mitchellirons

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Icelandic Music to knock your socks off.

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If ever you get to fly Icelandair, make sure you bring some decent headphones with you.  The air carrier has an excellent in-cabin radio system with a large number of stations to listen to.  One was an “Icelandic Music” sampler.  On the flight home, I wrote down most of the songs and gave the quickest of ratings to them.

[Beware!  This image is HUGE!]

Here’s a list of the bands with my notes:

  • Band: Ampop
  • Song: January
  • Album: Made for..
  • My Notes: MNML.  Check it out.  3 1/2 stars
  • Band: Apparat Organ
  • Song:?
  • Album: Apparat Organ
  • My Notes: Atmosphere.  [legomen]  check it.  4 stars.
  • [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjAi7MgRBhM]
  • Band: Blindfold
  • Song: Falleg Depuro
  • Album: Faking Dreams
  • My Notes:Like Boards of Canafa meets John Lemain’s pop group.  meh. 2 stars
  • Band: Bloodgroup
  • Song:My Arms
  • Album: Dry Arms
  • My Notes: Click tracks & pop vocals.  good. 3 stars
  • Band: Egill Saebjörnsson
  • Song:
  • Album: Egill S
  • My Notes: singer-songwriter, but darker instead of happy-lovey.  3 stars.
  • Band: Feldberg
  • Song:
  • Album: Don’t Be A…
  • My Notes: sunny dreamy weekend at home. LA may like, too.  Check “Farewell”.  3 stars
  • Band: Hjálmar
  • Song:
  • Album: IV
  • My Notes: Jazzy-Reggae-Folk?  neat once or twice?  2 stars
  • Band: Hjaltalín
  • Song: Suitcase Man
  • Album: Terminal
  • My Notes: SOUNDS LIKES SOUNDTRACK MUSIC sometimes.  Dark.  Then fun. Then Bond-like.  varied in a good way.  4 stars.
  • Band: J Jóhannson
  • Song:
  • Album: Dis
  • My Notes: Kraftwerk clicks with more melody.  Guitar, too.  & fuzz.  4 stars.  atmosphere.

Second Page.

  • Band: Jonsi
  • Song:
  • Album: Go
  • My Notes: Atmospheric but uneven?  Requires further listen.  2 1/2 stars
  • Band: Lay Low
  • Song:
  • Album: Farewell Goodbye
  • My Notes: smoky dirty café (great voice more than anything else!) 3 1/2 stars √
  • Band: Blue Laggoon Soundtrack #2
  • Song:
  • Album:
  • My Notes: VA
  • Band: Our Lives
  • Song:
  • Album: We Lost The…
  • My Notes: 2stars.  Atmo-pop
  • Band: Påll Oskar
  • Song:
  • Album:
  • My Notes: Dance w/ Flutes & Disco! 2 1/2 stars
  • Band: Rökkurró
  • Song:
  • Album: þaó Kólnar…
  • My Notes: Atmosphere pop meets folky accordions of some sort + Icelandic pop = cool. 3 1/2 stars
  • Band: Sudden Weather Change
  • Song:
  • Album: Stop!
  • My Notes:Atmospher + Rock = symphonic/Wall of Sound/Almost.  Check it out/more listen? 3 1/2 stars
  • Band: Sykur
  • Song:
  • Album: Frabært…
  • My Notes:Kraftwerk, updated.  So far, so good  4 stars
  • Icelandic Airwaves Tunes to Find.  These are song titles by VA!
  • Lay Down in the Tall Grass

===========

That’s the end of the Icelandic music love in.  It was followed by some reminders:

  • oh, so many illustrations
  • THE SOUNDTRACK for my funeral [i..e, my life on earth,] is AIR / LA FEMME d’ARGENT

Some general notes:

  • I can’t remember why I appended the square brackets to my note about funeral soundtracks.  I do recall adding the bracket after writing the sentence.  I think it may have to do with differentiating between the sounds of Heaven (Suedehead) and the sounds of my wake (La femme d’argent).
  • Jean-Michel Jarre is not Icelandic music.  He was listed in the “Ambient” radio listings (as well as Air).  I wrote down this album since I’ve listened to it in the past.
  • Jonsi is Jonsi Birgisson, of Sigur Ros.
  • “John Lemain’s pop group” should be read as “John Mullane ‘s group, In-flight Safety.  (I was too tired to remember anything at this point..) I worked with John for a month or two on a catering gig just before the band became big.  Not my kind of music, but props to them for sticking it out.
  • “Blue Laggoon” [sic] is actually the Blue Lagoon, a geo-thermal spa outside of Reykjavik.  It’s kinda touristy, but very must worth the trip.
  • If you’re curious, yes, I can pronounce some of the odd-looking letters, such as the ash (æ) and thorn (þ) (Thank you, ENG 240Y, Old English, at Uni College, U of T).  That doesn’t mean I could understand anything, though.

Some music notes:

  • Iceland has a serious music scene.  I’ve heard twice that aside form being a great cultivator of local music, a lot of bands stop in Reykjavik and play gigs there in order to offset the cost of travel across the Atlantic.  It may be only a story but it doesn’t change the good vibes in this town.
  • There is a wicked music store you should check out if you head to RVK, called 12 Tónar.  12 Tónar has their own record label.  They’re great fellows in there.  You’re welcome to listen to anything in the store in some real comfortable couches and chairs…  and they serve you espresso!
  • RVK has a music festival called Iceland Airwaves.  We missed it by a week – sadness.   Check it out.
  • While looking for URLs for these bands, I found two strong resources online for Icelandic Music:
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Written by mitchellirons

October 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm

i stole this from a hockey card

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As I was channel surfing between periods or goals scored during game 7 of the Montreal-Boston playoff series on Monday I came across The Hour with your boyfriend, George Stroumboulopoulos. Amoung other things, Strombo was talking to the audience about the significance of that particular day in Canadian and in hockey history. It was April 21, the anniversary of the Leafs Stanley Cup Championship with over the Habs in 1951. There’s nothing too memorable about that particular championship (aside from the fact that it was the team’s fifth win in seven years), but there was definitely something special about the way that it was won. April Twenty-One, Nineteen Hundred and Fifty-One, you remember from your pop-music sensibilities, is that special day in Canadian hockey history when Bill Barilko of the Leafs scored a goal in overtime it undermine the Habs. Barilko would disappear that summer, and so would Maple Leaf hockey championships, until 1961, when his body was found in the bush.

Your boyfriend narrated the events to us by reciting the lyrics to The Tragically Hip’s “50 Mission Cap” to the camera. It was all very cute and endearing, not only because of the anniversary itself, but because, it being spring time, I have found myself as of late pulling out old gems from The Hip catalogue in order to commune with the sun. My pop-musical tastes generally sway toward darker, extended tracks heavy on the synth and light on the guitar. This can be explained away by my arrogance and my pretense, or by my late-teen and early-20s infatuation with ambient and downtempo beats – basically, if its got Brian Eno involved, then I’m keen on it (except for Roxy Music, of course). But when the sun starts shining, I do find myself reaching toward Summertime Festival / Arena Rock. Yay. So Strombo’s timing was incredibly… timely.. given the timing of the sun in these parts this year.

But back to Bill Barilko. I like to think that Gord Downie, in his quest to create a genuine canon of Canadian folklore (in spite of the inherent paradox involved in actively *generating* folklore) reached out to the story of Barilko and hit the mark. Barilko’s story is great for folklore not because of the hockey, not and not because of the stovepipe cup, but because he disappeared and died in a plane crash near Cochrane, Ontario, while en route to somewhere in northern Quebec on a fishing trip. Cochrane is Pretty Far North in Ontario. It’s still on Hwy 11, so its accessible and not “in the boonies”, as they say. But if you are planning on going to “the boonies”, then Cochrane is as good a place to start as any.

When I say, “the boonies”, I betray my upbringing in the comforting, and hollow confines of suburban southern ontario. I may be calling it “the boonies”, but in Downie’s world, on the Canadian Folkloric Map he was sketched out for the past twentyfive years, “the boonies” is where one locates the heart and soul of the nation. Sometimes we call it “the boonies,” but a lot of the time we call it “the north.”

Here in Nova Scotia, I notice that I don’t talk about “the north” anymore. North of me is Cape Breton, and north of that is Newfoundland. And north of Newfoundland (notwithstanding Labrador, a mainland experience of the Rock’s own particular and peculiar folklore) is the North Atlantic. “The North”, from the perspective of Southern Ontario, is where The Ends of the Earth begins. The North is not the Arctic, and its not inaccessible. And neither is it a no man’s land, because Its still part of your province. “Going Up North”, rather, is to go to the fringes of your known space, of your known lands. Going Up North is not to travel to a wasteland, or to a necessarily unknown space, but it is still to travel to a place entirely different from what you known in life thus far. In that space between there and here, that area we have declared to be ours though we do not live in it or experience it, there be monsters.

When I look at old maps of the Atlantic, maps from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, I notice that “here be monsters” still can be found on the oceans. Even though the Americas had been discovered (or at least the eastern seaboard has been charted) and sailors and voyagers knew where they’re going and how to get there, that middle space between here and there was still a place to encounter the unreal, the fantastic, the wondrous or the monstrous. The Arctic and the High North (as opposed to the simple North), perhaps because it was a destination and could be marked and located on a map and therefore psychologically “controlled”, does not have monsters. There may be identifiable animals, but one will not find behemoths in the places one travels to. One find monsters only in the space one must travel through to get to where one is going.

The Arctic was still powerful and destructive, but the sublimity of its landscape created there a relationship between man and nature. We were not in control in the Arctic, but we decided to respect the Arctic for a time, so the Arctic respected us in return. Man might be subordinate to the power of nature in the Arctic, but at least man knew where the power was; with knowledge of this structure, it would only be a matter of time before these positions might reverse. Many sketch-drawings of the Sublime in nature feature the Arctic as opposed to the intermediate spaces between there are here. In spite of the power and terror of these cold, barren regions, in spite of that which makes these spaces sublime in the first place, we can moderately tame them with the stroke of a pen. No one draws the fringes and the in-between spaces, though. The fringes remain a true unknown. It is those places we instead draw and insert the fantastic, that we insert the monsters. It is in those spaces that folklore resides.

Cochrane doesn’t have the monsters I see on maps of the north Atlantic. But it is on the fringes of that unknown space that must be travelled before getting to your destination. That’s where Barilko died. Interestingly, Tom Thomson, who Downie recalls in his song “Three Pistols”, also died in these intermediate paces. Thomson disappeared in Algonquin Park while on a canoe trip of one sort or another in 1919. (I don’t know offhand is his body was ever found.) The park is a nature preserve, about a four hour drive from Toronto, or a little more than two hours from Ottawa. Algonquin isn’t nearly as isolated as Cochrane is, but it still represents the beginnings of The North to suburban Ontario. What is so interesting about Algonquin, and other large-scale parks close to urban centres in Canada, however, is that they also represent our attempts to assert sovereignty over these intermediate spaces. The Parks are named and branded and marked by various provincial and national governing bodies, lending to our maps the appearance of dominion over these lands. But what we find when we drive to them to “camp” for the night (i.e. to pretend to be able to commune with nature and the unknown) is that the park wardens and volunteers and representatives of society and the state tell us we can only hike so far and we can only go into the bush for so long before they will give up on our persons and declare us Lost. Implicit in their statements, implicit in the logos, the nature paths, the plaques, the guides and trails, is the fact that we have not tamed this intermediate space. One should stay on the trail, but one should remember that the trail is not a sanctuary from the monsters. The parks aren’t parks after all. They’re not even thrill rides. The parks are not so much santuaries from the monsters, but sanctuaries for the monsters.

Bill Barilko didn’t die on his fishing trip. Barilko died trying to get there. He died in the uncharted space between here and there. That’s why he’s great subject matter for Downie to play with. Had Barilko died on the fishing trip, his body would likely have been found quicker than it was when his plane crashed in the bush. As it stands, his body was found completely by chance, only because the unknown granted it back to us. This would not have happened, and Downie would not have a song, had Barilko got to where he was going.

I actively try not to promote the Canada=Nature trope that has lived in our culture and our psyche for so long, since Canada does not equal nature. “Canada”, rather, equals “Imagining Nature”. Canada equals Living On The Thin Line Between America and Nature. (This is a slight deviation from the Atwood School. It is slight enough for me to harp about it as if its my own yet still have to acknowledge how I’ve come to thinking about it). That’s what Downie is invoking in “50 Mission Cap”. There is hockey and hockey cards and the Leafs and the Canadiens, so it does smack of Canada like America does in a Rockwell painting. But at its heart, I think the song speaks of a non-corporate, non-commercial sense of Candianness (not “Canadiana”) in the way it flutters with the unknown spaces outside many of our doors.

Written by mitchellirons

April 22, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Earth Hour, Salsa, and Aggregate Data

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I am listening to some Sierra Maestra this afternoon in honour of our blessed early-April overcast skies in Halifax. I ought to be listening to these sunny tunes in honour of The Pineapples, who has gloriously abandoned our region for a much warmer climate for the next three months, but I’m pretty sure that Sierra Maestra is Cuban instead of Mexi-Cal, so I’m happy to keep these dignities and laurels for the not-quite-freezing browns and greys of the north atlantic today.

The Pineapples scurried out of town early this morning under the cover of darkness and a drizzle of freezing rain. At one point I had thought about going to the airport to see her away, but then I came to my senses. As if the 3:45AM wake-up call wasn’t an infringement on my basic right and priveledge of a good night of sleep at the start of the weekend, the last thing I needed was to watch her move through security toward the land of sand, harmful UV Rays, commodified coffee, and hot temperatures interpreted by Daniel Fahrenheit’s scale. I had suffered enough injustice already by watching her pack away sandals and summer-wear. Frankly, airport security is there not to scrutinize tickets, but to prevent stop us plebs from savouring the favourable climates enjoyed by a select few. I may be splitting hairs, but its my hair to split. One day I will be the governor of my own island-nation, and then we’ll see who gets to wear the linen shirts and capris…

Last weekend, The Pineapples and I “celebrated” “Earth Hour” in our own seperate ways. While she turned off all the lights for an hour, I took in a nap. Although I was incredibly tired from a long day of avoiding school work, I think she was a little perturbed that I took in the hour of darkness to catch some shuteye rather than to reflect on The Over-Consumption Of Everything by the west. Mind you, I do believe that The Earth Hour Experiment was a great idea and a smashing success (the Province of Ontario’s Independent Market Operator – there’s a nice bureaucratic name for you – reported a 10% decrease in power consumption against the average Saturday 8-9PM hour, for instance), and I was happy to have taken part in it, if only in spirit. I am a most-vocal critic of consumerist fetishes, after all, including our fetish for light and heat. I do have to wonder where all this Earth Hour hype leaves us, though. Here we are, one week after, and I imagine not many people are going to turn off as many lights as they can tonight. I told The Pineapples that although the intentions of the project are nice, the entire exercise feels hollow in the end. But I may have surprised her when I suggested we do this every weekend now, to give it some gusto and some flair; such proactive ideas are not my department (I deal with cynacism and a near-offensive dry wit). I know I surprised myself, at least.

I had a discussion with one of the readers of this blog the other night about the nature of privacy and information on the internet. We both agreed (I think) that Google’s and Yahoo’s aggregate data on our persons amounts to a hill of beans because we’re not leaders of the free world (yet), but that shouldn’t stop us from being apprehensive (I don’t want to say vigilant – one is vigilant about Terrorists, not about the Interweb) about passive and active data collection on the net. It’s definitely a cause for concern for myself – hence the locked up entries. I may still yet demand all of you to register for this so I can lock it down completely. But then no one would read it but me. Goddamn by desire to communicate, and need to stay anonymous, goddamn it all to hell.

Anyway, back to the sunny salsa-rific southern tunes. I think I need to learn to play the steel drums.

Written by mitchellirons

April 5, 2008 at 2:34 pm

things carried

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one of the first books i ever read was ayn rand’s atlas shrugged. i don’t mean that i read this piece of objectivist pseudo-philosophical trash then i was three years of age. i mean it was one of the first books i read when i decided i did like reading after all. that some some time in my early teens.

(one of the first books i ever actually read was just me and my dad by some guy named myer. was his name malcom myer? i can’t remember the details now, but it was one of those Little Golden Books featuring a family of hedgehogs. for some reason, I didn’t ever get to read Where The Wild Things Are until I was ten or eleven.)

Anyway, one of the first books I ever read was Ayn Ran’s Atlas Shrugged. I had some friends. And those friends listened to a lot of Rush. I was unduly influenced by these friends, so I too listened to my share of Rush. I still get down to a little bit of A Farewell To Kings from time to time. “Xanadu”, for instance, is pure brilliance – and I’ll kick anyone in the shins who thinks otherwise. Geddy Lee is playing that rickenbacker like no one else can. But as I was saying, my friends listened to, Rush, so I too listened to Rush. And my friends, being fairly smart, decided that they had to go all the way and read some Ayn Rand in order to really understand what Rush was all about. this was at the end of the end of the summer, and i was bored out of my mind, so I figured I’d might as well give it a shot.

That was one of the worst decisions of my life. Why should some one give up on the thick sounds of Xanadu to read Ayn Rand? Why should someone skip over Neil Peart’s rendition of the “Kubla Khan” to read obtuse, arrogant, and plainly illogical philosophy when there was Samuel Taylor Coleridge to look over instead? Idiots. I trudged my way through Atlas Shrugged, guessing fairly quick how the storyline was going to complete itself: who Daphne was going to sleep with, how Hank would persevere, etc etc, when I could have been reading Coleridge’s Kubla Khan to “figure out” what Xanadu meant. (As if reading the Kubla Khan ever brough understanding to anyone!)

(Allow me to digress and say that I’m no fan of Coleridge. In the Coleridge/Wordsworth debate, good Willie wins every time.. But when it comes to choosing Rand or STC, well, I’d sooner take waterboarding than her philosophical junk, so Coleridge should have been an easy choice).

There were moments of Atlas Shrugged that I did enjoy, I must admit. But those moments all occurred in the first forty pages or so. I thought I liked Rand’s style. She wrote lit in these short, sweet little sentences that packed a serious punch. Or so I thought they did. Around page thirty it was clear to the senses that she couldn’t sustain these punches for more than three rounds, let alone the full twelve. Rand, I believe, liked the way Hemingway acted, and tried to emulate his own writing style. I say this in hindsight, since I didn’t read any Hem until my twenties. But I do say it with enough knowledge of their styles to easily pick up which one was the hack and which one actually had the style and grace to properly pull it off. Hemingway, despite was we’d all like to argue, was not a hack.

That godforsaken Rand book still sits on my bookshelf. I can’t sell it to a book dealer. I can’t even give it away. I’ve nearly recycled it a couple times now, but I’ve found myself fishing it out of the paper bin a couple day after I chuck it. Now its become some beast of burden that I carry around with me, reminding me of the poor taste of some of my friends and of those two weeks lost forever.

(They were a lost two weeks in the first place, though. I likely would have lounged around a pool during the end of that summer anyway..)

Written by mitchellirons

March 26, 2008 at 9:37 pm

Music, Winter, and Canadian culture

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Enter another page of mindless data on the Interweb regarding Canadian culture (but now with embedded music at the end of the text!).

Canadians, as any Canadian will tell you, are both insecure and obsessed about the idea of a national culture or lack thereof. Answering a question such as “What does it mean to be Canadian?” will draw many different responses, from impassioned pleas for and against the concept to cynical outbursts about wasting one’s time trying to summarize an ephemeral concept. I tend to fall into line with the cynics on this subject, given the fact that “Canadians” live in a nation that is more than half of a continent in size, stretching across many different regions (be they political, linguistic, racial, economic or otherwise), but generally living within 100 km of the shared border with the United States – the dominant cultural producer in the west. (I would argue that a cultural insecurity about our proximity to the United states, as well as its cultural invasion of our nation, is an acceptable and inherent part of our shared “Canadianness” – but that’s a different subject for another time.)

The Canadian population is diffused predominantly along this ribbon from east to west, making the development and maintenance of a unique sense of “Canadianness” a bit of a pipedream. Our shared sensibilities are generally marketed to us, and are therefore weak cultural signifiers: the purchase of a Tim Horton’s double-double is not too different from a specialty drink from Starbucks; Hockey Night in Canada unites a people’s love of a game through advertisements for Ford trucks and Esso/Imperial Oil; and the CBC itself is but one of many channels of data to choose from through different media today. I have also been suspicious, if not most suspicious, of the experienced “Canadian winter” to unite a people and define its culture. Winters are indeed cold, and often full of snow, wind, and slush, but I have wondered if the three to four months of cold-climate living should not mark a nation’s self as much as the other eight to nine months of humid weather. My childhoods, for instance, were full of green Christmases, brown Januarys, and hot, hazy and humid summers. Winnipeg, meanwhile, is known as much for its cold winters as it is for awful summer black flies. The Canadian winter, full of heavy snowfalls, long nights, and toasty, warm fires is not ubiquitous, but is likely an extension of an American belief in Canada as not only the land to the north but a land that is an Arctic tundra.

Perhaps Canadian culture is marked then by the myth of winter? I will not deny that. It is completely plausible that we’ve all bought into the idea, or have at least been fooled into thinking that this is the way things are (here, too, is a subject for another day). Some recent time I have wasted on YouTube, however, has left me reconsidering the place of winter in the shared borg-like Canadian conscious. Maybe I’ve spent too much time grumbling about the lack of snow that we all long for and then complain about when the real importance of winter on the Canadian soul is its short days of filtered sun or overcast afternoons of long shadows before the even longer night falls. The winter does force Canadians to run indoors and stay there, unless they’re willing to bundle up in either wool or synthetic knits for “winter sports.” Maybe something has happened to all of us, then, by spending too much time in our parents’ rec rooms and dens, that has altered the way our synapses fire vis-à-vis other national cultures? The time spent on YouTube wondering about this was based around a flurry of Canadian music videos. Many that I watched offered long shots of grizzled Canadians in the middle of winter, bundled up against the cold, wearing touques, singing while their breath condenses in front of them. Of course, a couple music videos featuring the Canadian winter does not mean that all Canadian music videos feature the Canadian winter. But at the same time, I hardly think that there has been a cabal of record label managers, artists and musicians who have decided over the ten years ago that Canadian culture must be developed by way snow and ice and wool and faux-fur on Super-8 film. There’s something organic to this trend that shows in the way in which our musicians visually display their aural art.

Now, the evidence. Let me begin by offering to your senses Bran Van 3000‘s video for “Astounded” (2000).

This great song, on an album that didn’t get the exposure it deserves due to the folding of its label Grand Royal, offers its listeners a great sample from Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up“; it should not conjure of notions of cold winds or layered clothing. But the music video – a four-minute makeout session – encapsulates a vital part of the Canadian music and club scene – how does one dress up for the club in the middle of winter? The video conjures up the stasis of winter – piles of snow, hibernating trees, overcast skies – as a backdrop to Makeout Couple finally making it to the club. We identify with the electricity and heat of the club, as well as the couple’s great outerwear. There is a constant movement from out-of-doors to the warmth, and community, of indoors.

Broken Social Scene‘s “7/4 Shoreline” (2005) continues the dreariness of the Canadian winter. Interspersed between Leslie Feist‘s vocals are shots of the band driving down a road in the middle of winter. Scarves, touques, and coats are requisite in the car, as are the scenes of trees being passed by – trees without leaves, reaching toward a sky coloured by a palette of greys. The confinement of the car holds the scene together – the band is moving through winter, together, protected against the cold by the vehicle’s exterior, and by each other’s company. (If there is one video you should play, it is this one. Shoreline is a beautiful song.)

BSS may have taken their queue from Alanis Morissette‘s “Ironic” (1995). Say what you will about this song’s improper use of irony, and its ‘miseducation’ of an entire generation of North Americans on the term, but Morissette’s music video is required reading when it comes to “finding Canada” in pop culture. No Canadian – not even the urbanites and suburbanites – is unfamiliar with the scene of driving down a rural road in the winter, a road lined with trees and ploughed piles of snow. When you get past all the alter-Alanises singing to one another, one finds a music video where winter plays the starring role. Like BSS’s “Shoreline”, Morissette drives along a ploughed and salted road, wearing a touque and scarf, finding protection against the dreariness of the outside.

The Arcade Fire offered a more artistic notion of winter in 2005, meanwhile, with the video for “Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)”: with a frantic, animated, rendering of an urban winter scene.

The AF example does deviate from the notion of Canadian culture in music videos, I admit, but note it here nonetheless, if only to remind everyone of another song by the Band, “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)”, which plays with snowed-in fantasies that may as well have been culled from the memories of any Canadian youth. Beginning with “And if the snow / Should Bury My Neighbourhood / . . . / I’ll dig a tunnel / From my window to yours”, “Neighbourhood #1” demands its listener to envision a world altered by the power of winter.

Following Arcade Fire in a more artistic rendition of the Canadian winter, but also completing a cycle by returning to BV3000’s scenes of Montreal, is “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” by Stars (2005). Scenes of skating divide longer shots of the band members performing – singularly and individually – whilst lying down on a sheet of ice marked by an incredible crack that runs the length of the screen. Stars’ world is as frozen-over as Arcade Fire’s own Montreal is snowed-in. The band lies on the ice, nearly incapacitated; any other month and they would presumably by drowning in their sad sung words rather than living them through performance.

Of course, these few videos are not a representative sample of CanCon music videos. K-OS‘s “B-Boy Stance” (2004) (a personal favourite) and more recently, Avril Lavigne‘s “Girlfriend” (2007) both show that Canadian music videos do not demand the snow and the cold within the viewframe. Others, such the Barenaked Ladies’ cover of “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”, or even Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”, still use the climate as part of their footage. I am suggesting, ultimately, that there has been a trend in CanCon to use the winter as vital part of many Canadian music videos. I can’t say if a dichotomy exists between major labels and more “alternative” or “independent” bands (Avril Lavigne is definitely major label, and her video is different from the more indy-type bands listed above – but Kevin Brereton would likely take offense – and rightly so – to be grouped with Lavigne instead of BV3000 or Stars) – that’s a question for Strombo, Ghomeshi, or Lee to evaluate. It remains clear, however, that the cold of the winter months has been a running thread in several recent Canadian music videos, and ought to be researched further…

You are commodified.

iTunes Random Thoughts

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In last summer’s provincial electon, the NDP used JXL’s remix of Elvis Presley’s A Little Less Conversation as a campagin theme of sorts. You’ve probably heard it once or twice; the track received a lot of press for putting Elvis on the British Pop Charts at the #1 place again, topping some record set by The Beatles. It was catchy and fun.

But, sadly, the NDP “lost” the election and Nova Scotia found itself with a minority government. I was reminded of this as iTunes played the track for me. It followed up Elvis with a great Oasis track that, in my opinion, would have been a much better theme, especially when you add the dialogue ripped from Guy Ritchie’s Snatch

OASIS: “Fuckin’ In The Bushes.” From “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.”

We put this festival on, you bastards
With all our love
We worked around a year for you pigs
And you wanna break our walls down, and you wanna destroy us?
Well you go to Hell!

(Kids running around naked, fucking in the bushes)
(Kids running around naked, fucking in the bushes)

I love it! Move everybody here
Yes, all are welcome, yes indeed
I love them:
Fun, life, nice, youth, beautiful…I’m all for it

Ah, where have all the militant social democrats gone?

Written by mitchellirons

April 16, 2004 at 10:04 pm

Posted in 499869, music, nova scotia

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Heavy.

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Mitch’s Top-Five All-Time Favorite Concerts:

(5) Big Sugar and Gov’t Mule, 1999.
. Big Sugar was once promoted as The Loudest Rock Band In North America, and still are, I belive. As such, I suffered permanent hearing damage at this concert. Just as well, I was front and centre in the second row, at the Guvernment. It was going to happen – I’m just happy it was courtesy of Gordie Johnston.(*) Reggae/Blues/Rock-fusion kicks ass, my brutha mon…

(4) Oasis, 2000.
. The rainfall was of biblical proportions, and the opening band was the shitty Black Crowes, but this was beautiful Brit-Pop and straight-up dirty rock’n’roll at its best. The Gallagher lads were in true form, arguing with one another, but just enough to get the crowd going – they played through the entire show, which included an all-star encore of Oasis, the Crowes, Gordie Johnston, Alex Lifeson (yes, Other, really!), Edwin, and another local guitarist.

(3) The Hip w/ Hayden, Sharkskin, and some others, NYE 1999.
. The Hip played out the millenium at the Air Canada Centre, and I picked up scalped tix at cost. Centre Ice, First level, about 18 rows from the ice, for $66. From a scalper! I couldn’t believe my lucky stars.. Now then, I’m not the biggest Hip Fanatic by any means, but an evening spent with 19000 other people singing the same words to the same songs always makes for pleasant memories.

(2) Pink Floyd, 1994.
They had lay-zerrrrrrs. They needed special permission from the US Army to bring those Lasers across the border into America. They played nature sounds for an opening act. They opened with Astronome Domine. They closed with Comfortably Numb and a crystal ball. It was the best $42.50 I ever spent.

(1) Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
See last LJ entry.
. GYBE beat the Big Sugar Litmus test (see note below), and I’m glad they did.
. GYBE encourages their fans to bootleg concerts. I wondered about this – should I really go and risk the damage, when I could pick up a reasonably recorded soundboard bootleg? I’m glad I took the risk – like PF, their stage presence truly is part of the performance. Such cannot be said for most acts out there. No bootleg (even a video) could do their dark-stage and projection act any justice…

Runner-Up Concerts include The Rolling Stones at the SkyDome (the place is way too cavernous to make for a good show, unfortunately) and The Hammerheads at El Matador (my former favorite local after-hours club).

Concerts I regret not attending include Joel Plaskett at The Horseshoe Tavern, Sloan at the Palais Royale, Page and Plant at Exhibition Stadium and U2 at Thunderbird Stadium in VanCity, BC. (Its a long story.)

(*) My ears aren’t all that great anymore, thanks to the likes of Gordie Johnston, Mr. Cool, and Wicked Bassist. (Fat Guitarist from Gov’t Mule, who now is with the Allman Bros., did his fair share, too.) (Sadly, I cannot remember his name. I’m ashamed of that.) Since then, I’ve carefully considered what concerts to attend. Outdoor venues are generally okay, but I generally refrain from going to tiny club acts. I make exceptions to this rule when the club act is truly remarkable (such as GYBE), or, looks to be like a once-in-a-life-time (Stones at the ElMo) or just a special (Sloan at the Palais Royale) occurance.

Written by mitchellirons

April 10, 2003 at 6:55 pm