Monday, January 1, 2018

The Final Jimmy Awards

Well, this is it. We knew the day would come: when we had no more relevant input on new music. Sure, we could keep handing out Jimmys for things like trap music and field recordings of snowflakes, but it's time: there's simply no place for an annual music blog in this age of immediacy. But we've had a good run. So good, in fact, that instead of handing out awards, we've chosen to shoot off a farewell no-look-gun salute, by counting down the ten best moments in NLG history:

10. Getting a shout out from a stranger who met Serge’s parents at SXSW. It's when we knew we had officially arrived.

9. Getting offered free tickets in exchange for reviewing a show by Wooden Sky (or was it Wooden Hands, or maybe Woodpigeon).... The offer was later rescinded, but we’re pretty sure it’s the thought that counts.

8. Hanging in the Market Square green room at Rifflandia 2009. It was our first time in a green room - we said we were "journalists" and chugged free beer and conducted an interview with Topless Gay Love Techno Party. We were confused why the walls were white. It was exhilarating. 

7. Garnering 9 unique followers on our blog: Hong, Efren, Paula (thanks Mom!), Danielle, Will, Alex, Marguerite, Big Cat, and Gamelle. Did you click the ads like we asked you to? You guys are the best.

6. Almost getting accepted as a contributing blog by Hype Machine. Ultimately, our application was rejected - we weren't "commercial" or "consistent" enough to "hype" - but we bet they are kicking themselves RIGHT NOW.

5. Getting shot at with a No-Look-Gun by Robbie Slade of Humans, after sneaking into their show during the Winter Olympics. Robbie - you don’t know us, but you'd love us if you did.

4. Getting a response from White Denim to our apology letter after getting exceptionally drunk at their show and soliciting them to take a cab to Kerrisdale to get in a hot tub with us. The offer still stands, by the way.

3. Earning over $14 on Google Adwords. That’s real money (as soon as we figure out how to withdraw it). A lot of people have been asking us what we’re going to do with it. Retire? No way. We’re gonna invest in the future and buy 0.000835643 of a Bitcoin.

2. Our exclusive interview with Canadian rap sensation Shad, way back in September 2010. Shad won a Juno for his album after this interview. Coincidence? You be the judge: read the full, previously unpublished, interview here.

1. The No Look Gun that started it all: shot by the man, the myth, the legend himself -- Jimmy, that's J-I-M-M-Y -- after he burned rubber in his GMC in the parking lot of an unfinished waterfront mansion in Manzanita Oregon, while we shielded our eyes, not from the gravel that rained down upon us, but from that most obscene and flippant gesture, the most brazen NLG the world has ever seen, which would spawn all of this: nine years of semi-regular music bloggery, two alter-egos, fifteen Jimmy awards and a hell of a lot of hangovers. It is to you that we fire our final no-look-gun. You will always be our Faded Glory.

Yours Truly, Serge Eon & Gene Ral

The Shad Interview

Back in September 2010, Gene and Serge had the incredible good fortune of being granted an exclusive interview with one of Canada’s best musical talents: Shadrach Kabango, aka SHAD.

The rapper should need no introduction, but since Shad is far too modest a gentleman to sing his own praises, we take this opportunity to remind ourselves that he has been nominated for two Juno awards (winning one for best rap recording, beating Drake for the distinction), hosted Canada's distinguished radio program Q, and been nominated for the prestigious Polaris music prize three times—to name just a few highlights. His songs are eloquent and fluid, full of cultural references, wordplay and calls for social action. And above all, we think he's a really, really nice person.

Shad met us in his residence, which he shared with fellow musician Dave Vertesi (of Hey Ocean! and solo work), and the two were in the process of searching for a new place. This didn’t bother NLG one bit, as our goal was simply to observe Shad in his natural habitat.

Without further ado, here is one of the greatest moments in NLG history, the glorious twenty minutes we got to spend with one of our favourite humans.

NLG: Shad, question number one. What are you sayin’? 
Shad: Just chillin'. What are you guys sayin’?
NLG: Uh…we’re chillin’. Yeah, we’re chillin’.
Shad: Nice.

NLG: Alright. Question number two. We were wondering if you…how you felt about…losing the Jimmy award. Don’t know if you got the newsletter.
Shad: Who did I lose to?
NLG: Islands. Best Cardigans cover. 
Shad: What!?! (dejected) Ohh. Well actually I have an excellent track record of losing awards.
NLG: Yeah?
Shad: It's kind of my thing.
NLG: So you took it in stride?
Shad: I took it in stride. It's what I do best.
NLG: We know this one might have cut a little deeper though, especially considering your love of covers, and after all, this was an award for best cover of The Cardigans’ “Lovefool”.
Shad: It did hurt. It did hurt a little bit. I'm not going to lie about that. But I didn't want to make a "Kanye moment" out of it. So I tried to take it in stride.

NLG: Word is, there is an award out there for best cover of the Cranberries' "Linger".
Shad: There's no way I could possibly lose that.
NLG: So you're planning on entering?
Shad: Well there's no way I could possibly lose that. But I don't know if I can really enter, because it just might not be fair.
NLG: It might be a little unfair. People might even think it was preplanned. 
Shad: Well, the thing is, most of the time, when I cover “Linger”…(laughs)…the problem with it is, people just think it is the original.
NLG: You’ve been confused for a Cranberry before?
Shad: (Laughs) Yeah the problem is, I recorded a cover one time, and it floated around the internet, and people just thought it was the original.
NLG: Or they thought that “Linger”, by The Cranberries, was a cover of your song.
Shad: Yes! That was a lot of the feedback!
Shad: And a lot of that feedback started to get back to them, and anyways, it was meant to be a tribute thing, as you know. It was never meant to start that kind of controversy. It almost ended up causing a rift between me and them. That’s not what I wanted to do at all.
NLG: So you may not even want to open up that rift by entering.
Shad: I might not even want to go there.

NLG: Will that song be featuring on your latest album?
Shad: There are five or six versions of it that I’ve recorded for the album. I don’t know how many of them I’ll be putting on… (laughter) …A lot of people say, “Put them all on!” And I say, “I could, and I might.”
NLG: Your fans might be mad if you didn’t.
Shad: I think so.

NLG: Are you on a label?
Shad: Yeah, for this release. For this release they want to do it worldwide--J Records, from down in the States. They just heard my idea. I said “I want to do Linger seven times on this album” and they said “That’s gonna be a smash”.
NLG: That’s got platinum written all over it.
Shad: It’s got platinum written all over it. 
NLG: It's got Grammy written on it I think.
Shad: Yeah, so they want to get involved. There’s a lot of funding behind this one.
NLG: They threw a lot of money towards it?
Shad: Yeah they threw a lot of money at me.
Dave Vertesi: They’d be crazy not to.
NLG: They would be.
Shad: They threw a lot of money at me, and I was kind of like, this is not what this is all about. I’ll take it! But that’s not what this is about.

NLG: When is it set to release?
Shad: It is set to release very soon. I can’t specify the date exactly, but soon. I mean, I want to spend a couple months and just think about that, and not even record it…
NLG: Just let it linger?
Shad:  Just let it linger. And then think about recording it. It could take years…

NLG: Is there a name for this album? Or untitled?
Shad: I’ve been kind of tossing around a couple of ideas…
NLG: Care to share?
(extended silence)
NLG: Cranberry juice?
Shad:  Cranberry juice would be a little too obvious, so I was thinking “Cranberry Cocktail”.
Dave Vertesi: Linger 11.
NLG: Yes! Linger 11!
Shad:  That’s not a bad idea.
Dave Vertesi: Goldlinger.
NLG: But then if it goes platinum—that could be kind of confusing.
Shad: “Goldlinger Goes Platinum”. When I think about titling my albums and my songs, I like to think about how they are going to sound in headlines. And I just like the sound of “Goldlinger goes Platinum”, you know? You have to guide the press, I find, a lot of the times.
NLG: That’s true. Like you are doing for much of this interview.
Shad:  Yeah, I’m just guiding you guys. (laughs)

NLG: Seeing as this is our first rodeo—as you could say—are there any questions you would like us to ask you? What would you like to answer?
Shad: (strums guitar) Umm…
Serge: Yeah, how about you answer, and then we’ll make up the questions, based on your answer.
Gene: Yeah, we’ll pose a question, based on your answer. Like Jeopardy. Let’s play “Jeopardy Interview”.
Serge: It’s Jeopardy Interview!
Shad: In Jeopardy interview you guys would say the answer, and I would say the question. 
NLG: We can’t be giving answers. No, you say something really rad, and we are going to act like, “Oh, we just asked the question that spawned that awesome statement!”
Shad: So I’m Alex Trebek?
NLG: Yes, you are Trebek, and we are Ken Jennings.
Shad: Okay. So I go (a la Alex Trebek): “This artist is awesome.” And then you guys say:
NLG: Who are you? Who is Shad?
Shad:  Who is Shad. Yeah! Okay! That’ll be how it goes.

Shad: (a la Alex Trebek): The category is: “Canadian Rap Artists That Start With Shhhhh”
Dave Vertesi: Choclair?
Shad: That’s right, it could be Choclair. That’s why you have to be careful.
Dave Vertesi: One of the answers should be “Who is Choclair”!
NLG: That’s for the daily double.

(awkward silence )

Shad:  Alex Trebek is Canadian.
Gene: I knew that.
Serge:  Really?
Gene: Yeah.
Shad:  So is Alan Thicke.
Gene: Is David Duchovny Canadian?
Serge: That’s a good question.
Gene: We were pondering that earlier.
Shad:  Hmm…I don’t know.
Serge: I think he is.
Gene: I think you are just confused because they filmed X-files in Vancouver.
Serge: And I think they filmed Red Shoe Diaries in Canada as well.
Gene: (laughs) Is that right!?
Gene: (to Shad) Do you think that?

(more laughter, then silence)

Dave Vertesi: What the hell are you guys doing?
NLG: I think we are just shooting the breeze.
Dave Vertesi: This is actually the worst interview I’ve ever heard in my life. And I’ve been in a lot of interviews.
Gene: This is probably the best I’ve ever been a part of.
Serge: Definitely the best.

Shad:  (answers his phone)  Hello? Hello?
Dave Vertesi: Who was it?
Shad:  I don’t know. No one talked to me.
Dave Vertesi: What was the number?
Serge: Call back.
Gene: Yeah, call back. We have time!

Shad:  (on the phone) It is…Oh no problem…Okay…Sure…How is, tomorrow at noon?
NLG: (to each other) Think how this will look on the blog! Great!
Shad:  (on the phone) Okay, perfect.
NLG: Let’s just post the entire audio file.
Shad:  (on the phone) Uh-huh. Okay, perfect.
NLG: If there were some way to see how long each person listened…
Shad:  (still on the phone) Thank you.
NLG: …the average listen length…three or four seconds probably…

Dave Vertesi: Dude, that place looked really dope, and you guys were fucking losing your minds in the background.
Dave Vertesi: And that sucks, because it’s like, a three-bedroom, with all amenities…a carved fireplace…all wood…and it’s $1745.
Shad:  This is the one with arts and crafts?
Dave Vertesi: Yeah. In-suite washer dryer…clawfoot tub…
Shad:  I don’t know why people are all about that clawfoot tub. I’m not so into it.
Dave Vertesi: Me neither.
Shad:  People are always saying, “Aw dude, it's got a clawfoot tub!”
NLG: Is that a selling point?
Shad: Yeah it’s a huge selling point.
NLG: Because you can have a bath that is overflowing, with the water spilling and splashing all around you…
Dave Vertesi: ...Hydro and gas included…
Shad:  Who takes baths?
Serge: I do.
Shad: I can’t take baths. I’m too big to take a bath. I haven’t taken a bath in a long time.
NLG: You’re too old, you mean?
Shad: I’m too large! For it to be comfortable. Plus the water gets cold.
Serge: I like a good bath.
Dave Vertesi: …Looking for working, responsible adults or students…
NLG: That doesn’t fit you guys...
Shad:  I can front as a student, it’s all good. That’s what I always say when I reply. I say “Student. Check my backpack.”
NLG: Do you put that in brackets after you sign your name?
Shad:  I say “I’m a student. You check my references and my backpack to see I’m a student.”
NLG: You actually just show up with your Eddie Bauer backpack?
Shad:  I do.
NLG: They assume from there.
Dave Vertesi: Are you still recording?
NLG: We’re still recording. This is all going in. The backpack. Everything.


NLG: How long do interviews usually go on for?
Dave Vertesi: 15 minutes.
NLG: How long have we gone on for?
Dave Vertesi: 20 minutes.
NLG: Too long probably. Although we’ve only asked about 5 questions so far.
Shad: (on the phone)  Hi, I’m calling about the ad on Craigslist for the three bedroom?...
NLG: This has got to go in!
Shad: (on the phone) ...Yeah I was hoping to set up a time…

(extended Shad phone call, during which  NLG discusses travel times from Vancouver to Victoria, during which at one point Gene claims that he could run 100 km in 7 hours)

Dave Vertesi: When can we see it?
Shad: (off the phone) (To Dave Vertesi) I don’t know when. Maybe next week?
Dave Vertesi: Why didn’t you say we could see it today?
Shad:  I don’t know?
Gene: You didn’t want to sound too eager.
Serge: Plus you’re busy with this interview.

(the conclusion of the interview occurs when Dave Vertesi asks for his phone back, which is coincidentally being used as the recording device of the interview…)

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":