Saturday, August 20, 2016

Video Of The Week: Banks

With her second full-length album due out in just over a month, Banks (or Jillian Rose Banks, as her birth certificate calls her) seems to have set her sights on a dancier version of dark pop (where Lana Del Rey is more orchestral) - or at least that's what I gather from her latest video, directed by Philippa Price, for the song Gemini Feed:

There's something in the song's sound that I find lacking, but I can't put my finger on it exactly. Perhaps it's the drum programming, or the lack of actual string instruments, but there's a void in the sound that is reminiscent of that of 1980s pop to my ears, the type that makes me nauseous usually - but not in this case, not quite.

I do really like the directing and photography, though; the colours are clear and crisp, the wardrobe design is really nice and makes up for the simplistic set design (and probable lack of budget). And, yes, I did say I liked the clothes she wears in the video, despite not being a fashion enthusiast - at all.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Video of The Week: The Droids

The Droids were a French synth-pop act that was strongly inspired by the film Star Wars (1977), which is pretty obvious in their choice of band name and album title, Star Peace (1978). The bad was comprised of two main members - Fabrice Cuitad and Yves Hayat - although keyboardist Richard Lornac (who also performed with Renaud, Joe Dassin and Marie-Paule Belle, among others) played on every song.

The dancer in their video, taken from a Top Of The Pops-type of French "variété" show, is none other than Chantal Dardenne, a star of the Opéra de Paris and the New York City Ballet:

Monday, July 11, 2016

Video Of The Week: DJ Khaled Featuring Jay Z & Future

I didn't know of DJ Khaled until I saw the one episode of Hot Takes where he totally chickened out and couldn't eat hot wings; I thought he had a pretty big ego for someone whom I'd never heard of and had gone to high school with Joey Fatone of N*Sync.

I'm not saying he's living up to it, but at least his song I Got The Keys, which features rappers Future and Jay Z and whose music was produced and created by Southside, Jake One and G Coop (which really makes you wonder what the fuck Khaled Khaled did on the fucking track to begin with), is somewhat decent.

It was directed in black and white by Daniel Kaufman and features Khaled, Jay Z, and Future, as well as cameos by Busta Rhymes, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Pusha T, ASAP Ferg, T.I., Swizz Beatz, Fabolous, Yo Gotti, Bryson Tiller and Zoey Dollaz, all playing prison inmates, with fully-armed/borderline military black ops white guys playing the guards:

The racial tension is intense, reflecting the shit going on on American streets, but Jigga rapping how he's still a slave when his marriage with Beyoncé makes his daughter the heiress to a billion-dollar empire is a tad laughable. And the same can be said for Ross - a former correctional officer - and Khaled himself, who grew up in an upper-middle-class/rich family and neighbourhood.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Hey, It IS Pride Week

They say all's fair in love and war; and they say team sports are about battling your opponents.

Mitch Marner, a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, had this to say about what he intends to do this summer and fall: “I want to make sure I feel comfortable enough to go out against men and play hard, and make sure I can go out there and do the things that I like to do.”
The boy and his mentor choose a suitable mate or position
Don't let anyone get in the way of your dream, Mitch. Go hard against those men and do what you like to do.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Video Of The Week: The Tragically Hip

I know I featured The Tragically Hip not too long ago, but this is a Hip summer, and Ahead By A Century is one of their best songs, from 1996's Trouble At The Henhouse, which could very well be their best record.

The video was directed by Eric Yealland and filmed on a small farm in Brooklin, Ontario. It won the award for "Best Video" at the 1996 MuchMusic Video Awards (i.e. Canada's MTV Awards) and was also nominated for "Best Video" at the 1997 Juno Awards (i.e. Canada's Grammys):

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Top 10 Songs This Week

Yes, I'm bringing this feature back.

It had been stalling, with the same tracks repeating themselves from one week to the next - and while I still listen to stuff that makes its way into my ears consistently, I use the "random" features on all my players a lot more often than I used to - or perhaps more effectively.

And so, as Montrealers celebated Moving Day yesterday, it's time to start a new year with a top 10:

Top 10 Songs:

10. 12:51, The Strokes (2003)
9. LIGHTS TURNED ON, Childish Gambino (2011)
8. IRON MAN (THIS MEANS WAR), Busta Rhymes (featuring Ozzy Osbourne) (1998)
7. WOULD YOU FIGHT FOR MY LOVE?, Jack White (2012)
6. SLAM, Renaud (2016)
5. MASTER PLAN, Dead Messenger (2016)
4. RUN THIS TOWN, Jay-Z (featuring Rihanna & Kanye West) (2009)
3. SHUT 'EM DOWN, Cypress Hill (featuring Tom Morello) (2010)
2. CALIFORNIA'S DARK, The Nightwatchman (2007)
1. COMPLEXITY, Eagles Of Detah Metal (2015)

Video Of The Week: Richard Ashcroft

Ok, I'll be honest, I don't know what to think about this video.

I was a fan of Richard Ashcroft's band The Verve, and I was really into his first two solo albums, Alone With Everybody (2000) and Human Condition (2002), although the latter left me a tad unfulfilled, as if he was phoning it in, particularly lyrically.

Which brings me to his latest single, Hold On, a standard modern pop/dance fare with semi-smart lyrics about the current political state of affairs that is riddled with autotune:

The video, directed by Ashcroft himself, sees him (and him alone) doing what I guess he calls dancing, at times a fist in the air as if he was in the 1968 Olympics or a Rage Against The Machine concert - all in front of a black background.

It's as simplistic as the song. And to think Oasis' Gallagher brothers once thought of this man as the greatest British songwriter of their generation;  guess that's what happens when one befriends Coldplay's Chris Martin, the suck spreads; if you only suffered through the greatest part of their friendship (Coldplay and Ashcroft singing Bittersweet Symphony at Live 8) and didn't attend their joint tour where Ashcroft was the fucking opener (meaning he played for 30 minutes before Coldplay came to test your patience and resistance to ear torture for an hour and a half before regaling you with their one good song, The Scientist), trust me, you have never heard rock bottom.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Video Of The (Past) Week: The Tragically Hip

We learned last month that Gord Downie, lyricist and singer of Canadian band The Tragically Hip, has terminal brain cancer. And that they were going on tour so he can go out on his own terms, one last hurrah and a final "fuck you" to his illness and to Fate.

You can argue about the "best" or "greatest" Canadian band of all time; you can try to compare the virtuosity of Rush with the universal acclaim of a The Guess Who, the endurance of a Neil Young, the critical acclaim of an Arcade Fire or a Sloan, the public adulation of an April Wine, or you can go sarcastic and say Nickleback.

You can even pretend her impact was as wide as Babes In Toyland's and Hole's and suggest Alanis Morissette, or you can try to "go roots" with Blue Rodeo, Ashley MacIsaac or one of the many legendary folks whose names still strike chords in villages but opted not to make their way to any of the major cities and are now close to being forgotten.

I'll put the Hip up there with Rush and probably be so-Canadian about it and call it a tie.

However way you rank it, there has never been a "more Canadian" band than the Hip, whose lyrics are almost all based on true Canadian stories, be they political (kidnappings and murders of provincial ministers such as Pierre Laporte, language laws in Sault-Ste-Marie), historical (war heroes, events in small towns, the Polytechnique massacre) or sports-related (the 1972 Summit Series, the disappearance and eventual death of Toronto Maple Leaf Bill Barilko).

There would have been two dozen songs I could have chosen to first feature them here, and yet I've chosen It Can't Be Nashville Every Night, because it's the only thing that comes to mind after the Montréal Canadiens traded their best home-grown (i.e. "team-drafted") player in 25 years, P.K. Subban, to the Nashville Predators for becoming-a-liability Team Canada member Shea Weber.

The video for the song was directed by Christopher Mills, who also has worked with the likes of Modest Mouse, The Dead Weather, Interpol, Buck 65, Broken Social Scene, Blue Rodeo, Metric, The Joy Formidable, Senses Fail, Tortoise, Ken Mode, Rush, Breaking Benjamin, Ra Ra Riot, Young Galaxy, Great Lake Swimmers, Mandy Moore and The Boomtang Boys:

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Video Of The Week: Jack White

What I like most about Jack White is that everything he does feels real. His live shows feel unique, and even his videos seem like they are different, alternate versions from the songs on his records - particularly his solo work.

In Would You Fight For My Love?, directed by Robert Hales, he keeps using the blue colour palette he's been known for since The White Stripes went on (in)definite hiatus:

That song and Three Women have been on continuous rotation on all my media players since Lazaretto was released two full years ago this week. It's pop perfection.