Albums

Song of the Day/Album Review: Toussaint Morrison – Can’t Relive the Party

Posted on by Celeste in Albums, Song of the Day | Leave a comment

toussaint-morrison

My sister and her work spouse are acronym SMEs (subject matter experts). Some examples include:

JFA – Just Fell Asleep, as in ‘I’ve spent the past hour churning this organic homemade ice cream and it’s still the consistency of soup. JFA. I’mma go buy an ice cream snickers.”

BGCM – Big Green Check Mark, as in “This farmer’s market has free samples? BGCM.”

and my personal favorite:

JVOM – Just vomited, as in “He spent an hour recounting every mile of his triathlon. JVOM JFA.” (Double points for double usage).

However, a new usage of JVOM has come into being with the recent discovery of Toussaint Morrison, a hip-hop artist out of the Midwest. After seeing this video, the consensus is that a person might JVOM after experiencing something so incredibly adorable:

After over-indulging in the extreme dosage of “holy crap that’s adorable” of Toussaint Morrison’s “Can’t Relive the Party” I checked out his bandcamp and found that he’s more than just a pretty face and golden pipes – the man a) oozes creativity and b) has a story to tell. A winning combination for an artist.

His most recent album, Fast Times at Trillmont High, tell the story of Juice, a tutor at a fictional high school in the midwest, giving a tour to Ms. Day, a visiting teacher from a school in South Korea. According to his Facebook, the album was inspired when Morrison was hired on to teach spoken word poetry at a high school in Minneapolis. To publicize, he went classroom to classroom performing rap and spoken word poetry about the class, racial disparity, drop-out rates, and stratification in Minneapolis, which led to huge student enrollment, and a dismissal the next day.

While this might seem like a hugely depressing subject matter for an album, Morrison incorporates it well – forming likable characters, a comprehensive story-line, and even creating stories within stories in the album. True to his roots as a spoken word poet, listening to Fast Times at Trillmont High is more akin to listening to live lit or a radio serial back in the day than listening to an album. And while he does focus on racial and social disparity in this fictional high school, he also keeps it light with stories of swim-offs, prom and hulking out. On top of breaking genre barriers and bringing forth delicate issues of race and gender and social status in a meaningful way, Morrison is just a plain old talented musician, merging hip-hop, soul, R&B and indie rock into some super catchy tracks. Give it a listen:

Best of 2010: Sarah F’n Wilbore’s Fave Albums and Shows

Posted on by sarahw in Albums, Concerts, Everything, Music | Leave a comment

2010 has been a pretty epic year musically.  It was difficult to narrow down my favourites.  But, without further ado, here are the top 5 albums and top 5 shows according to Sarah.

Top 5 Albums

Black Keys – Brothers

I was introduced to the Black Keys through this album, I subsequently acquired their entire substantial discography and have been in love ever since.  These guys have finally reached the proverbial pop culture tipping point with their tunes being featured in Gossip Girl, various commercials and even the theme song to Hung.  Go ahead, listen and try not to bop your head.  This album is infectious.

Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Nightmare

There was so much hype behind this album I felt certain it would be a let-down.  To my surprise it is actually phenomenal.  This album is genre-bending, has superb musical guests (Jay-Z and Bon Iver) and samples music spanning multiple decades.  Kanye really knows how to please a crowd.

LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening

James Murphy has done it again.  I love this whole album but two stand-out tracks for me were Dance Yrself Clean and You Wanted a Hit. Oh and these guys ROCK live.

Four Tet – There is Love in You

Experimental electronic perfection.  My biggest regret is not seeing the Toronto leg of his tour.  Love Cry has got to my one of my top tracks of the year, so beautiful.

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

I think I listened to this album from start to finish more than any other album this year.  That is all.

Top 5 Shows

Holy Fuck

These Canadians released their sophomore album Latin this year and followed up with amazing live show.  You have to see them live to experience all the unconventional ways these guys make music.

Yeasayer

Apparently Yeasayer wrote their latest album in Australia high on LSD.  Well keep it up boys.  Not only is their sound original, but their live show is pretty hypnotizing.

Thom Yorke

Having never seen Radiohead live I was pretty stoked to see the frontman at Coachella.  Thom does not disappoint, playing The Eraser in full plus a few Radiohead tracks he was definitely my favourite of the festival.  One of the best live voices I’ve heard.

The Wilderness

One of the most entertaining, energetic live performances I’ve seen.  Sparkly, dancey, theatrical oh and great music.  I would highly recommend their new album .272 and catching these guys live.

Mayer Hawthorne

Swoon.  I saw this motown crooner twice this year but his Wrongbar performance was by far the best.  Mayer has bounds of energy with an amazing falsetto to match.  I cannot wait for his next album, oh and check him out on Twitter…very entertaining!

And finally, in case you were wondering.  The single worst show of the year was Tame Impala.  Awesome record, terrible live.

Classic Song Review: Move Any Mountain – The Shamen [1990, One Little Indian]

Posted on by Allison in Albums, Article Series, Classic Albums, Everything, Music, Reviews | 3 Comments

Every once in awhile, some unidentifiable thing will trigger a sudden memory for me. Whether it be a smell, sound, image, or whatever, it is always completely random, and usually something from childhood. I had one such backflash late on Monday evening as I was perusing YouTube videos and was struck by the following chorus: “I can move, move, move any mountain”. It was kind of like the “burnt toast, I smell burnt toast” Canadian Heritage Minute.

A quick Google search later, and the autocomplete function reveals a whole lot of other people have been remembering this song, too. What was it, and who was it by, anyway? Besides the incredibly catchy chorus, I couldn’t remember much else.

But then I watched this video

…and it all came flooding back to me.

The song is Move Any Mountain, and the group is a techno-infused-acid-house outfit out of the Aberdeen Scotland (Groundskeeper Willie’s hotly disputed place of origin) called The Shamen that spanned throughout the 80’s and 90’s.  Josh informs me that they were one of his favorite bands from back in the day, openly admitting that he has 10+ copies of the En-Tact album (in case of natural disaster, we might presume he would strategically place these in different residences and locations).  As wonderfully cheesy as the video may be (it has it all–a twirling descent of bodies on a dated graphic, kareoke-video-like ocean footage, an appropriately poofy looking duo against scenic mountain backdrops), and as painful as the short rap run-ons might get, Move Any Mountain is still a fantastic song reminding me of the schitzophrenic ranges of highs and lows a song can take you to.

Unfortunately, one half of the creative duo met an untimely demise after heading to Tenerlife Spain to tape the video for Move Any Mountain. I believe it was the guy with the dreads, but am not really sure. They enjoyed some modest success in the U.K., and irregardless of their tragic end, have managed to record some other good tunes in their time and I really enjoyed Possible Worlds. There’s a little Primal Scream, a little bit of Soup Dragons, predating that flash in the pan rock/dance thing with EMF and Jesus Jones. There’s some guilty pleasure in enjoying this stuff I suppose, but despite what some folks may think, I am not a music snob.

Classic Album Review: Prince – 1999 [1982, Warner Bros.]

Posted on by Allison in Albums, Classic Albums, Everything, Music | 2 Comments

If you were to ask me who I thought was the most talented songwriter in the world, you might think I’d be hard pressed to come up with a definitive answer.

You’d be wrong.

In the hybrid category of overall singer / composer / musician of 26-odd instruments, there can only be one winner. Prince Rogers Nelson takes this title without any hesitation on my part, and despite his going off the eccentric Jehovah’s Witness deep-end well over a decade ago, I still think he is the most talented musical icon of all time. He trumps Madonna in chart-accessible rebirth. He kicks the Beatles’ catalog. He oozes pop from his every orifice. He is the most overtly sexual songwriter of all time. And more so than anyone else I can name, Prince has consistently proved that he is an endless factory of eclecticism, genuine sexuality, and ass-shakingness, which brings us to 1999.

1999 arguably takes the cake in terms of best party album of all time. Everything on this damn thing makes you want to either scream-sing at the top of your lungs or embrace the loose morality of getting “down” with your bad self (Dance Music Sex Romance). This album embodies the most positive and life-affirming heathen ethics. There are some gems on here that never fully hit the public’s radar with the full breadth I would’ve expected it to, and it’s puzzling to me why some of them weren’t chart toppers while others were.

Out of all of the albums I’m reviewing for this series, I would have to say that this is the most primal and lighthearted, least cerebral, and surprisingly, least emotional. All 1999 incites in me is a desire to get out like a dancing, singing fool (and I emphasize the fool part).

The album’s title track was something I couldn’t listen to throughout the 00’s, abandoning it due to Y2K overplay. It feels kind of like fictional farce 11 years later, but the nail-biting in 1999 was real. My computer science professor had managed to convince us all that the bulk of the world was running on COBOL, which was incapable of handling the rollover to 2000. Everything will revert back to 1900!, he said, and we either apathetically or stupidly semi-believed him (what can I say, he was dumb, and we were dumber). Listening to 1999 again, I think it’s a shame that it carried the taint of Y2K mania. It’s still an ultimate party song with all of the trimmings.

Let’s go through the rest:

Little Red Corvette – Prince seems to have a shitload of songs that play as explicit sexual innuendo. He is one of the few people who is able to balance “suggestive” with “crude”, while still staying under the radar of pop culture. It’s hard to believe that LRC is still Prince’s biggest hit to date, but then I used to listen to it like the dickens, not really picking up on anything it really meant (essentially sleeping with a slut). The drum beat is still ultra tight.

Delirious – Much of this feels borrowed from “Horny Toad”, but no matter. Another example of sex flying below the censors. Probably the weakest track off the album–weird to think this charted.

Let’s Pretend We’re Married – Another favorite that didn’t receive as much attention…I always notice this as a conspicuous oversight in all “best of” Prince collections, and I’m not sure why it never captured public imagination as much as some others.  “If you’re free for the next couple of hours / If you’re free for the next seven years!”

D.M.S.R. – May very well be my favorite track off the entire album. Over 8 minutes of ass shaking, love making, I guess this is the whole theme of the entire album. We’re all going to hell, but we might as well enjoy a lot of sex in the meantime, irregardless. I just felt like using the word “irregardless” there.

Automatic – Another gem. More than anyone else, Prince has a way with keyboards, and the head boppingness makes you completely forget about the completely inane lyrics.

Something in the Water (does not compute) and Free were kind of write-offs, with Free being the sort of life after death ballad that athiests ignore. Looking at the album’s two main themes, every song either revolves around sex, love or fear of God.

Lady Cab Driver – Sure, the sounds oddly like Irresistible Bitch, but if anyone were to ask me what good, accessible funk music was, I’d point them to Lady Cab Driver. It’s easy to see why Prince was such a ladies man in spite of the fact that he essentially looked like a short, wizened monkey in high heels.

All the Critics Love U in New York – Kind of an eerie number, but catchy nonetheless.

International Lover – Totally reminiscent of a jazzier Nothing Compares 2 U.

Although so many of these songs remind me of so many others in Prince’s catalog, I have to say that no one recycles like this man (and anyone who writes over 15,000 songs can be excused for some creative borrowing from himself). He has the ability to make new out of something familiar; to make something filthy sound innocuous; and to make a 9 minute musical tirade feel palatable.