SXSW Song Of The Day: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – Someplace

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Come this March, a whole lot of acts will be descending upon Austin, Texas for SXSW and as per usual, several Torontonians will be playing, including (just to name a few) Greys, Beams, Frigs, Lido Pimienta, The Weather Station, U.S. Girls and Yamantaka//Sonic Titan.

The former Montrealers, now Toronto-based, will be releasing their new album Dirt on March 23rd and will be previewing songs from the album at SXSW before starting a North American tour. Interestingly to me, the tour includes a stop in Sarnia, Ontario. Does Sarnia even get that many touring bands? I feel like they don’t get as many, so you’d better check this one out, Sarnians. Are they called Sarnians? I’m pretty sure they are, but that also kind of sounds like something out of Lord Of The Rings so maybe not. Any Sarnia folk please advise.

“Someplace,” the first single off of Dirt, starts out relatively serenely before blossoming into big, doomy, epic heaviness for the homestretch. Check it out below and check them out at SXSW or Sarnia or wherever if you get the chance.

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SXSW Song of the Day: Jerry Williams – Mother

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According to her SXSW bio, Jerry Williams is an unsigned, self funded 21 year old singer/songwriter from Portsmouth. Curse those millenials for being so damn self sufficient and driven. I didn’t even have my first job until I was 21 and this girl here is playing showcases at SXSW already. Her tracks, from what I have heard of her, are delightful pop fun and she must have some good friends in film schools because her videos are all of pretty good quality for a self funded artist.

Check her out! She is playing at an unspecified time in Austin during SXSW.

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Concert Review: Stanley Jordan, January 13, Blues Alley

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Watching Stanley Jordan play guitar is like watching water flow. It’s a fluid motion. It’s entrancing and calming and enrapturing all at once. It carries an elemental energy. It’s a force of nature.

Jordan, a Chicago native, took the stage at Blues Alley, a cozy and intimate club down a small alley in Georgetown, and proceeded to fill the venue with music in a way that I didn’t know was possible. I don’t play guitar myself, but my basic understanding was that you place the notes with one hand, and strum with the other. Not if you’re Stanley Jordan. Jordan plays with a two-handed tapping technique. Meaning that he both taps and plays the note with the same finger. Meaning that he plays with about twice the speed of other guitarists. When imagining the speed of his fingers, think classical violin player rather than guitarist. He also sometimes simultaneously plays piano while he’s doing this.

Jordan made his way on Saturday night through “Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix and “Fragile” by Sting, as well as a number of classical covers, alternating between guitar, guitar/piano, and guitar/piano/singing. Each piece was about six minutes long – enough time to get totally lost in the song, and if you looked around the club everyone had this vaguely amazed/starstruck/mesmerized/dreamy look as they watched Jordan play. You could’ve heard a pin drop – nobody wanted to miss a single note.

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Song of the Day: Lucy Dacus – Night Shift

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It’s hard to recommend break-up songs. Search one’s Best-Of lists over the years, and I would argue that it’s a specific and endangered species of accolade like the albatross. In this age of hyper-connectivity and over-social carnage, spending the time to compose and write a song is more of a redundant anachronistic mechanism, like the mix-tapes from the 1980s. Where is the catharsis if you invest it into a creative work, only to prolong the hurt like an albatross around your neck every time you play it? One is supposed to vent the anger and disappointment immediately, and move on to better and brighter things one can Instagram. Plus, wouldn’t you question the recommender’s frame of mind? Who would heartily and vicariously share pain?

We covered Lucy Dacus’ excellent debut at SXSW two years ago. This new single is broken up into two parts (no pun intended). Thanks in no small part to Dacus’ evenly narrative voice, as on the first album, we are able to follow the story in the lead portion. But if you lack patience, skip to 3:25 for the beautifully written refrain: a feat all by itself that fits any shoe. It feels ever so slightly wrong to be excited in the anticipation of being depressed, but I’m sure you’ll get over that feeling very quickly, too. This is now my favorite night-shift song next to The Commodores. No, they don’t mix well.

Dacus’ new album, Historian, is coming out on March 2nd.

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Hot Docs Review: Mountain [2018, Jennifer Peedom]

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Mountain is basically the subreddit Earthporn but in film form. For 80 minutes or so, you witness mountains in glorious HD film and the film shows ranges from all around the world, from Anarctica to Scotland. Featuring a very dramatic score and narrated in poetic prose by Willem Dafoe, we admire the mountains from afar and very personally, as the film also captures our relationship with mountains and the dangers that are associated with it.

You don’t learn a whole lot about mountains, but it’s quite a glorious film from an aesthetic point of view.

It’s playing this weekend at Hot Docs, click here for more information

Trailer

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SXSW Song Of The Day: Max Richter – Dream 3 (in the midst of my life)

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Today SXSW released its list of the next batch of performers for this year’s edition. It’s the biggest announcement yet with plenty of noteworthy names on the list, one of the most intriguing of them being Max Richter. The British composer, who among many other accomplishments has written several excellent film and television scores, (shout out to The Leftovers, one of the best things to ever be on TV) will be presenting the North American debut of his 8 hour composition Sleep. A more manageable 10 minute excerpt is presented below.

I don’t really have a clear notion of how such a piece would even work at SouthBy, where set lengths of 20-40 minutes are the norm, but I am intrigued. Maybe it will be more of an installation piece where people would be free to come and go and those that are up for it and have the stamina could stay for the duration, but who knows? Regardless of what form it takes though, this promises to be one of the more unique and interesting bits of programming for this year’s festival.

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Song Of The Day: Charlie Daniels Band – The Devil Went Down To Georgia

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Last night something pretty amazing happened. In the midst of a bunch of boring tweets about a football game, country fiddling sensation and one time Murder She Wrote guest star Charlie Daniels tweeted out his distaste for a new Taco Bell ad that blatantly reveals the fast food giant’s true face:

Illuninati confirmed? Should we all be making a “run for the border?” Have all of those double triple crunch wraps and chalupas been part of some sinister plot to place us all under their thrall? I mean a more sinister plot than just stuffing us full of Doritos Locos tacos.

Really, when you think about it though, it should have been obvious to anyone with (all seeing) eyes all along. I mean, who can forget when Taco Bell appointed Jay Z as their CEO? Or that time a few years back when the ghost of Adam Weishaupt himself, founder of the Bavarian Illuminati, appeared at a major music festival’s giant taco shrine stage and vomited 2000 pounds of spiced ground beef onto the crowd, who had conveniently been carefully arranged into a pyramid configuration while the devil himself played not one fiddle, but 666 of them at the same time? The most shocking revelation in that commercial though, is that Taco Bell serves breakfast. Surely a sign of the end times if ever there was one.

Yes, truly, the Illuminati is not a frivolous subject.

Now watch this video taken from an ’80s John Travolta movie:

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Concert Review: Avatar, January 7, Opera House

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I tend to gravitate towards bands that are a little bit over the top, even a little bit ridiculous – bands that walk that line usually end up putting on an entertaining live show. Sweden’s Avatar definitely fall into this category. After all, the band’s upcoming new album Avatar Country is a concept album centred around a fictional kingdom and its king, who has saved his people through the power of metal … or something like that. (Sample line from the press release: “In the Royal Museum of Paintings of the King, we can observe that the King seems to have been around for at least as long as we’ve been able to preserve visual art. There are sculptures depicting a bearded man, with a lion’s mane and a crown, dating back to long before the invention of the metronome and even the dropped guitar tuning.”) Not to mention the fact that their singer wears face paint that falls somewhere between Alice Cooper, The Crow, and Cesar Romero’s Joker. Yes, they certainly seemed like the type of band to hold your attention at the very least.

“Citizens of Avatar country! Welcome home!” shouted vocalist Johannes Eckerström to the gathered masses, asking at the top of their set that everyone swear allegiance to the king. The crowd at the Opera House seemed more than willing to make that pledge. While I’ve only just discovered the band on this tour, they’ve been around since the early 2000s and have definitely garnered quite the following if the packed house at The Opera House was any indication.

Much like their makeup wearing forefathers Alice Cooper, KISS, and King Diamond (and I suppose Cesar Romero too), the band has a penchant for the theatrical, which definitely made for a memorable performance from the outset. As album opener “Glory To Our King” played over the speakers, the band took to the stage with guitarist Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby (in his role as “the king”) taking his place upon a giant throne behind the drumkit and calmly shredding his way through “Legend Of The King” with all of the understated dignity that a fake monarch commands. I guess it’s good to be the king.

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Review in 2017: Ricky’s Favorite Eats (Part 2)

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Part 2 of this somewhat narcissistic post about my culinary adventures this year, but you know what, this is my blog so whatevs.

June
I basically spent all of June in Europe, so the food here will be Euro-centric.

I already talked about all the things I ate in Ireland here. Loam still stands out to this day, and changed my mind on how carrots should taste, and also, flowers. They taste surprisingly good.

Spain.

What can you say about Spain? the food there is magnificent. It’s a beautiful country with very kind people and I just love love Spain. I’ve been there five times in seven years, and I can’t even see myself not at least trying to visit Spain every year.

What do I eat in Spain?

Well, most of time I’ve been in Spain, I’ve been in Santander where we have a work office. Luckily, northern Spain is famous for their pintxos, which is essentially bread with something on top. It looks like these:

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The pintxo on the top left is an egg on top of morcilla, which is blood sausage. Super flavorful. The one on the bottom right is sushito peppers (the best) on top of some sort of meat. Not sure I remember what it was, but anyways, when you go to a bar in Northern Spain, these are everywhere and they are super delicious.

You know what else is delicious? Pulpo aka Octopus. It is sad that you know, Octopus are so intelligent, but so are pigs and both are delicious. Should we be eating more intelligent creatures? I don’t know. Anyways, octopus are very popular in Europe and they are super cheap there, unlike in North America. This dish cost me 3 euros!

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Also, as always in Spain, I eat a lot of anchovies and sardines. Super tasty.

July
I was in Portugal for a few days in July, so naturally I ate a few memorable things that I didn’t take pictures of, including

– cod (bacalau)
– more octopus
– squid ink rice

Lisbon has an amazing food market called Time Out Lisbon, I could honestly just live there it’s got so much good food.

On top of that, I had a pretty good burger in Toronto courtesy of Bar Buca

August
We had a very decadent mac & cheese at my bbq, from this recipe

Her Father’s Cider had a surprisingly good Fried Chicken

September
A somewhat disappointing meal at Skippa was rectified by an amazing sardine dish at 86’d.

October
Not much happened in October. Here are some of my favorite places to eat in Scarborough/Marham

Papa Changs – A great little shop that sells amazing Taiwanese food for a helluva price.

Gourmet Malaysia – Such good Malaysian food – Laksa, roti, noodles, it’s all there. There’s also a great food stall in First Markham Place

Oriental Gourmet (Highway 7 and McGowan) – Their pork stomach soup is maybe my favorite soup in the city. Also the smoked duck and sweet and sour pork are great.

Congee Queen – So good. I would eat there every week if it was downtown.

Shanghai Dim Sum – Great for shanghai style eats.

November
November was ballin month, as there was great eats to be had at two critically acclaimed Toronto restaurants – Alo and Doma

Both were fantastic. The pan au lait with the cultured butter was so good at Alo I actually started laughing. Doma’s seafood plate was delightfully large and filling which earned it bonus points. Alo was great, but the portions were..not that high. French people I guess.

December
I went to Costa Rica, so a lot of beans and rice. It’s not the most highly regarded culinary place, but I did enjoy the food I had there.

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Review in 2017: Ricky’s Favorite Eats (Part 1)

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Here’s a list of things I ate that I enjoyed this year, from what I remember. My memory is not that good. It’s not all burgers, as much as you guys would like to think that’s the only thing I ate.

Maybe I’ll go month by month. I’ll break this into two parts.

January
I don’t remember anything from the month of January.

February
Skyline Burger, Skyline diner. The burger that started the journey of best burgers. I remember it was the month of February because it was also the same day I saw Lego Batman. It was a good burger, one good enough to make it a baseline burger.

We also had the Museum burger in February which did not reach the heights we imagined it would, but in retrospect, not a bad burger.

March aka SXSW
March = Austin for me, so there were many great things I ate this month. Here is a list

Casino El Camino’s Amarillo Burger – my favorite burger. Almost always one of the first things I eat in Austin. It’s 3/4 pound paddy of freshly ground beef with a delicious cilantro mayo and roasted serrano. It’s got heat but everything about it is pure America.

La Barbecue BBQ – Last year, me and Paul had to wait an hour to eat La Barbecue’s bbq. This year, I just had to go to the Canadian tech party where they had a foodie who decided to use his food budget to hire La Barbecue to cater the party. Why the hell not! The brisket was succulent, the beans were packed with flavor and their sausages have a nice jalapeno flavor to it. It’s not Franklins, but it’s damn close.

Home made BBQ – My friend Alison has relatives in Texas and her relatives have a home made bbq in their backyard. It’s the second time I’ve been there and my my, the food that Milan (the man in the picture below) makes is ridiculous. Makes me want to build my own bbq in my alleyway backyard.

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April
I ate rattlesnake for the first time in Sedona, not much special, sadly.

May
Frank’s wedding had an amazing black cod. Maybe one of the best things I’ve had at a wedding. I made a poor bet when I decided to trade one bite of my cod for one bite of Damien (my friend)’s beef thing. I’ll never get that bite back.

Actually here’s my favorite things I’ve had a wedding so far

1. My mom’s cousin’s son married a portuguese women and since both those families are rich, they had a rich man’s portugese-chinese wedding where there was a seafood buffet at midnight. I think I had two lobsters at midnight, after eating a steak for dinner, and about three bottles of wine. It was glorious. All the chinese people were lining up waiting for the buffet to open at about 11:30 while the portugese were too busy dancing and not keeping their eye on the prize.

2. Alison’s BBQ wedding (see below). It was unlimited bbq and unlimited bourbon with a bourbon expert walking you through each drink. You can’t go wrong.

3. Frank’s Miso cod – If only it was unlimited.

4. The three indian weddings I’ve been to. It’s an unlimited indian buffet, how great are those? I think the key is unlimited

Anyways back to it..

Somehow I got invited to a ramen tasting for Hot Docs featuring one of the best ramen chefs from Japan who cooked ramen for us in the Momofuku kitchen. Momofuku also up platters of their steamed buns, so yes, that was a very good lunch break.

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My friend Alison’s wedding in Columbus also had this amazing bbq where the cooks smoked the food at the farm we were on. The smoked chicken was out of this world, and for the first time ever I think I regretted eating all the non chicken meat first, leaving precious little room for the chicken (which I tasted later).

What were some great things you ate?

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