Archive for Music

Alanis Morrisette gives birth to Jesus

Posted in Movies, Music, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Alanis Morissette (*cringe* – *shudder*) gave birth to a boy on Christmas day! Normally, the family life of washed-up singers with grating voices is not very high on my blogging priority list.  But this one stands out… Somehow that fact that her baby was born on December 25 seems oddly appropriate.

Why?

Because in Kevin Smith‘s 1999 flim, Dogma, Alanis has a small but important role – she play’s God.

She plays God in a movie, then her first son is born on Jesus’ birthday?

Weird.

In case you were wondering, they’ve named the kid Ever Imre Morissette-Treadway. Why do celebrities find it so hard to choose decent names?

Oh, and no, it is not ironic.

This is how you get me to pay for music

Posted in Finds, Music, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on November 22, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Since the demise of the CD (yes, I’m calling it officially ‘demised‘) artists have been looking to package music in ways that give something special to people who actually pay instead of just download. Back in the day liner notes were good enough, but today you need more. Quickly run through any music store (no, not iTunes, I mean an actual store – remember those?) and you’ll see CD packaged with all sorts of stuff – t-shirts, books, toys…

But once in a while, someone will come up with a really cool idea.

Like, SONOIO.

SONOIO is an electronic solo project of Alessandro Cortini (ex-NIN). Like every other artist, you can buy his music online.  But in addition to the standard mp3 download SONOIO offers a package that comes with a tiny synthesizer (SuONOIO) already packed with samples that were used to create the music on the album.

This thing is cool and, for the geekier people in your life, would make a great gift.

It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here!

Posted in Movies, Music with tags , , , , , on September 29, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Is there anything better than coming home from work to find the package you’ve been waiting weeks for has finally arrived?

Nope!

It almost makes all the disappointed trips to the mailbox worthwhile!

And now you can kick back on the couch with Belle & Sebastian.

Ah….

Music can really take you back

Posted in Finds, Music, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

If I ever have to get married, this guy is going to play at the wedding.  I’ll be waiting at the head of the isle, my bride slowly walking toward me, as the Highscore piece from Commando plays.

I love 8-bit chiptunes.  Maybe it’s the complex simplicity, or maybe it’s just because they take me back to my NES days.  Either way, I could pretty much listen to them all day.  Sadly, I am not a musician nor an electronics tinkerer.  I’ve tried both, but it just wasn’t meant to be.  So I’ll never be able to do what this guy as done. At least there is always YouTube.

Pop Life: Porn, a dead horse and really expensive t-shirts

Posted in Music, Thoughts with tags , , , , on June 13, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I went to see Pop Life: Art in a Material World at the National Gallery over the weekend.  There were some great pieces, there were some OK pieces, there were some incredibly juvenile pieces.

I should admit upfront, I am generally not a fan of contemporary art.  It’s not that I don’t think there are great artists around – for sure, some of my friends are wonderful artists.  But I have a very strict notion of what I am willing to consider art, and a lot of the stuff that has come along over the last 30-ish years definitely fails my test.  Essentially, my rule comes down to this:

Ignoring the question of inspiration, and presuming access to the right materials, if I personally could recreate a piece well enough that the average observer could not tell the difference between my copy and the original – it is not art.

To me, art is not about inspiration and a message.  It’s not enough to simply have an idea, know what you think it means, and then give it physical form.

Art is about skill.

Leonardo da Vinci created magnificent, timeless paintings. He did so with primitive canvases and paints, but he had the skill to bring life to his work.  Unfortunately a lot of the pieces I saw on Saturday were stark, simple and lifeless.  One piece, that I wish I had noted the information for, was nothing more than coloured dots on a white background.  Some people were asking, “What does it mean?”  I was answering, “Who cares.”  It failed my test.

Then of course there were the controversial pieces.  I don’t have any issue with nudity in art. If it passes my initial art test, I will accept pretty much anything – even if I personally don’t like it.  As such, Richard Price’s piece depicting a 10-year old Brooke Shields nude passes the test.  It took skill to craft the photograph out of colour and shadow.  Brooke Shields is nothing more than a 10-year old canvas.  However, another piece which is essentially just a close-up photograph of a penis near a woman’s mouth, does not pass.  Why? Because it took nothing to create.  A woman wearing lipstick opened her mouth in front of a blank background and a penis was put close to it.  Zoom in, snap! Picture taken. That’s all.

The piece relies solely on the shock of the observer.  Without anyone to be shocked by it, the piece would be nothing.  I can take a picture of a penis close to a woman’s mouth.  So can anyone with a camera.  And even passing acquaintance with the internet will show you that there are millions of people who do exactly that.  They are not all artists.  And was I shocked? No.  I’ve seen lots of porn.

Strangely, the Gallery decided that 10-year old Brooke shields should not be displayed, but the penis and mouth should.  I’ve seen the Brooke Shields piece elsewhere, I can tell you that it is infinitely more appropriate than the penis and mouth.  Even the piece depicting a dead horse – made with actual horse skin and eerily realistic – was more interesting.

Moving on…

The Pop Shop piece was interesting.  I haven’t decided how I feel about being used as a part of the art, but I will admit that I came “this close” to buying a t-shirt from the girl in the window.  That is, until I discovered that they were selling for $32.99.  That is a really expensive t-shirt.  I’m not paying that much for a shirt unless I am at a concert.

The twins were good.  I liked that they were allowed to talk to the observers, though I didn’t talk to them myself. (Again, I’m not sure how I feel about being a part of the art.)

For me, the absolute best piece involved the below video. I won’t explain it, because I really, really, can’t.  But just watch it. It’s awesome.

Did you watch it? Good.  Now go see the rest of the show! (Just try to ignore the porn.)

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I don’t care about the music industry

Posted in Aggravations, Music, Random with tags , , , , , on June 7, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I was thinking about the new copyright bill last night, when I suddenly realized that I just don’t care about the music industry.  (Yes, I know the bill isn’t just about the music industry, but this post is. Relax…)

It’s not that I don’t like music – I really like music.  And it’s not that I think artists should go unrewarded.  It’s just that I don’t think music should be a commodity.

Industries are for cars and forestry. Industries are not for art.

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Sometimes less really is more!

Posted in Finds, Music, Random with tags , , , , on March 22, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I’ve spent the better part of tonight searching for 8-bit covers of my favourite music on 8bitcollective, and I’m totally addicted.  Listening to your favourite tunes redone to sound as if they were coming from a late-eighties video game probably won’t be immediately appealing to everyone – but I’d recommend giving it a try anyway.

So far I’ve found covers for: Elliott Smith, The Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie, Jimmy Eat World, Snow Patrol, The Cure, The Psychedelic Furs, Owl City, The Killers, Oasis, Nirvana and even Rage Against the Machine!  There are so many more too but the snag is that you really have search because many are labeled by song title only, without reference to the original artist.

Granted, some of the covers are, well, not great – but enough of them are amazing.  And, there’s tons of original work too.

You can listen to the tracks, called Chiptunes, directly from the site, or you can download them for later – all totally free

Next Big Sound

Posted in Finds, Music with tags , , on March 18, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I came across Next Big Sound tonight and I’ve spend the last hour punching in band names.  I’ve never really been into statistics, but I have to admit that being able to see a line chart of my favourite bands’ web presence is pretty cool.  From the site itself:

Next Big Sound tracks the number of plays, fans, views, likes, downloads, & comments that happen when fans interact with artists on 16 different sites.

The sites that are currently included in the results are:

Facebook, Last.FM, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, iLike, Wikipedia, Soundcloud, ReverbNation, Pure Volume, OurStage, Vimeo, Bebo, Amie Street, Jam Legend, and Virb.

They call all this information “Actionable Intelligence for the Music Industry” and that is a pretty spot-on description.  While the average music fan can definitely have a good time checking out the stats for their favourite band, the real win here is for artists themselves. The site allows artists to see exactly what kind of web activity they are generating, and directly compare their own stats with those of other artist.

At the moment, not all artists are being followed, and those that are being followed don’t have links to all of the available sites.  But anyone can add an artist, and anyone can update an artist’s profile with the relevant links. So as NBS becomes more popular, we should see a pretty comprehensive list of artists to follow and compare.

Mix one part Something Corporate, two parts synth

Posted in Music, Thoughts with tags , , , , on March 17, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Over the last week or so I have been giving Owl City’s most recent record, Ocean Eyes,  a proper listen. Yes, I realize that I am far from being on the bleeding edge of new music – but I have a job and responsibilities so what do you want?

I know that everyone and his monkey has already gone on and on about how much Adam Young’s style is like a less developed Postal Service.  And I freely admit that the first time I heard Fireflies I thought for sure that The Postal Service had finally released a new album. I was in the mall at the time, so I immediately made my way to the nearest record store, only to be disappointed to discover that no one had heard anything of a new album.

But this afternoon, on my way home from work, I realized that I could hear another major influence – Something Corporate!  Now the more I listen, the less I hear Ben Gibbard and the more I hear Andrew McMahon.  Owl city is exactly what I would expect to hear if McMahon happened to be locked in a room with a synthesizer.

Need proof? Go listen the Something Corporate’s Songs for Silent Movies (any song will do), and then Owl City’s If My Heart was a House.

See what I mean?

Video didn’t kill the radio star… mp3s did

Posted in Music, Thoughts with tags , , , , , on March 7, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I don’t own a radio.

I love music, and I go everywhere with headphones, but I just don’t own a radio.  It wasn’t a conscious decision, and I’m not even sure when exactly it happened.  I just realized one day that I hadn’t listened to the radio in years.  I used to spend hours each day listening to 102.1 The Edge in Toronto.  (I know. The edge is not today what it was in the mid-90s. The people have changed, the music has changed.)

I don’t have a television either.  That was a conscious decision though, and one that I’ve never regretted.

But what I do regret is that I always fall behind when it comes to new music.  I find that I need to periodically Google my favourite artists just to find out if they’ve released anything new.  Clearly this works fine for artists that I already know – but what about new artists?  Sometimes I don’t hear about the next big thing until months after their limelight has dimmed.  It happened with The Shins.  It happened with The Postal Service.  I’ve still never actually heard a Lady Gaga song. (I’m guessing that’s not a bad thing though.)

Sometimes I feel like there is this mass of amazing music just outside my reach.

The idea that I might be missing out on great music is so disappointing.  And the disappointment is crushing.

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