Thursday, January 25, 2018

Favourite Albums of 2017

Here, in convenient list format, are my favourite 20 albums of 2017. Take the numerical order with a grain of salt because it was very difficult to place these in any sort of order. They're all so different and are strong in their own unique ways. These are the albums that I listened to the most, thoroughly enjoyed and/or were a big part of my year. It's a very personal list, not necessarily a list of 'the best', albums released, but a list of 'my faves' Please comment below with albums you would put on your list!

#20 Sadies - Northern Passages

Canadiana alt-country rockers The Sadies never disappoint. I was able to see them play (for the umpteenth time) this year and the live performance is always full of energy and talent. Their 10th album, Northern Passages dishes out a good serving of brooding melancholy and psychedelic twang.

#19 Washed Out - Mister Mellow

Quirky, dreamy and dancey, this record goes all over the place.  While not as blissfully chill as his previous release, 'Paracosm', this album grew on me with repeat listens. I wasn't initially a huge fan of the album artwork, but I do adore this stop motion collage video.

#18 The Raveonettes - 2016 Atomized

Danish shoegaze duo The Raveonettes released singles throughout 2016 as an 'Anti-Album'
which was finally released as a full album in 2017. Most of these songs are about breaking up, letting go and moving on. While my fave album by them, 2011's 'Raven in the Grave' had many tracks about love, strength and energy, this record is all about the polarized end of such relationships. Love and loss. That's 2017.

#17 The XX - I See You

While I could critique this album as being a little too much like Jamie XX's solo project, perhaps a bit more electronic compared to their last release, Co-exist, it still definitely makes my list. The songs are very pretty and dramatic. It's an album that really grew on me, with beats and beauty, romance and heartache. 

#16 Gorillaz - Humanz

I adore half of this album and the other half I wouldn't mind never hearing again! It's long and all over the place. Give me Record 2 of the set and call it a day. Still, it makes my list, mostly because of the Mavis Staples/Pusha T track and Benjamin Clementine's 'Hallelulah Money'. Honestly though, for the next album, can we just get more Gorillaz/Damon Albarn and less trendy special guests. Please and thanks.

#15 Gnoomes - Tschak!

My 2nd favourite Russian band is back with another record. I enjoyed the last one so much I ordered it as soon as I heard the news. On gorgeous minty green vinyl, Tschak! holds no bars. It's a messy, groovy, sweet, noisy, psychedelic trip. This band from Perm, Russia blends guitars, vox and electronic synths to take you places, far away places.

#14 Timber Timbre - Sincerely Future Pollution

Not sure why, but I loved this release way more than 'Hot Dreams'. I know not everyone will agree, but that's how I feel. This album has some amazing nostalgia in the song structure and melodies. I hear them channeling Iggy Pop and Bowie in these tracks. Awesome music video for 'Grifting', too.

#13 You'll Never Get to Heaven - Images

Also my favourite local release of 2017, You'll Never Get to Heaven's 'Images' is a dreamy soundscape of electronic delight. The London based duo has made a spectacular record.

#12 The Hard Chargers - Scarecrow

All the way up in Northern Ireland, The Hard Chargers have been rocking the UK scene for nearly a decade. I caught their ruckus bluesy show at Sweeneys in Dublin and been a fan of the band ever since. Here's a video I took of one of the tracks off the new album. I supported the Kickstarter campaign for this CD and had it sent right to my home, but it actually wasn't officially released until January 2018.

#11 Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - Soul of a Woman

A bittersweet posthumous release by the spectacular Miss Sharon Jones. What a treat to hear these songs that were recorded before she passed away. The Dap-Kings nail it, as always. It should probably be higher on this listen tbh. Rest in Power.  <3

#10 Pick A Piper - Distance

Ontario band Pick a Piper play rhythm based dance tracks, with synth melodies and drum beats to get you on your feet and moving. Their high energy live shows are a blast and the album is solid all the way through.

#9 Slowdive - Slowdive

 Slowdive's first release in 22 years! It's a beauty. I'm a new fan of the band and really pleased with this album. #onlyloversalive

#8 Alvvays - Antisocialites

Great live show, great album from Toronto band Alvvays. I got to see them at Rum Runners this year. So much fun. Best album name of the year too, imo.

#7 Beck - Colours

 Catchy, fun tunes all the way through. I heard this album late in the game and it wasn't until I heard the whole thing that I realized how solid a release it was. every song is really good. Plus, this video is super rad.

#6 Algiers - Underside of Power

Strength, passion and musical talent abound in the new album from Algiers. My favourite description comes from a Youtube commenter saying "It's like post punk meets Motown in a post apocalyptic nightmare." Yep. 2017 needed this album.

#5 Wolf Alice - Visions of A Life

Down to the top 5 of 2017! Wolf Alice's "Visions of a Life" delightfully mixes genres. There's a melodic song, a indie song, a punk song. What do you want? This has it. I'm not sure if it can beat 2015's "My Love is Cool" which was my favourite album of that year, but it's damn good. 

#4 Honeybeard - Dreamless Sleep

Toronto based electronic duo Honey Beard's "Dreamless Sleep" is their debut full length album.  Their aesthetic and live show are both too cool. Danceable beats and dreamy themes.

#3 Planetarium (Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and James McAlister)

Ooh, down to the top 3! I adored Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly & James McAlister collaboration "Planetarium" Mercury is my favourite. There's also a fantastic live studio video of this song, check both out. The piano, the strings, and Sufjan's gentle vocals: It gives me goosebumps and makes my heart happy and sad at the same time. sigh. 

#2 Spoon - Hot Thoughts

#2 of my top albums of 2017 (basically tied for #1 it's so good). Spoon's "Hot Thoughts". Guaranteed to put me in a better mood, I never get sick of it, despite many repeat listens at work, at home, on my radio show, even mainstream. I don't mind. Play that song again!

#1 Curtis Harding - Face Your Fear

My favourite album of the year is this soulful gem, 'Face Your Fear by Curtis Harding. A staff favourite at the record store too, I must have recommended this album to a half dozen people who bought it flat out on my praise for the tunes. I spoke very highly of it and for damn good reason.

Honourable Mention - Westminster Park - Fig. 4: Molt, Rebirth

I joined Westminster Park in 2016 and we put out an album in July 2017 called Fig. 4: Molt, Rebirth. It's an album about metamorphosis and change, something 2017 was rife with. I am very proud of the release and while I couldn't very well put it on my own top list (or could I?), I needed to mention it, because after all, this is a list of albums that had the greatest effect on me in 2017 and this one sure did just that. I played drums, flute, harmonica and back up vox. The process of recording drums is not my favourite pasttime, but the experience was priceless.

Here's the radio version of my top list, aired live December 22nd, 2017 

on CHRW 94.9 Radio Western

What was your favourite album of the year?

Friday, September 8, 2017

Interview with 54-40

On September 1st, 2017, I had the exciting opportunity to interview 54-40 drummer Matt Johnson on my radio show, Mediafrenzy Fridays (CHRW 94.9 FM).  We discussed their latest summer tour, new album, historic venues and the group's endurance and longevity as one of Canada's best rock bands.

Listen to the interview on my soundcloud by clicking here.

Be sure to check out their show at the Western Fair, Friday, September 8th, 2017 and visit and to download the new single!

Tracks "Since When" and "Keep on Walking" sandwich the interview, used by permission from the band.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Soundtrack of my Teens

Soundtrack to my Teens 1998-2001
These are the years when I fully embraced classic rock as my life soundtrack. Backstreet Boys and Britney were topping the charts and I just wasn’t having it. I was getting bored with the top 40 and found solace in the nostalgia of the 70s. 'Dazed and Confused' was my favourite movie and I wouldn’t have missed an episode of 'That 70’s show'. Decked out in bellbottoms and platform shoes I had determined that I was born in the wrong generation. Weekends were spent at field parties around dangerously large bonfires at night, or swimming at the quarry during the day. I brought a portable cassette recorder with me if we didn’t have a car onsite and always had mixtapes galore to provide tunes. There was only 2 radio stations in range, a classic rock and a country station, so the mixtapes were sweet commercial free relief. 

A couple contemporary albums made this list, mostly because the songs were the musical score to many days and I remember those moments and the friendships forged through them. Y2K was a bust and so was a lot of the music on the charts. No wonder I immersed myself in the rock n roll of the past.  In no particular order and as my memory holds true:

1. Doors - GH (I first remember listening to The Doors in my friends' basement and we all laughed at Whisky Bar, it became one of our favourites) I knew all the words to the whole album, read any books I could find on the band and even did a school assignment on Jim Morrison. The feminist in me now cringes at my teenage adoration, having learnt what a big prick Jim apparently was.)

2. Steve Miller Band - Greatest Hits 74-78 (I loved Jet Airliner so much I mentioned it my yearbook photo blurb. When leaving High School I thought the lyrics were perfectly describing my small town departure. “Goodbye to all my friends at home. Goodbye to people I've trusted. I’ve got to go out and make my way, I might get rich you know I might get busted.”)

3. Led Zeppelin IV - (The art the poetry, the songs. I loved all Zep albums, but some of my fave tracks were on IV: Black Dog, Rock n Roll, and Misty Mountain Hop [Also mentioned in my yearbook blurb]. So good.)

4. Beatles - Abbey Road (How can I pick one Beatles album? [Note, it was between this and the White Album then, but Revolver is prob my fave now] This was one of many Beatles albums at my house that my parents owned and I played it a lot. Here Comes the Sun is still one of my favourite songs ever. I did eventually visit Abbey Road and get the obligatory fan photo crossing the street. Also, I once did a big class project on John Lennon and still have the Toronto newspaper that my parents saved from the day after he was shot. This album had a big impact on me.)

5. AC/DC - LIVE - (In 2000, a bunch of us rented a taxi van and headed to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto for AC/DCs Stiff Upper Lip tour. I was 16 and it was a big deal to be going with no parental supervision. There was also beer and it was wonderful. They had a HUGE bell for Brian Johnson to swing over the audience with during Hells Bells. Later Angus did a strip tease down to maple leaf boxer shorts, then mooned the audience!)

6. Marcy Playground - ST (OK, now for some contemporary items from the era. This one probably should have gone on my early teens list, but it didn’t make it. I listened to this for a whole summer of 1997, heading into Grade 9. We would put the CD in a portable stereo and listen to it outside on my neighbours lawn, eating popsicles, sneaking cigarettes and playing badminton, haha.)

7. KORN - Follow the Leader (I’m going to chalk this one up to my best friend dating a skater kid and me hanging out with them a bunch. Somehow in the process I started enjoying the music of KORN. The songs were dark, heavy and surprisingly catchy. The artwork was always super cool and my sketchbook was littered with the eerie children and dead doll faces from the album inserts.)

8. Eminem - Marshall Mathers (Another artist the feminist in me shakes my head for liking. He’s so misogynist and violent I cringe when reviewing these songs. But, at the time it was edgy and that’s what the kids were listening to. Shock and awe, right? I remember it was always blaring in my friend’s car when we drove into town, bass booming.)

9. Big Shiny Tunes 4 - (Chili Peppers, Matthew Good, Fatboy Slim, Chemical Bros and even Kid Rock. Those were the songs of the times at the turn of the millennium. I remember it being played on repeat at the campsite during the Havelock Country Jamboree.)


10. Pearl Jam - Last Kiss (My last pick is not a whole album, but a single song. In June 1999, we were in the early days of summer vacation and we got the terrible news that one of our classmates had died in a tragic car accident. At 15/16 we were deeply saddened and shocked, our own inevitable mortality suddenly seemed so real. No longer bound for the beach or to friends graduations, we were instead attending the funeral of a longtime friend who we lost way too soon. This song was on the charts that year and still makes me think of sweet Mary Ann each time I hear it.)

2001 saw me off to the big city of London for college and a whole new world of music at my fingertips. Only then was I finally introduced to bands I should have been listening to for the past 5 years: Stereolab, Sonic Youth, Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Elliott Smith. I had no idea what I was missing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Soundtrack of my Early Teens

Let’s go back 20 years to 1996-97. When you’re just starting high school, in small town Canada, pre-internet, your musical selections will be limited to the narrow scope of what overpriced CDs were up on the top 20 wall of the Lansdowne Place Mall Music World (if you can get a ride of course), what songs American Top 40 host Casey Kasem spouted on the radio or what Columbia House stamps you can find in flyers, 17 and YM magazines. Those of you born after 1990 probably won’t remember the mail order service that had subscribers select stamps of album covers from sheets of dozens of titles, rip ‘em, lick ‘em and send ‘em in with 1 cent, along with a ridiculous pending financial commitment no teenybopper could follow through on for too long. So, of course we tried that, sneakily splitting an order and not telling our parents what we were up to. Some of my selections, I’m not particularly proud of, few (if any) do I still listen to today, but they are all classics in their own right.

You don’t like it?…Talk to the Hand!

In no particular order:

1. Usher - My Way (One of my picks I remember from Columbia House. So smooth, you make me wanna…)

2. Robyn - Robyn Is Here (Another I ordered from C.H. if I remember correctly, this was 20 years ago after all! Show Me Love was prime 90’s pop that made it on the charts of the US R&B billboard for 44

3. Puff Daddy - No Way Out (Released 4 months after the shooting death of Biggie Smalls, Puff Daddy’s debut release was wrought with emotion and grief. I had been listening to hip hop for a few years, but this album was my first introduction to the concepts/realities of gang violence.)

4. Bush X - Razorblade Suitcase (Bush was called Bush X in Canada due to a copyright issue. While I was a fan of their debut Sixteen Stone, it wasn’t until their 2nd release that I bought a Bush X CD. I even had a poster on my bedroom wall of Gavin Rosedale and band in sepia tone, with a mop dog like the one on Odelay. It’s now considered rare and vintage, <eyeroll>)

5. No Doubt - Tragic Kingdom (OK, so I wasn’t as addicted to this band as a particular friend who will remain nameless [you know who you are], I did listen to this CD on repeat for a good portion of Grade 8 and it represents the sporty/punk/colourful styles of the times.)

6. Matchbox 20 - Yourself or Someone Like You (I wasn’t the most athletic person in my gym class [surprised?], but one of the highlights for me was that during certain activities [badminton, for example] I was allowed to pick the music to blare on the boombox in the gymnasium. I recall playing a lot of different things, but for some reason I remember this one specifically. It was frequent in the rotation.)

7. Our Lady Peace - Clumsy (I listened to this one, a lot. Angry, angsty, whiny, confused…it spoke to me)

8. Big Shiny Tunes 1 & 2 (Both of these comps encapsulate my 13 year old musical self and it is faster to list these compilation than all the albums individually). From BST 1: Marilyn Manson, Fun Loving Criminals, I Mother Earth to name a few and from BST 2: Blur, Prodigy, Semisonic, Third Eye Blind, Smashmouth, Bran Van 3000, Holly McNarland & Sugar Ray all bring me back 20 years in the first 3 seconds the songs start. These alternative rock songs are the notes of my adolescence and I only associate them with that time period.)

9. Romeo & Juliet Soundtrack (I loved this movie: the contemporary spin on the classic love tragedy, the danger, the awesome sets and costumes, the…Leo. What can I say, in 1996 Leo was a heartthrob and this soundtrack was da bomb! Cardigans, Garbage, Radiohead, Butthole Surfers and the beautiful track by Des'ree Kissing You <sob sob> I want to listen to this again right now!)

10. Groundswell - Wave of Popular Feeling (Norwood folks will remember Groundswell, the indie alternative grunge rock darlings of our small town, part of whom went on to form Three Days Grace. I lost my copy of the CD, but I still have the case. If anyone can burn me this CD, I would be extremely grateful. Pre-internet, non-label release, so you can’t find it anywhere. I’m not going to lie, I liked this sound so much more than the direction they went under Chad Kroegers thumb.)

Honourable Mentions (Individual Songs): The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony, Fiona Apple - Criminal, Meredith Brooks - Bitch, plus Tom Petty (anything) - My first major concert was to see Tom Petty at the Molson Amphitheatre when I was 14!  My appreciation for classic rock accelerates as I move on to Grade 10. TBC.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Soundtrack of my Pre-teens

Get ready for a trip down memory lane to the mid 1990s!

These are all cassettes still in my collection (except the #10, my first CD and the Honourable Mention) In 1994 and 1995 there would be dances at the Youth Centre in my small hometown of 1200 people. Many of these cassette tapes would come along, labelled with my name on masking tape to give to the DJs to play. This was my first foray in providing music for the masses. (Not listed in order of importance). I did not have cable, so I would not have seen any of these videos at the time, but I've included them for your listening pleasure!

1. Dance Mix ’94 (Featuring “I Like to Move it Move it” among other embarrassing dance songs this compilation was my 2nd foray into dance music, after ‘Technotronic’ which deserves mention)

2. Dance Mix ’95 (Saturday Night and Macarena were played at every single dance in 1995, always)

3. TLC - CrazySexyCool (Waterfalls was a schoolyard hit. We knew all the words, but not how to talk to boys)

4. Salt n’ Pepa - A Blitz of Salt-N-Pepa Hits: The Hits Remixed (I didn’t know exactly what Shoop meant, but I knew I wanted to, baby! The love of old school hip hop I have today, can be traced back to this tape and I still DJ these songs!)

5. Alanis Morrisette - Jagged Little Pill (A Canadian woman in the mainstream, who is this miracle person!? Let’s sing along and be angsty like her!)

6. Cranberries - No Need to Argue (not a tape for the dances, but one I remember fondly playing in my walkman on long car rides to drown out the chatter of my parents. I love the Cranberries (and my parents) now more than ever.)

7. Presidents of the USA - s/t (The album when I learned bands didn’t have to take themselves seriously and you could write a silly song about anything and make it a hit. “Peaches come from a can, they were put there by a man”)

8. The Offspring - Smash (I bought this at the Music World in Pickering Town Centre mall, brought it back to my aunts house, put it in my 6 year old cousins pink cassette player and blared ‘Bad Habit’, including the swears!)

9. Green Day - Dookie (Rounding out my pre-teens I fondly remember singing Basketcase with all my friends during our Grade 7 grad trip to the Skydome. The Jays lost, but we were leaving public school and on top of the world! I also love that I sell the new Green Day album to 11 year olds today!)

10. Oasis - What’s the Story, Morning Glory (MY FIRST CD. This was kind of a big deal. My family was late in the game getting a CD player. I bought the CD brand new and took it to my neighbour’s sweet 16 birthday party. This was a huge opportunity for me, being only 12, to prove my worth and coolness as a teen, not a dorky kid (which, let's be real I still very much was). Anyways, the CD went over well, the older kids liked it. I was accepted and had plenty of bad influences for years to come. Mission accomplished!)

Honourable mention: Live - Throwing Copper. (I didn’t actual own this CD, but borrowed it from a friend and we all experienced and/or comforted a friend during some heart wrenching meltdown at one point or another at the dances when “Lightening Crashes” came on)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

MEDIAFRENZY FRIDAY - 16-07-08 #BlackLivesMatter Edition 2016

On this edition I discuss the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the reasons the #AllLivesMatter hashtag is problematic, the recent deaths at the hands of police along with other injustices that the black community has faced, and both current and historical social movements involving racial issues within the last century.  I paired the spoken information with radical, revolutionary songs from those movements or with songs with lyrics that address social issues regarding racism, slavery, discrimination, immigrants, refugees, poverty, police brutality and the prison industrial complex. 


This edition of mediafrenzy fridays was extremely difficult for me, for a few different reasons: 

On one hand, I have some strong opinions and I felt a desire and need to bring up some of these issues, to make sure they are discussed in the media and that the stories are not silenced.  However, I do wish that I had organized this show with enough time to invite people from the #BlackLivesMatter movement to join me in the studio.  I realize perhaps it shouldn't have been my voice in the spotlight, but I had only decided on the morning of the show that I absolutely had to focus on #BLM and through the radio, I have the avenue to broadcast ideas, so I did just that.

The other difficulty I had was personally not letting my emotions overtake me during the broadcast. Usually I can keep my composure but I, like many of you, have been feeling grief, sadness, anger and guilt for the tragic events happening in the streets and in our communities.  These emotions are detectable in the dialogue portion of this program.  I'm not apologizing for that.  Things are messed up around the world and I spoke from the heart, be it stuttered and awkward in parts.

My goal of this program was to share the words of these musicians, because music always has a role in sparking positive change. Music tells stories.  Music speaks to the beat of our souls and that's universal.  Thanks to Jason, Ando and Al for the requests.  Also thanks to everyone who called in and congrats to those who got their name entered for the Way Home Fest tickets.

Much love and appreciation for Toronto Black Lives Matter.

This show aired on July 8th, 2016 on CHRW 94.9FM


Ana Tijoux - Somos Sur
Nina Simone - Mississippi Goddamn
Sly & The Family Stone - Everyday People
Gil Scott Heron - Whitey on the Moon
Eugene McDaniels - Supermarket Blues
Irma Thomas - Anyone Who Knows What Love Is
Shad - FamJam
John Coltrane - Blue Train
Shabazz Palaces - New Black Wave
Janelle Monae - Hell You Talmbout
CQuel - The Death of Me
Taina Asili - Freedom
Invincible & Waajeed - Detroit Summer
Lauren Hill - Time Moves Slow
BadBadNotGood - Time Moves Slow
Neil Young - Southern Man
Radiohead - Burn The Witch
Factor - Factoria

Friday, July 1, 2016

MEDIAFRENZY FRIDAY - 16-06-24 Éire Edition 2016

Come with me on a musical journey across Ireland, featuring trad seisiúns, indie rock, live shows, songs, poetry and stories.   


Aired JUNE 24th, 2016 on CHRW 94.9 FM

Part 1
Thin Lizzy - Boys Are Back in Town
Pogues - Down All The Days
Trad Session
Le Vent Du Nord - Le Vigneron
Trad Session
Neil Young - Heart of Gold
Trad Session - Working Man
Carlos Del Junco - Just Your Fool
Robbie Antone - Red Road Blues
Urges - Passing Us By
Trad Session - Ferryman
Altered Hours - Dig Early

Part 2
Hard Chargers - Live
My Bloody Valentine - Sometimes
Golden Death Music - Into the Ocean
Sean Keane - Nature’s Little Symphony
Smashing Pumpkins - Drown
Double Clutch Blues Band - Someone To Talk To

Live from the Brazenhead - Dublin
Massive Attack - Setting Sun Dub 2
Caribou - Back Home
Reading of W.B. Yeats - Lake Isle of Innisfree
Cranberries - Dreams
Great Big Sea - The Night Pat Murphy Died
Reading by WB Yeats - The Fiddler of Dooney 
Sufjan Stevens - Chicago
Emmett O’Brien - Untitled Poetry
Listener - Failing Isn’t Just For Failures
Dropkick Murphys - Finnegans Wake

Part 4
Planxty - Taimse Im’ Chodladh
Olenka & The Autumn Lovers - Sweet Little Road
Del Barber & The No Regretzkys - Hockey Song
Del Barber & The No Regretzkys - Mon Chandail de Hockey
Irish Mythen - The Auld Triangle
Sissy - Gave Birth to a Mom
Bob Log III - Live in Cork
Patrick Kelleher - Adrenal Insolvent
Patsy Watchorn - Molly Malone
Mary Jane Lamond - Dómhnall Mac 'Ic Iain
Magic Pockets - Now You’re Clondalkan
Uisce Beatha - Drinking with the Lord
Trad Session - Eileen Og
Here are the download links (can be downloaded anytime before Friday July 8th). 

Thanks to everyone for the requests, the venues and musicians for the opportunity to record the music and to everyone who called in during the show!  So much gratitude to: Joe Lyons, Suzanne Scully, Sebastian Turres, John Brennan, Martin Sadlier, Michael Jeckel, Helen Hyeran Park. Shout outs to The HardChargers, Emmet O'Brien, Catherine Maynes, Hadar Frachtenberg, Sarah Elizabeth O Leary, Amber Rose & Michael Kirby. Thanks for making my trip so memorable. Next show will be July 8th, 2016. 

go raibh maith agat

dj mediafrenzy