Monday, December 15, 2008

2008 Best Of

It's been a good year for music. Not a great year. Not a bad year. A good year. There were some good shows. There were some good albums. The last half of the year was pretty slow though. Forget that. Flat out boring. So. Here it goes.

Craptacular Shows:

Handsome Furs at Richards - I enjoyed their album. I like weasel boy from Wolf Parade. But holy shit is his wife annoying. I can't even begin to explain how annoying she is. Somebody attempted to point this out to me before the show, but I refused to believe that somebody could ruin a show just by being annoying. She did.

Radiohead at T-Bird Stadium - I pedaled out on my bike halfway through the set in a monsoon because my friend Marisa phoned me up offering me a free ticket. After hearing about it for weeks I figured I had better see what goes on. Perhaps my less than stellar experience can be blamed on showing up halfway through...but what the fuck, people? It was so wet. There were so many people. This is not what live music is about. If you need a giant light show to hold the interest of everybody, something is wrong. I'm sure this was one of the better stadium shows of the year, but it's the only one I went to and probably the last for me. And I really, really wish I had seen the Liars open, just to witness the animosity and confusion. Oh. Sincerely though, thanks for the ticket Marisa. It was appreciated. Really.

Good Shows:

Fleet Foxes at the Media Club - This kind of feels like one of those "I was there when..." stories. But honestly. I'd listened to the EP a few times at this point and expected nothing but a bunch of hippies hacking away on their acoustics. They blew the shit out of me. I left two songs into Blitzen Trapper. There was just no point in staying.

The Dodos at both the Bourbon and at Richard's - The Dodos flat out kicked the crap out of Les Savy Fav when they opened for them, and the headlining show at the Bourbon was even better.

Sunset Rubdown at the Plaza - They all looked really stoned. And I was hoping the slow version of The Mending of the Gown would pick up. Other than that, it was a fantastic show. Plus, I really like the girl with the fro.

Thermals at the Doug Fir in Portland - Well. Not all that great a show, really. I saw them at Richards...when...last year sometime and they were bad-ass as could be. But the Doug Fir is such a cool place it needs a mention. Vancouver needs a Doug Fir.

Disappointing Albums:

There's too many bad albums to point out. These are the ones I looked forward to but kind of sucked.

Dillinger Four - Civil War - Biggest Piece of shit of the year. The band with all the edge lost it all. I can't even understand what happened. Jesus. About the only thing that remains of what this band once was is the interesting song titles.

Tapes 'n Tapes - Walk it off - I was kind of ruined on this band after I saw them live. But I expected to want to listen to this thing more than a few times. Didn't happen.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Real Emotional Trash - Wow. I was pumped on this. I will give it another try but I didn't think I would have to say that about this album.

Constantines - Kensington Heights - Shine a Light was brilliant and I'm learning that it was perhaps an anomaly in this bands history.

Things I Should Have Picked up on Earlier but Didn't Catch on to Until This Year:

M.I.A. - Kala - I though Arular was really boring, so I passed on this sucker last year. I'm sorry that I did.

White Rabbits - Fort Nightly - A nice beaty album to up your mood. This seems to be the odd little sleeper album of last year and a bunch of people seem to have coincidentally gotten in on the action at the same time. Weird.

Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam - Sung Tongs was a piece of crap and scared me off these guys. People comparing Animal Collective to the Dodos (which is a terrible comparison) made me check this out again though. I liked it.

Honourable Mentions:

Titus Andronicus - The Airing of Grievances - I really enjoyed this album until I saw them live. That spoiled things a bit for me. They're about 10 years old and it all seemed a bit silly. Give them a few years before you go to their show.

Department of Eagles - In Ear Park - Not super duper exciting. Pretty mellow. It will probably leave my playlist in short order.

Girl Talk - Feed the Animals - This didn't have the mind-blowing effect of Night Ripper, mostly just because it wasn't new this time around. But I'm constantly shocked at his ability to combine things that seem perfect and obvious. And a lot of the time his version becomes the real version for me. I think he must be one of those guys that's able to see music in colour or whatnot.

She & Him - Volume 1 - This has a few of my favourite songs of the year on it. I didn't want to listen to it at first because I thought it would spoil my Zooey crush. But Ruth played it for me in New York and I was surprised that I actually liked many of the songs. The back half is a snoozer though.

My Favourite Albums of the Year:

Oddly enough, nothing really worked for me as an album this year. Not much blew me away front-to-back this year. In no particular order...

Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common People - This is the new Dillinger Four.

Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer - It's no Apologies to the Queen Mary, but it's a solid-ass album. Oddly, this probably wouldn't be here if it wasn't a Wolf Parade album, but it's one of the only albums I truly enjoyed start-to-finish this year.

Fleet Foxes - Sun Giant - Fleet Foxes recorded is okay. If I hadn't seen them live I probably wouldn't have gotten hooked on this little sucker. I enjoy this EP more than the album.

Dodos - Visiter - This album is brilliant at times and not so brilliant at other times. But combine this album with their live show and I couldn't leave it off.

Deerhunter - Microcastle - I was never a fan of the last few Deerhunter releases so I was surprised to be so taken by this one.

The Walkmen - You & Me - I totally forgot about this album somehow. I think it must have the wrong year attached to it in iTunes or something. It's funny that nobody liked A Hundred Miles Off but I really did. Now everybody seems to really like this sucker, but I don't think it's as good. But it's still a good album.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Barry Tabobondung

I stumbled across this story on Wikipedia. This is one of those stories that seems like it should be used as the "inspired by a true story" for a CBC movie.

Barry Tabobondung was a Native Canadian (Ojibwa) who was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers, but never played in the NHL.

At the 1981 entry draft, he was drafted in the 3rd round and was so excited to hear his name he attempted to make his way to the stage by climbing over rows and rows of seats. As he made his way to the stage his leg became caught in between two seats, where he remained for two hours until the maintenance staff was able to free him by removing an entire row of the seats ( one account anyhow. Another had the time stuck in the seats at less than 10 minutes and it only requiring the removal of one seat to get him out. But 2 hours is a better story).

Barry spent the next 10 years playing professional hockey in a variety of North American minor leagues. He retired in 1991 and moved back home to his reserve in Parry Sound.

After completing his hockey career, Barry became an important member of his community. He coached hockey for the local junior team and became a councilor for the local first nations. He even found time to have a son, Tommy, in 1992.

Barry resigned as head coach of the Parry Sound junior team at the end of the 1999-2000 season. A few months after his resignation, he was working as an equipment operator, running a road grader. On July 11, he had taken his son Tommy with him to work. At one point, Tommy fell out of the cab of the grader. Barry acted quickly and jumped out to save his son before he could be run over by the rear wheels of the grader. In the process, Barry himself was run over and trapped underneath the rear wheels. Barry was pronounced dead at the scene. His son survived with a broken leg.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I think I've lost a bit of faith in Canadian democracy today. How can the Conservative response to accusations of "not doing enough about the economy" be to shut down Parliament for 2 months? How is this going to help anything?

I've also been extremely troubled that all the discussions over the past week have been about "who will win in this crisis." I realize it's a bit naive to suggest that nobody should "win" and things should happen that are in the best interest of the country. But don't you find it troubling that our media can't even define it in those terms?

I just finished reading about Stephen Harper driving across the street in a motorcade to meet up with Michelle Jean and how there were 50 "protesters" - mostly recognizable members of the Conservative party - with placards, shouting slogans. And really, this is the only thing that the Conservatives do well. They find one message and they hammer it home with a big, loud show.

Well, I hope this massive polarization of the country makes more people angry at the Conservatives than happy with them. At least they won't be able to do any more damage for the next two months. At least the Liberals will maybe be close to nominating somebody as their leader that is reasonably electable. This whole thing is ridiculous.

Update - This Slate article is pretty interesting. Nothing new in there and I think it's written by a Canadian, but sometimes it takes an explanation meant for people that have no idea what is going on is the best way to explain things.