ill round out the group as drummer. The group is more or less an indie kid’s wet dream, with their sound and feel. Lightburn at times reminds me of a black version of Damon Albarn from Blur, as his voice has that sort of British feel to it, and the band works in the studio relentlessly on tracks; in fact, one recording session resulted in the group scrapping the entire set of masters as they didn’t like the end result. Add in grandiose arrangements involving horn sections and strings and you essentially have The Dears.
I’ve caught the group a couple of times live, and they’re pretty damn good. (As an aside, one of the times I caught The Dears was when they had Reverie Sound Revue, another Sound Advice inductee, open for them, so for those of you who have checked out RSS, this is ALONG the same sort of lines, although not IDENTICAL…). The group become very emotionally charged in their performances and blow people away with what they have to offer. At one show, I recall Murray going up and kissing a random girl in the audience as that’s what he had felt he should do whilst in the middle of the song. They’re that sort of a group and are always willing to provide an interesting show.
The band have a number of CDs out, you should be able to get them off of Amazon’s website. The titles are:
Nor The Dahlias (The early, early stuff from them, not recommended unless you’ve checked out their other material first)
Orchestral Pop Noir Romantique
End Of A Hollywood Bedtime Story
No Cities Left
Off those, real quick, tunes worth checking out would be:
– ‘Lost In The Plot’
– ‘Heartless Romantic’
– ‘Where The World Ends’
– ‘No Cities Left’
– ‘The Second Part’
And that’s it. Cheer them on tomorrow at the Junos for me, would you? They’re up for best ‘new’ group, despite having been around for 10 years or so.
The Dears, Canada’s answer to Fountains Of Wayne, and for once, our equivalent is FAR superior to the American original.
The End Is The Beginning Is The End
This isn’t going to be very long, as I’m going to finish watching the last 2 periods of the Vancouver Canucks capturing the division title from the Avalanche, and then going out to do other….things. I’ll leave that all to your imagination, that’s fo sheezy.
Check out Hellboy, out in theatres this weekend. Good old fashioned action flick. Buy the Dears, or download some Faint if you really want something new.
Much love to Steph, Nancy, Sarah, Melissa, Ryan, Bryce, and anyone else who has been involved in my wacky Scooterville shenanigans and were able to make them possible. Mighty Melchor will be in tomorrow to take over for me and carry us through the week. Now, BACK TO THE PARTYIN’! WHOO!