Friday, July 23, 2010

Absolutely amazing new Tron Legacy trailer. Drool worthy, young Jeff Bridges is both creepy and a marvel of modern digital imagery:

Monday, July 19, 2010

So I just completed my first Bluesfest experience. I have to say it was an amazing and tiring experience.

There were a few bands like Metric, Matt Good, Weezer and Great Big Sea that I was greatly anticipating but thanks to my lovely girlfriend I experienced a number of great bands I had never given a chance to before. I will start with the ones I anticipated and move on to the new bands I plan to absorb as soon as possible.

Metric
What can I say, I have such a fanboy crush on Emily Haines and she did not disappoint in their set. She was full of manic energy, the band was spot on and the show was absolutely amazing! Emily if you read this I will drop anything if you call...just saying!


Matthew Good
Matthew Good will always hold a special place in my memory as we watched the show with a friend from Montreal and had a great night of drinking and fun afterwards. The show was amazing and a precursor to one of the best nights I have had. Oh and Matt put on a great show as well.

Great Big Sea
This was the biggest party show of the festival, the place was busier then any other day we were there and we danced non-stop together till the very end despite being on very little sleep from the previous nights fun. They are a great band that still has the magic I remember from my college days.

Weezer
One of the best shows I have ever seen. The music, antics, vocals and vibe were amazing, a truly great end to a great festival. The only shame was they ended with 14 minutes to spare before sound bylaws kick in, that is 2-3 more songs we could have had! Best moment was when Rivers came out in a blond wig and mashed up Poker Face into their set.

Bands I experienced for the first time!

Arcade Fire
They were in the middle of the festival, but I need to mention them first. The entire time we watched them the feeling in the air was magical. Both of us just stared at each other at times, absorbed the music and just had an amazing night. The Arcade Fire is a large band with 2 violins, 2 drummers, 2 keyboards, multiple guitars and singers. How they make it work and work so well is a wonder. One of the top concert moments of my life.


Moneen
A Punk band on a smaller stage, but wow did they get my body moving. Hard music with surprisingly strong vocals combined for a great experience.

Bluestone
The girl has friends in the band and they were the first act we saw this year. A good band with lots of energy and a good sound. The female vocalist has a great voice live.

The Flaming Lips
I had heard of this band but never really experienced them. The show was absolutely phenomenal with the band putting on a wacky show complete with lead singer in a bubble crowd surfing. Go go dancers, dozens of balls to kick around and at least 50 confetti guns. The music was great and the band genuinely seemed to enjoy themselves.

City and Color
We went to a rainy Bluesfest event on York street to see Dallas Green in his band City and Color, he also sings (very differently) in Alexis on Fire that we saw as well. Dallas has one of the most amazing voices I have ever heard, I can't believe I have never experienced his work before. I am desperately tracking down his albums and may be forced to resort to iTunes, I liked it that much!


Other Bands
There wasn't a bad experience, but the rest were OK and not amazing. The B-52s were a little rough but fun. The Moody Blues were technically fine, but fairly boring. Aexisonfire was good, but a little too guttural for my tastes. Very odd seeing Dallas Green play punk style after his acoustic set the night before.

Bluesfest was a great experience, made all the better by having my girlfriend as my festival companion. It is truly something to experience great music, atmosphere and plenty of beers from the Mill St. brewery with a person who gets and appreciates music. Can't wait for next year already!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Amanda Palmer rose to fame with her band The Dresden Dolls and has recently been touring with Jason Webley in the sideshow circus themed act called Evelyn Evelyn. All you need to know about that show is that Jason Webley and her play conjoined twins made to perform by an evil sideshow owner. She is a manically amazing performer, very twisted and talented and has one of the best twitter feeds on the Internet.

click to view larger imageNot content to release standard material Palmers next release is a very strange, yet amazing one. You see, Amanda Palmer loves Radiohead and she loves to play her Ukulele, so of course her next release is Amanda Palmer Plays The Popular Hits Of Radiohead On Her Magical Ukulele. Having heard the album I can assure you her Ukulele is indeed magical and she is as talented as ever.

The opening track is "Fake Plastic Trees" and starts with some light strokes on the magical ukulele and when Palmers voice starts to join in it is a joy to hear. Obviously a track with just voice and ukulele will tend to sound subdued, this one certainly does, but it is haunting and soulful at the same time. "High and Dry" is the next track and while Palmers voice and ukulele is the star we also have some backing piano music to add to the tone of the track. Again the song becomes uniquely Amanda Palmer with the classic (and very singable) Radiohead tune sounding fresh and wonderful in this version.

"No Surprises" is the next song and once again it is a very subdued track, the presentation is minimal, but very personal and echoes of her passion for the music carry through in a very satisfying way. The next track is "Creep", but this one is subtitled with “Hungover at Soundcheck in Berlin”, it is a much more freeform cover then the others on the EP and it shows. It is not my favorite on the album, but it is still very good, you can tell that she was stretching her voice and trying a few of her own ticks and sounds and again makes the song her own.

click to view larger imageNext is "Exit Music (For a Film)"; this song makes a liar of the EP title as there is no Ukulele apparent, instead it is all piano and Palmer. It is an excellent track that again shows Palmers passion for music and her soul being poured into the song. It is not her own music, but she sings it like it is and the result is magic. I do find that the levels on this song seem a bit off and her voice is a tad drowned by the piano but the result is still amazing and must be listened to.

A live version of "Creep" is next (odd to have two versions of a song on an EP, but it is a truly great song); it is truly a live track with audience hoots and participation. The version is obviously raw and the levels aren’t perfect but it is still a better version then the other one on the EP. You can tell she was on her stride at this point and was having a great time playing and loves the song as much as we do. When you hear the song you can literally hear Palmer pouring her entire voice into the song and it makes me fall a little in love with her if I can be honest.

The final track is "Idioteque" and it is also the first release from the EP and it is a great choice as the hook to attract people to the album. Fast and frantic ukulele music starts the tone, piano slowly adds to the sound and then Palmers voice just cements the song into a delightful and incredibly enjoyable track. This is the most ‘produced’ track on the release (backing vocals, more instruments, echos) yet it still feels as personal as the other songs and is a great end to an amazing EP.

Amanda Palmer Plays The Popular Hits Of Radiohead On Her Magical Ukulele is not your normal everyday release. It is very niche, very personal and very, very good. I mention it many times, but the songs sound so personal, so much like Amanda Palmer is singing songs she truly loves and sharing the results with us. I have listened to the tracks many times, in fact while writing this review I have looped them on repeat three times and I can say without doubt that this is a release every Amanda Palmer fan must have. In fact any music lover should give Idioteque a listen and then proceed to buy the album once it is available.

<a href="http://music.amandapalmer.net/album/idioteque">Idioteque by Amanda Palmer</a>

The EP is available on Amanda Palmers own website as she is now a musical free agent and it is a donation based release. The minimum price will be 40 cents per track (9 cents goes to Radiohead and the remainder to cover paypal fees) if you choose to donate more the money goes directly to Amanda Palmer. That means the entire seven track EP (once released on July 20th) can be yours for $2.80, or more if you are not a tightwad, I strongly recommended more. I plan on buying the album despite having review copies of the tracks, it is that good and I want more from Amanda Fucking Palmer.

This was originally published on BlogCritics