Monthly Archives: June 2011

A Sweet Summer Mix, Courtesy of The Man

starbucks summer mix

Have you ever tried to have dinner at Starbucks? Yeah, it’s actually totally doable. They have these little eggy-hammy-cheesy situations that are quite delightful. I’m in night school at one of the local colleges in downtown Toronto and since I am always, ALWAYS running late, I only ever have time for a mad dash into Starbucks before class starts to grab a coffee and one of these breakfast sandwiches and sometimes a slice of banana chocolate chip coffee cake. Yum.

As you probably know, in recent years Starbucks has made a foray into the business of selling music, serving up new releases alongside their mocha frapps. They also have free weekly iTunes songs available for download. I stopped picking up the cards a while back, because I was just shoving them into the bottom of my purse and then finding them months later, when the codes had long since expired.

But! I was in there last Tuesday getting my usual meal before class, and I noticed a card for a free 10 Song Summer Mix. Now that’s something I can get behind. First of all, free music – yes. Secondly, I was intrigued as to how good a mix put together by Starbucks could be (although, I am sure it’s not the suits who handle the music. They probably have legions of hipsters and music scenesters on the payroll for this sort of thing).

Anyway, I downloaded the playlist from iTunes and have spent the last week and a half listening to it off and on. Here is my synopsis…

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LTEV Contest: Win tickets to My Morning Jacket!

my morning jacket

Do you ever wish you could clone yourself?

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “Of course I do, Spencer. Who doesn’t want to clone themselves? Duh…” Sorry, consider it a rhetorical question. Cloning seems like the sort of thing that would start out as a delightful experiment but quickly go horribly awry, which is likely why we humans are drawn to the concept (or am I the only one?) Sometimes I think that it would be better, in fact, to have a robot version of yourself. Although I am pretty sure that Robot Spencer would turn out to be wickedly evil and would cut a swathe of destruction through my life, ruining my job and marriage, making snide remarks to my friends, and forcing me to turn against it, culminating in an epic battle royale involving flame throwers and explosives. Who would emerge as the victor? Hopefully we will never have to find out the answer to that question.

Maybe what I’m really asking is, do you ever wish you could be in two places at once? Of course we know this is impossible (unless you subscribe to the theories of Hugh Everett III. Why can’t someone just go ahead and prove the whole parallel universes deal once and for all? Jeez. I’m waiting, Science).

Sadly, this proof is unlikely to occur in time for July 11th. Why is July 11th an important date, you ask? Because there are two musical events happening simultaneously that evening that we have tickets for. And I desperately want to attend both of them.

How did this happen? Let me explain. A few years ago, The Finn and I had a friend who worked as a bartender at The Berkeley Church in Toronto. They were in the midst of filming Season 3 of the show “Beautiful Noise,” a music profile and performance series, and he let us sneak in for free to catch a few of the acts. My Morning Jacket happened to be on the bill and we were absolutely blown away by their live performance. Like seriously, it was just massive amounts of AMAZINGNESS. They had just flown in from somewhere in South America about two hours prior to the show and they still KILLED it. After that I became completely obsessed with their live album, Okonokos. They are one of those bands that really takes it to the next level live in concert, and Jim James has one of the coolest voices I’ve heard in a long time.

Anyway, when I was looking around for a birthday present for The Finn this year I realized that they were playing a show here in Toronto on July 11th so I got us tickets. Yay! Great, good plan, ready to go, super pumped. I can’t tell you how excited I was about seeing them live again.

Except…

July 11th is the same night that U2 is playing their rescheduled show.

F&CK.

You guys. I love U2. Like, I love love LOVE them. The Joshua Tree is my favourite album. ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ is my favourite song. When I went to see them two years ago and they started playing that song, I cried. I totally cried like a baby.

SIGH. What to do? In the end, we decided that we just could not miss U2. But, our loss could be your gain. We are giving away our My Morning Jacket tickets to one lucky Let Them Read Vinyl reader. The winner will receive two tickets — so you can bring a friend/spouse/significant other/relative/nemesis/archenemy/evil robot of your choosing. Whoever you decide to take with you, my advice is that it’s not someone you’re on a first date with, because this band is so good that you will forget all about your date as soon as the music starts and ignore them for the rest of the evening. This will probably make them mad and they will refuse to date you again, and then you will blame old Spencer and LTEV for your ruined love life. So don’t say we didn’t warn you.

All you have to do to enter the contest is tell us, in the comments section: what is the best concert you ever saw, and why? Doesn’t have to be a super long answer, a few sentences or a paragraph will suffice. We will choose the winner using highly scientifical methods (don’t worry, these will be totally impartial — we are bound by the music blogger code of ethics) and we’ll notify the winner by e-mail.

The deadline for entry is 12:00 midnight on Friday, July 1st.

The only qualification to enter this contest is that you must have a cell phone. Tickets were purchased through the Rogers Wireless Box Office so we will text them to you, and you bring your phone to the venue with the text (they scan your phone for entry). If you lose the text, it can be re-sent to you. More information about the Rogers Wireless Box Office can be found here.

Here’s a preview of what YOU could be seeing on July 11th. This song is so good it makes me want to cry:

SHOW DETAILS:
July 11th 2011, Kool Haus, 132 Queens Quay East, Toronto, Ontario. Doors at 7pm. All Ages. GA Floors.


Album Obsessions: Brian Wilson’s SMiLE

SMiLE

In 2004 Brian Wilson released his long-awaited Smile, which had been Smiley Smile as a Beach Boy project and was scrapped due to drugs, mental illness, the Beatles and trying to get the sound he wanted on ‘Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow’. All that, it’s lore, and the unfinished album is legend.

Anyway, 37 years later or however long it was he finally recorded this beast with members of his backing band and The Wondermints. Critics universally agreed it was genius, brilliant, etc., and it did ok in sales considering how long it had been ‘out there’. I bought it and listened a few times but got lost early and for long stretches in all the harmonies and lack of guitar and oblique syncopation. Much singing, strange lyrics, and almost too much like a capella/choral singing to ‘hook’ me.

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Hurts So Good

BOOK REVIEW FOR: This Is Gonna Hurt

Author: Nikki Sixx

this is gonna hurt
What’s the Story, Morning Glory: the continuing saga of a rock ‘n roll icon

Who Are You: a modern-day Renaissance man

Do Ya Think I’m Sexy: both in print and in person, a resounding yes

Le’ts Give Them Something To Talk About: the state of the Crüe

Paperback Writer: no holds barred

Add It Up: truly a delightful surprise


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Let the Good Times Roll: The Cars Reunion Show

move like this

In the days leading up to seeing The Cars I had that same excited feeling I had before seeing The Police. I’ve loved both of these bands since I was first able to buy their 45’s with my allowance money. Now I had the money and means (my bike) to see The Cars play on Friday, May 20th at the Sound Academy in Toronto. I chanced it and did not buy a ticket. It was a Friday night on the first long weekend of the summer — of course I’m going for scalpers. After some haggling I got a $76 ticket for $35, not bad. It was an early start, 8pm — that’s the way I like it nowadays. You have choices after the show — go out or go to sleep.

I love going to reunion gigs. You get a chance to mingle with your contemporaries and relive all the great moments that the band has given you over the years. The first challenge was finding a good spot. I settled in about halfway back from the front near the bar, and there he was: Mr. Rick Ocasek — standing like a statue delivering his beat poet prose. To his left, Greg Hawkes ripping synth riffs that laid the blueprint for New Wave and cut into you, making you question “do we even need guitars?” After a somewhat sluggish version of “My Best Friend’s Girl,” Ocasek dedicated the next song, “Touch and Go,” to Benjamin Orr with Greg Hawkes playing bass. The audience responded with warm applause. I got the feeling we were all thinking about how much Orr is missed, recognizing the loss and pulling for them to play his songs (“Just what I Needed”, “Let’s Go”, “Candy-O”, “Drive”…)

The highlights included “Touch and Go” — going from lonely despair to a clickety clack country ride, “Let’s Go” — with the audience screaming “I like the night life baby,” the condensed pounding of “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight,” and the trippy, uneasy “Moving in Stereo” (yes, I did think of the scene in Fast Times Ridgemont High). “Sad Song” and “Free” from the new album Move Like This reminded me that they can still craft smooth ballads and angular, bouncy pop songs with equal aplomb.

Was I blown way? No. Did I have smile on my face all night? Yes…and I bought the T-shirt.


Sixx Appeal

I do a lot of reading in my spare time. Obviously I am super into books about music, but I also love young adult fiction. It’s one of my favourite forms of escapism. I order lots of books online and as such I receive e-mails all the time from my bookstore, generally with titles such as “Sizzling Summer Reads for Teens” and the like. I usually delete these (my go-to source for YA book recos is the awesome blog Forever Young Adult) but one e-mail caught my eye recently, as it had the words “Nikki Sixx” in the title.

It would be an understatement to say that I’m a huge fan. Mötley Crüe: The Dirt is my favourite music bio of all time and pretty much the inspiration for this site, and Nikki Sixx is the top grade in my Book Review Grading system. So you can imagine my excitement when I opened the e-mail to find out that the man himself was appearing live in person at my local Chapters to autograph copies of his new book, This Is Gonna Hurt. To be honest with you, it wasn’t even on my radar that he had a new book published. But I read The Heroin Diaries a few years back and really enjoyed it, so I was stoked to get my hands on a copy of This is Gonna Hurt, and the added bonus of coming face to face with one of my idols was an opportunity not to be missed.

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