Thursday, 27 August 2009

Ottawa Folkfest Concert Review at Exclaim!

Really had a good time at the three-day annual Folkfest in Ottawa. Joel Plaskett was the set I was most looking forward to, but I was really blown away by all of the shows I saw. Particular highlights:  Here’s a snippet of my review, click on it for the whole thing:

Picturesque Britannia Park was flooded with folkies of all ages for the 15th annual Ottawa Folk Festival, which offered stellar performances and workshops by some of Canada's finest roots and folk performers. The Sadies started Friday with a bang, as the brothers Good and the band blazed through a lively set of their signature blend of country, folk rock, surf and psychedelia. The Toronto quartet got the crowd stomping through blistering performances of originals, as well as covers of Merle Haggard and Pink Floyd. Amy Millan of Stars and Broken Social Scene took the stage later that day. Backed by stand-up bass and a pair of trombones, the songstress sang lovely, delicate ballads in her honey-soaked wisp of a voice. Former Barenaked Lady Steven Page closed out the first night with an acoustic set of BNL classics and newer solo material. Self-effacingly cracking wise about his exit from BNL, Page led the crowd through energetic sing-alongs of "Brian Wilson" and "The Old Apartment," and given the crowd's rapturous response, Page may just have a future as a solo artist.

My favourite set would probably be one-man band That 1 Guy, whose set was weird and wonderful in so many ways. Strangely danceable too. Here’s him doing "Butt Machine”, playing his self-invented instrument, the Magic Pipe.


Monday, 3 August 2009

Top 50 Rap Albums of the 00’s at Passion of the Weiss: #41 – De La Soul – The Grind Date

I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in this monumental Top 50 Albums of the 2000s list at Passion of the Weiss. Below is one of three writeups I contributed to the list, on De La’s The Grind Date. I won’t spoil the other two. In the meantime, click that blurb to read the whole spiel and the rest of the bottom 50.

Consider The Grind Date a guide to aging gracefully in hip-hop. It’s not that hard to do; let Pos and Dave show you how. Start with strong, sonically unified production. The Grind Date’s producer lineup is serious. De La are blessed with fantastic beats by Madlib, Dilla, Jake One and regular collaborator Supa Dave West, and a surprisingly dope 9th Wonder production on “The Future”. The tracks are filled with thick bass lines and hard drums. Dilla’s mix of turning signals, reverberating strings and pounding bass on “Verbal Clap” spurs Pos and Dave to spit their hardest verses since Stakes Is High. On “Shopping Bags”, Madlib slices and splices Just-Ice’s “Cold Getting Dumb” until it sounds like the beat was played on empty glass bottles. Jake One’s thunderous, piano-driven thump on “Rock. Co. Kane Flow”. Supa Dave West dependably provides soulful boom-bap backed by gorgeous vocal samples on “He Comes”, “The Future” and “The Grind Date”.

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