1968, Music

Cheap Thrills (1968) by Big Brother and the Holding Company

In the version of the ’60s I got from ’90s music television, Cheap Thrills is one of the seminal documents of the San Francisco psychedelic scene. But listening to it for the first time all these years later, it’s hard to see why it was such a big deal. I guess it’s considered the best …

1963, Music

Night Beat (1963) by Sam Cooke

The Sam Cooke I’m familiar with is a slick, polished soul singer, backed by lush, professional arrangements, singing catchy songs that blur the line between soul and pop. Not on this record. The story with this record seems to be that Cooke and his band recorded these songs over a few nights. I doubt they …

1963, Music

Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo (1963)

Given how much I like path-breaking music, and how interested I am in reading about it, it’s surprising to me I wasn’t at least aware of Bull before listening to Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo. Bull combines what is called “American Primitivism” – i.e. solo acoustic guitar performances using folk techniques but often incorporating more …

2013, Books, Non-Fiction

The Boys in the Boat (2013) by Daniel Jams Brown

All I know of the 1936 Olympics is Olympia and Jesse Owens. So this story, the story the American Gold medal-winning 8 man crew, their coxswain, their coach and their boat builder (yes, even him) was completely new to me. I don’t even remember the rowing scenes in Olympia very well. This is an exciting …

2018, Music

Wolfe Island Music Festival 2018

This was the 20th year of WIMF – we have to say “20th year” because it didn’t happen in 2016 – but I must say that there perhaps a little less anticipation this year, because a lack of a headliner as prominent as previous years, and some concerns about the lineup. But I honestly enjoyed …

1998, Music

°BSΩLE+e (1998) by Fear Factory

I have still not listened to all that much industrial metal in my life, given how much metal I’ve listened to, and so I can’t really say where this sits in the evolution of the genre. The only thing I can really say is that it sounds a whole hell of a lot better than …

1998, Music

Scraps at Midnight (1998) by Mark Lanegan

I got really annoyed with Lanegan’s Blues Funeral (which came out a while ago now) because of its title. I got annoyed because the title referenced the blues and the record didn’t much, as if I had some kind of deeper knowledge of the blues than Lanegan does. But I read a quote from him …

2015, Movies

Sicario (2015, Denis Villeneuve)

This is an extraordinarily tense and well-directed thriller about the escalation and increased militarization of the Ward on Drugs. For the most part, I really, really liked Sicario, but I struggled with something and I’m not sure whether or not it could have ended better. SPOILERS

2018, Movies

McQueen (2018, Ian Bonhôte, Peter Ettedgui)

This is a pretty conventional chronology + historical footage + talking heads style documentary about someone who may have been, in my ignorant opinion, one of the most interesting fashion designers in history. I know nothing about fashion, and I really don’t care about it. It was only in adulthood that I discovered that there …

2009, Movies

Carcasses (2009, Denis Côté)

Carcasses is part of that trend in Canadian independent film in the early years of the 20th century to mix documentary style with fictional or plots, sometimes with people playing themselves. (I say Canadian trend because most of the films I have seen that do this are Canadian films from this time, or thereabouts.  I …

1998, Music

Black Music (1998) by Chocolate Genius

It’s pretty hard to talk about this record without talking about the title. Clearly, the title is intended as some kind of statement challenging the tendencies in media to characterize certain music as “black” music, because what’s here is, for the most part, not what would be associated with “black” music in 1998 – except …

1998, Music

Stunt (1998) by Barenaked Ladies

You can count me among the many (millions?) of Canadians who were shocked by the success of this record in the USA when it came out. To me, Barenaked Ladies were a comedy novelty act who had some funny songs and videos, which I had mostly grown out of by the time this record came …

1993, Music, Uncategorized

Chrome (1993) by Catherine Wheel

When a band is named after a song or an album, and you know that song or album, there’s definitely a bit of expectation even if you don’t know much else about it. Maybe this band is named for the torture device, not the David Byrne album, but yet I still assumed there would be …

1993, Music

Altered Beast (1993) by Matthew Sweet

When I was a teen, I didn’t get Matthew Sweet. He had the odd video on Much Music and those videos made no impression on me. But some people in the media (and probably even some people I knew) spoke about him as if he was…someone, as if he had done something in the time …

1993, Music

Julius Caesar (1993) by Smog

When we were discussing Will Oldham’s debut (as Palace Brothers) on the podcast a few weeks ago, someone said it reminded them of Smog. So I approached this record with a very different idea than what I had when I first marked it down to listen to (I knew nothing about it).

1988, Music

Lucinda Williams (1988)

I was going to say that there’s something about a debut that tempers my expectations in a way that doesn’t happen with other albums. But this record wasn’t her debut; I hadn’t realized she put out two records way, way earlier, in 1979 and 1980. So I guess the positive spin on this is that …

1988, Music

Temple of Low Men (1988)

Like so much other music, I have come to this band backwards, having recently listened to Neill Finn’s solo debut before I had ever heard any of their records. What I discovered on his solo debut is that he is not my kind of songwriter and often not my kind of performer. This is not …

1983, Music

You and Me Both (1983) by Yazoo

I went to review You and Me Both, having not listened to their debut, Upstairs at Eric’s, since 2017, and I found on RYM that a lot of fans regard this record as a “contractual obligation” album for Yazoo, and that they believe it’s obvious Yazoo weren’t into the recording merely from listening to this …

1973, Music

Countdown to Ecstasy (1973) by Steely Dan

I don’t like Steely Dan. I’ve given them four albums (if you include this one), and I find their early stuff way too poppy for my liking and their “mature” stuff to be way too “hipper than thou,” but also far, far too slick. But lo and behold, I like this record. And it’s making …