Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Night Video:: The Fatima Mansions' "Blues for Ceauşescu"

Cathal Coughlan après Microdisney resulted in The Fatima Mansions. This song and video will always remind me of that heady era of 1989-90 when the people lost their fear in Eastern Europe enough to topple governments.

Twitterversion:: [video] #FridayNightVideo featuring The Fatima Mansions' "Blues for Ceauşescu" @Prof_K

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Toronto Islands Ferry in the Dead of Winter

Upon returning to Toronto in the dead of winter, I wondered about the Toronto Islands and whether the Toronto Harbour froze over. Looking at the webcam at the Westin::

and doing a bit of reading, it looks like the harbour rarely freezes solid and icebreakers keep the ferries going.

Winter is still a novelty for me. I was out at the Beach near Kew Gardens and over by the RC Harris water treatment plant {Queen East & Victoria Park} in December, enjoying the solitude and marvelling at the lake's clarity.

Leuty Lifeguard House, December 2010

Looking west from Leuty Lifeguard House, December 2010

Near RC Harris Water Filtration Plant, foot of Nursewood, December 2010

Twitterversion:: [video+photos] Footage of #Toronto Islands ferry in the dead of winter {2009} + photos of winter at the Beach {2010}  @Prof_K

newmusicmonday #77:: Rebekah Higgs

image:: Rebekah Higgs, album art, 2007, MySpaceMusic

Genrealt/indie pop
CityHalifax, NS/Toronto, ON, Canada
Upcoming Tour Dates[shows]
12 Feb, 9h, Rivoli, Toronto
25 Feb, 10h, Artel, Kingston, ON
26 Feb, 7h, Kafe 1870, Wakefield, QC
27 Feb, 10h, Elmdale House Tavern, Ottawa, ON

I found out via Songkick that there's an upcoming Rivoli show that I hope I'm in town to see, with two newmusicmonday alums:: Julie Fader{#8} and Tasseomancy {#75}. It's fitting that Rebehah Higgs, who is also on the bill, is finally featured. She's no stranger here, as she was in a video with Laura Barrett that I blogged about last April.

Why do I like Rebekah Higgs? I've come to hate the term "quirky", so I won't use that descriptor. Plus, it wouldn't do her justice. With her stuff there's lots of instrumentation in her soundscapes. Here's a video for a live recording of "Little Voice" recorded in Roncy, shot at Roncesvalles near Grenadier::

"Parables" from 2007 grew on me::

and you can hear snippets of the 10 tracks of her eponymous 2007 album here. Streams from it and her 2010 'Little Voice' EP on the CBCr3 link above. The 'Rebekah Higgs' album has an eclectic sound {not quirky} with interspersings of blue state folk and a sound that reminds me a bit of Minneapolis' The Owls, at times.

I think my fave track right now is "Asleep All Winter", which is on the 'Little Voice' EP and a free download is available on Bandcamp [link]. According to CBCr3, Toronto readers can get her stuff at Soundscapes on College. Check link for other cities.

Plus, you have to love an artist who gives a damn about web usability and gives a Radio 3 shoutout::

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] belated #newmusicmonday feat @rebekahhiggs Upcoming 12Feb Rivoli #Toronto show w/Tasseomancy & Julie Fader @Prof_K

Thursday, January 20, 2011

newmusicmonday #76:: Shimmering Stars

image:: Shimmering Stars, MySpace

Genredark indie pop
MembersRory McClure - Guitar, Vox
Andrew Dergousoff - Drums, Vox
Brent Sasaki - Bass, Vox
CityVancouver, BC, Canada
Recent release"East Van Girls" 7" b/w "I'm Gonna Try" [almost musique], 5 € + 5 € {S&H}

Vancouver's Shimmering Stars were brought to my attention by Officer Mazeltoff. I love what he had to say about them::
"The band, Shimmering Stars, has a nice old sound to them that reminds me of dive bars on the outskirts of town where no one speaks, just keeps their heads down in their booze."
Here's an interview with the band, explaining how their sound was inspired by old Everly Brothers footage and how late 50s/early 60s pop seemed sweet and innocent, but underneath lurked a dark and repressed centre.

Here's the video for "I'm Gonna Try", directed by Salazar::


Here's a live version of "Sun's Going Down" from HoJo's Basement on Kingsway AKA Biltmore Canaret::

I think my fave track I've heard is "East Van Girls"::

I think what draws me into their sound is that it reminds me of the feedback fuzz of Jesus and Mary Chain and both seem to have a healthy dose of antisocial angst. In the mid-90s, I went through an oldies phase when I was interested in the moody pop of the late 50s and 60s. The oldies station in Eugene, Oregon played "Last Kiss" a lot, which stood out in my mind as an exemplar of the genre. When Pearl Jam covered it, I had moved on and I really didn't like their version, but I never got into Pearl Jam.


I'll leave you with a live cover of 'Let It Be Me" from the same Biltmore show as "Sun's Going Down"::

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] Belated #newmusicmonday featuring Vancouver's Shimmering Stars. Hattip @chicomazaltoff.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Globalizing American Culture:: Coming to an Overseas Callcenter Near You

Vice can be pretty hard to take, but I found bits of this interesting. While many Americans and Canadians get frustrated at overseas callcenters, hope and help are on the way. The outsourcing capital, Bangalore, is now a hotbed of training on how to converse with Americans and getting down with the pop culture banter and lingo.

Unfortunately for Bangalore, the cost of living and wages are going up, so jobs are moving elsewhere. With US unemployment still high, perhaps companies will follow Wham-O's lead in moving back to the US to take advantage of the—cheap labour.

Twitterversion:: [blog+video] Those annoyed by outsourced call centres in Bangalore—help is on the way. {via Vice} @Prof_K

Toronto's Queen Street West Rendered in Low-fi Glory

This is via Lanie Treen of the Queen West Art Crawl {Parkdale Community Development Group}. It's a video of Toronto's Queen Street West rendered as a 90s-era videogame. Ah, low-fi. It was created for the 2010 Queen West Art Crawl fundraiser. More from the Torontoist.

Twitterversion:: [video] Queen Street West rendered in Marioesque low-fi glory @Prof_K

Are You a Comic Sans Criminal?

Via Grafik Magazine on FB. This PSA site {also, click on above image} serves to remind us all that comic sans does have a place, but should be used appropriately. Serious communication shouldn't use it. The above are examples of inappropriate use. Surprisingly, no mention of its use on tombstones.

Twitterversion:: [blog] Are you a comic sans criminal? {via @grafikmag on FB}  @Prof_K

Monday, January 10, 2011

newmusicmonday #75:: Tasseomancy

image:: Tasseomancy at Sappyfest, Paul Hammond, MySpace

Genregothic folk
MembersSari Lightman
Romy Lightman
CityHalifax, NS, Canada
Recent Release/Upcoming album7" single, "Healthy Hands" [mp3] b/w "The Darkness of Things", on 5 October 2010. Recorded with producer Taylor Kirk and Timber Timbre, due out in 2011. 

This week's newmusicmonday is Tasseomancy, who were Ghost Bees until last year. The Haligonian duo has dark, gothic pop and "Healthy Hands" {MP3 link above} borders on neopsychelia. Here are two clips from their days as Ghost Bees, which is a good intro to their sound::

There's something dark and precious about their music, full of introspection, strange lyrics, and vocal and sonic experimentation. Here's a live performance of "Anubis", recorded at Tranzac in Toronto last autumn::

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos+MP3 download] #newmusicmonday featuring Tasseomancy {FKA Ghost Bees} fr Halifax. Forthcoming album in 2011. @Prof_K

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Julian Assange Coloring Book

{via Antonio A. CasilliRichard Metzger, & Dangerous Minds} You can try your hand at digital colouring of Assange here. I wish the site served as a repository/gallery for the works created, like on Paste's site, which is gathering dust in pop culture's meme trashheap.

Twitterversion:: [blog/retweet] The Julian Assange Coloring Book {@bodyspacesoc, @RichardMetzger} @Prof_K

Friday, January 07, 2011

Friday Night Video:: Monade's "Entre Chien et Loup"

A video of a boy and his cats set to Monade...

Twitterversion:: [video] #FridayNightVideo Monade's "Entre Chien et Loup" as a soundtrack to a video of a boy and his cats @Prof_K

Friday Night Videos:: Fiona Apple

Three directed by Paul Thomas Anderson::

and a live version of "Waltz {Better than Fine}" with Nickel Creek, a song which I never tire of::

Plus, the unreleased version I had before Extraordinary Machine came out::

Live version of "Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)" with Elvis Costello::

Twitterversion:: [videos]  #FridayNightVideos:: Five from Fiona Apple @Prof_K

Friday Night Videos:: Heaven 17, Orchestral Manœuvres in the Dark, New Order, Blancmange, & Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Twitterversion:: [videos] #FridayNightVideos 5 UK synthpop vids, including FGTH's cover of Springsteen's "Born to Run" @Prof_K

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Kim Cardassian

As far as the meme goes, I have a soft spot for the one above by azurecharade...and the one below by rocketdave::

Given how she's making a foray into being a singer [song], maybe it's time to collaborate with Eminem, don a Cardassian look,  learn the few Cardassian words out there, and create a new genre—Trek Drek. Eminem is no stranger to Trek geekery::

Moreover, she's a good sport...

about being the butt of the joke...

All in a day's work.

Twitterversion:: [blog+images] Recycling old meme—Kim Cardassian & idea for new musical genre—Trek Drek . @Prof_K

newmusicmonday #75:: Chinatown

tournage du video d Apprendre à Danser (Toronto, avril 2009)

image:: Chinatown, MySpace

Genrefrancophone indie
MembersPierre-Alain Faucon (vocals/keyboards)
Félix Dyotte (vocals/guitar)
Toby Cayouette (bass)
Gabriel Rousseau (drums)
Julien Fargo (guitar/vocals). 

CityMontréal, QC, Canada
AlbumCité d'or [BoutiqueTacca], streams & lyrics





Fans of The Stills might be familiar with "Retour à Vega", which was penned by Faucon and Dyotte and featured on the Wicker Park {2004} soundtrack. Chinatown, taking their name from the 1974 Roman Polanski film, can trace their roots back to the ska ancestors of The Stills, The Undercovers.

A good intro to the band is on the CBCr3 link above with 4 tracks from their 2009 Cité d'or. Two more tracks can be heard on MySpace, "Perdre son temps" and "Du jazz avec l'apocalypse". The following two videos are also from that album::

One of my favourite tracks is the more somber and minimalist "L'automne" {stream/lyrics}, which might be indicative of the mood I'm in.

This is indie pop that definitely influenced by that Montréal—Williamsburg/Brooklyn mind meld. Their sound is catchy and at times evokes the retrocinematic like The Last Shadow Puppets, but with a far more subtle stance. It looks like the band is in the studio, so I'm hoping for new music later in the year and I'm also hoping they can crossover into the anglophone market.

I'll leave you with a live performance on the top of a car after a concert in Fribourg, Swizerland from last June::

CHINATOWN à Fribourg (SUISSE) from Mat Motion on Vimeo.

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] #newmusicmonday featuring Chinatown from #Montreal. @Prof_K