Tindervox at Raw Sugar

Over the Easter break I dropped into Raw Sugar on Somerset, a little cafe with a consistently awesome lineup of bands cycling through their calendar. The band I was there to see were awesome (more about them later), but I was also very happy to discover a new band I really like – Tindervox. Kara Askwith’s dark guitar magic and moody vocals were really exciting, and Justin Black backed her up with fluid accompaniment.

Their set was a stripped down acoustic version of their usually very distorted power-chordy sound, which was good because at the tiny cafe we were sitting pretty much right on top of them. When I got home I looked them up right away, and I really dig their electrified sound too – I almost hope they release an acoustic album soon because their stuff sounds really amazing both ways. 🙂

TinderVox

Semi-related story – I met another Jason after the show who’d just purchased an album, and offered him a sharpie from my pocket to get it signed (because I once couldn’t find a pen anywhere at a Yamantaka concert and vowed it would never happen to me again). He looked at me like I was some kind of concert MacGuyver (I also had earplugs, just in case) and told me “You’re the kind of Jason I wish I was!“. I think maybe he was drunk. 🙂

Misheard Lyrics – Roar

Up until recently I’ve been mishearing the lyrics of Katy Perry’s Roar, which is disappointing because I was impressed by the cultural reference. What I heard was:

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, a greek Caliope

…and I was all like – Caliope from greek myth?! The muse of song, who’s presence inspires great arias? It must be so hard to inspire everyone else while holding back your own expression! I’m so impressed by this reference, Katy Perry! This is really deep and beautiful!

sickreference

But the lyrics really go:

So I sat quietly, agreed politely.

Which just feels “meh”. To be fair, Katy Perry stretches and mauls “politely” to fit the stress and beat needs of the song. Caliope would have fit much better, and think of all the Classical Lit majors who would have become fans.

caliope
Caliope – Augustin Pajou, 1763

Hey you, you got that something…

I had a couple of Beatles songs stuck in my head this evening, and it reminded me to look up this scene from the film Across the Universe, where T.V. Carpio basically runs away with the movie and sings the heck out of “I wanna hold your hand”. So much longing! Such a fantastic voice! This one song set the bar so high, the rest of the movie fell flat. The film never ultimately resolves the storyline of her unrequited love for her cheerleader friend, a few scenes later she turns up on a fire escape in NY where she’s relegated to quirky lesbian roommate.

I get a laugh out of the footballers in the slow-mo section who are doing pirouettes and somersaults over eachother… obviously their talent is wasted at a school without a gymnastics team. 😉

“Oh please, say to me, you’ll let me be your man. And please, say to me, you’ll let me hold your hand….”

Laurence Lesser at uOttawa

A nice perk to my job is that on special occasions we have musical royalty drop by to play for us in the Hugette Labelle hall, which is really just a stairwell away from my office. Cellist Laurence Lesser took a break from teaching his cherry-picked class of highly gifted cellists at the New England Conservatory to grace us with a performance as part of his uOttawa visit. He’ll be doing lectures and working with music students here over the course of the next few days.

LaurenceLesser_uOttawa

He opened with a trio sonata (no 16) by Handel, with Paul Marleyn and Fréderic Lacroix accompanying on cello and piano, and then performed Bach’s suite no 6 as a 6-part solo.

What a treat to see a master of their craft. Inspiring! (As a neat aside, it bears mentioning that his cello is a 1622 original – and he seems to know what he’s doing with it!)

Hitmakers

I read the biography of Shel Silverstein a few years ago and was surprised to find out how prolific he’d been as a songwriter. It’s a secretive world, with songwriters often working uncredited or sharing writing credits (collaborations) with the artists, as part of their contractual obligations.

What’s really amazing is how you can trace a huge share of popular culture back to only a handful of the studio’s most treasured “secret weapons”. I’ve dug around a bit, and I’m always shocked to see the prolific lists of hits these few people churn out. Here’s a few highlights:

1) There’s a Swedish guy nobody’s heard of named Max Martin who has written a string of radio hits starting in the 90’s that basically defined the past two decades of pop music. His discography page on Wikipedia goes on and on – take a look. Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Robyn, Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, *NSync, Bon Jovi, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Avril Lavigne, Taylor Swift… signature pieces that everyone knows. (Whether they want to or not – blasted earworms!)

Somebody helpfully put together a (slightly long) video with a countdown through some of his more popular titles.

2) Bonnie McKee is only 29 and has already written 9 #1 singles that have sold over 30 million copies for stars like Ke$ha, Britney Spears, Carly Rae Jepsen, Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry, Kylie Minogue, and she’s continuing to pump out hits for her labels while starting her own music career. She sat down at a radio station to put together a medley of stuff she’s written lately. Sound familiar? I pretty much know all the words to all of these songs.

3) Diane Warren wrote everything you’ve heard in every genre, at one point having 7 singles by different artists simultaneously competing in the billboard chart. She’s written for Roy Orbison, Gloria Estefan, KISS, Elton John, Meatloaf, Joe Cocker, Milli Vanilli – and has a heap of awards from her soundtracks and singles that takes up most of her wikipedia page. I tried finding a youtube video that sums up some of her hits, but there’s just too many to fit a playlist. Incredible.