Blog Archive

More Music from the Inbox: 21 June 2012

June 21st, 2012 | by Alan Cross

It's the second day of summer.  That means out here in Calgary (where I've set up shop for the week) the sun doesn't completely disappear until almost 11:00.  And because the sky starts to get bright shortly after 4, it's good to have blackout curtains at the ready.

Brent Chittenden does the final honours on this latest double-filtered round of music recommendations.

Artist: Rebecca Gates and The Consortium

Album: The Float

There was a time when Rebecca’s former duo, The Spinanes, where indie rock darlings. That was a long time ago. Despite the 11 year space between albums, Rebecca has come back and reminded us why they were in the spotlight. Great tunes. 

Sounds Like: Mellow Sub Pop

Link / Listen / Watch:  Stream it here.

New Music This Week on Squish

June 21st, 2012 | by Alan Cross

Squish is the commercial-free online alt-rock radio station I program for Astral Radio.  Here’s this week’s chart. Directions on where

Sled Island: Day 1

June 20th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

[CALGARY] - On the way in from the airport last night, it occurred to me that I've never been to Calgary in the summer.  All my visits have been either in the late fall or in the dead of winter.

I'm here for Sled Island, western Canada's largest independent music festival. Think of it almost as NXNE west (Was NXNW taken?  And I'm still not sure why it's called Sled Island, given that no islands are involved.  Must be some kind of local metaphor.)

Things begin tonight with events at 16 venues in and around the downtown area.  I'm hoping to catch CFCF and Timber Timbre at the Theatre Junction Grand and then the reformed Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet T the #1 Legion.  Failing that, CBC Radio 3 has a nice lineup at the Palamino featuring HONEEHONEE and The Zolas.

I also plan to check out the National Music Centre at some point. This place is well on its way to becoming Canada's official music hall of fame and museum.  

If you're in Calgary (or just interested in what's going on here), follow me at @alancross on Twitter.

A Chance for a Band to Play Iceland for Free

June 20th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

Sadly, this opportunity is only open to American acts.  But this site has an ever-increasing number of US readers, I'm posting it as a service to them.  

(NOTE TO ORGANIZERS:  Guess which country in has the largest number of people of Icelandic descent outside of Iceland?  That's right:  Canada.  And guess which currency might be adopted as the official Icelandic currency?  Answers:  Canada.  Why are you excluding us from this?)

From the press release:

For the second year in a row, Reyka Vodka - the first vodka to ever be distilled and bottled in Iceland - will give two up-and-coming American bands the chance to play alongside some of the most cutting-edge names in music at the annual Iceland Airwaves Music Festival in Reykjavik.

Weekly Music Sales Report: 20 June 2012

June 20th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

There are lots of changes in the Top Ten of the Canadian album charts this week, pushing sales up 18% over last week's sad showing.  The Canadian industry is still pacing 3% ahead of last year.  Physical CD sales are down 8% over 2011 while digital album sales are up 31%.  Digital track sales are at +27%.

Rush gets a #1 debut with Clockwork Angels, selling an impressive 20,000 units.  Believe it or not, this is the first Rush album to debut at #1 since SoundScan came to Canada in 1995.  It's also their best first-week total ever, besting Snakes and Arrows (2007) by 2,000 copies.

Major props to Metric for achieving a #2 debut with Synthetica (16,000).  Keep in mind that Metric is now totally self-contained and is 100% DIY, from recording to radio promotion.  Some 63% of Metric's sales came from digital sales.  About 75% of Rush's sales were physical. Interesting, no?

This is New: Vibrotactile Music

June 20th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

You'd think that all the musical instruments that need to be invented have been invented.  Not so according to Carmen Branje, who sent me a note on Twitter.

The Vibraphone looks like a keyboard that wouldn't be out of place in some science fiction music.  It's described thusly:

The Vibrochord is a new keyboard-like device, that when coupled with the vibrotactile display The Emoti-Chair, enables a new art form, vibrotactile music. Vibrotactile music is much like audio music, in which patterns of vibrations are presented to a recipient over time, however vibrotactile music presents vibration to the skin as vibrotactile stimulation rather than to the ear as sound.

Okay, you got me.  I really want to try this now.

A Must-Read: The David Lowery vs. The Haters Flame War

June 20th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

If you haven't been following along, here's the backstory:

1.  Emily White of National Public Radio posted a piece about explaining that while she has 11,000 songs, she has only purchased 15 CDs in her life.

2.  David Lowery (Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven), already an outspoken critic of the way the music business is evolving, offered a rebuttal.

3.  The whole back-and-forth went viral, from the New York Times to the Huffington Post.  People lined up on both sides of the argument. It got nasty.  (Lefsetz also sent out an email featuring comments on on the controversy.  Both sides were pretty adamant in their positions.)

So where are we now?  Digital Music News offers this conclusion:

Are You Burning Through Music Instead of Savouring It?

June 20th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

If you've ever heard me speak on the subject of how music is consumed today, you've heard me talk about a notion called "ego-casting."  Because we have so much choice and 100% control over what we listen to, we tend to exclude everything we hate and listen only to the music we find appealing.

What's wrong with that?  Because sometimes we have to be exposed to certain types of music against our will repeatedly until we go "Ah! Now I get it!"

The example I use is modern jazz. No one likes modern jazz the first time they hear it.  It's too complex and too far removed from mainstream tastes that 99.9% of listeners go "Yuck!  Turn that off!" And they'll never bother with modern jazz again.  Which is a shame.

It's that repeated unintentional exposure that forces us to pay attention and learn.  If we refuse to do that--if we only go by first impressions--then we end up missing out on a lifetime's worth of musical discovery.

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