Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
TORONTO -- The Tragically Hip has everything you'd want in a rock band: smart, distinctive songs; a sound to call its own; a live show that jolts the audience from its seats; and, in Gordon Downie, a front man who's been compared to Mick Jagger and Michael Stipe. The Hip's only problem: The band is Canadian.
Which isn't much of a problem in Canada, where the quintet is widely acknowledged as the country's best rock band. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences honored two of their 12 discs with Juno Awards for best rock album of the year; another, 1996's "Trouble at the Henhouse," was voted album of the year, regardless of category. Eight Hip albums reached the No. 1 slot on the Canadian charts the week they launched. The band has a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
But "we can't draw flies in the States," the 45-year-old Mr. Downie said when we spoke earlier this month in a dressing room at Massey Hall, before and after one of the Tragically Hip's six shows here tied to their fine new album, "We Are the Same" (Rounder). Not that the band needs the approval of American fans. But it would like, and deserves, a bigger audience.
It's a mystery to me why the Hip haven't succeeded in the U.S. Many Canadian musicians have: the Arcade Fire, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Rush and Neil Young, to name a few. The Band, which created the prototype for what's known today as Americana music, was 80% Canadian; only drummer Levon Helm was born in the U.S. Further, were live rock a competition, the Hip would bulldoze just about any contemporary group that trod a terrain that accommodates the Smiths and Bruce Springsteen. I'd compare them to the Hold Steady -- but the Hold Steady don't quite measure up. Stand in the audience among the Hip's fans and you sense that they're right: This is a band to believe in, which is about the highest praise a rock group can inspire.
Click here for the rest of the article.
On a semi-related note, after a lengthy, Stanley Cup-style layoff, the Hip Project will return shortly with the playoffs.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
In the first year of his big contract Holik played 64 games, notching 16 goals and 19 assists. During what would have been the 5 year term of that deal he scored 35, 56, 33, 29 and 34 points. However, he was actually bought out by the Rangers after the lockout, so he didn't actually play 5 seasons under the terms of that monster contract. This isn’t entirely fair to Holik as he was never about the numbers, and had only scored 54 points (G: 25, A: 29) in the season leading up to his UFA summer, but it does go to show the UFA insanity pre-lockout.
Holik’s career stats can be found here: http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=2332.
Monday, May 25, 2009
- Ahead By A Century
- Love Is A First
- Grace, Too
- Fully Completely
- Gord introducing Alex Lifeson
- Overall eclectic song selection
- Based on the setlists of previous shows I'd hoped to catch Fiddler's Green and Emperor Penguin (a minor quibble)
- I didn't really need to hear a straight-ahead version of New Orleans Is Sinking, although I was digging the groove by the end of it. I'd have preferred to have seen this in the acoustic section if they felt they needed to include it
Monday, May 18, 2009
The top 2 will get entered into the playoffs with a bye into the second round:
4. Ultra Mundane
5. No Threat
And just for fun... Best Live Song:
1. Nautical Disaster
2. Fully Completely (note: always a good sign when they play this early in a show -- usually means you get the fully Gordie experience)
4. At the 100th Meridian
Saturday, May 16, 2009
- You could probably add some others from Music@Work, but those songs were more uninteresting than god-awful, in my opinion
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
1. World Container
2. Yer Not The Ocean
4. In View
5. The Lonely End of the Rink
- a hit or miss album for me. I think Fly could have been an all-time Hip classic, but the chorus is kind of lame and the song kind of wanders in its second half.
- The album rocks pretty hard in spots, but most of the harder songs (e.g. The Dropoff) just didn't resonate with me.
- World Container (the song) and Yer Not The Ocean hold their own with any of the Hip's best.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
1. Vaccination Scar
2. Are We Family
3. You're Everywhere
4. As Makeshift As We Are
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
1. The Dire Wolf
2. It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken
3. A Beautiful Thing
4. The Darkest One
5. Silver Jet
- Slower and more melodic than past efforts, as evidence by the first single, It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken
- For me, The Darkest One encapsulates what is not working as well with the Hip at this stage in their career. It is a decent song, and is very much in the style of their old stuff; however, it just isn't quite as catchy as the old stuff. It should be a great, classic Hip tune but it isn't. My theory is that as they became better musicians they polished off some of the raw edges that made their blues boogie work so well. Another theory is that if I was younger when I heard this song, and listened to it as many times in as many different venues ast B@HD and others that I would regard it as a classic Hip tune. The fact that it isn't a concert staple has me leaning towards the former theory.
Monday, May 11, 2009
1. Lake Fever
2. My Music At Work
3. The Completists
4. Freak Turbulence
5. The Bastard
- I saw the Hip at Shepherd's Bush in London (UK) on a Euro trip weekend back in 2000 before this album came out. They played an amazing version of Lake Fever and my hopes were sky high, especially after Phantom. Alas, Music turned out to be their worst effort by far
- I had this album stolen and didn't bother replacing it, although I did download Lake Fever
Sunday, May 10, 2009
- Its cousin, the Fuzion Syrah Rosé is here
- With more than 200,000 cases sold, the Fuzion Malbec is the LCBO's fourth-most popular item. Only Heineken, Smirnoff and Corona sell more. (note: this is the interesting fact referenced in the title of the post)
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
1. Nautical Disaster
2. Grace, Too
4. An Inch An Hour
5. So Hard Done By
- What an album! I'd forgotten how high the highs are on Day For Night. DFN really pushes Fully for the #3 spot. I might have to rethink the seedings before Round 2.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
1. 50 Mission Cap
2. Wheat Kings
3. Fully Completely
4. Locked in the trunck of a car
5. At the Hundredth Meridian
- Arguably their best album after Up To Here (I rank it third behind Phantom)
- I never much cared for Courage, although it was nice when it was the commercial outro song during the NCAA tournament way back when.
- Interestingly, so far, this has been the easiest Top 5 to come up with (and what a top 5...)
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The Canadian billionaire has made an offer of $212.5-million (U.S.) for the Phoenix Coyotes with the intention of moving the team to Southern Ontario.
As was the case when he attempted to purchase the club in Nashville, Balsillie's attempting to drum up public support in Canada, and has launched a website (makeitseven.ca) to solicit email addresses and postal codes of supporters.
The NHL is disputing the validity of the bankruptcy filing and have removed Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes from all positions of authority to act for or on behalf of the clubs.
For more information and commentary check out James Mirtle's blog, From the Rink.
One thing is for certain, this is going to get ugly and should make for great theatre. The SWATE take on how this will all unfold:
The league is going to have to take over and run the team next season while the bankruptcy / sale winds its ways through the courts (which could take years). Assuming the Coyotes lose another $35 million (US) next season who is on the hook for that money? I think it would have to be the other owners, and they'll love that. I don't think you can pin it on Moyes after you’ve blocked his attempt to put the team into bankruptcy protection.
I think the outcome will be that Balsillie is blocked from acquiring the team, which will then be sold for $100m to Jerry Reinsdorf (owner of MLB's Chicago White Sox who was considering a bid) – Reinsdorf gets the team at a discount for promising to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix.
The creditors will get screwed, especially Moyes who will launch a mega-bucks ($100+ million) lawsuit against the league because he and all the other creditors would have been paid in full if the team was sold to Balsillie. Balsillie will also sue the league for blocking his ownership aspirations without good reason.
The NHLPA will launch a lawsuit against the league arguing that the commissioner's office has conspired to keep total league revenues down to protect the small market teams against a rising salary floor. Reinsdorf will then move the team to KC in 2 years. It will fail there in 4 years and will be given back to Moyes as part of the lawsuit settlement, provided he operates the team in Vegas. Where it will fail in 3 years….
The team will then play on a massive floating yacht out in the Atlantic ocean as the International Voyageurs. This will be the first step towards creating an European division and will see the Voyageurs’ play all their preseason games against top European teams such as Modo and Davos. This too will fail and the team will next play on a seasonally constructed outdoor ice rink on a gigantic iceberg. Despite the iceberg being from the North Pole the team will be called the Iceberg Penguins. The Pittsburg Penguins will then sue claiming copyright infringement. The Maple Leafs announce they are raising ticket prices.
1. Long Time Running
2. Little Bones
3. Fiddler's Green
5. Fight (ever since I saw them play it live with the fat guy from Blues Traveller on the harmonica this has been one of my favourites)
- On The Verge - this used to be one of their favourites to play live; in my mind it was replaced in their live show by Fully Completely. It doesn't hold up as well as some of the others, for me. - I remember seeing them live at Corkcliff Park on a roadtrip weekend back in the university days. Good times, hazy memories.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
This one was really tough because of all the good times associated with this album. Plus I have a special place in my heart for first albums. The list of songs could probably change on an almost weekly basis, but I think I'm comfortable that these are my favourites (for now).
2. Another Midnight
3. 38 Years Old
Monday, May 4, 2009
This little project will determine the favourite SWATE Hip songs of all time. This highly subjective study will start by my choosing the top 5 songs per album* and then having some sort of elimination process. Sort of like the BCS playoffs, only the complete opposite. Well, maybe not the complete opposite. Maybe more like the NHL playoffs. Lots of teams get in but then it is a life or death two month struggle to determine the champion and the last team standing gets to hoist the Cup before enjoying a short summer vacation. Perhaps not that either, but I prefer that analogy. Sounds much more scientific than if I determined a winner by blasting tunes on my iPod and drinking Highland Park scotch (well, a little more scientific anyway). Without further ado, here is Round 1: The Tragically Hip (EP).
* These are just initial seedings and might not necessarily hold throughout the competition)
The Tragically Hip (EP) - when your nothing I am and I'm something you ain't
1. Smalltown Bringdown
2. Last American Exit
3. Killing Time
4. Cemetery Sideroad
5. Highway Girl (Would rate much higher with one of the classic live versions - e.g. double suicide... That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)
The Top 10 Most Ridiculous* U2 Songs
10. New York
9. Love and Peace or Else
7. Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World
4. Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car
3. Peace On Earth
2. Get On Your Boots
1. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
* ridiculous doesn’t necessarily mean that they are bad (although sometimes it does)
Sunday, May 3, 2009
1. Morning Moon - A great song loosely based on a question one of Gord's kids asked him ('why can you still the moon sometimes when the sun is up). This is the Hip in Ahead By A Century / Bobcaygeon acoustic mode. Interesting and sophisticated.
2. Honey, Please - I didn't give this one much notice for the first few listens but it has definitely grown on me. Surprisingly uptempo yet quite melodic. A more basic approach to the instrumentation when played live could make this a real rocker. The opening notes make me think Springsteen - Hungry Heart, perhaps?
3. The Last Recluse - Another song I glossed over the first couple of times. After about the third listen the chorus had wormed its way into my head. I've grown to become quite fond of this one and the various bits of Canadiana it name checks (e.g. Canada goose, the black canoe), but this is very much one of those personal preference Hip songs as I can see people dismissing it. An odd choice for the all-important song 3 slot.
4. Coffee Girl - Instant classic. Simple but effective. The trumpet is a nice touch.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
10. Its not a lie if you believe it. - George Costanza, Seinfeld
9. Big Uwe Krupp - Bob Cole, Hockey Night In Canada
8. I don't want no part of your tight ass country club, ya freak b*tch! - Franklin, Arrested Development
7. What the f*ck did I do? - McNulty, The Wire
6. I don't like being outdoors Smithers, for one thing, there's too many fat children. - Mr. Burns, The Simpsons
5. I'm a little miffled. - Tony Soprano, The Sopranos
4. But that's another story. - Narrator, Hammy Hamster
3. "Mad, bad and dangerous to know. That was him and that's me" Dylan McKay, Beverly Hills, 90210
2. By the power of Greyskull - Prince Adam, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
1. Revenge is like cold cuts. - Tony Soprano, The Sopranos