Tag Archives: Music

Jean-Michel Blais’ Music Stops His Tourette Syndrome Symptoms

Jean-Michel Blais

Jean-Michel Blais

Over the years modern classical pianist Jean-Michel Blais’ has learned that the act of playing music curbs his lifelong Tourette Syndrome symptoms.

With the release of his latest album Dans ma main Blais has begun talking about how his specific type of music therapy has impacted his Tourette.

To read my interview with him head over to Samaritanmag by clicking here.


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Nine Inch Nails Thrive In Toronto

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

LIVE: Nine Inch Nails
August 5, 2008
Air Canada Centre
Toronto, Ontario

It’s fitting that Nine Inch Nails blasted through a vital rendition of “Survivalism” as a sort of thrown-down gauntlet three-quarters of the way through their two-hour show at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. Outwardly, “Survivalism” was simply a puzzle piece from 2007’s Year Zero near-dystopian concept album, and just another in a long line of NIN founder Trent Reznor’s successful industrial pop metal sloganeerisms, but it was really far more than that last night.

Most of Reznor’s peer group from the ’90s, be they alterna-nation rockers like The Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden, or industrial rivet bangers like Ministry or Nitzer Ebb, have faded to somewhere between obscurity and parody. Meanwhile, the show that the Nails put on for the near-capacity arena crowd proved that not only has Reznor survived, but he also remains positively vital.

It started innocently enough with a triple pack of “1,000,000,” “Letting You” and “Discipline,” all from NIN’s latest album, The Slip. Normally a veteran artist blasting you with three tracks from the new album to start a show ranks around the level of getting greyhounded, but apparently when you give the album away for free and everyone in the audience owns it, everything changes. “Letting You” was particularly sly. Played to a hammer-fisting audience who’ve just paid good coin on a Tuesday night, it probably wasn’t the audience who were getting away with something in the end…

“March Of The Pigs” was the first dip into the catalogue and it sent the general admission soldiers, be they normie or freak (a ratio of about 9:2 for the evening), into a lather. “Closer” was its obligatory singalong best, making the groupthinkers feel dangerous for screaming “I want to fuck you like an animal.” There were better moments, though.

Like “Gave Up.” With all due respect to Nevermind or whatever, I’m reasonably convinced Nine Inch Nails’ Broken EP is probably the most defining we’re-generation-X-and-we’re-all-fucked record that came out of the ’90s. Little has changed and that song and “Wish,” which was played later, remain among the fiercest things in Reznor’s catalogue. Both were performed entirely viciously.

The show really got interesting after “Gave Up,” though.

I’ve been suckered into more than a few “multimedia extravaganzas” and will probably never forgive the bands on the Invisible Records roster for having to suffer through a supposed groundbreaking Scorn tour package back in my giant-booted days. But what I was about to witness ranked close to mind-blowing.

It started relatively innocently with what appeared to be a Kraftwerk homage for “Vessel.” The band lined up at the front of the stage, banging keyboards with a dizzying giant curtain of red LED light strips playing patterns close behind them. It felt like Reznor was playing coy, and I thought it was because he was subverting the masses by laying down some truly old-school Wax Trax-style electro squelch-stomp.

That wasn’t it.

The band went back behind the curtain to play a number of “Ghost” instrumentals and that’s when things got truly crazy. Words can’t quite explain, but somewhere in the digital mind-melt of multiple screens swishing around we went from Arrakis to some weird marsh-type place to a rain storm in the jungle. If I was 16 and on mushrooms (and if security wasn’t being unnaturally buzzkill by hunting down dope-smokers all night) it just may have been the greatest thing I had ever seen in my life.

It still ranked solidly despite the lack of psilocybin.

The final stretch was a bit of a letdown. “Only” was just tolerable, “The Hand That Feeds” didn’t jump the way it should have and last-before-encore track “Head Like A Hole” was played with enthusiasm, though the best it could do for me was stir up some wistful nostalgia for a song I’ve long since burned out on.

The encore of “Echoplex,” “The Greater Good,” “The Good Soldier,” “Hurt” and “In This Twilight” was a bold choice, what with Reznor sticking mostly to newer material. “Hurt” should probably be retired, if for no other reason than to protect the audience from itself and the embarrassing things its members do, say and shout during the song. But most of the fans stayed glued to their seats to the end — no bailers, no lightweights — throughout the new songs. In the world of symbology, that’s not the sign of a band surviving. That’s the sign of a band still thriving.

This review was originally published August 5, 2008 via Chart Communications.

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Filed under Concerts, Music

Samaritan News 10 Pack: Drake, Common, And More



I’ve been contributing news stories to the charity ‘n’ entertainment website Samaritanmag.

Here are 10 pieces I did in the spring:

MusiCounts Provides $725,000 Worth of Instruments to 80 Schools

Sam Roberts Band to Headline Free-For-Activists Global Citizen Event in Vancouver

Common Calls Out Trump, NRA In 90th Academy Awards Performance

Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra, Salma Hayek Pinault Say “Time’s Up” in Oscars Anti-Harassment Speech

Kumail Nanjiani & Lupita Nyong’o Support DACA Dreamers At 90th Academy Awards

Jimmy Kimmel Academy Awards Speech Touches on Sexual Harassment, Equality, Racism, Gun Control

WATCH: David Schwimmer Gets Behind #ThatsHarassment Video Series Feat. Men Abusing Power

WATCH: Andrew Cole’s #NoJoke Anti-Bullying Trailer Features Patrick Stewart, Slash, Jane Lynch, More

Arkells Launch The Rally Concert Event To Support Refugee Health Charity

Watch: Drake Challenges People To “Be Nice To Each Other” With God’s Plan Video

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Filed under Culture, Films, Music, Politics, Shameless Promotion

Harmonium And Glenn Gould Featured On Polaris Podcast EP12

Polaris Podcast EP7 was live from Ottawa.

For episode 12 of the Polaris Podcast we focused on two albums that recently received Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize hall of fame designation — Harmonium’s L’Heptade and Glenn Gould’s Bach: The Goldberg Variations.

This episode featured analysis of the Gould record from CBC Radio’s Katherine Duncan and an interview with Harmonium’s Louis Valois to discuss the album some people call Quebec’s Dark Side Of The Moon.

This and other Polaris Podcast episodes can be found on iTunes, Google Play or Spotify.

Alternately, you can listen to it right here:

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Lady Gaga Explains Exploding Tits

Lady Gaga's exploding boobs at the 2009 MMVAs.

Lady Gaga’s exploding boobs at the 2009 MMVAs.

Lady Gaga made her breasts explode at the MuchMusic Video Awards last night.

The fired-up funbags were part of a surreal live medley performance of “LoveGame” and “Poker Face” that involved an erotic subway ride dance sequence which devolved into a fight between her and some transit cops all flanked by bondage-geared backing dancers.

GaGa later said at a press conference the reason for the boobie blast was because there was some doubt MuchMusic would be able to put together her elaborate subway car set.

“The bra, actually, it was a funny story,” she said. “When I was speaking to MuchMusic, they were having problems figuring out how to build that subway train and get it on and off the stage. And I said, ‘Well, if you can’t build my subway train, I’m going to blow my tits up on stage.’

“I was in Hawaii, and I said, ‘We need to blow my tits up on stage — I’m thinking conical bra, ode to Madonna, fire.’ And David LaChapelle was in the background screaming, ‘Lactate! It should lactate!’

“It was inspired by Helmut Newton. So we built the bra as an in-case-the-subway-wasn’t-built, but we decided to use both anyway.
“My new name is Hot Tits.”

Earlier in the evening, Gaga won the best international video by an artist award for “Poker Face.” Her acceptance speech featured her yelling “To God and the gays!” while hoisting her trophy in the air.

Here is one of many YouTube clips of the performance.

This story was originally published June 22, 2009 by Chart Communications.

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Filed under Art, Music, Recollections

Busty And The Bass Want To Go To School

Busty And The Bass

Busty And The Bass

Montreal’s fast-rising soul-pop nine-piece Busty And The Bass have become quite the draw on the campus party scene.

It’s fitting, then, that now that they’re about to break out, they want to take things back to school — grade school, middle school, high school — and start to give back in the form of music education.

I spoke to the band about this initiative for Samaritan Mag.

To read the full interview click here.


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Filed under Music, Shameless Promotion

Samaritan News 10 Pack: The Clash, MLK, Obama, More

The Clash

The Clash

I’ve been contributing news pieces to the charitably-minded entertainment site Samaritanmag. Here are some of the stories I did in the spring:

Read: Impassioned Articulate Common Sense Speech by Parkland Shooting Student Emma González on Stronger Gun Control

10 Important Songs For International Clash Day

Blues Brothers Winter Blues-themed Benefit Show To Support CAMH

WATCH and READ Rapper Logic’s Message at 60th Grammy Awards: Hate is Ugly

60th Grammy Nominee Compilation Album Proceeds to Support MusiCares

Sale Of Two Marquee Ford Cars Raises $2.85 Million USD For Charity At Barrett-Jackson

WATCH and READ: Halsey Recounts Sexual Assault, Miscarriage in Moving Women’s March Speech

Barack Obama Explains New Presidential Center in Letterman Netflix Interview

12 Civil Rights Inspired Songs For Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Two Journalism Advocacy Groups Receive $1 Million USD Each At Golden Globe Awards

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Filed under Culture, Health, Music, Politics, Shameless Promotion