March 19, 2013
I’m a rude bitch says Azealia Banks. Bow Down bitches says Beyonce. One big room, full of bad bitches self-praises Kreayshawn.
When i was a lost, shy, introspective teenage girl I don’t remember being particularly summoned by my pop culture idols to stand up, be rude, take what i want, make a scene, have power and be a Woman. I’m so very jealous. The girls of today are, though shocking to older generations (and a concern to them), strong, sassy, and knowledgeable beyond their years. I say don’t be too concerned. I say look at them- at what they can teach us. Their thirst for the constantly new is insatiable, which makes their art, well, relevant. More relevant than the 30 and 40 somethings’? Maybe. Actually probably, yes. To me, Grimes is waging greater cultural change than Feist did. Did she need Feist to pave the way? Probably. The point is that it doesn’t really matter. What matters is now, and every now that will happen after it.
Now you may be shocked by some of this new music, you may not get it. A lot of what I’m digging up is in the hip-hop and electronic genres, but I’m still looking. Here’s what i’ve found: these girls seem to have the imminent! right in their hearts, vibrating in their bodies; dancing futuristically, dressing with global street style, making beats from machines they play like cellos, spouting sex from their lips with the confidence of old souls, making art that is utterly confusing to most people over the age of 25. I said most, don’t get all upset if you’ve got your finger on that pulse.
I’m barely keeping up, but re-invigorated by what i can only call a movement. These girls are expressing themselves, hardcore. They’ve reinvented self possession, thrown in a dash of glittery narcissism, paid attention to music, fashion and language on every street corner and youtube video. They come to capture, to ravage, to make their life big. What they may not yet know is how inspiring that can be. I feel a message behind it, maybe that’s just me. Like, girls, disobey your mothers and shape your world; make it exciting, make it a place where you are free, make the world look at you and what you got, and feel good about it. There are many women in the world who probably won’t get that chance. Girls of the free world, be a badass bitch if you want to. Be inspired, make art, make life, make it count. I’m starting right now.
(i have a feeling this blog will be controversial?)
some badass bitches:
Azealia Banks, 212 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3Jv9fNPjgk
Grimes, interview on art : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0LVTbltWLI
Kreayshawn’s big hit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WJFjXtHcy4
Iggy Azelia beat down : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6IAFUzmgSU
More Grimes rad music : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtH68PJIQLE
Beyonce gets brave : http://perezhilton.com/2013-03-17-beyonce-new-single-bow-down-i-been-on
Lana on the dark side : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bag1gUxuU0g
lil debbie :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykwwz20RULg
October 16, 2012
A short blog today about the importance of beautiful in my life. A stealing glance at an image of a thousand paper lanterns floating in the Thailand sky posted by a friend, the sweetness I feel when I watch my friends smile, a campfire in my memory I can still watch as it burns a thousand yellows and reds, a song that paints history vividly, a wild garden of lush bluebells I noticed when walking by, a movie where I saw what my eyes could only dream of. Beauty, and the constant creation, re-organization of its endless shifting components to make it known.I capture it with my eyes and my spirit whenever I remember to, or when the world reminds me it is still there. Today, I was so simply entranced by two music videos, whose spellbinding directors make their dreams and visions known through textures and inspired movements. It is subjective, and I behold them in my eye, but I love these little movies and so I share them if you are in need of.
May 20, 2011
In a recent flash of nostalgia, I headed over to iTunes to re-purchase (10-15 years later) the albums of Fiona Apple, Tori Amos Liz Phair. Sure, I’ve moved on, I told myself, to becoming a elite fan of 60 &70’s rebel country, velvet underground Rock n Roll and Montreal indie superstars in the making. But that day I was feeling the need for a litlle female emotionalism, courtesy of my teen idols. And then I looked around. iTunes I mean. If I were an angsty smart teenage girl in need of an identity today, who would I cling to? Miley Cyrus the Disney rebel? Ingrid Michaelson the co-ed who cooed for a car commercial?Adele the imitative balladeer?Katy Perry and co?
My teen idols taught me, just like my parents did, that being smart is better. Those girls displayed their anger and hurt with real heart and expressive, poetic lyrics. They took care in crafting records that were thoughtful in their production. They had messages to share, they wanted you by their side because you could understand them, not because they wanted to sell you their walmart merchandise. Or it at least felt that way. They inspired me to be artistic, to develop my art on the side of brains, not beauty. And this even though their beauty was utmost, and their poise uplifting, even in their darker hours.
The intelligo-female singer songwriter up until the early 21st century was a super idol worth looking up to. Another coincidence well timed with the decline of the music industry, perhaps one the effect of the other and vice versa.
Intelligent music used to sell. Now we are dumbing it down further every minute. It has NEVER been this bad.This is across the board to be sure- but for the purpose of this discourse, consider the effects only on the new generations of women from their peers. Music has always and continues to be an impacting force on how our young chose to grow old. In those formative years of confusion and tough new decisions, I just don’t see the point for parents, and all members of society to keep supporting “art” that will churn out dumb girls. Cultural education today is so important in shaping of our future citizen humans (yes pop music can educate), and if they all start to intellectually resemble Kesha, I guess I’ll just be ….embarrassed to be a girl. That should be Miley’s next album title.
December 25, 2010
So i just watched the facebook bio pic “The Social Network”. It just made me want to have a cool idea like that. When you watch a heist movie, you wanna rob a bank wth a crew of 12 experts and a mile-long devilish master plan. When you watch Goodfellas, well, you get the point. So now i wanna be a internet rebel mogul? I can barely string together a code to change the background on a myspace page. But I do wish someone, preferably me, could find a way to inject the genius of the web reactionaries magic juice into the dried-up music business. And not just because i wish i could make a buck, but because something as powerful as good art deserves a friend. Or a billion friends.
Napster fucked us. Pro-pirates can claim otherwise, but in the end, they are fucking us, and good. Those who know me know of my involvement in the protection of intellectual property. But that’s boring right now, that’s not what i’m itching for. Facebook was invented to help people connect; to help horny college boys get laid, to make nerds aspire to coolness, to turn everything that was enjoyable or pined for about socializing into a full-blown digital addiction.
People used to get addicted to bands. Screaming Beatles fans, stoned out 70’s kids tripping out to the latest greatest LP, Hip hop messiahs leading masses- me in the record store trying to get the next thing into my discman before anyone else could. Obsessing over bands, their music, their stories, their celebrity, their legacy.Why can’t that be exploded into some out of control internet version of its former self? Don’t us fans deserve it? Doesn’t everyone secretly want it?
I’m not likely the one who’s going to brainstorm this brainchild. I know the record companies are trying hard, but they aren’t on the ground floor enough to get it, the trade-off of being so powerful in their penthouse office.
What amazes me is that no one else, no kid in his basement has seeded, grown and bloomed some great platform for giving people what i’m pretty sure they don’t yet know they really really want. A way to connect to cool again….with music. Or music and something else together. And not something ad-based, or check out my mediocre local band page(uh myspace?). Something that is for YOU, makes you feel connected, cool and obsessed with the religion of ROCK and ROLL, the way of life, the attitude, the feeling. Maybe video really did kill the radio star? Maybe the internet has made us too short-sighted and stupid in its infinite too easy to access knowledge. Maybe this culture of digital existence is uninterested in the soul-defining capacities of modern music?
Forget about how the music and advertising biz’s screwed you. The Bands never did, at least the good ones. They’re doing it for you cause someone did it for them, and it’s a legacy worth passing on in my most entitled opinion. I am throwing my plea out into this vast universe of code and text and over stimulation. Here’s to hoping there’s still some inspired youth out there, I am waiting on your so-called powers.
Long gone are the deep-rooted associations stemming from my childhood concerning the artistic musical output of “La Province de Quebec”. There was, “jadis”, a great heritage of traditional music in my native territory, and then of new folklore as well, from early traditonal “chansons” to the troubadour icons of the 60’s and 70’s and beyond, see Beau Dommage, Harmonium, Richard Desjardins. There has been, however, an outside perception of bad taste, with a capital B, interweaved with Quebec’s musical identity. It is one associated as this by my 25-45 generation, at least, one of whose extension is perhaps unmeasurable, but is at a bare minimum acknowledged. Child of the 80’s and 90’s, victims of Eric Lapointe, Celine Dion, France D’Amour, or more currently Linda Lemay,Marie-Mai and the like, my fellow adolescent peers and I maybe expected more of a people born brave, intelligent and passionate. This is of course, is merely an opinion. Let’s just say it did not give me anything to look up to or motivate me as an artist. There were always exceptions (Les Colocs anybody?), but never a aggregate representing, and leading, something ground-breaking.
And so I stopped paying attention. My terrible mistake and loss. While i was busy catching on to every new trend band and their possibly (or not) relevant innovations and important contributions to the collective destiny of popular music, while i was busy thinking these were of english language only, by default, some great things were stirring all around me in my native province, unnoticed by my prejudice.
While bands like Arcade Fire or Bright Eyes, to name just two, have etched new paths for the contemporary sound of quality, Quebec has evolved an equally rich an interesting scope of new frontier french music, inticingly interesting and significant. Much like its creators and their humbly segregated cultural reality, it is refreshingly un-ostentatious. Yet it is making waves.
Let me walk you through a few examples of some music you should get to knowing. Yes, it does help if you understand the language, but i don’t think that is a necessity in the appreciation of what i will for now refer to as “the new french-Canadian innovators of popular music”. Genre branding has never been my strong suit.
Stunningly put together semi-orchestral style pop with nothing but strong underlying hard hitting grooves. Drums and rythmic guitars, unexpected twists of language and subtle but memorable melodies. You may start with this song, “Oublie Pas”
Coeur de Pirate
This lovely girl has, for me, achieved what I always felt Feist was just out of reach of accomplishing. That is a shy, childlike music that inspires am fairy-tale-esque freedom, yet is rooted in a strong musical maturity, a statement that makes you dream, songs that are well-crafted yet make your imagination soar. Her voice is original and stellar, her intention is more pure, in my view, and therefore largely more effective, than her English-Canadian counterpart. My favourite track of hers is “Le Long du Large”, a terrifying tale of perished love and alienation. If you’ll forgive the rough translation, here is my english interpretation of the lyric:
Trace on the shoreline, the blood ripped of its soiled battles
by the time made by waves
The ones that push out our memories
On the shores made of Laughter
Made of Laughter
And without drowning
We remain faceless
A mass like any other
living in a mirage
We are separated by the coast
And our wishes bathe in the trenches
created by war
The one that rules the space between me and my heart-beats that scream from here to there
check out the surprisingly uplifting sounding tune here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErfX3G7ehVk
I made this sweet discovery on Jim Corcoran’s CBC radio 2 show, where he initiates English Canada to his choice francophone musical picks.
It was not an easy first listen, which is perhaps why i kept listening. Some of the best discoveries for me have involved a bit of struggle, as in the case with my now full-fledged obsession with Lou Reed; the visions are beyond my scope at the time of confrontation, and that is precisely what we collectively need to impose on ourselves to nurture our evolvement. Francis’ music is sober, cold to the touch but filled with meaning, well imagined. It succeeds somehow at being different within a frame of the habitual.
His newest single, “Ame Soeur” seen here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JC2AKjpqAcw
Notable mentions include, but do not end with the following:
Chinatown- infectious, real deal pop pulled off exquisitely by exquisite musicians and writers.
Dumas- superstar by now of “indie-quebecois”, his records are always part moody 60’s pop art languishing, part new aesthetic contemporary pop. I’ve always dug.
I’d have to end with an addendum to my previous criticism of 80’s and 90’s quebecois pop music. There is one personal favourite of mine, a sizeable songwriter and influencer, perhaps even to these young artists today. Daniel Belanger has always been a wonderful crafter of sounds, and songs, with an attention to lyricism not often paralleled in English music. Quebecois are very attached to their (our) language, and show a great respect for it by protecting it and using it beautifully in their speech, and art. My french-canadian songwriter contemporaries are certainly no exception to this rule as well, another shining quality of their craft. Seriously, get on this train I say, you’ll be glad as I am now, that you, I, did.
May 8, 2010
If there was ever a music to have a love affair to, and with, it is that of Rufus Wainwright’s. For anyone who has ever seen him perform live and has appreciation for his genre, the voice, the presence and beauty of the songs are simply a delight, a delicate and powerful force that pulls you in like a clear starry summer night. I have followed him faithfully through the years; from Pierre Marchand’s pop perfect produced debut and follow up, Poses, through the masterful twistings and turnings of Want One and Want Two, then a Judy Garland Tribute, yes, and now his latest efforts, among them the new album “All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu”.
At the time of my first aural encounter with Rufus, he was young and full of piss and vinegar, with cute, tight and moody little experiments into the use of the classic pop song form. The result was magical, immediately addictive and perfectly effective at fast tracking him into super stardom. It was also the perfect introduction to him for a younger me, who only had patience so far for the more obvious and straight forward, as far as my appreciation for songwriting went. Then, along the way, not only did he grow up, metamorphosize as an artist and then spread his wings fully into a world of complex music and a deeper approach to art, but, he also succeeded in taking me with him. Not only was i growing independently and ready to comprehend the new subtleties he was bringing (and he brought it), but in turn listening to them with wide open ears and learning from them kept me blooming. And the vicious and wonderful cycle kept going, doing its work. On his newest-Songs for Lulu, the pursuit has at long last arrived at something very tangible in its daring quality. This is Art Music. All solo piano and single vocal, this is a Modern Time Walk Through Central Park re-imagination of 19th century French Romantic chansons, in my books. And some of my favorite books happen to be the songbooks of Faure, Chausson and Debussy, having studied and sang them intently. Not that this isn’t still an album of pop music, and one i believe that can be appreciated by any pallet that has the patience to let themselves be wooed and won over -by these delicious, stunning musical companions that will stay with you and give you something to dream about. I have loved every minute of listening to Lulu so far, it is a pleasing but yet so multi layered (just a piano and a voice!) endeavour that Wainwright has added to his legacy, much to our advantage-if we just let it in. Play it sitting outside by yourself on a warm starry night, and let Lulu take you too…
April 25, 2010
“Under Great White Northern Lights” is your average black and white, or overexposed, not too telling tell-all band docu, following The White Stripes on their first Cross-Canada tour. From the Yukon to St John’s NewFoundland, from soft seaters to quirky free shows at the local flour mill, this DVD release is on the surface just as calculated and pre fab as some accuse the Stripes being themselves. Red T shirts, a live show that’s just messy enough for cred, a lead singer adept in making rumours his legend making best tool.
But if you watch a little closer, you may see…well, Jack.
A phenomenal guitar player and supremely skilled all around musician and arranger. No I don’t believe him when he claims, soapbox style in an interview the filmmaker puts on, that their live show is as free and un-mathematical as he claims. But have you watched this show? I mean the music aside from showmanship. It’s fucking loud, flawless and intricate- Drum perfect planned out parts for non-drummer Meg use her flaws as an advantage (and a good foil to his flame), changes in meter and tempo grip and wow you, guitar parts fusing Blind Willie with Jimmy Page stay with you in your dreams- Plainly, this guy is just awesome.
Jack’s talent is impressive BECAUSE it amazingly melds two sides of artistry-
Raw odd shaped inspiring ideas that make him oh so unique- but it is his creative calculations, his master of his instruments, his laboratory approach to mixing potions of sound and performance that make him, well, a star in the same way as, a David Bowie I believe.
Bowie was an extremely calculated artist, which is something many fans aren’t aware of. He was a master of orchestrating his own fame, his talent, his musical legacy. Read up a bit on him, it’s quite the journey.
And White throws in for good measure an excellent grasp of what music came before him, one so apparent in his great and profound writing.
So yes, Jack White may be arrogantly deliberate, but I commend him for 1- having the balls to do it without too much regard for the critic and 2- for having more playing and writing and visionary chops that most musicians out there today.
Jack, I wish I could commit so fully to both sides of artistry, to both Heart and Will. I have tried and keep backing out: is it too hard to study and bear down or too easy to just let go? I dont know. I will however continue my strive, so thanks for being what you are, I needed a rock star I could look up to and grow from.
April 21, 2010
Many years ago, in the age of the “birth of myspace”, I swiftly took advantage of this new media outlet to vent the wild meanderings of my mind on the subject of…Bubble!
Complete with cartoon slide shows, pictures and stories mocking all the cheesiness and disingenuous qualities I associated with the Canadian crooner, www.myspace.com/itsbubbletime was a credit to my youthful and bold cleverness for sure, but also, in hindsight, to my plain ole ignorance. My page was removed by myspace for unauthorized content.
In a strange twist of fate, I found myself sitting two rows behind “Mike” as we later inebriatedly decided to name him, at this year’s JUNO award celebration.
Swooping in on a private jet, MB opened the ceremony with a glowing, joyful rendition of his big radio smooth pop hit “haven’t met you yet”, a
superbly crafted and light hearted catchy tune about holding out hope for “the one”.
Never mind the respect of thousands of screaming fans, the utterly perfect and colorful playing of the band, the stunning designer Dean Martin style suit or the winning smile and dance moves of this so-good-looking-in-person man. This guy can SING!! In an age of false musicians and showy, very lucky under-achievers, we are face to face finally with a REAL singer. Note perfect, inspired phrasing, a technically flawless performance. Not to mention enough beaming energy to light up the whole arena.
And just to prove my early twenty something self even more wrong, what a nice guy! Smiling, polite, attentive and very publicly loving of his GORGEOUS fiancée. Oh, and hilarious. Must be tough to be Michael B.
Michael, you deserve all the praise and award sweeping feat you pulled off on Sunday Night in ST John’s NFLD. My only regret is that the volcano ash flying conditions swept you off to your European tour before I had a chance to shake your hand.
Maybe next time.
P.S. Dear Justin Bieber: this is a performer you could learn a thing or two from, a lesson in talent and humility. Perhaps Usher isn’t the best role model…? though your hoards of screaming tweeny girl fans that nearly knocked me over in the hotel lobby dont seem to notice what you lack. There are two kinds of man you can grow up to be, but I guess young girls don’t yet know the difference.
I am starting to know, thanks to some friendly faces I have met this year, and though I just haven’t met you yet Mr Bubble, I find you inspiring and lovely. And your impression of Bieber at the non televised gala was awesome, too bad the Biebs missed it.
Thanks for the good times!
March 11, 2010
If the guy next to you in your 10th grade math class, the guy with the creepy sticky mop of hair and bad vacation spot t shirt with his desk inexplicably at a crooked angle next to you, told you one day in an uncalled for confidence…. This:
“I’m gonna build a jazz band machine of cymbals, xylophones and prepared pianos all trigered by my chorus pedal infused guitar soloing…and it’s going to change everything”
a) move to the next available desk
b) ask him where he buys his weed
c) secretly steal his plan if only you had basic knowledge machinery
d) a little from all the above
Well? That geeky kid went on to find a life altering passion while you were studying half heartedly your life-approved major, and somewhere along the way, after an impacting career of ground breaking improvisational music that reached millions, he became…Pat Metheny. And he built a machine this year. Wait for it …. The ORCHESTRION.
A devilish and incompressible to the average mind technological wonder. A full orchestra machine that plays and responds to his every whim. And it plays a whole record ! And whole tour!
Seems like the perfect connundrum; the chemistry a musician strives for and feels at moments with others is only a mirror of what he/she feels in a dream symbiosis with one’s self, and self’s musicals impulses and meanderings. The perfect perfection. But is it narcissism gone too far? Is it inhuman of this music to be so solitaire, to cheat its way to the ideal band chemistry? For who has played in a band and not been terrified of never being able to cultivate that feeling between members? That sounded dirty haha…so why not only entertain relationships in that case with…yourself?
Here is a demo of his genius/madness: ORCHESTRION VIDEO
On the other hand, last night I saw a band play evoking just the opposite feeling amongst themselves, and roping in every audience member into their cool California family glee. A now very sought after secret in the industry, Family of the Year broke out the best psychadelic Dylan modern pop I have heard since The Brian Jonestown Massacre. With beach-style harmonies that make you fall in love (every band member looks like a model, so take your pick)They knew they were good ,yes. They knew they looked good, yes. But most of all, they liked each other. Or at least on stage. They radiated great songs and arrangements by virtue of their imperfect connection. They delivered unbridled stunning fucking up. They played like devils and angels in bed together forever and never let it stop, probably cause they don’t know how. A little pretentious? Maybe. Unbelievably consuming? Definitely. Check out this next big band of troubadours, they seem to put family, music, business and love all first, a rather crowded frontline.