Happy Christmas To You And Yours - 2017 Sunday December 24, 2017

Sometimes traditions don’t really need an explanation. The Pogues – Fairytale of New York is one of those.

So from my family to yours, have a Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2018. Love and joy to everyone.

Categories: The-Personnal, The-Past,

ctoverdrive's Top Five Records of 2017 Friday December 22, 2017

I’m not going to lie, after an almost three-year hiatus on this thing, I’m kinda blown away that it still works.

So let’s start off with a rambling story. See when I was a young man in my early 20s, I was always astonished that “middle aged” people (those old fossils in their mid 30s) didn’t know what was going on in the pop-culture world. I found it offensive that people a mere ten years older than I, didn’t listen to the newest bands and records or were unable to list off, by memory, the current listings for places like the Uptown or Plaza theatre. What was wrong with these people? How could they become so uncool? Like honestly, how does everyone not know that Andrew W.K. is playing the Back Alley on a Tuesday evening in the middle of February!

Anyways, fast-forward fifteen odd years, and I as I sit here as one of those mid-30s fossils, I fully realize how much of a pretentious twerp I was back in the day.

What does that have to do with my top five records of 2017? Pretty much nothing. I’m just old and love stories. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie. I shared that story to give people a heads up that this list isn’t going to mimic Pitchfork’s list of bands that nobody has actually heard and to justify not waxing philosophically about every chord arrangement on each track of my top five albums.

So without further delay, here are my favourite records of 2017. Hope you enjoy’em and find some new music to listen to over the holidays.

1. Run The Jewels – III

Technically this doesn’t count as a 2017 release, as it came out on Boxing Day of ’16, but it’s impossible to overlook RTJ’s third album. In my opinion, there isn’t a more interesting or important act out there than El-P and rapper Killer Mike (sorry Kendrick Lamar fans). RTJ3 is brash, aggressive, unapologetic, and frankly the record that 2017’s endless string of chaos needed.

Throw a double finger with a fist
Here at the abyss
I will be your tour guide
It is war time, check your wrists (Ready, kids?)
Over to your right, shine a light
Got a bevy ready for the fight
I just wanna live, I don’t wanna ever have to load a clip
Only hunt bliss
I am still a kid in my heart.
(From 2100)

2. The xx – I see you

Over the past decade, London’s The xx (and to an extent Jamie xx) have quietly become one of my favourite bands. While the overall themes from record to record can sometimes blur together, their emotional and mesmerizing sound easily makes up for the lack of extreme diversity on each new record. There are elements of I see you which seem to be recycled from previous albums, but at the end of the day I see you sees this amazing trio with a far more upbeat and, dare I say, happy sound. Tracks such as Say Something, On Hold and I Dare You are some of their best work.

3. Beck – Colors

I’ve always been an unapologetic fan of Beck’s more up-tempo tracks and releases. I know everyone loves the mopey and critically acclaimed drivel of Sea Change and Morning Phase, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the less critically heralded additions to his catalogue. Records like Odelay and Midnight Vultures are regularly rescued from the depths of my CD collection for an occasional spin. So I was pleasantly surprised to see Colors as an upbeat change in musical direction. Sure it has the vintage signature tracks such as Wow and _ Seventh Heaven_, but tracks like Colors, Up All Night, and my favourite No Distraction are some of the best pop music to come out in 2017.

4. Queens of the Stone Age – Villains

Villains may never be as perfect as the quintessential Songs for the Deaf, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a really good album. The swinging The Way You Used To Do is probably one of the songs of the year (and also the most accessible track on the album), but that doesn’t take away from other songs such as Un-Reborn Again and The Evil has Landed. The true gem of the Villains is Head Like a Haunted House. Lasting all of three and a quarter minutes, Head Like a Haunted House takes you on a psychobilly rollercoaster through five different songs structures. Honestly, try listening to it on a good set of headphones and track the musical deviations and then contemplate how in hell someone could play this live. It’s an incredible achievement.

5. The Beaches – Late Show

The Beaches flew completely under the radar in 2017, but these four kick-ass women from Toronto are destined for rock n’ roll stardom. If you enjoy some of the best brit rock of the early 2000s, Luscious Jackson, or even the rockier elements of Tegan and Sara then Late Show is a record you should pick-up. Every track on their debut is a shout-a-long joyride; but Keeper is by far the best two and a half minutes of rock you’ve heard in a few years.

The also rans…

Portugal The Man – Woodstock

Woodstock probably deserves to be on my top five, but it got squeezed out due to stringent Canadian content regulations (which for my American records dictates I find away to promote Canadian culture in every blog post). You’ve all heard their infectious single Feel It Still. I know this because it because the defacto soundtrack to a mid-summer road trip to Denver (The Windy City) that I took this summer. But even with all the hallmarks of a one-hit wonder, Woodstock is a pretty complete record from beginning to end. Live in The Moment and Easy Tiger are just as joyous as the more popular Feel It Still.

Categories: The-Music, The-Pop-Culture,

Happy Christmas To You And Yours - 2015 Thursday December 24, 2015

Well kids, another year is in the books and another Christmas season is around the corner. I should probably write something profound, but I’ll save that for another time. This year Christmas came a couple of days early to my little family. After two years of living apart, my wife and I have completed our massive move to Calgary (well sort of) and with that we’re having an extra special and rewarding Christmas together. And while I could continue on with a mushy and rambling post about the past year, I’d rather spend that time hanging out with the family and enjoying some Christmas merriment.

So to continue on with the tradition from past years, we have the greatest Irish festive carol by the legendary Pogues to kick off the Christmas season.

I also want to wish you and your family a very, very Happy Christmas and all the best in 2016. May your Quality street chocolates be as tasty as ever.

Categories: The-Personnal, The-Family,

ctoverdrive's Top Five Records of 2015 Sunday December 13, 2015

Guess what kids? It’s time for my yearly Top Five Records of the Year post.

Now, a couple of things before we get into the nitty gritty of this list. First off, the death of rdio has had a big impact on how I cobbled together the list this year. Not only does the end of my beloved rdio mean that you won’t be able to stream the these records in a single playlist, like last year’s list, but it also a changed how I manufactured this year’s list of records.

See, rather than sitting down and brainstorming my favourite records from memory, this year I let “my rdio history“http://www.rdio.com/people/ctoverdrive/ dictate the selection of records that qualified for the list. In comparison to my previous best of lists, there turns out to be a couple of surprises on this year’s list. Two of the records on here were absolute givens, but the other three were a bit of a shock and interesting enough to supplant a few records that probably should have made the list.

So without further adieu, here’s my favourite records of 2015.

1. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

It terms of placement and ranking, this is probably the easiest of my selections. And if I’m being honest there hasn’t been a more obvious choice since Rob placed Smells Like Teen Spirit on his Top Five Track One/Side One list. Soulful, powerful and mesmerizing, Sound & Color truly is just all around brilliant. From the initial wandering moments during it’s namesake title track to the last few guitar strings on Over My Head, Sound & Color is an album of pure perfection. Tracks like Dune and Don’t Want To Fight No More are those heartfelt sing out loud songs that are perfect for the open highway or just stumbling around your apartment late at night. If you don’t already own the album, either as a download or as one of those fancy CD thingies, do yourself a favour and just go out and buy it.

2. Jamie xx – In Colour

Whether it’s the Caribbean infused beats of Obvs or the uplifting soulful swings of Loud Places, In Colour screams to be spun multiple times through a set of high quality headphones or speakers. As a record that strikes a perfect balance between moody and introspective ballads and feet on floor “dance” tracks. My only minor beef with In Colour is that if you’re already familiar Jamie xx’s (a.k.a Jamie Smith) main gig as lead of The xx and previous remix work, In Colour may actually feel like a more elaborate and experimental The xx record than anything truly unique and life altering. But when it comes to black marks to describe a record, anything with the same pedigree of previous The xx records is nothing to really complain about.

3. MUTEMATH – Vitals

I know I make this comment almost every year, but the state of rock/alternative music is sad and pathetic. It’s the musical equivalent of the Edmonton Oiler’s second round draft picks over the past decade. If I’m being perfectly honest, I can probably count the number of acts out there that I feel are really crafting unique and accessible music with one and a half hands. Now luckily for everyone New Orleans quartet MUTEMATH happens to be one of those bands. Although it only rolled out a couple of weeks ago, Vitals manages to carry the torch of the band’s previous underrated masterpieces with it’s mind-bending techno-fusion of alt-rock and Southern Louisiana soul. Tracks like Joy Rides, Monument, Vitals and Used To pop out of the speakers like sonic firecrackers and the entire record is a mind-melting tour from start to finish.

4. Atomic Tom – ERA

Trust me, when it comes to compiling lists of the best music of 2015, this will be the only place you’ll find this record. If I’m being honest I was kinda floored to find it as one of my most listened to albums… that was until I gave it another listen.

So who the hell is Atomic Tom? If you’re a long time fan of the old c.t.overdrive blog, you may recognize Atomic Tom as the quartet of New Yorkers who went viral by recording their first single, Take Me Out, using their iPhones and a couple of speakers on a NYC Subway car. Atomic Tom’s sound also happens to be a massive throw back to some of my favourite glory music of the 80s – bands like Human League, Duran Duran, A-Ha, and of course Culture Club. ERA is their second “major” release and while it’s not as technically awe inspiring as other records on this list, ERA does happen to be thirteen simple and wonderfully nostalgic tracks that are a breath of fresh air when juxtaposed against most of the other garbage coming out of the modern rock/alternative music genre.

5. CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye

So how does Scottish synth-pop trio CHVRCHES follow-up their stunning debut album? Of course they knock it right out of the pitch with a full catalog of tracks just as strong and catchy as anything that appeared on their refreshing The Bones Of What You Believe. Again, I must be some kinda of closet 80s music junkie, because similar to Atomic Tom before them CHVRCHES grabs some of the best elements of the 80s and slams them headfirst in to the digital age. Stealing elements of Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys to build a full record of engaging and artistic pop tracks.

The also rans…

Big Data – 2.0

Straight up, I have no bloody idea how I stumbled across this record. Seriously, who the hell is Big Data?

That being said, 2.0 is a mess of a mash-up album that is made up of smouldering pop songs that don’t even exist. While that sounds messed-up, and trust me it is, 2.0 actually turns out to be an album you can’t stop listening to. There’s no real rhyme or reason with the record and the tracks disjointedly flow into one another with no linear connection. But if you take a minute to give songs like Dangerous, Clean, Snowed In (Featuring Rivers Cuomo), and The Business of Emotion a spin for a couple of hours you’ll find it almost impossible to remove them from your playlist. I dare you. It makes no sense, but it’s impossible.

The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness

It was hard not to sneak Beauty Behind The Madness into the top five this year. Tracks like Can’t Feel My Face and The Hills were not only infectious, but inescapable within the pop culture realm. But at the end of the day, while sonically this record is on a different plane than most anything that came out this year and the aforementioned tracks will probably define most of 2015, there is only so many tracks about “hooking up” that an old fossil like myself can really give a damn about.

Grimes – Art Angels

The first single from Art Angels, Flesh Without Blood, is one of the best pop songs you’ll hear all year. I probably can’t pinpoint my own personal attraction to this song, but it’s undeniably infectious. But the problem with Art Angels as a record is that it never really matches the same layered music heights as Flesh Without Blood does, so the record as a whole doesn’t make the top five. But as probably one of the best pop songs of 2015, Flesh Without Blood sure does give the record enough streetcred to warrant a mention on this list.

Categories: The-Music, The-Pop-Culture,

Sad Vader is Sad Saturday February 14, 2015

Sometimes life imitates art.

Mulroney doing his best Sad Vader. #puppylife

A photo posted by Connor Turner (@ctoverdrive) on


Categories: The-ArtWorld, The-Family,

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