22 December 2006

I'm writing you from Montreal. Bye bye.














Another year shudders to
a close like a VIA train being decommissioned, and I wave bye-bye to 2006 with a great sense of relief. I think some of what I love about this work got killed off this year by the sheer oversaturation of music and music coverage - it's just NOT that important, people - but at the same time, the impulse to get away from the endless beige blather yielded a lot of new listening trajectories. The little engine that called itself indie rock careened right off the tracks this year for me. But there are enough musicians bucking the beige trend - people called Kaada and Amiina and Feuermusik and Joanna Newsom and Nico Muhly - that I am confident that the most bloated aspects of the blogosphere will just collapse under the weight of its own self-importance, and that this time next year we'll find ourselves instead curled up in armchairs with other actual live people, listening to records and having real conversations about music. At least, that's where I intend to be.

I found myself listening in different directions this year, and despite not yet knowing who to talk to about all this, I found it intensely pleasurable. So, here's to a year of no more blog reading and much more writing. Today I finish my brief little tenure at one of the nation's most beloved radio shows, and look forward to two uninterrupted weeks of listening as pleasure, not as work. I expect other things to become clear as well.

I'm not much of a fan of the year-end list (and its ridiculous relation, the mid-year list, an exercise that makes about as much semantic sense as the sixth-month anniversary). It's not because I'm a girl, as some would suggest (with not a little trace of prescriptive sexism), but because the universe of measuring my worth by what I listen to is not one I want to inhabit. But for the sake of not being left out of the conversation, however (and you know how I can't bear to miss a good argument) I'm going to write about some of the records that sent my head spinning and left my heart happily inflamed. Not because I have any desire to produce some sort of definitive statement about the year in music. But because one of my favourite records was made by a Norwegian best known for an album of turntablism who turned his attention instead to arranging a 22 piece orchestra and writing scores for films that lurk in dreams. And another
was made by a brass band with punk roots from the Netherlands, reciting words written by Flannery O'Connor and Byron translated into Dutch.

by the way -- tonight on Brave New Waves -- singing songs for leaving, songs for crying on the Metro, and a song that everyone wants to talk about but no-one seems to listen to, recorded in Budapest and New York and Montreal.

very[post]script:

because some have asked, and because it was on encore un fois last night:

Benjy Ferree - Little At A Time - Leaving The Nest (domino)
Great Lake Swimmers - I Will Never See The Sun - Great Lake Swimmers (weewerk) +
Palace Brothers - I Tried To Stay Healthy For You - There Is No-One What Will Take Care Of You
* flamenco busker in Berri-UQAM
Arcade Fire - Intervention - Neon Bible (merge, forthcoming) +
Friendly Rich & The Lollipop People - Sure that I'm Sure - We Need a New F-Word (pumpkin pie) +
Evan Gordon - Ouija Board - Classical Gas Mask (indie) +
Habitat - Next Year - Habitat EP (indie) +
Born On A Train - The Magnetic Fields - The Charm Of The Highway Strip (merge)
Neko Case - California - Canadian Amp (lady pilot)
Julie Doiron - Dark Horse - Woke Myself Up (endearing) +
* late night on the orange line
DSD - Sunlit Clearing - Norsk Drag (indie) +
Tom Waits - Take It With Me - Mule Variations (anti)

3 Comments:

Blogger Ryshpan said...

Helen, I listened to about half the show, and it was/is wonderful. I'm angry for not staying up later and catching the rest of your shows. I liked the song you mention at the bottom of your post a lot more than I thought I would (not naming names, for the discovery through radio you blogged about earlier).

Safe travels back to Guelph, and come back soon.

23 December, 2006 00:34  
Anonymous Peter said...

Very nice show, Helen.

Anemities is a wonderful word.

23 December, 2006 02:00  
Blogger J. Everett R. said...

I enjoyed your stint on BNW. I guess it's clear Patti has moved on, but to you, best of luck on the audition (?), or was it just for fun? No one says anything...xo

03 January, 2007 03:07  

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