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As anyone who knows me knows I’m pretty big into Twitter. I use it a lot—follow me at @tylrmunro if you’re into shameless plugs—and one of the users I enjoy following* is Jose3030. In addition to running 3030fm, Jose is known for having a quick trigger when it comes to capping basketball clips and either putting them on YouTube or converting them to GIFS.

This is not one of these such instances.

And you know what? I’ll leave my commentary out of it. This one kind of speaks for itself

Is Jose3030 the first to discover this? More importantly, does that really matter?

*okay, so I don’t actually follow Jose3030, mostly because I ultimately see his best content via re-tweets. I should probably still follow him, though, and you probably should too if you’re a basketball fan.

You could say I had an interesting Saturday night. I’d say it was one for the ages.

warning: what you are about to read does get a little graphic.

So I was visiting a friend in Hamilton, a shit-smelly city situated about 45 minutes Southwest of Toronto. The night started out pretty dull, actually, consisting of us sitting around watching Saved by the Bell episodes, sometimes with the commentary on, and eating soggy homemade ravioli. I don’t think we could ever imagine how the night would end just a few hours later.

After briefly deliberating, then wisely declining the prospect of going to a cougar bar, we wandered around downtown Hamilton for a few minutes. On our way, I met a homeless man who was really interested in Winter Solstice conspiracy theories and loved yelling at taxi cabs parked in crosswalks. Eventually, one of my friends pointed out a nearby bar, “Doors” I think it was called. He said the bartender was named Tyler, to which I vaguely remember saying, “hey, that’s my name”.

Cool story bro, right?

Then he goes on to tell me that the bar is known for having some weird goings-on. That and it’s often blasting Scandinavian metal. Against my better judgement, I started running. I never run. I wish I hadn’t. Walking inside, I didn’t hear Scandinavian metal. No, instead I saw a guy and girl duo on the turntables and MPC, a scruffy tall white guy rapping and someone dancing…

I have a bone to pick with “Last Christmas” and no, it’s probably not the one George Michael is hoping for. I don’t really care that it’s overplayed and over-saturated. Five, now six times on today’s blog? Whatever. I don’t even mind George Michael’s breathy, exasperated delivery. I mean, it makes me a little uncomfortable, but I’ll get over it. Nope. My problem with “Last Christmas” is that it does not make sense.

Now I don’t know what George Michael went to school for, if he went at all, but I doubt he studied much math. The other guy in Wham? I don’t know who he is. I don’t care, either, because he’s also obviously not too strong with numbers. Let’s look at “Last Christmas” as if it were a math problem. A really simple one, too. Like, second grade simple.

So, George Michael has one heart.

George Michael gives his heart away to someone. Presumably the other guy in Wham.

Guy who now has George Michael’s heart gives it away the very next day, perhaps explaining why I haven’t heard anything from him since.

At this point, George Michael doesn’t have a heart. Insert joke here.

How, then, can he give it to someone special next year?

He can’t.

“Last Christmas” is an insult to mathematical logic and I will not stand for it.

PS: You can point out that medically it is impossible for one

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have been presented with an opportunity. It was October 29th and I was about to interview Kelly Shaefer, frontman for the legendary, since-reunited (sort of) death metal band Atheist. This was, and is, kind of a big deal. With the release of Atheist’s first release in 17 years looming, the interview could have gone either way. Luckily, as you’ll find out, it went pretty damn well. For 25 minutes we talked about Jupiter, the nineties, family life and yes, Tony Choy’s name came up. And before you expect controversy, just in case you misread anything, I’ll reiterate something here: Tony and Atheist are not feuding and Tony and Kelly are on good terms. Shit happened, as it does, and in reading this it’s important to remember that.

Jupiter, Atheist's first album in 17 years, comes out tomorrow

Kelly Shaefer: How are you, man?

Tyler Munro: I’m good. How does it feel to be back?

KS: It feels good, man. It’s all really been super-positive, which is refreshing. I mean, compared to our past, it’s been a lot less struggle to get people to kind of understand the music these days. It’s good times for Atheist.

TM: Is that relaxing to kind of just be able to do your thing and not have to…

KS: … yeah, explain overtly. The landscape for music is so much more forgiving now for experimentation. It’s not…

This might be my favourite track to come out this year. It’s by Adam Haworth Stephens, who you might know from his work in Two Gallants, and it sounds like if Bob Dylan re-wrote “Another Brick in the Wall”.  It’s off his first solo release, We Live On Cliffs, which is out today.

There’s almost nothing better than some funk in your folk.

m/ Leather Jackets, Gravestones and a Pontiac Trans-Am m/

Years back I was dragged to a show in Toronto’s Kensington Market. It was sort of a guerrilla affair—not only was it BYOB, but it was held in a trashy little skate shop, its storefront packed full of smelly, scraggly dudes (and their equally scraggly, slightly less smelly girlfriends). In its backroom, a makeshift skate park consisting of little more than mini-pipe and a few dinky, chipped rails, there was sort of a stage (but not really). The whole thing didn’t vibe with me at the time. Firstly, I hadn’t picked up or stood on a skateboard for years by that point and secondly, my buddy thought it prudent to bring mass quantities of Shlitz, which for the uninitiated, is cheap and disgusting. So after a couple beers I left.

Turns out I was missing one of Rammer’s last shows. At the time this meant nothing to me. Now? It fucking sucks. See, Rammer are flat out incredible. They’re volatile and disgusting and their unrelenting, uncompromising blend of death and thrash metal is exactly the kind of sound the increasingly puerile metal scene needs more of. What makes it more bittersweet is that they’d been toying with new material before their split. More on that later.

Throughout their ten year career, Rammer were as active as anyone in the Toronto metal scene but the fact remains that their early work just isn’t very good. It’s not…

In the interest of keeping these tracks of the day coming, I’m going to fill in the gaps when they appear with some good ol’ CanCon. Up first is Hannah Georgas’ “Thick Skin” off her debut full length This Is Good.

Driven by an acoustic guitar and a sombre back bone laced with piano and whistling, “Thick Skin” powers through its own misery with Hannah’s hopeful vocals and grasp of nod inducing melodies. At under two and a half minutes, “Thick Skin” goes by in a flash, perhaps a fitting choice of words given its video, which sees Georgas au-nauturel crawling through leaves and mud in a deeply understated video I’d perhaps call “honest” or “courageous” were I confident assigning such abstract concepts to popular music.

But anyways, it’s a great song and if it bums (heh!) you out, I’ve linked a bouncier tune below.

After an exhausting Friday night, which in keeping with the day before it didn’t end until sunrise the next day, Saturday would prove to be the death knell in SputnikMusic’s head-first dive into NXNE 2010.

Like the day before, my Saturday started at the Dakota Tavern to see Jack Marks and his Lost Wages, a sometimes six, sometimes seven piece country outfit led by singer-songwriter standout Jack Marks. Like Sandman Viper Command of the two previous days, Marks and his band of mice-fights are a bit of an ol’ faithful for me. In truth, I’ve long since lost count of how many times I’ve seen them over the past year; a handful of times at the Cameron House, some more at Dakota’s and a few other little gigs around the city (my favourite being in the bar-room of the Tranzac, which was in the middle of hosting a barbed-wire wrestling event in its main room).
Arriving to see a surprisingly sparse Dakota Tavern I took my perch on the bar-rail, sitting behind none other than A.A. Bondy and his Farmville enamoured bassist, to catch what would prove to be a familiar but all the while noteworthy performance from one of Toronto’s finest roots acts. Working through his usual mix of songs from his debut Two of Everything and his upcoming, seemingly still untitled new release, Jack Marks and his Lost Wages did their best to draw in a seemingly filled with media personal and executives. A showcase in the…

Part One

____________________________________________________________

Friday, June 18th.

Much like the day before it, North by Northeast’s Friday schedule would prove to be chocked full of music-y goodness. So much that it all seemed to overlap. My plans were to start the day off in the late afternoon by seeing Neutral Uke Hotel perform on a patio at Yonge and Dundas Square. Needless to say, I slept in. So then I figured I’d see them a few hours later, playing a 9 o’clock set at The Painted Lady. Well, that didn’t happen either, since I discovered shortly thereafter that Old Man Luedecke was also playing a 9 o’clock set just a few doors over at The Dakota Tavern. Needless to say I decided on the latter; while the prospect of a ukelele-fronted Neutral Milk Hotel cover band was peculiar and promising, and their press release was certainly enthusiastic, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see one of Canada’s finest songwriters up close and personal. Plus, if we’re talking plucky sounding instruments, I’ll take the banjo over the uke ninety nine times out of a hundred. So I’m sorry, Neutral Uke Hotel, for passing doubly on my intentions to see you. It just didn’t work out.

Old Man Luedecke, beardless for the first time in 14 years

Old Man Luedecke, beardless for the first time in 14 years.

I’m glad I ended up where I did since Old Man Luedecke was absolutely incredible. Playing to a packed house, Old Man Luedecke…

Part Two

____________________________________________________________

Thursday, June 17th.

North by Northeast is not South by Southwest. Not yet, at least. They’re on separate scales, so when you’re reading what will ultimately be a three part write up, keep that in mind. With that out of the way, I’ve got another disclaimer: NXNE ran, officially, from June 14th to June 20th, and I’ll have three day-each write-ups. The math doesn’t make sense because not every day was worth writing about. The 14th and 15th were part of NXNEi, the festival’s inaugural interactive conference series.

Onto the 16th, the opening day of performances. I came in from Hamilton, which is about a 45 minute bus-ride from Toronto, to get my pass. Having seen Shad—who was as incredible as ever, by the way—the night before, I was at least a little bit hungover, but since NXNE is an event filled with media and musicians, I was definitely not the only one. I got my pass and looked at that night’s schedule and, well, it sucked. Wednesday night was barren. There was an ‘invitation only’ event featuring k-os, Kathleen Edwards and the Arkells. I wasn’t invited. The Eagles of Death Metal were playing the Phoenix, but it was a regularly ticketed event with only the first 200 wristbands guaranteed admission. I had a priority pass, not a wristband, so I could probably have gotten in, but not only is the Phoenix out…

Before you read on, I’d like to qualify my definition of a musical, in relation to Tremé, to clear up any possible confusion. Tremé is a musical program in that it heavily features musical performances. These performances are, uh, performed, by the shows characters—its guest stars, its cameos, its extras…you get the point. But Tremé is not a musical in the same vein as Glee. There are no impromptu bursts of song, replete with back-up dancers and an invisible backing band. Tremé is a dramatic program.  It just happens to centre around the musical city of New Orleans. For the uninitiated, the tremé is a New Orleans neighbourhood known primarily for its musical heritage. Scroll to the bottom for some clips.

I'd do anything for her to look at me with such longing. Or at all.

Glee is a lot of fun. I like it, unironically, and I have no problems putting those words to print. But having just watched the tenth episode—and first season finale—of HBO and David Simon’s Tremé, I’ve got to put something else into print, something I’ve known pretty distinctly since I watched the first episode some weeks back—Tremé, not Glee, is the best musically oriented show on television. I’m sorry, Channing. It’s not personal.

No, what it is is (is!) the honest to blog truth.

Yes, Glee is a lot of fun. I think I’ve already said this. But that’s more or less all it is. That’s not…

Jadea Kelly is perhaps best known our readers as the voice of Kezia on Protest the Hero’s 2005 album of the same name, but in the ever-expanding Toronto roots music scene her work with the progressive metal outfit is little more than the prologue to her ever-growing solo career.

Eastbound Platform, Kelly’s second album, was released two weeks ago to the day and has already been met with positive reviews from Exclaim! Magazine and CBC Radio—expect SputnikMusic to join these ranks shortly. Praises of her work is warranted, as the album shows the evolution of a once nervous performer who—in her on stage debuts with Protest the Hero—occasionally struggled to find her voice in the band’s often boisterous, hairy-chested performances. Nervous no longer, Jadea has taken takes her soft spoken demeanour and turned it into the quiet confidence of an artist who now bleeds self-assurance (although not literally, I’m sure).

“Never Coming Back” is the lead track off of Eastbound Platform and features a uniquely groove-laden take on a traditional country rock track. On top of Jadea’s stated vocal performance, make note of the interplay between the bass’s walking plod and shifting guitar lines, all of which climax in the tracks’ wind-swept refrain. Listen to the track below.

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Written…

Is Old Man Luedecke leading a banjo revolution? Probably not. But his latest album rules.

Regarding their late 2009 release Sigh No More, our own DaveyBoy suggested that Britain’s Mumford & Sons were, “delivering folk – and the banjo – to the masses.” While Mumford & Sons do employ the use of a banjo, they do so on an almost superficial level. On “Little Lion Man”, Sigh No More’s obvious standout, the banjo is used as little more than a reaction to the guitar. It always sounds nice and it always works but it’s never the focus.

The banjo is definitely Old Man Luedecke’s focus. He’s a “banjo revivalist” based out of Canada’s east coast. I could lazily compare his music to The Tallest Man on Earth and I just did. Maybe now you’ll listen.

On My Hands Are On Fire and Other Love Songs, his latest release, Old Man Luedecke (née Chris) enlists the help of a guitarist, bassist and fiddler (he-he) but more often than not the emphasis is on his words and his banjo.

“Foreign Tongue”, which you’ll hear below, is a prime example of how Luedecke does more with less. A uniquely written song, “Foreign Tongue” evolves from a love song about a distant, unfulfilled love into the desperate plea of a shy and nervous man who’s clearly convinced himself of a love only he’s aware of. Its 21st Century ambiguity makes it…

Try as I might, Bruce Springsteen’s music has always been somewhat of an impenetrable wall for me. He should resonate more strongly with me. From his workman-like roots to his 80s shlock, right back to the grizzled folk of Devils & Dust, Springsteen’s career trajectory is right in line with what I’m often drawn to outside of the metal bullshit readers of this site would probably associate with me. Yet throughout my admittedly limited experience with Springsteen, only one of his album’s has really stuck with me (Nebraska), and even then only one song really “hits” me where it “hurts”.

My first intention in writing this blog was to choose Justin Townes Earle’s cover of “Atlantic City” played as part of the A.V. Club’s “Undercover” series, and I’ll still do that below. But “Atlantic City” as I now want you to hear it is a more unique take on the Springsteen classic. For “Undercover”, Earle strums frenetically, replacing the original version’s pain-struck backing howls with a heightened pace and added sense of vulnerability and nervousness. Then, right as I was about to publish this blog, someoneDAVEDESYLVIAtold me the video didn’t work.

In seeking out an alternative video-feed of the A.V. Club rendition, I eventually stumbled upon a live cover from March the 10th of this year. In it, Earle, accompanied by Joe Pug and his usual backing band, says—not long after citing alcohol as an influence for the ensuing performance—that if you don’t like Springsteen then you don’t…

Fucking magnets, how do they work?

The sun and the moon, and even Mars
The Milky Way and fucking shooting stars
UFOs, a river flows
Plant a little seed and nature grows
Niagara Falls and the pyramids
Everything you believed in as kids
Fucking rainbows after it rains
there’s enough miracles here to blow your brains
I fed a fish to a pelican at Frisco bay
It tried to eat my cell phone, he ran away
And music is magic, pure and clean
You can feel it and hear it but it can’t be seen

Magic everywhere in this bitch.

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