Friday, August 31, 2007

Album ratings

About halfway through my Rock Is Dead - Long Live Rock days, I changed my rating system. Originally, I scored out of ten. I then decided to add an extra point for albums I considered perfect. In other words, my ratings went to eleven.

The following list is a great sample of my taste circa-2000. For your benefit (but mostly to show how much I've grown out of The Doors), I have included a modified score in brackets beside albums I've changed my mind about since keying the original review.


Abbey Road by The Beatles (9)
Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
Tea For the Tillerman by Cat Stevens (10)
Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber (10)
Live at Leeds by The Who


Beginnings by The Allman Brothers Band (9)
Rubber Soul by The Beatles (8)
Past Masters Volume Two by The Beatles (8)
The Constantines by The Constantines
The Doors by The Doors (7)
All Mod Cons by The Jam (9)
Days of Future Passed by the Moody Blues (7.5)
Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin
The Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon (8)
The Wall by Pink Floyd (7)
Reggatta De Blanc by The Police (8)
The Bends by Radiohead (8)
Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones (9)
Graceland by Paul Simon
Navy Blues by Sloan (9)
Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy by The Who
Quadrophenia by The Who
Innervisions by Stevie Wonder (9)
Fragile by Yes (8)
Simple Things by Zero 7

9.5 to 9

Idlewind South by The Allman Brothers Band (8)
Eat A Peach by The Allman Brothers Band (7)
Revolver by The Beatles
The Beatles (White Album) by The Beatles
Past Masters Volume One by The Beatles
Chicago Transit Authority by Chicago (8)
A Rush Of Blood To The Head by Coldplay (8)
Strange Days by The Doors (7)
L.A. Woman by The Doors (7)
All Things Must Pass by George Harrison
Are You Experienced? by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
In The Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson
Led Zeppelin III by Led Zeppelin
BBC Sessions by Led Zeppelin
Exodus by Bob Marley
The Final Cut by Pink Floyd (5)
O.K. Computer by Radiohead (10)
Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones (8)
One Chord to Another by Sloan
The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus by Spirit
Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space by Spiritualized
Live at the Royal Albert Hall October 10 1997 by Spiritualized
Let It Come Down by Spiritualized (8)
The Who Sings my Generation by The Who (8)
The Who Sell Out by The Who (8)
Who’s Next by The Who (7)
Live at the Isle of Wight Festival by The Who (8)

8.5 to 8

Brothers and Sisters by The Allman Brothers Band (7)
The Fillmore Concerts by The Allman Brothers Band (7)
Music From Big Pink by The Band
With the Beatles by The Beatles (7)
A Hard Day's Night by The Beatles
Help! by The Beatles
Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles
Blind Faith by Blind Faith
The Modern Sinner Nervous Man (EP) by The Constantines
Wheels of Fire by Cream (7)
With a Little Help From My Friends by Joe Cocker
Parachutes by Coldplay
Pop Noir Orchestral Romantique by The Dears
Morrison Hotel by The Doors (7)
Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
Axis: Bold As Love by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Band of Gypsies by Jimi Hendrix (7)
Led Zeppelin II by Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin
Imagine by John Lennon (7)
Natty Dread by Bob Marley
Unplugged in New York by Nirvana (9)
(What's The Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis
Obscured by Clouds by Pink Floyd (7)
Piper at the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd
Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd (7)
Animals by Pink Floyd (5)
Outlandos D'Amour by The Police
Kid A by Radiohead (9)
Beggar’s Banquet by The Rolling Stones (7)
Exile on Main Street by The Rolling Stones
Between the Bridges by Sloan
Pretty Together by Sloan (6)
Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen
Is This It by The Strokes
Legalize It by Peter Tosh
Urban Hymns by The Verve
Burnin' by The Wailers
Poses by Rufus Wainwright
White Blood Cells by The White Stripes
Tommy by The Who
The Who By Numbers by The Who (6)
Soundtrack from the film "The Kids Are Alright" by The Who (7)

7.5 to 7

The Allman Brothers Band by The Allman Brothers Band
Please Please Me by The Beatles
Beatles For Sale by The Beatles
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles (9)
Let It Be by The Beatles
Fresh Cream by Cream (6)
Disraeli Gears by Cream (8)
Deja Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
End of A Hollywood Bedtime Story by The Dears
Free Peace Sweet by Dodgy
Absolutely Live by The Doors (6)
Jimi Plays Monterey by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (6))
Electric Ladyland by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Down on the Upside by Soundgarden
Selling England By The Pound by Genesis
K by Kula Shaker
Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin
In Throught the Out Door by Led Zeppelin (5)
Band On The Run by Paul McCartney & Wings
Definitely Maybe by Oasis (8)
Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants by Oasis (6)
Relics by Pink Floyd (6)
Meddle by Pink Floyd
Zenyatta Mondatta by The Police
Ghost In The Machine by The Police
Amnesiac by Radiohead
Their Satanic Majesties Request by The Rolling Stones
Black and Blue by The Rolling Stones
Tatto You by The Rolling Stones
Twice Removed by Sloan
Rufus Wainwright by Rufus Wainwright
De Stijl by The White Stripes
A Quick One by The Who
Odds and Sods by The Who
Who's Missing by The Who
Substitute: The Songs of The Who by Various Artists

6.5 to 6

Waiting For The Sun by The Doors (5)
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly (5)
Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin
Be Here Now by Oasis (4)
Atom Heart Mother by Pink Floyd
Lazer Guided Melodies by Spiritualized (7)
Pure Phase by Spiritualized (7)
Second Coming by The Stone Roses
Toxicity by System of A Down
The White Stripes by The White Stripes
Face Dances by The Who (4)

5.5 to 5

Goodbye by Cream
Presence by Led Zeppelin
Coda by Led Zeppelin (4)
Mind Games by John Lennon
Pablo Honey by Radiohead
Rainbow Rising by Rainbow
December's Children by The Rolling Stones
Got Live If You Want It! by The Rolling Stones
Smeared by Sloan
A Saucerful of Secrets by Pink Floyd
Synchronicty by The Police
Who Are You by The Who (4)

4.5 to 4

More by Pink Floyd
System of A Down by System of A Down
It's Hard by The Who (3)

3.5 to 3

The Soft Parade by The Doors

1.5 to 0

Silver Side Up by Nickelback

Thursday, August 30, 2007

On Graceland by Paul Simon

This was one of the last album reviews I wrote for Rock Is Dead - Long Live Rock. It's far from perfect (I hadn't yet been taught about the evils of clichés), but I like the way my enthusiasm for the album shines through in the writing and there's a couple of amusing one-liners. What's especially nice is that I feel the same way about this record now as I did when I wrote this.

Graceland by Paul Simon (1986)
Rating: 10
Best Song: Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes

Paul Simon has written some crappy, sappy songs over the course of his musical career. None of those songs are on Graceland.

Graceland was Simon’s dip into the relatively uncharted waters and it’s quite amazing how naturally he blends his pop songwriting with the chunky South African grooves. Much of the record was recorded in South Africa with native musicians and there’s no denying the impact their playing has on the record. Bassist Baghitti Khumalo’s playing would make John Entwistle blush and the rest of the band tightens around his bubbly lines. Despite the funkiness, the grooves are full of breathing room.

And this is where Simon’s songwriting takes over. Lyrically and melodically, Simon is at the high point of his career. The lyrics shun Live Journal-ish emo rants in favour of poetic imagery and catchy hook-lines. This is particularly evident on the title track, which is full of lovely lines such as “The Mississipi Delta was shining/Like a National guitar/I am following the river/Down the highway/Throught the cradle of the civil war.” What makes the track particularly special is the way Simon intertwines American history with South African imagery, something he continues to do throughout the album.

“Boy In The Bubble” opens the record with a tremendous fusion of cajun and South African musical styles, kicking the album off with a deep, powerful accordion lick. “I Know What I Know” has a great chorus which features General M.D. Shirinda and The Gaza Sisters singing bird-like backing vocals. On the surface, “You Can Call Me Al” is a simple, catchy hit single but there are layers upon layers of complex musicality underneath: Two basslines running side by side, a forward-thinking rhythm, chunky guitars and a wonderfully hooky horn line.

The Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a South African vocal choir, add incredible richness and depth to the accapella “Homeless,” and the way their harmonies blend with Simon’s emotionally detached vocal style makes for a stunning contrast. The LBA are also featured on the intro of “Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes”, a personal favourite that has one of the most unpredictable melodies on the album.

There have been several runs at blending “world” and pop music before and after Simon’s first foray. None, however, are as ear-pleasing and appealing as Graceland.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On fast food

While this certainly wasn't the best-written piece on Rock Is Dead - Long Live Rock, it was definitely one of the most original. This goes out to Chris Willie Williams, aka Disclaimerwill, who mentioned these reviews in his kindly write-up about my site, writing: "I love the way he puts the word vegetables in quotation marks when describing the Whopper. Punctuation jokes always make me laugh. Because I'm a dork."

Fast Food Reviews
****DISCLAIMER****By writing and posting these reviews, I am not condoning the eating of fast food. Fast food is generally bad for you and considering that most North Americans are fat, I recommend you avoid fast food places as best you can. Me, I’m allowed to eat whatever I want. I’m a teenager and I have a six-pack. Of abs, I mean. Being an 18-year old male who is constantly on the go (or just trying to kill time on the weekends), I’ve become quite the connoisseur of fast-food restaurants. So I’ve
decided, for the benefit of my loyal readers and fans, to design a little page to direct those of you in need of a quick hunger fix. I’ve rated 5 of the top fast-food chains in North America based on the following three criteria: quality of food, cost, and menu variety. The score is out of 5 stars. So enjoy the reviews and happy artery clogging!

McDonald’s ***1/2
The most recognizable and profitable fast-food chain in the world, McDonald’s has built its reputation on being the “family restaurant”; the comfortable, friendly fast-food chain. The speed of service at McDonald’s is usually quite good although the fact that the customer can’t look into the back always makes me feel a little uneasy. There are normally 10 combos available (almost all based on the burger,-fries- drink format) plus things like McFlurries (ice cream), apple pies and vanilla cones. Cost is actually quite good. The most expensive combo is the Crispy Chicken which will go for around $5.35 (CDN.) while the Big Extra combo is the bargain of the menu, costing a low $3.99. The option of purchasing a Big Extra and McChicken for $1.50 each is a nice bonus when you’re low on cash and late for band practice.

As for the food, McDonald’s strength lies in its french fries. Thin, nicely salted and crisp, the golden fries are the best in the world; when served hot. I recommend you wait for a new batch rather than rush to your meal with cold potatoes soaked in oil. As for the burgers, well, I doubt there is much nutritional value in there and served without condiments, they are horrendous. Imagine a Big Mac without the sauce. Wait! No! Don’t! You’ll ralph! Then again, the sauces are all quite tasty. The mac sauce is for those who like a tang while the more conventional burger eater is better off with the ketchup/mustard combo of the Quarter Pounder or the mayo, lettuce, and tomato on the big extra. Overall, McDonald’s offers a decent tasting, filling and generally cheap meal although I wouldn’t recommend it for someone looking for a quality meal. Best for those on the go.

Burger King **1/2
Burger King has risen in popularity over the past few years and for a while there were actually looking like they could be gaining on McDonald’s. Then people realized that the food sucks and the abundance of mayonnaise has a tendency to make the eater feel a little queasy once he’s done scarfing. I believe there are 8 combos at BK, based on the typical burger, fries, pop formula. Of course, in the end, almost everyone goes for the Whopper, either the junior or the senior. The predecessor to the aforementioned Big Extra, the senior Whopper offers a fairly large burger topped with mayo, ketchup and some “vegetables”. Pretty decent except for the fact that the meat is often burnt. And of course, the extremely cheap Jr. Whopper (an unbelievable 99c(why don’t they have a cents sign on the keyboard) here in Canada) opens the door to the deadly sin of gluttony.

BK does offer some other burger options, including a chicken burger that’s on par with the McChicken and the “Big King”, which is definitely not on par with the Big Mac. Also, the fries suck quite a bit being oily and way too crunchy for my tastes. The pop is good though. And you get free refills, which is always nice. Service is kind of slow, especially based on the weakness of the food and in comparison to McDonald’s. Best for the days when your rushing over a friend’s house to do a project after work and want to stuff your face with four Jr. Whoppers.

Harvey’s ****1/2
A Canadian franchise that prides itself on serving charbroiled hamburgers and offering a variety of side dishes. The best thing about Harvey’s, though, is that after watching your burger being cooked (yes, you can see into the back), you’re asked what you’d like on your burger and they dress it right in front of you. The burgers are tasty, thick and meaty, and when loaded with everything, it’s like there’s a party in your mouth and everyone’s invited. And not only are the beef burgers great, the health conscious among us can order a veggie burger (looks good) or a chicken burger minus the batter (there’s a name for those but I forgot). On the side, you’re given the choice of regular fries (not the best), home fries (much better), onion rings (good), or a salad with your choice of dressing (lovely).

Being that the food is of a higher quality than at most fast food joints, one would expect the price to be a bit higher. And one would be right. Your normal burger combo goes for around 4 bucks with the prices going up from there. But it’s worth it. So is the wait, which is generally longer than the other places. The main problem with Harvey’s is that the food is almost too good to be “fast food”. And therefore, this is not your best choice on the move. But if you’ve got the time to sit down and enjoy a good burger with your girlfriend, come to Canada and enjoy!

KFC **1/2
We move away from the burger places now and on to a couple of variants on the fast food concept. KFC, formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken, is not the most popular fast food chain here in T.O. but I know it does very well in the Southern U.S. and also does well enough here to sustain it’s Canadian chains.

KFC originally did most of its business as a take-out place, offering buckets of battered chicken, a box of fries and a little bowl of coleslaw in mayo. In recent years, KFC has done a good job of maintaining its standing as a great place for take out while moving into the fast food race. For the solo eater, several types of combos are offered. The 2-piece or 3-piece meal, with fries and “salad” on the side seems to be a popular choice. Of course, the chicken is fattening as fat and the “salad” is absolutely ridiculous and the fries are extremely oily. But that doesn’t seem to bother most people. I’d rather go for the chicken burger with the French Canadian specialty “poutine” (fries with gravy and cheese, tasty but very, very bad for you) and a sperm count reducing (it’s better for me at this age!) Mountain Dew. Prices are on par with most fast food places and service is quick. Of course, seeing the chicken legs sit out under the heater is not very appetising. Avoid KFC as often as possible.

Mr. Sub ****
A submarine, or hogey, or hero sandich place. I’m not sure whether it’s Mr. Sub or Subway that is an American company (or maybe neither one is) but Mr. Sub is the better choice.

Submarine sandwiches tend to be expensive and for a 12-inch turkey sub and a Nestea, the price totals $8! You could go the cheaper route with the assorted sub, but I’m not a fan of strange meats. Mr. Sub offer abotu 15 different subs, including tuna, cold cuts, seafood, pizza, chicken breast, and BLT. There are both 6-inch and 12-inch subs plus the oppurtunity to “super-size” your sub with extra meat and cheese. The toppings are varied and there are a few condiments that will make your sub much tastier. Gotta love secret sauces!

Mr. Sub sandwiches are generally worth what you pay, in that they are filling, relatively healthy (especially compared to the other crap out there) and tasty. Mr. Sub also offers baked fries which are rather sucktacular and really big cookies, which I’m assuming are good, if you like sweets. I don’t. Making a good sub takes time and therefore don’t expect to be in and out within two minutes. Expect a pretty good North American sandwich though. Oh sure, it’s no veal on a panino but it does the job.


Well that’s it. Five of the more popular fast food chains here in Canada. Obviously your best choice is Harvey’s here in Canada but I recommend you try and find yourself a nice, small, family-run hamburger place. There might be rats in the back but at least the food will taste really good and you won’t be supporting heartless multinational corporations. Feel free to comment on these reviews or even add your own fast food reviews!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On Nickelback

This anecdotal review of Nickelback's Silver Side Up was written while I was interning at NOW magazine during my final year of high school. Nickelback might be the easiest target in all of modern rock. For that reason, they should be hit over and over again.

Silver Side Up by Nickelback (2001)
Rating: 1
Best Song: None

Susan Cole, the entertainment editor for NOW magazine, calls me over to her desk and makes me an offer I can’t refuse: “Make me a list of upcoming shows you’d like to see and I’ll let you review one of them.” I look through the latest edition of NOW and make my list. I mention Stereophonics, Charlatans UK, Rufus Wainwright, Alicia Keys, CSNY and for sucking up purposes, list Nickelback with the caption: “I don’t like this band but I’m willing to review them.” On my next visit to the office, music editor Tim Perlich informs me that he put me on the list for the Nickelback show. Lovely.

Doing my best to be an objective critic, I ask Tim for a copy of Nickelback’s latest CD, which he kindly provides for me. The concert was one of the most revealing experiences of my critical career, proving that most people have awful musical taste because all they did was jump around and cheer and say “these guys fucking rock.” I gave the concert 1 “N”.

This CD is awful and I could go on listing superlatives to denigrate this album but let’s avoid the cliches and talk the aesthetics of a rock band. For you see, Nickelback’s disgraceful appearance is just as band as their music. Vocalist Chad Groeger has a beard, the guitarist is bald and the bass player wore a cowboy hat. NO, NO and NO! And the drummer is blonde. Dear God, NO! Only singers are allowed to be blonde, and that’s only in special cases. It’s just wrong. Screw objectivity, I don’t give good grades to ugly bands. Except for Britney Spears, who is able to transcend her whore-like appearance with some of the most heartwrenching soul music since Otis Redding.

Reader Comments

Cole Bozman
that's the best thing I've read all week. though I think it should tell you a lesson about sucking up. (only do it when there's no risk involved) as for Nickelback, I've heard their song on the radio -- to me, they sound like a less-talented Bush, as impossible as that may sound...Cole

Steven Knowlton
What's wrong with beards? I remind you that none other than CHRISTOPHER CROSS wore a beard!!! The cowboy hat is simply unacceptable, unless they're playing in Alberta.

Monday, August 27, 2007

On The Rolling Stones

One feature of Rock Is Dead - Long Live Rock that I took from other review sites was the way I tried to cover a band's entire discography as opposed to individual albums. The band pages all featured introductions to the artist(s) covered - short overviews of their work and my take on it. With The Rolling Stones, never one of my true favourites, I went for a laugh. Unfortunately, one of my readers, Raul R Gonzalez, didn't find it very funny and made his opinion known in a nasty e-mail. Luckily, "Frizz" came to my aid.


The Rolling Stones are ugly. Mick Jagger's mouth is bigger than his face. Charlie Watts looked like he was 60 when he was 20. Keith Richards should technically be dead with a face like that. Brian Jones is dead. Ron Wood looks like Keith Richards(!) Only Bill Wyman looks half-decent but he's not part of the band any more. Yet for some reason, the girls screamed back in the day when the Stones were the second biggest band in the world and they still scream today. Except the girls are now women with a husband and 3 children.

Reader Comments:

Raul R Gonzalez
you have got to be the dumbest critic in the history of music. the stones didn't copy the beatles, i never heard lennon sing a blus or paul. why? they beatles were a replica of the beach boys. The Stones on the other hand are attitude, soul, rawness, rock and roll. Not pop, Did you hear exile, let it bleed, bengar's? But with your ears or with your beatles loving ass. The stones didn't sing "help i need somebody" they sang "i can't get no satisfaction. And who's to say and artist should look good, if music was based on that then sync or the backstreet boys would be a great band. The beatles=nice, cute, neat POP (NOT ROCK) music, or the Stones, raw, drunk, bluesy, powerful, ROCKAND ROLL. tell me which one you prefer?

Hey Raul guy who likes the Rolling Stones: The beatles=nice, cute, neat POP (NOT ROCK) music, or the Stones, raw, drunk, bluesy, powerful, ROCKAND ROLL. tell me which one you prefer? Can I ask you a question... have you listened to any Beatles albums past 64? Also, The Stones sang the same old songs until 1967! They didn't have a great album until 1968! The Beatles had 5, count them, 5 revoultionary albums by 1968. I spit on the Stones, wait I like the Stones, I spit on Raul Zach S.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

On Rock Is Dead - Long Live Rock

"The key moment in my life came when I realized that a hockey stick can be used to play air bass."

I wrote this cryptic self-description on a whim. But in twenty-one words, it says a lot. Until I was thirteen, my obsession was sports, especially hockey. I played hockey four times a week (goalie for the Downsview Beavers). I watched every game the Toronto Maple Leafs played (in 1993, when the team was eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings in Stanley Cup Playoff conference finals, I cried). I read the sports section of the Toronto Star daily. I liked music, sure, but until I reached my teens, songs and records never meant much to me. Music was mere entertainment. Hockey was where it was at.

When my dad brought home a record called Who's Missing, everything changed.

I became addicted to everything to do with rock music. I bought CDs by the handful. I took up drums. I started collecting band discographies - first The Who, then Led Zeppelin, then Pink Floyd. I read rock and roll history books. Rock music soon infiltrated my hockey world - I developed the superstition of listening to Live at Leeds before every game. The time and energy I'd once spent on Doug Gilmour, Damien Cox, and developing my butterfly technique was now being spent on David Gilmour, Dave Marsh, and developing my drum roll.

A hockey stick morphing into a bass guitar seemed like the perfect metaphor for the shift in consciousness I experienced around the time my voice started cracking and hair started appearing in odd places. But it's not entirely true. We'll call it bloggerary license. Most air bassing, and air guitaring was done on a tennis racket. But boy, did I do a lot of imaginary bassing and guitaring then. (As my girlfriend will attest to, I haven't entirely given up the habit.)

Then the Internet happened. The first website I started was dedicated to wrestling. I honestly don't remember what it was called. I basically wrote an infrequent column about wrestling. We're not going to get into that today. I actually spent most of my web time reading three websites: Mark's Record Reviews, George Starostin’s Music Reviews, and CosmicBen's Record Reviews. As their titles would suggest, these websites were one-man operations, dedicated to reviewing albums both past and present. Prindle, who still keeps at it, had the wackiest style of writing I'd ever seen - off-the-cuff, stream-of-consciousness reviews that somehow always seemed to pick out the soul of an album. Starostin, a Russian writing in English who recently retired from the Web Reviewing Community (WRC), was amazing for his productivity. At one point, the guy seemed to be churning out multiple 1,000-plus word reviews daily. And CosmicBen, who also seems to have retired from the reviewing game, was insightful and intelligent with none of the pretentious, holier-than-thou attitude that still occasionally plagues more widely read music sites (though it should be said that these guys all had huge readerships).

I soon discovered more sites through links (Disclaimer, Wilson & Alroy, Music Junkies Annonymous, Creative Noise), and others soon popped up (John McFerrin, Steve and Abe, Adrian, Cole, etc.). These idiosyncratic and passionate writers gave me an education in rock music and music writing that I couldn't get anywhere else.

So I decided to be one of them. Sometime late in 1998, when I was seventeen, I launched my own personal music review site: Rock Is Dead - Long Live Rock. At the time, I owned about 100 CDs. (Today, my hard copy collection sits at about 500 - my digital collection, about 2000.) Over the next five years, I published over 120 album reviews, sixteen concert reviews, five shorts stories, six short essays, and a series of fast food restaurant reviews. I updated inconsistently, my prose was riddled with typos and grammatical errors, and some of the opinions I spouted were just plain stupid. Some of the stuff I wrote then is painful for me to read now. Some, but not all.

I took Rock Is Dead - Long Live Rock down last week. I have a new, relatively high-profile job and my name is bound to be Googled on occasion. I decided it would be best that those who do look me up not get their first impression from music reviews I wrote in my late teens. But as I mentioned, it wasn't all bad - some of it was actually DECENT. So over the next five days, I will re-publish five of my favourite pieces from Rock Is Dead - Long Live Rock, the second great writing project of my life. Enjoy.

Rock is Dead - Long Live Rock is dead. Long live Rock is Dead - Long Live Rock.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Good Reads: "Spreadin’ Rhythm Around" by Mark Richardson

Mark Richardson is my second favourite Pitchfork writer (just behind my e-pal Chris Dahlen) and his monthly Resonant Frequency column always offers an interesting take on how meaning is created in music. This month, he explores the legacies of Billie Holiday and Nina Simone and their recontextualization through the Remixed and Reimagined record series.

The ideas around both, as wildly different as their musical output was, are similar, and they're often compared. Simone must have felt something of Holiday's legacy, because she recorded her share of Holiday tunes, being particularly inspired by Holiday's renditions of "I Loves You Porgy" and "Strange Fruit. Both were serious about reinvention and careful cultivators of image. And then there are the names: both changed their plain-Jane givens for monikers suggesting elegance and sophistication. Eleanora Fagan became Billie and Eunice Kathleen Waymon became Nina.

Read the full column here.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A correction

In a recent post titled On Sky Blue Sky by Wilco, I attacked Eye Weekly music critic for what I saw as a backhanded shot at one of my favourite bands. I also accused him of getting a Jeff Tweedy guitar solo confused with a Nels Cline solo. Paul, who seems like a nice guy, commented on the post:

"Hey Marco, I loved this album! I didn't mean to be sneaky. Or get the guitar player's name wrong. =)

To be honest, it's the only Wilco album I've really enjoyed (all the way through, at least) since Being There and the Mermaid Avenues.

Paul I"

Paul did not get the guitar player's name wrong. I did. Nels Cline does indeed play the solo on "You Are My Face," as Paul asserted in his review. I assumed, wrongly, that the solo was Tweedy's doing, since it's similar to the Neil Young crunch he employs on "At Least That's What You Said" from A Ghost Is Born. My apologies, Paul.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

From Maclean's to Masthead

My summer internship with Maclean’s ends tomorrow. It’s unfortunate that I have to leave so soon, considering the kinds stories I’ve been allowed to write and publish on Links below to some of my favourites, for anyone who cares to read them.

On Russia
On wrestling
On record stores
On rereading Harry Potter
On Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
On Harry Potter conferences
On professional cycling
On Wilco
On salvia divinorum
On The Sopranos
On The Simpsons
On Canadian soccer
On teachers

On Monday, I begin a new job, as editor-in-chief of Masthead, where I will get the opportunity to write about something else I love: magazines.