Year’s Ending

ImageYes, it has been forever old chum. I have traveled, I have sat still, I have spent hours upon hours listening to Revolver. Now I live in a cabin in the woods with no internet. I have no excuses for not posting, but just imagine: somehow, every moment of my new rural life synches perfectly to the fab four’s finest. As a sign of an ending, and the beginning of a new beginning, a tiny spark of interest on my end, take this list of my favorite Canadian songs of the year.

The Mangroves Go Naked!

Free your mind and your ass will follow: this Saturday I’ll be DJing at the body painting party for The World Naked Bike Ride. After a few days of rain and grey skies, I’m looking forward to basking in the sun and riding free. Last year was my first year participating in the ride and I had such a marvelous time that I’ve been looking forward to it for months now. At first I thought craft fairs and opening receptions were my preferred DJ gigs, but DJing nude in the sun? It doesn’t get much better.

You can bet that, like every other day for the last three weeks, I’ll be playing this. And a little bit of this.

Dual Summer: A Mix For OBEY

This year I have the distinct privilege of getting to work and play at one of my favorite Halifax music festivals: OBEY. If you are unfamiliar with it, I’ll say this: it’s absolutely the most bad-ass thing on my radar in Halifax. Freaky noise, wild skronkin’ and punk-as-fuck madness will ensue all throughout the weekend. Moreover, OBEY hosts an awesome zine fair and includes plenty of live art and interpretation. It’s sure to be a highlight of big city livin’ this summer and I can’t wait.

I just posted a mix that I made extra-special for the OBEY blog. Tracklist after the jump.

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The Mangroves Go Live!

Thanks to the wonderful people at CKDU 88.1 FM, I’ll be playing some tunes at the Spring Edition of The Halifax Crafters Market on Saturday May 5th from 11am-1pm. I think its one of my favorite events to DJ: beautiful crafts, delicious food and people wandering about tuning in and tuning out. I’ll be playing some sweet African jams c/o Orchestre Black Santiago. I will probably also play some Ted Hawkins:

Book Sountracking: Fever Chart

A few months ago, I sent an e-mail to a friend of mine with a request for new literature. I tend to lean more towards the ‘classics’ (for me, that means early 20th century American novels and late 19th century Russian novels), and I wanted something fresh and exciting; something that I could really chew on culturally. My friend sent me back a list of about 25 books to read from the 21st century. The first one I came across was Fever Chart.

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Two Months In One Post (So Long, Winter)

Damn near two months, and nothing!

It was a good idea in the fall, but now, in the dying days of Canadian Winter (aka Spring), when ambitions are dulled and Vitamin D levels are at a desperate low, my ears aren’t often tuned to the outside world. I have my headphones on, head down and my iPod on an uninspired, fruitless shuffle.

I’ve traveled from city to city, sat in a number of new homes and heard a handful of new bands, sat quietly writing grants; but not once have I rekindled the aforementioned ‘eureka moments’.

What the hell have I been doing?

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On The Job: A Double Inquiry

The ideas that prompted me to start this blog came all at once; surely they’d been bubbling under for quite sometime, but all in a chain, instances and ideas began to knot themselves together. In a matter of weeks, I had jotted down some beautiful moments that occurred in my life relating to or dependent upon music in one way or another. I took my scribblings and prettied them up for the internet (added hyperlinks and retrospective musings). And then I felt a lull: a sort of ‘Huh… What now?’. I became worried that I’d have nothing to write about. I really wanted to focus on moments of uncontrolled serendipity and avoid writing about a  self-indulgent scenario. I wanted to avoid posting the equivalent of ‘Last night, I put on the perfect song. It’s the best. I’m the best. I get it.’ or a similar fit of narcissism. Well, skeptics beware, I’m afraid I can avoid it no longer. This post flirts with that sentiment:

Today was a beautiful, crisp, blue winter’s day. The sun shone and the air was cold enough to feel like winter, but warm enough to warrant smiles from a handful of strangers as I strolled to work this morning (for those unawares, I wait tables at a restaurant). The positive vibrations carried on through the day, into the lunch rush and swiftly followed me back home. I think everyone felt grateful for such bliss in early February.

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Book Soundtracking: Coming Through Slaughter

I’ve been home sick for the last few days, reading fiendishly. Right now, I’m plowing through Herzog On Herzog which is one of three Herzog books on my ‘To Read’ stack currently. The straight interview format is perfect for my less-than-sparkling mindstate: I don’t feel well enough to dig deeply into poetry and feel like starting a new novel in this state would be akin to trying to make fists upon waking.

As a big fan of his work, having the director himself meditate on the details surrounding his films (often having to set the story straight against the plethora of myths surrounding them) make it a compelling read. It’s offered great insight into where his films come from, as well as totally changed how I see Herzog. I’ve always imagined him, at least in some part, as an artful prankster purposely playing with people’s perceptions of reality and their sense of what films should be. It turns out he is just a totally earnest individual with a strange way of perceiving the world. He comes across as entirely refined in a very specific, unique manner.

Previously, I was completely enthralled in Michael Ondaatje‘s Coming Through Slaughter (In fact, it was one of three Ondaatje books I’ve read and adored recently). Coming Through Slaughter is a re-imagining of the life of jazz legend Buddy Bolden:

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Pony Rides Again

Yesterday was my first day of work after a week of repose and relaxation. My shifted ended at 3:30pm. The sky was blue and the sun was bright. On my walk home, I stopped to pick up some beets to add to a less-than-satisfying borscht I had made the night before. I was determined to make that soup a deep purple, rather than a fleshy, dark pink. Determined to make it ooze with beet sweetness, rather than subtly remind one of what beets tasted like (I made it with golden and candystripe beets, which just aren’t strong enough to make a serious borscht), I stopped at the grocery store and picked up some extras to add to it.

Purple beetroot in my fist, I arrived home. Marching up the stairs, I met my roommate, D, at the landing in our front hallway.

“I’ve come to make things right” I said triumphantly, hoisting the beets above my head.

“I’m going for a skate” said D.

“Ooh, maybe I’ll go for a skate” I replied, immediately letting slip away any resolve regarding my soup.

I left the beets laid across the kitchen table, grabbed my sunglasses and toque and headed for The Oval.

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Triple Threat: Three Distincly Different Memories Connected To Arthur Russell

The first time I heard Arthur Rusell was in 2008 when Rough Trade issued the posthumous compilation Love Is Overtaking Me. B, my close friend and musical confidant of many years, was listening to the rather soft folk-rock found on the first half of the record. I teased him (as is my way) and mistook it for something akin to James Taylor. Little did I realize, Russell’s diverse musical output and humble persona would have a profound affect on the way I understand artistic identity in the coming years. Here are three distinct instances to which Arthur Russell’s songs have served as the perfect accompaniment:

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