Thursday, April 23, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - April 22/09

Bell Orchestre's "As Seen Through Windows" is a disc that would never get serviced to me as promo. Being largely identified as an offshoot of Arcade Fire, any advance copies would go to a magazine or newspaper's more senior indie rock writers (if they hadn't already received promo directly from friends in the band). Even though I play my fair share of classical crossover experiments (including Loop 2.4.3. in this show), and would feel comfortable reviewing/being assigned this disc if it were recorded by a bunch of unknowns, it's never going to land on my desk.

However, the best thing about being a Polaris Music Prize juror is access to a site where I can download whatever albums are mentioned by 175 of my music journalist peers over the course of the year. Right now, there are several dozen albums supplied by artists for the jury's consideration. These range from the most popular to complete obscurities. So, such streams of promo like I just described, no longer matter.

These downloads have had a significant effect on my programming over the last few months. The AI is all about a widescreen sweep of music, and this resource IMAXes my range. Sure, I could download everything I'm curious about illegally, but the larger point is that my peers will make me curious about something in the first place through the online discussion forum for jurors. I can then go check out the music immediately with no fuss and excellent fidelity.

This download site helps level the promo playing field. Much of the music I champion is hampered by labels or individuals with tiny promo budgets, and it's unlikely that most of the jury would ever hear or receive this music. It's great to be able to suggest a title, have it available for download, and turn on music critics throughout Canada in a way the artist could never foresee.

As much as I tend to make snide remarks about how indie rock dominates the critical consensus of this country, there's a lot of music to love in 2008-9 (or any year). It's important for me to STFU and open my ears regardless of my what I think belongs on my turf. I may stand apart from many critics in my musical tastes, but I won't reject more popular music on principle. It goes without saying that I hope the reverse is true.

About the music? Bell Orchestre rocks! Secret game-raising ingredient? Producer John McEntire. Not so secret ingredient? A much greater command of the instrumental voicings in the band expressed through better songs than their first album, made super-heavy by McEntire.

For superior coverage of what the album/band is all about, please visit Michael Barclay, who is in the rare position of knowing the band members personally and not resort to a half-assed list of RIYL band names as a substitute for genuine & profound musical analysis.


bedeekina iskigetimen - tilahun gessesse (ethiosound)
crazy about you baby - l.t. and the soulful dynamics (numero)
don't burn down the bridge - albert king (stax)
hymn for a perfect heart of a pearl pt. 1 - dennis gonzalez (konnex)
njabala - birigwa (porter)
thorsburger the skinny - now orchestra (now orchestra)
dark matter - loop 2.4.3. (music starts from silence)
blimey - ramadanman (scape)
cat and mouse - mr. scruff (ninja tune)
karnival - ghislain poirier (ninja tune)
icicles/bicycles - bell orchestre (arts and crafts)
la llama - savath and savalas (stones throw)
masenqo - mulatu & the heliocentrics (stones throw)
rosmani - roswell rudd & toumani diabate (emarcy)
eh congo - ahmad janka nabay (no label)
tribulations - earth roots and water (light in the attic)
land of love - sons of light (heartbeat)
binshaker dub - twilight circus (m)
sproing a dub - burning babylon (sound shack)
pure and clean - alpha and omega (a & o)
sha la la - maytones (heartbeat)

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