Monday, January 30, 2012

TotW: Shaking Down the Old Bones

The Darcys are going to win you over. And you over there. And you in the back. One way or another, these guys are going to make it... they've already been through far too much not to. Oh, and I should mention that they're also quite amazing.

Rather than go into everything that's happened to the band since they formed way back in 2007, let me direct you to a Toronto Star article from last March; Ben Rayner covers it all pretty well in there if you're interested. Long story, short: after surprise line-up changes, struggles with producers, money and labels, these guys have stuck it out, evolved, and are currently making new fans with the help of Murray Lightburn (The Dears) and the still-influential, Toronto -based Arts & Crafts label.

Trying to describe these guys is hard; I hear The National, radiohead, Elbow and - more obviously - The Dears and Steely Dan, in their sound. The lead single from their self-titled album, Don't Bleed Me, is a short, rockin' blast of a single. It doesn't conform exactly to your standard verse- chorus- verse structure, and it's not easy to declare it as a guitar -driven track exactly... but it's both of these, and neither of these. It's sonically muddy, in a good way, and the vocals are forward in the mix right up until the last 30 seconds of beautiful, layered, noise.

The song I've highlighted as my Track of the Week, Shaking Down the Old Bones, starts off as very Kid A -era radiohead -heavy. It's a lot quieter than the aforementioned single, but there is still a lot going on here. The drummer, while understated in the first half of the track, is still very solid. The haunting vocals are floating along just perfectly here. The latter half of the song tells the story with conversation style lyrics overtop the instrumentation. A great way to end a 5+ minute song.

Have a listen on CBC Radio3 if you'd like (linked below), or head right to the band's website (linked above) to download - for free - not only their debut album on A&C, but also their follow-up, a complete cover of the 1977 jazz-rock classic, Steely Dan's album, Aja. Exclaim! has all the details on how this came to be. Not surprisingly, I've heard it already and it's likewise impressive.

» Listen: The Darcy's - Shaking Down the Old Bones

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Wow, I can't believe it's been so long. But, the guys are back together again... for at least one show.

I'll let Jag have the first word on their return, as he spelled it out so well on the band's (new) website:
We initially shied away from the idea of a 'reunion' in the classic sense, as they usually seem thrown together solely to make some quick cash, and nothing to do with being a band.  We decided that we would definitely entertain ending this silly 'hiatus' thing only if we had new music to go with it.  If you can't write and record together and barely stand each other, why would you even think about 'reuniting'?  For us, these elements all go hand in hand, and have allowed the continuation of IME.
These guys were a centrepiece of my mid-90s Canadian new rock collection. I was lucky enough to see them in concert a few times, both at festivals and small club shows, and they never gave any less that 110% on stage. The popular story is that their label abandoned them during promotion of their fourth album, refusing to help get their music radio play and/or any sort of publicity; there was also some debate over the release of a "best of" album that the band didn't really want to have released (at least, not under the conditions that it was released). This is the history that I remember, but it sounds like the band plans to clear some air about these things on their newly minted The OpenMouth Blog.

The band released four really incredible albums over the years; some of my favourite stuff they've done is the least 'radio friendly' stuff that gets tucked away at the end of their albums... but then I've never had a problem with a song being more than four minutes in length (or even more than 10 minutes long!).

Who knows where it'll go; I'm just happy that they're back together having fun with music. If we get a few good singles, that's great. If it's just a one-off show, then so be it... I'll always have the back catalogue to enjoy.  Are/Were you a fan of the band?  Favourite album or track?

» Found at: I Mother Earth .ca
» Watch: Like the Sun (youTube)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


There are a lot of things in our world that I believe we just take for granted. The calendar on our wall, on our desk, on our cell phones and whatnot is almost certainly one of them. Who would ever think of changing it? Apparently, a lot of people.

National Geographic linked to one of the latest, in a long line of, new calendar proposals yesterday. Doing away with the 'leap day' (February 29th, which appears in every calendar year divisible by 4... unless it's the start of a new century... unless that century-starting year is also divisible by 400) and, instead, offer a 'leap week' every 5-6 years! The purpose for the 'leap' is still the same: to knock the calendar back in-line with the actual rotation of the Earth which isn't exactly 365 days long.

The proposal for this, the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar, is to start the conversion in 2013 and have it fully implemented on January 1, 2017.

Benefits of this calendar include:
  • the days of the year are always the same day of the week; for example, Christmas (December 25th) will always fall on a Sunday;
  • the year will always start on a Sunday and end on a Saturday;
  • there are still seven days in a week (whereas a lot of other proposed calendars, apparently, suggest other numbers of days per week);
The case is made that calendar reform isn't something that can easily happen; the author realizes that asking the entire world(?) to change the calendar they use isn't going to be a simple switch. However, that's not reason enough to not put the idea forward and see what sort of support can be found for it. There will also be personal reasons for people to oppose the idea. What if your birthday is on January 31st? There is no January 31st in the new calendar... so when is your birthday now?!

What do you think? Would you ever imagine a world with a different calendar? Does the idea of February having 30 days every year freak you out?

» Found at: The Henry Foundation @ John Hopkins University

Monday, January 9, 2012

TotW: Lightshow

I first heard about the band, Plants & Animals, during the 2010 Polaris Music Prize long list. Their album, La La Land, had just come out and it was generating a lot of buzz in the Radio3 community. I don't remember being blown away by it, but it seemed solid enough. The album didn't make the Short List cut, but that only fueled the flames for some.

Two years later, the band is back and as strong as ever with their new release, The End of That, coming out in mid-February. This lead single, Lightshow, showcases their brand of guitar pop/rock in a great way and indicates that this will be an album to watch for in the first quarter of 2012.

The trio are as tight as ever: vocally strong, drums and guitars in perfect sync. The song moves along, with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting, but not alienate new listeners. The guitars have this great almost-clean tone, and things get quiet, then everything comes back loud and fuzzy; there are these little riffs that play throughout and I love them.  I don't really know what to say about this song, specifically... I missed it the first few times it was played on Radio3 and only saw all the comments about what a great tune it was. When I finally caught it, I knew what the fuss was about.

Any how, I think it deserves a listen ... and I'm off to have another listen to the band's previous release in anticipation of the new album.

» Listen: Plants & Animals - Lightshow

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I don't think this is the first time that I've seen a book used as a carving medium; however, this is perhaps the most impressive example of it that I remember.

Now, I have no idea if this requires the artist – in this case, Canadian Guy Laramee – to glue just the books together, or the books and all the pages, or what, to prepare for something like this, but the results are stunning. The one pictured above really stands out to me as the lighting of the building/cavern is perfect. Clicking the image above will display a much higher resolution version of the sculpture, showing you the detail work on the cavern walls, etc.

I love the imperfect nature of the medium; the way that the pages are tattered and worn and bent. I would think that doing something like this would be very, very dusty work and the idea of working in any reductive medium like this – as, I guess, almost any scupture work would be – frightens me. Dig a little too much in an area, and you can't just put it back. Patience.

There are many more examples of similar works on Laramee's site; click the "The Great Wall" and "Biblos" links under the "Recent Work" header for a look.

» Found at: Guy Laramee's Portfolio site