Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back In 15 Minutes Takes Another Extended Break

Well folks,
It's that time again where I leave my computer behind for an extended period of time. Starting tomorrow I will be leading canoe trips in beautiful northern Ontario. I will be back to my computer and ready to provide everyone with more reviews, interviews and industry news by the end of August. I hope the summer is wonderful for everyone and filled with lots of great music.

Take care,
-Lucas Samuels, Back In 15 Minutes.

Film Review: Stones In Exile

There’s a certain irony captured in Stephen Kijak’s film Stones In Exile, the documentary of the Rolling Stones’ now legendary double record, Exile On Main St. The group was literally exiled from England for not being able to pay their taxes. So, they left the country in their private jet. The Stones set course for the south of France and made camp in Nellcôte, Keith Richard’s pristine colonial style mansion. Funny enough, the time leading up to the recording of the album was seemingly wholesome. The black and white stock footage portrays the Stones as family men first and foremost. With wives, girlfriends and small children running around, the initial stages of Exile On Main St. do not appear to be very rock and roll at all.

With no suitable recording space to be found in all of southern France however, the Stones (plus a three piece horn section) opted to record in the basement of Nellcôte. With this vital decision came darkness, an underlying theme of the record and the movie. The dank, dingy and mercilessly hot basement was made up of many small rooms and proved to be a less than ideal recording space. Regardless, the Stones set up shop and recorded the bulk of Exile there. A six-month process.

What the stock footage, still photographs and newly recorded video footage of Jagger and Watts illustrates is that Exile On Main St., (as cliché as it might sound), was literally fueled by sex, drugs and rock and roll. We get to witness the relentless pot smoking (which was never hidden from the children), the whiskey-induced musical madness and the hard drugs, all of which acted as the motivation for the album. The film also reveals that some of the most famous songs weren’t even cut by the band as a whole! The recording of Exile was intensely sporadic; band members traipsed in and out of Nellcôte at their leisure, recording at any given hour of the day. Though the final product may seem like a finally crafted labor of love, throughout the film members of the Stones’ happily admit that much of the music they created was actually garbage. Before Stones In Exile, most fans would find that hard to believe.

Anyone who has listened to the provocative Exile On Main St. knows that there is mysteriously dark vibe to it. What Stones In Exile provides moviegoers with is the ultimate fly-on-the-wall experience, a window into the on-goings of a bunch of exiled-against-their-will Londoners. Though only an hour in length, Stones In Exile is a dense journey that will leave you wondering how the hell the Rolling Stones came out of southern France alive, and with one of rock and roll’s greatest albums to boot.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Film Review: This Movie Is Broken

Making a concert film is no easy task. How do you capture the true spirit of a band when they are conscious (and perhaps even self-conscious) of the cameras rolling? Broken Social Scene bandleaders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning recognized this problem and found an easy way around it. They simply did not tell their 16 other bandmates that their first reunion show since 2004 was being filmed. Seriously. In the summer of 2009, during Toronto’s embarrassing city-wide garbage strike, director Doug McDonald was able to capture a truly beautiful evening with a band performing in sweet, sweet ignorance.

This Movie Is Broken focuses on Bruno (Greg Calderone) finally bagging his life-long crush/long-time platonic friend Caroline Rush (Georgina Reilly). But with every should-be-relationship there comes a catch. Caroline is leaving for Paris the next day. Instead of discussing the obvious disasters of a long-distance relationship, Caroline requests that the two spend their last evening together at the Broken Social Scene concert. What better place for Bruno to prove the authenticity of his love for Caroline than at the show?

The band itself is in fine form throughout the beautiful summer evening. Performing classic songs such as the chilling “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl” as well as new songs from the band’s freshly released new album,Forgiveness Rock Record, the connection between Broken Social Scene’s band members, as well as their love for Toronto is unmistakable and quite uplifting. The group’s sprawling and layered tunes provide a more than complementary backdrop to both the drama and comedy between Bruno, best friend Blake and Caroline. While the film has a romantic twist that seems oddly out of place, This Movie Is Broken is largely a success.

Watch the trailer

Band To Watch: Tin Soldier

A band that I've been following a lot over the last year is a group of Berklee undergraduates calling themselves Tin Soldier. They're a six-piece collective with members hailing from all over the world (from Canada all the way to France) and are making making music well beyond their years. The group is comprised of lead singer Manu Laudic, lead guitarist Dustin Olyan, keyboardist Zachary Tenorio-Miller, drummer Curran McDowell, guitarist/mandolin player Christopher Putt, and bassist Aaron “Count” Stern. They've spent the last couple of months recording their debut, self-titled, 6 song EP and it is well worth a listen.

The album opens with the piano-driven pop-rocker "Don't Leave Me (Behind)". The track is clearly influenced by contemporary poppers like John Mayer, but brings in heavier sounds too, reminiscent of Wilco. "Don't Leave Me (Behind)" is a radio-ready tune with some beautiful harmonies and a wildly impressive guitar solo from lead guitarist and up-coming virtuoso Dustin Olyan.

Acoustic guitar, a thumping bass line and playful piano provide the backdrop for the band's thoughts on modern war mid-way through the EP on "Soldier". Another wickedly-catchy song, "Soldier" illustrates the band's careful songwriting and some very memorable vocal breaks.

Credibility is huge for up-and-coming bands, and who better to endorse Tin Soldier than Jon Anderson, lead singer of the classic-progressive rock group Yes. Anderson lends his striking vocals on "Time As It Is", the album's longest and headiest track. A slow-building number with a monstrously dynamic ending, "Time As It Is" shows the versatility and confidence of this up-and-coming group from Boston.

Look for an official release of the EP in the very near future. For now, head over to Tin Soldier's MySpace page to give the 6 tracks a listen.

Also check out this fantastic acoustic version of "Don't Leave Me (Behind) recorded earlier this year.

Here the band plays "Hat Song"

The Roots & Jim James - Dear God 2.0

Last year Jim James, Conor Oberst, M. Ward and Mike Mogis released a beautiful folk record under the moniker "Monsters of Folk". The album opened with the harp and echo filled "Dear God". The song confused me at first. I certainly couldn't believe that the rest of the album would follow its airy and haunting vibe, and I was correct. "Dear God" felt extremely out of place to me on that album, and to this day, probably 100 listens in, I still feel the same way about it.

A couple of days ago I heard that Jim James would be appearing on Jimmy Fallon, performing "Dear God 2.0". This re-incarnation is featured on The Roots'up-coming release titled How I Got Over. When I heard the news I immediately headed to to give the track a listen. I love The Roots and I love what they've been doing on Fallon, but their last few albums haven't impressed me all that much. After listening to "Dear God 2.0" I was shocked. While they haven't really re-arranged the song all that much, the tunes slow rhythm and heavy reliance on a string section make it a very unique backing track for a hip hop song. Not to mention, the Jim James vocal sample adds a certain music connoisseur credibility, which I find pretty cool.

Last night My Morning Jacket frontman and Monsters of Folk member Jim James took the stage with The Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and delivered an amazing rendition of "Dear God 2.0".

Friday, June 18, 2010

Simon & Garfunkel Tour Postponed...Indefinitely

I think it's safe to say that most music fans were looking forward to seeing legendary folk rockers Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel reunite for a big string of shows. Unfortunately, Garfunkel has been suffering from vocal paresis and will be unable to perform. The two released the following statement:

"The Simon & Garfunkel tour that had been set for July has now been postponed indefinitely. The tour, originally set for April and then rescheduled for July, is now on hold as Art Garfunkel continues to recover from a vocal paresis. According to his doctors, Art is expected to make a full recovery, however they cannot predict an exact timeline. This condition (paresis) inhibits the duo from performing shows at the highest possible level and it is for that reason and out of respect for their fans that Paul and Art have decided to put the tour on hold.

Simon & Garfunkel regret any inconvenience this has caused their fans and are looking forward to rescheduling the dates when Art fully recovers. Art says, "I do feel bad about disrupting so many people's plans but, as I continue to mend, I can't yet bring my 'A Game' to a tour, and I would not perform for you with anything less."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Back In 15 MInutes Hits NXNE 2010

Since things have been a bit slow around here for the past little while I figure I should throw down a little bit of an update. Today I received my press credentials for Toronto's own NXNE Music Festival. The festival features 650 bands and 40 films. While I'd love to provide everyone with a ton of show and film reviews, the venues in Toronto are quite spread out and one can spend a pretty penny on transportation alone. That being said, I will be covering the following:

Broken Social Scene - This Movie Is Broken
Last year BSS played a free show in Toronto, filmed it, and the inter-spliced it with a "I finally slept with my dream girl and she's leaving the country forever...tomorrow" love story.

The Rolling Stones - Stones In Exile
This documentary features candid footage of the Stones in their prime, recording what I believe to be their greatest achievement ever, "Exile On Main St.".

Zeus - Toronto band blending Beatles-esque harmonies with an unmistakably catchy brand of 90s alt-rock

Timber Timbre - Gothic blues...haunting stuff that will make your blood curl and your feet tap

Surfer Blood - Summer sounds from California, surprise surprise they mention surfing and make other assorted water references throughout most of their songs. Pitchfork digs 'em.

De La Soul - one of the quintessential, positive forces in hip-hop. Forget money, girls and guns, De La Soul has got too much class for that shit, not to mention their silky flow.

Possible shows I will be attending:
The Treasures - Rock-a-billy revivalist band from Toronto with sweet harmonies.
AA Bondy - Folk rock, a man, his guitar, and his harmonica.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jay-Z Live At The Isle of Wight Festival

Very few performers let alone rappers hold a candle to Jay-Z. After seeing him live earlier this year I can honestly say he is one of the most electrifying, enthralling and enthusiastic live performers out there today. I stumbled across this fantastic video of Jigga truly bringing down the house at England's legendary Isle of Wight Festival. The anthem of "Run This Town" simply pours over the entire audience who happily throw the infamous Roc-A-Fella diamond symbol up into the air. Not only does Jay deliver a stellar performance, the crowd absolutely loses it once Kanye West makes a return to the stage. Check it out