Results for Canadian
Jim gets to unleash his inner thirteen-year-old this week as he and Greg sit down with Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee of the Canadian prog-rock legends Rush. All three members of Rush are known for their ridiculous virtuosity on their instruments – drum god Neil Peart, Lifeson on guitar, and Geddy Lee, who manages to play bass and synths and sing simultaneously. Lee and Lifeson met in junior high in Ontario and released a couple hard rock albums with drummer John Rutsey in the early '70s. But the band really hit its stride when Rutsey was replaced by Neil Peart, who also became the primary lyricist. They began crafting epic progressive rock concept albums like 2112 and Hemispheres featuring side-length sci-fi suites. The albums Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures brought Rush radio hits in the early '80s, and the band moved into a synth-driven phase. Over the ensuing decades, Rush has continued to evolve its sound and adapt to new styles, while growing a cult fanbase that is intense to say the least. The band just celebrated its 40th anniversary with a tour and live album called R40 Live. Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson discuss the band's evolving styles, the existence of female Rush fans, and whether the band will continue.Go to episode 535
This summer three hundred fans joined Jim and Greg for a sold-out live taping of Sound Opinions at Chicago's Lincoln Hall. The night's special guests? Canadian garage rock duo Japandroids. Drummer David Prowse and guitarist Brian King were in a feisty mood, taking Jim to task for his characterization of their music as“wonderfully ugly.”"Is that a back-handed compliment?" Brian wanted to know. The two also performed tracks from their sophomore album, Celebration Rock (a Buy It for both Jim and Greg). Dave and Brian met as students in Victoria, British Columbia. (If you're thinking of visiting, Brian recommends the Wax Museum's "Chamber of Horrors.") They launched Japandroids in 2006 and tried to make a go of it in the Vancouver music scene, already home to bands like Chet and Atlas Strategic. Despite the fact there's only two of them, Japandroids make quite a roar, and they quickly made a name for themselves as an exhilarating live act. But they found frustratingly few venues to play in Vancouver. By the time Japandroids released their debut, Post-Nothing, in 2009, Dave tells Greg they thought it would be their farewell. That didn‘t happen. Internet fate intervened, Post-Nothing blew up, and Brian and David embarked on a year and a half of touring. As its title suggests, Celebration Rock is really a party record. But Greg detects a note of melancholy amidst the boozing. Brian’s response: "If this is the last record we're ever going to do, let's make sure it's the best record we're ever going to do."Go to episode 357
Canadian electronic artist Grimes recently released her fourth album called Art Angels. She came from the underground music scene and rose to popularity with her 2012 album Visions, and was later signed to Jay Z's management company Roc Nation. Although Grimes is a talented singer and multi-instrumentalist, she's best known for the electronic dream pop sound that Art Angels is full of. At first, Greg was concerned that Grimes would lose her edge by putting out a more mainstream pop record. However, he is happy to report that Art Angels contains some elements of mainstream music but the entire album is done on her terms. Greg gives it a Buy It. Jim agrees; he not only enjoys the sonic components but also the powerful and feminist lyrics. He loves the record most because it's both energizing and fun. An enthusiastic Double Buy It for Art Angels.
After much anticipation, rapper Drake has finally released his fourth album, Views. Over the past six years, the Canadian artist has risen to the top of the commerical rap genre, releasing four albums and several mixtapes, all of which have gone platinum. Jim takes issue with the album's subject matter, with Drake frequently complaining about the perks of his superstardom. Aside from that, he thinks Drake has yet to take his 808s & Heartbreak-inspired music to another level, something contemporaries The Weeknd and Frank Ocean have managed successfully. Greg agrees, though he acknowledges that Drake's earlier material was pretty effective. Ultimately, Greg thinks we‘ve already heard this Drake album and he’s capable of more. That's a double Trash It for Views.
The Weeknd Beauty Behind the Madness
Canadian R&B artist Abel Tesfaye spent several years as a mysterious underground phenomenon, releasing acclaimed EPs for free under the name of The Weeknd. After guesting on songs by his friend Drake, he's now become a star, selling out arenas behind his new album Beauty Behind the Madness. The Weeknd is a major voice in the new wave of neo-soul along with Frank Ocean, FKA Twigs, and Solange. Jim thinks his musical ability is undeniable, particularly in the moments when he is reinterpreting the sound and vulnerability of Michael Jackson. Yet on the more R. Kelly-inspired half of the album, Jim feels The Weeknd crosses the line from sexiness into lewdness, so he can't give the album more than a Try It. Greg agrees the sexual content of the lyrics is troubling, but believes Tesfaye is self-aware and ultimately critical of the attitudes his character expresses. The album represents a huge step forward musically, thanks in part to master pop producer Max Martin who managed to add hooks without watering down the darkness. Greg says Beauty Behind the Madness is a Buy It.
Drake If You're Reading This It's Too Late
Drake's release of his latest opus If You're Reading This It's Too Late was a complete surprise, à la Beyoncé — though there's debate whether to classify it as a mixtape or a proper album. The Canadian superstar is once again working with producer Noah“40”Shebib. Greg credits Drake and Shebib for creating a uniquely atmospheric aesthetic for his introspective rap. But the minimalist beats make this feel half-finished: there are no hooks or pop hits, and the record never picks up steam until the end. Jim won't even concede any originality in the production. He says, Drake has been ripping off Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak his entire career. To Jim, Drake is incredibly hard to like, as he continues to whine about his petty personal problems. If You're Reading This It's Too Late gets a double Trash It.
The Besnard Lakes The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night
Jim and Greg next turn to the third release from Canadian indie rockers The Besnard Lakes called The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night. Jim describes the album as a mix between nature-inspired“beard”rock and early '90s shoegazer. This is the duo's most epic effort yet, and Jim recommends it as something you can lose yourself in. Greg wonders if they need a new rating category:“Wow.”He'd add orchestral pop and progressive rock to the list of influences. Greg describes the record as an amazing achievement and an example of great collaboration between the husband and wife team. The Besnard Lakes get a double Buy It.
The Weeknd Echoes of Silence
Canadian musician and producer Abel Tesfaye, otherwise known as The Weeknd, is emerging out of the underground after the release of three acclaimed mixtapes. Those free albums earned him a Polaris nomination and the support of fellow countryman Drake. Jim includes The Weeknd in the great tradition of unnerving strange R&B (Marvin Gaye, D'Angelo). He is an interesting vocalist, but on this recent free mixtape Echoes of Silence, the real reason to listen is the music, which blends R&B with industrial and trip-hop influences. Greg agrees, noting that Echoes is not the best of the 3 releases, but certainly worth a listen. He uses his voice to play against type and really draws you into the dark lyrical content. Both Jimand Greg say Buy It, but luckily, you don't have to.
METZ, Metric, Arcade Fire, Handsome Furs, Feist… it's been quite a decade for Canadian music. Jim and Greg wonder, what's in the water up there? So they talk to Steve Jordan, founder of the Canadian music prize Polaris about this year's crop of nominees and what value, if any, music prizes still have in today's landscape. Jim and Greg are impressed by the diversity of Polaris shortlist artists, and are even more impressed as to how democratic the prize is, especially compared to our own Grammy's.
After more than 20 years, The Replacements have finally reunited for a series of RiotFest shows. Fans have been clamoring for a Replacements reunion since the band broke up in 1991. So was it a success? Jim and Greg share their experience at the RiotFest show in Chicago. You can also check out their print reviews here and here.Go to episode 408
Katy Perry wasn't the only thing roaring at MTV's recent Video Music Awards. Digital sales for artists featured on the program have seen significant bumps. Among those feeling a lift were Lady Gaga's Applause, which saw a 20% rise and Bruno Mars' Gorilla, which had a staggering 175% sales increase.
In other chart news the British Phonographic Industry recently updated its sales award rules. So now, a little band called The Beatles has finally gone platinum. The official count only began from 1994, though, so actual sales of hit Beatles albums like Revolver and Help can only be estimated.
By now everyone's heard Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines. But, have you heard 86-year old Canadian composer John Beckwith's Blurred Lines? Well, thousands of listeners have, though perhaps not intentionally. Beckwith's 1994 recording for harpsichord and violin has gotten a huge boost in online streams ever since Thicke's song of the same name came out earlier this year. Blame it on Google, but it seems hard to mistake Thicke for Beckwith's sounds inspired by the Swedish hardanger.Go to episode 406