Camera Obsucras’ new album, My Maudlin Career is set to be released April 20th on 4AD. Track #9, Forest And Sands, has a shout out to Toronto:
/But if the blood pumping through my veins could freeze/
/Like a river in Toronto…/
This all forces the question; there’s a river in Toronto? Tracyanne must be singing about the Don River I guess? If anybody can figure out what she sings after the word Toronto, bonus points. Camera Obscura will be playing some Canadian dates this summer.
June 26th – Montreal, QUE La Tulipe
June 27th – Toronto, ON Lee’s Palace
And in case you were wondering, the word Maudlin is an adjective meaning: Extravagantly or excessively sentimental; self-pitying. Would you expect anything else from Camera Obscura?
I’m sure it’s happened to you… you open the refrigerator and get a whiff of leftovers you’ve forgotten about. Some you lament over because the meal was delicious and you really should have done it justice by finishing it. And others… well you wonder why you took them home anyway.
Same goes for the Chart Attack Showcase, waaaay back on March 14 during Canadian Music Week. As we move into summer– the season of concerts and parties, I’m duly noting some of these Chart Attack Showcase bands which will likely be featured at some festival, bar or club in the city. To go or not to go?
These PEI musicians play music that is cheerful, upbeat and catchy. Simple melodies, riffs and choruses that will always get the crowd singing along. This band is one to see if you want to relax and hang out with friends, have a few cold beers and have good Canadian rock to bop your head to. Latest album, Little Jabs, was once again produced by the ever growing Canadian icon, Joel Plaskett. They played a solid set, definitely a pleasant discovery during CMW. Rating: 4/5
Fronted by husband and wife duo, Dave Azzolini and Jessica Grassia, they played a relatively decent show in front of an audience that had waited through a gazillion band set to see them play. Following Two Hours Traffic, their sound didn’t seem as polished or well put together. While they played crowd pleasers such as, “Construction Worker”, I think I was satisfied after the second song. Lost in the muddle were the catchy hooks that you pick up on in their recorded music. Worth catching? Yes, I think good enough that you ought to give them a try. Rating 3.5/5
With a lot of hype following this sweet heart duo now located in Montreal, their blend of rock, electro synth pop has got everyone talking. I saw a lot of bands I wanted to see during CMW, but they were one I was really looking forward to. Their music is cute, poppy, and on the brink of nerd-dom. A soft spot in my heart? Yes, I dare say it is. I stood in front of the stage ready to dance, but instead stood baffled, lost in the sound that they were trying to reproduce from their album. I was disappointed and shocked by their performance. While I appreciate their music and the sound they’re going for, I can’t say they’ve made it up to quite the same level in their live shows. At least the live show I saw. I’m sure over time, the transition from recorded music to live stage will become more smooth and we’ll see more of the Hexes and Ohs flair that we hear in their album. Rating 2.5/5
Toronto – I am a huge Pearl Jam fan, and so I embark on the assignment of reviewing the re-release of their seminal album Ten with excitement. Maybe it’s the fact that the Panic Manual is throwing a 90’s party this Thursday, but these past couple of weeks have been a great trip down memory lane as I am re-exposed to the music of my youth. In this respect, reviewing this album comes at a particularly appropriate time. Everyone has a handful of signature bands that helped them get into music. For me, Pearl Jam was one of those bands.
I don`t know what it is, but Pearl Jam sure does hate standard CD jewel cases.
After opening up the case, I`m greeted with the typical non-standard Pearl Jam CD case that they seem to have adopted ever since Vitalogy. Ah yes, I remember first getting my hands on Vitalogy and being all, “WTF? Why is this jewel case so weird? It’s like square, it’s not even the right size!” I don`t know what it is, but Pearl Jam sure does hate standard CD jewel cases. Sure it’s like, “look at how non-generic we are with our cardboard sleeves for CD’s.” And granted, since then many a band has followed suit. But those little cardboard sleeves just end up scratching your precious CD every time you take them out of their sleeves. Take that you CD consumers!
Inside the cardboard sleeves we find two separate CD`s. The first has all the tracks listed from Ten. Great, this is probably the re-master of the original album. An album I have long ago internalized. This is indeed a re-master, and after rummaging around, I finally locate and dust off the original Ten album for comparison. I would say that the re-master does sound bigger than the original, but only just. The beauty of this record is that it`s simply an amazing listen from start to finish. This isn’t just an album with a couple singles, it’s a masterfully crafted piece of work with songs that fit together. Timeless really.
Good writers need good editors, and the same goes for music albums .. Just because you can fill a CD to the brim with 74 minutes of music doesn`t mean you should, especially if it detracts from the album as a whole.
Now, I`ll pause here to talk about my luddite ways and explain why I think the vinyl format (or least the idea of an LP) really was a great medium for music creation. With only a limited amount of time that you could put on each side of an LP, the format forced artists and producers to really edit their work. The result was albums that were well put together. Good writers need good editors, and the same goes for music albums. Albums need quality editing and production. Just because you can fill a CD to the brim with 74 minutes of music doesn`t mean you should, especially if it detracts from the album as a whole.
OK back to those CD`s, I dug out the second one and found the same track listings, with the addition of 6 tracks. `Sweet“, I rub my hands together in anticipation. I cannot wait to hear how they`ve re-worked the classics, and what new songs they`ve added to the mix. So I throw the CD in my player. This second disk has been remixed by Brendan O’Brien, who has produced every Pearl Jam album since Ten, and has faced a lot of pressure from the band to redo their debut offering. Listening to these CD`s in isolation, I would not be able to tell you if any given song was the original, the re-mastered or the re-mixed track. At first I thought this was a bad thing, but after some more listening I realized that is exactly what the doctor ordered; you can`t tamper with classics.
Listening to these CD`s in isolation, I would not be able to tell you if any given song was the original, the re-mastered or the re-mixed track. [but] I realized that is exactly what the doctor ordered; you can`t tamper with classics.
After ripping lossless versions of the original 1991 album, the re-mastered album, and the re-mixed O`Brien album, I get down to some serious hi-fi listening. Here the subtleties finally emerge. The re-mastered album sounds a bit hotter than the orginal. They`ve reduced some of the production work, there are more dynamics, and yes sometimes more original recording hiss. The result of downplaying the production is that the songs sound a little more genuine. When comparing the re-mastered version to the O`Brian re-mix, the differences are a little more evident. O`Brien has removed some of the 90`s sound from the album. The 90`s reverb has been toned down, the levels are more artfully balanced, Eddie Vedder`s voice kicks you in the ass a little more, the bass is more present. But you do have to listen closely. These differences won’t jump out at you.
And that’s a good thing too. I guess when I heard `re-mix`, I was thinking about it in the DJ sense of the word, a complete overhaul. But Ten is a great album that stands on its own. In hindsight I`m glad to see that it was dusted off, polished up and made that much stronger, without changing the essence of the album. The bonus material consists of some rare B-sides, bluesy jams and old material that evokes early Pearl Jam.
So is the $30 price tag worth the upgrade? If you don’t already own Ten, then this is a classic album that has been re-mastered and re-mixed with plenty of TLC and deserves a spot in any rock collection. If you already own Ten, but you’re also an audio detail freak, then you’ll appreciate the jump in quality and dynamics. And If you’re a die-hard Pearl Jam fan, you’ll appreciate the bonus tracks and B-sides.
But if you’re none of the above, then I don’t see enough substantive differences between this and the original album to warrant an upgrade. Keep in mind the audio comparisons were done on a hi-fi system. A re-issue like this will definitely placate hardcare fans and audiophiles, but in a world of mp3’s, car stereo’s, and ipods with earbuds, the subtle improvements and greater production value won’t improve your enjoyment of this classic album.
Ten – as an album: 10/10
Quality of original 1991 album: 7/10
Quality of re-master: 8/10
Quality of O’Brian re-mix: 9/10