Saturday, December 31, 2016

The 2016 Jimmy Awards: Best Album / Chip Combination

Winner: Iggy Pop & Old Dutch - Post Pop & Chips Depression

Iggy Pop is still alive? was Serge's first reaction to hearing Iggy's latest album, Post Pop Depression. His second was a wave of nostalgia (expressed as a sneeze), for he had also opened a bag of Old Dutch Salt n' Vinegar chips, and a familiar acidic punch had just hit his nose.

Serge soon realized how much Old Dutch and Iggy Pop have in common. Both have punk roots from Midwest assembly-line inspirations, and both have stuck around long enough to become the low-rent elder statesmen of industries otherwise dominated by glamour and flash. They use only a few key ingredients, and rely instead on a simple combination of maltodextrin-based flavour-coating backed by a strong crunch. And like ravaged cadavers from yester-year, they have staggered to the stage in 2016 to claim the honour of this year's Best Album / Chip Combination. 

We'll admit it: although very good, there are probably better albums and better chips out there. But strangely, none are as relevant. Why? Nostalgia. These two understand our current obsession with the past, and they're taking all of our preoccupied insecurities and feeding them back to us, chip by lip-blistering chip, line by acrimonious line. They are, at the same time, contributing to and satirizing the cultural time warp that we are currently living in, where teenagers are refusing to become adults and adults are refusing to become seniors and seniors are refusing to die. Iggy and Old Dutch know that in a world of change, everything must remain the same, and oh how we all love it.

Maybe one day, when Iggy finally croaks, we'll all grow up, like some bizarre sequel to the classic film Hook. But the way he is outlasting everyone else, that day might never come. So for now, we'll continue to revere albums by aging rock stars and eat chips 'til our bellies hurt.
Our Favourite Albums / Chips of the Year:

1. Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression  /  Old Dutch - Salt n' Vinegar
2. Rhoneil - Nature // Cosmos  /  Dutch Crunch - Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar
3. Preoccupations - Preoccupations /  Kettle Brand - Classic Caesar
4. Wizaard - Starfish Buffet  /  Kettle Brand - Hawaiian Barbeque
5. David Bowie - Blackstar  /  Que Pasa - Ancient Grains
6. Aidan Knight - Each Other  /  Lays Original - Ketchup
7. Black Mountain - IV  /  Garden of Eatin'  - Sesame Blues
8. Your Boy Tony Braxton - Adult Contempt  /  Pop Chips - Barbeque Potato
9. David Vertesi - Sad Dad Cruise Ship  /  Sun Chips - French Onion
10. The Growlers - City Club  /   Doritos - Green Bag

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Gene's Picks 2015 (Return of the Ral)

Gene and music have been on shaky ground the last little while. In the latter half of 2014 and into 2015, Gene and music were, let’s just say, taking a break. It wasn’t that Gene no longer loved music—he will always love music—nor that he no longer found music attractive—beauty is in the ear of the beholder. It was just necessary for Gene to have some time to himself—to read a book, or listen to birds chirping, to dogs barking, to car horns honking, whatever, just NOT MUSIC, OK? 

But in the Autumn of this past year, something extraordinary happened. After nearly one year of aural isolation on an icy and remote island nation in the northern Atlantic Ocean, something finally struck a chord in Gene’s ear. One that hadn’t been struck for some time. Was is music? You be the judge. It makes sound, has lyrics (although Gene can’t understand them), and inspires a certain body movement akin to dancing (although locals might not be so forward). What was it that ended Gene’s harmonious hiatus? Why, it was Icelandic Hip-Hop, of course.

Not in a long time had Gene’s senses been so aroused by something so confusing. An inexplicable feeling was roused in Gene—one that made him think maybe he was born this way. But whether he was born it, born of it, born to it, or bore it himself, he likes it for Pete’s sake, and that’s just the way it is.

The following are Gene’s top 3 picks for Icelandic hip-hop in the year 2015

1. Úlfur Úlfur

These guys are dope. We’re talking pony tail, tucked in shirts, car rallies, riding horses in the suburbs. You name it.
2. Reykjavíkurdætur

These women are dope. We’re talking flesh-tone body suits at their live shows, equal numbers of performers on stage as in the audience (no small feat for sold out shows), and what Gene’s told are empowering lyrics. However, Gene is constantly worried that one of them might punch him in the head for enjoying them a little too much.  

3. Gísli Pálmi

This guy is… cold. In fact he’s the nucleus of the coldest crew in Iceland— Glacier Mafia. Even though it’s cold outside, you’d be hard pressed to find Gísli Pálmi wearing a shirt. He’s fit, he has tattoos, he punched Bam Margera in the head, and he might be dating Björk (Gene has trouble understanding the Icelandic gossip sites). Bonus points if you can figure out if he's wearing a grill.
Honourable mention:

Whatever this is:

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The 2015 Jimmy Awards: Best Albums (albums that we actually listened to)

Anyone following the progression of NLG’s musical tastes may have noticed us inching closer to not listening to any more music at all. Refer to Gene insisting in 2013 that no new music needs to be created, for example. In fact, we were “off” music for much of 2015. We were worried we might have to follow Vice’s oh-so-easy guide when choosing the best albums of the year for the annual Jimmy Awards. Luckily though, Gene began to take an interest in a very niche sub-genre of hip-hop and Serge eloped to the woods with a radio. And so, NLG is proud to be able to list 10 albums we actually listened to during the year. 

Album of the Year:
Laura Marling - Short Movie 
Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit 

We'll admit it: we are in love with these two ladies. They don’t know it, but that’s okay. It’s not the first time we've fallen for a disembodied woman, either. That would have been the time we first heard Laurie Brown slide the word ‘sex’ over the airwaves on the CBC. But this year we fell hard - and it wasn’t just the fact we've got "bush eyes". It was the quick-witted humour of these songstresses; their no-shits-given confidence; and the poetic way they describe their lives (and ours too, we think). We've written them letters asking them to go with us to Paris to eat white bread and smoke cigarettes but they haven’t answered yet. Do they hate people? No. It might be easy to mistake them for misanthropes. They are morbidly fascinated by the mundane but would simply rather make origami than deal with other people’s bullshit. Can’t say we blame ‘em. Nobody really cares if you go to the party, right Courtney? But they do know how to live. They are punk rock, they are Lou Reed, they are Joni Mitchell echoing in the canyon of 21st century music. They put up their fists and take what is theirs. There’s no stopping these two. Because as Laura Marling says, it’s a short fucking movie, man.

1. Laura Marling – Short Movie
2. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
3. Beirut – No No No
4. El Vy – Return to the Moon
5. Modest Mouse – Strangers to Ourselves
6. Patrick Watson – Love Songs for Robots
7. Tame Impala - Currents
8. Cougars in America – Postcards
9. Twin Bandit – For You
10. Bob Moses - Days Gone By

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The 2014 Jimmy Awards: Album of the Year


Saturday night. Rickshaw theatre. The most anticipated show of the year. The album, Singles by Future Islands, had only come out two months before but it had gripped us, kissed us, picked us up and kicked us. Tickets were hard to come by but by hook or crook everyone was there. The energy outside the venue was palpable. We had seen the Letterman video, we knew all the words, we were full of PBRs and Jamesons and love for each other and the music we were about to hear. It was all very exciting and a little bit overwhelming and Serge was getting anxious.

Slurring slightly, Serge asked a man outside the venue for a shhhhigarette. The man said sure, he was withered and looked like he was waiting for the #20 bus down Hastings to sleep at the Astoria Hotel. Hat pulled down over his eyes, long army trenchcoat, he pulled out a bag of Drum and rolled up a smoke and handed it to Serge, their eyes catching for a second. “Are you….?” asked Serge, astounded. Yes, the man said. It was Samuel T. Herring, lead singer of Future Islands. Milling around with the hipsters and hangers-on outside, smoking hand rolled Drum, looking like a Main and Hastings bum. Your music, said Serge, I love it. Mr. Herring humbly said thank you, it is our passion, and disappeared into the crowd.

Passion indeed.

Later on stage, dressed in his customary tight black T-shirt and jeans, Herring was transformed. He looked like a young Bob Seger. He and the rest of Future Islands put on a show that left us breathless. Herring pounded his chest and moved around like he was on a ski machine while the synths carried us up and up and up. We held each others' clothes to keep from getting trampled in the mosh and felt the way we did every time we listened to the album, full of love and happiness. Precious commodities these days, those two, and "Singles" supplies them in abundance.

NLG's Albums of the Year

1.  Future Islands - Singles
2.  Caribou - Our Love
3.  War On Drugs - Lost in the Dream
4.  Alt-J - This Is All Yours
5.  De Lux - Voyage
6.  First Aid Kit - Stay Gold
7.  Bahamas - Bahamas is Alfie
8.  Jungle - Jungle
9.  Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband
10. Peaking Lights - Cosmic Light

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The 2013 Jimmy Awards: Artist of the Year

By Gene Ral

A recent emphasis on getting back to the roots or essence of musicality is being reflected in modern bands' latest efforts. The result is stripped down "acoustic" indie rock which is still over produced and artistically flat. If Gene has to listen to one more poorly banjoed love ballad from an alliteratively titled "folk" band, it might just as well mark the end of his existence in the world of the hearing.

If one wants to listen to good music, listen to Beethoven, Townes Van Zandt, or Hall and Oates. As far as Gene is concerned, it's all been done before, and with the accessibility of music today, there's no reason new music need even be created. We have the entire history of music at our fingertips and anything that comes out now can be easily traced back to a work that was at it's time original, exciting, and novel. Until humans can be trained to hear sounds that weren't available to our hearing spectrum 30 years ago, there's not going to be anything "new". That's why new music needs to be taken gently out of the ears and thrust violently into the eyes.

There is, today, one bright shining star who knows that new music should be seen and not heard: a young woman who isn't afraid to stay true to her art, who knows that music and performance go hand in hand, who exudes confidence, embodies art, and oozes more sensuality than a tube of K-Y Jelly. Gene is writing, of course, about Destiny Hope, or as you know her, Miley Cyrus.

America's 21 year old sweetheart knows that her music isn't going to be any good, just as nothing else coming through the recording industry's mixing tables is going to be any good. That's why her music is secondary, if not tertiary (Gene would certainly rather smell her than listen to her), to her visual performance. When the video for "We Can't Stop" hit the airwaves in June, it only took one glimpse of Miley's distended cow tongue for Gene to be hooked. The writhing, the gratuitous crotch shots, the sopping wet pool wrestling were just icing on the cake. Then in September came the release of probably the greatest 3 minutes and 42 seconds in music history. Gene is referring, of course, to the music video for "Wrecking Ball". This one has it all: the tongue, the legs, the aerodynamic haircut, and enough underboob to have Gene tucking up into his belt like a tenth grader in science class. The plot is simple: a naked nubile cries, rides a wrecking ball as it destroys a cinderblock room, then performs fellatio on a sledge hammer. The wrecking ball is probably a metaphor for a destructive relationship, but who knows? Gene has never actually listened to the song.

For all she has done for music this year, Gene has no choice but to send Miley a huge no look gun and award her his endorsement for Artist of the Year.

Now, for your eyes only, here's the video for "Wrecking Ball":


The 2013 Jimmy Awards: Album of the Year

By Serge Eon

At first listen to The National’s Trouble Will Find Me, one might mistake the offering as a sign that lead singer Matt Berninger had stayed down a vodka-soaked rabbit hole a little too long. Like Serge on a Monday morning, it was dark, boozy, and breath tinged with Belmonts and regret. Although this is exactly what we have come to expect from The National, this time we thought they might have gone a little too far – resembling Serge’s mood on what Gene empathetically refers to as Suicide Tuesdays. Forgive us, Berninger & Co., if we were a little reluctant to follow you into the rabbit hole at first listen. The rest of the world was getting high on the fidelity of the album that “gave life back to music” (courtesy of Pharrell Williams and a couple of helmutted Frenchmen) and we were distracted. 

When we woke up from that inevitable hi-fi hangover underneath the proverbial tree, it wasn’t a helping hand that Trouble Will Find Me held out to us, it was a tall glass of dark humour poured over elegant and rich musical constructions. It was like a Gin Pahit on ice and we drank until we felt warm on the inside. But it wasn’t the booze that made us feel warm, it was summertime and the fact that this album was so grand in scale yet so completely relatable. Somehow, Trouble Will Find Me became the perfect accompaniment to a perfect summer. Songs such as "Don’t Swallow The Cap" and "Demons" became soundtracks for public indecency and joy rides to the local nudie beach with a young Minnie Driver – rather than theme music for sitting alone with Tylenol and beer or trips to the methadone clinic, as their names might suggest. With these songs and others such as the dance party darkhorse "Graceless" forming the plotline of Serge’s summer, and the thrilling crescendo of a rain drenched late-September performance at the PNE delivering a fitting finale, the selection of Trouble Will Find Me as Album of the Year was an easy one to make.   

1.  The National – Trouble Will Find Me 
2.  Arcade Fire – Reflektor
3.    Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
4.     Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away
5.     Haim – Days Are Gone
6.     Sigur Ros – Kveikur
7.     Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
8.    Kurt Vile – Waking on a Pretty Daze
9.     The Strokes – Comedown Machine
10.   Phosphorescent - Muchacho

The National - Don't Swallow the Cap

Monday, December 31, 2012

The 2012 Jimmy Awards

Gene's Pick

Gene, perhaps feeling nostalgic or perhaps concerned with the (formerly) impending doomsday, could not find a vested interest in new music this year past. In the entire year, Gene happened himself upon only one single new album. Even though the year did not find Gene as well listened as surely most others were, it may be stated without doubt that this album was the best of the year.

Please give a warm welcome (more like standing ovation) to the Modern Grass’ sophomore release, High on the Mountain. This record is an aural-erotic-asphyxiation, a cochlear Fleshlight™ so to speak.

The Atlantic quintet has packed together an acoustic experience so dense it bends time. The Grass’ harmonies could sink ships, their fret-work (and unfretted work) could debone an elephant, and their lyricism could body-slam Yokozuna aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid.

Certainly this is an album worth listening to on repeat, on full volume, on a Bose Soundwave, on a train, in a Buick Skylark, under water… you get the picture. Listen to it.

The Modern Grass – JD

Serge's Picks

While Gene was delving into the dusty backshelves of bluegrass barber shops from the Deep South, Serge found himself reliving the 1980's in an entirely different way than the first time. Gone were the days of soothers and Jolly Jumpers...Serge was experiencing a musical re-birth via the lyrical poetry of Morrissey and Charles Thompson. But alas, the Jimmys are not for the best albums NLG  listened to during the year. They are for the best albums of the year.

Serge's list is topped by band that has been the instigator of many a no-look-gun pointed during a late-night dance party. Hot Chip's fifth album, In Our Heads, is not only their most fun, but their most polished. And any band that can put lyrics such as "A church is not for praying/It is for celebrating the life that bleeds through the pain" on a dance album and make you want to shoulder-shrug until your arms fall off, well, they are worthy of NLG's top honour.

1. Hot Chip - In Our Heads
2. Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
3. Half Moon Run - Dark Eyes
4. Breakbot - By Your Side
5. Lana Del Rey - Born To Die
6. Here We Go Magic - A Different Ship
7. Grimes - Visions
8. Divine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits
9. Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur
10. The Darcy's - Aja

Hot Chip - Ends of the Earth