Tag Archives: Valery Gore

#Rocktober30 volume -02

This month (well, officially next month) I turn 30. To mark such a remarkable event, I’m spending every day of October drenched in awesome-sauce.

Though October, and by extension #Rocktober30, don’t begin for another two days, I feel that my negative-second day of #Rocktober30 is worth noting.

First off, it’s erev Rosh Hashanah, and as such, when you work in a Jewish school, classes are dismissed at 11:30, and the school shuts down for the following two and a half days. What a wonderful way to begin #Rocktober30! I had promised my bro-in-law that I’d give him some nerd-help, but I had a couple hours to kill until I met him. I decided to head South to the Annex where  I dined at Japan Sushi. While in the Annex, I visited my new favourite record store, Sonic Boom1. While there, I purchased a few new records…

  1. Wilco – The Whole Love
  2. The Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams
  3. Elliott Brood – Days Into Years
Not a bad haul. I haven’t listened to any of them. What I have listened to a lot today are Wild Flag’s debut self-titled record, and 12 Desperate Straight Lines by Telekinesis. Both of those records are damn good, but the Telekinesis record just gets me. It might just be “Gotta Get It Right Now” that really does it, but I really love the whole record. I should’ve listened to Mari when she first told me about Telekinesis.

From my brother-in-law’s/sister’s/brother’s/zaida’s we piled into my car and went to my parents’ place, and ate a hearty meal that would make by bubie proud. After that I hopped back in my car and drove from Thornhill to the west-end of Toronto, and popped into a crowded and small bar called Holy Oak where Valery Gore was performing for the first time in what seems like forever.

She was performing all new songs, and I’d like to say I can comment on the quality of the songs, but the sound quality was so poor, that I cannot give any worthwhile feedback. I can say that a vocal/piano cover of “She’s A Jar” by Wilco is… different.

  1. This only became my favourite because Criminal Records closed down. []

Personne ne regarde, si tu le fais, je le ferai aussi.

In store performances from my favourite store to buy used CDs, Sonic Boom.

I’m in love with the world through the eyes of a girl who’s still around the morning after

I’ve been at a loss of what to discuss on this blog as of late. I like to have days worth of content sitting in the queue waiting to be posted. Now I’m writing this post only the afternoon before posting. I saw this link posted on Facebook (thanks Brennan from The Cheap Speakers), and though I’m not a fan of Ben Folds, I’m quite the fan of Elliott Smith. I was interested to hear Folds’ take on the classic song, “Say Yes.” Yes, you have to sit through a beer commercial… and it’s for a bad beer.

Why don’t I think it works? Well, first off, Folds seems to be rushing the song. He’s chugging through a song with incredible emotional depth, and none of that is conveyed in his performance, and that, to me, is the ultimate sin of this performance. Where’s the heft? Where’s the sorrow? Where’s the aching? In Smith’s album version there’s a hollowness to his vocals, achieved in the double-tracking which separates the listener from the performance.

I figured why not listen to other performances. Rika Shinohara and Valery Gore performed it in Japan years ago.

This time it’s a performer I’m actually a fan of. I’ve been a fan of Valery Gore’s since shortly after the release of her debut, self-titled record. In this version Shinohara and Gore trade off vocals and while the lead guitar is a bit too fluffy and airy for my tastes, the rhythm I think suits the song. Shinohara’s got some emotion in her voice, but Gore’s performance is, much like Folds’, without any serious emotional depth.

I could then also compare it to this version:

Okay, so this is a bit of a cheat, as the performer is the songwriter, Elliott Smith. While it also feels rushed, like Folds’ version, and his vocal performance is far from perfect, Smith is expressive in his performance.

Either way, none of them compare to the album version.

Mix albums!

I recently reconnected with an old friend, from back in my high school days. We never went to school together, after all, she was, and still is far off in a foreign country. So I made Beth this mix, but I didn’t know what I might have sent her all those years ago, so I decided to limit myself to nothing older than 2000. I also didn’t know what she had been listening to since then, so I decided to limit the selection to Canadian music.

  1. The Indie Queens Are Waiting” by Dan Mangan
    • This is my favourite Dan Mangan song, and I’ve been on a bit of a kick of listening to him endlessly.
  2. Hibernation Song” by Whale Tooth
    • This is not just my favourite Whale Tooth song, but everyone’s favourite Whale Tooth song. They’re a lot of fun, but this song specifically is addictively catchy.
  3. Oh, Alberta” by Elliott Brood
    • If you’re going to make a mix of mostly Canadian music, how can you ignore the most Canadian song ever written. “Ontario, that’s where I’m from.”
  4. Fourteen Hour Day” by $100
    • This is such a tragic tale of loss and heartache.
  5. The Ballad of Poor John Henry” by Cuff The Duke
    • Number two in the Cuff The Duke’s “Ballad of…” series, and definitely my favourite.
  6. Nowhere With You” by The Joel Plaskett Emergency
    • This song is just addictive and fun. I often forget about the Make A Little Noise EP, so I figured this was a good way to give it some love.
  7. “Morning Dove” by Greg Keelor
    • My favourite song from Keelor’s depressing, but beautiful Seven Songs for Jim album.
  8. The Nun’s Litany” by The Magnetic Fields
    • How can you not love a song with the lyric “I want to be a dominatrix, which isn’t like me, but I can dream. Learn S&M and all those gay tricks, and men would pay me to make them scream.” FYI, on the album Shirley sings the song, but in the video Stephin sings it. He did after all write it.
  9. The Gambler and His Bride” by Daniel, Fred & Julie
    • I never noticed how long this song was until Beth, the recipient of this playlist pointed out how bloody long it actually is. It’s a great song, DF&J played it both times I saw them live recently.
  10. Many Lives -> 49mp” by Final Fantasy
    • The violin is so pretty.
  11. Jumpers” by Sleater-Kinney
    • Not many better songs about killing yourself. “My falling shape will draw a line between the blue of sea and sky; I’m not a bird, I’m not a plane.”
  12. Sunndal Song” by The Apples In Stereo
    • Easy to forget that Hilarie Sidney was in The Apples In Stereo, but I think she added a much needed secondary voice to Robert Schneider’s.
  13. Step Off The Map and Float” by Library Voices
    • We’re all just pinpricks on a paper continent.
  14. Two Girls From Montreal” by The Bicycles
    • The first Bicycles song I got stuck in my head. After seeing them live for the first time (years before their first album was released), I left the venue singing this song.

So, yes, there are one item in there by an international artist, The Magnetic Fields, but not enough people know Stephin Merritt, and that’s just a sin.

A few nights ago, I saw my friend Emily, and somehow my enjoyment from making mix tapes/discs/playlists1 came up, and she asked me to make one for her, so this is what I came up with.

  1. Tina’s Glorious Comeback” by Dan Mangan
    • Dan Mangan started the previous one off so well, why not carry on. This one is another that I’ll happen to listen to days ago, and still be singing it. My coworkers must think I’m insane.
  2. “I’ll Have To Dance With Cassie” by God Help The Girl
    • My favourite God Help The Girl song, and I think Emily would understand the thoughts behind this one.
  3. Cop Song” by Entire Cities
    • One day I was walking down the street listening to this song, and a cop was slowing following me in their car.
  4. Snowsuit Sound” by Sloan
    • Though I’ve given up my love of Sloan, I still understand that they used to be awesome, and this is one of the songs which can perfectly capture it.
  5. Yelverton Hill” by The Inbreds
    • “A ring is an awful thing…”
  6. Great Lakes” by Valery Gore
    • The last mix had Valery’s doppelgänger, so this one should include the original.
  7. “Seduced And Abandoned” by The Magnetic Fields
    • This is the tale of an abandoned woman, left without her lover, but with a baby. It’s not the first time that Merritt has told this story, but I think it’s the best rendition of the tale. See: “The Night You Can’t Remember
  8. Highschool” by The Flashing Lights
    • This power pop anthem is as good as it gets.
  9. Girlfriend” by Eric’s Trip
    • Grunge!
  10. “Don’t Wannabe / Like By You” by Julie Doiron
    • Hehe, I put Julie Doiron right after Eric’s Trip! This is the song women sing when I get a crush on them.
  11. Glitter” by The Superfantastics
    • This two piece is just sugary fun.
  12. Your Island” by Young Rival
    • I like Young Rival, I think Emily would dig these Hamiltononians.
  13. “Scott Pilgrim” by Plumtree
    • With the new Scott Pilgrim film coming out soon, this song is a perfect piece.
  14. “We Are Being Reduced” by Thrush Hermit
    • My lord, this song is stunning.
  1. Any music nerd has this love. []

April 2010, in review

In December, I set goals for myself, how many films to see this year, how many shows to attend, how many records to purchase, and how many books to read. This is the standings, as of the end of February…

Books I read (6/10) – 60%:
Nothing this month.

Films I saw (32/52) – 61%:
The Sweet Hereafter | Originally released 1997   
Nine | Originally released 2009
The Runaways
Sleeper | Originally released 1973

Albums I bought (24/52) – 46%:
“My Father’s House” b/w “The Digger” (Regional 7″ Volume 2) by $100   
What The Boat Gave The River by Mark Berube & The Patriotic Few   
new EP by Fred Squire   

Shows I attended (14/52) – 27%:
Daniel, Fred & Julie (w/ Baby Eagle & Jerry Leger) @ The Horseshoe Tavern; April 16, 2010   
The Cheap Speakers (w/ Mark Berube and The Patriotic Few, Lordy Lordy & Big Crimes) @ El Mocambo; April 17, 2010   
Sloan, The Meligrove Band, Adam Green & Valery Gore @ Sonic Boom; April 18, 2010   
Daniel, Fred & Julie @ Soundscapes; April 26, 2010   

Sonic Boom!

Apparently I’m always a critic. I found a peanut butter cookie to be disappointing, and this led to others criticizing my criticizing. However, that just means I need to be a critic.

On Saturday was Record Store Day, a celebration of all things wonderful1. I met with my friend Allegra, and we realized we didn’t have time for sushi before Valery Gore’s set at Sonic Boom, so instead we went to the record store, made our way to the basement, where a soundcheck was going on. It wasn’t Ms. Gore, but instead Lullabye Arkestra. It was interesting, and I might have enjoyed them if I stayed, but I was more interested in sushi, so “Legs” and I made a quick dash to New Gen, and did up the sushiing2 quickly.

We got back partway through Valery Gore’s set, and did get to see four or five of her songs. It seemed to be a bit of a time warp, while all her songs were from her most recent album, seeing her solo was something that I don’t think I’ve seen since a year or two before Avalanche To Wandering Bear was released.

It was slightly awkward, like those early shows of hers, where there’s nothing allowing her to cover up3 her mistakes. As usual, Gore had her humour to cover up those mistakes and was able to endear herself to the crowd.

From what I recall, and I have a horrible memory, she played “Sparrow,” “Worried Head,” “Consolation”4 and closed the set with her “hit” “Shoes of Glass.”

Gore gets bonus points for excellent new glasses, which as everyone knows, cool glasses are where it’s at.

Next up was Buck 65. I had heard his stuff from time to time, and never really understood why people liked it. I decided to give it a shot, and then I saw Shaun Hatton‘s excellent ‘fro descending the staircase. It was the first time I had seen Hatton since beginning his career as a host of Electric Playground. It also gave him an opportunity to chastise me for not attending the most recent Cobra show. We chatted looked at vinyl, and then went upstairs and found his lovely wife Less Lee Moore. She was more excited by new record purchases than Buck 65. I was more excited by awesome people than Buck 65.

Between sets Hatton, Moore and myself were joined by “Gams” and Val Heimpel of Bitter City fame, and a couple of awesome friends of hers. Eventually we heard some rumblings, once again, coming from downstairs, where Adam Green was playing a set that could be best described as humorous. Nothing I’d ever pay to see, but glad I got a chance to. Green’s dance moves were unparalleled, and though his voice was rather sour his songs were fun enough to entertain for half an hour. Also, found Tom there.

Then I joined Tom and “Getaway Sticks,” along with Val, Rachel and Jean across the street at Insomnia for tea and beer. Mmm, beer. We found our way back during the introductory notes of The Meligrove Band’s set. Since the last time I saw the Meligrove Band, Andrew Scott5 has left the band, and Brian O’Reilly of Their Majesties and The Pinecones has joined. They played songs, mostly from their upcoming record and their latest, Planets Conspire. The Planets Conspire songs sounded great, while the new ones didn’t grab me. They seem almost a step backwards. I’ll hold judgement until I hear the record.

Next up was being joined by aL and Natalia, and a visit to Future’s Bakery, where we ignored Metz playing. Would’ve been interesting to see an entire baseball team on that tiny stage, but oh, well.

Finally was Sloan, but that’ll wait for another day.

Photos was taken at another point in time.

  1. That relate to Record Stores. []
  2. Yes, sushi is now a verb. []
  3. That’s funny with this photo beside it []
  4. You’ve got the heart consolation prize for having just survived, having just survived. []
  5. The one from The Bicycles, not the one from The Sloans. []

Music Monday

This is Valery Gore’s only video. It’s from her first album. The second is even better, but she never made a video, so enjoy this one.

Ruth Minnikin’s going to be in Toronto for Canadian Music Week/Fest, and is promoting her new record Depend On This, which I’ve yet to hear, but I assume it’ll be awesome, her records always are.

With two women, might as well continue the theme… here’s Sleater-Kinney.

Linky Link

Linky Link


Courtesy of The Daily What

Top 50 of the Aughts further explained

A list is a list, and it doesn’t really cover what I hope to let people know. If you don’t know me, you won’t know why I chose these records. I thought I’d further explain the top 10.


10) God Help The Girl – God Help The Girl (2009)

God Help The Girl is the soundtrack to Stuart Murdoch’s unwritten film. The Belle & Sebastian frontman used the opportunity of a hiatus to record a new record using female vocalists who he wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to work within the stricter environment of a Belle & Sebastian album.

The songs are damn good, and Stuart arranges for a wide array of female vocalists who bring a new light to his songwriting. Though it’s not a Belle & Sebastian album, every member of the band does contribute to the record.

Highlight: “I’ll Have to Dance With Cassie,” is fuckin’ awesome. I love that song. Wholeheartedly.
Lowlight: Someone other than Stuart Murdoch singing “Funny Little Frog” is a tad weird.  It’s good, just weird.

Photo Credit: Beth Hamill (This woman deserves a medal for her photography)

Linky link: MySpace


9) Valery Gore – Avalanche To Wandering Bear (2008)

Much like the woman herself, Valery Gore’s music is beautiful and intelligent. Her lyrics are quirky and fun, while being layered, complete stories. On Avalanche To Wandering Bear, Gore grew as a songwriter, and took advantage of a bigger band. Adding a horn section seemed to add wonders. While her first record can easily be described as “a girl and her piano,” with a band that seemed to be superfluous. On Avalanche, the band seems to work as a more cohesive unit, better able to expand on Gore’s vision, bringing R&B, Jazz and Pop elements.

Highlight: “Without the beautifully worried head, there’d just be a bleeding neck.”
Lowlight: While I love the song “Red Eye Family,” it sounds like it belongs on her self-titled album and seems out of place here. One of the reasons I love it is that it reminds me of “Big Sky” by the Kinks.

Photo Credit: Me.

Linky link: Webpage | MySpace | Tune In Your Aerial: Adam Interviews Valery


8) Neil Young – Live At Massey Hall 1971 (2007)

I don’t generally like live albums but I did always have a favourite; it was 4 Way Street by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. This live disc from shortly after CSNY’s Déjà Vu was filled with beautiful acoustic renditions of some of their best songs, and Neil Young was in top form. Around the same time as that live album was recorded, Young did a solo tour with a brief stop in Toronto at the legendary theatre, Massey Hall. Live At Massey Hall 1971 captures this brilliant performance.

The songs aren’t all familiar, and very few were familiar to the audience, but most of them are classics. Young’s in top form during this performance, and Massey Hall is the best concert venue in the city.

Highlight: Fuck man! “Journey Through The Past.” Hands down.
Lowlight: Neil isn’t the greatest at between-song banter.

Photo Credit: The album cover.

Linky link: MySpace


7) Julie Doiron – Woke Myself Up (2007)

This album found me at just the right time. A divorce album, as I was going through a divorce… hooray! Well it might not have related to my specific situation, I still found great comfort in it. This might not be a brilliant record, but being a personal list, I cannot tell you how important this album was to me.

Highlight: “Don’t Wanna Be / Liked By You”
Lowlight: I could never get into “Yer Kids…” except live.

Photo Credit: Me. I <3 Julie.

Linky link: MySpace | Webpage


6) The Joel Plaskett Emergency – Down At The Khyber (2001)

In late September, I drove across the Prairie, the mountains behind me and the radio on.

Joel Plaskett’s first record with the Emergency band, after the totally ignored, but brilliant In Need of Medical Attention. The previous album was released silently while Plaskett was still touring with Thrush Hermit, and didn’t receive much if any press, as it was overshadowed by the Zepplinesque brilliant of Thrush Hermit’s Clayton ParkDown at the Khyber was his first release since the split of Thrush Hermit, and though it returned Plaskett to the heavier sound found on Clayton Park, he couldn’t shake the country that was added to his sound on Medical Attention.

“True Patriot Love” is perhaps the most iconic of the songs, but “Light of the Moon” and “Blinding Light” are serene beauties, perfection in a nutshell.

I don’t really know what to say about this record, it’s a fantastic record. I don’t know if it’s so good because of a personal history, or if it’s just a really good record. The fact that Plaskett didn’t become “famous” until long after this record was released makes me think it’s a personal thing, but I love it.

Highlight: Ruth Minnikin and Joel Plaskett duetting on “Blinding Light.”
Lowlight: “Maybe We Should Just Go Home.”

Photo Credit: Me. Taken at the Down At The Khyber night at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto.

Linky link: Webpage | MySpace | In Need of Radio’s Attention: Adam Interviews Joel


5) Neko Case & Her Boyfriends – Furnace Room Lullaby (2000)

It was 2000, so it was either OAC year or the year afterwards. I cannot remember. I bought two records at Sam The Record Man, A Taste of Complete Perspective by Elevator and Furnace Room Lullaby. Though I love both records with a passion, Furnace Room became on of my favourite records. Neko Case’s amazing voice is enthralling, and sublime. Case, a Yankee, enlisted a who’s who of CanRock “legends” to join her in writing and recording this record, from The Local Rabbits to The Sadies, Ron Sexsmith to Don Kerr and many more.

Furnace Room Lullaby is among my first dips into modern country music. Though I was already a fan of The Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, my knowledge of modern country music was limited to Being There-era Wilco and Beck’s indulgences in country. While the others took their country with a heavy side of rock, Case was unashamedly in love with twang. The songs are strong and supported by incredible musicians, and finally Case’s beautiful voice makes them perfection.

I can never get enough of listening to this record.

Highlight: “We’ve Never Met.” If my copy of the CD weren’t three whole metres away, I might get up to check to see who it is who is duetting with Case, but it doesn’t matter. Their voices are perfect together, and the song written by Case, Ron Sexsmith and Don Kerr is a perfect showcase.
Lowlight: “Thrice All American” is a great song, but I think it’s the weakest on the record. I wanted to say “‘Thrice All American’ because we want to pretend Neko is a Canuk,” but the truth is, it’s the weakest song on the record.

Photo Credit: Beth Hamill. Beth took this photo at The Rivoli in Toronto, where Neko was premiering Fox Confessor Brings The Flood to Toronto. An incredible show, and Beth’s first Neko show.

Linky link: Webpage | MySpace


4) The Flashing Lights – Sweet Release (2001)

We’re known in the Valley and big back in Hali, we’re the kings of the Canadian now.

Sweet Release is hands down the worst album by The Flashing Lights, and yet it’s in my top four albums of an entire decade. Makes me wonder where Where The Change Is would’ve ranked on this list if it was released a year later.

Matt Murphy’s Flashing Lights were perhaps one of the best shows in Canada. When the Flashing Lights hit the stage, you knew you were in for a good time. Draped in ’70s garb, destroying tambourines, while guitarists went flying from bass drums. Their live show wouldn’t have been anything special without the music, and Matt Murphy has proven time and time again to be a master at creating some of the best pop music of our time. Whether is the Super Friendz’ “Karate Man,” or The Flashing Lights’ “Friends You Learn To Hate.”

Highlight: The first two songs of the album set this record off on a note it never catches back up to.
Lowlight: “It’s Alright.” Never got into that one too much.

Photo Credit: Me! I took this photo during the Guy Terrifico DVD release show. Sure it’s not the Flashing Lights, but I wasn’t taking photos of bands when they existed.

Linky link: CBC Radio 3 | Hump The Drum: Adam Interviews Murphy


3) Belle & Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003)

Belle & Sebastian’s output this decade has been subpar, however par for Belle & Sebastian is perhaps the best of any band since The Beatles. Okay, so that’s a highly personalized opinion, but Tigermilk and If You’re Feeling Sinister are among my favourite records of all time. Dear Catastrophe Waitress is not really by the same band, while the first two records were a singular vision of Stuart Murdoch’s, all subsequent albums were a collective creation by Belle & Sebastian as a whole. Yes, Murdoch is the the primary singer-songwriter of the band, but it’s still a creation of the whole band.

Dear Catastrophe Waitress has some of the band’s best material, nothing as staggeringly great as “The State I Am In” or “Judy And The Dream Of Horses” or a sugary sweet as “Sukie In The Graveyard” or “The Blues Are Still Blue,” but it does have some of their best material. “Wrapped Up In Books,” “Lord Anthony,” “Piazza, New York Catcher,” etc. etc.

One thing I find odd. Why do I love this record so much? There’s so much religion involved in the record, and I’m not the biggest fan of religion. 

I’ll forever be indebted to a woman named Teri who I haven’t spoken to in over a decade. She introduced me to Belle & Sebastian by sending me a cassette with If You’re Feeling Sinister on it.

Highlight: “I’m A Cuckoo”
Lowlight: “Roy Walker,” I think it’s time for Stevie to give it up.

Photo Credit: Beth Hamill, once again.

Linky link: Webpage | MySpace


2) The Magnetic Fields – i (2004)

If Howard Jones can be God Help The Girl’s Mozart, then Stephin Merritt can be mine. Stephin Merritt is the frontman of The Magnetic Fields, a band who’s music is as vast as it is acute. While Merritt seems to attempt to cover every genre imaginable, when hearing a Magnetic Fields recording, you know it’s The Magnetic Fields.

I think i is the album I return to the most frequently. I don’t know if it’s their best, it probably isn’t, but there’s something I love about this album. It might be the ridiculous theme (all the songs begin with the letter i), maybe it’s the stupid/hilarious/smart/smirk-worthy lyrics such as “so you’re brilliant, gorgeous, and ampersand after ampersand” or “I don’t die, I say ‘hi,’ how clever. I turn blue, I love you forever. I’m tongue-tied and useless.”

I can easily and have been lost in Merritt’s naratives, and wondered if he was singing about me in “I Looked All Over Town” or “I’m Tongue-Tied.”

Highlight: “It’s Only Time” is perhaps one of the most beautiful and romantic songs ever written.
Lowlight: “I Was Born,” I usually skip this track.

Photo Credit: Some dude. I dunno. It’s not my photo.

Linky link: Webpage | MySpace


1) Sleater-Kinney – The Woods (2005)

My lord, what can I say about this album? It’s bloody perfect!

Angry, bold, strong, melodic, bassless, ear-shattering, adjectives!

Simply just listen to this, it’ll cost you less than $20 to buy it, it’s worth it. Hell, you can even borrow it from the Toronto Public Library.

Perfection.

Highlight: “Jumpers”
Lowlight: You have to be in a rather specific mood to listen to so much guitar-wankery.

Photo Credit: Someone took this.

Linky link: Webpage | MySpace