A painting of me

Femme Generation and Magneta Lane @ The Drake Hotel

   26 February 2005, terribly early in the morning

Some people at the Drake Hotel Underground

Dave sent me an ICQ messsage telling me he wouldn’t come downtown to see Femme Generation tonight. I suppose I don’t blame him, the trek from Scarborough to Downtown Toronto is long to say the least. I was torn as to whether I should go out alone or not. I discussed the matter online with Shima for some time. Since the last time I went out by myself worked out well enough I decided why not try going out by myself once more. Plus it was Friday.

I arrived at the Drake at 9:00. This was my second time there, but this time I was in the Underground, not the Lounge. The show had been postponed an hour, probably because the place was still quite empty.

I got a beer and stood at a table by myself. Two other fellows joined me since I happened to grab the last empty table. I didn’t feel like chatting, so I just drank my beer quietly. Then I noticed Neil across the dance floor. Neil is an old friend from Woburn and Waterloo who I haven’t seen in quite some time. I got his attention and we started chatting. He was there with his girlfriend Helen and his friend Phaedra. So, as luck would have it, I didn’t have to spend the evening by myself.

Femme Generation on stage at the Drake Hotel

Femme Generation

Close to 10:30 Femme Generation finally stepped up on stage. This was the second time I saw them perform. I thought they were amazing the first time, and was looking forward to seeing them again. There is something about hearing a band live that you just can’t beat. We made our way to the front, in part because most of us were short, in part because its the polite thing to do when the band requests people move up.

The band played several songs from their EP Circle Gets the Square, and a couple songs I didn’t recognize. I’m hoping they put out an LP some time soon. The keyboards and guitar were sounding great; the bass player is a maniac on stage. They put on a really good show.

Femme Generation are playing at the Comfort Zone March 5th as part of the Canadian Music Week. If you are in the city, they are worth checking out.

Lexi from Magneta Lane singing at the Drake Hotel

Magneta Lane

The ladies of Magneta Lane were up next. The trio make rock music—not quite punk, but it’s loud and distorted. One day I will be able to tell you more clearly what a band sounds like, but I still haven’t mastered that skill yet. Thankfully you can just listen to them at their myspace homepage.

They sounded a lot more raw and a bit less professional than Femme Generation. The lead singers microphone wasn’t powered enough for the first half of their set, which made it a pain to hear her sing. Of course, I think part of the bands appeal is probably that they sound a bit raw—they aren’t a progressive rock band.

The lead singer, Lexi, has a delightfully low and flat sounding voice. If I may digress for a moment, the lead singer’s “name” is Lexi Valentine. She reminded me a bit of Shima’s friend Roshanak. She didn’t look like a Lexi—at all. The drummer was called Nadia, and she looked like a Nadia. If the band is two-thirds Middle-Eastern I would give them even more props. You don’t see too many slightly ethnic rock bands out and about in the city. But, as I said, I digress. (Update: I met Lexi. That’s her real name. I couldn’t believe it.)

The band played a short set, in part because their songs are all pretty short. I thought they were quite good. I bought their CD which Neil’s friend Phaedra took around and got signed by all the band members. (Shima would be proud I didn’t go talk to any strange women.)

On a side node, the ladies are on Paperbag Records, which is the same record label as Plastikman, Controler.Controler, and Stars.

After the show we all headed off to the Gladstone, which has a karaoke night on Friday. I will need to write about that one day, but not today.

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Wavelength 250 @ Cinecylce

   14 February 2005, the wee hours

door to cinecylce

Wavelength have apparently been putting on shows in Toronto for five years now. I know this because this past Thursday I attended the first of four shows put on by Wavelength to celebrate their fifth anniversary. That show was the first time I have ever gone to a concert by myself. The fact I was willing to head out to this concert alone should give you some idea of just how great a line-up they had assembled for the show. I left my home a bit before 10:00 and made my way to Cinecycle. Leaving so close to 10:00 was actually a big mistake on my part.

Now, locating Cinecylce was no easy feat. Wavelength’s web site doesn’t seem to mention where the place is. I think if you are a part of ‘the scene’ you are just supposed to know. Looking around at the various web sites of the performers for the night, I stumbled upon directions to the place. Where is Cinecylce? It’s in the first alley south of Richmond St. The place is literally a big shed in an alley. From the outside, the place looks like a big shed. On the inside, the place looks like a big shed. There is no stage, but there is plenty of empty floor space. There is a sort of bar set up at the back. I guess at the end of the day you really don’t need much to put on a show. So, to be clear, Cinecylce is really ghetto.

lal performing at cinecylce

There were 5 acts playing on the Thursday night show I attended. I wanted to see LAL more than anyone else. They were listed last in the bill for the night, so I assumed they would be the last act of the night. When I walked into Cinecylce, I realized they were in fact the first act of the night. I missed most of their set, which was very disappointing. I made my way to the front of Cinecycle to catch the end of a song, and hear them announce they would play their last song of the night. The song they played was Raindrops and it was brilliant. I am listening to it on their CD as I type this now, but seeing them do it live was something else; the live percussion was incredible, and the bass-line being played live on an electric stand-up bass was impressive to watch. LAL are like a cross between Talvin Singh and Portishead, and are probably one of the best electronic acts I’ve heard in quite some time.

The next act up was Yacht, a guy that makes lo-fi dance music. The dude walked out with his powerbook, plugged it in and set it down on the ground. Now, I was curious as to what this guy planned to do. I mean, if he was just going to play the music he makes off his laptop, did he plan on standing around like an idiot and fidgeting with the keyboard while we watched? My questions were answered shortly when his music kicked it. The guy dances. He dances like a maniac. I wish I could described it, but I can’t. Suffice it to say, the guy was quite entertaining to watch. His music was quite good to boot.

The third act was The Vermicious Knid, a group of four guys from Brantford. They played rock music. Since going out and listening to bands live like this I’ve developed a real fondness for rock music again. I love thrashing guitars and guys and girls trying to sing over top the sounds of their instruments. Knid were quite good. I wish I could tell you what sub-genre of rock music they played, but I can’t. Does it matter? They are a good band, so you would do well to check them out.

The problem with going out on a Thursday night is that I have to work on Friday. I listened to the first song from The World Provider before heading out. I’m not sure if I liked his brand of music or not; it was strange anyway. Wavelength are an impressive group. The line-up of acts they had out this past Thursday was so varied. If you are in Toronto and looking for some good music on a Sunday, their shows at Sneaky Dee’s are usually quite good.

the crowd at cinecylce

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   23 December 2004, lunch time

Matt mentions Shima’s hourglass figure, and my mind is reminded of Shoop by Salt-N-Pepa.

Felt it in my hips so I dipped back to my bag of tricks
Then I flipped for a tip, make me wanna do tricks for him

I’m not quite sure why. I guess it’s the “hips” in the lyrics. Very Necessary is a great album. I bought it used from a CD shop in downtown Toronto sometime in the late 90s, many years after it had come out. I was still in high school. I don’t remember why my friends and I were downtown, only that it was the summer. Very Necessary is a classic Hip Hop album. Salt-N-Pepa probably don’t get the respect they deserve. Pepa rhyming about how she can rap in PG in Break of Dawn is excellent. You should check this album out.

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   24 November 2004, lunch time

I’m listening to Nirvana’s Unplugged CD. I remember when they did the MTV performance people were griping about how it was so unlike Nirvana to do an acoustic set. People can be stupid; this performance is excellent. I remember I didn’t have a very high opinion of Nirvana when Nevermind came out. Or In Utero for that matter. I guess I wasn’t particularly impressed with grunge music; I was all about Brit Pop around that time. I think I changed my opinion on the band when they did this performance. It is really only in the last 4 or 5 years that I became a really big fan of the band. I own In Utero and Nevermind now, which are both great albums.

Kurt Cobain really was a very talented person. It’s a real shame he shot himself in the head.

Nirvana’s new box set comes out shortly. I think it will be really good; Interesting at the very least.

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Tangiers @ the Horseshoe

   29 October 2004, terribly early in the morning

The Tangiers are amazing. There is no doubt about that. They are one of the best bands I’ve heard live ever. Tyler had been bigging this band up like they were the second coming; he was definitely right to do so.

Read the rest of this post. (422 words)

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Eminem's Mosh Video

   27 October 2004, evening time

I got an email from someone that reads my site, telling me to check out the new Eminem video. I was aware his new video was anti-Bush, but didn’t bother to check it out. I finally got around to downloading it today. The video is an animation, and features Eminem and a assortment of people who get screwed by Bush marching to sign up to vote. Are they playing this song on MTV yet, or on the radio? The message is quite clear. November 2nd is only a few days away. To the Americans who read my site, I certainly hope you go out and vote—for Kerry, just so there is no confusion. If you want to vote for Bush, it’s your choice, but it’s probably a foolish one to make. As I see it, unless you are a Christian heterosexual rich white male, there is no good reason to vote for Bush.

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Rachael Yamagata @ El Mochomambo

   26 October 2004, the wee hours

Rachael Yamagata didn’t have the breasts to pull off the top she was wearing. Thankfully, that is really the only bad thing I can say about the girl and her show tonight. She put on a great performance tonight.

Tyler told me about the show yesterday. He said it started at 7:00 and that the act would be good. I went to her web site and heard some Fiona Apple sounding tune; I was definitely in the mood for something like that. I left work late and decided to go straight to El Mocambo , where the show was supposed to be. In terms of my token usage that was a good call, but this meant I didn’t have my camera on hand. Oh what a dumb-ass I can be.

The show was hosted by her label, BMG, so it was free and catered. That was a first for me. I imagine there were people from the press at the show who they were trying to impress. I want to get invited to stuff. I’ll need to figure out how to go about making that happen.

Rachael Yamagata was fantastic. I really hope she gets some air play when her CD comes out. I find it depressing that all these ‘I can act like a pop-star’ singers are rich and famous while there is plenty of serious talent that remains untapped, and will most likely never get the audience they deserve. I think Rachael Yamagata is some what reminiscent of Alanis Morisette, and as I mentioned earlier, Fiona Apple. Vocally I found her very similar to Fiona Apple. Her backing band were also great. I thought the lead guitarist was quite impressive. I think my brother would have liked to have seen this set.

El Mocambo is a cool venue. I’ll definitely have to check it out again. Apparently the booking agent for the club is quite renowned. If you are looking for some good live music, this might be a great place to go check out.

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   30 September 2004, mid-morning

Brian Wilson started work on the follow up to one of the best albums ever made, Pet Sounds, but promptly went crazy. Even today in interviews he doesn’t quite seem to be ‘all there’. That’s alright though, because perhaps he needed to be a little crazy to finally finish his follow up to Pet Sounds, Smile. The original Smile must exist on studio tapes somewhere; what has been put out is the version of the album that Brian Wilson has been touring with. This album doesn’t feature Wilson and the rest of the Beach Boys, the album features Wilson and his new backing band. Fear not, unlike George Lucas, Wilson is not a giant hack. The album sounds great, a perfect follow up to Pet Sounds.

The album features some hits you may be familiar with, like Good Vibrations. Apparently the Beach Boys took some of the materiel they recorded and used it on their subsequent albums. The album is pretty solid through and through. I haven’t heard any songs that really stick out as spectacular, but I haven’t had a chance to listen through the album more then a couples time. I’m enjoying the album, and recommend you check it out.

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Panorama and Lula Lounge

   12 September 2004, early afternoon


Carvill invited me out with some of her friends from work this past Saturday night. The plan was to go to Panorama for drinks, and then out dancing after. Apparently last weekend Panorama was closed for a wedding, so Carvill and her friends were determined to get in this time.

Panorama is a restaurant/lounge at the top of the Manulife Centre at Bay and Bloor. It boasts one of the nicest views of the city I have ever seen. I should have brought my camera.

Panorama charges a 3 dollar cover on Saturday nights. This Saturday it was quite busy. There were five of us out this evening; we were squeezed in to a ‘table’ that seats four. This was the best we could get on this particular night. We were seated out on the patio though, which was quite nice. Drinks are on the expensive side at Panorama. I bought a Lotus Martini (a pineapple martini) for 12 dollars. Beers were all about 6 or 7 dollars, mixed drinks were about 7 and up, cocktails were around 10 dollars. The place had a small selection of wines and champagnes priced at usual wine and champagne prices.

The place serves some food. There are assorted appetizers and pizzas available to eat, and a small selection of desserts. Carvill ordered a Medeterian dip appetizer, which consisted of pita bread and various dips. It was good, but not exceptional I suppose. At 10 dollars it was a bit pricey as well.

Basically at Panorama you are paying a premium for a very nice view. I think the place is worth the extra bucks you will end up dropping. Panorama would be a great place to take a date. I saw so many couples there last night, I am certain I’m not the only person that thinks so.

Lula Lounge

We followed up Panorama with a Latin club called Lula Lounge. Lula Lounge is at Dufferin and Dundas, in the Portuguese part of town. The place is big and pretty bright, with a large dance floor and stage. There are tables around the dance floor. The place has a dinner and dance lesson combo for 40 dollars. When we walked in at 11:00 there was a live band playing some kicking Salsa music.

Lula caters to what seems to be a big mix of people. Everywhere I looked I saw the oddest couples dancing with one another to the Salsa music. For the boys out there, go to Lula. You will need to learn how to dance, but I guarantee you will end up dancing with girls out of your league. I saw so many 50 year old men dancing with hot twenty somethings. I saw guys that looked like total tools, stepping on themselves and their dates, but giving it a good effort, dancing with some fine-ass women. Incredible I say!

This was my first time out to a salsa club. The people I was with commented that Lula’s dance floor was much larger, and much less crowded then some other popular salsa spots in the city. I don’t know if I’ll go back to Lula again, since I don’t salsa, but I think the place is worth checking out.

A Ram Story

At Lula lounge I met a friend of Carvill’s friend, this lady from Equador, who was really really hot.

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People Need to Listen to the Smiths

   26 August 2004, terribly early in the morning

I’m a big fan of The Smiths. I think they are probably one of the best bands ever. Well, at the very least they had a great guitarist and a great songwriter/singer. One of my favourite songs by them is Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want:

Good times for a change
See, the luck I’ve had
Can make a good man
Turn bad

So please please please
Let me, let me, let me
Let me get what I want
This time

Haven’t had a dream in a long time
See, the life I’ve had
Can make a good man bad

So for once in my life
Let me get what I want
Lord knows, it would be the first time
Lord knows, it would be the first time

If you haven’t heard anything by the Smiths you are really missing out.

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   16 August 2004, evening time

I’ve been using Audioscrobbler to share my music listening habits with the internet. The problem with Audioscrobbler is that the music I listen to on my iPod is ignored; that is no good. Musicmobs is another service designed to share your music listening habits with the world. The difference between Audioscrobbler and Musicmobs is that while Audioscrobbler uses a plugin to poll iTunes and determine what you are listening to, Musicmobs requires you simply upload your iTunes library file. Once Musicmobs has your library XML file it does some heavy lifting and generates a page that describes what you have been listening to.

I’m not sure how they determine what qualifies as being in heavy rotation, but I don’t know if I like it. Listening to Toxic over and over again has managed to make me some sort of Britney Spears fan. Oh dear God no.

First impressions suggest Audioscrobbler is a better service. Audioscrobbler keeps track of more information, lets you download the data it collects, has a cleaner web interface, and may have a bigger user base. I like the fact that Musicmobs lets you process your iTunes library file. I would like something similar to this for Audioscrobbler.

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Ivana Santilli

   12 August 2004, late at night

Ivana Santilli released Corduroy Boogie last Tuesday, about five years after Brown. Once in a blue moon I would check the web to see if Santilli was up to anything new. I was pleasantly surprised to find a few weeks back her web site had changed to reflect the upcoming release of her new album. I was in Waterloo on Tuesday when the album was released, and bought it that very morning.

Read the rest of this post. (718 words)

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Vanishing Point @ Labyrinth

   6 August 2004, early evening

Promised a night of indie, brit, and soul, Simon and I headed down to Labyrinth to see our friend Matt kick of his latest weekly residency. As you may recall, Matt also spins Tuesday’s at IV lounge, and Sundays at Cobalt. Thursday nights he now spins at Labyrinth for a night he has dubbed Vanishing Point.

Labyrinth lounge is a nice enough place. It doesn’t compare to the places I’ve been going to recently at College and Bathurst, but it is still quite nice. The place is split in two, one side being the bar, the other side being the lounge. The lounge is actually quite nice, the bar less so. There is plenty of room to sit and enjoy a drink.

The music was great, which was to be expected. The set is quite similar to what Matt spins at Cobalt, a mix of British music. The crowd was really in to the music, and seemed quite knowledgeable about what was playing. Many of the songs I heard that I enjoyed turned out to be requests from the crowd. The crowd at Labyrinth was quite friendly and laid back. Victor showed up by chance, which was quite a surprise.

Drinks at Labyrinth are cheap, university town cheap. Domestic beers were $2.50, which is quite rare to see in Toronto. Apparently mix drinks were a similar price. Matt had a $40 dollar bar tab, which he was gracious enough to share with Simon and I; we were more then happy to impose. Martini’s at Labyrinth are quite good, and more to the point, quite cheap. The fact that Simon and I got ours for free was a nice bonus though. I think Simon and I—well mostly I—drank up more then half of Matt’s tab.

I suppose there may be some bias in everything I’ve just written. I know Matt from high school, and to boot, he bought me drinks. I think despite this the facts remain the same: Vanishing Point is at a nice venue, features great music, and has a cool crowd. What else do you need?

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The Nightlife at College and Bathurst

   2 August 2004, early evening

A heart Carvill made on a table in Cobalt.

Carvill showed up at my house a little after 5:00. The two of us went to get some Sushi since my house was being overrun by my brothers friends. While eating raw fish we discussed the best way to spend the evening. I watch a lot of movies, so movies are always an option. However, sometimes it is nice to do something a bit different. The two of us came back to my place, and looked up what was happening in the city. I remembered my friend Matt was spinning at a club downtown, and looking up its address I learnt the club was at College and Bathurst. There were lots of places in that area worth checking out, so the two of us decided on some places we could go see, and left to begin our adventure downtown.

Read the rest of this post. (1086 words)

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Holla If Ya Hear Me

   13 May 2004, early evening

Strictly For My N.I.G.G.A.Z is probably as close as Tupac Sharkur ever came to making a Public Enemy album. The album has the hard and heavy beats, scratches, and heavy samples you’d expect from a Public Enemy album, only on top of all beats is Tupac’s voice. The lyrics are quite political to boot. I’ve been listening to the album a lot recently, and I have to say you should definitely check it out if you’re a fan of rap music.


IV Lounge

   3 May 2004, evening time

Anyone in Toronto should check out IV lounge tomorrow, Rishi will be the guest DJ for the inner city/outer space night. Rishi will be spinning techno music. This weekly event is run by Transient Orange. My friend Matt spins downbeat music there every tuesday and has been trying to get other DJs or artists to come in and work alongside him. IV lounge is nice and small, like someone’s living room.

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Transient Orange at B-Side

   12 April 2004, early evening

The stage at B-Side, empty.

I ended up going out with Rishi saturday night. He was DJing at Transient Orange’s two year anniversary party. All the acts associated with Transient Orange are really impressive. There is a lot of talent in this city you may never ever hear.

Read the rest of this post. (806 words)

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Check the Album

   19 February 2004, evening time

DJ Dangermouse – The Grey Album download. DJ Dangermouse has made a remix of Jay-Z’s black album. What makes this interesting is that the remixes contain the vocals from the Black Album, but only use samples from the Beatles’ White Album. The album is quite good.

Now, you will want to get it while you can, because EMI is not happy. What does Jay-Z think? Well, he released an a cappella 12-inch pressing just so people could “remix the hell out of it.”

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Internet Radio

   7 February 2004, mid-afternoon

I’ve had broadband access for years, but it has been disappointingly slow for most of those years. Finally, living in Waterloo, connected to a DSL line that must be alligator-clipped right into Waterloo’s backbone, I am able to enjoy some good internet radio.

For those of you with fast connections, check out the statations at SomaFM. They have something for every type of listener, even for Mezan [Cliqhop].

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Courtney Love Does the Math

   6 February 2004, early evening

An article over at Salon, written by Courtney Love, discusses the state of the music industry. In particular, she talks about how the record industry is basically set up to rip off artists. It is a pretty interesting read.

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   4 February 2004, early evening

I’ve been ripping my CD collection for the past little while, bit my bit. I’m disappointed because I don’t think I can get my entire CD collection on my iPod at 192 ACC. (Yes, I ended up switching down from 224. Most of of my electronica and my super-favourite albums are in at 224 ACC, the rest have been going in at 192.)

Today I ripped some of the singles I bought while in London and Sydney. There are some interesting songs on them I didn’t know I owned. For example, I bought the Go Deep single by Janet Jackson when I was in Sydney during the summer after grade 12. It features remixes of the song by Roni Size and Masters at Work. I have a very bizarre remix by the Mad Professor of Tear Drop. I bought two Natalie Imbruglia singles when I was in OZ as well, one was Big Mistake, the other was Wish I was There They both have some cool B-Sides and a few good live performances of her big hits.

Reading this over, I realize that this post, like many that have come before it, has no real point. One day I will figure out some purpose for this page, well, besides keeping every one up to date on the day to day boredom that is my life.

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You're Toxic I'm Slipping Under

   17 January 2004, late at night

Have you heard the new Britney Spears song, Toxic? If you haven’t, go and listen, it’s surprisingly good. I never thought I’d ever catch myself complementing Britney Spears on one of her songs. However, I don’t think it sounds like her singing at all. Anyone else of the same opinion?

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The Complete Faye Wong Discography

   15 January 2004, late evening

The Complete Faye Wong Discography. This is the discography I have used since high school to figure out the english names of all the Faye Wong tracks I like. The guy who runs the site, Josh, is also a Scarborough boy to boot.

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Music File Formats

   13 January 2004, the wee hours

I’m getting my iPod in a matter of days. I’m trying to decide what format I should rip music in, and at what bit rate. Right now I am partial to ACC (Apple’s Mpeg-4 format). mp4 files sound better at lower bit-rates, so you can get good quality music out of smaller files. The only problem I see with mp4’s is that they currently can only be played in iTunes and on an iPod (I believe). I’m not sure if this is really an issue or not. I plan to start ripping my CD collection as soon as I can figure this out.

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Faye Wong

   20 December 2003, evening time

The new Faye Wong cd is excellent. I can’t stress that enough. Track 3 and 9 standout right now as really strong songs, but the album is solid. Will try and write a longer review once I’ve listened to it a bit more.

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