Monday, December 26, 2005

I went to Stratford to spend Christmas with my mom. We had a low-key but very nice few days together. She had her house beautifully decorated inside and out. Here's her Christmas tree.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

My full-time gig at Chart, my book deadline, freelance assignments and a few other things have kept me rather hermited for the past six weeks, and I haven't been going out much or surfing the Net for interesting things to report on. Therefore, I both haven't had much time to write in the blog and haven't had a whole lot to write about anyway. But I should be returning more to my normal life (well, what's normal for me, anyway) in the coming weeks and will hopefully be posting more regularly again.
Whatever holiday you celebrate, celebrate it to the fullest and be good to the ones you love.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for your patience and understanding. Don't jump ship just yet. I'll be back soon.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Rheostatics were also on the True North bill with Colin Linden, 54.40 and the Golden Dogs at Lee's Palace during North By Northeast. I didnt mean to omit them, but I guess my fingers were once again moving faster than my brain when I was typing. Sorry about that.
I've been asked to contribute a list of my favourite albums of 2005 to a few different sources. Well, the suspense is finally over. Here they are:

1.THE RAVEONETTES - Pretty In Black
3. THE HIGH SPEED SCENE - The High Speed Scene
4. KAISER CHIEFS - Employment
5. FRANZ FERDINAND - You Could Have It So Much Better
7. THE MENDOZA LINE - Full Of Light And Full Of Fire
8. HOLY MICROPHONE - Goodbye Television Girl
9. HOT HOT HEAT - Elevator
10. DIOS (MALOS) - Dios (Malos)

D. TREVLON - To: The Dusty Moon and You
RILO KILEY - More Adventurous
54.40 - Yes To Everything

MATT MAYS + EL TORPEDO - Matt Mays + El Torpedo
CORB LUND - Hair In My Eyes Like A Highland Steer
WILLIE NELSON - Countryman
THE BRAVERY - The Bravery
GARBAGE - Bleed Like Me
THE HIGH DIALS - War of the Wakening Phantoms

THE 101ERS - Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited

FAVOURITE LIVE SHOWS (in chronological order)
Shonen Knife at Lee's Palace
Elvis Costello & The Imposters, The Bottle Rockets, Jon Langford, Th' Legendary Shack*Shakers, New York Dolls, Aberfeldy, The Rezillos and the Allen Oldies Band at various Austin venues during South By Southwest
Matt Mays + El Torpedo (five different shows)
The Wonder Stuff at the Horseshoe
Brendan Benson at Lee's Palace
The Undertones at the Horseshoe and at The Magic Stick in Detroit
Dave Wakeling's English Beat at the Horseshoe (three shows)
Wanda Jackson at the Cadillac Lounge (two shows)
The Raveonettes at Lee's Palace
Deadly Snakes at the Gladstone
Colin Linden and friends, 54.40, Golden Dogs at Lee's Palace
The Chickens at the Horseshoe (three shows)
Eels at the Phoenix
Corb Lund and Neko Case at Harbourfront
The Pixies and Weezer at the Molson Amphitheatre
Various Elvis impersonators at the Elvis Festival in Collingwood
The Knitters at Lee's Palace
The Sadies, Carolyn Mark, Elliott Brood and the Sin-Tones at Harbourfront
Holy Microphone (two different shows)
The Proclaimers at Lee's Palace
The Royal Crowns at the Horseshoe
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings at the Horseshoe (two shows)
The Fleshtones at the Horseshoe
Lowest Of The Low at the Horseshoe

np Michelle Shocked - Mercury Poise: 1988-1995

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My friend Karen Bliss, a music writer who I've worked with since 1993, has written an anti-racism book for kids called The Girl With Pinhead Parents that has vivid illustrations drawn by another music industry veteran, and my former neighbour, Bonnie Fedrau. The book has a simple but direct message that kids will be able to easily comprehend, and parents can read it with them in five minutes (but take more time to discuss its full meaning afterwards). I bought a copy for $17.95 at last night's launch for the book, and you can purchase one yourself by contacting Karen at More than 60 were sold at the party, which was held at War Child Canada's downtown Toronto headquarters. One dollar from each book sold is being donated to War Child ( and its valuable work.
I want to emphasize that I was going to endorse the book even before I got it home last night and saw my name in the Acknowledgements. Thanks Karen, and congratulations and good luck, too.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I'm a proud alumnus today. My Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks just defeated the Saskatchewan Huskies with a last-minute field goal to become the winner of the Vanier Cup and Canada's top university football team.
Here are a couple of news items on beer that I found interesting. Maybe you will, too:

A group of British scientists determined that you can experience the "beer goggles" effect without drinking. "Beer goggles" is a slang term for a phenomenon in which one's consumption of alcohol makes physically unattractive people appear beautiful. "The beer goggles effect isn't solely dependent on how much alcohol a person consumes," said Professor Nathan Efron, Professor of Clinical Optometry at the University of Manchester.
"There are other influencing factors at play." Other factors that can make ugly people appear attractive include: the level of light in the bar; the drinker's eyesight; the smokiness of the room; and the distance between two people. An eyewear company funded the research.

Guinness received the inaugural Vegan Raspberry Award from the Vegan society.
The award is for products the society insists could be vegan, but aren't.
Like many beers, Guinness uses isinglass, a type of gelatin made from the swim bladders of fish, in the refining process. Other breweries, such as Samuel Smiths, produce stouts that are fish-free.

np Dr. John - Live at Montreux 1995

Friday, December 02, 2005

Chart magazine and Toronto's Drake Hotel launched their live music series, which will feature a show on the first Thursday of every month, with a full house of hipsters who wanted to get their first look at the much buzzed about Islands.
The band is comprised of former Unicorns Nick Diamonds (vocals and keyboards) and J'aime Tambour (drums), and last night also featured Royal City's Jim Guthrie on guitar, Togo native Patrice Agbokou on bass, a saxophonist and two violinists. I'm not sure if that's a permanent lineup, however, as I can see this group becoming like Montreal's version of Broken Social Scene with rotating members. Almost everyone in The Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and Bell Orchestre play on the group's Return To The Sea debut album.
The record will be released in Europe on Rough Trade Records in January, and I wouldn't be surprised if a similar deal is set up for Canada.
It's virtually impossible to categorize the band, as it sounds different on almost every song. I'd describe a couple of tracks as vaudevillian art rock, while a couple of others — appropriately enough — had island rhythms. There was some quirky indie pop. I heard occasional traces of Poi Dog Pondering. One song seemed to borrow the melody from Billy Joel's We Didn't Start The Fire in places, but obviously with much more indie cool cachet. Another track started with a dub rhythm, then turned into some sort of gypsy thing, and then went dub again. The final number, which apparently was about the end of the world, turned the violins into country fiddles — which was slightly offputting visually since the players were white-clad oriental men. The show ended without an encore after an hour.
I don't know if Islands will become the next big thing in the world of indie pop, but I'll take it over the Unicorns. This was one of the band's first shows, and I'll be interested in seeing it again a year from now to see how things evolve. I've got a hunch that I'll like the group more live than on record.
What do you think of that fancy psychedelic photo I took of the band?

np The Snitches - Black Book