Le langage and la musique: @DavidUsher and @MarieMaireal give “Black Black Heart” a redux en français

DAVID USHER featuring MARIE-MAI, “Black Black Heart”

After reuniting with Moist in 2014 for an album and a cross-Canada tour – including a top-notch show that I saw in Toronto – David Usher returns to recording his own music by reintroducing one of his most famous songs, but in French.  This rerecording of “Black Black Heart” – my favourite song by him – with reknown Quebec singer Marie-Mai (who recorded an alternate version of it previously with him) is a terrific idea, which will help you ponder how language can affect and perhaps alter a song.  For this version of “Black Black Heart” is not a direct translation of the original, it has new lyrics written by Marie-Mai and Fred St-Gelais, and I’m going to have to brush off the rust on my own bilingual skills to try and tackle what they are singing about.  And this is key to David’s upcoming album Let It Play, where he is releasing English adaptations of songs recorded in French.  It sounds fascinating and he tells you all about it on his website right here.  I can’t wait to hear it, and in the meantime we now have another version of “Black Black Heart” to dazzle us.

Published in: on October 9, 2016 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Resurrection: “Black Roses” by @Moistonline

MOIST, “Black Roses”

It seemed highly unlikely, but about a year ago, the classic Canadian alternative rock band Moist, led by Juno Award winning singer David Usher, got back together, albeit missing a member or two from their 1994-2000 halcyon years which included huge Canadian hits like “Push”, “Leave It Alone”, and “Tangerine”.  They’ve since toured across Canada a few times, and by the time I got to see them in concert on November 22 in Toronto, their sound was so tight that this truly was a resurrection or re-invention of the classic Moist.  “Black Roses” is a crunching standout from their latest album Glory Under Dangerous Skies, a much better introduction to me than the initial single “Mechanical”.  It features a fiery David Usher vocal and tight, invincible-sounding production, with the two guitarist punch of Mark Makoway and Jonathan Gallivan.  So it appears that Moist is back and looking to stick around for a while (though any time punctuated with a new David Usher solo album is always a bonus).  Do check them out in concert when they play in your city for an engaging evening of rock and roll.

Published in: on November 27, 2014 at 10:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rocking On: New Order, David Usher, Magneta Lane, and Final State


New Order, Lost Sirens

I had the pleasure of attending New Order’s October concert in Toronto, my fourth time seeing the now-quintet but the first time since 1993.  New Order created some of my most favourite music of the 80s and early 90s – “Blue Monday”, “The Perfect Kiss”, “Temptation”, “Fine Time” among others.  While the group no longer had Peter Hook’s one-of-a-kind bass playing in the mix, the diversity of their 30-year repertoire plus the bang-0n addition of bassist Tom Chapman and the return of keyboardist Gillian Gilbert to the fold all took precedence (multi-instrumentalist Phil Cunningham had replaced Gillian for the Get Ready album).  It was probably the most entertaining and tight New Order show I’ve seen, with Bernard Sumner a particular joy on stage, the most communicative and appreciative the band has been.  They announced at the show that Lost Sirens would be dropping in January, this set consisting of songs that didn’t make the final cut for the 2005 swan song with Hook, Waiting For The Sirens’ Call.  There is so much great music out there in storage that none of us will ever hear, so I’m pleased that New Order chose to raid their vaults.

Lost Sirens is more than simply impressive as the group’s 9th album, even though it won’t see the light of the same kind of hype that a brand new album would be given by its record company.  While the songs may not have fit into what they wanted in ’05, 8 years later they are highly contemporary while remaining definitively New Order.  It doesn’t get much better than “Shake It Up”, which would normally be a New Order song that would take off in dance clubs.  “Hellbent” has some driven guitar work and effects, while other songs like “California Grass” and “I’ve Got A Feeling” change up the mood as you might expect in any New Order album.  Bernard sounds as fine here as he did in concert.  So I hope Lost Sirens isn’t the last we hear from New Order.  Peter Hook is also on tour playing songs from Joy Division’s records.  Perhaps Bernard and Peter will bury their differences for at least one more album together, who knows?  You can stream Lost Sirens in its entirety at Rolling Stone’s website right here.


David Usher, “Operator”/”Répondez-moi”

It’s hard to believe that I haven’t written about David Usher in these pages over the last three years.  Having seen him about a half dozen times in concert and heard all of his albums, with many favourites I play regularly (“Black Black Heart”, “Blinded”, “Kill The Lights”, “The Music”, and more) I am having some difficulty connecting with his 8th solo album Songs From The Last Days On Earth.  It’s essentially a mellow side of David that reminds me most of his debut solo album Little Songs, recorded in 1998 when he was on a break from his band Moist.  

I guess I prefer a mix of edgier rock and soft songs from David, but I’m glad he’s released “Operator” as a single from Last Days On Earth.  It has that familiar theme of wanting to call and talk to someone, but not getting through, but with a difference – it’s the end of the world.  It’s a song that features one of David’s best vocals on the album and hopefully will help reignite my interest in it.  Residing in Montreal and being bilingual, he’s been taking advantage of recording songs in French (most notably “Je repars” – the French version of “I’m Coming Down” – with Quebec chanteuse Marie-Mai two years ago), so “Operator” is also available as “Répondez-moi”.  Listen to both below.  If David is on tour, you can’t go wrong by checking out his show and his 14 year song catalogue.


Magneta Lane, Witchrock

Savvy Toronto indie scenesters will know all-girl trio Magneta Lane from their three previous releases, which were all recorded when they were teens between 2004 and 2009.  When you thought that too much – well too much everything – had done in the band, they have resurfaced with the four song EP Witchrock.  Since I hadn’t heard their early material, I’m treating Witchrock anew.  Led by singer Lexi Valentine and featuring bassist French and drummer Nadia King, Witchrock is a bona fide throwback to post-punk women of the early 80s like Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hynde, and Joan Jett.  The band also cites singers like Courtney Love and Patti Smith as inspiration, but with a three-piece band it’s hard not to think of The Runaways, but with a modern twist.  Teaming up with producers  Rick Jackett and James Black of Finger Eleven, Witchrock delivers a sparse but highly melodic sound that showcase’s Lexi’s forthright vocals.  The best songs within are the scathing “Burn” and the bass-led rave-up “Lucky”.  Witchrock is due for release on February 12 and the trio will be performing at Toronto’s The Rivoli on February 14.  Watch the teaser trailer below.


Final State featuring Laurence Pagé, “Make Up Your Mind”

Every now and then I come across some bilingual songs from Quebec performers and I wonder why they can’t cross over to the rest of Canada.  The latest is “Make Up Your Mind” by Final State, the Quebec City quartet led by singer Rick Pagano.  Add female singer Laurence Pagé (noted for a viral cover of Flo Rida’s “Whistle”) and you have this insanely catchy slice of sincere and danceable pop/rock reminiscent of groups like The Midway State that deserves a wider audience.  Watch the video below and see why!

Tuned-On! Top 300 of the 2000’s – FINAL (#50-1)

Here it is, the final 50 of the complete list of 300 songs, a list that I fussed over for the last few months.  I may have been a little generous overall with songs from the last year, but time will only tell, since 2009 was to me a great year for new music.  I think the best way to introduce this list is with some of my favourite lyrics.

I won’t worry my life away…

I’d go extra miles to show that you are the one thing that I’ve got…

Gimme gimme symphonies, gimme more than the life I see…

I know that after tonight you don’t have to talk about the stars no no…

If I have understood correctly velocity equals the distance traveled, divided by time…

Step into the light, this dog doesn’t bite, oh, just want to be your friend…

Simply being loved… is more than enough, yeah yeah…

I’m living for the only thing I know, I’m running and not sure quite where to go…

My baby’s got the lonesome lows, don’t quite go away overnight…

Feathered hair and lame heels, what turns me on is so surreal…

And I’m only makin’ it worse when I let her go, then I come on back every time I leave…

And I won’t call you baby anymore, won’t call you baby like I did before…

I’m miles from where you are, I lay down on the cold ground, I pray that something picks me up…

You know in 1987 I was dancin’ in a discotheque, and people were coming up to me and sayin’ “What is this shit??”…

The full updated list is available right here – please leave your comments and observations!!  Onward to the new decade… 🙂

Tuned-On! Top 300 of the 2000’s, Part 5 (100-51)

Online discoveries and remixes dominate the top 100 of this decade list.  It is like no other list I’ve created before, but it parallels my list of the 1970’s in some ways since I was discovering the UK charts and dance remixes in the latter part of that decade.  But there would have been no way for me to discover, without our current technology and without meeting online friends:

* Dance music available otherwise to club DJ’s such as songs by Casey Stratton, iio, Motorcycle, Axwell, Crystal Waters, Cassius, Armin Van Buuren, Roger Sanchez, and Matt Darey, including remixes of songs by Coldplay and The Fray

* Canadian talent from across the country such as Mitchell Hunter and Jake

* Talent from across the world like Agnes Carlsson, Freemasons, Adele, Duffy, and Newton Faulkner

* Lesser known artists awaiting their breakout, like Tyler Hilton, Evan Taubenfeld, and Dan Black

* Updates on favourites such as David Usher, Darren Hayes, and Chris Isaak

* Monitoring success of new decade favourites like Jason Mraz and Lifehouse

The ‘hits’ are still here too, though much less so than ever.  Discovered the traditional way were songs by 3 Doors Down, Leona Lewis, George Michael (“Amazing”), The Fray (“Over My Head”), and Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown.

So the Top 100 begins with the updated list right here – don’t forget to leave your comments and observations!!

Tuned-On! Top 300 of the 2000’s, Part 3 (200-151)

Let’s see – a few amazing dance anthems/comebacks (“It’s All True”, “Stamp Your Feet”, “Night Of My Life”), a solo debut (“Like I Love You”), two songs that re-entered my chart (“Last Train Home”, “You Want Me Don’t You” – the latter as a remix), doubles from Rufus Wainwright, Coldplay, Kanye West, and Marianas Trench, plus wondrous stuff from Tyler Hilton, iio, Darin, Blue Man Group, Mans Zelmerlow, Gary Go, Jamiroquai, Josh Kelley, and more!

You can find the updated list right here – don’t forget to leave your comments!

Tuned-On! Top 300 of the 2000’s, Part 2 (250-201)

From big worldwide hits (“Yeah”, “Naughty Girl”, “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”) to more localized hits (“That Girl”, “The Way (Put Your Hand In My Hand)”, “Alone In The Universe”), to club smashes (“Planets of the Universe”, “My My My”) to rock tracks (“Sometimes”, “Load Me Up”) to first timers (“There You Go”), to CD only tracks (“I’ll Do Anything”, “Hot Mess”) – you’ll likely find something you like a lot on this list.

You can find the updated list right here – don’t forget to leave your comments! 🙂

Today’s iTouch Shuffle Mix

Here’s what my iTouch shuffled for me today on my way home from work:

Pet Shop Boys “So Hard”

Breit Brothers “Feel My Body Shakin'”

David Usher “We Are Wolves Here (Electric City)”

Bob Seger “Hollywood Nights”

Demi Lovato “Here We Go Again”

Hugh Masekela “Don’t Go Lose It Baby”

Level 42 “Starchild”

Cyndi Lauper “She Bop”

Run-DMC vs. Jason Nevins “It’s Like That” (video below)