Torontoist Love/Hate 2006: Music
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Torontoist Love/Hate 2006: Music

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Torontonians are, to say the least, an opinionated bunch. So instead of a simple “Best Of” list to cap 2006 off, the Torontoist staffers have racked their brains about everything (books, songs, restaurants, people, places, stores, newspapers, politicians, musicians, and a lot more) to bring you their choices for the very best and the very worst of our city this past year. It’s Torontoist Love/Hate 2006, and you can find a new one every day at noon from December 26th until January 1st.
For our fourth day of Love/Hate, Torontoist picks the best and worst of music – song, album, musician, live act, and music store. And hey, for “love,” we even picked some things that weren’t Final Fantasy! What are the odds?

Song

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It makes sense that my favourite song of the year comes from my favourite album of the year. “All That I Had” from Jon-Rae and The River’s Knows What You Need is one of those songs that always gets me dancing (a scary thought, I know) in my kitchen or bedroom and clapping my hands along with the music. If we’re looking outside the city, my vote for song of the year would fall to The Hold Steady for “Stuck Between Stations.” – MARK MEDLEY
This Lamb Sells Condos by Final Fantasy. Hate the gentrification of the city of Toronto? Want to express your disdain for the “newly conjured erections” popping up across Toronto and threatening the gay village? Why not just write a really, really, really, really good song about it? Yeah! That’ll do it. – DAVID TOPPING
Final Fantasy – “This Lamb Sells Condos.” As mean as the song is, it’s incredibly well written and lets me release my anger towards ugly condos. The lyrics remind me of a twisted Broadway musical, which only feels more relevant as Owen Pallett switches his violin for the piano. Bonus points for the line, “His massive genitals refuse to cooperate.” Impotence was never so funny. Right, Brad Lamb? – MIKE WARNER
Both are from Montreal…Champion’s “No Heaven,” which totally snuck up and slapped me in the face. I typically am not into electronic-type music, but this song grabbed ahold of me and made me actually dance. Dance, I say! And Malajube’s “Montreal -40,” because how could you not like it? It’s so damn happy and head-boppy, and I don’t understand a damn word of it. – CARRIE MUSGRAVE
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Fergie’s “London Bridge.” I pity the people in London that they have to be associated with this song. I shudder to think that someday there will be a skanky girl talking about how she wants to see a guy’s CN Tower so she can open up her Skydome. – AMANDA BUCKIEWICZ


Album

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He Poos Clouds, Final Fantasy’s masterpiece, has pretty much everything that you didn’t think would make an album cool. Take, for instance, the fact that two songs, “>” (or “Hey Dad”) and “This Lamb Sells Condos” are, respectively, a 57-second ode to Jenna Bush, and a five minute ode to Brad J. Lamb. It’s hard to think of a better album released this year by anyone, Torontonian or not. – DAVID TOPPING
My favourite album of the year is Jon-Rae and The River’s Knows What You Need. I worried my expectations were too high for this album. I’m happy to say it delivered spectacularly. While I don’t think this is their masterpiece, the album is a fantastic mixture of rock, country, folk, gospel, and blues. It’s my favourite album of the year, hands-down, Toronto or not. I want to award K-OS worst album of the year, just to see if he’d rant about me on Myspace, but he’s the best rapper in Canada. *Sighs* – MARK MEDLEY
I didn’t buy many albums this year, much less local ones. I’ll have to go with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Show Your Bones (Karen O. rocks. I love her wacky sense of style, and nothing beats listening to the “ooh ooh’s” in Gold Lion with headphones on, with the volume cranked to 11), The Raconteurs’ Broken Boy Soldiers (Jack White can do no wrong and he and Brendan Benson compliment each other very well on the album), and Malajube’s Trompe l’oeil (it’s nice to see a French band break out of Quebec without having to sellout and sing in English). I know I’ll end up thinking of others I wish I included right after submitting this. – CARRIE MUSGRAVE
Ohbijou – Swift Feet For Troubling Times. So many beautiful songs. The vocals don’t try to control the songs, but sit nicely beside the music and form a warm, fuzzy blanket. I will never get tired of the instrumentation on this album. The strings are a great complement, but it’s the horns that really give the songs texture. The album also wins Best Packaging of the year, for those who care about those things. – MIKE WARNER


Live Act/Concert

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Of all the awesome shows this year, two in particular stood out for me: Belle & Sebastian blew the roof off the Docks on a very frigid February 25th. I know much of the sold-out crowd were bitterly disappointed with the venue, but not me. I waited for the doors to open for three hours in sub-zero temperatures and was rewarded with a front-row view. B&S made certain my frozen toes were not in vain! On April 13, Toronto’s own Spiral Beach opened for, and completely upstaged indie-darlings Voxtrot at Sneaky Dee’s. The local troupe — who are finally getting the attention they deserve — had an entranced audience giggling and jumping around. Who knew a rock show could be such fun? – GARY CAMPBELL
Femme Generation! I don’t like it when I go to a show and it obviously rocks and people just sort of stand there and sway a little or cross their arms or tap their toes, but they can’t muster the vulnerability to dance. I know, I know, it’s kind of the Toronto way, but a Femme Generation show makes not dancing actually impossible, even for Toronto crowds. These guys have more energy than a room full of chihuahuas. It’s always a blast, even though you’ll be picking confetti out of your hair for days afterwards! – ROXANNE BIELSKIS
As much as I’d like to round out the category with an Owen Pallett nod, his former bandmates, The Hidden Cameras, still put on one hell of a show, and keep proving that they’re the best thing to ever survive Mississauga. Though their album, Awoo, was pretty great, their live shows trounce anything on it in terms of fun. Go to one; they will blindfold you and the rest of the crowd, serenade you with “Smells Like Happiness,” and you will love it. – DAVID TOPPING
If you caught M. Ward‘s September 11, 2006 concert at Mod Club Theatre, consider youself one of the lucky ones. If you didn’t, the good news is that he’ll be back in January for a “rare solo performance.” Toronto fans got the best of both worlds back in September, when Ward (one of America’s most underrated young songwriters) treated the packed venue to some excellent full-band arrangements (two drummers!) of songs new and old, along with a few solo-acoustic gems. – ADAM MILLER
Jeff Tweedy at the Commodore Ballroom. Yes, it was in Vancouver, but it rocked the socks off anything I saw in Toronto this year. A lovely sounding man singling lovely sounding songs. Plus, he was a perfect gentleman when a giant bag of pot was thrown onto the stage. He thanked the audience, announced that he didn’t smoke pot, and threw it back. – VANESSA CALDWELL
The videogame tribute night that was on at the Boat some time this year, featuring Daquiri belting out the Kraid theme from Metroid and Ontario Power Generation performing an amazing medley of Street Fighter II songs. Awesome! – MATHEW KUMAR
This is tough. I’ve seen over 300 bands this year, and it’s not easy to whittle it down. If we’re going with local bands, I’d say it’s a toss-up between Hawksley Workman at Massey Hall (he was born to play that venue), The Meligrove Band at Mod Club (pure loveable fun). For broader acts, I’d have to say King Khan at Silver Dollar for NXNE (blew every other act out of the water, and kept giving it and giving it), Be Your Own Pet/The Black Lips at the Horseshoe (pure insanity), The Flaming Lips at V-Fest (standing in the photo pit felt like being a kid in a candy store…it was amazing), and Radiohead (simply because it’s Radiohead). The Raconteurs at V-Fest were pretty damn good, too. I don’t want to stop…this is too hard! – CARRIE MUSGRAVE
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The Wolf Parade show at the Phoenix this past summer was the worst concert I attended this year, by a landslide. Said a friend afterwards, sighing: “I didn’t even realize they were playing ‘Shine A Light’ until halfway through.” I love the album, but the guys needed more practice. – MARK MEDLEY


Musician

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Like Ron Sexsmith, David Celia seems to have a bigger audience in Europe than he does in his hometown. And basically, David Celia is to the Toronto music scene what Ron Sexsmith was ten years ago; a talented singer-songwriter who has everything he needs (great musicianship, a beautiful voice and good songs) but a sizable audience. Readers are advised to check out Organica and 2006’s This Isn’t Here and hear some of the folk-poppy goodness they’ve been missing out on. – ADAM MILLER
Final Fantasy. Probably could have seen this choice coming, but this was the year of Final Fantasy in Canadian music. He has had his hand in the country’s music cookie jar with the Hidden Cameras and Arcade Fire, and he’s proving that he might (one day) just be bigger than both all by himself. Also, double super extra points for winning $50,000 for the Polaris Prize and deciding to pay off his boyfriend’s student loans with it. That is pure class. – DAVID TOPPING
Final Fantasy. I was completely blown away by his North York Library performance. I had never seen the man live before — watching him throw down those tracks and play that tiny piano nearly made me cry. – VANESSA CALDWELL
Also a tough one. There are so many great musicians in this city, but I’ll narrow it down to three that I think get less attention than they should: Luke Doucet, Royal Wood and Hawksley Workman. All three are amazingly gifted at their craft and I never get sick of listening to them. I could ramble on forever about each one, but you’d be better off just checking them out for yourself, if you already haven’t. – CARRIE MUSGRAVE
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Alexisonfire. I didn’t get to see their seven thousand consecutive shows at every venue in the city earlier this month, but I’m pretty confident that they all sucked. Why do we need to shriek, Alexis? Their songs are at least half-decent until somebody’s yelling about whatever it is that they yell about (in all likelihood, girls). Anyone who still thinks that the band is anything close to hardcore needs to take a good hard look at front man Dallas Green: the dude wrote “Save Your Scissors” (sample lyric: “So why does it always seem / That every time I turn around / Somebody falls in love with me”) for the album City & Colour (cause his name is Dallas and Green, get it?!??!) and he dates MuchMusic’s sinking ship captain Leah Miller. Yeah…really hardcore. – DAVID TOPPING
k-os’s completely petty bullshit with Jason Richards of NOW and his history of not being able to take a shred of criticism pretty much turned me and a lot of the on-the-fence k-os fans that I know against him. Telling a reviewer to “eat a dick,” generally, is not the way to deal with one who gives your album only a half-decent review. And, come on, was that stupid song “Crabbuckit” even all that good, just because he name-checks Yonge Street? Yeah, it was cool once, but after that, no, no it wasn’t. A gifted musician? Perhaps. A gifted anything else? Nope. – DAVID TOPPING


Music Store

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You know, I love Soundscapes but I can’t stand the way they put their music against the walls in rows, I find it unbearable to browse so I only stop in to get things I know I want (or concert tickets). So possibly Rotate This, because I can, you know, flick through their racks and see that they don’t have any Ariel Pink or Boris albums and then go home and buy them online, or something. – MATHEW KUMAR
Soundscapes. This year’s renovations have made the store into a bigger and better haven for music lovers. With extra space at the back and shelves so tall that I can no longer see across the room, the store carries more CDs and DVDs than ever before. There’s also more room for those intimate and cozy in-store shows. – SHARI KASMAN
Soundscapes. My boyfriend is much cooler than me and always knows about bands the second they put out an album, but me, I take a little while to get caught up sometimes. In an average indie music store, I usually feel like the guy who asked Jack Black to help him find a Stevie Wonder album for his daughter in High Fidelity, and regularly expect a sneerfest when I take my purchase to the counter. But the staff at Soundscapes is pleasantly sneer-free, and actually friendly, helpful and accommodating of those of us who are five minutes behind them. One of the staff there even complimented me on my Kozyndan tote bag once. Nuff said. – ROXANNE BIELSKIS
Soundscapes. A great selection with a staff that doesn’t look down at my cd/concert choices. Win/win! It’s so small but it feels like the hub of so much information. It would be so much better if it carried vinyl records, but the free posters and other knick knacks at the front make sure you never leave empty handed. Bonus points for keeping the art of in-store performances alive. – MIKE WARNER


King Khan, k-os, and Be Your Own Pet photo by Carrie Musgrave; Hidden Cameras photo by David Topping; Wolf Parade shot by PatrickKErby; photo of Jon-Rae and the River by laurent_croquemonsieur; Ohbijou cover from Trip Print Press; Rotate This shot from Lesliemae; and photo of Soundscapes from peppermintpatty.

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