Monday, September 18, 2006

The Weakerthans - Live in Winnipeg

Whenever the Weakerthan's return home for a show it always puts a smile on my face. As far as I can remember, this show at the Burt (Burton Cummings Theatre) is probably the largest hometown crowd they have played in front of. The near capacity crowd of over 15oo fans were treated to a tight, yet relaxed set of new and older songs by the wonderful Weakerthans. I know they have a large (larger?) following state-side and sometimes I get the feeling they are unappreciated here at home, but the fact that the half an' hour encore accounted for a third of the overall show (100 minutes, 22 songs), proved that Winnipegger's couldn't get enough of John K. Samson and band. I'm not very good at writing reviews of concerts because I'm so in awe of seeing a great band live that sometimes I can't be very objective, it also is especially tough since I've been a huge follower of the band since the beginning. Check out the reviews in the local papers (Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg Sun) to hear what the "experts" have to say, you'll see they must have written their reviews from the same notes.

I've posted a recording of the show at EZtorrent ( It sounds really good, recorded from the middle of the first balcony with clear and balanced sound. The torrent is a lossless FLAC file, so download the appropriate software if you can, If you're not a member of EZtorrent let me know and I'll see what I can do. I'd prefer not to post the MP3's for the entire show, but here are some songs from the concert, as a teaser. Enjoy!

Winnipeg September 16, 2006.
Audience recording-1st balcony

"Aside" - Weakerthans
"Utilities" ("new" song where John K. solos) - Weakerthans
"Diagnosis" - Weakerthans
"The Reasons" - Weakerthans

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Good, The Bad And The...

One CD that has gotten a lot of play recently is the Bicycle's, "The Good, The Bad And the Cuddly" the debut album from this 5-piece band out of Toronto. They claim to pay homage to the likes of "the Monkees, Kinks, Brian Wilson and the Archies". I can hear a bit of that influence on different songs with a very grandiose sound that ranges from rockers to dreamy ballads. This album took a few listens to really appreciate the rich melodies and lush arrangements, but everytime I play this disc it has more to offer and puts a smile on my face. The Bicycles are well worth checking out.

"Gotta Get Out" - The Bicycles
"Longjohns And Toques" - The Bicycles

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Little Pictures

John K. Samson is best known for his work with the Weakerthans, but back in the early 90's he was tearing it up as Propagandhi's bass player. During 1993/94 John made some solo recordings that were released by G7 as a split CD with Winnipeg band Painted Thin in 1995. These songs have been re-packaged as a solo John K. Samson mini-CD "Little Pictures" available since August 29th, 2006 through G7 Welcoming Committee.

Don't forget the Weakerthans show Saturday September 16th at the Burton Cummings Theatre, I think there is only tickets left in the 2nd balcony, so grab 'em quick. Hopefully I'll have a recording of the show and I'll post at least a couple of songs from the concert. Let me know in the comments section if you want the complete concert, I'll let you know how it sounds first.

"Farewell Faded Memory" (from "Little Pictures" recorded in 1993/94?) - John K. Samson
"Anchorless" (original 1996 version from "Less Talk, More Rock" shorter and punchier) - Propagandhi
"Uncorrected Proofs" (live early slow version 2-24-02 Winnipeg) - Weakerthans

Sunday, September 10, 2006

"And I Feel Fine"

REM to release Best Of I.R.S Years 1982-1987
On September 12th, EMI will release the first comprehensive CD and DVD anthologies of R.E.M.'s 1980s I.R.S. Records catalog. The CD will be called And I Feel Fine…The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 and will be available in 2 formats: a 21-track single-disc collection of hits and band/fan favorites and a 2-CD Collector's Edition with a second 21-track disc of rarities including alternate takes, demos, previously unreleased mixes, and live recordings of classic R.E.M. The collector's edition will include 11 never-before released tracks. The DVD, When the Light Is Mine The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 Video Collection, includes the music videos from Chronic Town through Document, as well as live television performances and James Herbert’s short film, Left of Reckoning. DVD extras feature early interviews and rare acoustic performances.

If you've only heard REM post-1987, you've missed out on what I considered their best work. I realize that songs like Losing My Religion and albums like Automatic For the People and Green gave them exposure to a larger mainsteam audience, but their creativity and unique sound earlier in their career is what had influenced dozens of bands in the alternative, college rock scene of the mid 80's. On their first two albums, REM created what will be considered their landmark achievements and they begin to flesh out their sound to the fullest by the time they release Document, their last I.R.S. release.
As far as Greatest Hits albums rank, this one ranks quite high for the sheer fact there's no filler or duds and considering this is only the first quarter of their career. Their previously "Best Of" collections do NOT stand up to this one, this is the essential REM. Get the collector's edition as the 2nd disc of rarities is a treat, with many unreleased tracks and demos that sound crisp and clear and well worth seeking out.

"Radio-Free Europe" (Hib-tone version) - R.E.M
"Mystery To Me" (Demo; previously unreleased) - R.E.M.
"Bad Day" (Outtake; previously unreleased) - R.E.M.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Summer In Review: Volume 1

It's September, which means the kids are back to school, traffic gets crazy again and Halloween candy and costumes are clogging up the aisles at the department stores. I noticed today the leaves are starting to fall like rain, which means raking, bagging and then shovelling (snow)!
I've listened to plenty of music this Summer, lots new and lots not so new. I'll give you a short review and some downloads to enjoy (right click>save link as..). If you want more information about the album, click on the title and you'll be directed to Amazon or the band site.

The Sadies- In Concert, Vol 1
A brilliant 41 song 2-CD live concert recorded at Lee's Palace in Toronto over 2 nights. I finally had a chance to witness the Sadies live this July at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. I heard that their live show was well worth seeing and I wasn't disappointed, though at Folk Festivals you only get a sample of a full nightclub performance, I just wish I was at the Lee's Palace shows in person. For the two sold out nights, the crowd was treated to four-hour sets by the Sadies and guests. Special guests included members of the Deadly Snakes, Blue Rodeo, Neko Case, Kelly Hogan, Gary Louris, Garth Hudson, Jon Langford, Jon Spencer and the Good Brothers. Disc one is mainly the Sadies own material, while disc two they begin to branch out, showcasing their collaborative firepower and running through a few favorite covers. This album establishes the Sadies not just as instrumentalists but as songwriters able to display their various influences and combine them into something unmistakably their own. This is truly a classic live album.

"16 Mile Creek" - Sadies
"Tailspin" (Jayhawks cover) - Sadies (w/Gary Louris, lead vocals)
"Memphis, Egypt" (Mekon's cover) - Sadies (w/Jon Langford, lead vocals)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Cassie Says...!

In case you haven't heard yet, Cassie Campbell announced her retirement from the Canadian Woman's National Hockey team on Wednesday. So I don't bore you with the details, click here or my sister site for the full story. I know in the grand scheme of things this isn't a big deal, but for me who is a huge Hockey fan, as well as a follower of Woman's hockey, I have to admit to some sadness. Cassie appealed to me with her skill, speed, and toughness, but still maintained her femininity in the world of hockey. She definitely wasn't a butchy presence either, her cuteness and natural beauty prompted my band Zamboni Joe to use Cassie's likeness on gig posters and most famously a song about my favourite female hockey player!

The song "Cassie Says" was written in late 2002 around the time when teammate Hayley Wickenheiser went to Europe to play on a men's team. Recorded live at Salisbury House Restaurant in Headingley, MB (Winnipeg) last year, this remains as Zamboni Joe's last show. Hockey rock is Zamboni Joe's passion with numerous songs dedicated to this winter pastime and If you want to hear more ZJ, please leave a comment and I'll post more.

"Cassie Says"- Zamboni Joe (September 24, 2005 Headingley, MB)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ben Kweller's Sundress EP

Here's a special treat, the brand new limited edition 5 song EP from Ben Kweller. Though this may seem like a teaser for the upcoming album release on September 19th, this disc includes 3 songs NOT on the new full-lengther. This highly anticipated release follows 2004's On My Way and 2002's brilliant debut Sha Sha, and as Kweller's fan base builds, so do the expectations. His current tour dates takes him from Europe to the US (including Mpls 10/6/06) and back to Europe. If you have a chance to see Ben Kweller on this tour, do it! He may be playing arena's soon and then you'll regret it.

Due to a complaint from the DMCA, I have removed the offending tracks...Sorry 'bout that!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

New Lemonheads CD and tour dates

After a 10 year hiatus, the new Lemonheads CD is scheduled for release September 26th and a fall tour supporting the CD kicks off November 18th in California. Evan Dando has assembled a totally different incarnation of the Lemonheads for this new disc, and he is helped out by Bill Stevenson and Karl Alvarez from All/Descendents, so the sound will be a faster, more melodic rock album. J. Mascis contributes a solo on "No Backbone" , a great song that is a hopefully a preview of good things on this new disc.
I'm actually looking forward to this new release, as I thought Evan's solo album, Baby I'm Bored was okay, but it wasn't very memorable and was...kinda boring. I have a couple of live recordings from the revamped Lemonheads last fall in London and New York and if the rockin' energy of those shows are any indication, this upcoming tour might be worth checking out.

Lemonheads "No Backbone"
Lemonheads "Alice Is Starting To Happen" (Bowery Ballroom NYC 12-16-05)

to download- right clip save link as)
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