Monday, February 28, 2011

Music & the Ad:: Metric & OMDC

This ad below has been cropping up quite a bit over the past week. It's for the Ontario Media Development Corporation, an agency of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. The six week campaign, “We’ve got it going ON,” does that play on ON that's getting a bit old. It might be my annoyance at the ONroute rollout on the 401 that's seen the temporary closure of so many service centres on the 401 while they are being renovated.

The ad is slick and I must admit it's appealing. The quick edits and the use of Metric's "Gimme Sympathy" jam pack the culture industries into a minute of montage. Here's the video for Metric's "Gimme Sympathy"::

I'm not 100% sure the ad does a great job of doing what it's supposed to do. According to OMDC CEO, Karen Thorne-Stone, the target audiences are Ontario consumers and organizations. The objective is to dazzle the consumer about how Ontario is the centre of the universe and remind Ontario organizations that there is plenty of creative capacity going on. I would worry that while the ad is cool and memorable, it might not link well to the message of promoting the Ontario culture industries. It becomes a bit of a blur...publishinginteractivefilmmusicadvertising at 140 BPM. My take is that it may have been better to have several versions with the same concept that lingers more on the featured artists and cultural products. I understand there are likely budgetary constraints that would preclude this. I wasn't able to find a website for the campaign, which I feel really could have added to the impact of the campaign, particularly if it were set up to be interactive and foster dialogues and collaborations. I also thought it was interesting that stage wasn't included. I did a cursory examination on the OMDC website and couldn't find references to theatre, but perhaps that's under a different provincial entity.

I feel like I'm raining on the parade here, which I really don't mean to. It's a solid execution that's marketing a wide array of creative offerings under the obscure branding of a province.

The agency of record {AOR} for the campaign is Brandworks International, which, by the way, is in Toronto, Ontario.

Twitterversion:: [videos+blog] #Music&theAd blog on Ontario's ad promoting culture industries, using Metric's "Gimme Sympathy" @Prof_K

The Rotisserie Channel

Swiss Chalet launched The Rotisserie Channel today, which is on channel 208 on Rogers here in Toronto and up there in excitement as the Fireplace Channel. I saw this being hyped on Twitter in the past week or so. Below a clip. You can hear crackling cooking sounds. Warning:: those whose food tends not to have faces may not want to view this.

This reminds me that over the weekend I was on the Danforth, with its plethora of roasted meat smells, which I must admit has more going for it than Swiss Chalet. On another note, I've noticed that people either love or hate Swiss Chalet sauce. I'm not a fan. Bear in mind, I'm someone who slurped cold KFC gravy for comedic effect somewhere in rural Minnesota...and I can't deal with Swiss Chalet sauce. It's in packets available in the grocery store. You can try to make your own with this recipe.

Twitterversion:: [video] Clip of Swiss Chalet's Rotisserie Channel, launched today on Rogers {ch #208} @Prof_K

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hollerado's Americanarama

I saw Hollerado on a show on Aux last weekend and have been hearing "Juliette" on a current Rogers commercial, available here. Here's on of the responses on that video::

Hollerado has been on the edge of my radar, but I recalled this version of the "Americanarama" video featuring Dave Foley, which pokes fun of American Apparel's controversial founder, Dov Charney.

Twitterversion:: [video] Hollerado's "Americanarama" w/Dave Foley {2010} pokes fun of American Apparel's Dov Charney @Prof_K

Web 2.0 Wayback Machine:: Crazy Daisy Ed

Long before [ adult swim ], there were three short seasons of Liquid Television on MTV. Much of the content is on YouTube. Some of it holds up to today, but some of it doesn't. The animation made me want to take up illustration and video on my Mac Quadra 700 in my spare time, but grad school saw an end to that idea.

I still have a soft spot for the maladjusted Crazy Daisy Ed with so-bad-it's-good dialogue. I think he reminds me of a few of my university buddies::

Let's Go to the Stinkin' Movies

To Officer with Love

Fast, Loud, Dumb and Proud

Hill Bomb Skate Sniper

Twitterversion:: [videos] Web 2.0 Wayback Machine: Crazy Daisy Ed {1994} @Prof_K

Friday Night Video:: Minto

JackKn1fe tipped me off to Minto, who hail from Vancouver, BC. Enjoy the camp and kitsch of "Burnt Down Trainbridge Blues {Lawyers}". You have to love a band that started out butchering a cover of a Belle & Sebastian song...

Twitterversion:: [video] #FridayNightVideos @JackKn1fe clued me into to #VancouverIndie alt rock/folk Minto @Prof_K

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Deerhunter on Letterman

In case you missed it, an expanded Deerhunter lineup rocked on Letterman last night {Tuesday, 22 Feb 2011} with "Memory Boy" from last fall's 'Halcyon Digest'. The Atlanta based band is on 4AD, sporting a gothic sound and a flair for dramaturgy that puts MGMT to shame.

Twitterversion:: [video] Deerhunter rocks gothically w/campy dramaturgy on Letterman {22/Feb} @Prof_K

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Interactive Advertising:: Intel's "The Chase"

This 2 minute ad for the second generation Intel Core i5 chipsets was meant to build buzz. It went viral with over 2M views. According to Adverbox, the agency is Venebles Bell and Partners in San Francisco. It's taking this type of visual mashup concept to the next level {or two} with the added bonus of resembling a real life Rube Goldberg machine.

I like the execution. I think it will have a positive effect on the Intel brand, despite the partial recall of the Intel 6 series at the end of January. Nevertheless, I think branding what many perceive to be a commodity is an uphill battle. In the Mac realm, there is no choice but Intel. In fact the next generation of the Apple's Macbook Pro line is expected to use Intel's Sandy Bridge technologies.

Increasing the salience and positive associations of the brand of a product that most people don't buy directly is a tricky proposition, but increasingly important given the competition in semiconductors and the future battlegrounds in processors for smartphone and tech appliance. The Intel video on my Macbook is known to be a big meh, and it looks like Intel video is coming back to lower-end Macs and the Macbook Air. Nevertheless, Interbrand ranked Intel 7th. globally [pdf]::

Twitterversion:: [video+blog] Viral video Intel Core i5 ad, The Chase, building brand in a category that's bland @Prof_K

newmusicmonday #81:: Octoberman


Genrealt rock
MembersMarc Morrissette {vocals; guitar}

C.L. McLaughlin (guitars, background vocals)
Rob Josephson (drums)
Graham Christofferson (bass)
Leah Abramson (background vocals)
Anju Singh (violin, viola)
Shaun Brodie (trumpet)
Jessica Wilkin (piano)
Sarah Hallman (background vocals)
BaseToronto, ON, Canada

White Whale Records [store] [bandcamp-streams & downloads]

This week's newmusicmonday is Octoberman, fronted by Marc Morrissette, of Kids These Days fame. Now Magazine liked 2009's Fortresses, mentioning the uke-driven "Thirty Reasons" as a standout track::

I must admit it's not my favourite track. I prefer the arrangement and sound of "Trapped in the New Scene"::

Here's an interview of Marc from back in 2009. If you listen closely, you can hear a bit of Dylan and The Faces with more youthful sounding vocals. The cover of Sloan's "Sugar Tune" {see CBCr3 link above or here on 'Take It In'-the Sloan tribute album} might be a bit hard to get into for those who really like the original, but I found the arrangement compelling.

Marc has been recording and I'll leave you with "The Backlash", which wallernotweller deems as one of the top slacker anthems.

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] #newmusicmonday featuring @Octoberman.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Incendies:: Loss and Lost in the Geopolitics of War

I'm hoping anyone who saw the Wajdi Mouawad play, Incendies [Eng] {Scorched}, will have an open mind when it comes to Denis Villeneuve's film adaptation. He purposefully distanced himself from the play, which I feel was a necessary move.

I saw a mesmerizing remount of Scorched at Tarragon in 2009, which is doing a production of another Mouawad play, "Forests", later in the Spring. Scorched hits you like a punch in the gut, seamlessly merging the interpersonal with the geopolitical in the context of globalized world, culminating in a big Chinatown {1974}-like {possible spoiler, highlight to see} reveal. Two twins are forced to reckon with their mother's death and a history of detachment on her part. We grow to sympathize with the twins, as they struggle with the final riddles of what appears to be a "difficult" mother being just that from beyond the grave.

I think the play would be unbearable without the levity afforded by the good-natured notary and the smart and engaging dialogue. I don't think a "faithful" adaptation would translate to film very well. Borrowing from Marshall McLuhan, film is a "hot" medium. Film commands your attention. Stage is "cooler" medium. As a produced work, the stage requires more interpretation by the audience. There is more abstraction and reliance upon referents to the real. Stage performances are more immediate because of this, more in your face, because there are fewer degrees of freedom in stage production, in contrast to film. Film is allowed the opportunity to tell stories using more visual rhetorics; a greater control over the viewer's gaze and greater use of effects that can mimic or construct a given reality.

The film loses much of the levity and eloquent dialogue in favour of a visual rhetoric that tells the story, but in a disjunctive manner with respect to the play. Part of this visual rhetoric uses the landscapes and cityscapes of Montréal and the unspecified Middle Eastern nation {the film was shot in Jordan} over time to help tell the story. There are extreme close-ups of the detritus of a war-ravaged nation, showing how the everyday was suddenly shattered. The physical violence depicted in the film is merciless and brutal, but not so constant or cartoonish as to desensitize the viewer.

The film unravels the mystery of who the mother, Nawal Marwan, of her set of adult fraternal twins, Simon and Jeanne, really was. What caused her to be the way she was and why were the twins never told of their father and brother? Why all the secrets? The detachment? Solving the mystery, which starts in present-day Montréal, but goes back to the Middle East circa 1970 to 1985, is done through a series of flashbacks peel away the layers of a truth that was kept a secret because of pain and the darkness of human nature. The storyline of the secret truth is punctuated by good deeds and various individuals' sense of personal ethics. 

The interesting aspects of the film was the intersection of culture, gender, politics, and diaspora, which is quite timely given recent events in the Arab world. When the idealistic Nawal clamours for the world to acknowledge the violent acts by a fictional faction, we can't help but think of the current struggles against oppression worldwide. Her once peaceful idealism hits the ugliest of realities head-on, resulting in a circumstance that no matter how modern her thinking becomes, is inextricably tied to culture and the social ties to those in the violent political movement she became an operative in. The most sobering aspect of the film is how a monster was made in Abou Tarek, a deadly sniper and Nawal's torturer, when she was imprisoned. The product of the collateral damage of traditional cultural values and a political war, we're left to ponder how the damage to those like Abou can manifest itself in those who fall through the cracks and are searching desperately for identity {not just in the personal sense of knowing one's parents, but also in a philosophical or cultural sense}. Incendies is a film that reminds us that in war and social struggle there is tragedy and loss on a personal level, resulting in lost individuals and the enduring fallout of its effects.

The film has standout performances by Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin as the twin sister, Jeanne, and Lubna Azabal as her mother, Nawal. Both actors portrayed characters going through extreme emotions in extraordinary situations. Lubna's portrayal of the trajectory of Nawal's life is powerful and moving, taking a character that we are unsure of at the beginning of the film and getting us to have compassion and understanding. Mélissa's Jeanne takes on the journey set in motion by her mother's will with determination, unearthing the ugliness of the aftermath of her mother's past, getting her reluctant brother involved, and portraying the gut-wrenching reaction to the truth being revealed. Finally, I also feel the film adds to a growing list of notable Québec films, including Mon Oncle Antoine {1971}Le Déclin de l'empire américain {1986}Jésus de Montréal {1989}Octobre {1994}, and Les Invasions barbares {2003}.

Twitterversion:: [blog] Film review of Denis Villeneuve's Incendies, adapted from Wajdi Mouawad's play. Loss and Lost in the Geopolitics of War @Prof_K

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tips & Tricks:: YouTube Not Playing in Safari 5.0.3

A few days ago, I noticed that I couldn't play videos on YouTube in Safari 5.0.3. The player was all black with no controls. I did a bit of surfing and found a solution that worked for me, but didn't work for at least one other user. I'm on a Macbook 3,1 Core 2 Duo, 2.2GHz, 4GB RAM. I searched for the application {⌘-F}, i.e., Safari, and went to the get information panel {⌘-I} and selected "Open in 32-bit mode".

If you have an alternate solution, feel free to post a comment.

Twitterversion:: [blog] #Tips&Tricks YouTube not playing in Safari 5.0.3 on Mac? Try ⌘-I {get information} & select "Open in 32-bit mode" @Prof_K

Web 2.0 Wayback Machine:: Lily Tomlin & David O. Russell

Lily Tomlin was on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and referred to the above viral video classic, which was from the set of I Heart Huckabees {2004}. I vaguely recalled it

Twitterversion:: [retro video] Lily Tomlin on Late Late Show refers to viral video of her pissing match with David O. Russell #Web2_0WaybackMachine @Prof_K

Thursday, February 17, 2011

newmusicmonday #80:: Final Flash

image:: Jérome Suard, MySpace

Genrealt indie rock
MembersJoey C. Chaperon:: vocals
Mathieu Bourret:: organ, piano
Alexandre Girard:: guitar, vocals
Andre Bendahan:: bass.  
Maxime Hebert: drums.
BaseMontréal, QC, Canada
Upcoming Tour Dates18 February:: Grand Théâtre de Québec Québec, QC 19h
19 February:: Le Zaricot Saint-Hyacinthe, QC 20h
26 February:: Le Mouton Noir Val David, QC 19h

Final Flash is a Montréal band serving up "psychedelic folk rock". The band released their début album, "Homeless" [streams avail], last summer on Montréal's Indica Records. The album was produced by Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes {NMM#30}This review says the album is too mellow to fit any of the labels of psychedelic/folk/rock. It goes on to call the album what's tantamount to an adequate "suburban" record. That's a bit too harsh, in my opinion. The album is mellow in places and Chart Attack characterizes their music as murky, which I can see, but there are definitely standout tracks. I think the band shines when it embraces their pop sensibilities and goes uptempo, which are my biases. Characteristic of this are songs like "Go Outside"::

and "Welcome to the House on Fire"::

I must admit I have a sense that something's being lost in the studio. The track on the album have a certain polish, but I'm more of a fan of their live performances. Here's a live version of "Welcome to the House on Fire" from Divan Orange::

I'll leave you with a live version of "When the Sky Turns Black" from a show here in Toronto at the Horseshoe::

I think this is a band to watch. They have several upcoming shows in Québec {see above}.

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] belated #newmusicmonday featuring "psychedelic folk rock" of Final Flash from #Montreal. @Prof_K

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Biutiful:: Desperate Characters in a Globalized World

I saw an advanced screening in Toronto of Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu's Biutiful {2010}, courtesy of Now Magazine and thanks to Linnyqat for inviting me along. I've purposefully haven't read other reviews of the film, although I'm sure many will focus on the dreary nature of the film. While I appreciated the concept of Iñárritu's Babel {2006} with its interweaving of stories in a global context, I found it hard to get into. Much of it was the pacing. While Biutiful's pacing isn't brisk, the interwoven stories centring around Javier Bardem's Uxbal keep the audience engaged, for the most part. The 147 minute runtime presented some challenges in this area. Part of the issue I had was you know where the story is going, which sets up the last half of the film, but this made me want the film to hurry up and get to the end. End the misery, already. Maybe this was by design—to make us a bit uncomfortable, but this tactic drifts into those of the new French extremity school, as well as the work of Von trier and Moodysson.

What I find brilliant about this film is that it makes one feel the desperation of the characters. The film gets claustrophobic at times—you feel trapped, just like the characters. Trapped in their lot. Uxbal is a central figure hustling to get by and provide for his kids. Others are trapped in their global transborder circumstances of migrating from China and Senegal to the liminal state of being in the underclass in a gritty Barcelona. This is a Barcelona far from Whit Stillman's {1994} travelogue, but closer to the Barcelona Brad Anderson used in The Machinist {2004}, although that film doesn't specify its location. Iñárritu's Barcelona is of fish frying in pans in crowded and cluttered apartments, of police sweeps, corruption, shady deals, and disposed of bodies washing ashore. The extreme close-ups add to the grittiness of the film. Every pore is visible. Every flaw, in appearance and character, is right there and in your face.

Death is a theme that pervades this film, as part of a trilogy including Amores Perros {2000} and 21 Grams {2003}. It doesn't sanitize it or desensitized the audience to it, but like I said above, it comes close to being an unrelenting onslaught of misery towards the end. I think many might find this hard to take—it isn't pleasant, but it does get you to think about your own mortality. It is through the theme of death that it informs us about life.

The film also has waves of sorts—waves of good and bad. Several times in the film, things look dire, but look up, but then turn sour again. The characters also experience waves, in their behaviours. Uxbal is an exploiter, but tries to do good, but sometimes fails and sometimes succeeds. His wife he's separated from, Marambra {Maricel Álvarez}, goes through life as if she's on a roller coaster, mirroring and manifested in her manic depression.

There's plenty of humanity in this film, but it's a humanity of desperate characters. It's a humanity that should resonate in that many feel the pain and struggle of these times, directly or indirectly. The film reminds us that despite our flaws and our atrocities, we struggle with them, and are nevertheless connected to those in our everyday lives.

Biutiful is in wide release in the US and will open in Toronto on 11 February. Oscarwise, it was nominated for Best Foreign film and Javier Bardem is up for Best Actor.

Twitterversion:: [blog] Review of advanced screening {courtesy of @nowmagazine} of Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu's Biutiful w/Javier Bardem  @Prof_K

Monday, February 07, 2011

newmusicmonday #79:: Boxer the Horse

image:: Boxer the Horse, CBCr3

Genreindie psychedelic pop
MembersJeremy Gaude {vocals, guitar}
Andrew Woods {drums}
Richard Macleod {bass}
Isaac Neily {keys, guitar}
CityCharlottetown, PE, Canada
Upcoming Tour Dates18 February:: The Mack w/ Racoon Bandit, Charlottetown, PE, 7PM
4 March:: Paragon w/ Inflight Safety, Halifax, NS
9th-13th March - Canadian Music Week, Toronto, ON [info]


I'm sort of late to the Boxer the Horse bandwagon. CBCr3 names them best new band of the year in 2010. You can hear a stream and purchase {$10} their début album, 'Would You Please' {2010}, on the web/Bandcamp link above. The album was produced by Two Hours Traffic guitarist Alec O’Hanley and released on the Collagen Rock Records label.

A good into to the band is the jangly pop of "Mind Eraser" from 'Would You Please'::

as well as "Bad Apples"::

Here's a live version of "Mary Meets the Pilot"::

It would be a mistake to call this collegiate rock, which, I personally associate with bands like Vampire Weekend, which are prone to writing about esoterica and posturing with a postcolonial Ivy League æsthetic with all the soul of a Pier One. On the contrary, Boxer the Horse often washes over you with mile a minute imagery of youth with a solid sound and without bashing over your head how clever they are. Definitely check out 'Would You Please' on the blog/Bandcamp link. There are two more tracks on the CBCr3 link, including the wry "Material Xmas" and the vivid storytelling of "Boneyard."

Finally, here's a fun track from 'The Late Show' {2008} EP [purchase], "Jackson Leftfield"::

Find more artists like Boxer the Horse at Myspace Music

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] #newmusicmonday featuring Charlottetown's @BoxertheHorse. In #Toronto for Canadian Music Week Mar 9-13. @Prof_K

Friday, February 04, 2011

Friday Night Videos:: The Truth

The Truth only showed up on the radar in the US for a split second in 1985. The above "Exception of Love" was a slightly more rocking version of Paul Weller's The Style Council. I think they were nicknames Jam Council by one article I read.

Here's a ToTP performance circa 1983::

Here's a review of their fairly strong début album, 'Playground' {1985}, from allmusic with streamed samples. Allmusic also has a bio chronicling the band's ultimate demise after going the rock anthem route.

Here's an audio clip of "Spread a Little Sunshine", which, the intro sounds a bit like Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time". It might just be me.

 Download this mp3 from

Twitterversion:: [videos] The Truth from 1985 w/a neo-mod sound some called the Jam Council. @Prof_K

Thursday, February 03, 2011

US Intel & Egypt

I'm working on a longer post for ThickCulture on how the rhetoric of the leaders and political figures in the West are turning the people in the Arab world against them.

This France24 clip states the uprisings in Egypt show a diplomatic and intelligence failure by the US::

While the precise flashpoint of Tunisia may have been hard to predict, the unpopularity of Hosni Mubarak and the level and nature of social media activism should have been tip offs to the risks in the area.

Twitterversion:: [video] France24 English news clip points fingers at US for its #Fail regarding diplomacy & intelligence in #Egypt. @Prof_K

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

newmusicmonday #78:: Data Romance

image:: Album art, by Archan Nair, photogtaphy by Dave Hamilton

MembersAjay Bhattacharyya
Amy Kirkpatrick
CityVancouver, BC, Canada


The regular readers know I have an inexplicable soft spot for sone techno and electronica. I think Data Romance is on the cusp of doing some really interesting stuff. OK, so while "Bones" might come across as prototypical for the genre of electronica dance pop::

Give a listen to "Little Drummer Boy"::

I like Amy's vocals on this and the more minimalist approach to this arrangement.

 If you're wondering what Ajay's using in the videos that looks like one of those multiplication tables toys {left} analogue-loving kids have  parents buy, it's a Monome controller. The device is positioning itself as a statement of sustainability and local production. According to Engadget::
"The company's latest, Arc, features two anodized milled aluminum knobs, an enclosure made of black walnut (sustainably harvested in central Pennsylvania, of course), lead free printed circuit boards and circuitry, a felt slip mat made from wool purchased from small farms in the US, and -- well, that's pretty much it. Hand assembled on a farm in upstate New York, this device sends OSC data to a computer via USB."
It's also pricey, but maybe pricey—the antithesis of mass-produced, inexpensive, and imported is something that we should all embrace just a little.

Data Romance did the soundtrack for the film, Life Cycle {2010} [DVD].

Here's the trailer::

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] Belated #newmusicmonday featuring Monome wielding Data Romance from #Vancouver BC. @Prof_K

Music & the Ad:: Pepper Rabbit & McDonald's

McDonald's in Canada has a new ad showing how it's a "third space" of sorts and a fixture in people's lives over time, cueing a nostalgic response. It uses a folksy indie song, "Older Brother", by LA's Pepper Rabbit. I'll post the ad here when I find it and feel free to post a comment if you have already.

There was some editing of the song, as the lyrics don't quite fit, but that's nothing new::

We both sat, on our beds, in my room.
And we talked about what was coming soon.
All the (pink powder) wont cover up what we did.
Doing wrong when, we were just kids.

And I think that you're the older brother,
that I never had.
I wish I could reach out and touch you.
Dont worry, i'm not sad.
I know you're just where you want to be,
and everyone's a hundred grand.
Say you wont stay for me,
say hello to your dad. 

I will look after your sister I swear.
I'll write her when she's lonely, and send it off in the air.
I will keep her safe, until i'm dead. 
She'll always have a place to rest her head. 
You dont have to worry about it now,
you dont have to live with that frown.
I will hold your memory close to my chest,
though I wish you hadn't said it was best.
Could you have stayed just one more night,
for all of us to say good bye.
But i'll love your troubles and i'm gone,
you still feel so damn warm.

If you like the song, there's a download on iguessimfloating [MP3]. 

Twitterversion:: [blog] #Music&theAd New McDonald's commercial in Canada features a song from folksy/indie Pepper Rabbit @Prof_K