Sunday, December 31, 2006

10 things I liked this year

1. The rich and complex debate arising from the gentrification of the west end

2. Old school critical theory
Repressive tolerance! Cool band name, cool theory. Speaking of which…

3. Missing Nuit Blanche
I was in Brooklyn entertaining an audience of 9 so I will never really know if Nuit Blanche was a success or not, the ambiguity of which might be the ultimate Nuit Blanche experience.

4.Footage of Glenn Branca’s 100-guitar composition “Hallucination City”
Could someone with money please bring this to Toronto? (crappy Real player clip, but worth it)

5. Unearthed recordings of Kraftwerk, when they were young and Neu! Mp3s here. Video here.

6.Wondershowzen Who would have thought that MTV cornered the market on relational art...through hand puppetry?

7. Mission of Burma’s The Obliterati Even better than the music itself is that by putting out better music in their mid 40s than they ever did when they were teenagers, MOB completely disrupts half the dogmas of rock music.

8.The disappearance of electro mullets from the art scene Of course, in the Coke Pepsi push pull dynamic of late capitalism’s choice illusion, the fading of self conscious glamour will only guarantee the reemergence self conscious anti glamour. And what will that be? A hint was given at a party recently when Steve Kado and I realized we were both collecting Mudhoney mp3s. He then revealed that Blocks would be putting out an actual “deep grunge” record this year. Look for a spike in flannel at Mercer openings in 2007.

9. The Ex with Getachew Mekuria
The best band in the world team up with the Ethiopian sax legend. Have a listen. (ahem, Real player clip).

10. Volver
While good, I thought there was a leaden gravitas to Almodovar's last 2— Talk to Her and Bad Education. Here, there's a venomonous snark not seen since the early days and Penelope seems to be unloading some "Tom" issues and it makes for a great performance.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I can't resist the obligatory 'blog' year-end music round up, but I'll limit myself to five picks, all of which are covers:

5. "Waking Up To Us" Bob Corn. I have no idea who Corn is (and web searches aren't very helpful) but this version of Belle and Sebastian's 2001 single betters the original, which was the first B&S song to break their run of excellent non-album singles like "Legal Man" and "This is Just A Modern Rock Song."

4. "Heartbeats" José González. This almost certainly pre-dates 2006 but I've just rediscovered Gonzalez' version of "Heartbeats", written by fellow Swedes The Knife. His own songs pale a little in comparison but between this and his version of Massive Attack's "Teardrop" he shows an uncanny ability to wrench a song out from under it's electro-pop trappings (and without sounding like Frente).

3. "By This River" Console. Early Eno songs have aged well and good covers of them are scarce, but this succeeds somehow. Console, as a side-project, serves as a good stop-gap in-between Notwist records and the album, Mono, also includes a decent version of Sonic Youth's "Starpower".

2. "No Cars Go" TAM. A stripped down Arcade Fire cover that adds fuel to the rumours that the Montreal singer tried to break up the Butlers.

1. "The Orchids" Califone. Califone's trademark sound (a kind of junkyard folk that could have been recorded 50 years in the past or 50 years in the future) is perfectly suited for this 'unearthed' Psychic TV gem. One of my favorite covers, ever.

Happy '07.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

these are a few of our favourite things

This is the first installment of the Mercer Union Staff/Board Picks. Welcome.
Every so often we will post the url for a web project that we love. Love is the operative word. This is to be a forum devoid of critical analysis. It is a time and place for us to unabashedly proclaim our love and admiration for someone's artistic outpoppings.

This month, let's love

a project by Miranda July, Harrell Fletcher, and Yuri Ono. We love Miranda July and we'll do anything she tells us to do.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Thing Big (by thinking small)

Who needs the white cube anyway? Just the office will do. Link courtesy of the equally micro Sleepwalker space opening December 15th at 787 Queen West.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Come Hecker

Montreal-based DJ, Artist, and Musician Tim Hecker comes out with his new material on vinyl this month entitled, Harmony in Ultraviolet (Kranky, US).

Hecker joined Mercer Union for the insanity of the Toronto installment of Nuit Blanche this past September. His piece hung in the tree opposite the gallery on the west side of Lisgar Street and played ambient noise until the wee hours of the morning.

Luckily, the sound was accompanied by ongoing showers that night and Hecker's piece ended up being a perfect fit for the bad weather. Upon my own exit of the gallery I observed, in spite of more decent places to get away from the rain, that some of the night crawlers had stationed themselves underneath the tree, surrounded by the noise. So nice to know that art still wins, even in shit weather.

Hecker also participated in the Night Swim the same evening at the Trinity Bellwoods Pool in Toronto.

Find out more about his past work here.