Alla Es Mexico

Last post I listed the plethora of historic sights that my parents and I took in during their brief visit to the old dominion. Another highlight of their trip, I am confidant that my parents will mention, was the numerous restaurants we patronized during the last few days. Now, as Theresa and I are far too poor to eat out nearly as many times as we would like to, and given the enormous selection of fine eating establishments this fine city has to offer, I am by no means an expert in Charlottesville's culinary treasures; I can however offer one piece of useful dining advice to my fellow residents: A small, out of the way establishment called "Aqui Es Mexico" (221 Carlton Rd) serves the best Mexican Food in Charlottesville. By Far. (I mean, Baja Bean?? Gag me!) In fact, I would go as far as saying it is the best Mexican food I have eaten on the Northern side of that oh-so-controversial boarder. Try the Tacos al Pastor. And the Pupusas. And the Enchiladas. And the Sopes. You get the picture.

And for desert? Now, we all know that Splendora serves incredible Gelato, and Arches' frozen yogurt is great, but if you are looking for a delicious frozen treat and also a throwback to the simpler times that, of course, I cannot remember because it was a full 30 years before I was born, try Timberlake's Drug Store on the Downtown mall. They've got a little 50s-style soda fountain back there that makes a mean milkshake.


The Lonely Monuments

Happy Vacation to the Edmonton Millers - otherwise known as my parents. This week, Theresa and I had the great privilege of hosting my parents during their 10 day Virginia Vacation Odyssey, and let me tell you, with all of the Historic attractions within a couple of hours of Charlottesville, my dad was like a kid in a candy store (or, I suppose, more like a nerdy kid in a library). During the past 5 days, we have been to Williamsburg, Monticello, Short Pump, The White House and Museum of the Confederacy, Stanton, Buena Vista, and, last but not least, the nation's capital, Washington DC.

As for this last location, anyone who has had the pleasure of engaging with me in a discussion on municipal politics would be aware of my feelings towards monuments. If I am ever elected mayor of a town, my first and biggest priority would be to erect copious amounts of statues, fountains, pillars, columns, obelisks, cenotaphs and other monuments to remind my citizens of the great heroes of the past. And so, you could probably imagine that I would be like the afore-mentioned child in a city that is as rife with monuments as Washington DC. And so, given my newfound aptitude for photography and photo-blogging, I have below chronicled just a small segment of the capital city's many monuments. But, being the statue connoisseur that I am, I have left out the pictures of the more famous monuments and instead included some of the lessor-known statues that do not get the recognition they deserve (and are probably pretty lonely for want of attention):

Some Guy Named Sheppard

Lincoln with a creepy looking kid

The statue in front of that building right beside the White House

A monument that look strikingly similar to Mexico's "Angel de la Independencia"

A flaming sword, dedicated to some division from one war or another

Garfield, I think

Some naked people with turtles spitting water in their faces

Some stern guy with a scroll

Well, there you have it: some of DC's forgotten statues


I Still Play Internet Scrabble

The only TV I ever watch either comes from DVDs or the laundry room. As for the latter, during the past few months Theresa and I have deliberately did laundry on Thursday in order to catch the latest episode of "The Office," and have noticed several commercials for a new reality dating show called "The Age of Love," where a group of 20-something bimbos compete with a group of 40-something bimbos for one 30-something bachelor -"The Kitties v. The Cougars!" Now, you might be thinking that since such dating shows are a sad comment on the state of our entertainment industry, I am probably going to take this opportunity to express my extreme dislike for this program and all others like it - but, actually, I will not. For you see, I, back in my swinging singles days was myself chosen for a similar "Bachelor" program. Mind you, it was not actually broadcast on national television (or any other kind of television), but simply an activity designed by the literacy committee (of all organizations) in my Young Single Adult Ward back in Edmonton as yet another scheme to get us menaces to society married off as quickly as possible. In this program, potential bachelors were to submit a statement about their qualifications for such a coveted position, and potential contestants were to submit their plans for a creative date. The bachelor then went on five dates with the girls who came up with the most creative ideas. So I applied (but only because my cousin pulled on of those classic I'll-do-it-if-you-do-and-then-not-actually-do-it stunts) and was chosen - naturally. As "The Chosen One" (as I liked to call myself), I had the privelage of being taken on 5 dates by five lovely bachelorettes, none of which being Theresa. But hey - free dates. My winning submission is reprinted below:

With the number of Garneau Elders who wish to become anxiously engaged, I am sure scores of applications for our ward’s Bachelor program will be submitted and wonder what I might write to properly express why I should be given the great privilege of dating some of the Relief Society’s elect sisters. I could expound on my virtues: explain that I am intelligent and funny, for example, inform you that, although my photo-directory mug shot suggests otherwise, I am extremely attractive, tell you I am a witty conversationalist who is able to feign interest in any topic my date brings up, I am grateful, smart, true, clean, humble, prayerful, among other things. I could—since I heard the Literacy Committee is planning the activity—explain I am quite literate and impress you with my creative use of punctuation or I could make a fool of myself in the way that seems prevalent in most singles wards. But alas, I fear the selection may be a mere popularity contest and any explanation of my countless virtues and remarkable writing skills will be futile. This situation, although unfortunate, would not bother me (yes it would) because my ego is strong and I already go on many dates that I arrange without assistance (I spend most weekends alone playing computer Scrabble). So, pick whoever you feel will be the best bachelors (pick me), and even if I am not chosen, I hope your program goes well (no I don’t).

Randy Miller


Much More Music: Part II

Here's some more reviews. And with this, I have covered all the noteworthy albums I have gotten this last year. And if music reviews aren't really your thing, I am not totally converting to a music blog. I will be writing just as I always have, but from now one, when I get a new album that I think deserves to be mentioned, I will write a new review.

Final Fantasy: He Poos Clouds
R: Owen Pallat is an amazing composer, and his songs—string compositions composed into 4-minute pop songs--are beautiful. When I’m listening to my iPod on shuffle, this album doesn’t really fit in, but if I’m in the mood for orchestrated strings without being pretentious, Final Fantasy is the perfect choice. 3/5
T: I really liked Final Fantasy at first, but it hasn't really past the test of time. The background music is so beautiful. I am a sucker for string music, and Owen Pallat is the string master. The problem I have with this album is Owen's voice: I really don't like how it sounds against the music - it is kind of, for lack of a better word, Icky. 3.78/7 (2.70/5)

Frog Eyes: Tears of the Valedictorian
R: Lets get one thing straight: I Love Frog Eyes, but I do understand that it isn’t for everyone. Carey Mercer plays a frenzied guitar and sings like a rabid dog, so it seems quite cacophonous at first. But if you are able to get into this album, it is wonderfully complex and more emotional that whatever whiny emo-band is popular right now. 5/5
T: Frog Eyes is not my favorite band, but it does have one thing that I like: the best yelping in the world. I swear Cary Mercer must be half wolf cause sometimes he sounds like a dog that has been attacked by his one true love. Frog Eyes is just a little too much for me; there is just too much to digest. 3.03/7 (2.16/5)

Menomena: Friend or Foe
R: Menomena’s songs are complex creations that seem to wander all over various unique musical territories filled with piano and horns. Unfortunately, I just don’t find them interesting enough to follow their path enough to fully appreciate what they are doing. This album is best when it keeps things simpler. 3/5

Arcade Fire: Neon Bible
R: Arcade Fire’s debut was simply a masterpiece, and I can’t help but think that my expectations highly influenced my opinion of this album. When I first listened to it, it seemed like AF had lost their energy, since these songs were less enthusiastic then their predecessors’ and as foreboding as the church organ that is featured in many of the tracks. Looking at it on it own, though, I recognize Neon Bible as another impressive achievement. 4/5
T: Maybe if this album weren’t the follow up to Funeral, I would have like it more. I mean it is good, but it is nothing compared to Funeral. Win’s voice is not as raw as before, so it seems like he left his cool on the bus somewhere. I would recommend you listen to it though. It is good, just not as good. 5.49/7 (3.92/5)

Feist: The Reminder
R: This album is an amazing mix of incredibly infectious dance numbers and intimate acoustic melodies. The music is good, but what make Feist such a pleasure to listen to is her voice, which at the same time raw and polished. And those dance numbers can’t be beat. 4.5/5
T: I have to say, this is my favorite new album of the year: it is so darn good. This is saying a lot, because I have a tendency to hate follow-ups to albums that I really like (in this case “Let it Die”). I like this album even more after I saw her live - she is pretty much so awesome and talented, and is amazing to watch. 6.89/7 (4.92/5)

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: Some Loud Thunder
R: I was thoroughly disappointed with this album: Clap Your Hands has moved away from the folky music that made them popular and become, well, generic. I should say, though, that “Love Song No. 7” is my favorite of all CYHSY songs. 2.5/5

Apostle of Hustle: National Anthem of Nowhere
R: When I first listened to this album from a regular Broken Social Scenster, I thought that it was a cool blend of Broken Social Scene’s messy brand of rock and Latin music. But after repeated playings, when the novelty wore off, I discovered I didn’t actually like any of the songs. 2/5

Modest Mouse: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
R: This album has a few really good tracks, and a few duds. When Isaac Brooke is up to his old tricks, with tortured lyrics and frenzied yelp-singing, his music is as good as anything on “Good News” or “Moon and Antarctica.” But when he isn’t these songs are a dull as a preschool’s safety scissors. 3/5
T: Don't even get me started; Modest Mouse has broken my heart. I was so excited when I heard that the radio was going to play a new Modest Mouse song, but when I heard “Dashboard,” I wanted to amputate my ears. AMPUTATE! I hated it that much. I love the sad and tortured Modest Mouse, so it’s just awful to hear Isaac Brock singing about how much he loves the fresh air! Where is the anguish? 2.34/7 (1.67/5)

The Most Serene Republic: Phages
R: Although The Most Serene Republic is kind of an obscure band, and this EP is a concert-only record that has recently been released digitally, I decided to review it because I love it so much. What really sets this record apart is the way the combine jazz and rock into these catchy, innovative songs. Quite a nice surprise. 4.5/5


Much More Music: Part I

Because I loved writing those CD reviews so much and because I received such a positive response from them, I have decided to make it a regular practice here on "Adventures in a Strange and Distant Land." So, to get us started on the right foot, I will begin with mini-reviews of the most notable albums I have obtained this year. And since I so greatly enjoyed Theresa's entirely subjective, in-your-face comments, I have of course asked her to become a regular contributor. We've got kind of a good cop - bad cop review style going. The banner I made says it all.

Spoon: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
R: This album is pretty straightforward indie-rock fare, but with enough experimentation to differentiate it from the pack. It's upbeat rock songs are well written and catchy enough to encourage an enthusiastic sing-along, which makes them the perfect addition to a summer road trip. 4/5

Handsome Furs: Plague Park
R:The best word I can think of to describe this lo-fi offering from Wolf Parade's Dan Boeckner is 'haunting'. The songs are very minimal, often employing a simple guitar melody over a sparse drum machine; they are great individually, but listening to the entire album can get a little tedious. 3/5
T: My favorite Handsome Furs song is"What we had": although it doesn't actually sound Native American, it kind of reminds me of the time we had some aboriginal leaders come to my elementary school and teach us how to bang drums and set up a tepee in our gym. 5.63/7

Metric: Grow Up and Blow Away
R: Not being a huge Metric fan, I didn't have too high of expectations of this, their lost first album that is only now being released. However, I was pleasantly surprised: instead of Metrics usual guitar driven rock, this album is a nice trip-hop collection, where Emily Haine's vocals are given the provenance they deserve. 4/5
T: I like the new(old) Metric album. Emily Haines does a nice job and this album sees to show more of her personality: is less Metricy and more Soft Skeletony [her subdued solo album]. 4.69/7

Stereogum: OKX: A tribute to OK Computer
(available for free here)
R: These tribute songs are decent, especially the ones that include jazzy female leads; but really, this album just makes me want to listen to the original, and when I do, I realize that these tracks fail to truly capture that phenomenal album's essence. 2/5

Beruit: Gulag Orkestar
R: I'm surprised that I like this record. Although it was made by a 20-something from New Mexico, it sounds so authentically like Eastern Europe that when I listen to it, I have an inexplicable urge to cook up some pierogis. 3.5/5
T: What can I say, I love Beirut: it has also inspired me moved to eastern Europe. I love the accordions - they give the music a real old and unique feel. 5.97/7

Califone: Roots and Crowns
R: I fell in love with this album when I first heard the single, "The Orchids." On this album, Califone infuse folk music with a kind of electric eccentricity that invigorates it and creates a unique sound. 4/5

Tokyo Police Club: A Lesson In Crime
R: This young band has often been compared to the Strokes, but they have a greater depth then this comparison suggests. Overall, they are upbeat and fun. 4/5
T: "I have a microchip implanted in my heart, so if I try to escape, the robots will blow me apart. And my limbs will go flying and land before the ones that I love, who would wail and would weep but the robots would keep them at bay while I shut my eyes For the very last time. Citizens of tomorrow be forwarned". Enough said. 5.71/7

White Rabbits: Fort Nightly
R: I loved their first track "Kid on my Shoulder," but after listening to the entire album, this band seems kind of one-dimentional: all of their songs blend into each other. I do really like their use of piano, though. 3.5/5
T: Oh White Rabbits, how I love thee so (or at least moderately like you.) I like this band because one of their songs sounds like a train, and it makes me think of old western movies and robbing steam engines on horseback, all which makes for a good time. 4.98/7

The National: Boxer
R: This is an amazing album. At first, it seems like pretty standard soft-rock, but upon further listen, you can note the welcome presence of a number of other instruments, orchestral and otherwise. The lyrics are smart and the songs just really grew on me. 4.5/5
T: The lead singer is this group sounds too much like Great Big Sea for my liking: not that he sings the same style, but his voice is deep like his. I really don't like Great Big Sea, and don't like to be reminded that they exist. The National are OK, I just don't want to listen to them. 3/7

Deerhunter: Cryptograms
R: This album contains some great ambiance music, but I don't really like it for much more than that. 3.5/5


No, Not That Kind Of Pornographer

Now, you may have noticed by now that I like to listen to music - especially music coming from my very own native country); so, I hope that you can understand my excitement when I tell you that last night I had the supreme pleasure of obtaining not one, not two, not even three, but five new albums from both long time favorites and newly introduced bands (four of which do indeed hail from the great white north). Given the new and entirely inspired habit of indie bands to digitally release their albums before their official release date, I have plenty of opportunity to digest the contents of some of these releases before my opinion is (strongly) influenced by professional reviewers. So, I have decided to take this unique opportunity to give my opinion of two of these yet-to-be released albums before I have read a word from the multitude of music critics clamoring to dictate my tastes. But, wanting to preserve an air of balance, (and submitting to the pressures of my friends' sites who have labeled my blog as "Randy and Theresa's"), I have invited Theresa, who is much more passionate than I in regard to most everything (especially when it comes to new releases from her favorite bands), to add pen her own reviews.

Stars: In Our Bedroom After The War

Randal: Now, it would be a lie for me to say that this album was a not little bit of a letdown. Instead of the gorgeous orchestral music they perfected on their masterful "Set Yourself On Fire," Stars turn now to piano ballads and 80s synth-pop, with a couple of songs sounding so authentic, I could just imagine myself back in '83 sitting around in my diapers listening to top-40 radio. The amazing thing, though, is that the record is incredibly enjoyable - I guess if anyone can turn me on to Snyth-Pop, it would be Stars. Other than that, this album has a very optimistic, relaxing feel to it, as if, as the title suggests, us listeners are relaxing in a comfortable bedroom after emerging from an extended struggle, which makes it a great follow-up to "Set Yourself on Fire's" war-mongering tracks like "He Lied About Death" and "Soft Revolution." 8/10

Theresa: I have to say I was slightly disappointed with the new Stars album: it is nowhere near as good as "Set Yourself on Fire". The best way I can describe the way I feel about this album is to say it is like meeting your really awesome Grandpa after he has had a stroke, which has caused mild brain damage (mostly in the frontal lobe), causing him to lack personality; you still love him, but you think he is now boring. Hmm, I guess that analogy sounds a bit harsh, but that is how I feel about new Stars 3.88 stars out of 7. [ed-Theresa's also made the following analogy last night: the last Stars album was beautiful like Audrey Hepburn, and new Stars album is beautiful like Paris Hilton. I really must say that Theresa's aptitude with metaphors, which immediately let me understand her sentiments, seem much more powerful than my carefully chosen descriptions]

The New Pornographers: Challangers

Randal: The New Pornographers, much to my delight, have continued their shift from straight-forward power-pop supergroup into a more complex creature. On this record, although their upbeat tendencies are still evident, Carl Newman and Co. have produced a record that is much more folky and organic as any of their previous, filling the balance of the tracks with mid-tempo ballads. The Porno's have also apparently realized what a precious resource they have with their amazing female vocalist, Neko Case, and have moved her to the front and center. 9/10

Theresa: I really like the new New Pornographers record, they have changed things up enough to be fresh, without losing their signature sound. Neko Case is showcased more in the songs which adds a bit of a folky element, which is nice. Also, Dan Bejar has some particularly good tracks on this record, which may find a place in my heart (at least the outer layers of my heart). I would have to say this is the best New Pornographers album to date. I give this album 6 stars out of 7.

Well, there you have it. It seems like Theresa and I are truely "of one mind." (But to be fair, we did discuss the albums last night, so definitively influenced each other's opinions). To download songs from these albums, as well as other, check out my previous post.


Aztec Gold

Now, since I am one who is not at all hesitant to shamelessly and directly copy another's idea, I have decided to shamelessly and directly copy someone's idea. As I was looking at some of my friends blogs, I noticed that Sarah and Landon have recently posted a comic strip made from their family pictures (a link to their blog is on the side). After enjoying their creation, I remembered that I too, had at one time created a comic strip using the same program. It is reproduced below (click the image for a larger version).

This comic details the adventures of my two roommates and I on our trip to Mexico last May. It contains a number of inside jokes, but it fun enough for anyone. I particularly enjoy Theresa's appearance at the end. Enjoy.

PS - If you want me to link to your blog, I will be happy to: just let me know


The Lost Art

I have repeatedly noted that I didn't want to use my blog as a "this is what I did this week." But that being said, this is what I did this weekend:

I would like to thank our gracious host of this weekend, Katy, for her hospitality on not one, but two entertaining nights of stimulating conversation--truly a lost art, perhaps better appreciated by people like her and us, who do not have TV (that's right-no TV: not even peasant-vision). Some of the topics of our conversation included, but are not limited to the following, taken completely out of context*:

perfect mango cutting, diarrhea at inopportune moments, cats sleeping on babies' heads, Albertan confederates, dead sharks, mandatory perisol distribution at county fairs, corn queens, booing the melting pot, the KKK, the unimportance or need of sweetener in fruit drinks, nude dancers selling vegetables, how the chupacabra gets around so fast, being hit by flying sugar-beats, a school-room full of children with melted faces, vacation hotspots for seniors, fist-fights on amusement park rides, how the sasquatch brings families together, toxic cantaloupe, X-tream bocce ball, autistic possums, missionaries with cigarettes and condoms and bikini magazines, fake German newscasts, Unicorns (in more than one context), lying to carnies, cultural "Salads" political debate vs. sitting in a field with a rifle, proselyting for TV shows as opposed to the Book of Mormon, how John Heder is totally hot and cool, the "tank-top temple's" dress code, and the lack of a solid policy on Canadian annexation by any of the US presidential candidates.

We also posed to ourselves this question: if you were stuck on a desert island and could only listen to four bands, which would you choose? Well, we allowed responders to name artists, which meant that we could listen to all of their music. We'll with these qualifications, I took advantage of the diffuse nature of Canadian Indie Rock and named the following:

Spencer Krug: which include the bands Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Frog Eyes, Destroyer and Swan Lake.
Torquil Campell: which include Stars, Memphis, and Broken Social Scene
Win Butlar: The Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre
Thom Yorke (not Canadian): Radiohead and Thom Yorke

*Actual, honest-to-goodness topics that were discussed.


More Canadian Knowledge

I'd like to thank everyone who has taken the Canada quiz online and submitted your scores. Right now the most knowledgeable Canadian who has responded was my Dad and his nerdy engineering friends, who scored 36/40. In close second is Petey from back in E-town. Way to go. And by the way, it seemed like I miss-keyed the online version of the quiz (it's corrected now): Question 6 of the Entertainment section previously listed the answer as C-John Candy, but it is now corrected as B-Jim Carey. If you haven't already taken the quiz, scroll down a big and give it a try!

And to prevent this post from submitting to complete boardom, here is a extra special bonus question I came up with while watching a very informative program about Canada Called "The Great White North":

Who are Bob and Doug Mackenzie?
A. Canada's only brothers who were both Prime Minister
B. A famous Father-son team of quantum physicists who were recently awarded an honorary degree at Oxford
C. The two conductors of the Toronto Symphony
D. A couple of beer-swigging blockheads

Find out the answer here


The American Way - Get Someone Else To Do It

I am becoming more and more American-like every day. For example, I have joined in the great American movment of the 21st century: Outsourcing. That's right, I am probably the only Research Assistant who has his own research assistant.

Don't get me wrong, I actually do all the research I am required to for my job myself, but there is quite a bit of personal research that a law student in this day and age needs to get done. This research is on Law Firms and Professors and such, and I, being an innovative fellow, have hired a very talented and intelligent assistant to help me out. And the best part is that I am paying her in milkshakes.

You see, my dear sweet wife has a little more time on her hands than I do, and has graciously offered to help me with the seemingly endless pile of work that I need to get done on top of my job requirements. Thanks pooky pie*

*note: the term 'pooky pie' has never actually been uttered in our household, and is used here purely for the embarrassment of Theresa.


A Life Goal Accomplished

What a great Day today is in the humble life of this lowly blogger. One of my life goals has now been accomplished. That's correct, I have been mentioned on pitchfork media, the premier indie music sight that I read more religiously than the bible. Some of you are probably thinking that I must be joking, but alas, it is true. The following is taken from today's Pitchfork News (original source here):

Stars Battle Leaks by Releasing Digital Bedroom Today!

It was a little over a week ago that the first peek behind the door of In Our Bedroom After the War, the latest from ethereal indie-poppers Stars, made its way onto the internet. You might've glanced at the tracklist, perhaps nabbed new jam "The Night Starts Here" on Forkcast, and sighed wistfully, wishing away the hours between now and September 25. But when Stars are involved, seems wishes sometimes come true.

In an Arts & Crafts posting directed to "friends, fans and supporters of Stars," the band and label explain that the final mix of In Our Bedroom After the War was delivered Friday, July 6, but that, through the process of getting the CD to journalists and radio stations, "inevitably someone will leak the album." Though they don't exactly condemn the leak process, they're not really happy about the monetary losses involved, and, "as such, [they] are making the new Stars album available for download today."

That's right: Stars' In Our Bedroom After the War is, as of today, available (legally) via digital retailers (including A&C's own online shop). It's like a glimpse into the future... now!

"It's our hope," Stars and A&C write, "that given a clear, legal alternative to downloading music for free, you will choose to support the creators." Well played, guys. Well played, indeed.

The real album (in CD and double-LP form) will still hit shelves September 25, though by then, you'll hardly have much need for a lyric sheet, willya? Thanks to several readers (who we have to assume are bumpin' War all legal-like at present) for the tip.

And where in this news item am I mentioned you may ask. Well, right there at the end: "Thanks to several readers for the tip." That's right, I am one of those "several readers" who noticed the unprecedented release of Stars' new album and wrote in to my favorite website. It's time to hold my head up high.


Now That I've Tried MP3 Blogging, All That Is Left Is...

Photo-Blogging: The latest tool for photographers, world travelers and new mothers alike. Considering my propensity for bandwagon-jumping, I decided to try my hand at this latest craze, so Theresa and I set out on Saturday to create a photographic guide to our town. Charlottesville is particularly known for its lush greenery and spectacular Jeffersonian Architecture, and in this Photo-blog, I hope to be able to convey the grandeur of these impressive forests buildings.

To begin, here is a lovely example of the dense Charlottesville foliage

No tour of C-ville would be complete without a stop at Thomas Jefferson's Montecello

And then to Jefferson's other passion: the University of Virgina. This room has been named the most beautiful in America

C-Ville's Newest addition: the breathtaking John Paul Jones Arena

One of our town's animal inhabitants

and to cap it off: The artist himself

I hope you all enjoyed my experimentation with photo-blogging. I may be wrong, but it think it turned out pretty well. I guess I just have a natural talent for this photography stuff


This Has Offically Become An MP3 Blog (or at least one of those wannabe blogs because i'm just taking the songs from other sites)

I, having for the seventeenth time, announced myself to be an avid follower of the Canadian indie rock seen, was presented with this request: Why don't you put some playlists up on your blog. And, since the request came during our Canada Day party, I have decided to post an all-Canadian list. Now, a few years ago and with the Arcade Fire leading the way, Canada came bursting onto the indie scene as the new hotbed of talented musicians. Now, in 2007, many of those bands that created the scene are back with new albums. Indeed, with some great albums already released this year, and a number on their way, the big 07 is poised to be a big one for Canada's best and brightest. So below, I proudly present a list of songs from some of Canada's top indie bands from albums either already released this year, or are scheduled to be let loose in the coming months. But this is no ordinary list--it is an MP3 list, so you can go ahead and listen to or download the songs (right click the link and select "download linked file"). And don't worry, all you law abiding citizens, these downloads are legal.

Do Make Say Think: The Universe
From The Album: You, You're A History In Rust (Feb)
A nice post-rock (instrumental) song from some broken-Social Scenesters.

Arcade Fire: Keep The Car Running
From the Album: Neon Bible (Apr)
Canada's most critically acclaimed band is back with their second album; although Neon Bible isn't quite as good as Funeral, it doesn't disappoint.

Feist: I Feel It All
From the Album: The Reminder (May)
Feist is slowly gaining more and more popularity and critical acclaim for her sultry voice and songwriting prowess; The Reminder is an improvement over her impressive Let it Die.

Frog Eyes: Bushels
From the Album: Tears of the Valedictorian (May)
A nine-minute epic from the band who pioneered the spastic sound of current favorites, Wolf Parade and Arcade Fire. I LOVE this song.

Handsome Furs: What We Had
From the Album: Plague Park (May)
The minimalist debut from one of Wolf Parade's co-writers.

Immaculate Machine: Dear Confessor
From the Album: Fables (Jun)
An upbeat little diddy from a New-Pornographers-esque band.

New Pornographers: My Rights Versus Yours
From the Album: Challengers (due Aug)
The New Pornograhers are slowly toning down their power-pop impulses on this, the first single from their forthcoming fourth album.

Stars: The Night Starts Here
From the Album: Our Bedroom After the War (due Sept)
The masters of orchestrated pop love songs follow up their impressive Set Yourself on Fire. Stars are probably Theresa's favorite band.

Kevin Drew (from Broken Social Scene): Tbtf
From the Album: Spirit If... (due Sept)
This is the pre-release track from the first solo album from Kevin Drew, one of Broken Social Scene's primary members.

Sunset Rubdown: Winged/Wicked Things (Daytrotter Session)
From the Album: Random Spirit Lover (due Oct)
This song, available at Daytrotter (a great live music site), will be on Sunset Rubdown's next album. I love Sunset Rubdown, so you should check out all of the songs after this link.


Another Country Has Its Patriotic Holidy In July Too, Doesn't It?

Just in case my long Canada Day coverage is making you think that I prefer my home and native land to my newly adopted country, I would like to point out that yesterday--the fourth of July--Theresa and I traveled to Lexington with my Grandparents for an entire day of American festivities. Thats right, even though my Canadian post was much longer than the present, I assure you that the our calibration of its southern neighbor, measured in length of time, number of fireworks seen and number of Hot Dogs eaten, what much larger.


The Canada Day that Sparks an International Incedent

Happy Canada Day!

Yes, I know I am at least 2 days late, and it is actually closer to America’s birthday than Canada’s, but I had to wait until after our Canada Day party, that was held on the 2nd. For said party, Theresa and I (mostly Theresa) put together a Canadian trivia game, whose playing almost lead to an international incident. That’s right, we were about ready to give ‘ol Stephen Harper (Prime Minister of Canada) a call and have him mobilize our Canadian troops. All eight of them. The offense? Well, it turns out that both Canada and the United States claim to have invented the game of basketball AND the beloved hero, Superman. As all of you Canadians know from those CBC Heritage moments, both Superman and Basketball were created by Canadians (Watch the actual commercials: Basketball, Superman). Yet when we read the trivia questions about the subjects, the Americans in the room claimed both those inventions as their own: one of our guests is from the Massachusetts town where Basketball was born, and another was sure that Superman was created by Jewish Immigrants in New York.

It turns out that we were all right. From the ultimate and infallible source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, I discovered the true origins of these North American symbols:

“In early December 1891, Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian physical education student and instructor at YMCA Training School (today, Springfield College) in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, sought a vigorous indoor game to keep his students occupied and at proper levels of fitness during the long New England winters…he was nervous about the new game he had invented, which incorporated rules from a Canadian children's game called "Duck on a Rock", as many had failed before it. Naismith called the new game 'Basket Ball.'”

“Superman is a fictional character and comic book superhero, originally created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian artist Joe Shuster and published by DC Comics. Created in 1932, and rejected by a number of publishers, the character first appeared in Action Comics#1 (June 1938).”

I hope this will bring our two countries back to peaceful relations. I do apologize that our question about Basketball said “Which sport is a Canadian invention,” when it should have said “Which sport was invented by a Canadian?” To be fair though, our trivia question about Superman did ask which superhero was the co-creation of an American and a Canadian.

As for the rest of the game, I think everyone had a good time, and probably discovered they were not as ignorant about Canada as they thought. My favorite answer of the night was from Team Border Patrolers, who guessed that Canada’s most famous rodeo is called the Rainbow Rodeo. I actually just talked to the commissioner of the Calgary Stampede, and they are considering the name change as we speak.

Anyways, I’ve included the quiz here, with the answers below. If you are American, the team to beat is Team Northern Lights, who scored 23/40. If you are Canadian, I expect you to get a lot more than that. I only got two of Theresa’s 35 questions wrong. Can you get 100%? Let me know how you did. (And yes, I’m aware that you could find the answers on the Internet. You’ll just have to be honest about it.)


1.What is Canada’s largest lake?
A. Lake Superior
B. Lake Athabasca
C. Lake Winnipeg
D. Great Bear Lake

2.What is the name of the vast treeless area in Canada’s north?

3.True or False: Nunavut is Canada’s newest province.

4.What is Canada’s largest Territory/Province?
A. Quebec
B. Nunavut
C. Newfoundland
D. Northwest Territories

5.What is the Capital of Canada?
A. Ottawa
B. Toronto
C. Montreal
D. Edmonton

6.True or False: Mount Logon is Canada’s highest mountain.

7.What Canadian City boasts the CN tower?

8.What is Canada’s smallest Province?
A. Nova Scotia
B. Alberta
C. Prince Edward Island
D. Newfoundland

9.What Province borders Alberta on the east side?

10.True or False: Vancouver Island is Canada’s largest Island.


1.What Birthday Is Canada celebrating this year?

2.What is Laura Secord famous for?
A. Delicious Chocolate and Ice Cream
B. Warning the British of an American attack during the War of 1812
C. Being Canada’s first female Prime Minister
D. She invented the snow shoe.

3.Who was Canada’s first Prime Minister?
A. Sir John A MacDonald
B. Mackenzie King
C. Donald Sutherland
D. Jean Blanchet

4.Who was the first Female Prime Minister of Canada?
A. Adrienne Clarkson
B. Emily Murphy
C. Katherine O’Hara
D. Kim Campbell

5.Before 1967, what did the Canadian Flag look like?

6.True or False: Quebec City is the oldest walled city North of Mexico.

7.Who were the first people to live in Canada?
A. Europeans
B. Americans
C. Aboriginals
D. Norsemen

8.What is the part of the constitution that legally protects the basic rights of Canadians?
A. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms
B. The Second Amendment
C. The British North America Act
D. The Declaration of Civil Liberties

9.What was the main trade controlled by the Hudson Bay Company?
A. Retail/Housewares
B. Ship Building
C. Fur Trade
D. Slave Trade

10.Which of the following beaches did Canadians land on during D-Day?
A. Omaha Beach
B. Gold Beach
C. Juno Beach
D. Sword Beach


1.In the National Hockey League’s original six, which two teams where based in Canada?

2.Which super hero was the co-creation of a Canadian and an American?
A. Captain Planet
B. Superman
C. Spiderman
D. Wonder Women

3.What was Wayne Gretzky’s number?

4.What is Canada’s Famous Rodeo called?

5.Born in Victoria, British Colombia, Steve Nash is a famous:
A. Soccer player
B. Basketball player
C. Football player
D. Hockey player

6. Which of these Canadian comedians were NOT in the cast of SCTV?
A. Eugene Levy
B. Jim Carey
C. John Candy
D. Martin Short

7. The Arcade Fire is one of the most critically acclaimed acts in modern rock. What is the name of their breakthrough 2004 album?

8. Which of these singers is NOT Canadian?
A. Mandy Moore
B. Celine Dion
C. Avril Lavigne
D. Nelly Furtado

9. What is Margaret Atwood famous as?

10. True or False: In the Canadian Football League, the field (not including the endzone) is 110 meters long?


1.Name Canada’s first National Park?
A. Waterton
B. Forillon
C. Banff
D. Jasper

2.What sport/game was not a created by a Canadian?
A. Trivial Pursuit
B. Basketball
C. Soccer
D. Hockey

3.What is Canada’s National emblem?
A. Caribou
B. Moose
C. Beaver
D. Loon

4.This part of the US space shuttle was designed by Canadians?

5.True or False: Manitoba produces the most maple syrup in Canada.

6.The Canadian flag has what leaf on it?

7.What is the name of the schooner found on the Canadian dime?
A. The Bluenose
B. The Regina
C. The Empress of Ireland
D. The Eula Mae

8.What is an Inukshuk made from?
A. Caribou bones
B. Stones
C. Polar bear fur
D. Whale blubber

9.A Poutine is:
A. A small rodent that resembles a rat
B. French fries sprinkled with cheese curds and covered in gravy.
C. A nickname for French Canadians
D. Type of toque

10.Write the first two lines of the Canadian National Anthem.

Answers: GEOGRAPHY 1-D; 2-Tundra: 3-Newfoundland: 4-B; 5-A; 6-T; 7-Toronto; 8-C; 9-Saskatchewan; 10-F (Baffin Island). HISTORY 1-140; 2-B (Although I also accepted A); 3-A; 4-D; 5-Union Jack; 6-T; 7-C; 8-A; 9-C; 10-C. ENTERTAINMENT/SPORTS 1-Montreal Canadians & Toronto Maple Leafs; 2-B; 3-99; 4-Calgary Stampede; 5-B; 6-B; 7-Funeral; 8-A; 9-Author; 10-F (It’s 110 yards long). MISCELLANEOUS 1-C; 2-C; 3-C; 4-The Robotic Arm (Canadarm); 5-F (Quebec); 6-Maple; 7-A; 8-B (see picture below); 9-B; 10-Oh Canada, Our home and native land.