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.
Sputnikmusic was founded five and a half years ago – so long ago that the vast majority of people who posted in 2005 are no longer around. This multi-part feature is for those of you who have an interest in the site’s history but weren’t around in its younger days. You’ll find that, despite popular opinion, the professionalism vs. userbase/more features vs. more journalistic integrity debate has been raging for five years now.
The Early Days
Before there was Sputnikmusic, there was MXtabs. Started way back in 1999 by Jeremy Ferwerda, MXtabs was one of the foremost music tablature sites on the Internet. Over the course of six years, thousands of guitar, bass, and drum tabs were added to the MXtabs database, all created and submitted by users of the site. In addition to tabs, the site also had a flourishing forum section. Within that section was a subforum for music reviews, where music lovers and aspiring writers could submit reviews for their favorite albums. That forum was the fetus from which Sputnikmusic would grow into a screaming toddler, which would grow into a moody pre-teen, which would grow into a pimply teenager, which would grow into a ???.
In 2005, the MPA (Music Publishers’ Association) realized that they could make a bunch of money by suing tab sites, presumably because the president of the company still had some negative feelings about being a man named Lauren Keiser. In 2006, the company released a statement in which…
Landon Donovan’s tears were a bit much, but fair play, America – you won the group, and you sent England spiralling into an absolutely horrific World Cup knockout run that, from what I can see, will see us playing Germany, then Argentina, then Brazil, then Spain (providing we win even one of those games). Your attentions, on the other hand, can now turn to Ghana. You lucky, lucky bastards.
Actually, that’s pretty harsh on the best African team at the tournament – they looked impressive against Germany even in defeat, and they’ve certainly got the ability and the organisation to cause all manner of problems. They’ll basically have a home crowd, too – Africa expects. This game, my friends, could be an absolute doozey. So as the sides are pretty evenly matched, I think it’s only fair that my incredibly effeminate picture of Landon Donovan is also matched. With that in mind….
….here’s Stephen Appiah.
The major genre in Ghana is highlife, a blissed-out, jazz-influenced sound that is also one of the definitive genres for the entire continent, with a proud, storied history of over 100 years. There’s no shortage of big names – Sir Victor Uwaifo, Bobby Benson, Dr. Victor Olaiya, even some very early Fela Kuti – but for now we’ll focus on E.T. Mensah, a flautist, saxophonist, organist, and trumpeter who has achieved some international notoriety recently with a series of re-issues celebrating both his life and music, and that of West Africa in general. …
And so we reach the mid-way point, both for this series and for the World Cup itself. Today sees the end of the group stages and the final confirmation of which 16 teams are left to duke it out for the next two weeks – Honduras are unlikely to be one of them, and it’s hard to know exactly what to say about them other than that. So little attention is paid to them that one ITV correspondant referred to them as a South American country – without meaning to be too denegrating, they’re probably the most nondescript country involved in the whole tournament, and that’s no small accomplishment in a competition boasting the presence of both Slovenia AND Slovakia. All this despite an astonishing bit of governmental wrangling that got seemingly everybody in the world commenting as recently as last year, too. If it had happened in Mexico, Cuba, or even Costa Rica, rest assured you’d have heard a lot more about it; the international media just didn’t seem to care when it happened in a country nobody really knew anything about. Ditto the tragic murder of Edwin Palacios, brother of three of the current Honduran national team.
In keeping with all of that, Honduran music hasn’t produced any stars, certainly not ones who’ve found fame outside the country’s borders, so it’s hard to know where to start. If we’re just talking quality, though, then I can highly recommend one Aurelio Martinez, a man with, in addition…
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…
All of a sudden, it’s starting to look a little worrying for Africa in the World Cup – South Africa’s bravery and spirit hasn’t seen them through, Portugal’s embarrassing demolition of North Korea have made Ivory Coast very unlikely to qualify, and Algeria and Nigeria simply weren’t good enough. Ghana’s qualification yesterday makes them the continent’s only representatives, then; the subject of today’s blog, Cameroon, were the first team to be eliminated from the competition after two disappointing defeats to Japan and Denmark. If only today offered an easy chance to restore pride; instead, they’ve got to play Holland. Gadzooks.
Perhaps it’s time to start planning for the future, then?
When asking for a list of genres Cameroon brought to the world, you probably wouldn’t expect ‘disco’ to be one of the answers. And yet, it was Cameroon’s own Manu Dibango that conjured up Soul Makossa, the album – and song – most frequently credited with sparking the disco craze. A rare venture into the Billboard charts by an African musician, it became one of the most sampled, referenced, and copied songs of the era – Michael Jackson fans especially may recognise the opening vocal refrain. The album itself is well worth having, incidentally – it’s a brilliant funk record, fleet-footed and melodic throughout.
That song shares its name – or at least the ‘makossa’ bit – with one of Cameroon’s most popular genres of music. The other – a more danceable, off-kilter affair that hasn’t found…
For all the criticism Blink-182 copped in the 90s for their supposed lack of punk credentials, they walked the walk when it truly mattered. Tom Delonge went mad in his castle, flew off on a coke-binge and produced three of the worst albums in major label history, Travis Barker died in a plane crash before coming back to life and Mark Hoppus hung around at the skate park. They were, essentially, Motley Crue for 9-year-olds.
What, then, of Jedward? Twins John and Edward Grimes, too, embody the true spirit of punk. Look at the evidence: 1) impossibly shit, spiky hair; 2) ugly co-ordinated outfits; 3) complete lack of musical ability; 4) impossibly shit, spiky hair. They have, quite simply, invented a whole new genre of karaoke – fans have all the fun of listening to tone deaf amateurs without the hassle of being drunk or being around moderately interesting people.
Here’s Jedward putting their uniquely punk slant on blink-182’s ‘All The Small Things’:
Before getting in depth about the Isis’ performance, let me say that Isis are without a doubt one of the most consistent bands this decade has seen. In fact, they are generally the first act linked with quality post-metal, as their influence has been that defining. After all, they practically own the genre. It all started with their first full-length, way back in 2000, when the gritty and often brutal Celestial was released, but the tidal wave of followers had not come until after Oceanic dropped in 2002. Ever since, Isis never looked back at what they were doing and how they approached their music, until last month, May 18th to be exact. That date was the end of Isis and the end of an era, and they certainly were not leaving quietly.
Due to Webster Hall’s petty dance parties that begin at 11:00 P.M., the show started and ended rather early, and Isis took much of the grunt from that(approximately three songs cut short from their standard tour setlist). Unlike many bands, Isis performed their own soundcheck and set up most of their equipment, showing their business-like approach to shows. Once everything was in place, they wasted no time, beginning with the tremendous closer from Wavering Radiant, ”Threshold of Transformation.” From that moment on, the crowd moved with every beat and crushing riff, and while Isis hardly prance around on stage, they are fully enveloped in each song, headbanging as far…
Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers is a fucking genius idea for a mash-up album. I mean The Beatles and the Wu-Tang Clan, does it get any better than that? Yep. Not only are some of the best raps in hip-hop showcased, but the tracks they are put over aren’t just pulled from the Fab Four’s studio takes, they are culled from a range of Beatles covers that offer up a new and unique experience not only for Beatles fans, but for Wu fans as well. Case in point, “Forget Me Not”. Originally found on Inspectah Deck’s Uncontrolled Substance, the track is completely transformed when put up against Jamaican guitar legend Ernest Ranglin’s jazzed up cover of “You Won’t See Me”, making the original practically obsolete.
Wu-Tang vs. The Beatles – “Forget Me Not”
Oh dear. As an Englishman I’ve clearly got enough to worry about myself without casting pity on other nations, but Australia haven’t really had the greatest World Cup, have they? Not only were they torn to shreds by Germany in their opening fixture, and not only have they collected two red cards to key players already, but they’ve also has to suffer an embarrassing rift between journalist Michael Cockerill and the permanently injured Harry Kewell, which has left Kewell looking just a little stupid (Cokerill asked Kewell to ‘actually DO something’ against Ghana, and Kewell promptly got himself sent off for a senseless handball), and left Lucas Neill reduced to announcing that actually, they’re not whingers and bottlers. What’s more, after New Zealand’s heroics against Italy, the Socceroos now face the very real prospect of going out of the tournament having been outplayed and outscored by their bitterest rivals. Still, some tunes might help, eh?
And here’s a picture of a sport they’re actually good at, too!
Everybody with ears knows about the major Australian acts, so there’s not really much anybody will get out of their videos being posted here, but just for the sake of the people who will undoubtedly complain anyway, here they are: AC/DC, Crowded House, Nick Cave, The Saints, Kylie Minogue, The Go-Betweens, Natalie Imbruglia, Bee Gees, The Avalanches, INXS, The Church, The Triffids, Sia, You Am I, The Vines, Hilltop Hoods, whatever Luke Steele is pretending to be this week, Silverchair, Wolfmother.…
We’re deep in summer already, so what band to turn to then the band that dominated a solid half of my summer last year? Vancouver punk duo Japandroids have been working on a project that sees them releasing a series of 7-inch singles over the course of the year – “Younger Us” (along with a cover of X’s “Sex and Dying in High Society”) being the second. If you want a copy, you better hurry, as there’s only 2500 clear vinyl copies available (buy here). As for the song, it’s sort of a bizarro version of “Young Hearts Spark Fire,” with a similar guitar part and surging drums, all wrapped loosely around Brian King’s lusty, nostalgic lyrics. In other words, it’s Japandroids, and it rocks.
It’s all getting a bit exciting now, isn’t it? Today sees the real meaty end of the tournament kick off, as teams start to drop out of the running altogether; by close of pay on the 25th, we’ll know exactly who will contest the knockout stages and who will be joining the likes of Cameroon in flying home. In Nigeria’s case, it’s do-or-die time – nothing but a victory over South Korea and some help from Argentina against Greece will stop them from becoming the second African nation to drop out of the first African World Cup. Still, if it’s any consolation, they can boast probably the best individual performance of the tournament so far in the shape of goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama’s Messi-defying heroics in their opening fixture against Argentina.
Mad respect for the blackest man in Tel Aviv.
The role played by Nigerians in the development of modern Africa’s musical consciousness simply can’t be ignored. While each African nation had its own folk forms – and with Igbo and Yoruba, Nigeria is no exception – it was Nigeria that was the first to embrace new styles and promote hybrid forms, bringing those folk sounds into a contemporary context. Nowhere was this more telling than in the development of Afrobeat, a crucial genre of music pioneering by Nigeria’s most famous son and probably African music’s most beloved figure – the legend that is Fela Kuti. This music – a blend of highlife, pyschedelia, funk, and sociopolitical fire – displays…
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…
You know, I can’t even explain how Flying Lotus’s music is so good. For all intents and purposes, it takes a fairly standard hip-hop beat, slightly Dillafied, and puts subtle jazz music over it. It’s subdued, subtle, and somehow powerfully effective. For those of us who want something more immediate, something more aggressive, Flying Lotus’s imprint label Brainfeeder has released something fresh. Lorn, a 23 year-old producer from Illinois, has just released his debut album Nothing Else, which uses the same format as Flying Lotus–an album of shorter cuts of repetitive beats–but instead of using a heavy jazz influence, Lorn uses elements of glitch, dubstep, and breakbeat electronica. “Automation” is a longer cut on the album, and perhaps one of the most aggressive and dark found on the consistently excellent album.
Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of June 22, 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
A Kiss Could Be Deadly – Farewell(Metropolis Records) – Trey Spencer Allstar Weekend – Suddenly(Hollywood Records)
Laurie Anderson – Homeland (Nonesuch)
Automatic Loveletter – Truth Or Dare (SIN)
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – London Calling: Live in Hyde Park (2 DVD) (Columbia)
Chemical Brothers – Further (Astralwerks)
Closed Heart Surgery – The Blue Girl Diaries (iTunes)
The Constellations – Southern Gothic (Virgin Records US)
Miley Cyrus – Can’t be Tamed (Hollywood Records)
Danzig – Death Red Sabaoth (Evilive Records)
Derek Trucks Band – Roadsongs (Sony Legacy) Eminem – Recovery(Aftermath)– Adam Downer Front Line Assembly – Improvised Electronic Devices(Metropolis Records) – Trey Spencer
Macy Gray – The Sellout (Concord Records)
Herbie Hancock – The Imagine Project (Herbie Hancock Records)
Kele (Bloc Party) – The Boxer (Glass Note)
Cyndi Lauper – Memphis Blues (Downtown)
Vince Neil – Tattoos & Tequila (Eleven Seven Music)
Pierce The Veil – Selfish Machines (Equal Vision Records)
The Pretty Reckless – The Pretty Reckless (Interscope)
The Real McKenzies – Shine not Burn (Fat Wreck Chords)
The Roots – How I Got Over (Def Jam)
Sabbath Assembly – Restored To One (The End Records)
Sia – We Are Born (Phantom Sound & Vision) Stars – The Five Ghosts(Vagrant…