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C.T.OVERDRIVE: The Pop-Culture Connor Turner Overdrive | c.t.overdrive

The Pop-Culture

ctoverdrive's Top Five Records of 2018 Saturday December 29, 2018

It might just be my age, but I thought 2018 was a pretty lacklustre year for music. Yes, I acknowledge I’m not the music aficionado that I was for most of my 20s, but putting this list together was an epic chore. I have a list of far more disappointing records, then I do of records that blew my mind away. Most of the bands who should have put together some interesting music, [cough] Arctic Monkeys [cough], laid bonafide eggs and others didn’t release any thing of interest. And given the political climate and social turmoil engulfing the world, you’d think that 2018 would have been a perfect year for music to provide a societal elixir.

But alas, it wasn’t.

But even with that debbie downer of a preamble, enjoy my list. If you have a recommendation, that isn’t Kendrik Lamar, I’d love to hear it. Hope you enjoy’em and find some new music to listen to over round out the holidays.

1. Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar

I stumbled upon this gem, while doing my yearly poaching of records from various best of lists and I am so happy I found it. Now I will warn you it’s a totally unique listen and it’ll take a listen or two to really dig into the fascinating vocal and sonic layers and lyrical play/structure. So it takes a bit of a patience, but the reward is fantastic. Tracks like In My View, Fee Fi, Lord, and Wow are easily career making standouts. It’s really not a record that can be easily compared to anything else out there, so it’s best to just fire up the headphones and strap yourself in for a weird wonderful journey.

2. Dear Rouge – PHASES

Even though a couple of their hits, are probably overplayed a bit due to can-con regulations, this is easily my favourite “alternative/rock” record of 2018. If you need something to quench that CHVRCHES or early Metric vibe, then Phases is the record for you. Dear Rouge is probably one of the few Canadian acts that I would strongly recommend keeping an eye out for in the near future. They have star potential written all over them.

(Plus the added head nod to my favourite mid ranged city along the QEII also helps their cool factor).

3. Pusha T – Daytona

Even with the taint of a MAGA-era Kanye West (who produced the album as apart of his infamous Wyoming sessions), Daytona is Pusha T at his finest. Not that it should be a surprise to anyone who has been following his career since his days with The Clipse and The Neptunes movement of the early 2000s.

4. Elton John – Reimagining the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin

I have always had a soft spot for a good set of covers, so when Queens of The Stone Age announced they had contributed their take on Yellow Brick Road I was already sold. Oddly enough, it’s probably not the strongest of the covers on this collection. Tracks such as Alessia Cara’s cover of I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues and Sam Smith’s cover of Daniel are the true gems of this compilation.

5. Black Panther – Original Soundtrack

As I’ve stated about 2,000 times, I am in no way a massive Kendrick Lamar fan. For whatever reason, he falls into my category of acts like Arcade Fire ‘that everyone adores, but I just don’t get’. But this record, this record is just exceptionally crafted. Not a single track on it doesn’t embody the spirit and feel of the movie – and in this day and age of one-hit wonders that on to itself is achievement. Plus it produced two of the mot unique pop tracks of the year in All The Stars and Pray For Me.

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

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,

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“ 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,

ctoverdrive's Top Five Records of 2014 Wednesday December 31, 2014

And like clockwork, it’s time for me to continue my yearly tradition of dusting off my music critic reviewr hat to conjure up my top five favourite records of 2014. Sure, this list doesn’t match the elitist snobbery of Pitchfork’s list or the complete obviousness of Rolling Stone’s list, but hopefully there are a few records or tracks in here that will give you something new to listen to during the Holiday season.

No this year’s list is a bit of a surprise in that it was dominated by some strong female (or female based) acts, rather than the usual suspects like Beck, St. Vincent, Spoon or even Bruce Springsteen.

(And like last year, you can use the playlist above to listen to all the albums on this list)

1. Brody Dalle – Diploid Love.

The Distiller’s Coral Fang is probably one of my all-time favourite records, so it goes without saying that the first solo record from ex-lead singer Brody Dalle would be on my list for 2014. It also helps that Brody Dalle is the better half of my unhealthy man crush – Josh Homme. Now regardless of those obscure personal biases, Diploid Love is a pretty fierce and fantastic pop-punk record from beginning to end. Yes, it probably won’t appease many of the punk purists out there, but for a main stream release and a first solo record Diploid Love was easily my most played record of the year.

2. Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World

Will not nearly as classic as DFA1979’s legendary You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, in my biased opinion The Physical World was a far more interesting record than a majority of anything else released over the past year. That unique sound that propelled DFA1979 from obscure Toronto garage act to mythological indie royalty is still there and it came out in spades on this record. Given how passive and lazy music has become in general so far this decade, it was fantastic to be reminded of how exciting and gritty music can actually be.

3. Banks – Goddess

I honestly have no recollection on how I stumbled across Banks, especially as this is something that is completely out of my usual wheelhouse, but am I ever glad I did. Sandwiched somewhere between English legends Sade and Deftones frontman Chino Moreno’s Team Sleep side project, Bank’s debut album Goddess is as mysterious as it is atmospheric. A dark and misty record that’s filled with just enough variety to leave you wanting more.

4. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Mended With Gold

Regardless of their faux-Albertan backstory, The Rural Alberta Advantage have been one of my family’s favourite bands for the past few years and this year’s Mended with Gold is just as enjoyable and homely as their previous outings of Departing and Hometowns. With a sound akin to something Blue Rodeo would record if they drank more whiskey and set their bassist on fire, RAA are a furious and grumpy take on classic Canadiana prairie rock.

5. Jenny Lewis – Voyager

Jenny Lewis’ previous outing with the Watson Twins was the perfect recreation of classic Loretta Lynn for the naughts. So it comes as no surprise that she would knock it out of the park again with her latest outing of Voyager. Filled with dark and personal songs, Voyager tight ropes the sound from her earlier solo outings and the more recent pop of acts like Haim and London Grammer.

The Also rans…

Hozier – Hozier

I feel a little cheese-ball adding this here as, although Hozier is undeniably talented, adding this to my list feels like the ultimate omission of turning into a Starbucks sell out in my old age. That being said, Hozier’s self title record is a fantastic listen from beginning to end and well worth all the hype… now if only someone could hand over my triple-shot-no-foam-carmel-swirly-frappacino I’ll get back to being a grumpy bastard.

London Grammer – If You Wait

One of those amazing finds from partaking in Month of New Music, London Grammar’s If You Wait is a brilliant atmospheric album, if I was still a heart broken and angst ridden 22 year old this album would be the soundtrack to my life.

Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

True confession, this record falls in to the category of it’s December and I suddenly realize that after reading ten to fifteen different best of lists that I know nothing about music and I need to have a record that reinforces my street-cred even though I’m an old fossil for the list. Now that being said, any record that showcases a guest appearance from the reclusive Zach Dela Rocha and hits as hard and dirty as this album deserve a spot on this list.

Taylor Swift – Shake It Off

Alright, I haven’t heard the entire 1989 album, but Shake It Off has to rank up there as one of the greatest pop songs of the past ten years. No seriously, try and ignore this song. It’s fucking impossible. So it get’s a spot on my list solely for forcing me to listen to it on repeat on YouTube so it doesn’t ruin my Rdio algorithm.

(P.S. I also tossed in the Us The Duo cover to not mess up my algorithm)

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

Falling in Love with... Hawkeye? Saturday May 24, 2014

Last year I wrote a blog post on my birthday about a couple of things I had rediscovered in my old age – Volunteering and Comic Books. In that post I mentioned that I had reignited a new love for comic books. In particular, one of the comic books that I’ve found myself obsessed with is the new Hawkeye series.

Now there has been a huge shift in the Comic Book world since I was a little lad … or at least to me it seems like there has been a shift. An influx of indie publishers and crowd funded titles have improved the overall maturity of the genre, as well as the demands of an aging core audience.

Since that post I’ve also been introduced to such great titles as Vertigo’s Fables and Image’s “Saga” (which is drawn by local Calgarian Fiona Staples), but of all the titles I’ve picked up over the past year and a bit, Hawkeye still holds a special place for me.

Yes, I’m really talking about Hawkeye.

The goofy guy in purple that only shoots arrows… and shoots arrows… and shoots more arrows. How in gods name can that be entertaining?

I’ve tried to explain why this series is interesting to a few people and like clockwork I ultimately fail. But it really boils down to a quirky story concept and also some fabulous minimalistic design. Aesthetically, Hawkeye is randomly the most interesting comic I’ve come across. It really flips the whole concept of what a comic should look like and feel like, by doing much less than other comics.

The covers are brilliant and the artwork inside feels more like a short in a local alternative newspaper rather than a Marvel comic. There’s no bulging biceps, unnaturally protruding bosoms, over the top waistlines, glossy finishes and intense shadowing, just straight lines and a beautiful off purple hue. Hell, I don’t even think there is an issue where Hawkeye wears his traditional spike ears.

The storyline of the series is just as minimalistic and oddly fascinating. Fracton (the series author) and “Aja”; (the series drawer…or whatever it’s called) took a massive chance on the Hawkeye series. Thinking that the series would be over after two issues they decided to just tell the story of what Hawkeye (Clint Barton) does on a Thursday afternoon. In some editions he’s trying to set-up a Home Theatre system with Iron Man or dealing with some run of the mill gangs in New York and of course there is the famous Pizza Dog issue.

There’s no intergalactic super villains or plots to destroy mankind, just a guy in Brooklyn doing normal stuff.

13 year old c.t.overdrive would be mocking me for writing this post… because it’s Hawkeye and nobody has ever liked that guy. But Fracton and Aja’s version of Hawkeye is quirky, simple, sophisticated and enduring. I’m sure this sounds ridiculous, but it’s probably one of the most fascinating and rewarding reads I’ve come across. Even as a casual comic book lover I can’t help but count down the days until the latest trade back comes out.

Categories: The-Pop-Culture, the-books,

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