I’m *sixeyes. I’m back. And Torontoist is sick of radio. The kind of crud that gets played on the type of stations that advertise themselves as ‘Music for the Workplace’. Celine Dion (a little restraint please), Christina Aguilera (a lot of restraint, puh-leeze), Shania Twain (“Don’t”, that’s the name of the song… so Torontoist has got to say… Please, please, please… doooooonnnnn’tttttt) and (“It only hurts when I’m Breathing”… then doooooonnnnn’tttttt)… Torontoist could go on, but that would be redundant (but it does feel good). Yeah, Torontoist just noticed that all the c.r.a.p. referenced was female… oh, but there are some ‘males’ who terrorize radio as well. Tim McGraw (“Live Like You Were Dying”… this is Celine Dion on steroids… not an improvement), Daniel Powter (“Bad Day” or is it “Had A Bad Day”… whenever he unleashes one of his oooooohowwwooohowww‘s Torontoist has to think, ‘Oh, so that’s what a squirrel sounds like when it’s run over). There are many more, it’s just that Torontoist doesn’t recognize who these guys are and therefore can’t make fun of them.
Okay…On to the ‘real’ music.
1. Richard Swift – “Million Dollar Baby”
Richard Swift was only recently signed to indie label, Secretly Canadian. And the term ‘only recently’ seems a misnomer when referring to Swift. His music is far from recent in influence and manner, with his muse being a bygone era.
2. The National – “All the Wine”
Two pairs of brothers fronting a commanding voice, a resonant voice, one flicking out an opening stanza like this: “I’m put together beautifully/Big wet bottle in my fist, big wet rose in my teeth/I’m perfect piece of ass, Like every Californian/ So tall I take over the street, with highbeams shining on my back/A wingspan unbelievable, I’m a festival, I’m a parade… and all the wine is all for me…”
3. Antony & the Johnsons – “Fistfull of Love”
Antony [pictured right] is a singer whose voice (and vibrato) is larger-than-life, if he isn’t yet. He may yet match his overwhelming voice to his songwriting and if he does… then he will be a renowned cult star if not a big star. On “Fistfull of Love”, Antony Hegarty displays a love for gospel and for Lou Reed (or is it Reed’s love for Hegarty? Reed provides the spoken word intro). This is Hegarty’s interpretation of gospel–slow burning, with horns blaring and the dulled metallic squawk of electric guitar.
4. Maxon Blewitt – “Celebrate”
Spoon-like piano stabbing through a fat bass line, then a Jim White-ish vocal presses up hard against your ear. Who’s Jim White, you ask? Read on…
5. Jim White – “Ten Miles To Go On A Nine Mile Road”
Jim White has been through a lot. From a stint as a model to maiming his hand in a band saw, but White has thankfully retained his creativity and his American south roots. Roots which are twisted around the arcane gothic tradition of many American southern novelists. Gothic is a good word for where White finds much of his inspiration… that said, this song isn’t as rich in that tradition as others he has penned. Although it is a catchy intro to White and his music.
6.Ariel Pink – “Jules Lost His Jewels”
I have written many song reviews for the music website betterPropaganda and once in a while I let my twisted mind take over and end up with something like this for Ariel Pink’s, “Jules Lost His Jewels”:
“Did you know that the Teletubbies grew up and their voices actually dropped an octave or two? During the difficult teen years they spent most of this time suffering violent mood swings from overexposure to vibrant primary colours. The only solution was to be locked in a dark basement which was stuffed full of sixties 45’s and a loaded .44. Discovering an old guitar they taught each other to play, but this was their downfall–or at least the downfall of three. Constant squabbling over who would get to play was the finger on the trigger–and the red ‘tubbie shot the others dead. Now 3 years later he has made his way into the world once more. Now faded pink from repeatedly trying to wash what he mistook as blood from his suit, he has christened himself Ariel Pink and this song proves he worships Beach Blanket movies, surf guitar, cowbell, and quite possibly, “I Do Dream You”, by Jennifer Gentle.”
Well… it is a weird song, come on.
7. The Tin Horns – “Ballad of Nonsenso”
Shifting from the R&B inflected falsettos… to the minor key ‘Alice in Chains’ vocal blend… may sound like a strange combination, but it isn’t. Minnesota indie band, The Tin Horns, create a pleasing sound and hook in “Ballad of Nonsenso”.
8. Marmoset – “Chinese Checkers”
I still don’t know what I like so much about this song… I’m listening as I write this and trying to get a grip on it’s appeal. Well, it is damn short, but that’s not it. It’s the buried squiggles and the build up during the chorus to the shout/scream of the band. I guess that’s it.
9. Bluebottle Kiss – “Last Playboy in Town”
This starts relaxed and acoustic, the story coming at you in a talk-sing Aussie accent. This one is atmosphere and details… a short story in a short song.
10. Pet Politics – “In My Head”
It’s sweet pop that’s lo-fi dirty. It’s gum, gritty with sugar and stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Gum that you can’t shake loose. But would you want to? Pet Politics is a one-man project and Magnus Larsson is the one man. He records in his apartment in Gothenburg, Sweden. He’s unsigned and available (to record labels I mean… anything else, you’d have to ask him).
Now… can radio give you something like this? Well, maybe state funded radio… broadcasting at 3am… from just below the Arctic Circle… maybe.