Monday, February 1, 2010

Joining Forces...


We here at 4RMusic would like to announce that we will be joining forces with our good friends at Spun. In doing so, we hope to offer our readers more variety and a more steady stream of content. 4RMusic was initially a spinoff of Spun so it only makes sense to go back to the mothership, so to speak , in an attempt to establish a more viable vehicle for promoting the Regina music scene and beyond.

So we invite you to join us at Spun.


... submitted by JJ Ramone.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

JJ Ramone's Top 25 Albums of 2009 #'s 25-11

2009 was a fantastic year for music. Of course you had to wade through a lot of shite and drivel to find most of the good stuff but there were tons of options for people of all tastes (and lack thereof). Usually it's pretty easy for me to narrow my "album of the year" choice to one or two albums. However, this year proved to be quite difficult for me because there were some absolutely stellar releases by some incredible bands at the top of their games. Every album in my top 5 could potentially be my favourite of the year depending on my mood, but due to the nature of these lists I will designate numbers.

Year-end lists are primarily meant to spark discussion and encourage people to go back and take a chance on some music they either overlooked or never had a chance to sink their teeth into earlier in the year. I aim to do the same with my list. What impressed me was that I had a lot of trouble narrowing down my list to 25. Sadly, there were some worthy albums that were just on the cusp of making this very influential and esteemed list. ;-)

My list is by no means definitive. I have probably listened to more music this year than I ever have in my life but I know I have to check out albums by the likes of The Dead Weather, Dinosaur Jr., The Monsters of Folk, and The Flaming Lips, to name a few. So with all of this in mind I give unto you, our loyal and devoted audience, a humble scribe's picks for Top 25 Albums of 2009. Enjoy.


25. Scatterheart - The Masterpan
24. Steve Earle - Townes
23. Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You
22. Ohbijou - Beacons
21. Bat For Lashes - Two Suns
20. Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
19. The Deep Dark Woods - Winter Hours
18. Amy Millan - Masters Of The Buriel
17. The Minus 5 - Killingsworth
16. Bruce Springsteen - Working On A Dream
15. Melissa McClelland - Victoria Day
14. Spinnerette - Spinnerette
13. Franz Ferdinand - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
12. Jarvis Cocker - Further Complications
11. Bif Naked - Purge

JJ Ramone's Top 25 Albums of 2009 #'s 10-6

10. Jay Reatard - Watch Me Fall

Jay Reatard is an artist I desperately wanted to hate. The guy looks like a complete D & D loser crossed with Meat Loaf and his name (yes, it IS pronounced THAT way) is bordering on juvenile. But after giving this album a chance, I am hooked. The best I can think of to describe Mr. 'tard is to imagine what would happen if The Buzzcocks went crazy on mushrooms and put out a psychedelic album. It shouldn't work but it does. He definitely deserves the buzz of the indie press.

9. Immaculate Machine - High On Jackson Hill

There is nothing fancy with Immaculate Machine: just simple, infectious power pop with hooks galore... but rarely done this good. If you dig The New Pornographers, check these guys and gals out. Highlights include "Sound The Alarms" and the sublime "And It Was."

8. Joel Plaskett - Three

In an age where people are heralding the death of the album, Joel Plaskett goes out and makes a triple album consisting of 27 songs. Either the guy is crazy or has balls the size of grapefruits. Either way, he pulls it off with little, if any, filler. Plaskett mixes styles often enough to make this album listenable in one sitting. There are traces of rock, pop, country, folk, Celtic, soul and blues throughout. "Through & Through & Through" has to be the catchiest song of the year.

7. Pearl Jam - Backspacer

After almost a decade of toying with experimental self-indulgence, Pearl Jam have put together another excellent back-to-basics album, following 2006's self-titled effort. The quality of songs taper off a wee bit after the punked up energy of "Gonna See My Friend," "Get Some", "The Fixer" and "Just Breathe" but not enough to prevent this from being a great, concise and compact album. At only 37 minutes this album just breezes by, leaving the listener wanting more. Pearl Jam are definitely back.

6. You Say Party! We Say Die! - XXXX

These dance-punks from Vancouver have delivered their most "mature" album to date, but they still leave plenty of room for herky-jerky dance tunes like "Glory" and "There Is XXXX (Within My Heart)." However, the morose "Heart Of Gold" and "Laura Palmer's Prom" can make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. This is an absolutely brilliant album that probably should have made my Top 5.

JJ Ramone's Top 25 Albums of 2009 #'s 5-1

5. Tegan And Sara - Sainthood

Tegan And Sara can do no wrong. Every album they release is always different enough from their prior release and this one is no exception. After the generally mellow, keyboard heavy The Con, Sainthood cranks up the guitars and beats for a dancier, punkier feel. One thing that does not change is their incredibly catchy, yet quirky melodies. Highlights include "Hell," "The Cure" and "Northshore."

4. Metric - Fantasies

Emily Haines and company have come out with their strongest album to date, the self-released Fantasies. As in the past, Metric keep this album to a slim and trim 10 tracks and 40 minutes, which keeps the focus on their killer hooks. The guitars are less prominent than they have been on their last couple albums but it is easily their most uptempo and fun album to date. "Gimme Sympathy" is definitely a contender for single of the year.

3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!

Largely ditching their punked out guitars in favour of more textured and dance-oriented synths paid off handsomely for these New York art punks. Karen O's distinctive spastic Banshee-esque yelps are transcendent over dance floor ready songs like "Zero" and "Heads Will Roll," as well as over subdued tracks like "Little Shadow." The 4 alternate acoustic bonus tracks prove that great songs exist beneath the fancy electronic embellishments.

2. U2 - No Line On The Horizon

U2 are on the hottest streak of their career, pulling off quite the artistic hat trick with All That You Can't Leave Behind, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, and now this undisputed classic. This album requires a little more patience than some of U2's prior releases, which is probably why it's been somewhat of a commercial flop, but it definitely rewards the listener with repeated listens. "Magnificent" and "Breathe" are classic U2 stadium-ready songs while "Moment Of Surrender" and "White As Snow" give the album a contemplative, meditative feel.

1. Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown

Green Day have come a long way from singing about jerking off and smoking pot. Billie Joe Armstrong and company have officially joined the upper echelon of classic "important" bands with American Idiot and now 21st Century Breakdown. The 18 songs collected here flow better than any album I've listed to this year, while the band combines the melodies of the Ramones, the politics of The Clash, the power and grandiose of The Who and a few hints of The Beatles for good measure. Fittingly, the band covers Social Distortion and The Who as iTunes bonus tracks.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tom Waits Is 60 Years Old Today

Today marks the 60th birthday of one of my favourite artists of all time: Tom Waits. Waits is a man who seemingly has no sense of the normal process of time because he somehow gets cooler and more relevant with each passing year. In a world where youth is king, Waits has forged an incredibly long and consistent career making music and movies while hovering just on the periphery of mainstream pop culture. Yet, artists as wide ranging as Bruce Springsteen, the Ramones, Scarlett Johansson, Tori Amos, the Eagles, 10,000 Maniacs, Diana Krall, Steve Earle and Rod Stewart have covered Waits tunes over the years. For me, he is the prime example of how to grow old gracefully.

I can't think of another artist who has remained this vital at 60. Neil Young and Bob Dylan come close but those guys aren't putting out the best music of their careers at this phase of their lives. Case in point is Waits' recent double live album Glitter And Doom Live, culled from shows on his brief 2008 tour. Far from a greatest hits album, Waits focuses on songs from his stellar recent albums such as Orphans, Real Gone and Mule Variations. His rollicking version of "Goin' Out West" is probably the best thing to blast out of my speakers all year.

I'll be the first to admit that Waits is an acquired taste. I can see how his gruff voice can be a bit off-putting for a first time listener and his Swordfishtrombones era might be too avante garde for the average rock/pop fan but he definitely rewards a listener with patience and an attention span. I liken it to developing a taste for Guinness or Scotch.

So Happy Birthday Tom. I'd rather a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy indeed.

... submitted by JJ

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jimmy Fallon as Neil Young...

Last night on Late Night, Jimmy Fallon did an amazing, and hilarious, spot-on impersonation of Neil Young covering the theme song for The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. Yes... you read that correctly. And Jimmy Fallon doesn't even crack up half way through.

Check it out below.

... submitted by JJ

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ohbijou @ The Exchange

Indie darlings Ohbijou made their way through our neck of the woods Monday, bringing their brand of orchestral chamber dream pop to a decent sized crowd. Ohbijou have been getting lots of buzz across the world since their debut album Swift Feet For Troubling Times came out a couple years ago. After seeing them live and listening to their two albums, I can definitely say the acclaim is well deserved.

Ohbijou are a band that are not going to leap out at anyone. Their music, which is infused with violin, cello, horns, and lush keyboards, is ideal for movie soundtracks or for chilling out at a coffee shop. If you are a fan of Stars, Broken Social Scene or Metric's more mellow offerings I would highly recommend this band.

The band, which is based out of Toronto and led by sisters Casey (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards) and Jennifer (violin, vocals) Mecija, perfectly replicate their layered sound onstage. Casey's voice is very soft, but shows flashes of gutteral power every now and then. This is pretty impressive considering the diminutive size of the singer.

Overall, I was really impressed with the show. My only complaint, which is very minor, is that their music might be a bit TOO mellow for a live performance. That being said, after listening to their two albums on my iPod for the last couple of weeks I knew what to expect. But it might be a bit off-putting for a newbie to the band.

The band were pretty serene and sedate during their performance. However, given the music they play, you can't exactly expect scissor kicks and windmill guitar strokes. Casey kept her onstage banter to a minimum but when she did speak she was extremely soft spoken, exhibiting a hint of shyness. However, this added a certain charm to the performance.

Long story short, it was a great way to spend a Monday night. You can check them out at their myspace page here.

... submitted by JJ