CD Review: PAPERMAPS, Papermaps [Sparks Music/EMI, 2011]

Posted on by Wade in Albums, Everything | 1 Comment

Did you know that people who make maps (cartographers) are typically more concerned with how a map looks rather than its accuracy? Also, at cartography school they teach you that water should be blue and land should be green or brown because if you make land blue, it will really mess up the people who use the map.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, PAPERMAPS, the Toronto band, drop their debut album on Tuesday. Lead singer Dean Marino, accompanied by his friends Todd Harrison (bass and synthesizer), Wendy Leung (keyboards, vocals) and Bobby Lee (drums) have provided us with a pop album that has something for everyone. Stand out tracks include the acoustic, stripped down Wishful Thinker, catchy sing-a-long Reunion, anthum-isk mood setting You Are My Gallows and the self reflective, best played extremely loud pop song Can’t Make A Living. I have a special hankering for songs named after women. Papermaps satisfies this craving with the opening track Angela, which boasts a catchy piano and chorus that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Sometimes when I listen to the song Reunion, I like to change the chorus to “I promised you a cheese cake”.

The band is on tour now, working their way back to Toronto for an April 29th release party at Sneaky Dees. (with Cheap Speakers and Ketch Harobur Wolves)

Unofficial Contest: The first person to identify the 10 artists who perform the following “women” songs in the comments for this article will receive a +1 to Papermaps April 29th show at Sneeky Dees. I haven’t approved this contest with the band, but I’m pretty sure they’ll be on board with it.

Maggie Mae

Album Review: Pearl Jam – Live On Ten Legs [2011, Monkeywrench]

Posted on by Paul in Albums, Everything | Leave a comment

Really, Pearl Jam?  Another live album?  Was this really necessary given the fact that you’ve released roughly 3 billion live albums already?  An exaggeration, of course, but the reality is you actually have put out seven live albums plus a total of 72 albums as part of that “Official Bootleg” thing you did back in 2000.  That’s a hell of a lot of live albums, and while I won’t dispute that you’re a formidable live presence (i’ve never seen you live … nor have I heard most of your live albums, but I’ve heard good things from people) and that it would be cool for a fan to own a document of a show they may have seen, I just don’t get why you need so many live albums, let alone another one.  Are you making a case for yourselves as the next Grateful Dead?  Don’t Phish already have that market cornered?  If by some chance you’re reading this Pearl Jam, please explain yourselves.  It will help me sleep better at night.

OK, here’s the part where I ditch the pretense of this being an open letter to Pearl Jam and actually judge this on it’s merits as a recorded collection of songs.  I have to admit, it’s pretty good.  As far as sound quality goes, it’s a clear, decent recording and the song selection is good, avoiding obvious hits for the most part (because really ,those have probably already been covered on all those many, many other live albums) as well as paying tribute to their influences by covering Joe Strummer and Public Image Ltd. songs.  So is this an essential live album?  Well, no.  There are no grand revelations here, no side of the band that hasn’t been seen before.  But will it tide fans over until the inevitable next live album?  Yeah, probably.

Interview: Ringo Deathstarr, January 18, 2011

Posted on by Allison in Albums, Everything, Music | 3 Comments

Ringo Deathstarr

Austin-based Ringo Deathstarr is one of the best things to come out of Austin since Ricky decided SXSW is the greatest event in the universe.

While touring the U.K. with David Gedge’s the Wedding Present, two of my friends on the tour could not stop raving about how fantastically legendary Ringo Deathstarr were, live. Given the number of opening acts they have seen, I took this to heart and checked out their debut EP, then moved onto Sparkler to find amazing collections of toe-tapping ambiance.

Frontman Elliott Frazier recently sat down with us to answer a few questions.

PM: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. I want to start things off by fully admitting that we didn’t know a whole lot about you prior to 2010. But after hearing so much buzz from the Wedding Present’s 2010 tour, we checked out your excellently noisy self-title debut, that I was surprised to learn was released back in 2007.

Why are we just hearing about you now?

RD: Who knows…we never really had proper labels or distribution in the United States of America*.
*(The band is on the U.K.’s SVC label now)

PM: Tell us a bit about your first full-length LP, Colour Trip,  that has already been generating a fair bit of talk. Maybe you can also let us know why you went with the British (which we in Canada are so fond of) spelling, the recording process and you know, if you ate anything particularly memorable during recording (I just had a nectarine).

RD: The British spelling is because the record label behind this whole thing is British and you know, that’s just how the Queen would spell it.

We recorded it a year ago, and we had never really been in the studio for a month straight before, so we took advantage of all the nice toys they have.  Some songs were written in the studio, some we had been working on off and on since the previous summer…A studio date here, a studio date there. But once Club AC30 got behind us they put us up for a month and we got busy.  The most memorable thing for me was just working with Jason “Computer Boy” Buntz, ‘cuz he was not too afraid to try crazy ideas, and let me tell you, we both had plenty.

PM: How do you feel about all of the Pitchfork publicity? Yay, nay, indifference because publicity is publicity?

RD: Pitchfork gave us a good review once a long time ago, and it did help. but one can’t be too concerned with Pitchfork….we do our thing, they do theirs.

PM: A lot of listeners have decided you channel  a lot of JAMC, MBV, and the other usual shoegaze suspects. But I’ve often found that when listeners peg all sorts of influences on a band, the band doesn’t even have them on the
mental list. Do you have a mental list, and if so who are they?

RD: Every time I hear a really shitty band, it inspires me to make something better. So there’s all that…plus you know, there’s plenty of music that influences us besides “shoegaze”: Black Flag, Fugazi, Ramones, Devo, Dance House Children, Descendents, Nirvana, Nirvana, Nirvana, Beat Happening, Guitar Wolf…

PM: For our SXSW attendees, where is the best place to get the best burger in Austin?

RD: P. Terry’s, ‘cuz they have vegetarian burgers, as well as a great meat burger (so I’m told). Hut’s is consistently kick ass.

PM: A lot of your recent tour dates have been in Europe, one of them with the legendary Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips (what a bill..G500 fans must be peeing their pants, as I think those that don’t already like you will after the show). It must be weird to play with folks who have been doing this for decades, like David Gedge and Dean, in an intimidating way. Have you noticed a difference between the veterans and the newbies?

RD: Not really, just age I guess.  Some people are party animals, and some are not, no matter how long theyve been playing…So we just like meeting the living legends. So far they’ve all been cool to us.

PM: Finally, when are you coming to Toronto!?

RD: In the springtime, when the flowers are in bloom.

You can pick up Ringo Deathstarr’s Colour Trip that is set for release on March 8th.

Ringo Deathstarr – So High by johnout

Track by Track: Take That – The Progress [2010, Polydor]

Posted on by Ricky in Albums | Leave a comment

Toronto – Maybe it was because I was in England last month, but I felt compelled to do a track by track “review” of the new Take That album, which was everywhere in London the week we were there. The big news with Take That was that Robbie Williams was now back in the band. Having said that, even though they were the British equivalent of New Kids on the Block, I think the only song I’ve actually heard of theirs was Back For Good, which everyone growing up in the 90s has heard of.

Here is my track by track read on the new album, which well, has done really well sales wise.

The Flood – The lead single and track off the new Take That album, it’s what you would expect. Rousing chorus and quite a catchy pop tune.

SOS – Wasn’t there a Rihanna song called SOS? This one has a frenetic pace to it, but I think I’ve heard a few songs with the title SOS before, so this pop song sounds a bit tired. There’s some audio sample of some person talking about administration during the song, so maybe it’s a political song? I can’t quite tell. I can see this song making the rounds in the clubs though, it’s got quite the pulsating beat. I don’t know who the other dude singing in this song is, but he probably shouldn’t.

Wait – To start off this track, Robbie William does his semi rap thing to a dj beat that sounds a lot like the beats he used on Sing When You’re Winning album. He needs to stop doing the semi rap thing. I guess this track has a catchy chorus.

Kidz – I’m pretty sure Robbie Williams has a single out already with Kylie Minogue entitled Kids, so this is pretty unoriginal and lazy track naming. “There’ll be trouble when the Kids come out” Gary Barlow says, nice to know he’s one of those old geezers who shakes his fists at young people already. They borrow from the Brett Anderson ‘La La La La’ playbook to end the song, but this song seems to try a bit hard to sound like a hard electro-tinged cautionary pop song for my liking.

Pretty Things – I struggle to find one good thing to say about this song. It’s not catchy, the lyrics are stupid, and the singing isn’t the greatest. If I was a 14 year old girl attending a Take That concert, this is my bathroom break.

Happy Now – Pretty generic track with an electro dance beat. Doesn’t make me happy or sad.

Underground Machine – My mind drifted off while listening to this track, starting looking up flights online for some reason. Maybe I want to escape this album, maybe it’s inspiring me to do what I want, maybe I have ADD. I don’t know.

What Do You Want From Me – I just don’t like Mark Owens voice, even if this song has a nice epic buildup and sounds like a what a Black Eye Peas song would sound like if they weren’t complete douchebags.

Affirmation – meh

Eight Letters – I like the drums on this song, it’s a calm little ditty to end off a pretty listenable album.

Having no prior experience with any Take That album, I would say that the band has definitely progress from typical boy band material, especially lyric wise. I am glad they didn’t do the whole ‘lets party in the club thing’, because c’mon man, these guys are in their 40s and the only club they go to is a bridge club. I guess this is what a mature boy band should sound like but they really shouldn’t let the weaker singers contribute much, I mean, I’m pretty sure all the bsb/nysnc/nkotb bands had members that didn’t even sing any song.

Take That – The Flood by UniversalMusicPublishing