Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I had a good laugh at this when I first saw it. It's kinda like Minecraft meets Christmas; sorta.

What it is, exactly, is 'premium' wrapping paper that is currently under-development through a Kickstarter project. So, just in case you're going to be giving someone a stack of books(?) for next Christmas -- or, any other holiday or celebration after, I'm guessing, mid-February 2012 -- you can now do it in style! Well, if you define "style" as a boxy hamburger, at least.

But, seriously... I think this is a really cool and fun execution of an idea. And, as the Kickstarter campaign implies, creating a set of wrapping papers like this opens up lots of other possibilities for similar sets of stacked gifts. I'm not even going to start trying to think up new ideas, but I'm sure there are lots out there... even just within the realm of food, I imagine.

Whatever the case, there is always lots of speciality wrapping paper being advertised and sold at this time of year, but I really appreciated the imagination that went into this!

» Found at: Kickstarter - Gift Couture

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


In a world where everything is doing digital and we talk about "paperless work environments", it's kinda to see something kinda retro like this. It seems like a perfect match for the on-the-go, rush- rush- rush world we choose to live in these days. Say "Hello" to the Little Printer:

I love the idea of a personalized, daily mini-newspaper being printed for me. And not just something that I could have randomly generated, but daily news headlines, a schedule for my day, perhaps a to-do list or a list of contacts that are attached to my calendar entries for the day. Cool, fun way of putting this together. And, while I think re-printing the face every time is a waste of paper, it is also somehow very cute.

For a better understanding of what this is all about, I strongly suggest that you check out the introduction video they have released. It shows you, in a very Apple-y way, how you use your smartphone to set everything up, send messages, etc., etc.  And, again, I love how they encourage sticking things on the fridge or sharing clips with others. There is also something so nice about it being all black and white... colour isn't always necessary.

Although the list of companies the service is working with right now seems limited, they're still in (what I would assume to be) an alpha phase, so that's to be understood. I'm sure that this will come out at a price point way beyond what I would ever consider spending for something fun like this (not to mention the need for, I'd assume, special paper rolls)... but it was still too cute not to share.

» Found at: Little Printer/BERG Cloud

Monday, December 5, 2011

TotW: Odessa

This isn't a new track, but it's a solid one. It's being featured in a commercial right now... I think it's for a car, but I never remember; what I do always remember is "it's been too long since I've heard this whole track". So, for your listening pleasure, and mine: Odessa.

There is so much going on in this song... at certain points, it's almost overwhelming. But, somehow, I think that's the beauty in it. This chaotic assault of sounds and rhythms somehow all works together. Maybe not on the first listen, but magically it all makes more and more sense with each additional listen... background sounds pulling forward, certain beats becoming familiar, un-traditional sounds becoming more recognizable. And then, all at once, it's over.

Caribou, at one time known as "Manitoba", is actually the brain-child of Daniel Snaith. He won the 2008 Polaris Music prize with his album Andorra and made the 2010 short list for the album this track comes from, Swim. Checking out his discography on Wikipedia reveals that he's been very prolific over the past years and I don't see any sign of him slowing down. So, if you're digging this electronic assault of sounds and grooves, there is much more for you to hear.

» Listen: Caribou - Odessa

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Tomorrow is a big day for Terraria fans... version 1.1 will be released.  This new update includes over 200 new items, almost 40 new enemies, four new bosses, new biomes, new armors, new ores... in a word, it's epic.  And, last Friday, the official preview teaser trailer for 1.1 was released:

If you've never heard of this game, let me try to explain: it's an exploration game, similar to the more popular/well-known game, Minecraft. You can mine ores in the ground, use them to craft new tools, weapons, buildings and such. There are enemies in the world, from simple slimes to massive bosses, to interact with along the way.

The fun of the game comes from the random exploration aspect of it; the advancement of your tools and the discovery of new biomes (from the desert, to the jungle... the caverns to the underworld... and even oceans and floating islands in the sky). As you grow and explore deeper and further into the world, you can improve your stats and gear, meet new NPCs who will help you out on your adventure, find new cosmetic items or accessories, learn new crafting plans. And now (well, tomorrow...) there will be much, much more of this to go around.

At $10 on STEAM, this game is a steal.  On sale (the recently concluded "Autumn Sale" or the upcoming "Winter/Holiday Sale"), you can find it for as little as $5, which makes it an absolute must-own in my books. Getting started can seem a little daunting and perhaps a bit un-structured, however, the official Terraria Online Wiki is an excellent resource.

» Found at: Terraria Online (DevBlog)

Monday, November 28, 2011

TotW: Blackwater

I'm going through something of a 'rap' phase at the moment... I think it was my discovery that Donald Glover, from Community, raps under the name Childish Gambino. His first album, Cul-de-sac (free for download), is quite amazing; his just released album, Camp, is also blowing my mind.

But, since I'm trying to keep this TotW feature Canadian indie -focused, I tried to think of some Canadian rap/hip-hop that I've also enjoyed.  Enter K-OS.

His most recent effort is another free for download 'mixtape' entitled The Anchorman Mixtape (note: download from the SKoA link at the end of the review, not the K-OS link; it seems to be hacked/broken).  I haven't listened to the whole album, nor have I seen the movie on which this tape is named in honour of, but apparently there are snippets of the movie included throughout the tape.

The song itself it pretty catchy.  It's pretty drum 'n bass heavy, which shouldn't surprise too much seeing as Death From Above 1979's Sebastian Granger helps out on the track. The language is clean, unlike the afore-linked Childish Gambino album! There are lots of vocal tricks and effects on the layered vocals which gives the song a great texture. I certainly don't know enough about rap to compare K-OS' "flow" to other performers... but I like it.

» Listen: K-OS - Blackwater (f- S. Granger)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Wow, it doesn't get much better than this: Jonathan Coulton's masterpiece, the closing song Still Alive from Portal, the video game plus Canadian indie artist, Sara Quinn, of Tegan & Sara.

Just in case this video isn't enough, the link below takes you to a post Jonathan made recently which features links to other new videos from his latest album, Artificial Heart. Oh, and did I mention that this version includes an intro done on a theremin?

» Found at: Jonathan Coulton's website

Monday, November 14, 2011

TotW: Let Go Lightly

I discover most of my 'new music' on CBC Radio3 while I'm working away. You know those rare tunes that just steal your attention away from whatever it is you're doing at that moment? This was one of those songs for me.

From Donovan Woods' second album, the song Let Go Lightly is a wonderful, spirited acoustic song that just rolls along at this perfect pace. It's driving, well written and sung with the slightest rasp that just really seals the deal for me. The harmonica in the intro is also that little 'something extra' that pulls you in; the hand claps towards the end of the song are subtle on the first listen, but you find yourself clapping along after a few repeat listens.

I'm certainly not too familiar with Donovan's work, but I hope to change that as this isn't the only song I've heard on Radio3 that has stopped me in my tracks. While listening to Grant Lawrence's show Friday afternoon, the song My Cousin Has A Grey Cup Ring, from Woods' first album, grabbed me as well. As this 4-star NOW Magazine review says, his sound is a little bit Dan Mangan, a little bit Ryan Adams... a damn fine combination if you ask me.

» Listen: Donovan Woods - Let Go Lightly

Monday, November 7, 2011

TotW: Ciao Monday

13 full-length albums later and this lady is still taking chances and putting out new material. Impressive.

I've been publishing a 'track of the week' now for awhile and I'd intentionally done it on a Monday as a way to get/do something positive out of this otherwise miserable "Monday" of a day. Well, it comes as no surprise that I'm not the only one who feels this way... however, Emm has the ability to write a wonderful, pop-song out of that feeling we all get on the first day of the work week.

In her own words, the song starts with "simple piano notes but they had a somber but splendid feeling about them". Her vocals are as strong as ever (maybe stronger...) and the lyrics are both clever and uplifting at the same time:
Ciao Monday you break my heart
There's a mountain the minute you start
Open the door you can walk right through
Monday Monday I'm done with you
I'm almost certain that you've heard something from this talented artist previously, even if you didn't know it. Check out this song from her latest album, Northern Gospel, that was released back in September. She's also still got a few tour dates remaining before the end of the year, so if you get the chance, check her out live.

» Listen: Emm Gryner - Ciao Monday

Monday, October 31, 2011

TotW: Living and Dead

To be honest, if I was going to highlight a track from this Hamilton, Onatrio band, Huron, Living and Dead wouldn't be my first pick... but it's still a damn good song, and it's Hallowe'en, so I figured "why not".

This is 70s -style riff-rock, updated for the new century. Riding the wave along with bands like Zeus and Yukon Blonde, these guys are bringing back the guitar solo, overdriven guitar sounds and that great rock ethic that is missing from a lot of these sorts of bands today. Rock 'n roll is a lifestyle for these guys... you can hear it in the music.

An almost spacy intro gives way to nicely fuzzy guitar sound; for this sorta sound you need a good 'fuzz box'. Throughout, the song alternates between big riffs, quiet sections, group vocals, guitar solos, all somehow without sounding like a giant mash-up of styles or like some sort of 'frankenstein' collection of song fragments collected from the studio floor.

So, go have a listen to this not-to-spooky track, with a haunting title. Car windows down, stereo volume way up, devil horns in the air. And then, when you're done, have a listen to The Big Dig... the guitar -centric intro, and the song ending riffs? Fantastic. Also, be double sure to check the guys out over at Southern Souls; a five song set caught on video, including some excellent new material.

» Listen: Huron - Living and Dead

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Now here's something I didn't know... our "funny money" is about to get a facelift and a new skin!

According to the nice infographic provided by our national bank (above), you can see that we'll be seeing new bills in circulation as soon as next month. Well, I don't expect to personally be seeing too many $100 bills, but you know what I mean.

As you can tell, we'll be keeping the same colours and sizes of the bills, but the material on which they're printed is going to change. These new polymer notes are 2.5x more durable that the notes we currently have in circulation, so there is an immediate environmental benefit to them. We've also managed to pack in a whole bunch more security features, including frosted a maple leaf, more micro-printing, a far more detailed holographic image and so on.

The Bank's website shows detailed images of the forthcoming $100 and $50 bills; the new look of the remaining bills will likely be on-line sometime next year. The current series of bills is considered the "Canadian Journey" series; these new bills are designed around the theme of Canadian spirit of innovation.

» Found at: The Bank of Canada

Monday, October 24, 2011

TotW: Morning Song

This track is from a 7" single that the band, We Are the City, have just released. I first heard this trio last year when their single, There are Very Tiny Beasts in the Ground. Their sound seems to have evolved quite a bit since then, but I love where it's going.

The vocals are very strong, as is the timing in this track. There are these pauses that might seem out-of-place on the first listen, but on repeated listens you realize that they're in the perfect, emotional place. As a trio, these boys can make a lot of noise, but in an impactful, roller-coaster of a way. This song is certainly a journey as much as it is a destination.

It should be noted that the band is keeping very busy at the moment. This 7" is a follow-up to their recent extended EP, High School. They're also in the midst of a west coast US tour with recent TotW -featured band, Said the Whale. If you like what you hear, be sure to check out more of their stuff... and keep an eye out for what they do next.

» Listen: We Are the City - Morning Song

Monday, October 17, 2011

TotW: Plath Heart

I was looking back over the previous 'track of the week' songs that I've featured and realized that I haven't really highlighted anything in the (broad) electronic genre. Now, I'm not really a huge fan of this sorta thing, but good music is good music and Braids - a Guelph, ON -based, Polaris short listed, foursome - have really got something special going on here.

The band's first full album, Native Speaker, wasn't a hit with me the first time I'd heard it -- it sounded a bit too electronic, atmospheric for me -- but as you listen, it's layers pull you in and warm you up. The lead singer's vocals are haunting and beautiful, both a part of the music and at the front of the mix. Her ability to go from quiet to loud, soft to powerful is impressive and a big draw to their music.

The loops that form the foundation of the band's music are well constructed; I think the mixing of this album really helps take it from just another electronic release, to a really impressive benchmark. The different sounds and textures seem to come and go, build and fade, so perfectly... all within a four or five minute track.

CBC Radio3 -- host Vish Khanna, in particular -- has been a big fan of these guys since they entered the scene. If you like what you hear on this track, be sure to check out some of the other stuff that the station has done with the band:
As I said off the top, the world of electronic music is vast, so if it's not usually your thing, take a listen to this track any ways. It's great stuff and I expect we'll hear more great stuff from them in the future.

» Listen: Braids - Plath Heart

Monday, October 3, 2011

TotW: Ride This Out

I'm late to the party on this album, but in the case of good music, it's better late than never.

Winnipeg duo, Imaginary Cities, have released an excellent album in Temporary Resident. It's a great mix of soul and rock that might seem kinda trendy at the moment (think: Adele) and it might be easy to pass it off as 'just another album'... but keep listening. There is something special here.

While you can stream the whole album over at CBC Radio3 (click the "Listen" link below), I've chosen to highlight the current single on R3. Ride This Out starts out with a few single guitar strums played below Marti's unique vocals. As she keeps singing, the guitar picks up, the clapping begins, the piano enters, the drums are next... it's a great slow build (and I've come to realize that I love slow builds). Everything get's a little faster... then faster still... the vocals become more urgent... a quick break and then we're off.

The song is a short one at just over two minutes in length, but it's the sort of song that doesn't need to be any longer than that. It's place in the album is just right (and, the song immediately following it is another favourite of mine); it's also a great track for your next mix CD. Have a listen and let me know what you think!

» Listen: Imaginary Cities - Ride This Out

Monday, September 26, 2011

TotW: Tosta Mista

I don't even know how to describe this song from Hooded Fang ... "infectious", comes to mind.
They're last album, Album, was okay from what I heard. I remember checking it out when it was long listed for the Polaris Prize. It didn't grab me, but I didn't dislike it either. Not one to usually judge an album by it's cover, I wasn't taken by the band's new album, Tosta Mista, as I'm not really impressed by the whole Mexican wrestler/lucha libre thing.

And then I heard this lead single. While I don't think it grabbed me the first time, it had me hooked after the second or third go 'round. Regardless of the the cover art, this "surf rock" -esque shuffle, with it's background vocals, multiple lead singers, and high pitched, single string guitar grooves has been my earworm this week. It's noisy in all the right ways, it's layered perfectly, it's fun and there is just something about it. While the last two weeks here have featured 'summer' songs, there is something about this track that reminds me of the fall.

Tosta Mista (the album) isn't that long I've heard, but this Toronto band might have another Polaris Prize listed album on their hands if this single is any indication. Certainly a band to keep your ears on!

» Listen: Hooded Fang - Tosta Mista

Monday, September 19, 2011

TotW: Make a New Dance Up

I first heard this song on Radio3 last week ... and I haven't got it outta my head since! Much like last week's song, this is a super-poppy (in a good way) mid-summer party track that was released a few months too late. This would have been an awesome song-of-the-summer!

Everyone seems to want to compare it to the Miami Sound Machine sound, and I don't deny it, but it's also not a bad thing to be compared to when you're talking about a wicked summer song! It's bouncy and fun and I just love the singer's voice. It's so perfect for this song. The horns in the chorus just add to the groove; and I love these little breaks in the song where everything stops, just for a second.

You make me wanna dance, you make me wanna move, you make me wanna... you make me wanna make a new dance up!

This song builds to a wonderful climax, with this little spoken word part and the emphasized vocals in the repeating chorus right at the end. Everything is there, and it's got this really "alive" feeling to it; like you're right there on the beach at sundown with them, dancing and celebrating the summer.

» Listen: Hey Ocean! - Make a New Dance Up

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Next week – Monday at 8:00pm EDT to be exact – the 2011 (Canadian) Polaris Music Prize will be handed out to one of the ten short listed albums. This year, just like the past five years that the prize has been given out, there are a few albums on this list that I think are very deserving of the prize. I should also say that I've never once been able to select the winner before they've been announced, so I'm certainly not one to place bets on. That said, it's not going to keep me from breaking down the short list right here for your enjoyment:

Albums I don't think will win:
  • Galaxie - although I'm enjoying this album, with last year's winner (Karkwa) being a French -language album, I don't see the jury selecting two French -language albums in a row.
  • Hey Rosetta! - I'm a huge fan of their first EP and their last full LP, I can't get through this album. I don't know if it's just too much of the same thing or what, but I'm just not connecting with it.
  • Ron Sexsmith - I hate to do it, but I'm going to pull the "too mainstream" card for this selection. It might also have something to do with the use of auto-tune on the album that bothers me.
  • Timber Timbre - you're not supposed to compare a selected album to the artist's back-catalogue, but there was something about this band's previous release that I enjoyed more than I do this album. It's still a very solid album, but I don't see it taking the prize.
  • The Weeknd - not being a huge fan of this genre, especially the amount of swearing and generally crude language featured in these songs, I don't love this album. Long list, yes; short list, maybe not.

Monday, September 12, 2011

TotW: The Hippopotamus

Grant Lawrence played this song Friday afternoon on Radio3 and I've been listening to it all weekend long. It's a great end-of-summer party song.

As with most ska/punk stuff, The Hippopotamus comes in as just over two minutes long. However, the band, The Planet Smashers, have been around for much longer having started out way back in 1994. Most famous for their song, Surfin' in Tofino, these guys have so much fun and energy in every song.

If you're familiar with the ska scene, then you know what to expect here: horns, a steady beat, upstroke guitars, fun lyrics, and, in this case, lyrics that are telling you how to do the latest dance craze, "the hippopotamus". So, have a listen and get ready to dance along!

This track is from their just-released album, Descent Into the Valley of... and it promises to be a blast.

» Listen: The Planet Smashers - The Hippopotamus

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Snakes. I started looking at this site because someone mentioned the Narcisse Snake Dens on the CBC Radio3 blog one day and the first (reliable) google result was ... from U-Haul. Specifically, this link on the SuperGraphics mini-site: #125 - Manitoba.

We've all seen a U-Haul truck on the road, and over the past few years, I assume we've all taken notice of the art on the side of each truck. It's state/province -specific and it's not just pretty... it's also informative! I mean, did you know that there was a famous series of snake pits in Manitoba?

What about a flaming ghost ship off the coast of Nova Scotia? The mysterious Loch Ness -like Champ monster living off-shore of Vermont? If you didn't know these things already, you could wait for the appropriate U-Haul truck to pull up next to you at a stop light... or you can learn all about these things on-line!

But, I'll warn you... if you start poking around this site, you can 'lose' a lot of time checking out everything that is here. Oh, and although I can't find him anywhere, apparently the company mascot, Sammy U, is hiding in each image... something else for you to keep an eye out for!

» Found at: U-Haul SuperGraphics

Monday, September 5, 2011

TotW: This City's a Mess

This one is a classic... well, not a classic in the sense of it being from the '90s (like, say, I'd pulled treblecharger's Red for the TotW today...) but in the sense that it's awesome and fun and great and always a fun song to hear.

Juno Award winning, Vancouver, BC -based band, Said the Whale have had their good times and their bad; if you haven't already seen it, check out their movie/documentary, Winning America for all the details. But, as a result, this super-hard working band has earned their fame through relentless touring and an honest love for the music.

This City's a Mess starts out with a steady drum beat and a wicked hand-clap pattern... then the guitars join in... the soft vocals next... and then everything kicks in. It's another song with a "ba- ba- bada- ba" bit in the chorus, more group vocals, more slow- fast- slow- stylings... but it's still it's own song. Hearing them shout "this city's a mess, this city's a mess" during the final chorus is such a sing-a-long moment.

If you like what you hear here, you've got a lot of StW to hear. This is from their 2008 album, Howe Sounds. They released a second album in 2009, Islands Disappear, and are (I believe) just finishing up the follow-up to that stellar album now. The band is also out on the road right now, touring... again.

» Listen: Said the Whale - This City's a Mess

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


So, here we are... another mid-week post, filled with content pulled from Jason Kottke's incredible site where he always seems to find the most interesting stuff (and so generously shares it with the rest of us). I guess that's why I visit it every day!

Now, it's no secret that I've never been into fashion... but this is a typical 'too cool not to share' video you can find on YouTube. It's incredibly well done (I think) and a lot of fun to watch. Sure, it looks like it's some sort of promo for an event coming up in mid-September, but it's one of those super-vague viral promotions, so it doesn't take anything away from the clip.

If you enjoyed this sort of 'history' clip, be sure to also search out the classic Evolution of Dance comedy routine on YouTube and/or the soon-to-be-classic History of Rap clip featuring Justin Timberlake on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show... which seems to have been pulled down from the inter-webs! What's up with that?!

» Found at: (of course)

Monday, August 29, 2011

TotW: Wait Up (Boots of Danger)

Sometimes, you just need a super-energetic song with a great little "do- do- do- do- do- do" part in the chorus to get things going. This is that song. Newmarket, ON -based four-piece, Tokyo Police Club, have been making great indie-pop music for years now; from their latest album, Champ, I've selected Wait Up (Boots of Danger) as this week's Track of the Week.

At just over three minutes long, this track just keeps coming at you. Catchy lyrics, a great mix of guitars and keyboards and drums, and that silly (but wonderful) chorus make this one a winner. Oh, and I have no idea why it's sub-titled "Boots of Danger"; said boots are never mentioned in the lyrics, and assuming my interpretation of the lyrics is correct, I don't see an obvious link there either. Any ideas?

I've also selected this song because the band is about half way through their 10 Days, 10 Covers, 10 Years project in which they're covering one song each day from the past decade (2001-2010)... everyone from Moby to Kelly Clarkson to The Strokes (so far). So, if you're a fan of cover songs, be sure to check this out as well.

» Listen: Tokyo Police Club - Wait Up (Boots of Danger)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I ran across this today which was just too awesome not to pass along. We've all played Solitare on the computer; I mean, really... everyone has, right? And, as such, I assume that nearly everyone has won at least one game since Windows 3.1 was released years ago, so we're equally familiar with the neatly piled stacks of cards bouncing off the screen in celebration:

Bounce, bounce, bounce...

In this case, Lars Marcus and Theo (that's two people) have lovingly paid homage to that scene/experience by creating a 3d model of the 'win' screen! Their joint website shows how they did it, how many individual cards they had to create, etc. It's all very cool!

» Found at: Skrekkogle (via Quipsologies)

Monday, August 22, 2011

TotW: Killing Time is Murder

Okay, so this album isn't quite out yet... but it will be next week (August 30th). I've long been a fan of Luke Doucet's work and am familiar with the music his wife, Melissa McClelland, has done, so it comes as no surprise to me that this side-project(?) of their's – Whitehorse – sounds amazing.

This song, Killing Time is Murder, starts of with this great, jangly-blues guitar sound... then the harmonized vocals come in over top... it's simple, it's straight-forward sounding. But, it's just so good. These two singers sound great singing together; you can feel the connection (musical and otherwise) between them. But, with Luke involved, you know there is some sort of guitar solo lurking around the corner and a couple minutes into the track you won't be disappointed. There are a few odd sounds added to the mix here and there which really add to the feel of the track, fleshing out the song a bit more.

There is a second track (Broken) available for streaming on the band's Radio3 page, which is a reworked version of a Luke Doucet solo song. It starts out just like the album version does, but then the two start trading lines in the song which adds a nice, new dimension. There is a third track (I'm On Fire) out there on the band's new website that also shouldn't be missed.

It's kinda blues-y, kinda pop-y, maybe even a bit folk-y... but it's all good. Sometimes when you put two great solo artists together the results aren't anything special; in this case, these two seem to add it to more than the sum of their parts.

» Listen: Whitehorse - Killing Time is Murder

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I don't know what to really say about these other than they are awesome examples of strength and control. These people who can do this stuff on a skateboard or bike impress me.  I don't know a lot about these sorts of feats, or if there are better guys (or girls) out there doing cooler things, but these two are top-notch in my books.  It helps that these videos, produced for a Channel 4 special/series it would seem, are of superb quality; the slo-mo shots, the music, the general feel and length of the video are all perfect.

Kilian Martin: A Skate Illustration

Danny Macaskill - Industrial Revolutions

(This is the first time I've embeded YouTube videos on the blog... let me know in the comments if they don't work for you.)

» Found at: (of course...)

Monday, August 15, 2011

TotW: On The Rail

I took an extra second this week to be sure that I selected a song from an album that was already out there in case you wanted to hear more. In fact, I've selected a track from someone who has an extensive (and consistantly impressive) back catalogue. Regardless of who he's playing with, or as a part of... be it as a member of Thrush Hermit or backed by The Emergency, Nova Scotia's Joel Plaskett is amazing.

This album, Emergency's... isn't a "best of" collection; it's a selection of b-sides, covers, demos and rarities from Joel's post-Thrush Hermit days, so admittedly it's not the best place for a new listener to start; but as a long-time fan, this is a treasure chest full of insight and history.

The lead track on this album is one that Joel originally recorded for the 2009 edition of the CBC Radio2 SongQuest 'contest': On the Rail. It's pretty representative of his more rock-centric work over the years (which is why I don't mind highlighting it here). It's a very Canadian track lyrically, as most of his stuff is. In HeroHill's exhaustive review/interview of this album states:
[Joel] started writing this from the perspective of John Cabot, getting ready to set sail out of Bristol, but it gradually turned into a rocker for anyone with an adventurous spirit.
And that's exactly what it is... it's got a sing-along chorus, a steady beat, a straight-forward sound, but it's still so good from start to finish. It's optimistic and uplifting. It's a great summer afternoon -kinda song.

If you like what you hear here, I'd suggest that you next try something from his album, with The Emergency, Truthfully, Truthfully (which was just re-released on his own New Scotland Records label on double-gatefold vinyl!) -- maybe something like Come On Teacher or Extraordinary.

» Listen: Joel Plaskett - On the Rail

Monday, August 8, 2011

TotW: Niagara

I know, I'm starting to get ahead of myself, but these excellent new singles are, well, excellent. Like last week, I'm highlighting a song that will be on an album - the oddly-titled Metal Meets - coming out shortly; in this case, September 27th.

Unlike last week's artist, I was immediately taken by Ohbijou the first time I heard them. Their outstanding album, Beacons, was one I discovered after it was overlooked (in my opinion) for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize long list. This Toronto, ON -based group is probably, in some circles, equally well known for their love and support of the Bellwoods community in Toronto, having organized two benefit albums to help out the park and neighbourhood that they call home.

Casey's vocals, as in any Ohbijou song, are just so beautiful and expressive. I'm never a good one for listening to, or interpreting lyrics, but her voice is so perfect for the instrumentation that it layered behind it. This song, slated to be the lead-off track on the new album, does have a slight 'evolution' from their previous sound, but it's still distinctly theirs. It's space-y and atmospheric, yet structured somehow. The band is as tight as ever and this is an excellent sign of things to come for their new collection.

» Listen: Ohbijou - Niagara

Monday, August 1, 2011

TotW: Generation Handclap

Here is another example of a band that has been around for awhile that, for whatever reason, I just never connected with previously.  And then, I did... and have been listening to them non-stop ever since that 'connection' moment.

Library Voices are another Regina, SK. -based band who I'm loving this summer. Unlike the slower pace of last week's song, this song, Generation Handclap, is a full-on party in your ears. Up-beat drumline, catchy guitar riffs throughout, group vocals in the chorus and of course, handclaps!  It's four minutes of fun.

The band's new album, Summer of Lust (which includes this song), will be released on August 23rd, but if you're new to the band, don't miss out on last year's excellent Denim on Denim album (currently available on iTunes and in stores).

» Listen: Library Voices - Generation Handclap

Monday, July 25, 2011

CBC Radio3 Track of the Week

And ... I'm back.  After several months of silence, I'm hoping to get things up and running here again.  You see, between a busy time at work and at home, not to mention my office blocking Blogger for a few months in there, my access to post here was reduced quite a bit.  But, things have calmed down a bit everywhere, and I can post from work again (on breaks and/or lunches), so here's hoping.

One of the things that I've always wanted to do was run a sort of "track of the week" feature, but ideally without the need to upload semi-legal copies of songs to a server for people to then download and listen to because that's a pain in the butt for everyone. However, with over 120,000 tracks available for streaming on the CBC Radio3 site, I think I can probably find a few to highlight... and really, who doesn't need to listen to more Canadian Indie music?  Nobody, that's who.  It's awesome and it never gets enough attention or air play.

 So, to start off this new series, I have quite randomly selected Rah Rah's Towers from their recent ep, The Sailors. It's a tale of lost/ past/ young love, that has this infectious, slow drum beat that carries you along. The vocals are just perfect, longing... and then the whole band crashes into the song for the chorus. The song opens with this verse, so simple and yet powerful in it's imagery:
When we were younger, first romances
I held your hand back behind the fences of our old schoolyard
Where we tried so hard to fall in love
And it was easy 'cause we didn’t know what love was
I'm never very good at playing the "you'll enjoy this song/band if you like..." game, but go and have a listen if you're curious. This Regina, SK band has been around for a few years, but it sounds to me like they're really hitting their stride now.

» Listen: Rah Rah - Towers

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


This is another one of those projects that immediately hit me as being really cool ... and then cooled off quite quickly as I thought about it more. But, before I get to my opinion, what is it that we're looking at in the photo above this paragraph?

The Loog Guitar is the idea/creation of Rafael Atijas' as a project he started for his Master's thesis at NYU. It's a build-at-home, three-stringed guitar designed for children (ages 6+) to help them learn about music and playing the guitar. There are three interchangeable styles (body and headstock) that you can purchase and swap if you'd like; even two neck lengths depending on the age/height of the child.

Already a successful project on KickStarter, the Loog seems to have found a good niche for itself. It appears to be well built and, from the video on the site, even sounds pretty good when played. However, is teaching a child to play on a three-stringed guitar all that much better than "teaching" them to play on a five-buttoned plastic guitar? Furthermore, the US$215 advertised price point for this guitar is already higher than the price for an off-brand 3/4-scale guitar which offers the opportunity for a fast-learner to jump right into full guitar chords and use any available TAB or guitar music resource to continue learning with.

Don't get me wrong... I do think this is a neat project.  The DIY aspect of it, the care of the design (from the packaging to the guitar stand and everything) and sustainable resources used for it as well. I'm no expert on the guitar, let alone when it comes to guitar theory or instruction, so perhaps I'm totally wrong with my criticism here, but I'm just leery of learning an abbreviated version of something with the idea that you can then quickly pick-up the full version of the technique.

What is your take on the project? Will you be supporting it? Would you consider getting one of these guitars? 

» Found at: The Loog Guitar

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Wow. This is pretty freakin' amazing.  As someone who was/is a big fan of the classic NES game Super Mario Brothers, this video (see link below) is a real trip.  Someone, namely Freddie Wong, created this vision of what it would have looked like for Mario to actually run World 1-1.

Very cool to watch. He's got a whole bunch of other stuff up on his YouTube page as well including a bunch of live-action SFX-filled videos. Certainly someone to keep an eye on!

» Found at: First Person Super Mario, World 1-1 (YouTube video)

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I've never played Angry Birds – heck, I don't even have a device able to play the game – but I know this is a pretty solid homage to the game. I'm a sucker for this sort of inked, scripted, coffee-stained, weathered, faux-classic colour plate style. However, this isn't the only piece of art that Shane Parker has done; it's certainly worth your time to check out his Flickr stream if you're a fan of geek pop culture such as Team Fortress 2, comics and classic video games.

It was his Overlook Hotel kids placemat that drew me to his site via a link I found on Daring Fireball today... but it's worth sticking around to see what else is there.

» Found at: Zero-Lives blog

Friday, February 11, 2011


REVISED Doctor Who Infographic
This isn't the first time that I've posted some sort of Doctor Who -related imagery, and I certainly don't promise that it'll be the last! For those who are wondering what this series is really all about, BobCanada has put together a bit of a 'primer' for your enjoyment.

Featuring his own drawings of all eleven Doctors, along with extra little bits of trivia and such scattered throughout, this is an excellent piece of work. Be sure to check out the rest of his Flickr stream as well; there is a lot of great stuff in there.

» Flickr: “REVISED Doctor Who Infographic” – uploaded by bob canada

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Earlier this week, via Twitter and an official press release, we got our first look at the new Thundercats. I'm not personally 100% sold on the new look, but I'm not disappointed either. 

I've caught a few of the classic episodes on Teletoon Retro recently and they don't hold up as much as I'd have liked them to. GI Joe seems to have a certain campy appeal to it, and Transformers a little less so... but the Thundercats episodes I've seen were kinda weak. To be fair, however, I think they were all really early episodes, so perhaps it got better as it went along; I remember being much happier with the post- Season 1 plotlines involving the 'new' Cats (Bengali, etc.) who were found to have also escaped from Thundera (e.g., the made-for-tv movie/mini-series). Actually, looking at the wikipedia episode guide, I think it may have been the number of five-part plot arcs that made it better; racing home from school every day for a week to see what would happen next.

Whatever the case, and my previous, childhood series -bias aside, I'll be keeping an eye out for this new show. I don't imagine that I'll have the same attachment to it as I did some twenty years ago, but it might be fun to watch for a bit. What do you think of the new look? Were you a fan of the original series? The comics?

» Found at: Thundercats Lair forums

Wednesday, January 19, 2011



I don't even really know what to say about this.  I don't remember where I found it, but I thought it was funny at the time.  Since then, I've gone back a few times to look and laugh at it (which I always seem to do).

For whatever reason, James van der Beek (yes, Dawson from Dawson's Creek) has started a tumblr site wherein he's posting animated gifs of himself doing various emotions and whatnot.  It's funny (and a tiny bit crude, at times)... but mostly it's just funny.  You'll also notice that he's working with Funny or Die which has produced some pretty funny things in the past (and which is, thankfully, blocked at work so I can get some stuff done).

So, the next time you want to know how to properly express that "oh, that was a good one!" feeling or the perfect way to give that "nostalgic" looking- into- the- distance face, this is the place to be.

» Found at: James Van Der Memes

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I haven't even finished reading this, and I'm sure that I'm way behind the curve on even knowing that this excellent resource, Dive into HTML5, was out there, but from what I have read so far, it's quite awesome.  Written in easy-to-understand language, with an incredible "history" of the evolution of (x)html to start – do not skip this part! – this free resource is the perfect starting point for those interested in HTML5, covering everything from the canvas element, video and embeds, geolocation, new form controls, etc., etc.

Once you have finished reading through this resource, A List Apart is a great place to find more information... or, more specifically, A Book Apart. This series of "brief books for people who make websites" looks fantastic.  They have released two books so far, with two more already on the way.  I've previously read (and still own) books Dan Cederholm (and ALA's founder, Jeffrey Zeldman) which are excellent, so I imagine the quality of these references will be nothing less than that.

So, although the holidays are over, these are some excellent references that are either free or very affordably priced for anyone who had a resolution set around working on the web. If you're going to do it, you might as well do it right (and with the right tools around to help you out).

» Found at: Dive into HTML5

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Jason Kottke beat me to it (indirectly), but the annual IMP (Internet Movie Poster) Awards are almost here; nominations will be announced next week. Along with this annual mini-event, a few "best movie posters of 2010" lists have appeared as well. Both First (which I read a few times a week) and Mubi (a site I'd never heard of previous to Jason's post) have published their lists now and, while different, showcase some nice eye-candy.

The poster I've selected above may not be my favourite of the year -- I don't imagine I have one; I don't follow movie posters all that closely, but as you can see from this site, they do seem to catch my eye often enough! -- but the retro, lomo -feel of Sofia Coppola's Somewhere poster is really impressive I think. I don't know what else to say about it really, but I love the balance, the general feel of the image, the way the building is poking over the trees, the font treatment... it's just really caught my eye (and I don't know the first thing about the film!).

Regarding top-10 lists (a follow-up):
I realize that posting about a new set of top-10 lists within a week of my previous linkage to an editorial about how top-10 lists are silly seems bizarre, but like Matthew's comment to my previous post says, how else can we weed through the incredible amount of data (numerical, graphical, audible, etc.) that is out there in today's world without having someone point us in "the right direction"? Now, your "right direction" and my "right direction" may be two totally different directions, but if I know that I like a lot of things that you do, then why wouldn't I want to know what else you like? And, if I don't have time to explore everything else that you like, why wouldn't I want to know what you like best?  And second best?  And go from there? 

For anyone who has ever (seriously) made a top-10 list of their own, about something they're passionate about, you know that it takes far more time and effort and consideration that one might think looking only at the end result. Yes, in the end you have a list of ten items, preceeded by the numbers one-to-ten written out, but you've likely considered tens if not hundreds of items (and all the nuances of those items) before settling on this final list. Same goes for making a quality mix-tape/cd; in the end you have ~20 tracks grouped together, but you've likely pulled those songs from a collection of hundreds, if not thousands, of potential songs.

Should everything be distilled down into a top-10 list? Obviously not. But do they have their place? Certainly I think they do... and I'm both a supporter and an author of such things.

» Found at:  IMP Awards for 2010

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I'm a sucker for top-10 lists; I even compile my own "best albums" list at the end of each year based on other top-10 lists. That said, Seattle Weekly columnist, John Roderick has put together a good reminder about top-10 lists that is worth a read ... especially for any other like-minded top-10 fans like myself.  It is, of course, presented as a top-10 list, so let me present you with an example to whet your appetite before you click the link below:
3. If you are too busy to discover new albums for yourself, the last thing you need is a list of more albums to buy. You should take a hot bath instead. I hear this from people all the time: They love top-10 lists because it helps them discover new music, as if discovering new music was some epic, heroic quest. I wonder--did they listen thoroughly to every record they bought last year? Did they listen to them all the way through, even? The people making records are still spending months and years on them, while the people buying them are munching through them like corn chips. Slow down.
This is something I've been saying since the dawn of the iTMS: music is becoming so disposable these days and this makes me sad. I love the album... a proper, well-ordered collection of songs, I mean; not just a collection of radio-friendly singles. I love the journey it can take you on.

Yes, I'm guilty of number four on his list, and as I mentioned above, also guilty of number five, but I still agree with what he says here. Good points and it looks like he's got a number of other good articles that I'll have to go back and enjoy as well.

Happy New Year!

» Found at: Seattle Weekly's Reverb Residency column