Canadian singer songwriter Emma-Lee has just released her new album called “Backseat Heroine” which features collaborations with people like Jill Barber and Luc Doucet. Emma- Lee honed her lovely vocal chops singing along to Mariah Carey tunes and along the way had to fight through 2 separate surgeries on her vocal chords but she fought through that time to release a debut album a 2009 (Never Just a Dream); continued working as a songwriter for other artists; and has hopped onto our radar with a new album and a new video shot at a No Frills!!! ( the Honda Civic of supermarkets).
Dirty Projectors have been making some really interesting music since the early 2000’s. In 2005 it was the album “The Getty Address” which was a concept album of sorts based on the idea that Don Henley was some sort of troubled hero in a post civil war acid trip..or something like that. In 2007 the album “Rise Above” was a reinterpretation of the debut Black Flag album “Damaged”. The band has recently released a brand new album but is still perhaps best known for this 2009 song that was covered by….wait for it…Solanage Knowles.
The idea of Stevie Knicks’s 1981 song “Edge of Seventeen” came from a conversation she was having with her pal Jane Benyo, who at the time was the wife of Tom Petty. Jane said she and Tom had met at the age of seventeen but her thick southern accent made it sound like “Edge of Seventeen” which has become one of Stevie’s most recognizable tunes….especially when Destiny’s Child took the guitar riff and sampled it in this song. Bootylicious is one of my favorite pop songs of all time: don’t judge me. I also hit a moose with my 1995 Toyota Tercel on a dark snowy night somewhere on the west coast of Newfoundland…..while listening to this song.
As I have mentioned before in Matt Track form when talking about a band like Sloan: there are barley a handful of Canadian bands from the 90’s can-rock era who have managed to continue making music, most from that time are now doing reunions. Our Lady Peace are one of the bands who continued making music. The newest album is called “Curve” which was inspired by Canadian boxing icon George Chuvalo whose face also appears on the cover. OLP have had massive success over the years and have released 7 albums….this might be their bets one yet.
For some The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame is the pinnacle of musical acceptance while for others, it’s a bit of a joke. It is a little ridiculous that Guns N’ Roses were inducted this year when bands like Kiss or Rush are still overlooked….but that doesn’t make Guns N’ Roses any less deserving. They were inducted this year by Green Day, Axl continued acting like a 7 year old and didn’t show up, but the big question is….will Axl and Slash ever be able to kiss and make up and give us what we want: a reunion to wash away the taste of Chinese Democracy.
The world of music can thank The Beatles for many many things, here’s the one we could do without; every band who have come after The Beatles to this day, with any kind of rock star potential, are plagued with the notion that they “could be the next Beatles”. It has become a music industry cliché created by the industry constantly hoping for the next sensation, failing to realize that you can’t create something like The Beatles, it just happens. So imagine how hard it was for a former Beatle to try and make new music with those types of expectations. When Paul McCartney released his first solo album in 1970 the idea was to keep it low key because no matter how good it was, it would remain in the shadow of The Beatles. Part of this plan was to release no official singles but because he is Paul McCartney songs like Maybe I’m Amazed still got a lot of radio play and that particular song eventually became a radio hit for his band Wings. This might be one of the greatest love songs of all time.
John Lennon’s album “Imagine” is considered one of the greatest albums of all time and even though he had released post-Beatles music before it, “Imagine” really was his first collection of songs outside of the experimental music he was making with Yoko Ono. The story goes that the seeds of the song “Jealous Guy” were actually planted during the writing of The White Album by The Beatles but it didn’t make the cut when it was called “Child of Nature”, and that version is the ONE song that seems to be left out of any special Beatles collection of “unreleased songs and demos”. It’s probably left out of those collections because it later resurfaced with new lyrics and a new title; Jealous Guy (via Child of Nature) when it finally did make it out of the studio and into the world has gone on to become a song that has been covered almost 100 different times.
I’ve been thinking about doing a Rusty Matt Track for a little while but never got around to it for one reason or another but one day not too long ago through the power of twitter, someone suggested it and I could no longer deny that grimy Canadian garage band in the early to mid 90’s who somehow made it on to radio in between Celine Dion, Jann Arden and Snow. While the US had a bubbling underground scene in Seattle, we had our own in Canada with bands like Sloan, Eric’s Trip, Hardship Post, The Inbreds and Rusty. With thanks to @bunny_la_joya, let’s re-visit the track got things started for them: Wake Me.
Let me tell you a little something about Hawksley Workman and let me first be clear-this is not a Hawksley song I’m about to suggest (you should listen to ALL of his songs) but I would like to point out that man’s ability to spot talent. Before anybody else in Canada really heard of Hey Rosetta! Hawksley had produced their breakthrough Polaris nominated album. Before that Hawksley’s golden ears heard a young singer songwriter from Ontario and he immediately signed her to his own record company and helped set her career in motion…you may have heard of her.
You know those moments when you hear a song and it instantly becomes your new favorite? You listen to it over and over and even though it’s the exact same 4 minutes (ish) repeated in your ears with each listen, it doesn’t matter because it hits you different every time. This is what happened to me when I first heard the track “Mr Hurricane” by the Montreal band Beast and I was excited at the prospect of many more years of music from this new band…..unfortunately they have gone on indefinite hiatus after their 1st album. This project started just as a musical experiment between Betty Bonifassi and Jean Phi Goncalves; Betty is best known for being part of the Oscar nominated soundtrack for the animated film The Triplets of Belville and Jean Phi as a producer working with people like Lauryn Hill. Hopefully The Beast will return.
ps. This video was nomintaed for a Grammy.
I watched Jane’s Addiction at Ottawa Bluesfest a few weeks back and it reminded me of a few things I’d like to share: 1. Perry Farrell is one of great front men in the history of rock and roll, end of story. 2. While Nirvana gets a lot of credit for changing music, what we have to remember is that there were bands like Jane’s Addiction who were putting cracks in the wall that made it possible for Nirvana to be the band who happened to break through and take all the credit. 3. You can write a great song with just 2 chords kids, Jane Says is G and A and repeat for 6 minutes (give or take).
ACDC continued on with a new front man after the passing of original singer Bon Scott; 2 years ago Alice in Chains released a new album with a new singer 7 years after losing Layne Staley; and INXS found a new singer through a reality show and released new music 8 years after the death of Michael Hutchence. Well, now after settling with the estate of their late singer, Bradley Nowell, the surviving members of Sublime are able to release new music with a new singer named Rome Rameriz but only under the name Sublime with Rome. I was listening to this song on the radio while driving with a friend and he really liked it, when I told him it was Sublime with a new singer he stopped liking it……weird how our minds work.
I never need as good reason to talk about Enfield, Nova Scotia MC Classified, but it just so happens I have a good one. His latest single features award winning singer/songwriter (and East Coaster) David Myles on a track called “The Day Doesn’t Die”. Aside from his own music Classified is gaining a reputation for producing other artists, about 5 years back he found and produced music for a singer named Jordan Croucher who you’ll now recognize as just JRDN, and it was producing a David Myles track called “Simple Pleasures” that led to this collaboration.
This song has not left my head for months. I find myself singing the chorus at least once a day and it’s become a bit of a problem so I figure the best way to exercise this ear worm is to try and send it to you. The Stampeders from Calgary Alberta had a Canadian mega hit with Sweet City Woman in 1971 and it also cracked the top ten in the US, but that was kind of it for them in America. In Canada they continued to have big success and they even had a few singles creep into the bottom of the American charts but this tune was their one taste of US Rock and Roll fame.
My first concert ever was Tina Turner at Memorial Stadium in St. John’s and the next one was Huey Lewis and the News in that same building, but the first big rock band I ever saw was INXS at The Spectrum in Montreal when I was 13 years old. I was hooked on that band immediately and no matter what they did musically in the following years I remained a fan purely based on the impact that rock show had on me. I even stuck it out through Rock Star INXS many years later which I know would piss off a lot of purists who thought it hurt the legacy of Michael Hutchence and the band, but I was just happy that the songs were hitting a new generation. They have recently released an album of classic INXS tunes re-visited with a collection of different singers including Rob Thomas, J.D Fortune and Ben Harper who calls this tune one of the best soul songs of all time……and who’s gonna argue Ben Harper?
About a year ago during one of my many geek out moments over The Band I was digging deep through YouTube for interviews or performances that perhaps I had never seen before (my obsession is in it’s 6th year-I have issues). This time however, instead of getting lost in The Band I ended up spending my time on Bon Iver because of a TMZ style gorilla question that Robbie Robertson answered while signing autographs at an airport. He was asked what music he was listening to and he said (in the 4th different pronunciation I have heard) Bon Iver (he said it as all one word-bonnavur). I was intrigued and started my own journey but it wasn’t until very recently that there was a video for me to be able to use for a Matt Track…..so here we go.
A few short years ago a singer/songwriter named Justin Vernon was having a bit of life moment and needed some time away from everything, literally. He said after a break up with his band, a girl, and himself (kind of depressing) he needed to just be alone; so he ended up spending 3 months in his father’s hunting cabin in Wisconsin. Bon Iver was born in those 3 months. Since that time the project has become one of the most talked about in music and if you haven’t heard the name yet believe me, it’s all you are going to be hearing about for the next little while…..with varying pronunciations.
Once Alexisonfire infiltrated radio in Canada a lot of people were very happy (myself included) but a lot of people didn’t dig the sound which across the board pretty much had to do with the screaming vocals of lead singer George Pettit. The band was definitely an acquired sound and something very unique to radio in this country but even for those people who didn’t get it, there was no denying the OTHER voice in that band- Dallas Green. His voice sounds oddly soothing amongst the heaviness and chaos of Alexisonfire and that’s the voice which drives City and Colour; something that began simply as a side project for Dallas who would pass out EP’s at solo shows in bewteen touring the world with Alexisonfire. City and Colour is a bit more than that these days to say the very least; his new album “Little Hell” debuted at #1 in Canada and #28 in the US.
Growing up in Mt. Pearl Newfoundland and Labrador, musically, I was inspired by many things: the roots/traditional music and beautiful scenery of my homeland of course, but perhaps even more than that……Rap Traxx 2. Do you remember this shit!!!!???? This cassette (yes cassette) had everything!! LL Cool J, Boogie Down Productions, RUN DMC, De La Soul and….Slick Rick. The first time I heard Slick Rick was because of Rap Traxx, and his song “Children’s Story” blew my mind. Now let me school all the 90’s club retirees who would go out every weekend in 1995 and shout “THAT’S MY JAM” every time they’d hear Montell Jordan sing “This is How We Do it”. What song do you think he samples? “Children’s Story” by Slick Rick God Dammit.
There was a time in music when a record company found a band or an artist early in their careers and then developed and nurtured that act in the hopes of building them while letting the band have a natural musical growth….those days are gone. Now a band has to prove they can do it on their own and sacrifice everything to chase that dream OR build with a smaller indie and hope that they can be one of those great independent stories like Arcade Fire. Sometimes, if the stars align and the dues are paid, MAYBE they will be faced with a decision to sign with one of the last major labels and MYABE they will be one of the bands that signing with a major label actually helps. After releasing 7 albums in 6 years on independent labels and touring their asses off, “Portugal. The Man” were faced with that decision and now have released their first major label album on Atlantic Records. Let’s see what happens.
I’ve expressed my musical man crush for Glen Hansard before; Glen is one half of The Swell Season, who shot to fame for starring in and providing the music for the movie “Once”. Along with his other musical half Marketa Irglova, The Swell Season won the Academy Award for best original song in 2008 providing one of the best moments in music ever. However, Glen had already found success in his Dublin based band The Frames and as an actor for his role in the movie The Commitments but please allow me to geek out even further: Bronagh Gallagher, an actress from Dublin was also in The Commitments and 4 years later she wore a Frames T-shirt in the movie Pulp Fiction…which is just my way of telling you to listen to The Frames, The Swell Season, watch Once, Pulp Fiction and that I heart Glen Hansard.
In 2003, after just one record, The Blue Van were plucked out of Denmark by the biggest American indie label at the time, TVT records. The band, who hadn’t even broken in their home country yet, were shipped off to NYC with a plan to break them in the US. They lived and did some residencies in Brooklyn for a few years which is how I found out about them when my old band was added to one of their shows and I watched them tear up the stage of a place called The Trash Bar-they were really really good and I was filled with hope to see a band actually being developed by a record label. That hope didn’t last long unfortunately because after building them for few years, investing a ton of loot and getting them on tours with Jet and The Killers, TVT records decided to drop the band (then TVT records went bankrupt because of a Pitbull lawsuit- *cough cough* musical karma). However, this all went down a few years ago and I’m sad to report that while Pitbull is still kicking around, The Blue Van continue making the rock and roll …. but now from the safety of Denmark.
My Son the Hurricane is (at the very least) a 13-piece band from St. Catherine’s, Ontario and 8 of those pieces is just the horn section!!!! It’s kind of hard to describe the sound but I think it would have to go something like this: picture a parade of jazz musicians jamming with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, marching through the streets of New Orleans with a live drummer, an MC and a beautifully sampled voice providing the hooks. The only thing to point out however is that sample is a real voice. Seriously, I asked the drummer what the sample was from this song because I loved it and wanted to find the original and he said….”ahh dude, it’s our singer.”
I am smitten with Norah Jones and I’m not afraid to say it (I’m also smitten with the word smitten). I’m not just smitten because her voice is so damn beautiful that she can sing about ChexMix and make you fall in love – which she actually did on a Lonely Island track called “Dreamgirl” –it’s because she has one of the last romantic record industry stories left in the business. She was a waitress singing in coffee houses and jazz clubs when she was introduced to the boss of Blue Note Records by an account executive. The record label boss (who I picture smoking a cigar and using words like baby and hip) hears her sing, signs her on the spot, and her debut album wins five Grammys and sells 8 million copies. I worked at a restaurant called Jungle Jims followed by a stint at a TGI Friday’s and all got was the skill of carrying 4 plates of food at once.
For the past month or so it seems like every person I know has asked me “dude, have you seen the new Foo Fighter’s documentary”? It got to the point that I was getting repeat askers “Wells, have you seen it yet?!” I started thinking to myself “It can’t be THAT good, can it?” Well it IS that good, it’s called “Back and Forth” and you NEED to see it, just to hear Dave Grohl talk about Nirvana so candidly will make it worth your while but above and beyond that, the story of the Foo Fighters that is told is pretty amazing, I promise. Now, speaking of The Foo Fighters, this gives me an opportunity I like to seize as often as possible: their 1997 album “The Color and the Shape” is the best rock and roll album of the past 20 years and this is the best rock song. Period.