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Essays

This category contains 12 posts

Revenge of the Monoculture

“We’re all nerds now,” The New York Times declared last year — just as New York Magazine did in 2005, and The Guardian before it in 2003. The story of the continued mainstreaming of nerd culture (or perhaps less pejoratively, geek culture) is so compelling, remakes are often in order; it’s a franchise whose protagonists, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, altered our world forever with blockbuster films where outsiders triumph.

The Unfulfilled Promise of Amy Winehouse

It’s hard not to feel cheated by Amy Winehouse’s death. Not that she owed anything to her fans — apart from those who bought tickets for her shambolic concerts in recent years — but because of the unfulfilled promise, and promises, she leaves.

Not-So-Great Divides

With the near-annihilation of the Bloc Québecois in May’s federal election and the recent implosion of the Parti Québecois, one could be forgiven for assuming separatist sentiment is on the wane in Canada.

A Musical Awakening

“Don’t you remember when you were young / How you wanted to ‘Don’t set the world on fire?” sings Tim McIlrath on Endgame, the new album by punk band Rise Against. It sounds like a rallying cry for a generation of rockers who have been led to believe, by blingaddled hedonists and smug reality TV judges, that popular music can’t be revolutionary.

Rave-ival

Despite the rave scene dying out around the turn of the millennium, its soundtrack is everywhere. Electronic dance music record sales are surprisingly healthy, as most other genres languish on life support. Its artists headline huge festivals; its producers helm songs that top pop charts; its hooks soundtrack commercials; its textures bolster movie scenes; and its beats move bodies in clubs. Rather than lying dead, electronic music has become woven into the fabric of our day-to-day lives.

Polaris Prize

As an electro/hip-hop party band who sing in Chiac (an Acadian mix of French and English) about such topics as gender anxiety, smooth jazz and deck shoes, Radio Radio would seem to be aiming for a rather particular niche market. And yet, media across the country are debating the merits of their third album, Belmundo Regal. For this, they have the Polaris Prize to thank.

Movies & Music at the Toronto International Film Festival

The Soundtrack Takes Centre Stage Album sales may be stagnant, and the summer touring season was a let-down, but no one seems to be tiring of stories about musicians. Consider, if you will, the unstoppable run of music-competition reality shows, the recent spate of heavy-metal memoirs, the runaway success of Glee, and the fact that […]

They’re With the Brand

Ever since The Rolling Stones first printed their lips-and-tongue logo in 1971, the music world has been rife with super-successful branding, from The Ramones’ American eagle to Motörhead’s armoured skull to Public Enemy’s human target … And yet, with very few exceptions — most prominently Rush — Canadian bands have historically resisted forging a design identity, or simply haven’t been much good at it.

Winter 2010 Music Preview

The year has only just started, but already there’s something cool about 2010: It feels as though we’re living in the future.

Neil Young: Greatest Canadian Hero

They wore baseball caps, bandanas and cowboy hats. They sported Maple Leaf badges and flags. They came in from the suburbs, from Ottawa, from Indiana. On a gloriously sunny day in downtown Toronto, 1623 guitarists packed Yonge/Dundas Square with one common goal – to strum out Neil Young’s three-chord classic ‘Helpless’ together.