January

We’ve conquered the first month of 2016 and it was a pretty rough one. We weren’t even halfway into January before we were dealing with the bittersweet new Bowie album. Add to that the post-holiday lull, the setting in of winter (for real), and what was once a beautiful blanket of pristine snow is now grey and in some cases a giant puddle of slush. (It’s a metaphor.)

I’ve had to wade through my share of slush puddles this month, and though I have great boots, sometimes you need a little bit more. Music, along with booze and cake is always the answer. I went to another successful edition of Art’s Birthday right smack in the middle of the month that featured all three of the above. All that booze and cake (and boozecake) really made me crash by the time Avec le soleil came on, but it was still an awesome show.

So what else is new this month?

The much anticipated album Take It Forever from one of my favorite music-positive people/bands on the internet: Beat Radio, is out now. I’ve been listening to the demos for over a year and it’s great to hear the songs fully fleshed out.


New music to file under impossible-supergroups-you-never-thought-you’d-hear-in-a-million-years is Wild Stab from The I Don’t Cares. Juliana Hatfield and Paul Westerberg together have me questioning whether this is real life. (I’m pretty sure it is.)


Pretty much love anything Eleanor Friedberger does. The new album is no exception.


And the new Hinds has some sweet gems, like this one.

February is on the horizon, which means better things. Stay tuned.

most listened to albums of 2015 (for the nerds)

On a similar note, here are my 15 most listened to albums of 2015 (with most listened to track in parentheses).

  1. Jesse Malin – New York Before the War (Addicted)
  2. Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp (Poison)
  3. Dan Mangan + Blacksmith – Club Meds (Club Meds)
  4. Franz Nicolay – To Us, The Beautiful (Marfa Lights)
  5. Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy (Dimed Out)
  6. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear (Chateau Lobby #4 [in C for Two Virgins])
  7. Siskiyou – Nervous (Imbecile Thoughts)
  8. Lady Lamb – After (Batter)
  9. Vincent D’Onofrio & Dana Lyn – Slim Bone Head Volt (Super Golden)
  10. Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer (Raising the Skate)
  11. Will Butler – Policy (Take My Side)
  12. Butch Walker – Afraid of Ghosts (Afraid of Ghosts)
  13. Hop Along – Painted Shut (Waitress)
  14. The Tallest Man on Earth – Dark Bird Is Home (Darkness of the Dream)
  15. Colleen Green – I Want To Grow Up (Deeper Than Love)

December – Best of 2015

Well, I’ve made it to December doing this monthly blogging thing and I think I’ll keep it going for 2016. For now though, it’s time to talk about 2015.

I once again compiled a Best Of list for this year and once again it was an arduous task. Since I really started focusing on new music back in 2012, I’ve made a lot of discoveries each year, made huge strides in bucking that silly no new music after 33 idea, and been way more excited in general about the stuff I’m listening to. All of this has been an attempt to stay involved (evolved?) in music and not just keep listening to the same things I always have. It’s good for your brain.

Anyway, here we go. After much listening with my End of Year ear, agonizing over multiple tracks from the same artist or album, performing some March Madness style witchery, and breaking things down to sheer poetry + sound, I arrived upon 15 songs I think catalog the year in the best possible way. There are lots of links. Click away.

Franz Nicolay – Marfa Lights from To Us, The Beautiful

everybody’s full to bursting, and gonna pop
ready for the breaking & burning
and certain of a bigger kind of love

Did I hear it live? Yeah, next to an indoor half pipe.

Colleen Green – Deeper Than Love from I Want to Grow Up

i’m shitty and i’m lame and i’m dumb and i’m a bore
and once you get to know me you won’t love me anymore

Did I hear it live? No, but I did see her perform most of the rest of the album. Sadly I think this little gem with a driving Tainted Love/Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) background is a bit too complicated to play live?

Speedy Ortiz – Raising the Skate from Foil Deer

i’m not bossy, i’m the boss

Did I hear it live? Nope, slept on seeing them this year.

Siskiyou – Imbecile Thoughts from Nervous

you’re gonna need some money
a whole lotta money
you’re gonna need it until you die

Did I hear it live? Nope. Did they even tour?

Waxahatchee – Poison from Ivy Tripp

while your short-term memory’s slipping
you’ll improvise, travel the world ivy tripping
with no spotlight

Did I hear it live? Nope, slept on this one too, with much regret.

Lady Lamb – Batter from After

a body’s sacred when it’s naked
so go ahead and let it be a bible for another
blood’s your compass let it wander
may it stick thick like a slaughter
halle, halle, hallelujah

Did I hear it live? See above. I think it was the same silly, sleepy month.

Father John Misty – Bored in the USA from I Love You, Honeybear

is this the part where i get all i ever wanted?
who said that?
can i get my money back?

Did I hear it live? Indeed I did, at Osheaga in the blazing sun, and it was epic.

Chastity Belt – Cool Slut from Time to Go Home

to all the girls in the world
trying to take off their shirts
ladies it’s okay to be
it’s okay to be slutty

Did I hear it live? Nope, once again I was asleep at the switch.

Jenny Hval – That Battle Is Over from Apocalypse, Girl

statistics and newspapers tell me i am unhappy and dying
that i need man and child to fulfill me, that i’m more likely to get breast cancer
and it’s biology, it’s my own fault, it’s divine punishment of the unruly
it’s fearful out here on the calmest seas

Did I hear it live? Thankfully, yes, and it was brilliant. This song is the gift that keeps on giving. It explains everything always.

Shilpa Ray – Pipe Dreams Ponzi Schemes from Last Year’s Savage

i’ve got my free will
and nobody’s gonna be my man
so thank god
if all i take is your money

Did I hear it live? Sadly, no, but I would have in a heartbeat.

Beach House – Wildflower from Depression Cherry

you built a city
all in your head
triangle of every light
it turns you on every night

Did I hear it live? No, but I have tickets to seem them in March!

Titus Andronicus – Come On, Siobhan from The Most Lamentable Tragedy

we’re just two catholic kids out on the run
either from god or a guy with a gun

Did I hear it live? No, but I did see them.

CHVRCHES – Never Ending Circles from Every Open Eye

here’s to taking what you came for
and here’s to running off the pain
and here’s to just another no man
if you want another, say you need another
here’s to never ending circles
and building them on top of me
Did I hear it live? No. They played at Osheaga on the day I wasn’t there.

Jesse Malin – San Francisco from Outsiders

i’m happy when you’re gone
baby you can bring it on

Did I hear it live? Yes, and I’ve been waiting probably over four years for its proper release. Check out the video above from 2011.

Grimes – Kill V. Maim from Artangels

i got friends in high places, i get out for free
i got in a fight but they don’t know me
cause i’m only a man
and i do what i can

Did I hear it live? Nope, the Montreal show sold out in seconds and I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway. This song kills me though. (It’s also apparently written from the perspective of Al Pacino in The Godfather Pt 2, except he’s a vampire who can switch gender and travel through space)!!!! Also parts of it sound like late 80s Top 40 Radio shit, so it lights up my hidden preteen feelings.

And there you have it. Listening to the whole thing as a mix gives me 2015 feelings. I prescribe it at max volume as your New Year medicine. Enjoy!

November

I made it to a total of 0 shows this month. I am in fact missing one right now to stay at home and watch cartoons and write this post. This is not entirely a bad thing though. I’ve been extra busy doing other things, and then staying at home drinking wine and making dinners from scratch to wind down at night, and of course there’s been knitting and the prerequisite cocooning that comes with November in Montreal. That all being said, I’m planning on going out to see someone, somewhere before the year ends. December Will Be Magic.

And this doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping an ear out for cool stuff. Here’s what I found.

October

In an effort to stay out of trouble and to take advantage of still being able to walk around the city without freezing my limbs off, I went to many shows this month. Here’s a roundup of a few of them.

I started the month with Destroyer who I saw for the first time 10 years ago now. As always, this show did not disappoint. The highlight was a couple right at the front desperately trying to get Dan Bejar’s attention throughout the show, which is tantamount to trying to get a cat to make eye contact. He did not oblige, but gently collected the flowers they had thrown before leaving the stage after the encore. Brilliant.

Then on Canadian Thanksgiving I saw Jesse Malin at Divan Orange. I was glad to see that he had drawn a little crowd since some of his shows here have been sparsely attended. It was a nice way to spend a Monday night.

The Titus Andronicus show mid-month had a weird vibe. Maybe it’s just the way in which they’ve remodeled, but it seems like Le Ritz is only ever half full anymore. The space in better in lots of ways, but I miss that crazy party feeling you used to get when the room was packed.

I saw Alvvays, almost a year and a half after their epic self titled album came out. They were great live, but I think it would have been better if I had seen them when their album was still fresh. A cover of Camera Obscura’s Hey Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken and Red Planet were the highlights. I think they’re releasing something new soon?

And finally, I co-hosted a remote broadcast of New Shit, live from Casa del Popolo for CKUT’s annual Funding Drive. We had some gorgeous performances from Ylang Ylang and Old Haunt. You can stream it here for the next few months. Coming up this Monday (11/02/15) I’m going to be hosting New Shit again, so tune in here from 3-5pm EST. I’ll be spinning lots of awesome tunes to guide you through the new darkness.

There are only two more months left to 2015, which means new releases are trickling to a halt and before you know it everyone will be talking Best of 2015 lists. I am not immune.

Some things to tide you over until next time…

September

Oh hey, September’s over. Imagine that.

I started the month with a much anticipated Jenny Hval show, which was wild and weird in all the right ways. Spoiler alert: everyone was wearing a wig.

Then Pop Montreal came around again and though I didn’t go out every night I did manage to catch a few shows. I was there for Ought’s new record release. I hadn’t seen them since two Pop Montreal’s ago, and they certainly have matured as a band, taking up a bigger stage with far more confidence than when I witnessed a quick little set in a nondescript room over a restaurant.

I then managed to pack the rest of my Pop shows into one day, seeing Nicholas Thorburn cover Wilco, Jonathan Richman & Arthur Russell in the afternoon rain; watching Lee Ranaldo play thunderous guitar and sneak a few lines of Joni Mitchell into an already melancholy enough song in a Ubisoft conference room; and finishing it all off with a Babes In Toyland reunion that literally brought me to tears. I don’t think I really had a clue about how much their songs shaped who I am until hearing them live. Best and most necessary reunion ever. Saved my life.


 

I’ll leave you with some good stuff that came out recently…

August (and everything after)

I finished July and started August off attending Osheaga’s 10th anniversary edition. Highlights were Father John Misty, Strand of Oaks, Gary Clark Jr., Broods, and Marina & The Diamonds. However, few could match up to Friday’s highlight, Young Fathers. I wrote all about their set here.

By the time we got to the end of the month, I got to see Colleen Green play one of my favorite songs of the year at Brasserie Beaubien, which I last visited on what felt like the coldest day of the year back in January. Living in a city with such vast temperature changes really puts things in perspective. I like extremes.

August finished with a whole lot of promising records being released. Here are a few choice cuts. Until next time…