Music on Film at TIFF 2014

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For many people, music attains its greatest emotive power when accompanying a moving image. Whether your thing is comedy or experimental art-house, it’s hard to imagine our favourite films without their respective scores. Here are three films that I saw at this year’s TIFF in which music played a pivotal role. Continue reading

Swans @ Yonge-Dundas Square (NXNE)

The birds were leaving.  Continue reading

Metamorphosis @ Royal Alexandra Theatre

Curtain @ Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto ON

Curtain @ Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto ON

Last week I attended at performance of Metamorphosis at the Royal Alexandra Theatre here in Toronto. This production premiered in 2006 in London. It was adapted for the stage from Kafka’s novel by an innovative Icelandic company called Vesturport, and this is the first mounting of the production in Canada. The big draw for me was the fact that this production is scored by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, of the Bad Seeds/Grinderman. Continue reading

In Defense Of Neil Young

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In his interview with the CBC’s Jian Gomeshi, Neil Young starts off by saying that he wishes that he’d done the “Honor The Treaties” tour years ago. He speaks in low, deliberate tones. I know that underneath this typical reserve, he’s seething. The anger and pain is tangible, and miles away from the quirky wit he normally employs in interviews. He’s putting his values as a Canadian up for debate, and I applaud him for it. We need more of this, especially in Canada where our artists tend not to take strong political positions, either due to fear or ignorance. Continue reading

Page Tuner: “Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove”

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Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson likes music criticism. A lot. Throughout the length of his impressively arch, anti-formulaic pseudo-autobiography, he nearly spends more words on the subject of music criticism than the art form itself. As a kid, he grew up worshipping not just records, but the reviews of those records. Basically, he was part of the first generation of omnivorous music nerds, the kind of which now rule the insanely divergent cultural mass that we call the internet. As a musician, writer, and curator, he was made for these times. Continue reading

Lee Ranaldo & The Dust- “Last Night On Earth”

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I find it fascinating how Sonic Youth has split up so neatly into its constituent parts. Kim Gordon is exploring abstraction and noise with Body/Head, Thurston Moore is riffing his way through the history of punk and metal with Chelsea Light Moving, and Lee Ranaldo is making arguably the biggest gains by marrying his extensive range of guitar techniques and tones to what might be called traditional rock song craft. Continue reading

Changes: David Bowie Is @ AGO

Ziggy GibsonIcons can influence people in indirect, peripheral ways. Artists who achieve some measure of cultural ubiquity quickly become diffuse and viral, influencing fashion and music and informing the hive-mind concept of what it is to be “cool”. Sometimes you end up becoming a fan without even realizing it. Continue reading

Interview: Lee Piazza (The Benefit of the Free Man)

Lee Piazza (lead singer of The Benefit of the Free Man)

Lee Piazza (lead singer of The Benefit of the Free Man)

The Benefit of the Free Man are one of my favourite Toronto bands. They marry dark poetic meditations with the lush drama of acoustic strings. They employ deeply absorbing rhythms, haunting melodies, and intense dynamics, all combined with a certain stately grace. Their debut EP/mini-album is one of the most affecting listening experiences I’ve had during the last year.

I sat down with their lead singer, the one and only Lee Piazza, to talk about his early love of language and rhythm, the genesis of the band, and the inspirations behind the songs on their first release. Continue reading

Motion Pictures: “Sound City”

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“Sound City” is Dave Grohl’s offering to the Gods of Rock. It’s a beautiful, life-affirming film that honours both rock and roll itself, and one of its greatest temples. Continue reading

Mozart Symphony No. 40 @ TSO

Roy Thomson Hall, pre-show

One of the great gifts that age has bestowed upon me is my renewed appreciation for classical music. Music is a never-ending well of magic and beauty, and the deeper down into it you go, the more you are able to fathom the alchemy of sound and emotion.   Continue reading