Grand Theft Auto III, 10 years to the day.

Today, October 22, marks 10 years to the day that Grand Theft Auto III was released. No doubt one of the greatest video games ever. Although it itself featured very little well-known music, it certainly set the table for the games to come. That is not to discount the previous games in the series, however GTA III, being the first 3D game, and first Grand Theft Auto game on Playstation 2, made its impact known.

One of my favourite radio stations is Double Clef FM, hosted by the fictional Morgan Merryweather. Classical music and opera just fit oh so well in the game. Among the tracks were the “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi and “La donna è mobile” from Rigoletto (“And now more hits from the Sixties, 1760s that is!”). Ones I quickly grew fond of, and likely helped with my appreciation for the genre.

Although I did not know Scientist at the time, I would later listen to his great dub album, Scientist Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires. K-Jah featured a few tracks from that album.

Game Radio FM featured Royce da 5’9″, Black Rob, and Agallah being the most known. And the somewhat dark feeling hip hop worked great on the streets of Liberty City. Agallah and Sean Price’s “Rising to the Top”, and Royce da 5’9″‘s “I’m The King” stand out for me.

Much of the soundtrack still perplexes me, for instance, Flashback 95.6, featuring Debbie Harry’s “Rush Rush”, from the Scarface Soundtrack of all places! And that is not the only track from Scarface soundtrack. Also included is Elizabeth Daily’s “I’m Hot Tonight”, whose singing career spans all of three paragraphs on Wikipedia!

Here’s to another ten years driving around in fictionalised versions of real cities listening to great music (and talk)!


Grand Theft Auto III micro mix


In the charts, 10 years ago

I have been thinking of this kind of post for a while now, so, why not now?

Starting with the main charts, topping the Billboard 200, that being the top albums, sales-wise of course. Jay-Z takes it with The Blueprint. Only having been on the charts for 3 weeks. Not being a Jay-Z fan, I will proceed with number 2, Alicia Keys‘ debut, Songs in A Minor. Even though only one song is in A Minor!

A few spots down, System of a Down‘s Toxicity is at the 15 spot. It is in its fourth week on the chart at this point, and peaked at number 1! Whoa, Afroman is charting at the 26 spot with The Good Times (although that is a greatest hits compilation)!

Coldplay is on at #154 with their debut. Not bad after 42 weeks on the chart, yet it only peaked at #51. They went on two win two Grammy’s with Parachutes, Best Alternative Music Album, and Best Alternative Music Performance.

In the Hits of the World Category, here in Canada, Serial Joe have the top single with “Completely“. Diana Krall‘s The Look of Love is the number one album. Dido‘s No Angel tops in the UK.

Because sales are definitely not the barometer for good music, topping Canadian campus radio (aka college radio) airplay for the chart dated October 9, 2001, was Bjork‘s Vespertine. Top Canadian release was The DearsOrchestral Pop Noir Romantique EP.

Meanwhile, dated October 29, 2001, in CMJ (Google Books is missing some issues from May 2000 to October 2001), Death Cab for Cutie‘s The Photo Album held the #1 spot.

Some music videos from 10 years after the break (unless you came to this post directly!)

Continue reading “In the charts, 10 years ago”

Pop Montreal 2011 review + pictures!

Pop Montreal 2011 began two weeks ago tonight, so it is about time I am finally writing my review!

Part of the reason I am so slow in writing my review is that it was very hectic, being out to shows late every night, and working a day job, so I took some time to recover if you will. Okay, and there was procrastination in there too.

Rebekah Higgs at Pop Montreal 2011

This year marked the tenth anniversary of Pop Montreal, what started as a few friends putting on some shows. And it really culminated with the free Arcade Fire show where the free festival shows are held annually (recent years saw Stevie Wonder, Ben Harper, and just this past summer, The B-52s. Somewhere between 80 000 and 100 000 showed up for the Arcade Fire show. Of course many had to watch from surrounding screens, myself included, although I watched Kid Koala from the side of the giant stage. I did not pay too much attention to Karkwa, as I really do not know them, and only watched about 20 minutes of Arcade Fire on the screens, as I took off to see Rebekah Higgs, along with openers Dinah Thorpe and Mussaver at Cagibi.

Presently I am listening to Grass Widow‘s latest album, Past Time. Grass Widow being a great example of a pleasant discovery. I did not know them before the night before the show. They were the final opening band for The Raincoats. And the highlight of that show for me. The Raincoats were good, but I am not too into them, and not to be age-ist, but they are showing their age a bit. I of course do like a lot of aging musicians!

Ben Caplan at Pop Montreal 2011

My festival really started off with Charlotte Cornfield, a local indie/folk singer who I knew by name, but had never seen her perform. She played at the Ukranian Federation, a sit-down venue, kind of as it sounds, a theatre, but not a really old one with nice architecture, but instead kind of a dull church feel/meets hall space. Not bad for a mellow show though, although, seeing tUnE-yArDs there was not the best. Charlotte put on a nice set, she was happy to play there, as she said she saw Arcade Fire there a few years earlier at Pop Montreal! Next was Lindi Ortega, a bit more country/bluegrass, although a bit more of a commercial feel (oh, and not at all bad looking!) Not bad though!

After Charlotte and Lindi, I ended up at an industrial loft space, that someone actually lives in! Ah, Pop Montreal! Good spot for the particular show! In this case it seems like it was Charlotte Cornfield who organised it with a few of her favourite bands, including Ben Caplan, and Donlands and Mortimer.

Dinah Thorpe at Pop Montreal 2011

The aforementioned Rebekah Higgs show was very nice, save for the curfew, which had Rebekah only doing a few songs lasting 20 minutes at the most! Dinah Thorpe from Toronto who played prior was very good, and another nice Pop find. As per her MySpace, she is “acoustic / alternative / electro.” Indeed a nice mix, and one song, from her latest album, 12, called “Song for Dolly.” Of course for Dolly Parton. Her album is called 12, as she created a song every month for 12 months, a 12 song cycle as she puts it. Montreal’s own Mussaver opened the show, think Joanna Newsom, however with an accordion!

What I liked about this year’s Pop was how there was no huge acts (aside from Arcade Fire, they have proved themselves musically, but they are more big in the underground circles), for example, last year Macy Gray played Pop Montreal. Although, that was a co-presentation with the big concert promoters here. Many small acts I knew, and many I did not. I saw many I knew, and many I did not, yet I still missed some I knew, and some I did not. For example, I missed Emma-Lee, who I knew somewhat, but had never seen her perform, and I missed Dominique Young Unique, who I read about checking out artists playing Pop. Think Lil Mama meets Nicki Minaj for a not so accurate comparison!

Kid Sister at Pop Montreal 2011!

Friday night I saw Kid Sister, it was a club set, so way too short, and she played at least a couple mixtape tracks, which were good, but I did not know too well. After a few songs she disappeared, leaving her DJ to entertain the crowd. She returned with the very crowd pleasing “Right Hand Hi!” I was happy to catch that one live. The club it was at was apparently voted #1 in Montreal in several categories by readers of the free weekly entertainment publication the Mirror. I also vote it well in not starting on time! Kid Sister started well over an hour late (as Pop publishes the set times for benefit of those Pop hopping from show to show). Before she went on I was able to catch about 20 minutes of Ohbijou, and missed Azealia Banks in the process.

Allie Hughes played O Patro Vys Saturday night as the last openers for the all-girl Weezer cover band Sheezer! She is presently working on her debut album. And I say it is one to look forward to, as she has a nice vocal range, hitting some high operatic like notes!

Before seeing Allie Hughes, and catching most of By Divine Right, I saw Laura Marling. I am not a huge fan, but she definitely impressed! Her voice definitely had the audience getting their socks blown off (as opener Alessi’s Ark put it!), despite her mellow folk!

The closing party was nice, with Think About Life playing their last show ever, a very energetic party-like show!

Merrill Garbus, tUnE-yArDs symposium at Pop Montreal 2011

The tUnE-yArDs set was of course nice, especially after having seen Merrill Garbus doing a symposium that afternoon, talking about her influences, that include being obsessed with singing styles from around the world (Korean Pansori for one), and applying them to her music. And looking to the future how she would like to evolve away from the looping pedal.

Pop Montreal 2011 teaser/CD haul

This is just a warm up post. As the title suggests, a teaser of what I have yet to write, and of the CD’s I picked up during Pop Montreal 2011. I had been posting plenty of updates on my Twitter during the festival, and took some notes, so, a full review will come shortly! (Mostly unrelated, but of note, this blog post: Prepare for National Novel Writing Month with the Post a Day Challenge. I am all about quality over quantity, however, with NaNoWriMo, it is all about writing writing writing, and editing later, as the writer is bound to have some quality within, or good stuff that can be edited later, versus sitting around thinking and generating very little content while (over?)thinking. Anyway…)

Pop Montreal 2011 CDs

All the discs I picked up (from top left clockwise), Lindi OrtegaLittle Red Boots, Rebekah HiggsOdd Fellowship, OhbijouBeacons, Dinah Thorpe12, Grass WidowPast Time)

All the shows/artists I saw (bold denotes Canadian artists):

Charlotte Cornfield
Lindi Ortega
Donlands and Mortimer (most)
Ben Caplan
Charlotte Cornfield
Kid Koala
Karkwa (mostly indirectly)
Arcade Fire (about the first 30 minutes, indirectly on screens)
Mussaver (most)
Dinah Thorpe
Rebekah Higgs
Pat Jordache (most)
Ohbijou (first 30 minutes)
Kid Sister
Alessi’s Ark
Laura Marling
By Divine Right (last 15 minutes)
Allie Hughes
Hannis Brown
Grass Widow
The Raincoats
Think About Life

So, in the coming days, once I finish writing it, my Pop Montreal 2011 post will be a review and thoughts…