Saturday, January 9, 2010

News:: We have t-shirts

Does any one care? Who knows, but we went local and got design guru's YoRodeo to design a custom herohill t-shirt. They kicked it old skool, matching our status as the blogging silverbacks. We also printed local - Zero T-shirts - for this first limited run (only 25 printed). I know a bunch of people mentioned they wanted one, but to be honest, I no longer have the list, so it is first come, first serve basis.

The shirts are 15 bucks, so if you still want one, hit us off with an email or paypal 15 bucks to our account.

Trivia - did you that YoRodeo's two designers are also stellar musicians? Seth is a member of Dog Day and Paul crushes your ears as a part of the local garage punkers, Cold Warps. So it all comes together in a nice little music related package.

MP3:: Cold Warp - Hole in my Head

MP3:: Dog Day - Synastry

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Friday, December 4, 2009

News:: Me & Jay-Z

Today is my birthday. Like everyone, I share my birthday with a number of famous folks (Sergey Bubka, Marisa Tomei, Masta Ace), but one in particular stands out this year: Shawn Corey Carter. Yes indeed, the Jigga Man himself. I say this because '09 marks a milestone birthday for the two of us: Jay turns the big 4-0 this year, while I'm turning 35. Oh don't act so surprised, we told you we were old - the Ack turns the same next year, he just has the benefit, or curse, of looking eternally 18.

So yep, me & Hove, greeting a milestone together. We're an odd match on the surface, but we're not so different, Jay-Z and I. We've both had a lifelong love of hip hop. Jay turned his love into a billion-dollar empire. I turned mine, this blog? Oh well, I once got to do an email interview with MC Rell, and Donald-D sent us a myspace message once, so who's complaining. Jay-Z had one of the most legendary rap beefs ever with Nas. I once had a bad argument with a dude named Jason Crawley in Junior High, who said to me "Shane, you box for the Navy, but I kill for the CIA", which was awesome. Jay-Z has hung out with Oprah. My wife was in a crowd shot at the Oprah show for like 15 to 20 seconds. Oh, and speaking of wives, we both have beautiful, uniquely named ones. Jay's wife is named Beyonce, perhaps you've heard of her, while my wife's name is Petra. See? It's like we're living parallel lives!

Or not. Anyway, happy birthday Jay-Z, buy yourself something nice, like an island, or a small country like Andorra. As for me, I'll simply use the words of my favorite Stingray vs. Mad Foxes 2 bar patron to salute myself: "here's to me, the best there is".

MP3:: Danger Mouse - December 4th

MP3:: MF Doom - December 4th

MP3:: RJD2 - December 4th

MP3:: Kno (Of Cunninlynguists) - December 4th

MP3:: Pete Rock - December 4th

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

News:: The Coast Crowns '09 Halifax's Best

Best of Halifax 2009
Photo: Aaron McKenzie Fraser

There's a number of things we hang Ack's fancy hat on here at the hill, but none are taken more seriously than our ongoing attempt to shine whatever little bit of cyber-light we have on the fertile music scene here in Halifax. There's a couple reasons for this: 1) We were both born & raised here, and it just so happens that we both live here once again, and so it's only natural to talk about what's happening in your city. 2) There happens to be a lot of great music coming out of this city right now. We've been saying this for a few years, but I think a lot of folks around the country have really taken notice in the last year or so. But it's not only folks outside the city that have noticed, as Halifax's local weekly paper The Coast has proclaimed 2009 as the best ever in local music.

I thought it would be fun to go through their list and see how many of their selections have been covered here on the hill. Sound like fun? Well let's get to it:

A History Of - Action in the North Atlantic (Noyes) Reviewed in November

Classified - Self-Explanatory (Half-Life Records) Got the infamous talking points treatment in April

Construction and Destruction - Video et Taceo (independent) Reviewed in September

Erin Costelo - Fire & Fuss (independent) Subject of a Quick Hit post in June

Cousins - Out on Town (Youth Club) Reviewed in August

Amelia Curran - Hunter, Hunter (Six Shooter) Reviewed in September

Dog Day - Concentration (Outside) The subject of a contest and a guest post from herohill associate MRC in April
Dog Day - Elder Schoolhouse (Divorce) Mentioned in a pre-HPX Five Funky Stories post from October

Ghettosocks - Treat of the Day (independent) Reviewed in November

Jenn Grant - Echoes (Six Shooter) Review & Interview in January

Gypsophilia - Sa-ba-da-OW! (independent) Album & release show previewed in June

Hermitofthewoods - Love's Dark Season (independent) Got quick hitter coverage in June

In-Flight Safety - we are an empire, my dear (Night Danger) Reviewed and ranted about in February

Jenocide - Machines to Make Us Wet (independent) Subject of a pre-HPX Five Funky Stories post in October

Kestrels - Primary Colours (Noyes) They were MNS/Herohill artist of the month in June

Ruth Minnikin and her bandwagon - Depend on This (Songmill) Although not out yet, the impending excellence of this album made Ruth MNS/Hill Artist of the month in September

Joel Plaskett - Three (New Scotland) We three-parted this bad boy, here, here, and here

The Prospectors' Union - Old Wonders (Just Friends) Matt & Co were MNS/hill Artist of the month for July

River Water - Long Lake (independent) Got some quick hitter coverage in March

Meaghan Smith - The Cricket's Orchestra (Sire) Reviewed in October

The Got to Get Got - Sahalee (Noyes) Reviewed in June, and they played at the herohill showcase at HPX!

York Redoubt - York Redoubt (Noyes/Hot Money) Reviewed in August

Looks like we've covered 22 of the 31 records (and a few of those not covered have been on the hill before, but for a previous record) they've listed, not too shabby.

Here's to a 2010 that's just as good.

MP3:: Classified - One Track Mind f. Joel Plaskett

MP3:: Jenn Grant - Heartbreaker

MP3:: Cousins - Jon Schehr 32

MP3:: Dog Day - Synastry

MP3:: York Redoubt - I Said Slightly

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

News:: Paul Murphy of Wintersleep family affair - POSTDATA

We usually don't post "news" on the hill, but this is the kind of announcement that demands attention. Paul Murphy - guitar man/vocalist of Wintersleep - is fixing to put out a record he made with his brother as a gift for their mom. Under the moniker Postdata, the Murphy Boys hammered out some songs at their parent's house in Yarmouth, and revisited them almost a year later.

The results - or the few songs I've heard - are stripped down and powerful, channeling a sadness that often has no end. It's more than melancholy, it's the type of sad that brings few answers and only more questions. It's death. It's pleading to know why and if they are ok. Instead of being a vessel to get things off his chest, Postdata sounds like Paul and Michael reaching out for something to hold, only to see the horizon move farther and farther away.

This is the type of record that I'll need to sit down with and really soak in, but just reading the details got me excited. Hopefully this sneak preview - Tobias Gray - will do the same for you.

MP3:: Postdata - Tobias Grey

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Reviews:: A History Of Action In The North Atlantic

I was chatting with Noyes poster boy (and all around good guy) Chad Peck the other day and mentioned that the bulked up Noyes roster is quickly making the Truro-based label one of the most consistent the hill deals with. Tons of PR firms and smaller labels flood you with emails, promising the next big thing only to disappoint, but when it comes to Noyes and the PR people they work with, they let a simple email and the music speak for itself.

And man, does it speak volumes.

Case in point, the new record from A History Of. I hadn’t heard much from the band leading up to this release, but given their pedigree and the quality releases the Noyes has put out, lately I knew I’d be in to the record. If I was trying to blow you away with catchy phrases and hyperbole, I’d say something like “Action In The North Atlantic is full of riffs that are more angular than Tegan and Sara’s hair and more mathy than the extras from Saved By the Bell” but really, trying that hard cheapens the impact this record makes.

The 10-song, 35-minute tour-de-force assaults you with sing/shouted vocals, heavy drums and huge guitar. From the first notes of Action in the North Atlantic to the last swirling, distorted tone of Position Fixing & Dead Reckoning, the band plays with an intensity that is missing from far too many of today’s bands. The title track – which I can only assume takes it’s name from the WWII book (and Bogart flick) detailing the contributions of the merchant marines – starts with thundering drums and familiar guitars and you can just picture the band freaking out on stage.

The band members are so diverse, that the combination of sounds is pretty unique. Strike it from the Lexicon starts like a post-rock anthem before quickly switching gears and settling into a more DC sound. Munitions Ships is a perfect guitar freak out that builds tension and energy but the song transitions constantly over the 5-minutes, and each tempo change works nicely and sets you up for the spastic burst that is Low Level.

I could go track by track and point out the goodness – the bouncy bassline that contrasts the noise of National Tectonic or the head nodding riff that dominates Dagger Woods - but every song on this record is executed perfectly. Without sounding dated, A History Of reminds you why the angular sounds that dominated the DC scene years ago were so addictive and explosive. Action in the North Atlantic may be a historical tale a horrible time, but with the help of Noyes and bands like A History Of, it’s quickly becoming the mantra for the noise rock scene that is taking over Halifax.

MP3:: A History Of - Action in the North Atlantic

MP3:: A History Of - Low Level

BUY:: Zunior

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Friday, October 30, 2009

News:: Vote for Bend Sinister - Peak Performance Project

The amount of funding being awarded to the independent and small label bands in Canada is pretty impressive. You constantly hear about people like The Swiss (@polarismusicprize) or something like the Verge awards raising cash to help support the arts and in a time where the government is doing the exact opposite, it’s the very tiny silver lining in a very large dark cloud that constantly pours down on musicians.

For BC emerging artists – not exactly sure what that term implies, especially when one of the nominees has been grinding for 10 years – the Peak Performance Project is something that will literally make a band’s career. Twenty bands get hand picked for a week long knowledge session and the top three have the chance to split 275,000 dollars.

Basically, in a nutshell:
The PEAK Performance Project is a seven-year, $5.29 million contest open to all musicians in British Columbia. The project was created by 100.5 The PEAK and Music BC to develop BC based emerging artists. Every year, twenty finalists from BC will receive an intensive, one week training program in the music business, live performance, songwriting, marketing and promotion. Artists will benefit from mentorships from some of the music industry’s top professionals and performers. All of these artists will have the chance to perform live in Vancouver on the PEAK Performance Stage. Of these twenty artists, the top three will be crowned as the PEAK Performers of the year and will share $275,000 in cash for career development. First place receives $150,000; second place receives $75,000; and third place receives $50,000.
Obviously any of the twenty finalists would benefit by cracking the top 3, but I’m pulling for one in particular. Kelowna bred and Vancouver based rock revivalists Bend Sinister take you on nostalgic trip to the 70s, but handle the whole trip with such taste and skill, you can’t help but fall for the sounds. A love of proggy builds, the drama of Queen, the swagger of a young, pre-Disney Elton, the feel good vibe of Boston, and the phrasing and influence of The Beatles all play a huge part in their sound, but every time I listen to their latest record – Stories of Brothers, Tales of Lovers – I can’t help but picture the boys snapping along before a throw down with the Sharks either.

They fuse that Broadway feel with muscular riffs and banged out piano lines, giving Dan Moxon the perfect support for big, dynamic sing-along ready choruses, but rarely fall in the trap of becoming too showy. Tracks like The News, Brother of Human Kind and the Benny and the Jets inspired Jimmy Brown have been on regular repeat for me lately, and thanks to these Vancouverites ( and the almighty Zeus), 70’s rock is primed to make a triumphant return and hopefully the showmanship the sounds require will be close behind.

Part of the prize is for creative marketing and publicity, and I think the idea of slapping together a free, 8-song get to you know you Greatest Hits for new fans is pretty stellar. All you need to do is head over to their revamped, blog heavy web site and sign up. If you like what you hear, vote for the band. For Bend Sinister, this chance that won’t come along again.

MP3:: Bend Sinister - Jimmy Brown

MP3:: Bend Sinister - Happiness is a Warm Gun


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Friday, October 23, 2009

HPX'09:: Update - Jane's Party tonight @ Gus' Pub

Hey all. Just a quick update to help clear up some confusion. Apparently there was some confusion about the time slot for Toronto's Jane's Party. They were left off the print version of the program, so not a lot of people know the band is playing tonight. I'm new to the band, but they are getting some great press from big hitters like the Toronto Star and the Anti-Hit list, with subtle nods to acts like The Skydiggers and Hali-famous Joel Plaskett.

So, herohill - being the nice folks we are - wanted to let you know the details but the official communication from the band says it best.
Due to extremely unfortunate circumstances, our slot at HPX has been rescheduled for Friday evening at 9:00 at Gus' Pub. The sudden and saddening death of the HPX Showcase Coordinator, Alex Fountain, mixed up some of the originally planned slots in the festival. Although the schedule for Gus' Pub on Friday lists 10:00 as the starting time, arrangements have been made to have us kick the night off at 9:00. Unfortunately, we will not appear in the print edition of the HPX schedule, but hopefully the aforementioned changes will be made to the online schedule. Our condolences go out to the friends the family of Alex. Thank you.

MP3:: Jane's Party - No Good For Me

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

News:: Martha Wainright on Daytrotter

As usual, the title says it all. Martha Wainright stoppped by the Daytrotter studio and record a great littlse session. Highlight for me? How about an unreleased song that somehow feels tender and intimate, showcases her great voice and still surges like an anthem? Well my friends, that is exactly what you get when you hear So Hard. The version of Hearts Club Band is pretty amazing to, but she could sing the phonebook and I'd be happy and sway along.

Hopefully by now you realize how many great songs Daytrotter gives you for the low, low price of free so do them a solid and click a few of their adds to make sure they can keep delivering the goods.

MP3:: Martha Wainright - So Hard (live on Daytrotter)

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

File Under Hell Yeah:: New Langhorne Slim

Out of nowhere comes the news that PA born story teller Langhorne Slim is back with a new record. Like every other blogger, I've only heard one song but it shows huge strides for Slim. The piano and gentle melody are more Cat Stevens than the frantic energy we've come to expect , but I feel like he's finally ready to be a folk poet I always hoped he might become.

Considering I've loved every recording he's ever made, the fact he blew me away with a single is saying something.

MP3:: Langhorne Slim - I Love You, But Goodbye


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Sunday, August 23, 2009

News:: (sort of) New music from Chris Page

I've been asking for a new Camp Radio record for an eternity now... but to no avail. The power punking trio is one of the most fun bands you'll find here in Canada. They write catchy, straight ahead hooks than make you move and every day we wait for new songs is one too many.

Looks like I'll have to settle for a new solo record from Chris Page instead. The front man for the band is back with another one-man journey and the track listing shows some new material and some reworked classics.

The lead single - Two Twenty-Twos is much more melodic than I expected to hear from the Bragg-influenced troubadour, almost as if he jumped into the Stuart Murdoch's pool for a quick dip. The strums still resonate and the emotion is still there, he's just added another layer. When your head starts bobbing, you realize the 1:47 song is kind of like a musical Lay's chip. You can't listen just once.

MP3:: Chris Page - Two Twenty-Twos
BUY:: Kelp Records

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

News:: Friends in Bellwoods 2

Go to any city, and you will stumble on little pockets of musical camaraderie. Whether it’s a group of art school friends that start playing music or an old house with gear piled in the basement, the creative energy is tangible. Here in Halifax, I guess you’d go with 6015 Willow St, but in Toronto, I’d say that honor goes to Casey Mecija’s house on Bellwoods Avenue.

With fellow Ohbijou member James Bunton, they collected songs from their friends and put out a charity record that featured some of the best indie rockers/folkers in the Canadian scene. Not only was Friends in Bellwoods an embarrassment of riches (Forest City Lovers, Bry Webb, Ohbijou, The Acorn, The Meligrove Band, Sebastien Grainger, The D’Urbervilles, Snailhouse), it also raised over 10 grand for charity. All in all, a pretty amazing success.

Remarkably… Bellwoods 2 puts the original to shame. Forty rare and unreleased tracks from the best talent TO has to offer, including Sandro Perri, Timber Timbre, Great Lake Swimmers, Ohbijou, Final Fantasy, The Acorn, The RAA, The D’Urbervilles, Basia Balat, Evening Hymns, Gentleman Reg, and tons more but more importantly, you can tell the people involved really believed in the project. The songs are spirited, and for so many of these talented artists to donate their time and music is special.

I don’t want to start analyzing the tracks - half of the fun of this record is just hearing what some of your favorite bands offer up - but hearing The D’Urbes totally transform the ghostly Timber Timbre jam, Magic Arrow into an energetic romp, the ear pleasing jangle of The Great Bloomers or the beautiful picking dance around Rolf’s voice on Slippery When Wet are three of the big standouts for me.

Truthfully though, on a compilation where fantastic bands like Forest City Lovers, Tusks and Snailhouse barely catch your eye on first glance of the track list, and new material from Ohbijou (with an absolutely perfect string arrangement), Polaris short-listers Great Lake Swimmers, Bruce Peninsula, The Wooden Sky (!!!!) and The Rural Alberta Advantage seem standard, you start to see the power of this project.

Throw in the fact the proceeds go to The Daily Bread Food Bank and it’s pretty well a given that you should be rushing to pick up this 2-disc set on August 25th courtesy of Out of This Spark. The label is offering up a few songs - and as good as these songs are, the gems you will find when you actually purchase the record are staggering - so take a listen, but please donate to this great cause.

MP3:: The D'Urbervilles - Magic Arrow

MP3:: Tusks - New to Old Money


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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

News:: Support Local Film with SOBAMA!

If you're a repeat visitor to the hill, you've likely read something about Rebekah Higgs before - either from her solo work, or as the Ruby Jean portion of Ruby Jean and the Thoughtful Bees. Well, what you might not know, is that she also has a radio show here at CKDU in Halifax called SOBAMA!

If you find that news intriguing, this is as good a week as any to tune in, as Rebekah will be attempting to raise funds that will go towards helping to fund the completion of her friend Laura Dawe's debut film The Inevitability of Something that Once Felt Impossible. Those curious about the film should check out The Coast's recent article on it. Here's the SOBAMA details for this afternoon:

The goal is to raise $1000 in an hour and a half, while playing tunes from the Films Soundtrack and hosting the lovely film maker herself along with Producer Jason Levangie in studio.

For a Donation of $100 your name will be listed in the “Thank You” Credits at the end of the film.

For Donation of $200 you will be in the thank you credits as well as having YOUR FACE PAINTED INTO THE FILMS MURAL!!! (This makes you a celebrity! or someone you love)

For any Donation under $100 you can request a song and your name will be entered into a draw to win 1 of 4 pairs of SENNHEISER headphones valued at $100!!!!

That's a lot of exclamation points right there, so you know they mean business. The local-act laden soundtrack also means business:


So then, check out the show today from 2:30-4 pm on CKDU 88.1 FM or

MP3:: Rebekah Higgs - Parables

MP3:: Jon McKiel - 123 My Friends

MP3:: Scribbler - My Old Lady

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Friday, February 20, 2009

News:: Anonymous Monk Spring calendar ft. Karl Blau, Paleo, Ben Kamen and more

web site

Back in the day, buying a record - hell, even buying a CD - was a big deal. Opening the gatefold for the first time or unfolding the cover art was part of the experience and usually set the tone for the listening experience.

Well, things have changed and more often than not we listen to our music on a computer or an Ipod, so visual appeal has become almost an afterthought for most consumers.

Luckily, we have people like Ben Kamen offering up ways to get art alive. I know that may sound hokey, but his DIY label - Anonymous Monk - is releasing a Spring '09/'10 calendar and compilation record and as you can see above, the results are beautiful. It might not be as high tech as the Dilla print Shane talked about earlier, but the poster sized black & white calendar looks fantastic, and should be enough to take the old oyster shuck to your billfold.

Aesthetically you should be intrgiued, but when you look at the list of contributors, this becomes a no-brainer. Some of the best artists in the Pacific Northwest have written a track - one for each month of the year - for Ben's project, including some herohill favorites like Karl Blau, Eleanor Murray, Paleo and Viking Moses. Oh, and of course, Ben himself.

I could easily post the whole list of artists for you to revel in, but it's overkill. I would suggest just jumping over to Anonymous Monk and buying the damn thing. Twelve great songs and a new calendar for $10 bucks. Not sure you will find a better deal that that, even if the Shamwow guy is pitching it.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

News:: Sasquatch

Posts will be slow until Tuesday, as I'm at Sasqautch. Some late news, M.I.A. will be MIA, but the LOng Winters are filling in. All in all, I'm ok with that.

MP3:: Bjork Innocence
MP3:: Spoon Ghost of You Lingers

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News:: Summer's Coming, Let's Get Stuck In Traffic

It's Friday and the sun is finally shining here on the east coast, so it seems feasible that we might actually see some summer out here in Halifax. So I thought I'd celebrate summer's impending arrival with a post on my favorite summer song by a band comprised of former chemistry students that hail from PEI, but now live in Toronto. The band of course is Two Hours Traffic, and the song is Stuck For The Summer.

In my review for the band's excellent EP, Isolator, I described Stuck For The Summer thusly:

The pleasant guitar jangle and sing-along chorus of Stuck For The Summer make it plenty addictive and a perfect song for the, uhh, summer.

How can you refuse it after that endorsement! Plus, they made one of the coolest videos I've seen in a while for the song, so go ahead and enjoy. Two Hours Traffic have completed their new album, so you can be sure I'll have a review up when it drops.

mp3:: Stuck For The Summer

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

News:: Je Suis France cover LCD Soundsystem

You might remember we enjoyed a lot of aspects of of the new Je Suis France record - Afrikan Majik. The Shaq Diesel CD graphic. The distorted synths. The rocking guitars... oh, and the fact I think the band might be bat shit crazy.

If you order the record, you get access to download a live set at 2007's Twilight Delirium. One of the highlights, is their nonsensivcal cover of LCD Soundsystem's Daft Punk is Playing at My House.

MP3:: Je Suis France is Playing at My House

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

News:: New Beastie Boys videos

Anyone who has read this blog for more than about a week knows I love the Beastie Boys (and knows we never let Naedoo forget about how he hated Gratitude). Needless to say, I'm stoked to see them perform two sets at Sasquatch this weekend.

As we get ready for the new instrumental record - The Mix-up - here are two videos to whet your whistle. Now, after a first pass, I'd say these songs fit firmly into the same style of the last instrumental record. I'd also say that percussion player Alredo looks a lot like Hurley from Lost.

Off the Grid

The Rat Cage

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Monday, May 21, 2007

News:: M Ward & friends on Conan

Let's do the math. M Ward + Jim James + Neko Case + a slew of talented friends performing Chinese Translation = Gold

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Friday, May 18, 2007

News: Young Folks

It must be Jason Renyolds day on herohill. He posted on his inability to get Young Folks out of his head, so I reply with this blue grass version of the song by Dawn Landes:

MP3:: Young Folks - Dawn Landes

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News:: The best thing ever?

Well, not to oversell it, but yes.

I love Ben Harper.
Jason Reynolds loves sweatbands. You do the math.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

News: Shout Out Louds EP on Merge

The good folks at Merge must be extremely busy these days. First, the new Spoon album is everywhere and if you look hard enough, you can find most of the songs online. Policing the internet is a draining task I'd wager.

But more importantly they are fixing some other fantastic releases, including the Tonight I Have to Leave It EP to get everyone excited about the new Shout Out Louds record.

The single - Tonight I Have to Leave It - is a percussion heavy number that sounds a bit like someone playing coke bottles at a carnival (but in a really good way) with swirling keys, their textbook uptempo acoustic backbone and Adam's Cure-ish vocals.

Note:: Is it just me, or does the 80's vibe Adam delivers remind you of Jason Schwartzman's character in Slackers when he sang the new wave song?

The EP also includes a Russian Futurists dance-club heavy bass remix of the single and a cover of the classic Pogues number Streams of Whiskey with help from the Essex Green. They played this in Vancouver last time through and it was killer.

The new record - Our Ill Wills - is out in September. They are streaming a track from the new release, along with the single and the RF remix on their myspace page.

I feel like I'd have to be a jerk to post a song from a 5-song EP, so luckily they made the video available for everyone to watch:
Video:: Tonight I Have to Leave It

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News:: New Nina Nastasia Record in August

Nina Nastasia is unbelievable. Her voice is filled with emotion, but she really knows how to control the energy. Her songs tread lightly, making you focus on her beautiful voice and lyrics, before completely exploding making your jaw drop.

Her new record - due out in August on Fat Cat - is a collaboration with Jim White on drums called You Follow Me. He's worked with amazing singers (Will Oldham, Nick Cave, Smog - along his own band The Dirty Three) and his organic style of drumming fits Nina's vocals perfectly.

I've only heard five songs, and will surely revisit this record when it is released but had to share this song:
MP3:: I Write Down Lists
After two pseudo false starts, Nina's emotive vocals and acoustic are matched with Jim's marching band snare. The song never seems to rush, but slowly morphs three or four times before Nina's vocals erupt and Jim's structured, understated drums become a living, growing thing (much like the Manitoba-esque style Dan delivers in a live setting). The duo obviously likes playing with each other and understands each others skills, because the chunking works perfectly and in only 3:15 Nina and Jim put you through the emotional (and audio) ringer.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

News:: Vancouver Tour Dates

It's tough to post when you are on the road, so I thought I'd just clean out the ole inbox with some concert listings for Vancouver:
5/25 The Black Angels w/Vietnam @ Richard's
5/25 and 5/26 SASQUATCH (Beastie Boys, Bjork, Arcade Fire, Spoon, Jessie Sykes, the Thermals, Two Gallants, Interpol, Bad Brains.. and so many others) *******
6/2 Menomena @ the Red Room *
6/6 CSS w/Bonde do Role @ Richard's
6/9 Girl Talk w/Datarock and Circlesquare @ Richard's
6/9 The Rosebuds & Land of Talk @ the Media Club *
6/14 Architecture in Helsinki w/Yacht @ Richard's
6/21 Julie Doiron w/Calvin Johnson @ Video In (AA) *
6/24 Shearwater @ Richard's
6/27 Tortoise w/Fond of Tiger @ the Commodore
6/29 The National @ Richard's
7/1 Band of Horses @ Richard's
- two bands I can't believe book a show when we are away
7/4 Seu Jorge @ the Commodore
7/4 Album Leaf w/Under Byen @ the Plaza
7/13 The Polyphonic Spree @ the Commodore
7/16 Tegan and Sara @ the VECC (AA) *
7/17 Tegan and Sara @ the VECC (AA)
9/3 Crowded House w/Pete Yorn @ the Orpheum *
* = attending

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Posted at 3:33 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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News:: The Hill's Top 10 Hip Hop Gimmicks

Is it just me, or is gimmick rap dead? Back in the day, MC's often utilized gimmicks to try and ensure their high top fade stood tallest. In Kid's case, his gimmick was that his high top fade was literally taller than the rest. But gimmicks are gone from the rap biz now. Or rather, everyone uses the same gimmick now, the ole "I used to be a criminal and now I rap" routine. There are subtle variations in the gimmick, such as the "I used to be a criminal, got shot multiple times, and now I rap", but in 2007, if a rapper without a criminal record raps in the forest, does anyone hear him?

Ooo, wasn't that profound? Well, not really, but perhaps you get my meaning anyway. It wasn't always this way though. Before rap's current ice age made rap gimmicks obsolete, the history of rap was filled with gimmicks of all sorts. We thought it would be fun to list the hill's favorite 10 hip hop gimmicks. You're excited? We knew you would be.

10 - Oh, the horror
In all honesty, I'm not sure horrorcore is really one of my favorite rap gimmicks at all. Basically I'm only including it because of the Gravediggaz. This side project, which was comprised of The Rza, Prince Paul, Frukwan, and the underrated Too Poetic, is the most well know member of the early 90's rap genre focused on horror-movie style raps. I'm guessing there was some kind of audience for this stuff, as dudes like Esham, Brotha Lynch Hung, and Insane Clown Posse released multiple albums doing it, but it's fallen off the map now. But the Gravediggaz were big news back in the day, and it gives me a chance to say RIP Too Poetic.
mp3:: Gravediggaz - Diary of a Madman

9 - what's this, a parody?
For a while, the rap song parody was all the rage. I think just the whole phenomenon of rap music freaked (white) people out early on, so it was easier to laugh at parodies of the songs, rather then actually understand it. People like Bobby Jimmy & The Critters, The 2 Live Jews, Morris Minor and the Majors, and Vanilla Ice put out full parody rap albums back in the day, and apparently someone thought this was a good idea. I'll admit I used to get a kick out of Bobby Jimmy, but I am not surprised this gimmick has gone by the wayside. Well, except for Weird Al, who somehow still has a career doing rap parodies while he rocks a white man jheri curl.

8 - Habla la hip hop?
I was going to make this one about rapping in other languages, but I couldn't think of any good examples that weren't in Spanish. Well other than french I guess, where Mario's favorite Le Boyfriend held things down. But The Spanish/English style was a quality gimmick when it first appeared back in the day. Mellow Man Ace's Mentirosa was the first big song I remember that featured the Spanish rap. Kid Frost's La Raza also came out around the same time. Were the dudes who created Reggaeton influenced by these early spanish/english jams? If so, this could be considered on of the more successful gimmicks on the list. Well I guess that would be the case if you liked Raggaeton, which I don't, but I will digress...
mp3:: Mellow Man Ace - Mentirosa

7 - Fast rap
Long before fast rap was an Edan mixtape, it was a gimmick used by numerous emcee's to try and make a name for themselves. Why being able to rap faster that anyone else was considered a reason to buy someones album is beyond me, but at one point, it was. In fact, the holder of the Guinness record for fastest rapper used to be semi-common knowledge amongst rap enthusiasts. How else would I end up as the proud owner of a cassette copy of Daddy Freddy's Ragamuffin Soldier? Considering the fast rap title is currently held by this guy, I'd say that time has past.
mp3:: Asher D & Daddy Freddy - Ragamuffin Hip Hop

6 - Rap as dance craze
A classic gimmick found in all genres of music, the "song-with-its-own-corresponding-dance" is no stranger to hip hop. For a fine example of this, look no further than Joeski Love and his jam Pee Wee's Dance. As if explanation is really required, Pee Wee's Dance is an homage to the dance stylings of former kids show weirdo Pee Wee Herman. Of course this song came out before Pee Wee's big porno theatre adventure, because after that you'd need a hell of a lot more than a catchy Tequila sample to make people dance like Pee Wee. As shocking as it is, Pee Wee's Dance turned out to be the highlight of Joeski's career.
mp3:: Joeski Love - Pee Wee's Dance

5 - For The Kids
Another gimmick that can be found in plenty of musical genres, kids rapping has always been a reliable go-to gimmick. Usually the kids have some established svengali-like figure that helps put them on and then guides their "career". Another Bad Creation had Michael "Biv" Bivins, Kriss Kross had Jermaine Dupri, and Lil Romeo had wannabe Raptor Percy Miller as his father/Svengali. Chi Ali, despite being affiliated with the native tongues, did not have that one guiding figure. Perhaps that's why Chi is now serving a 14 year stretch for murder.
mp3:: Chi Ali - Funky Lemonade

4 - Evil twin brother
The rap alter ego has also been around for quite some time. I don't just mean having 50 "aka" names, as that is certainly still popular, but rather creating an alter ego to the extent that you release an album under said alter ego's name. Certainly it's still done today, as Madlib's helium voiced Lord Quas proves, but it's not done with the same commitment it once was. I remember having legitimate debates about whether Shock G and Humpty Hump where the same person in junior high. Although I wanted to believe Humpty was actually burned in a grease fire and hence the need for his Groucho nose & glasses combo, but I was always skeptical. It's also worth mentioning that The Humpty Dance is perhaps the most famous example of rap song as dance craze. And no, I won't do the Humpty Dance for you, but thanks for asking.
mp3:: Digital Underground - The Humpty Dance

3 - Cracker Rap
With the amount of pale-faced mic rockers on the scene today, it might to be hard to believe that the white MC was a gimmick at one point, but it's true. Certainly if you asked Serch and Pete Nice if they were a gimmick, you would be the recipient of a vigorous gas face. They considered themselves to be true MC's, regardless of their race. But that doesn't mean all white rappers abstained from the gimmickry. Case in point - Young Black Teenagers. This group of white kids was loosely connected to PE through Bomb Squad member Hank Shocklee and intended their name as some kind of homage to black culture, but in reality, it came off as a gimmick. For a long time white dudes worked some reference to white into their name (vanilla, white, snow, milk) to stress the "I am white" gimmick. Thankfully that has now faded for the most part.
mp3:: Young Black Teenagers - Tap The Bottle

2 - Weed Carriers
The practice of an established artist securing a record deal for one of his lackeys is as old as hip hop itself. If you're a rapper, once you get on, you're expected to put those around you on as well. Sometimes the results are good, former EPMD backup dancer and hill favorite Stezo comes to mind, but most of the time it's all bad. You can find most of hip hop's most offensive weed carriers on our list of 100 MC's we wished lost their voice instead of The D.O.C. The rap world is littered with "crew" albums that failed miserably, but it has certainly been one of the most consistent hip hop gimmicks, and that continues to this day. I mean who isn't dying to hear an album from Puff Diddley's manservant Fonzworth Bentley?
mp3:: Stezo - Bring the Horns

1 - Re-inventing the wheel
Would it cheapen the list if I said my #1 rap gimmick isn't really a gimmick? What I mean is this - as long as hip hop has been around, there has been some MC or group claiming to have invented a new style of speech. I include it here as more often than not, this new style is used as a means to try and promote the artist, but I hesitate to call it a gimmick because it's often the reason they're enjoyable in the first place. Case in point: Das Efx. They busted on the scene with their bum stiggedy bum style and blew up, because everyone started doing it (ahem, Fu-schnickens, Lords Of The Undergound) they went away from it and pretty much fell the fack off. I'm sure you can think of other examples of this gimmick, K-Solo's "spell-rhyming" is another one of my favorites.
mp3:: Das EFX - Mic Checka
mp3:: K-Solo - Spellbound

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Posted at 11:21 AM by naedoo :: 1 comments

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Friday, May 11, 2007

News:: It's Nic's bday tomorrow

Tomorrow is my lovely wife's birthday and like the fantastical husband I am I will be flying to Paris for work. I'm special, I know.

So anyway, I just wanted to throw together a Nic inspired post on herohill, with some of the songs that she loves, or from artists we've seen together. Happy birthday Nic. Love you.

MP3:: Ian Love The Only Night (our wedding song)
MP3:: Cary Brothers If You Were Here
MP3:: Foundation Forget Today (live)
MP3:: The Beach Boys God Only Knows

Video:: Tegan & Sara Not Tonight

And her fav movie video!


Posted at 2:10 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

News:: Tegan & Sara dates and Bowerbirds

Tegan & Sara are releasing their new record - The Con - July 24th, and are starting off the hype with some shows, including some in lovely BC::
Jul 14 2007 8:00P
The Belfry Theatre Victoria, British Columbia
Jul 15 2007 8:00P
The Belfry Theatre Victoria, British Columbia
Jul 16 2007 8:00P
The East Cultural Centre Vancouver, British Columbia

We almost never post MP3s from records we haven't listened to, but this song is fantastic. The Bowerbirds are from UNC, and are on tour with the Rosebuds. They have a vocal similarity to them as well. The soaring violin is so nice.
MP3:: The Dark Horse

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Posted at 2:50 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

News:: More Ladyhawk????? You bet your sweet ass!

When it rains it pours. Or, in Jawbreaker fashion, when it pains it roars. Either way in the spirit of Ladyhawk, I am going to completely go back on something I said in my post about America's attempt to recapture cool when they teamed up with some hip cats for their double disc release. What can I say, I'm like a sports journalist. I make up facts and opinions to fit my own ideas and forget about them as soon as I hit PUBLISH.

Duffy Driediger's solo record - Under the Cities Lies a Heart made of Ground - is floating around now, and it features a cover of America's Horse With No Name. Is it good? You decide, but it's funny that I got excited to hear it when I first grabbed the record from a classified torrent site (that is very Indie you might say).

MP3:: Horse With No Name - Duffy (Ladyhawk)

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Posted at 7:28 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

News:: Joel Plaskett on Perez Hilton

File this under "what the fack?" Herohill friend and fav, Joel Plaskett was featured on the queen of media's web site today. Now, I hate everything Perez stands for. He's a publicity whore who shills for the same people he dishes on and he knows little about music, but he gets over 6 million hits a day for his trouble. I'd have to say, if even a microbe of visitors trickle into Joel's well deserving fanbase, he'll be doing a-ok.

He's playing here at the Commodore on May 18th in support of his new record, Ashtray Rock (read Shane's review here). Come and join the hype before it gets too big.
MP3:: Drunk Teenagers

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Posted at 10:03 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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News:: New National video and Cary Brothers in Toronto

Just some random mid day filler. First, the National video for Mistaken for Strangers has made it's way from MTV2 to youtube. It's simple and good and doesn't rely on a cheesy gimmick or Spike Jonze. All in all - that means enjoyable watching in my book.

Video:: Mistaken for Strangers

And for people who might have attended the show last night, Cary Brothers opened for Brandi Carlile @ the Horseshoe and we got a photo. Since we no longer live there, we had a special agent show up and get some footage (*).
* Footage = some dark pics and a set list courtesy of Linsday

Set list::
The Last One
Who You Are
Blue Eyes
Glass Parade
If You Were Here - with additional John Hughes dialog

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Posted at 4:07 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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News:: Alanis and White Rappers, (Wannabe) Brothers In Arms?

Issue me a late pass on this one if you'd like, but I only just thought of it. I enjoy Alanis' humps-based parody as much as the next man, it's well done and as everyone and their hipster mom has already said, she does a good job of skewering not only Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas, but also herself. But seeing it again the other day, it occurred to me that she chose her target very carefully. As this article from XXL describes quite well, there's an un-written rule in hip hop - white MC's do not attack black MC's. Well it seems that might hold true in the pop music world as well: over-dramatic female singers from Canada who once dated Dave Coulier do not make humorous videos parodying black artists.

I think, as part of the un-official deal that allows white dudes to partake in the rap game, if white MC's want to beef with someone, they are required to beef with other white MC's. If you want to be down with the brothers, you do not publicly diss the brothers. This tradition goes back to 3rd Bass beefing with Vanila Ice or the Beasties, and leads up to Eminem battling pretty much every white dude up to, and including, Greg Brady.

There are exceptions, as 3rd Bass' attacks on Hammer prove, but as the aforementioned article claims, those attacks led to a 60K bounty being placed on the scalps of Serch & Pete, so really you have to wonder if it was worth it. I do know that this post is now worth it, as mentioning the fact that Hammer wanted 3rd Bass dead because he thought they were making for of his mother is not something you get to do every day.

So why exactly did Alanis choose "My Humps"? Why not Destiny's Child's Bootylicious? Surely it's lyrics are as ridiculous as the humps song? The word "Oh" comprises 80% of the lyrics in Ciara's cleverly titled Oh, and the video she made for it features her humping a car. Christina Milian's Dip It Low is an instructional track for the ladies detailing the proper way to dip your ass low. The video features Ms. Milian rolling around in a vat of black paint semi-nude.

So why couldn't Alanis choose any of these songs? It could be coincidence, and perhaps it's simply the fact the BEP song was newer and more popular than the examples I've given. But something tells me this video was very carefully planned, and like many a white rapper before her, Alanis didn't want to deal with the fallout that would occur if she offended a black artist, or worse, was accused of being racist in some way. So she went with Fergie, a mighty-white chick singing hooks for a (sort-of) rap group who appears to have had more work done than my old Cutlass Ciera (The Golden Ghost RIP), and who once pissed herself on stage.

So what am I saying here? Surprisingly little considering I've written so much. Am I saying she shouldn't have singled out Fergie and BEP? Certainly not, that humps song is terrible, Fergie is terrible, and so I have no problem with that. I guess I'm simply saying that perhaps since Alanis singled out a white artist from a genre of music dominated by black artists, it wasn't the bravest choice she could've made. Perhaps we'll hold off on giving her that Nobel prize for parody just yet.

And so I say in closing...

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Posted at 8:43 AM by naedoo :: 1 comments

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Friday, May 4, 2007

News:: Sea Wolf vs Daytrotter

Alex Church (aka Sea Wolf) stopped by the Daytrotter sound booth during SXSW for a nice four session set.

Anyway, it's another great set of free music from the Daytrotter clan, so when you download the set, click an ad or two.

The nice stripped down set includes::
You're a Wolf (Sea Wolf)
I Made a Resolution
Ses Monuments

MP3:: Middle Distance Runner

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Posted at 10:55 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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