amongst books

amongst books

Monday, December 31, 2012

New Fiction on ERWA Site for January, 2013

Sex with An Old Woman is a melodramatic & contemporary retelling of Beauty & the Beast.

The Vampire Responds features a world-weary undead curmudgeon who is tired of his existence.

I suppose both these stories deal with the issues of aging & alienation. SWAOW was painful albeit cathartic to write; TVR was just plain fun.

I suggest you go thru the whole site, particularly the other stories in the Gallery.

Thanks once again to Adrienne & the gang at the Erotica Readers & Writers Association for support, encouragement & editing suggestions.
In 2013 I join the ERWA staff as an editor, which means I get to help choose stories to be published in the Gallery & support others in their writing. I look forward to the opportunity & promise to do my damndest to inspire perverted stories.

Thank you to those of you who read my bent offerings. [even those of you who read them in secret.] Happy new year to you all. Now please carry on with your debauched celebrations & don't forget to tell me all about them.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best of 2012: final thoughts/rant

what the hell is the point of a best of list? to me they serve two purposes:

1) they encourage the folk on the list & show support for their work;
2) they allow others to find out about work someone feels is good.

better when the list includes notes of engagement rather than just a plain list. in a perfect world, that's what would happen.
some dislike best of lists because they think it's not nice for those that aren't included. I see that; however, in the creative world, not everyone is included in everything. that's part of the creative life. the same people who might not be on my best of list might have won an award this year, gotten grants, been invited to read, been published etc. so I don't feel guilty about not including them.

furthermore, I take issue with the idea that one shouldn't express an opinion, that there's something wrong with admitting to liking something. I despise moderation. I want to know about the work that excites people whose taste is like mine or whose opinions I trust because as a reader, a music lover, an art appreciator, knowing this makes me want to explore their choices.
Canadians as a rule have a problem with the idea of having an opinion, with feeling strongly about things, but I don't. But I'm not making these lists to stroke the egos of pals or curry favour with publishers. I'm making them because I care deeply about good works being known to others & I care about paying attention to those who create these works. Is my opinion subjective? Hell yeah. So god damn what?

Obviously I can't read every piece of writing that is published in a year or listen to every album. Anyone with any sense knows & understands that. My lists are based solely on what I have access to. It doesn’t mean I won't write about something I've enjoyed later when I discover it.
As a writer, I am happy for the literary community as a whole and the person in question when attention is paid to a particular author. It helps me as well when support is given to a writer or creator. I don't feel slighted when my own stuff isn't included on any best of lists or I don't get awards. I have no sense of entitlement. Creating art is 99.9% perspiration with a damn hard dash of disappointment. So I give encouragement where I can & I let people know when I find something I believe is worth talking about.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Peter F. Yacht Club regatta, reading, xmas party - Saturday night

i will read what is possibly my last reading of the ghazals from the "ghazals against the gradual demise manuscript," unless published in book/chapbook form in future.

a bunch of others from issue 17 will likely be reading all being well. it's a fun event. you should come out if you're in town.

the Carleton Tavern, 223 Armstrong, doors 7pm; reading 7:30pm ish.
lovingly hosted by Captain Stubing, i mean, rob mclennan.

sometimes there are treats. there is always beer.
pick up a copy of issue #17 at the reading or from rob via above/ground press
 
[is this too cheesy?]

Best of 2012: chapbooks

in 2012 I received numerous chapbooks, some because I have a subscription to small presses, others because I happened upon them serendipitously. & that's the beauty of the chapbook. it is small, understated & turns up in the most unexpected places. many of these were gifted to me by generous small pressers who wanted to share the joy of their creations & who were proud of their authors' work. the list includes poetry, visual poetry and fiction. there are so many chapbooks I haven't seen by presses yet unknown to me. I am open for more.

the chapbooks on this list are here because they surprised me, they made me stop what I was doing & pay attention, because they were remarkable.
Steve Dalachinksy - the veiled doorway (unarmed, Saint Paul, Minnesota)

bpNichol, The Lungs: A Draft (No Press, Calgary, Alberta)
Margaret Christakos - from Tumltétudes: The Chips & Ties Study (Book Thug, Toronto, Ontario)

Howie Good, Strange Roads (Puddles of Sky Press, Kingston, Ontario)
Christine McNair and rob mclennan, Prelude: selections from a collaboration (Ottawa, Ontario)

Phil Hall, A Rural Pen (Apt. 9 Press, Ottawa, Ontario)
Kathryn MacLeod, Entropic Suite (above/ground press, Ottawa, Ontario)

Roland Prevost, Parapagus (above/ground press, Ottawa, Ontario)
Daniel f. Bradley - Chortling American Show Goo (Laurel Reed Books, Mt. Pleasant, Ontario)

Joel Williams, Shitting on Roses (Black Bile Press, Ottawa, Ontario)
Michael e. Casteels, cemantics (Puddles of Sky Press, Kingston, Ontario)

rob mclennan, Notes, on the subject of marriage: (above/ground press, Ottawa, Ontario)
rob mclennan, Poem beginning with a line by Pinder (above/ground press, Ottawa, Ontario)

Patrick Larkin, Flight Mode (Ferno House, Toronto, Ontario)
Monty Reid, Garden (dec unit) (Corrupt Press, Les Pays-Bas)

Colin Smith, Carbonated Bippies! (Nomados, Vancouver, BC)

The Author John Kinsella, Paradise Lust. A POEM Book 1 DAMAGE REPORT (BookThug, Toronto, Ontario)
Eryk Wenziak, 4am (No Press, Calgary, Alberta)

Barry McKinnon, Into the Blind World (above/ground press, Ottawa, Ontario)
Kemeny Babineau, After Progress (above/ground press, Ottawa, Ontario)

Stephen Brockwell, Excerpts from Impossible Books, the Crawdad Cantos (above/ground press, Ottawa, Ontario)

George Elliott Clarke, Selected Canticles (above/ground press, Ottawa, Ontario)
Robert Hogg, from Lamentations (above/ground press, Ottawa, Ontario)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Best of 2012: Poetry

Christine McNair, Conflict (BookThug)

a touch of whimsy weaved into poems with excellent diction, language play, humour, often self-deprecating for the speaker of the poems. poems that contain emotion & evoke both empathy & compassion. unusual imagery. [full disclosure-some of the poems can be found in McNair's notes from a cartywheel published by my own AngelHousePress.]
Marcus McCann, The Hard Return (Insomniac Press)

brilliant sound play, painterly imagery, sheer zaniness & fun. [full disclosure: some of the poems have been previously published in The Glass Jaw, McCann's chapbook with Bywords, of which I am the managing editor.]
Angela Szcepeniak, The Qwerty Institute Annual Report (BookThug)

while this book was published under BookThug's Department of Narrative Studies, I am quite content to call this work poetry due to its wild whimsy, crazy puns & wordplay. if I had a prize to give, I would give it to Szcepeniak for writing the most whimsical book of the year & to BookThug for being daring enough to publish it. if just for the fleet of hunchbacked Shorthand Homunculi alone. this is the kind of work that gives other writers permission to write what they want. never have I enjoyed font play more. I tip my Serif to its creator.
Chantal Neveu, Coït, translated by Angela Carr (BookThug)

sensual & divinely minimal, a hymn to the beauty & strength of dance & the body. i haven't seen the original French, but i get the impression because of the syntax & occasional bits of abstractions that Carr's translation was very non-interventionist rather than adaptive.
Oana Avasilichioae, We, Beasts (Wolsak & Wynn)

magical, hypnotic in its repetition & recurring imagery.  lyric beauty.
I had the fortune to hear Avasilichioea perform some of this in person at the Tree Reading Series this year & she was mesmerizing.

it is such a simple thing to say but I love the way Matuk puts words & images together. I also love the poems with the gorgeous long lines, such as "To An Ideal," I love the whimsy of "Sumptuary Crossword Clues." The work is intelligent with fine sound play & makes excellent use of poetic devices such as simile & enjambment. this book is rich  with vibrant colours & textures & sensual imagery.

quiet little meditative hymns. lovely imagery that seems to play quite a bit with synechdoche. love the way punctuation is used for lengthening & shortening the rhythms. the way a guitarist presses his fingers on the fretboard to lengthen & shorten notes. this work has a subdued & contemplative tone.

a lovely conversational tone here. love the stumble & anything that talks about walking is ok by me. "the shoe pinches; but life goes on, as they say," also rich imagery here in the "Night Book" section particularly. the modern day version of Orpheus & Eurydice. this is ingenious work.

I love Ross's imagination & the playfulness of these poems. but there's also a weight to the poems, many of them from a child's point of view in a threatening world. there's a mix of joy & sorrow here, a tinge of melancholy with more than a dash of sarcasm.

zany jam-packed accumulations. some fine wit. lovely moments of lyricism. self-deprecating humour of the speaker. imaginative work with some fine sound play. compassionate observations of a skewed world.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Best of 2012: Fiction

Barry Webster, the Lava in My Bones

I'm still reading this book, but I'm confident it merits a mention on the best of 2012 fiction list. Webster's writing is imaginative and quirky. He goes places I would never have dreamt of and I have a great imagination. Apparently fairy tales are back in fashion again. These linked stories about an unassertive geologist and his eccentric brash lover Franz, who is reminiscent of Dieter of the Sprockets of SNL fame certainly qualify. When the two have sex, snow falls. Magic stuff.

Vincent Lam, the Headmaster's Wager
everybody knows this book is great. I loved Lam's short story collection. this novel takes one of the stories and extends it into a full-length book. there were moments when I simply couldn't put the book down. I wasn't expecting Lam to write horror so well. the scene of the son's torture is magnificent in its grotesquerie.

Remittance Girl, Beautiful Losers
another book I'm still reading by one of erotica's master storytellers. the main character becomes embroiled in an unusual threesome with a gay and a bi-man. the sex is delicious and the characters are fascinating. well-rendered edginess. Remittance Girl's work is high quality literary fiction worthy of prizes.

Shawna Lemay, Hive, A Forgery
this self-published gem caught me by surprise. it is a highly fragmented work.  Lemay evokes many of the issues of creativity and writers' block thru her narrator. she writes beautiful prose with heaps of intriguing references to writing and art. it's a work that merits many rereads. full disclosure: I published an excerpt in the latest issue of Experiment-O.

Daniel Allen Cox, Basement of Wolves
I wax poetic about Cox's fiction. I love it. there's a poignancy to the writing; the characters are eccentric and the prose is exquisitely written, full of humour & wit. out of his four works so far, Krakow Melts, his second novel, is my favourite, but Basement of Wolves with its satirical look at the movie industry, is a close second.

Tamara Faith Berger, Maidenhead
as a fan of the writing of George Bataille, I couldn't help but enjoy this contemporary tale of a young woman's corruption from innocence. mainstreamers find this book shocking, which I find cute. the story is well-told, the main character is an intelligent teenager who I feel empathy with and compassion for.  perhaps CanLit is finally discovering transgressive literature. it's about bloody time.

Ami McKay - the Virgin Cure

I loved this tale of young Moth, a girl who ends up in New York City brothel in the late 1800s. brings to mind Michel Faber's masterpiece Crimson Petal and the White. I'm a sucker for fiction set in the 1800s about prostitutes, but this one has a special appeal because it also features the woman doctor who helped Moth out and that character is based on McKay's own grandmother, if memory serves or perhaps another ancestor.
Memories of Great Books Past
Esi Edugyan's Half-Blood Blues, Amber Dawn's Sub Rosa, Tea Obreht's The Tiger's Wife also read this year or late last year and of course, the late and brilliant John Lavery's novel "Sandra Beck" & his two short story collection "Very Good Butter" and "You Kwaznievski, You Piss Me Off."

2012 Books To Be Read
Tanis Rideout's Above All Things, Elisabeth de Mariaffi's How To Get Along With Women, Annabel Lyon's the Sweet Girl, Linda Spalding's the Purchase, David Bergen's the Age of Hope, Spencer Gordon's Cosmo…so many books to enjoy.

what's on your best of 2012 fiction list?

Friday, December 21, 2012

In Defence of "Difficult" Poetry

In the most recent issue of Ottawa-based Get GuerillaMagazine, Nigel Beale lambastes Ken Babstock's "Methodist Hatchet," which he feels is incomprehensible, "unmitigatingly humourless" and offers little in the way of aesthetic appeal.

He cites the following alliterative excerpt from Carolinian (Crosscut with Sound) as an example of what he likens to psychedelic lyrics from the sixties:
[please forgive the spacing between lines; Blogger has decided to make its own poetic interpretations.]

Colander, canopy, colander. Contrivance

 Of green light-spots we’re leoparded by.

 Wild grape ampersand.

 
and says that any stoned idiot in front of a microphone could produce the same or a random word generator.

 
Beale finds the word play "dizzyingly dull" employing a "disjointed futility." He wants the poems to go somewhere or "achieve something."

 He doesn't like the inclusion of the names of  "difficult philosophers and artists," labelling their inclusion "High-styled, pseudo-intellectual lace seductively placed atop the stanzas."

 Beale cites other reviewers' bafflement and attempts to "unpack" a passage or a phrase.

He feels anger because he feels duped by the work, has gained nothing from it. Earlier on he refers to the reader as a consumer.

 I enjoyed Babstock's book quite a bit for its word play (I did not find it dull, but yes dizzy-making) and for its juxtapositions of unlike concepts, its use of colour and the pure beauty of its sound. I also found humour in the work.

What I'd like to address is the idea of difficult poetry. Is it ok for a poet to write something that someone might find incomprehensible? Does a poet have permission to play? Should a reader be able to "unpack" a poem and is the reader meant to be a "consumer" of poetry, with all the negative connotations consumerism and mass consumption bring to the meaning of "consumer?"

 In his preface to "Can Poetry Matter?" (Graywolf Press, 1992), Dan Gioia says

"Poetry is an art--like painting or jazz, opera or drama--whose pleasures are generally open to any intelligent person with the inclination to savor them. Critics, justly obsessed with the difficulty of interpreting poetical texts, often forget the sheer immediacy of the medium's appeal."

 The immediacy comes from joy in word play, harmony, disharmony, hearing unusual turns of phrase etc. But of course, Babstock's book offers more than just an immediate joy from the appreciation of his skilled word play and imagery.

 
Art such as abstract expressionism has been seen in the same dim light by the general public as poetry that isn't, to use the art term, "representational"."  The most common issue that arises has to do with consumerism. Tax payers outraged by the cost of Barnet Newman's Voice of Fire, for example.

Speaking as someone who tries to write poetry, what I gain from this play and experimentation is permission to write freely and to try and tap into areas of the subconscious which refuse obvious superficial explanation. It moves me away from pat answers, from cliché, from the propaganda forced down my throat by mass media and from public convention.

 Gioia goes on to say "A society whose intellectual leaders lose the skill to shape, appreciate, and understand the power of language will become the slaves of those who retain it--be they politicians, preachers, copywriters or newscasters. "

The type of language play and push against the boundaries exemplified by Babstock's "Methodist Hatchet" is demonstrative of this skill. I disagree quite vehemently with Beale's notion that any stoned fool in front of a microphone could come up with Babstock's lines. There is turn-on-a-dime enjambment, there are painterly images, there is a poignant beauty to the text.

Much of it seems straight-forward to me. Take for example, "Five Hours in Saint-John's:"

What would you do? Turns out your flight's not

till five, and your plate's been licked clean

since ten. Along Water St. the harbour-

facing shopfronts glaze under the heatlamp

 I particularly enjoyed the whole concept of the methodist hatchet, an axe with two edges, the juxtaposition of popular culture with philosophies. Marxism, for example in the poem "Second Life." To me that was highly amusing. It's the way we are these days, thanks in great part to the Internet, we mix contemporary life with a superficial knowledge of history, philosophy etc. Our knowledge is in small bits.

Gioia points to the decline in North American culture of public interest not just in poetry but in all contemporary art forms, from "serious drama to jazz." These arts being consigned to the margins.

This is why I ask the question in these terms: should poets be allowed to play? Who or what can stop a poet, you might wonder. In my case, the viewpoint that poems should be accessible to all, immediately understandable and written with a consumer in mind or have some great purpose tends to stymie me and block my creativity. I feel like a fool and a wanker for even trying to write anything at all. But another part of me feels called upon to represent a different view, to attempt and to stumble along anyway. Because I know not all readers have this point of view.

I listened to Shelagh Rogers, host of the CBC Radio show "The Next Chapter" as she talked to Ken Babstock about "Methodist Hatchet." I urge you to listen to the extended interview here. She was delighted by his book. She'd never had him on the show before and questioned why not. While Rogers is an avid reader, I don’t see her as someone who is a poetry insider. or a member of some sort of intellectual elite. 

She had questions, but she didn't seem impatient or upset about the language. She was drawn to the hiccoughs and the line breaks, etc. She called his voice "vibrant" and "mercurial."  She mentioned the energy in his poems. The main tension in the book is that there is no longer any large coherent systematic world view because of the collision of various disciplines, such as evolutionary biology and human pyschology. Babstock is drawn to the rifts or schisms or places of resistance. He is easily convinced of contrary things. "Methodist Hatchet," puts these ideas in proximity. What's human is the voice trying to put these unlike realities together, the attempt. Rogers said that the world "is such a friggin' mess right now, we need poets more than ever."

Babstock's poems are powerful, highly specific, descriptive and visual. Take for example, "A Pharaoh In Moosonee - ONR's Polar Bear Express Out of Cochrane." The idea of resilience is there in many layers. And savour the lyricism of this description:

 
brattling over a high trestle, feeders to the Moose River

a brown-cocktailed from snake oil and stubby,

motor oil and cola. Fir

and jack pine of the hardening

drift into Siberian distance.

O biggest biome trekking poleward.

Orange vinyl bib.

 

In her "Globe and Mail" review of the book, Sina Queyras calls Babstock one of the most exciting lyric poets writing today and I agree. Lines like "Shadows bloom, stretch, cat-paw across the blank as/ a surfeit of you; spillage, black dew." from "Lee Atwater in Blowing Snow" are powerful and beautiful. They evoke an image that lingers long in my mind's eye and heart. The more I return to this book, the more I love it.

 
So as a reader and as a writer, I want Ken Babstock to continue playing with language, to continue eking away at poems that deal with the contradictions inherent in contemporary life because I have a kindred feeling about trying to live today. And I want others to do the same. I say to the poets, play on.

 
I think you can get all you want from poems themselves, but if, as a reader, you are curious and wish to understand more, these days there are interviews, reviews and often poetic statements written by poets themselves. If you want to learn, you can reach further.

In "Can Poetry Matter," Gioia makes six proposals to poets and poetry teachers to bring the art to the public. One of these is for poets to write prose about poetry, to write about their work. This book was written in 1992. Now there are a fair number of ways, a confused reader can learn about the work and the poet if he so desires.

 
I suggest that what frustrates readers like Beale has to do with consumerism once more. Babstock won the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize for Methodist Hatchet. That's a $65,000 prize. I suspect such readers want their money's worth and don't feel they are getting it.  But if you approach reading something as wanting some superficial gain or you treat yourself as a consumer of poetry, you're missing the point of poetry. You're missing the joy, the big picture of how things don't fit together in some easy obvious pattern. And what you're doing is sitting back and saying "feed me; I refuse to bring anything to your work."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best of 2012: Sexiest Ottawa Poets

in order to qualify they have to have read somewhere where I have heard them this year. their work is sexy & by sexy I mean offers new possibilities, is playful & in some cases has a dark side. & of course they are gorgeous & attractive people both inside & out. I've included a former Ottawan who read here this year also, because it's my list & I can break rules if I want & if you know me at all, you know i always want. note there are 12 & not the standard 10. should there be more people on the list? absolutely…in other words, I didn't got to as many readings as I would have liked. order has no relevance. (in general & herein)

Sandra Ridley
rob mclennan

Christine McNair

Roland Prevost

Pearl Pirie
Jamie Bradley

Marilyn Irwin
Stephen Brockwell

Gwendolyn Guth
Chris Johnson

Marcus McCann

Monty Reid

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best of 2012: 10 from the Internet

Scriabin's Prometheus: Poem on Fire
for those fascinated by the connection between music & sound & colour. if you're a synaesthete, you might enjoy this. I discovered it via the next recommendation, Canadian Poetries.

Canadian Poetries, particularly Jenna Butler & Douglas Barbour in conversation
full of good poems, gentle conversations, a focus on poetry & art plus a wonderful section called Poet Secrets. so glad Shawna Lemay decided to set this up this year. It's a valuable contribution to the ongoing conversation on poetry.
LemonHound.com is 2.0 of the well-known blog by Sina Queyras, but now there are regular contributors & plenty of content on poetics, essays & fragments. LemonHound has always been an excellent showcase for the lesser known & the marginalized. So pleased to see this initiative.  

a site that focuses on Canadian literature with lots of lists. I adore lists. fun that we can all add our own to the site for others to see. Corey Redekop has a great list entitled "Books You Darn Well Should Have Read By Now," & Pedlar Press gives us "Books That Enchant While Exploding In Your Face."

Grooveshark.com is a site that allows you to listen to music for free. I knew about this site,  have done for some time, but I forgot about it, so it's here because a dear friend reminded me of it this year & I've been listening to classical music & opera, genres that I don't own much of.  if you have a smart phone you can also listen to it via html5.grooveshark.com

Embarrassing to say I spend time playing this game, but I've always been a huge fan of Sim City. On FB I can  play for free. I think the idea of city building is an imaginative act & goes quite well with trying to write or perform any other creative act.

CBC Radio 1 podcasts, particularly Writers and Company & Wachtel on the Arts, the 1995 rebroadcast of the Wachtel on the Arts FairytaleSpecial with Marina Warner with two stories read aloud by the late Angela Carter, the Fran Lebowitz interview in November, & also the May interview with Philip Glass. also CBC Ideas, Q, & a whole pile of other podcasts & shows.
Ubu Web in general, but particularly the Visual Poetrysection updated by derek beaulieu.
jwc 302's Flickr stream books in his library, particularly bpNichol plus some gorgeous train & railroad pics.
Live from Daryl's House - musical performances by well known & lesser knowns at the home of Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates, particularly the xmas show with Jose Feliciano. it's a big guitar jam. this has become as fun to me as the NPR First Listen shows, Tiny Desktop Concerts & Mountain Stage. I also dig CBC's Concerts on Demand series.

what are your 10 fav internet sites this year?

Monday, December 17, 2012

desirable gifts (some literary)

I don't exchange gifts at xmas. my belief is that gifts should be more spontaneous, not inspired by some conventional holiday/sheepy group mindset; however, i am just as weak as anyone else & can't help but be influenced by all the xmas ads etc, which have turned my mind to gift wish lists. here are a few items I covet for those so inspired at any time of year:

1. donations to the Ottawa Food Bank, the Cornerstone Women's Shelter, the Ottawa Mission;
2. outings with dear friends, including but not limited to long walks, libations, meals, art gallery visits (sex with attractive men is also on the list;) ;

3. mixed tapes or rather the modern day equivalent: CDs burned with yr fav music;

4. men's extra large red plaid shirts or anything plaid for that matter;

5. tea, especially Twinings Irish Breakfast bagged tea, which for some reason my grocery story no longer carries;

6. blingy broaches & pins with subversive slogans to put on my jean bag;

7. yr fav fiction: either novels or short stories;

8.  fountain pen ink & new fountain pens; I have one pen, but it would be nice to be able to have a variety so I can use more than one colour at a time.

9. aromatherapy oils or candle holders & candles;

10. dark chocolate or home-baked goods.
 
11. acrylic paint & brushes;
 
12. interesting textures, including but not limited to scraps of paper, wood, metal.
 
13. hand knitted or crocheted long scarves, hats, red mittens.

14. fairy tales & books on Arthurian legend: i have a small collection.

Not poetry (I have piles of unread poetry all over the place), not perfume, not alcohol, not anything from Walmart or any big box chain store, not clothing except for the plaid shirts mentioned above & nothing below extra large; not soaps, not ornaments that require dusting, not artwork, not dried fruit); not large objects of any kind.

Monday, December 03, 2012

2012 Bests: Noteworthy songs & a few albums too

I will Never Fall In Love with You - Sam Pinkerton, NoiseTrade.com's - 2012 Holiday Road Trip Mixtape: the whole damn album is fabulous. upbeat for these cold winter nights. Charlie Mars lovely dark voice on How I Roll, Guster's upbeat song Do You Love Me? Green River Ordinance's banjo on Where the West Wind Blows. LastFm says it's "acoustic driven power-rock." k. …oh & the sweet voiced Mark Christopher Donovan on Send Me Out A Line; the boy's got some witty lyrics.  it's free. pick it up. it's a mix tape. great way to make new musical discoveries. I haven't been this happy about a freebie since Okkervill River's Golden Opportunities 1 & 2.

Show Me The Place, Come HealingLeonard Cohen, Old Ideas--again, the whole album is splendid. poetic lyrics, that rough winter voice that just keeps on going. this song in particular moves me. it is humbling.

Got You Covered w. Roseanne Cash; I'm Still Lovin' You w. Amy Helm, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, King & Queens Deluxe Edition. I love harmonies, so this album pleases me. came out in 2011, but the deluxe was released in 2012 with 2 bonus songs. these songs are all really great, a kind of country soul folk mishmosh. I love mishmoshes. blur boundaries please.
I am sorry & Everything Wrong, the two least noisy tracks on the album, Martha Wainwright, Come Home to Mama. I love this woman's voice & spirit. she's got some great chops. sometimes I find her albums just a wee bit overproduced. this one was produced by Ciba Matto's Yuka Honda & that band's pretty eclectic in style, too much funk for my liking. just give me Martha's voice alone, get rid of all the glips & gloughs.  [I dance in secret to Ms. Martha's music…ssssh]

Scarlet Town & Roll On John, [the tribute to John Lennon], Bob Dylan, Tempest: I'm not a hardcore fan but I have 18 of his albums, so that makes me pretty keen. this newest addition to his oeuvre is good. I'm partial to the ballads & histories, don't like the cheesy Duquesne Whistle, just not my style. otherwise, I love the whole album, the lyrics & the melodies, the blues, the country…I just want to sit in a pub with a dear friend & drink Guinness & listen to Bob.
Cold Specks - I Predict A Graceful Explosion. I love her voice. she's just in her early 20s & she has a powerhouse of a voice. she's from my old stomping grounds, Etobicoke in Toronto. I love this whole album. soft, wintry, purr. gospel folk pop.

Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur -a nice album, the gem is House Full of Empty Rooms. Edwards has a beautiful voice. & she's from Ottawa. bonus!
Still Hanging On, Wish You Were Here, Moonlight Mile… whole album…Lee Fields and the Expressions - Faithful Man. passionate voice, blues/soul evocative of all the old greats. he's got such a great range.  probably would make good music to groove to for that seduction mix tape you want to make.

Marathon & Low, Low, Low, Heartless Bastards - Arrow: I've been a fan of this band since 2009 with the album Mountain, especially the song Could Be So Happy, which is my anthem, encouraging people to go "out in the sweet unknown." the sweet unknown is my territory. I love Erika Wennerstrom's voice. it is low, sultry, confident & clear. Arrow is another fabulous album. they're described as a garage rock band, but I don't even know what that means. it's just good music.
Tender is the Night, Can't Count Tears, Old Man Luedecke - Tender is the Night, hey, more Canadian content! Chris Luedecke is from Halifax, Nova Scotia. he's got such a friendly, easy-going voice with fun, witty lyrics & a fine banjo. it's a bit more folky than my normal taste.

To Just Grow Away, Bright Lanterns, the Tallest Man on Earth - There's No Leaving Now; heck, I love the whole album. Kristian Mattson's voice is gorgeous, richly textured. I don't care if he's tall or short, just as long as he sings. beautiful. joy of life affirming. such a range. I admit I only discovered him this year. I think I might have a thing for Scandinavian & Danish musicians, such as Mattson, Ane Brune, Agnes Obel, Sondre Lerche.
We Can't Be Beat, Love is Luck… the whole album! the Walkmen - Heaven: Lead singer Hamilton Leithauser is another one with a great voice. good melodies & singers are the most important thing to me in a song. his range is gorgeous. & the other band members do a fine job singing along. there is something that evokes an earlier era in their sound. apparently they like vintage instruments like the upright piano. I'd love to hear them an album with my fav singer, Ron Sexsmith. they remind me a bit of Moxy Fruvous. &  hey, is that a surf guitar? this band's been around for ten years. I hope we're all around ten years from now.


Think That You Might Be Wrong, the  New Wild Everywhere (Acoustic Bonus) Great Lake Swimmers, the New Wild Everywhere, Deluxe Edition. folk band from Wainfleet, Ontario, now Toronto based. their vibe just feels like up north campfires, plaid flannel shirts that smell like smoke, a good mug a coffee with some hooch in it. it's summer nights music. Tony Dekker has a sexy mellow voice with back up vocals by Miranda Mulholland. I like their lyrics too.  love all the instruments, the violin, the harmonium. just lovely. this is another gem of an album.

albums from 2012 I shoulda bought & will eventually
Rae Spoon - I Can't Keep All of Our Secrets; The Cranberries - Roses; Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself;The Magnetic Fields - Love at the Bottom of the Sea;;Great Lake Swimmers - New Wild Everywhere; Regina Spektor - What We Saw From the Cheap Seats; Fiona Apple - the Idler Wheel; Mumford & Sons - Babel.

now who wants to come over & listen to great music & drink wine & hang out? :)