My Fav Shows Of 2009

>> Wednesday, 30 December 2009

28 concerts this year!

Not bad for a guy who watches a lot of TV.

Attending most of the 28 shows was, admittedly, a no-brainer. Too many great bands dropped by this year, many playing Winnipeg for the first time. Renowned indie heavyweights TV on the Radio, Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party all swung by the Burt. The revamped West End opened to gushing approval and hosted the likes of The Hold Steady, The Dears, Sunset Rubdown, and Final Fantasy (for a pair of nights.) Icelandic moodscapers múm paid their first visit to New Iceland. Plus, music lovers all across town packed venues to see the late-great Vic Chesnutt, Metric, The Weakerthans, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and The Sea and Cake.

Then there's the parade of up-and-comers like Japandroids, Ohbijou!, Lioness, and Grand Analog who dazzled small crowds at the Lo, the Pyramid, etc.

Unfortunately, for the first time in four years, I didn't get a chance to catch a show in magical Minneapolis, although, for the record, I intended to check out The National @ First Avenue in the summer but the date clashed with a good friend's wedding rehearsal. He wouldn't have forgiven me. Still, I considered going.

Fortunately, I flew to Toronto and saw three amazing shows in four nights: Flight of the Conchords, Ladyhawke, and Peter Bjorn and John.

And let's not forget the impossibly great Folk Fest lineup.

My Five:

1. Peter Bjorn and John w/ Chairlift
Venue: Phoenix Concert Theatre
Location: Toronto
Cost: ~$26
Date: April 25

A succinct 75-minutes of blissful pop performed by three Swedes oozing charisma and stage presence. The encore was the most sublime music experience this year: an extended version of "Up Against The Wall" that morphed into Joy Division's legendary "Transmission."

2. TV on the Radio w/ Dirty Projectors
Venue: The Burton Cummings Theatre
Location: Winnipeg
Cost: ~$35
Date: May 30

Again, a short, 75-minute show. Again, frontman Tunde Adebimpe exuded charisma and stage presence. Perhaps a trend is emerging here? As a bonus, I got to see rising stars Dirty Projectors before they went supernova.

3. Flight of the Conchords w/ Eugene Mirmam (the landlord on the show)
Venue: Massey Hall
Location: Toronto
Cost: ~$62
Date: April 22

Spontaneity was the special-of-the-day here. The hilarious boys from New Zealand noticed anyone who left, hit the bathroom, or, in the case of one very embarrassed gentleman, recording the show. All were subjected to impromptu and witty remarks. This show really made me appreciate the second season tunes, songs I was lukewarm to upon first hearing.

4. múm
Venue: The Pyramid
Location: Winnipeg
Date: October 30
Cost: ~$20

An evening of firsts. First time Iceland's third-greatest-musical-export played New Iceland (aka Winnipeg.) First time I have ever attended a show at the Pyramid that ended by 10:30. On a weekend to boot.

5. Final Fantasy w/ Timber Timbre
Venue: The West End Cultural Centre
Location: Winnipeg
Cost: ~$20
Date: October 2

My fourth time seeing the-artist-formerly-known-as Final Fantasy. He continued his amazing streak of bringing along ridiculously talented openers.

Honourable Mentions (in no order):

Plants & Animals @ The Park Theatre
Sunset Rubdown @ The WECC
Cut Off Your Hands @ The Albert
Iron & Wine, Josh Ritter, Neko Case et alia @ The Winnipeg Folk Festival
Bloc Party @ The Burt
Grand Analog @ The Pyramid

What were some of your favourite concert adventures this year?

Infinite Playlist: Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3


My Fav Tracks Of 2K9

>> Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Phew! That was exhausting!

I spent the better part of my afternoon scouring the 2009 ranks, trying to cobble together my all-star-song team of 2K9, part of my lifelong goal (that I started two years back...sadly) of composing a best-of cd at the end of every year. Then, returning years, perhaps decades, later and seeing which were timeless and which were relatively ephemeral.

I just finished crossing the t's and dotting the lowercase j's on this year's choice cuts, so, without further rambling, here are my favourite tracks, in playlist order.

1. Ohbijou – Intro To Season
2. Neon Indian – Deadbeat Summer
3. Au Revoir Simone – Anywhere You Looked
4. Phoenix – Fences
5. The xx – VCR
6. The Rural Alberta Advantage – The Air
7. Kings of Convenience – Mrs. Cold
8. Volcano Choir – Island, Is
9. The Dirty Projectors – Stillness Is The Move
10. Delorean – Deli
11. Japandroids – Sovereignty
12. Jay-Z – Empire State Of Mind (feat. Alicia Keys)
13. Sunset Rubdown – Idiot Heart
14. Timber Timbre – Until The Night Is Over
15. Junior Boys – Dull To Pause
16. YACHT – Ring the Bell
17. Neko Case – This Tornado Loves You
18. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Soft Shock
19. The National – So Far Round The Bend

What were some of your best-loved tracks of the past 365?

Infinite Playlist: See Above!


Making Tough Choices - My Personal Top Ten

>> Thursday, 24 December 2009

1. The xx – The xx

The xx deserve the deafening buzz bestowed upon them by the zines this year. Ironic considering they’re such a quiet, introspective and minimalist pop band.

2. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is a treasure chest spilling over with delectable pop gems. Thought long and hard about whether this should be my #1.

3. Rural Alberta Advantage - Hometowns

With smart, observant lyrics, wistful tones and overall very solid song construction, the RRA is a band who’ve clearly listened to their fare share of Neutral Milk Hotel tunes. See them live at the West End in February (we'll have a beer together)!

4. Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer

Dragonslayer is easily the most accessible Sunset Rubdown offering to date, yet is still a challenging and rewarding set of musical suites.

5. Japandroids - Post-Nothing

It’s amazing what you can still do with the economic drums-n-guitar setup.

6. Volcano Choir - Unmap

For the second year in a row, a Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) joint makes my best-of list.

7. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

After being lukewarm to their opening set for TV on the Radio back in May, Bitte Orca surprised me with its impossibly successful marriage of art-rock eccentricities to warm glee club harmonies. “Stillness is the move” is brilliant.

8. Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs

The grandparents of the indie scene still know their way around a song.

9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!

For the longest time, I thought this record was called “It’s Bliss!” since, well, it comes pretty damn close.

10. Timber Timbre – Timber Timbre

Expect great things from this singularly talented singer-songwriter and his spooky, alluring voice.

Special Jury Prize aka Honourable Mentions:
Kings of Convenience - Declaration of Dependence
Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms
Still Life Still - Girls Come Too
Au Revoir Simone - Still Night, Still Light
Dan Mangan - Nice, Nice, Very Nice

Favourite EP:
Delorean - Aryton Senna EP
Favourite Local Release:
Todd Hunter - Star

On Boxing Day, Haunter, The Angry Dragons and Mike B. help The Lo Pub celebrate its 2nd anniversary.

Jenn Grant is at the Park Theatre on February 9th.

Still to come: my favourite songs and shows of this decade-ending year.

Infinite Playlist: Au Revoir Simone - Still Night, Still Light


The Best Albums Of 2K9 - As Voted By Painting Over Silence Readers

>> Tuesday, 22 December 2009

First, thanks to everyone who sent in lists this year. Like in 2008, I had an unhealthy amount of fun compiling the results and discovering many new and stellar sounds.

Second, the ten records listed below were chosen by readers only and does not include my person picks. That'll come tomorrow. I hope.

Third, despite appearing in the most lists, Phoenix did not receive a single first nor second place vote; the lovely and massively-voiced Ms. Case, however, received three first placers for Middle Cyclone while actually appearing in one less list than the pop wizards from France's contagious offering.

Without further delay, I present the top ten album of voted by Painting Over Silence Readers.

1. Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

2. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

3. Great Lake Swimmers - Lost Channels

4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!
5. The Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
6. Wilco - Wilco(The Album)
7. Patrick Watson - Wooden Arms
8. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
9. Metric - Fantasies
10. The xx - The xx

Honourable Mentions (in no order):

Bahamas - Pink Strat
Dinosaur Jr. - Farm
Julian Casablancas - Phrazes for the Young
Passion Pit - Manners
The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
Tortoise - Beacons of Ancestorship
Franz Ferdinand - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

Last words: while I'm not publishing individual lists, please feel free to post your list in the comments and boast vehemently about your picks.

Hope to hear from all of you again (and more!) next year!

Infinite Playlist: Great Lake Swimmers - Lost Channels


Work Parties

>> Thursday, 17 December 2009

Solo Wu-Tang Clan members continue to give props to their Winnipeg fans. Raekwon will brave the arctic elements for a February 10th set at the Pyramid.

Bobby Birdman opens for YACHT ‘s February 25th gig at the Pyramid.

Ring in the new year December 31st with SubCity (nee SubCity Dwellers) at the Albert.

Sonata Arctica rock The West End on April 13th.

The Paperbacks cd release party update: the local favs will be performing all 32 songs off their brand new ambitious double cd, Lit From Within. No word on what they'll do for an encore.

Whilst on the topics of bands performing albums in their entirety…seasoned Canadian rockers Our Lady Peace have booked a two-night stay at the Burt from April 30th to May 1st. April 30th promises to see OLP play Clumsy all the way through, while May 1st (my birthday!) sees them play Spiritual Machines. Sorry Naveed lovers!

And finally, a reminder: please send in your top ten records of 2k9 list if you haven't yet. I've received several already, so the Painting Over Silence 2k9 readers' poll is shaping up beautifully. Thanks to everyone who has already emailed me one!

Infinite Playlist: Silence


My Twenty Favourite Albums Of The Decade

>> Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Replaying these records over the past few days confirmed it: my ears had a ridiculously great decade.

1. Sigur Rós - Ágætis byrjun

Sigur Rós - Svefn-G-Englar from Sigur Rós on Vimeo.

Ágætis byrjun is an aural masterpiece.

The unedited version of the stunning “Svefn-g-englar” video featured several insightful quotes about music (not in above vid...sorry). These included Henry Miller’s “In the end I think of music as saving grace for all humanity,” and Leopold Stokowski’s “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.”

Stokowski's quote was the source for my blog title.

2. RadioheadKid A

Challenging, subversive, pioneering, sublime, essential….the parade of important adjectives is endless. My favourite Radiohead release to date.

3. Yo La Tengo - And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out
4. WilcoYankee Hotel Foxtrot
5. Iron & WineThe Creek Drank the Cradle
6. Broken Social SceneYou Forgot It in People
7. The NationalBoxer

Fake Empire - The National from Scott Cudmore on Vimeo.

8. The Arcade FireFuneral
9. M83Saturdays = Youth
10. Postal ServiceGive Up

11. múmFinally We Are No One
12. The StrokesIs This It?
13. The BooksThe Lemon of Pink
14. Kanye WestGraduation
15. RoyksoppMelody A.M.

Poor Leno from Röyksopp on Vimeo.

16. Kings of ConvenienceQuiet is the New Loud
17. InterpolTurn on the Bright Lights
18. SparklehorseIt’s a Wonderful Life
19. Flaming LipsYoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
20. Modest MouseThe Moon & Antarctica

Honourable Shout-Outs

CalifoneHeron King Blues
TV on the RadioReturn to Cookie Mountain
Peter Bjorn and JohnWriter’s Block
ManitobaStart Breaking My Heart
Bloc PartySilent Alarm
Vampire WeekendS/T
Phoenix Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
The XX

What are some of your favourite albums from the past ten years?

Infinite Playlist: Royksopp – Melody A.M.


On Luxurious Boats

>> Thursday, 10 December 2009

Ah, summer ’09.

Experiencing the impossibly great Folk Fest lineup; installing then rarely using an air conditioner; consuming almost all of David Sedaris’s library; grooving along to YACHT’s See Mystery Lights and declaring it my official summer ’09 record.

Much to my tired (and cold) delight this morning, I learned the talented dance-pop duo will be projecting the unbridled warmth that is See Mystery Lights to any eager ears at the Pyramid on February 25th.

Unfortunately, that’s the same night as Basia Bulat.

Fortunately, if the Pyramid’s history is any sort of indication, YACHT won’t hit the stage ‘till past midnight, making it entirely possibly to attend both shows. I’m sure going to try.

Infinite Playlist: Kings of Convenience - Declaration Of Dependence


Painting Over Silence Blog Readers' Poll - 2K9 Edition

>> Wednesday, 2 December 2009

About that time again, Folks.

To quote French popsters Phoenix, it's "Listz-o-mania!" Well, list-makin'-o-mania anyway.

Time for yours truly to start searching and listening through the intimidating number of 2009 releases I've accumulated over the past 365 or so, and whittle down the records into a nice, tidy, and easy-on-the-eyes "Top Ten Records of 2K9 List". And then pen a few comments about why I loved each pick.

Like last year, I invite you to take part in all the mad fun that comes with list-making. Here’s how it’ll work:

Email me, by December 19, a list of your favourite records released between January 1, 2009 and now. I will compile all the results and, on December 21st, publish the "Top 10 Albums of the Year…as Voted by Painting Over Silence Blog Readers."

For last year's results, click here.

A few things:

1. I realize not everyone will have ten favourite records released in 2009. That’s okay. The minimum criteria is one and the maximum is ten. So, if Phoenix’s dulcet guitar pop record Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is the only album you really liked this year, please email me and let me know.

2. Order matters…to an extent. The top album on your list gets three points; the second best two; 3-10 are awarded one point. If you only liked one album this year, it gets three points.

3. Feel free to write something about that album, but please aim for brevity - a sentence or two. For example, say you loved Volcano Choir’s Unmap. Your comment could succinct “Explosive and beautiful” or longer “I played this album in an eternal loop for a month…and I’m still not sick of it”. Write-ups are optional. If you just want to submit a list, that’s cool with me.

4. If you do write a comment about an album AND it makes the final top 10 cut, I’ll be posting all comments about that record. However, out of respect to privacy, I’ll just write your first name. If you don’t want that, then PLMK and I’ll write Anonymous (or Anon for short).

5. Please do not send attachments. Simply paste your list and the optional comments in the body of an email.

6. EPs may be included.

7. No re-released/re-mastered/re-packaged/re-imagined albums.

8. My email is on the right side, under “About Me”.

Happy list constructin’ !

Infinite Playlist: A Stereolab Marathon - Transisent Noise/Mars Audiac/Emperor Tomato/Dots and Loops/Sound Dust/Margarine Eclipse/Chemical Chords


Almost A Week Now!

>> Tuesday, 1 December 2009

First off, some great news: The Winnipeg Folk Festival is officially a big, fat five-day affair from now on, so budget your 2010 holidays accordingly. Top on my personal 2010 FF wish list: Kings of Convenience. Hey, it could happen - Iron & Wine came last year!

Hometown heroes The Paperbacks are launching their third full-length LP, Lit From Within, at the West End on January 23rd.

Hot Live Guys are bidding adieu to the music world with a final gig at the Albert on December 23rd. American Flamewhip, Hot Blood Bombers, and Ditchpig also comprise the bill.

On December 20th, Have Yrself A Grumpy Little Christmas with Boats!, The Western States, and True Hussars at the West End.

Attack in Black open for Julie Doiron at the Albert on January 18th.

Monotonix bring their killer live show to the Pyramid on January 16th w/ Lucid.

Down With Webster
and Inward Eye play there on January 27th.

Infinte Playlist: Handsome Furs - Face Control


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