Category Archives: I Love Music

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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You, you were on a moonbeam…

You guys! The long weekend is almost upon us!! This is most excellent news. I’d like to send a shout-out to good old Queen Victoria. Thanks for being born, lady!

Things have been pretty hectic around LTRV headquarters. It’s the beginning of cottage season (or what I like to call “the only time of the year that actually matters”) so we’ve been hightailing it out of town on the weekends, sans access to technology or internet connections. Sometimes a man’s just gotta hang out in the woods, y’know? As such, our posts have been a bit sparse of late. We promise to step things up in the upcoming weeks though. We have LOTS of good stories lined up for you, dear readers, and some book reviews on tap as well.

One thing we are very much looking forward to is NXNE, which kicks off on June 13th. We’re quite excited about the various free shows that’ll be taking place, including Devo and Men Without Hats at Yonge-Dundas Square on June 18th. In the spirit of this upcoming event, I am posting a video here for your enjoyment. This tune came out in ’87 and was one of 11-year-old Spencer’s fav songs. I used to listen to it on 64 Lite Rock, the Ottawa radio station of choice amongst my middle school peers (thanks to this station I also developed an early and enduring love of Bananarama, Rick Astley, and Gowan, among others).

Wishing you a happy & safe holiday long weekend! Don’t do anything we wouldn’t do! 😉

“Ask not what your song can do for you – ask what you can do for your song”

Have you ever had a moment when you’re listing to a song and you wonder “what’s he saying? I can barely hear him,” and then you think “who cares, I love it”. If you have had this experience, you’ve probably been listening to an inside singer.

You’ll never catch one of these guys complaining to the studio engineer or sound guy that they can’t hear themselves in the mix. They lack the LSD (Lead Singer Disease) gene that initiates that sort of behavior.

Inside singing requires lots of mumbling, whispering, and sighing, and most importantly a desire to be a part of the song, but not the main part.

Inside singers serve the song, sometimes cresting above the music – but never for long – and then retreating back into the mix, finding their safe place amongst the din of guitars and rhythm section.

Seeing inside singers live can be problematic. Your first thought may be “I can’t hear him”. It’s confusing, as we are conditioned to pay attention the singer in a band. So now what do you do? You become disoriented…who do you watch? Solution: watch them all, or better yet close your eyes – that’s when inside singing starts to make sense.

Here are some classic inside singers…listen closely…

Michael Stipe

Michael Stipe

First and foremost is the king of mumbling, Mr. Indecipherable himself, Michael Stipe. The title of R.E.M.’s first album is “Murmur” and that is exactly what Stipe did throughout the record. You can catch word here or there, but for the most part his voice is hidden by chiming guitars or, more often, by his own intention. When you are able to discern a word or a verse it is satisfying, like finding a pearl in murky waters. It’s this very device that makes R.E.M.’s early albums so engaging — you feel his words without understanding them. Interestingly, though, on the band’s highest charting albums (Document, Green, Out Of Time and Automatic for the People) Stipe’s voice is way out front, articulate and audible.

Recommended listening: Murmur, Reckoning, Life’s Rich Pageant (R.E.M.)

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A Let Them Read Vinyl Exclusive: From the Mind of Alan Cross


In my day job at Speakers’ Spotlight I am an agent for intellectual talent, which means I have the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the world’s most fascinating people. One of those folks is Alan Cross. Yes, the Alan Cross, Canada’s most esteemed musicologist.

The last time we chatted, towards the end of the discussion I simply couldn’t help myself – I had to ask him what his favourite songs and albums of all time were. Can you blame me? Music lovers are freaks about ‘Top 5’ lists and such, so to me not asking him would be like having Roger Ebert across from you and neglecting to ask what his favourite movie is.

So below are a few odds & sods culled straight from the mind of Alan Cross. Everything I could remember anyway. See how they stack up against your own favourites.  Many thanks and enjoy!

Alan Cross’ Favourite Songs (in order)

  1. Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who
  2. London Calling – The Clash
  3. Resurrection – The Stone Roses
  4. Biko/Secret World (live) – Peter Gabriel
  5. Head Like a Hole – NIN

Favourite Albums (in order)

  1. Who’s Next
  2. The Stone Roses
  3. Pretty Hate Machine
  4. London Calling
  5. Kind of Blue (Miles Davis)

Some other tidbits…

Best interview was with Courtney Love in 1998 in Beverley Hills at the
Chateau Marmont, where she lunged across the table at him for mentioning Billy Corgan.

His greatest live music moment was in 1987: Roger Waters was touring
his Radio KAOS album and during the show played a few Pink Floyd
songs. His moment occurred during ‘Mother’ from The Wall.

He said my belief that while the greatest song of all time will always
change, Surfin’ Bird by The Trashmen will always be the 2nd greatest
song ever recorded was ‘not wrong’.  I’d hoped for more than that but
I’ll take what I can get.

And finally I asked ‘Beatles or Rolling Stones?’

His answer: ‘Neither. The Who’.

Shazamit! Vol II


If you read my first Shazamit! post, you know how scared fascinated I am by “the computers” and the many ways in which they are slowly but surely taking over the world. Soon they will be doing all of our thinking for us. For now, they must content themselves with worming their way into our lives by performing dazzling tricks, such as instantly identifying random songs that we hear playing in the grocery store or Starbucks. This is actually a critically essential service. It’s very important when you hear a song to be able to find out immediately who the artist and album are so that you can go and buy it, thus further lining the pockets of Steve Jobs contributing to the convalescence of the global economy. Shazam even has a convenient link to iTunes. How helpful is that! Thank you, computers! I love you, and I fear you. Obviously a very healthy relationship.

Anyway, as previously mentioned, I use the Shazam app a lot. It has led me to some really good music over the years, and also some not-so-great songs. Working in chronological order from my previous list, here are my next 10 tags…

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Happy Birthday Doolittle!


Aw, you guys! Our little Doolittle is all grown up! It was released 22 years ago today, on April 18th, 1989. Thinfinn and I just so happened to see the band play the album in its entirety tonight at Massey Hall and let me tell you, it has aged beautifully. As Kim pointed out during the show, at 22 Doolittle could be in college by now! Perhaps it’s lounging around in its dorm room right now, listening to itself on college radio. I certainly hope so!

Our review of the Pixies show to follow soon… For now, Happy Birthday old friend!

Waiting for the Godots in Popular Music

There are moments in songs you wait for. Sometimes it’s by accident, often it’s by design, but regardless of their origin, pop music is littered with unforgettable moments in songs, or ‘Godots’ (with apologies to Samuel Beckett).

Why ‘Godots’? Because no matter how many times you hear the song, no matter how many times you experience these moments, you never really stop waiting for them. Every time you hear the song.

There is no one universal feature that defines a Godot, other than it’s brevity and some element of surprise. It stands out, and calls emphatic attention to itself, maybe because of its incongruence from the rest of the song, or maybe because it’s delivering a much anticipated ‘payoff’, or maybe because it is so god damn irritating.

Here are but 10 examples:

10. Take the Money and Run – The Steve Miller Band

steve miller band

This insanely listenable song, just as fresh the 100th time you listen to it as the first, is a glorious soup of hooks, harmonies, jangly guitars and feel-good “hoo-hoo’s” (the latter of which I’ve always suspected were the sound a train pulling away, perhaps shuttling these bank-robber stowaways to freedom).

For a particular moment to stand out in this AM masterpiece – the song itself is more or less one long hook – is not easy. But nestled at the 0:35 and 1:14 mark of the song are two quick successions of 5 hand-claps that steal the show.  You’re waiting for them as soon as the song begins, it’s difficult to resist clapping along when it happens, and you are more or less biding your time until it occurs again the second time, after which you can finally relax and enjoy the rest of the tune.  A quintessential Godot.

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Get Yr Rage On

Soooooo…it’s been a bit of a tough week for your pal Spencer. The universe sent a couple of not-so-subtle f-you’s my way. A bit of a kick in the teeth, but they were also (I begrudgingly admit) kind of hilarious. The types of things where you’re just like “really…..?? haha. amazing”.

I do believe in signs, though, and even though these ones sucked, sometimes negative situations can be a catalyst for change. So here’s hoping for that.

In the meantime, I’ve been experiencing elevated levels of frustration and annoyance. How to deal with these sentiments? My methods for coping generally involve listening to angry and/or aggressive music, cranked up as loud as possible. Yeah I get dirty looks on the subway, and there is no way possible that I’m not damaging my eardrums, but I DON’T CARE. There’s something about listening to other people rage out that helps exorcise the demons of negativity.

With that in mind, here is a list, in random order, of some of my fav songs for anger management:


bad religion

Fuck Armageddon This Is Hell – Bad Religion

“How can hell be any worse when life alone is such a curse?”




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shazamit! 1

i don’t know about all of you, but i am kind of obsessed with shazam. like…your phone listens to songs and tells you what they are, instantaneously! if this isn’t a sure sign that the computers are taking over, i don’t know what is.

anyway! shazam is one of my most frequently-used apps, and every once in a while i like to take a little scroll back through all of the songs i’ve tagged.  some have become standard faves, while others i can barely remember looking up.

i’ve decided to open up my shazam history for your viewing pleasure. since i have over 50 tags i’m gonna break this up and do a few at a time. for our first shazamit! outing, please join me back in november of 2008…a time of wonder & merriment, when i first got my iPhone…

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Happy Birthday to You! Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train”

you guys! do you know what today is? it’s the 70th birthday of duke ellington’s “take the A train”.  seventy!! it’s aged so well — doesn’t sound a day over twenty-five!

take the a train

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