Saturday, 5 December 2015

Johnny Zhivago's 20 Favourite Xmas Songs!!

I've done this sorta list a few times, but it's always good to reintroduce some killer Christmas music what with all the parties that are sure to be had this time of year. I've heard people say that they hate Christmas music and lump in all the contemporary tracks out there with the run of the mill Carols that get played in shopping malls. Not about that life. Take a listen to these 20 and try to enjoy the holiday season!

20. The Flirtations - "Christmas Time Is Here Again"

Formerly known as The Gypsies, The Flirtations were an R&B Group from South Carolina who had their biggest hits in the 60's and 70's. "Christmas Time Is Here Again" is timeless classic that fits in seamlessly with any Xmas playlist. It has that little tinge of personal reflection that comes with the holiday season as we look back on the past year.

19. Queen - "Thank God It's Christmas"

Most of the big musical acts took their swing at writing and releasing a future holiday classic. Queen did a great job and how could you not with a frontman like Freddy Mercury belting out "Thank God It's Christmas" in a way that only Freddy Mercury can.

18. Revenge Of The Egg People - "Season's Greetings Felony"

Not all Christmas tunes have to be all joyful and triumphant, Revenge Of The Egg People a Canadian punk band, released a whole album of twisted and edgy Christmas music called Songs & Hymns. "Seasons Greetings Felony" is found on said album

17. The Ronettes - "Sleigh Ride"

With all the wonkiness we now know Phil Spector was involved in it's hard to imagine him being a part of something as wholesome as a Christmas Compilation album, but here we are. The Ronettes were one of the bands Spector produced and they are credited with the best version of "Sleigh Ride" to date.

16. Cocteau Twins - "Winter Wonderland"

The Cocteau Twins were a Scottish rock band formed in the 80's known for their style of so called dream pop music. In the early 90's they released a 2 song EP called Snow it featured their ethereal take on two Christmas favourites "Frosty The Snowman" and "Winter Wonderland"

15. Hawksley Workman - "The Coldest Night Of The Year"

Full Moon Eleven is Workman's re-imagining and re-working of his own Christmas album released 10 years earlier Almost a Full Moon. It features a cover of Bruce Cockburn's "The Coldest Night Of The Year". Remember earlier when I talked about self-reflection and isolation during the holidays? This song does a great job of capturing those feelings.

14. No Doubt - "Oi To The World"

No Doubt's cover of the Vandal's Xmas original "Oi To The World" just brings more urgency and delight to an already delightful track.

13. Greg Lake - "Father Christmas"

After leaving Emerson, Lake and Palmer Greg Lake's only hit as a solo artist was this UK Christmas favourite "Father Christmas"

12.  Tran Siberian Orchestra - "Christmas Eve / Sarajevo"

I can't wait for it to be acceptable to listen to Christmas Music so I can blast this one at my speaker's top capacity!! Truth be told, this one sneaks into my year round playlist from time to time. It's not Christmas until "Christmas Eve / Sarajevo" melts my face off.

11.  U2/Darlene Love - "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)"

For a long time for me this was the definitive version of this song. I knew it was a cover and the original was done by Darlene Love. I knew this because she used to sing this song every year on The Late Show with David Letterman, and i'm a big Dave fan. Her final performance of this song on the show back in December of 2014 could be threatening to take the top spot. Knocked it out of the park.
So i'll give you both versions.

10. Wham! - "Last Christmas"

This song has almost become as synonymous with Christmas as ageless carols likes "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night". Covered by countless artists like Jimmy Eat World, Human Nature & Taylor Swift, nothing will top the original version.

9. The Kinks - "Father Christmas"

Never ones to be outdone, The Kinks came along and released a Christmas Song from another side of the coin. A tale about being robbed while performing the role of Father Christmas at a shopping mall. Good song either way.

8. Bryan Adams - "Christmas Time"

Probably Bryan Adams' most popular Christmas song and possibly the most popular Christmas song done by a Canadian. It's still a holiday staple and the lyrics call for peace and love for all humans. If only...

7. The Payolas - "Christmas Is Coming"

From one Canadian act to another. "Christmas Is Coming" rarely gets mentioned in discussions about great Christmas songs, but it should. It never gets old and hopefully never will

6. Run DMC - "Christmas In Hollis"

There has been a resurgence of this song in recent years. Which is a good thing, because this song is bad ass!!

5. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - "Merry Christmas Baby"

Recorded to near perfection during a live performance at the Nassau Colliseum in 1980 , The Boss delivers a holiday favourite tightly wrapped and placed with care under the Christmas tree. "Merry Christmas Baby" is a cover of an old R&B classic. This one still get's 'em going!!

4.  Dido - "Christmas Day"

Not many of these songs create a story revolved around Christmas time, most just sing about the magic and beauty of the time of year. Dido weaves a love story around the holiday season and does a great job I might say.

3. Cyndi Lauper - "Early Christmas Morning"

I'm curious as to why this song didn't get covered a few more times, it would be interesting to see what other groups could do with it. For now though the Cyndi Lauper version is the only one i'm aware of and that;s OK. Because the song is great.

2. The Royal Guardsmen - "Snoopy's Christmas"

Possibly inspired by the British/German Christmas Eve cease fire during WWI where soldiers from both sides agreed to put their guns down and meet in no man's land on Christmas Eve. They shared drinks, smokes and showed pictures of each others loved ones. A soccer game even broke out. It's that kind of humanity that Christmas is about. Are those kind of times behind us, those ideals, could they exist today?

1. The Pogues - "Fairytale Of New York"

The best Xmas song ever written. Simple as that.

Sometimes with all the craziness of the world, it's hard to enjoy the holiday season while so many are suffering. Do what you can to make yourself a better person, but still enjoy Christmas time. Take some time to think about others. Reach out to old friends. Make amends with family. Smile and laugh. Let bygones be bygones. And for god's sakes, eat drink and be merry!

Happy Holidays everyone from Johnny Z

Sunday, 15 November 2015

10 Great B-Sides

A friend of mine started a discussion the other week about epic b-sides and it really was a fun little journey to discover some cool and obscure tracks. Back in the 60's, 70's and 80's when singles off a record were released on a 45, very often the song on the opposite was a track that was left off the album, a cover or a live version of some sorts. Since the 90's though when albums were released on CD along with the singles, a b-side was considered the other tracks that came with the single. Really the term could be applied to any obscure and rare track that didn't make the album's final cut. 10 Great B-Sides!

1. Pearl Jam - "Yellow Ledbetter"

"Yellow Ledbetter" was included as a b-side to the single "Jeremy" released in 1991. The lyrics are mainly gibberish and Vedder rarely sings it the same way twice in live shows. Maybe it went unfinished and they liked the way it sounded, who knows, but it has since become one of Pearl Jam's biggest hits and most well known songs

2. Radiohead - "Talk Show Host"

Another b-side from the era of CDs. This one was featured on the "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" single.
"Talk Show Host" has become a favourite of Radiohead fans, it gained more attention after it was used on the soundtrack for Romeo + Juliet, which is a great soundtrack. It was even included on the special edition Greatest Hits album

3. Blitzkrieg - "Blitzkrieg"

Blitzkrieg were an English band who were part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement of the late 70's and 80's. Their first release was the 1981 single "Buried Alive" and featured on the b-side was a song called "Blitzkrieg"...i guess they liked their name so much, they felt they needed to write a song about it. "Blitzkrieg" would become just as recognizable and successful for the band as "Buried Alive". 3 years later Metallica would cover the song and use it themselves as a b-side to their single "Creeping Death".

4. The Cribs - "Get Yr Hands Out Of My Grave"

This is another case of a b-side becoming a band's more popular songs. The Cribs are a British indie rock group who got their start in 2002. In 2007 they released the album Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever. The second single "Moving Pictures" had the b-side "Get Yr Hands Out Of My Grave" which many feel is the band's best song.

5. Led Zeppelin - "Hey, Hey What Can I Do?"

Because I wasn't around in 1971 I was surprised to hear that my favourite Led Zeppelin was not included on an LP. "Hey, Hey What Can I Do?" was the b-side to "The Immigrant Song". Imagine if the song was included on the same album? Alot more people would own Led Zeppelin III i can guarantee that.

6. XTC - "Dear God"

"Dear God" was not originally featured on XTC's 1987 album Skylarking, instead it was used as a b-side to the single "Grass". It was American DJs who decided to flip the single over and play "Dear God" more frequently. The song became so popular that the record label decided to re-release Skylarking with the track "Mermaid Smiled" being replaced by "Dear God"

7.  The Smashing Pumpkins - "Starla"

First appearing as a b-side on the "I Am One" single the 10 minute long "Starla" eventually found it's way on to Pisces Iscariot the 1994 compilation album of rarities and b-sides.

8. The Smiths - "How Soon Is Now?"

Arguably The Smiths most well known song. "How Soon Is Now?" began it's life as a b-side to "William, It Was Really Nothing". Because of the song's cult success however, it go on to pop on subsequent Smiths albums, but only on oversea releases. It was featured on the US, Canada, and Australian versions of Meat Is Murder.

9. Buddy Holly - "Everyday"

This song is normally included on every Top Songs of all time lists and it was originally used as a b-side to the equally huge "Peggy Sue".

10. The Beatles - "I Am The Walrus"

Perhaps the inventers of the great b-side, The Beatles included this enigmatic track as the flip side to the more by-the-numbers "Hello Goodbye" in 1967. John Lennon had heard that a teacher at his old high school was getting students analyze and find meaning in Beatles lyrics. Lennon purposely wrote his next song with confusing and puzzling lyrics to keep himself amused at the thought of students pouring over "I Am The Walrus" for some deep profound meaning.

What are some of your favourite B-Sides??

Tweet them to @jonnyzhivago


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

10 Great Songs About Penis

Yup! This one's for everyone who likes dick!! There are plenty of songs out there about the male organ, some more ambiguous than others...and there's really not much else to say about it so here we go! 10 Great Songs About Dick

1. System Of A Down - "Cigaro"

This song touches on the very popular analogy of comparing dick sizes to see who is the bigger man. Usually the "dick sizes" are not explicitly measured but measured in other ways like fighting, drinking, owning bigger trucks, y'know compensation and such. This song comes off the first of two System Of A Down records released in 2005 Mesmerize, the second album, named Hypnotize, was released later that year. Here SOAD is using the dick-measuring analogy to compare acts of war by various world leaders.

2. Mickey Avalon - "My Dick"

Mickey Avalon is an American rapper and glam rocker from Hollywood, California and most of his songs are about excess with drugs and women. "My Dick" is a simple and funny diss track about a couple of guys riffin' on each other's wangs. It features rappers Dirty Nasty and Andre Legacy.

3. Buck 65 - "The Centaur"

Richard Tefry is a Canadian hip-hop artist, and songwriter from Nova Scotia who goes by the stage name Buck 65. He's also been known as Uncle Climax, Johnny Rockwell and Stinkin' Rich. Most of his songs have a bit of a satirical side to he compares himself to the mythical Centaur, basically being a horse form the waist down.

4. Tool - "Hooker With A Penis"

Ok this one isn't really about dicks, but a song comparing the manipulative and complicated nature of the music industry to getting something you didn't pay for by finding out your hooker for a night has a penis. I love Tool.

5. Next - "Too Close"

"I wonder if she can tell i'm hard right now?" Those are the opening lines of Next's 1997 hit song "Too Close". Yes this song was a hit, actually most of these songs became popular in one way or another. This one hit #1 on Billboard's Hot 100. Just goes to show that despite some people's warnings, the world doesn't go to shit if a song about a certain subject makes it to the children's ears.
This song is about dancing too close to a girl and having her feel your erection. Yes.

6. Chuck Berry - "My Ding-a-Ling"

Chuck Berry was known for righting many rock classics, he was also known for his sense of humour and admitted that he dreamt of being a comedian when he was younger. "My Ding-a-Ling" is often looked off as a novelty track about a young boy first discovering his hangdown, but Chuck was proud of it. It was his only #1 hit after all.

7. The Pixies - "Gigantic"

Though they never openly admitted it, it is widely accepted that Kim Deal wrote this song about a relationship with a black man. You can imagine what she was describing as "gigantic". A few years ago in the advertising fail of the year, Apple decided to use this song in a commercial about their new iPhone or something...sadly the ad featured multiple people singing and playing along to this song, including young children. The ad mysteriously was yanked from TV shortly after.

8. 20 Fingers - "Short Dick Man" feat. Gillette

American Electropop duo 20 Fingers are not known for much else beyond the 1994 single "Short Dick Man" a song that was more commonly censored as "Short Short Man" and played on radio stations and in clubs around the world. The song featured Sandra Gillette, aka Gillette a fellow rapper and dancer who's only other hit was "Mr. Personality". She had a knack for insulting men in her life I suppose.

9. Naughty By Nature - "O.P.P"

One of the all time classic hip-hop tracks of our generation. Many people wonder the second P stands for in this one...well if you listen to the lyrics it stands for property. If you really listen and read between the lines, you'll realize it actually has a triple meaning...

10. King Missile - "Detachable Penis"

Turns out I can't spell Missile right...took me three tries to get that stupid red wavy line out from underneath the word. King Missile is the brain child of John S Hall who got his start doing open mic poetry. He would eventually add musicians to his readings and his band was born. "Detachable Penis" released in 1992, is probably his best known work

Thanks dicks!!!

twitter - @jonnyzhivago

Thursday, 22 October 2015

10 Great Songs To Be Used as Jonny & G Anthems

The Jonny & G birthday bash is the greatest party on Earth, hosted by two bad-ass mamajama samurais named Jonny & G. Yes i am one half of that duo and it might blow your mongrel mind to find out that I am not the Jonny of the equation...I am the G. This year saw the 15th anniversary of the bash and looking back (& forward) there have been plenty of great songs discovered and uncovered during the festivities. Songs that now when heard Jonny and G can't help but remember the times shared with good people and copious amounts of booze. Though we are always looking for new party tunes, so a few of these haven't been tested yet, but would rather make great anthems for parties of the future. Jonny and G bitches!!

1. Metallica - "Am I Evil?"

Going way back to kick it off. At the very first installment of the J&G Bash we found ourselves at one of our favourite watering holes. Unbeknownst to us that night however, a heavy metal cover band named Undead were tearing the place apart. Memories are foggy, but I vaguely remember singing at least 2 verses of this song with the long-haired lead singer. The song is actually a cover of an old Diamondhead tune that Metallica recorded for a b-Side to the 1984 "Creeping Death" single.

2. Korn - "Y'all Wanna Single"

Jonny & G say "fuck" alot when we're together. At the 2004 birthday bash, which had a random mafia theme, i distinctly remember dancing and swearing and screaming along to Korn's "Y'all Wanna Single"...and then not much else is remembered from that night. Noticing a trend here? By the way, Metallica is my lifeblood. Korn is Jonny's Metallica.

3. Dropkick Murphys - "Going Out In Style"

Celtic inspired punk is always great drinkin', partyin' music. This one hasn't been used as a Jonny & G anthem yet, but if there comes a day when we decide to end the tradition on our terms, this song should definitely be on the soundtrack

4. Drowning Pool - "Step Up"

I forget what year it was, maybe the 2008 Keg Party, where we used Drowning Pool's "Step Up" as the theme. You might noticing that all these songs have a certain edge to them as well. Heavy music is one thing that Jonny & I initially bonded over way back in the day, so it's expected that most of the music played is of that ilk. Now, Jonny and I have a certain reputation at our parties. First to rise last to fall sorta thing, we drink alot, smoke, fight, say fuck, eat things, Dwight Yoakum. All of it. Sometimes people come to these parties, scoff at us and try to go toe to toe with ol' Jonny & G. Soon they find themselves sleeping in their car, with their head in a bucket/toilet or slammed with a folding chair. Hence the theme to 2008 was "Step Up".

5. Mischief Brew - "Roll Me Through The Gates Of Hell"

This one is the official theme song to Jonny & G. Originally introduced to the duo for the 2006 "balls out limo bash" it has since become synonymous with the party. It was even performed live at the 2009 "texas mickey mosh". There is talk of tattooing some of the lyrics on ourselves, but that might have to wait another bash or six.

6. Misfits - "Where Eagles Dare"

Just this year a record player was present at the 2015 "Dwight Cabin Calamity" and one of the few records there was a collection of old Misfits tracks. "I ain't no goddamn sunofabitch!!!!" was a line that really stood out for us and was repeatedly chanted. There were plans to learn the obviously simple song in the morning, but drinking.

7. Dallas Green - "Sleeping Sickness"

I know this one kinda sticks out from the rest, but Dallas Green gets a nod because he made a celebrity cameo appearance at the 2012 "Raptor's Hotel Haunt" and bought me a drink. Good guy! Thanks Dallas! Call me!

8. Ween - "It's Going To Be A Long Night"

Another song not yet unleashed on the Birthday bash, but one that certainly has the lyrical content to be considered. There's a thing at J&G Bashes...thats the virgins. No, not those virgins, Jonny and G Birthday Bash virgins. People who are brave enough to accept our offer, without fully understanding or preparing for the events that will follow. This song is a great 'walk in the door' track for those brave souls

9. Gershwin - "Rhapsody In Blue"

I had to do it. There was an odd moment at Jonny & G 2013 "Ottawa Drinks Shirts" where the discussion of pump-up songs came about, everybody had some good input until Ben Oakes insisted we listen to "Rhapsody in Blue". The moment would not have been memorable had Mr. Oakes not pranced and pirouetted around the room for the entire duration of the song. It was weird.

10. Mark Morrison - "Return Of The Mack"

Jonny HP requested that I add this one and how could I NOT? There is no other jam in the history of life that gets a party started, going or ended like "Return Of The Mack". When you are going to a party and want to make an entrance? "Return Of The Mack". Cruising down the road, trolling for chicks? Return that Mack baby!!! When you hit a fadeaway jumpshot and win the game for the Lakers. One song and one song only! Return of the motherfucking Mack!!

11. Against Me! - "We Laugh At Danger & Break All The Rules"

Yup i'm doing 11 instead of 10. Cuz Fuck you!! I'm G mother -effers!!!
This song was the award winning nominee of the anthem for 2015 and future Jonny and G events going forward. It's not going to replace Mischief Brew, but party along beside it. Loads of great energy, a wicked bad-ass band and one of the most fitting song titles in Jonny and G history. Jonny & G 2016 baby!!! See ya there!!!

we rule....basically


Saturday, 10 October 2015

10 Great Songs You Might Not Have Heard

I love hearing new music. Whether it's a brand new song or a song from the past that just slipped by my radar, finding those gems that get get stuck in my head makes me happy. I'm not going to be so brash as to label this blog as song you've never heard, how do I know that? It's possible you haven't heard them, so as my Canadian Thanksgiving gift to all you, here are 10 Great Songs You Might Not Have Heard.

1. The Zombies - "This Will Be Our Year"

Way back in the 60's, before the whole Zombie Apocalypse fascination was everywhere you looked, came a band out of Britain called The Zombies. Best known for their flower-child anthem "Time Of The Season" from the album Odessey and Oracle released in 1968. Another great track lies waiting on that album however, the Chris White penned "This Will Be Our Year" is one of my all time favourite classic rock tracks. Clocking in at just over 2 minutes, it's a sweet yet musically interesting little ditty. A good song to remind you to make the most out of your short time with that special someone.

2. Josh Ritter - "Wolves"

I love me some Josh Ritter, it's difficult to catagorize him into a single genre. Singer/songwriter, folk, alternative, country and blues would all apply to this Idaho native. His album The Animal Years released in 2006 is a revelation. Start to finish it's a great record to get lost in. Track #2 is "Wolves" a fun, ear-worm of a song that can really be a good launching point for the whole album. If you like this, check any other Josh Ritter song. You won't be let down.

3. Lunchmoney Lewis - "Bills"

I'm calling "Bills" as this year's "Fuck You". Y'know that song by Cee-Lo a few years back? Lewis is from Miami, but his single "Bills" has caught fire across the world, topping charts in Australia and New Zealand. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before his home country catches on.

4. Joe Purdy - "San Jose"

Probably best known for his song "Wash Away" from 2003 that was featured in a few TV shows like Lost and Grey's Anatomy. That album Julie Blue has always been a favourite of mine and for a while my relationship with his music started and stopped there. I Picked up his 2007 album Take My Blanket and Go and it kicks off with "San Jose". I was glad to hear it sounded different form anything of Julie Blue, but still had that distinct Joe Purdy tinge. Love the piano, the harmonica and the whole package.

5. Fleetwood Mac - "Blue Letter"

Originally intended to be included on the second Buckingham Nicks album, "Blue Letter" was written by Michael and Richard Curtis. It didn't see the light of day until 1975 when Lindsey Buckingham brought it out for the self-titled Fleetwood Mac album.

6. Smog - "Cold Blooded Old Times"

Smog is the stage name of Bill Callahan, a singer/songwriter and guitarist form Maryland. Known for his lo-fi genre of underground rock, his early indie tapes became treasures for music collectors in the 60's and 70's. "Cold Blooded Old Times" is perhaps his best known song.

7.  The Meadows - "Been So Long"

In an episode of The League, one of the characters makes a reference and picks up a copy of The Meadows' self-titled record. That little nod to an obscure group was enough for me to track down a copy of the CD and give it a listen. Sweet, smooth and simple rock songs from this Californian duo. Sadly not much else is known about them, which in a way is refreshing. Letting the tunes speak for themselves.

8. The Fireman - "Sing The Changes"

The Fireman is a musical side project of Paul McCartney and Martin Glover (more commonly known as Youth). They've only released 3 albums together with the first one going back to 1993 and the latest one in 2008. Paul McCartney performed a few Fireman songs when he played on top of the Ed Sullivan theatre during a taping of the Late Show With David Letterman.

9. Paper Route - "You & I"

Formed in 2004 in Nashville, TN Paper Route met while attending college together. With only 2 albums on their resume you can expect more good things form this indie-rock band. "You & I" comes off their 2012 album The Peace of Wild Things.

10. The Lackloves - "The Radio's Mine"

Another super impossible song to find anywhere. I heard it once a million years ago and haven't been able to find the album anywhere. Thankfully this song is on Youtube, so I have that available to me...which is nice. Great 90's/2000's nostalgia all over this track.

There's some music (new or familiar) to go along with your long weekend celebrations!
Comment, request, share, follow!! All that fun stuff



Monday, 21 September 2015

10 Great Songs By The Polaris Nominees

Wow almost a whole month since i've done this. Well, it's the 21st night of September, a very musical night, so i'd better do a blog post up in here. The Polaris Music Prize is a yearly award given to the best Canadian album of the last 12 months based on artistic merit. Popularity and sales do not factor into this award and it is decided by a jury made of music writers, bloggers and journalists. The winner gets a cool $50,000. Each of the nominees get cash prizes as well, so let's run down the nominees and see who's in there

1. "Archie, Marry Me" Alvvays

(Pronounced Always) The Toronto based Alvvays released their debut self-titled album in July 2014. This dreamy indie pop group met in high school and started playing music together. After touring with some high profile acts such as Peter, Bjorn and John and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, they began work on a full length EP. The result got them nominated for a Polaris.

2. "Six Degrees" - Badbadnotgood & Ghostface Killah feat. Danny Brown

Sour Soul is a collaborative album between Toronto based trio Badbadnotgood and legendary Wu-Tang member and rapper Ghostface Killah. BBNG have 3 previous studio albums under their belt and are known for their instrumental hip-hop and improvisational jazz stylings.

3. "Miniskirt" - Braids

BRAIDS got their start in Calgary, Alberta, but have recently found a home in Montreal's blossoming music scene. Known for their experimental music and almost art-like approach to record making, Deep In The Iris, the album for which they are nominated, has been called their most immediate and most accessible. The album has garnered universally positive reviews.

4. "Sing Our Own Song" - Buffy Sainte-Marie

At 74 years old, Buffy Sainte-Marie is the oldest and most accomplished of all the nominees. Known as much for her music as she is for her activism and work in education, she has been a very vocal supporter of the rights of Indigenous People and heavily involved in Native American issues.  Her oldest album goes back to 1964 and her 2015 album Power In The Blood has been nominated.

5. "Can't Do Without You" - Caribou

One of my personal favourites (and the album i'm pulling for) is Dundas, Ontario's Dan Snaith, better known by his stage name Caribou. Our Love the fourth album released under the Caribou moniker and it has been praised for it's "austere arrangements and unrelenting focus". "Can't Do Without You" was the first single released in July, 2014"

6. "Energy" - Drake

Of course coming in at #6 is Drake, who single-handily changed Toronto's nickname from T.Dot to the Six. If You're Reading This It's Too Late was the Raptor's global ambassador Drake's latest album. Love him or hate him, you gotta admit he's got the world looking directly at Canada. Whether it's our city, our sports teams or our music the recent spike in interest in our country has to be in some part attributed to Drake

7. "Pink City" - Jennifer Castle

This is the title-track from Toronto based Jennifer Castle's latest album. It is her fourth album and the first to be shortlist nominated for the Polaris Music Prize

8. "Brill Bruisers" - The New Pornographers

Here's another album that's on many people's ballot going into the award show tonight. The New Pornographers are veterans on the Canadian Music scene and have enjoyed a lucrative and successful existence even without mainstream aide.

9. "How Could You Babe" - Tobias Tesso Jr.

Tobias Tesso Jr. released his debut album Goon in March and it has been shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. Quite a prestige for the 30 year old out of North Vancouver, BC. The album has been praised for it's vintage feel in both the songs and the recording process.

10. "Continental Shelf" - Viet Cong

The debut album from Calgary's Viet Cong is only 7 songs long and I don't have a damn problem with that at all. Too many albums, especially debut ones, are torpedoed because the artist is trying to do too much and the songs end up suffering. The talent and ideals get stretched too thing and the audience is typically left with one good song and 14 filler tracks. Start small. Make a few songs the best they can be. Show us what you're capable of and we'll keep coming back.

Some cool songs and artists in there! The Gala is on tonight and the announcement of who wins the 50 Gs should probably come down the wire around 10pm!!  Check it out and check out the above artists. Some of the best that Canada has to offer!!!


Sunday, 23 August 2015

10 More Songs With Great Music Videos

The golden age of music videos is behind us, no doubt. Still there are some decent ones being made by modern artists, audiences just need to go out and find them. Sadly television channels dedicated to showcasing new videos are a thing of the past, and the ones that get highly promoted are for a handful of pop artists whose videos rarely exhibit creativity. So let's look back, forward and all around and take a gander at these 10 Great Music Videos

1. Green Day - "Walking Contradiction"

Perhaps my favourite Green Day album was Insomniac, the oft-overlooked follow up to Dookie. The first single, "Walking Contradiction" had a great video. Simple premise, the band is walking through the streets and are completely oblivious to the chaos they're causing all around them. The expressions on the guys' faces really puts this one over the top for me.

2. Matthew Good Band - "Strange Days"

Matthew Good has always provided interesting and entertaining videos along with his songs. "Apparitions" off of Underdogs comes to mind, but i'm going with "Strange Days" off of Beautiful Midnight. Tells a story with great pacing and hopefully by the end it awakens something in you. Great song too.

3. Hayden - "Hazards Of Sitting Beneath Palm Trees"

Because this video was filmed in Ontario's beautiful cottage country, Hayden jokingly changed the name of this song on it's card to "Hazards Of Sitting Beneath Pine Trees". This is the kind of video that I would like to make, if I ever made videos. Showcasing this naturally astounding country of ours with cinematography and colours.

4. DJ Format - "We Know Something You Don't You" feat. Jurassic 5

Not really much more I need to explain about this one beyond, guys in animal costumes rapping and break dancing. Check out that bear though!

5. Stabbing Westward - "Shame"

Stabbing Westward are a band that never got the full amount of accolades that I feel they deserved. Solid rock group with a variety of musical influences. Fore runners in the techno/rock movement of the late 90's early 2000's. This is a fun video that plays with the 4th wall and you can tell the band had some fun with it too.

6. New Found Glory - "My Friends Over You"

In a recent conversation about songs with good videos with my friends I brought up this one. When I was asked what makes it a good video however, I had a tough time communicating it. You just have to watch it. I get the vibe that they just wanted to put a bunch of stuff in the video that was funny or cool to them. You can tell they had a great time doing it.

7. Lights - "Second Go"

Another simple premise, but executed perfectly and masterfully tied in with the song. Videos don't need to correspond with the song's lyrics or content, but it helps when the energy the song gives off is matched by the visuals. And Lights sure is a comely lass of virtue true ain't she?

8. Metallica - "The Memory Remains"

Metallica were never known for their revolutionary videos, in fact they didn't even make music videos until their fourth album. The video for "The Memory Remains" seems like the director had this idea he always wanted to try but needed the perfect song for it. It's a visual ride full of optical trickery and special effects. I bet it took the guys a few weeks to recover from it.

9. The Bravery - "Honest Mistake"

A few bands have done the Rube Goldberg machine music videos, OK Go comes to mind, and honestly any of them could have been included on this list. The concept is cool, but how these guys pull them off so cleverly is something I can't wrap my head around. The Bravery had the Rube Goldberg treatment for their "Honest Mistake" video and I like the minimalist colourized approach too. Nice touch.

10. Queens Of The Stone Age - "Go With The Flow"

This is perhaps one of my all time favourite videos. The digitized backgrounds and objects. The contrasted colours and characters. The not-so-subtle sexual innuendo. And just the general fast-paced feel of the video that compliments the song perfectly. It's a great one

Thanks again for reading!!


Sunday, 26 July 2015

10 Great Songs With Times As Titles

Time...what a tricky fucker. Time zones, daylight savings time, nick of time, out of time. Let's face it time runs our daily lives. Watches, clocks and phones always beeping at us, reminding us of where we need to be and when. Well it is right now and i'm right here. I'm gonna share with you 10 Great Songs That Deal With Times.

1. MAdE - "Half An Hour"

MAdE (yes, it's stylized as such) were a Canadian band from Toronto that formed in the early 90's. They gained a substantial following doing the club circuit in Toronto and had a record deal with Universal which saw their major label debut Bedazzler released in 1997. Not much else has been heard from their camp since then, but rumours are abound that a revival is in the works

2. Mudmen - "5 O'Clock"

Before Sandy and Robby Campbell decided to form a band they worked with bricklayers and mixed mortar, cement and mud for a living. When it became time to name their Celtic-inspired rock group, the term Mudmen seemed appropriate.

3. Matchbox Twenty - "3am"

Got some alliteration happening here it seems. Florida band Matchbox Twenty (for some reason they changed it to the spelled out version of 20) made a tempest-like splash on the music scene when their album Yourself Or Someone Like You was released in 1996. Spawning 4 major hits, out of which "3am" got the most attention. Rob Thomas and the boys are still active today, but have yet to recapture the appeal that their first album came with.

4. Our Lady Peace - "4AM"

Our Lady Peace's second album Clumsy was a monumental achievement for the group. The maturation of lyrics and songwriting is evident on all songs. The vocals and drums are on full display on Clumsy, both elements would be jarring on any other recording but OLP found a way to use them in a way that compliment the songs perfectly. It can be argued that this song's title is not a reference to the time of day, but rather singer Raine Maida's father Anthony (For Anthony Maida) but it's left open to interpretation.

5. Chicago - "25 Or 6 To 4"

Before a huge shift in style and content in the 80's Chicago was one of the more innovative rock groups of the 60's and 70's. Using big band ideals and multiple vocalists and musicians in their songs made Chicago stand out in the crowd and grow a worldwide fanbase. Sadly group turmoil and the death of their guitar player in the late 70's saw a change in the band's dynamics and they would focus on more commercially appealing music and power ballads. The title of "25 or 6 to 4" is often debated but the usual and simplest explanation is that it was written at 3:35 or 3:36 am, hence "25 or 6 to 4"

6. Iron Maiden - "2 Minutes To Midnight"

One of Iron Maiden's biggest hits and most well known songs is "2 Minutes To Midnight". Bruce Dickinson said it was written about the Doomsday Clock that was often referenced during the Cold War and the threat of a nuclear attack. It touches on humanities dual fear and fascination with such an event

7. Michael Franti & Spearhead - "11:59" feat. Sonna Rele

Michael Franti and his group Spearhead are an American hip-hop group known for fusing their music with elements of ska, punk, rock and most notably reggae. Franti himself is a large advocate for peace and outspoken about many social justice issues. He explains that this song is about enjoying every second we have on Earth and to use the time we do have to fight for what we believe in.

8. Incubus - "11am"

Perhaps my favourite album by Incubus is Morning View released back in 2001. The album was written in a beach-side house that the band had rented and many of the songs have a slower, easy-going vibe to them, such as "11am". There are some moments of all out heavy aggression but for the most part it's a great album to put on while you're lying in a hammock or just staring up at the stars on a warm summer night.

9. K'naan - "Take A Minute"

I like that we're on this vibe of peaceful, chill out and socially conscious songs. I guess alot of those songs have time frame themes because this world can't go on forever unless we all learn to coexist and love one another. K'naan is a Somali Canadian poet, rapper and songwriter, who is probably known best for his song "Wavin' Flag" which was used as a theme song during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

10. Fallout Boy - "7 Minutes In Heaven (Atavan Halen)"

Let's end with a more upbeat song. A good one to be used as an alarm to go off every morning, ripping you from a peaceful dream. I haven't really understood nor enjoyed anything Fallout Boy has done since their 2005 album From Under The Cork Tree, but that album and 2003's Take This To Your Grave has many memorable moments and great pop-punk, dare i say, emo tracks. Sadly I just feel since then they've been riding the success and intrigue of "Sugar, We're Going Down" and haven't been coming up with anything groundbreaking or interesting since.

Hopefully i'll have TIME to update more often.
Get me some requests for lists and i'll have some more inspiration for 'em!


Saturday, 11 July 2015

10 Great Songs With Sirens In Them

POLICIA!! Ever been cruising through town with the radio turned up? Enjoying a sunny day, with some shades on and hearing some new tunes? Then all of a sudden the sound of a police siren comes wailing out of nowhere. A quick glance at your spedometer and then around to your mirrors. Nothing. After surviving that mini heart-attack you realize that some sick bastard included the sound of a police siren in their song! Here's 10 of them that are guilty of that infracture

1.  Sloan - "Money City Maniacs"

This was most of the country's first exposure to Sloan, Canada's fab four. It comes off the 1998 album Navy Blues the follow-up to their brilliant 1996 album One Chord To Another. I don't think many drivers would be fooled by the sirens at the beginning of this song, as they tend to be more old-timey than modern. PS I don't know why in the christ I can't find the actual video here. Someone needs to get on uploading that

2. Sweet - "Blockbuster!"

We're going even more old-timey with this siren, but it gets a bit of a pass since the song is from 1973.  Sweet (or The Sweet depending on what side of the ocean you're on) were one of Britain's biggest glam rock groups of the 70's and 80's. They are probably more well known for their songs "Ballroom Blitz" and "Fox On The Run"

3. Tune-Yards - "Gangsta"

Though they usually stylize their name as the tUnE-yArDs, i'll look past that nonsense and focus on their music, which is quite original and refreshing. "Gangsta" not only starts with a feint siren, but some of the vocals mimic sirens throughout the song as well. The Tune-Yards is a musical project of Merrill Garbus, a Smith College graduate from New England.

4. Coheed & Cambria - "Number City"

Modern day prog-rockers and conceptualizers Coheed & Cambria have announced that they will be releasing a new album later this year. Fans are a little divided on the matter as they have decided to take a break from their Amory Wars narrative that the rest of their catalog was submersed in. As long as the songs are good and can listened to, i'm fine with them changing up the subject matter. "Number City" was a song off their last album, listen for the sirens during the quiet part near the middle.

5. Dickies - "My Pop The Cop"

Stop giggling! The Dickies were pioneers of the American Punk scene in the late 70's. Some would even say they engineered the whole pop-punk wave that would become popular by bands like Blink 182, NOFX, New Found Glory and Sum 41. Many of those bands cite The Dickies as influences too.

6. Erykah Badu - "Danger"

"Danger" comes off Badu's 2003 album Worldwide Underground. It serves as a sequel to one of earlier songs "Otherside Of The Game" in fact it uses samples from that song. Wondering what Badu is up to these days? She is reportedly working on a new album due for a release later this year. She has also been doing some modeling for fashion designer Tom Ford and was the face of Givenchy's 2014 Spring Collection

7. KO - "Capable"

That's pronounced "coe" not K-O and he's a hip-hop artist with folky vibes from Toronto. This song is from his 2009 album Let's Blaze, but his last release was in 2012. No word on whether he has another release pending or what he's up to these days. Chill song though.

8. Danny Michel - "Feather, Fur & Fin"

Plenty of Canadian content on this go around. Michel is a singer/songwriter/producer and even filmmaker from Kitchener, Ontario. "Feather, Fur & Fin" is a great song that uses many different sound samples released in 2008. It's Earth friendly message got it used on Playlist For The Planet by the David Suzuki Foundation and Michel even landed a spot on Suzuki's Last Blue Dot tour

9. The Clash - "White Riot"

Perhaps the most famous song with sirens at the beginning "White Riot" was one of the Clash's best known crowd pleaser before Combat Rock came along and ruined everything. This was true punk anger and anarchy in the UK.

10. Black Sabbath - "War Pigs"

The subtle, almost ambiguous siren heard near the beginning of the song has the hallmark of an air-raid siren that would blare to warn of an imminent attack. Black Sabbath said they wrote 'War Pigs" after hearing stories while playing a show at a US Airforce Base and after playing in a grim and desolate location in Zurich, Germany.

Thanks for reading and keep your wits about you whilst driving!!


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

10 Great Songs About Aliens and UFOs

Guys I saw a flippin' UFO on my way to T-Dot this passed weekend. It was awesome. Not saying 100% for sure it was an alien spacecraft, but I mean, c'mon. 10 Great Songs About Aliens and UFOs.

1. "Alien" - Pennywise

Along with "Bro Hymn" i'd say "Alien" is Pennywise's most well known song. It hit #36 on the charts after all, not a common feat for a punk band. Not sure this song is actually about extraterrestrials, the lyrics make it sound more like they are talking about treating people who act and look differently poorly. Like they're aliens.

2. "Through The Never" - Metallica

This one comes off Metallica's monster self-titled album released in 1991. "Through The Never" was like the 12th single released off of it or something, it's nuts. Again this song never specifically mentions aliens, but it does deal with wondering about what is beyond our comprehension of the galaxy around us. Through The Never was also the name of Metallica's recent live concert/action thriller movie released in 2013.

3. "Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft" - Klaatu

OK here we go. This is one is definitely about aliens, heck this hippy-trippin' Canadian band even named themselves after a fictional one. Klaatu was the name of the alien in The Day The Earth Stood Still.

4. "Rosetta Stoned" - Tool

Maynard can write a song about anything, that's one of the reasons many people call themselves Tool fans. In one of his more bizarre moments we find "Rosetta Stoned" a peculiar, quick-paced track with ambiguous lyrics. Upon closer inspection it's a telling of an alien encounter and abduction told from the first person.

5."Starman" - David Bowie

I could really have put any song off of Bowie's classic 1972 album Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars. "Starman" is the song about a being from beyond the stars who would blow our mind if he came to see us. Imagine the day that aliens do finally make contact. How would you react? How would anyone?

6. "Mars Attacks!" - Misfits

Back in the late 90's Tim Burton was developing a movie based on the hyper-violent cult trading card series from the 60's of the same name. The Misfits being huge fans of the cards wrote a song based on the premise of Martians invading Earth and offered it to Burton to use in his movie. Ultimately Burton decided against using contemporary music on his soundtrack and declined. A blessing in disguise if you ask me, I'd hate for any Misfits song to be associated officially with that piece of shite movie.

7. "It Came Out Of The Sky" - Creedence Clearwater Revival

For a time there was a genuine UFO craze and sensation. Especially in the 50's and 60's when photographs and videos were difficult to legitimately discredit and therefore every Joe Blow would claim an alien close encounter for their 15 minutes of fame. CCR is singing a song about that very thing, where a hick named Jody tries to sell his piece of spacejunk for 17 Million dollars! Cool song though.

8. "Come Sail Away" - Styx

Perhaps the most well known and  highest charting song on this list about UFOs is Styx's swan song "Come Sail Away". It still receives heavy rotations on classic rock stations to this day. It's also probably Styx's best song period, because let's face it guys, "Mr. Roboto" is pure ass.

9. "Spaceman" - Bif Naked

Before she had a global following the 2001 release of her album Purge, Bif Naked was virtually unknown outside of her native Canada. "Spaceman" was her biggest hit up until then and it can be found her great album I Bificus, released in 1998.

10. "Hangar 18" - Megadeth

The title of this song is a direct reference to the hidden military base in Dayton, Ohio were the alien bodies were supposedly taken after the famed Roswell incident. Megadeth singer and head songwriter has strong political views and views about America's military, though he does try to keep his political life and music life separate. If you notice a similarity to some parts of this song and "The Call Of Ktulu" by Metallica it's because Mustaine was Metallica's original guitarist and had a hand in writing both songs. He is credited with writing "The Call Of Ktulu" but was kicked out of Metallica before Ride The Lighting was released. Cool song and video, "Hangar 18".

Do you believe? Keep watching the skies!!!

And so on...

JZ <----- Twitter business

Thursday, 18 June 2015

10 Great Songs With Animals In The Title

Yup feeling basic today. Basically I haven't done a list in some time and felt like getting something resembling content out there. I like animals. I like turtles. Here are 10 Great Songs With Animals In The Title.

1. Sage Francis - "Sea Lion"

I'm very specific about the hip-hop I like. I like it smart, I like it catchy and I like it with lyrics not riddled with FUCK or BITCH as every other syllable. Sage Francis calls Rhode Island home and his album A Healthy Distrust is one of my favourite Hip-Hop albums.  The second track "Sea Lion" exemplifies perfectly the type of rap I enjoy

2. The Antlers - "Bear"

The Antlers are an indie-rock trio from Brooklyn who have earned themselves a large, devoted following since their start in 2006. Their third album Hospice, released in 2009, was a critically acclaimed triumph. Songs were emotional and haunting, lyrically moving with flashes of instrumental brilliance. The song "Bear" is an honest look at unplanned pregnancy. Simple, yet  terrifying.

3. Beach House - "Zebra"

"Dream House" is a term often used to describe the type of music played by Maryland duo Beach House. Their ethereal and air-light song "Zebra" definitely lives up to that label.

4.  Fleetwood Mac - "Albatross"

Long before Christie McVie and Stevie Nicks. Hell even before Lindsay Buckingham were a part of Fleetwood Mac a man named Peter Green was the band's front man. Green was a revolutionary on the guitar, combining many different styles that seamed effortlessly from song to song. The 1968 B-side "Albatross" is seen as one of Green's crowning instrumental track. Unfortunately for the group Peter Green's addiction to hallucinogenic drugs eventually landed him in a psychiatric hospital being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Though he would, his career never fully recovered.

5. Damien Rice - "Elephant"

Ireland's Damien Rice made a comeback this passed year after an eight year hiatus following his 2006 album 9. The song "Elephant" was originally supposed to be titled "The Blower's Daughter Part 2" because of how similarly it is structured to the first Blower's Daughter which was Rice's breakthrough single off his first album O.

6. Wintersleep - "Orca"

Hailing from Canada's East coast, Wintersleep may have encountered an Orca or two in their time as a group since 2001. Though it wasn't until 2008 when they got properly recognized and won the Juno for Best New Group."Orca" appeared on their first independent release in 2003.

7. Wilco - "Hummingbird"

Perennial indie-rock band Wilco has enjoyed a very long and successful career without ever having a hit radio single or #1 record. Their loyal fans support them and they let their laid back brand of acoustic and folk inspired rock speak for itself. "Hummingbird" is off the 2004 album A Ghost Is Born

8. Stone Temple Pilots - "Army Ants"

Are insects considered animals? Ah sure, why the hell not? I love finding these lesser known songs by huge bands. Though the Stone Temple Pilots will never again be what they once were (thanks Scott) we'll always have these songs from yesterday to keep the memories alive. By the way the term "army ant" can be applied to over 200 species of ants!!! That's nuts.

9. One Self - "Bluebird"

This is a good cruising track. A jolting, yet smooth beat that you can roll around town to while looking out at the world from under the brim of your tight cap. One Self comes out of Milwaukee and is known for his high energy shows that often incorporate spoken word passages.

10. Smashing Pumpkins - "Tarantula"

This is another one of those bands, like STP, where the figurehead of the group seems to be doing everything they can to tarnish the legacy of the group and destroy anything good the band has left in them. In this case Billy Corgan has made some questionable choices when it comes to the Smashing Pumpkins since the release of Adore. From dating Courtney Love, to trying his hand at the Wrestling world, to releasing 44-song concept album that nobody asked for and so much more, many Pumpkins fans are just begging for Corgan to stop. At least one attempt at bringing back the Smashin Pumpkins was somewhat successful. The release of Zeitgeist in 2007 wasn't the worst thing in the world, it did give us the song "Tarantula" after all.

Thanks for reading!!