2008 Highlights – Music Edition

The list is not in any preferential order — Song previews will expire eventually, so don’t be bummed if you get an error message — If you read this off facebook, you may not be able to see the music player.


HIGHLIGHTS IN MUSIC : Live and/or Recorded

Portishead (album: third — for being gently psychadelic and violently catchy at the same time)
(live tour and best b-side ever — for being the best concert I’ve ever been to in my life and giving us the gift of Bangers and Mash)
The Luyas
(album: faker death — for being so delicate you could break them)
(album: parlovr and live shows — for being the catchiest act in town)
(album: Microcastle — for being just great)
Aimee Mann
(album: @!#!@$ Smilers — for being  both compelling and lyrically fascinating)
Sigur Ros
(live tour : despite my general disinterest in their last album, their live show delivered the most emotional 10 minutes I’ve ever experience in my concert-going life)
Benjamin Biolay
(album: Trash YéYé and live tour —  for being so subtle and referential on his new record, and for delivering a surprisingly rocking live performance) (myspace)


ALSO : Non-2008 releases that graced my ears

King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King
Philip Glass – Glassworks , Symphony #3 & Kronos Quarter Performs Philip Glass
Panda Bear – Person Pitch
Talk Talk – Spirit of Eden
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Bob Dylan – Modern Times


Momentary Setlist (oct 13)

Portishead – Plastic
Parlovr – Sandwalking
Wolf Parade – Call it a ritual
Aimee Mann – Medicine Wheel
N.E.R.D – Spaz
Christina Aguilera – Keeps Getting Better
Does it Offend you yeah – Wearerockstars
My Morning Jacket – Touch me I’m Going to Screem 2
The Luyas – Dumb Blood

June 26, 2008, 4:42 pm
Filed under: Books | Tags: , , , ,

Almost 4 years after discovering his drawings on Aimee Mann’s Lost in space cover art, I stumbled upon a Seth graphic novel at Drawn& Quarterly bookstore in Montreal. I was stunned to find it, as I was looking for that artist for a while, never finding anything in other bookstores. Luckily Drawn is his publisher and never run out of copies 🙂 And he’s Canadian (from ontario) ! I was not expecting that at all.

All that to say that I discovered what may very well be my favorite comic artist since Daniel Clowes. They both have this down-to-earth, pessimistic approach to everyday life, with jolts of tiny happy moments. I totally relate to that way of thought and these comics really speak to me.

I would strongly recommend the one I’m reading now, before even finishing it. It’s called “It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken”. Find it, buy it and thank me later.

82% Chance of rain
June 20, 2008, 10:26 am
Filed under: Movies | Tags: , , , ,

9 years ago, I was shopping at a virgin megastore and I did my yearly routine of randomly selecting one dvd and one cd from a bin and buying them. That year, I picked the Fiona Apple CD (now one of my favorite artists) and the magnolia dvd (arguably my favorite film ever). I guess, as magnolia points out fabulously :  “This cannot be a matter of chance : strange things happen all the time”.

Note : how I managed to pick  up these two and adore them is already quite coincidental. But what do you say about the fact that Fiona Apple and Paul Thomas Anderson (the director) were dating at that time. Freaky !!!

What a masterpiece of cinema that film. First of all, the script is smart, witty and so layered it would make your head spin. And I’m not talking about the obvious layering of the parallel stories. It goes way beyond this and avoids the stupid “lives colliding” cliché by making the stories connected on deeper levels than crossing each other on the street. The pace is a monster of a success and goes from intense, high-paced segments to moving monologues without ever failing to generate some strong, genuine emotion in you.

The acting is top notch, from everyone involved. I’d have to give a special nod to Tom Cruise whose performance in this is so good it almost makes you forget about all the stupidity surrounding that guy. Also notable are, well, everyone else in this film !

The cinematography  is consistently georgous, the camera work is complex and grandiose. The camera follows the feelings and reaches down in your gut like a sharp knife. It plays a big part in why this film is so good and if the treatment was any different, the film would fail.

And lastly, the songs ! Ahhh, the songs ! Aimee Mann has long been one of my favorite songwriters because she just nails the human condition so well. She just knows how to describe the lives of people who are in constant sorrow but have peaks of ephemerous happiness that make life so perfectly liveable. The fact that magnolia is written based on her songs (and not the other way around) is a testimony to a wonderful artist. Oh, and did I mention the fabulous score by Jon Brion ?

All around, the film is perfectly crafted but doesn’t lack its faults. But who care about faults when the whole is so enjoyable.

I’m going to go ahead and say it :  Paul Thomas Anderson is the best director on the contemporary scene. Don’t agree with me ? write your own blog! 🙂

Fuckin’ Smilers !
June 9, 2008, 2:32 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags: , ,

I’ve been an aimee fan since 1998 and she has a lot to do with me actually listening to music beyond radio pop. So I will eternally be greatful to her. I guess it sounds like I’m getting ready to bash her latest album, @#%&*! Smilers. but I’m not !

I absolutely loved it ! It’s so quintessentially Mann and so surprising at the same time. What a great balance of expectedness and freshness. Not to mention that these are her best, most intelligent lyrics in a long while. In this outing, she really abandons the electric guitar for a more acoustic-meets-synths approach, which she started to explore on Lost in Space. But it’s all so subtle, so well-dosed that the whole album feels light, and smart.

I have to say the 2nd part of the album is by far the best and most interesting so you may want to stick around coz the album builds momentum in the most peculiar ways.

Standout tracks on the album are :The great Beyond (written for Artic Tale, the penguin movie hehe), Little Tornado, Ballantines (a duet with Sean Hayes — Jack of Will and Grace) and the awesomly catchy single Freeway

Note : I have to mention how delightful the artwork for the album is. It’s truly the best I’ve seen in a long while.

Here’s Little Tornado