Thursday, January 28, 2010

Local Natives

Here's the new Local Natives video. This song "Airplanes" will be released on their album Gorilla Manor on February 16, 2010. I had the pleasure of seeing them and Fool's Gold open for Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros this November in Toronto. What a show.

I'm looking forward to the release of the album, but for now I'm content watching this incredible music video. Enjoy.


Local Natives | MySpace Music Videos

First Aid Kit

For those of you with siblings out there, I'm sure you know how intense the relationship can be. At first, siblings might subconsciously fight it out to see which one gets the attention of the parents more. With time, you learn that sticking up for each other is the best thing you can do. You quickly learn that not tattling on your sister will save your own ass next time you do something bad. Before you know it, you've got the ultimate partner in crime. And if you're lucky, your sibling will become your best friend.

I am one of the lucky ones. My sister is my best friend. But unlike other best friends that I could technically un-befriend if I felt like it, we're stuck being sisters, and thus friends for life. There's no moral code that allows me to un-sister my sister. This creates a magical and intense relationship. You love the person unconditionally but because you know you are tied to them forever you can really be yourself, and worse than that, you can be your ugly self.

When my sister and I disagree on something, and we're both feeling volatile (either early in the morning, or late at night after some drinks), we will really disagree on something. And somehow our little disagreement will turn into some some intense cathartic release, and after we'll feel much better and have some enlightened understanding of ourselves and the people around us. Now, Nietzsche believed in a little thing called sublimation. Basically turning all kinds of negative energies and intense emotions into something that serves a higher cultural purpose, like art.

My sister is a brilliant academic, and if I was a brilliant academic, and we got into a crazy fight we would probably figure out a way to make peace in the Middle East or something. Or at least write a lot of books.

The point is, good things happen when siblings collaborate. There's a true and deep connection there. So bringing Nietzsche back into things, if siblings achieve sublimation together, it's like double trouble (or double awesome!!!).

Oasis, The Jackson Five, Carpenters, Bee Gees, and Radiohead are some examples of amazing things that have happened in music thanks to the sibling connection. (Honourable mentions to the Jonas Brothers and Hanson, of course).

First Aid Kit, the band comprised of two sisters from Sweden, Johanna & Klara Söderberg are making music that matches their name. It's the kind of music that puts a band aid on your wounds, and makes you feel better in the way that only sisters can.

Here's a beautiful video for their song "Hard Believer", which was released on their first full length record The Big Black & The Blue on January 25, 2010.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Leif Vollebekk

Leif Vollebekk doesn't know what the Hype Machine is.

For those of you living under an icy rock untouched by the clutches of global warming (or you're Leif Vollebekk), I will briefly explain what Hype Machine is. Basically, it's a blog that takes what popular music blogs are writing about and makes it accessible in one click. The "popular" section of Hype Machine is what any artist searching for fame would likely dream to be on. Here's the definition of popular from the blog itself, "Popular: The most popular artists, searches and blogs on the internet right now."

Recently, artists like the XX and Vampire Weekend (big names!) have graced this elusive "popular" list. But guess who else made that list recently? Our very own, (Canadian!) Leif Vollebekk.

After his captivating show at the Cameron House last Friday for his CD release party (Inland - Nevado Records), I mentioned this fun fact to him. He said something along the lines of, "Ya, people keep telling me, but I don't even know what that means."

At first, I was puzzled. It's kind of like playing the lottery and not checking the numbers. But then, this transformed into bedazzlement. If you're an artist, and you're constantly checking what is being listened to and what people are responding to, your sound will unconsciously be shaped by this in some way, right? This might not be a bad thing, but it might make you sound more like a product of the times than you inevitably will anyway. My hypothesis: the more old school the artist ("when was the hype machine invented?"), the more old school (but really it's new school) the sound.

I just heard this great story I had never heard about Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys). Just as The Beach Boys were rising to the top and being hailed as music geniuses, The Beatles decided to come along. Apparently, John Lennon showed Brian Wilson "A Day In The Life" and pretty much had a major breakdown and lost most of his song-writing confidence. And ya, The Beatles pretty much blew the entire world away (more than the nuclear bomb has yet), but maybe had Brian Wilson not heard this, he would have not lost his mind.

Now imagine having the power to constantly watch and listen to what other artists are doing and how totally stoked the whole internet community seems to be about them? Shit, talk about buzz kill.

So all you lowly mortals out there trying to create meaningful music. I say, revolt and devote. Revolt against the music internet machine, and devote your time to creating music instead. Capture the spirit of the times, but stay timeless. It worked for Leif.

Without even worshipping them, Leif Vollebekk is being blessed by the blog gods. And that makes him a hero. I think that (and his insane talent) will make his journey a long one.

You really need to catch him live, so keep your eyes peeled, he's going on tour soon.

Monday, January 11, 2010

music: religion?

I was raised as a Catholic. I even got "confirmed" (whatever that means). Luckily for me, as soon as my sister and I started asking our parents why we have to wake up early on Sundays to go to church and started showing very minor signs of annoyance for this strange habit, our parents seemed to be relieved. It's like they were only doing this whole Catholic act for us and as soon as we didn't want to do it anymore, neither did they.

It's a strange feeling when a belief system of your own is challenged. Nevermind puberty, growing up is not about awkward voice changes or hair where you never had hair before, growing up is finding out Santa Claus isn't real. Now that shakes you at the core. For me, Santa Claus went down with the tooth fairy, unicorns, and other such mythical creatures, and although that was a sad time, I still had Jesus to believe in. And sure, he doesn't come down my chimney delivering presents, but his birthday makes me get presents anyway. Oh, and he walks on water...I guess that's cool.

Now although I can't pinpoint the exact day when I got to this non-believing place, I remember some general things that made me start feeling a little bit less jolly about Jesus: realizing how many wars were/are fought in the name of religion, reading The Republic, watching Zeitgeist, having a nun butt in line at the Vatican (true story), and reading The Davinci Code (kidding). Before I get ahead of myself, it's not that I don't believe in something out there, but I certainly don't believe in organized religion.

Now that was a really long introduction, and you're probably wondering what the shit Santa Claus and Jesus have to do with music (besides carols). But for me, music has replaced religion. But don't worry, I won't kill for it just yet. I think that people can have really amazing experiences with music, and other art in general that are comparable to experiences that religion can offer. Music gets me through the hard times, and defines the good times.

But just like the idea behind Catholicism probably had the best intentions in mind (?), it's come to represent some not-so-good stuff...Will this happen to music?!

Any art can be subverted. Political propaganda: cool drawings, shitty messages. And now, I guess we could get into a whole discussion about "messages" behind music (violence, sex, drugs), etc...but that's not what I mean. What about the grander scheme of things?

The ipod ads are a perfect example of turning really cool music (art?) into jingles for consumerism. Although I worship my ipod for its ability to feed me my scripture whenever I want it, I am a little bit critical of pop culture, and how ipod ads and other commercials will use music to further the western ideology of individualism, capitalism, and being 'cool'. I'm not going to get into a grand discussion of what the media's take-home message is. But is it acceptable for music (art) to be used to promote overarching ideas? Sort of like how renaissance painters were commissioned by churches to create amazing works of art symbolizing the church's power and influence? Was the church subverting the art?

Ironically, I totally feed into this...this whole entry has been about how music is my new religion...Which is exactly what those white shadows seem to be doing when they are listening to their ipods! Having euphoric moments where they dance in the subway. Just like praying in public. Just when I stood in the Sistine Chapel looking at the art around me in awe, I wondered "maybe there is a heaven?". Are ipod advertisements successfully convincing vulnerable people (like me!) that music is the light and the doctrine is to buy more products? Ah!

But then, I am reassured...I listened to music before the ipod came out. And ads like this convince me that art is still being subverted to a certain degree:

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