Saturday, October 23, 2010

Max Rambles Mix Tape Vol. 3

So it's been a while since I've posted a mixtape, and since I moved to Halifax I've been listening to a lot of great new music. With that in mind I threw together a quick mix of mostly new things, though Josh Ritter and Futurebirds have shown up at least once before. This one's a shorter playlist than usual, not quite EP brevity but certainly not the length of an LP.

Anyway, enjoy! Click Here and scroll to the bottom of the page to download the mix. Here's the tracklist:

Day One - Sarah Slean
I See A Fox Drinking Wine Outside A Bar In France - Pat LePoidevin
Snow is Gone - Josh Ritter
Never Satisfied (Revisited) - Jackie Greene
Teen for God - Dar Williams
My Skateboard Will Go On - Anamanaguchi
Years (By One Thousand Fingertips) - Attack in Black
The Late King Henry - The Wooden Sky
APO - Futurebirds
The Gardner - The Tallest Man On Earth

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It Gets Better Project

Today is Spirit Day and in recognition of that fact MaxRambles is purple. Around the world people are wearing purple clothing to honour all the teens who have committed suicide as a result of hateful anti-LGBT attitudes. In light of this I want to recognize the It Gets Better Project, which collects videos of people expressing their support to LGBT teens.

Huge numbers of LGBT teens experience bullying and have no support system to turn to when they consider taking their own lives. The It Gets Better Project is an effort to speak directly to these youths, to encourage them that no matter how dark things may be life does get better, and to show them that there are people in the world who support them. As Harvey Milk said, "You gotta give 'em hope," and the It Gets Better Project explicitly strives to do just that. Many people have contributed videos to the project's YouTube page, including public figures like Hilary Clinton and Neil Patrick Harris.

Hatred is a terrible force that can have devastating consequences and today we remember the young people whose lives it has tragically claimed. Even something as seemingly inconsequential as wearing purple clothing is at least a statement against hatred and a show of support for its victims.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Wooden Sky 10/15/10

This past Friday I had the honour of seeing The Wooden Sky perform at The Seahorse Tavern in Halifax, NS.

The folk-rock band played tracks from their two LPs, When Lost At Sea and the sublime If I Don't Come Home You'll Know I'm Gone. Their sound covers a huge spectrum with both energetic, danceable numbers and slower, more pensive tracks. Whether I was moving my feet or just bobbing my head slowly, throughout the entire night the performance was captivating. These guys are nothing if not earnest and on top of that they've got some great songs at their disposal, and all in all it makes for a very good live show. In an incredible closer after a full electric set The Wooden Sky were joined by opener Yukon Blonde as they came out into the crowd and finished things off with a couple of acoustic sing-alongs. Highlights of the night included an exuberant cover of "American Girl," a haunting rendition of "Something Waiting For Us In The Night," and the acoustic performance of "Oh My God (It Still Means A Lot to Me)" in the midst of the audience. It was a show to remember and one that left me wanting more great tunes, as any good concert should.

I was first introduced to The Wooden Sky last summer at the Hillside Festival in Guelph, ON. There I saw them play alone and accompanied by The Acorn, and both sets were among the highlights of an incredible weekend of music. There's truly nothing like hearing fantastic music in the great outdoors under the sun. Ever since I've been listening to their albums on repeat and eagerly awaiting another chance to hear them play live. Friday's show only reiterated how great these guys are and made me want to see them as many times as possible.

The Wooden Sky have made a real impression on me this year and I strongly recommend giving them a listen. I'll be featuring a track of their on an upcoming mixtape, but in the meantime check out their MySpace page and the video below of their best songs:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dar Williams' Many Great Companions

Dar Williams is an American folk singer-songwriter who's been active since the early 1990s. She's released around eight or so albums, and has worked with the likes of Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and the Indigo Girls. And until very recently I had never heard any of her work.

This week saw the release of Many Great Companions, a collection of Williams' greatest hits from the span of her career. It also features a disc of new acoustic recordings of some of her songs with special guest collaborators. I got a hold of the collection and sat down to give Williams a shot, and I must say I'm extremely glad I did.

Williams is quite the lyricist, covering topics like religion, sexual politics, adolescence, and love with remarkable maturity. She's at times poignant and introspective, as in the fantastic "Spring Street" or the introspective "After All." Other songs, however, demonstrate her serpent's tongue and brilliant sense of humour, as with the hilarious "The Pointless Yet Poignant Crisis of a Co-ed" (tragically absent from the greatest hits album).  In her more subdued moments she reminds me of other great female sing-songwriters like Sarah Harmer and Ani Difranco , but when Williams unleashes her biting satirical edge she enters a class all of her own. It’s been a long time since I’ve encountered a folk singer who's so adept at translating social politics into catchy tunes, and I will definitely have “The Christians and the Pagans” stuck in my head for days to come.

Many Great Companions gives a broad cross-section of Dar Williams' career, and seemed like a fantastic entry point for uninitiated listeners like me. For fans who already own the “best of” material here, the disc of new acoustic takes makes this release a worthy addition to any collection. Evidence of that fact can be found below via two mp3s of the new acoustic tracks.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy International Suit Up Day 2010

Things you should take from this post:

1. I am a fan of How I Met Your Mother.
2. Suits are awesome.
3. Yes, I am wearing a suit right now.

I don't mean for this to sound like an advertisement for the show, but it is great, and any excuse to wear a suit is ok in my books. Here's to looking sharp:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Sociopathic Network

David Fincher's The Social Network paints a cynical, foreboding, and above all else compelling portrait of contemporary youth culture. The film depicts the beginnings of Facebook, the internationally successful social networking website that has redefined how people interact both on– and offline. Set in the first decade of the 21st century, The Social Network examines how the advent of the Internet as a dominant social force empowers able young minds in the face of traditional institutions of privilege. The result is a power struggle between the new generation and the old order for control of the future, and the casualties include friendship, honour, and morality.

In The Social Network, Facebook’s origins are told via flashbacks as details are recounted during lawsuit depositions. From the beginning the website’s co-creator, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), is shown alone and on the defence against friend and foe alike. On one hand he faces accusations of intellectual property theft from the over-privileged Winklevoss twins (both played by Arnie Hammer). At the same time Zuckerberg fights a legal battle with his one-time best friend and co-founder of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). Right from the start we know that while the website is successful it destroys the relationships of everyone involved in its creation. The Social Network explores what makes the website such an intoxicating and destructive force.

Facebook is depicted as an unprecedented source of social power, the ultimate commodity of youth. Zuckerberg sees the potential to attain status among his university peers and stoops to any means necessary to achieve it. As Napster co-creator Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) says, “This is our time,” in reference to the young innovators who have the knowledge to reshape the world using the Internet. Those with no established privilege suddenly have the opportunity to overthrow the social hierarchy, and the proposition is too great to let anything like morality stand in its way. Zuckerberg steals from the Winklevosses and cheats Saverin to create something new and cool, and all the while we know of the legal battles that result from his behavior. The Social Network shows how our contemporary social landscape was formed while giving the poignant sense that something was irreversibly lost in the process.

The brilliant soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross perfectly captures the sense of dread that pervades The Social Network. The opening track, “Hand Covers Bruise,” uses dour, resonating bass notes set against a delicate piano and hair-raising strings to initiate a sense of innocence and impending doom. The central thematic conflict is reflected in the soundtrack as rising electronic beats demonstrate the excitement of the young programmers achieving social dominance. Meanwhile a nightmarish industrial take on Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” evokes the failure of the old order. Not since There Will Be Blood has there been such an original, evocative, and atmospheric motion picture soundtrack.

The Social Network is a captivating film that paints an extremely cynical portrait of the people behind Facebook. None of the characters are depicted positively but none are cast as complete villains either. Instead they all look like victims of a general lack of conscience and foresight. The movie could be worth seeing for the soundtrack alone, but in context it makes an already great film spectacular. Don't miss The Social Network, easily one of the best films of 2010. 

Check out these sites for more reviews. Click here to download a five track EP of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's incredible soundtrack to the film.