Have a look and listen to Enio’s new video for his latest single “On a Regular Basis”, written and directed by Enio himself.
Over the course of 3 years, Enio’s most personal record to date was written and recorded. This synth electro pop album of 18 tracks(!) is inspired by Enio’s overwhelming bouts of panic surrounding life and death and the eternity of the cosmos. Instead of becoming paralyzed by his anxiety and growing panic, he put that energy into creating something, a way to breathe life into them and face them head on. “A funny thing happens when you suddenly achieve everything you had initially set out to accomplish—a master’s degree, a steady job, love, marriage, a house, beautiful dogs—you begin to feel overwhelmed with the feeling of ‘what’s next?’ and ‘what if this all disappears?’ This album was my way of trying to understand those feelings.”
The album is compiled of entirely brand new material, something that Enio had once thought impossible: “I used to be a really prolific writer averaging about 2 or 3 songs a week, but life and marriage and family restricts the time you can have to focus on yourself and your music, so writing songs these days has been kind of difficult. I rarely get the time to sit down and write. So, when I set out to make this album, at the end of it, I was completely surprised with myself that I managed to write all new material and not have to dip into my back catalogue.”
That’s not to say he didn’t have some help. Longtime co-conspirator Billy Merrell lent his poetic talents on two tracks: “Relief” and “Proof”. The former being a track he wrote lyrics for, whereas “Proof” he actually wrote the melody and lyrics. “‘Proof’ was an acapella track that Billy sent me one evening a few years ago. I transcribed the song as he sang it and played all the flowy synth tracks over top and it was born. The track itself is the album closer and signifies the hope for the future and the desire for a peaceful calm. I didn’t write it myself, but have a profound connection to it.”
In addition to help from Billy Merrell, Enio also chose to cover an obscure 80s Madonna song, “The Look of Love” from the Who’s That Girl soundtrack. “The cover was an odd choice, I’ll admit, but I kept it on the record because if you listen to the lyrics overlaid with the dark and brooding music, you’ll hear that sense of panic and anxiety that one can feel from letting go and allowing themselves to love someone. I really liked the shift in perspective of the traditional love song that the track brings, which is why I think it fits nicely on the record.”
Oh, and did we mention that Enio is not charging any money for the album? “The album is a free download. I’m giving it to everyone for free. I’ve realized that money is an obstacle for many, and I would rather people listen to what I want to share with them, then having them blocked by these obstacles. I would rather have, in an industry that’s already so saturated, a connection to people through my music—and if that means I have to give them my album for free, well, I’m ok with that. I want them to have it, and I don’t need the money enough for them to pay for it.” So, go download the album now! It won’t cost you a thing, and you’ll be glad you did.
This is HIGHLY recommended! One of my favourite artist’s of the past decade has released a new record, Tigermending, and it’s really magnificent. Here’s a snippet of the review I wrote for PopMatters:
Round is a superbly talented songwriter born far too late to truly be revered as such. The music-buying public will never come to their senses, pull their heads out from their factory-made, spoon-fed crap and grant her the adulation she deserves. It’s not going to happen and that is truly a shame, because Tigermending has everything that a superb record requires: heart, soul, mysticism, unpredictability, and complexity, which is never sacrificed for accessibility. Round isn’t making music only for herself. She wants there to be an entry point, and she knows precisely where to put it.
Check out the full review here.
Check out Carina Round’s website here.
Ok, I’ll admit it. Maybe I was a little exaggerated in my review of Rufus Wainwright’s new album Out of the Game published on PopMatters this Monday. Maybe. Let me explain why I had such a revolting reaction to the album, but first let me say that I am genuinely surprised that so many people/reviewers/critics are praising the album so much as I was positive that I wouldn’t be the only one to think this album was boring. When I first became a fan of Rufus’, it was over the period of about 6 months. I was coming out of the closet myself, looking for musicians and artists who identified as gay that I could relate to, and when I found Rufus, I was instanly repelled by his nasally voice and off-putting songs. It wasn’t until I began to hear “April Fools” playing over the speakers at Sears (where I worked at the time) that I began to come around. I bought the first album, and slowly but surely, month to month, I fell in love with every…single…song!
With his next release, the newly discovered demos, the live bootlegs of songs like “California”, “Little Sister” and “Last Cup of Coffee”, and the Want albums, I thought: “I may not love everything he does, but at least I’ll never be bored.” This is why it was so disturbing to hear Release the Stars and now Out of the Game. I will concede that in my review I went for the jugular and really attacked Rufus (the person), but I do believe I dicussed the lack of quality on the album as a musical project as well. Being such a fan for so many years, it’s difficult to separate the person and the music–to me, they are one and the same. The artist is the representative of the music and each new album does not exist within a vacuum, separate from the personality or the work that came before it. We might like to believe that each new album our favourite artists record can and will be assessed on their own individual merits, but the reality remains, once that first album is released, every subsequent record will be forever subject to the standards of the one(s) previous. Writing reviews of established artists really does become a double-edged sword. If you review an artist’s record without knowledge of their body of work, you will be lambasted for exposing your ignorance. If you review an artist’s record with a running knowledge of that artist’s work, then you’re assessment is considered too subjective to warrant merit. So, in my review of Out of the Game I did my best to speak to my incredulity around some of Rufus’ releases, while ensuring that I did speak specifically about the aspects of the album that I took issue with.
When I first listened to Out of the Game, I’ll confess that I did not have high hopes. I absolutely loved All Days Are Nights, but did not enjoy the tidbits of “Out of the Game” that I had heard. I downloaded the album late one night a few weeks ago and was eager to listen to it on my way to work the next morning. I was apalled at how boring it was. There wasn’t a single hook, or melody, or arrangement that stuck out. The bits and pieces of lyrics that I made out disgusted me. It wasn’t bad, it was boring. Plain and simple. There was nothing that grabbed my attention, and nothing that made me feel like Rufus was truly taking a risk here. All his talk of writing a “pop” record is hogwash. There is nothing “pop” about the album. It’s folk, plain and simple. It’s not even interesting folk. I’m not averse to artists I love taking risks and failing. I’m a big advocate for the underdog and will love albums that most others hate simply because I feel an artist really jumped off a cliff–have a look at my review of Liz Phair’s Funstyle.
Some fans will argue that it is unreasonable to believe that an artist 10 years into their career will be producing the same type of music as when they began, or that they will be exorcising those same demons. To those I say, I absolutely agree, however, if they began as a talented musician, there is no reason why they shouldn’t remain a talented musician even if they are not producing quite the same kind of music. Let’s take Me’Shell Ndegeocello for instance. She’s been producing music since 1993’s Plantation Lullabies and has consistently maintained an impressive tract record of quality with every subsequent record, even her most recent recording Weather. Comparatively speaking, those two albums couldn’t be any more different and yet both are outstanding pieces of work. So, yes, it is possible to change direction and maintain the spark that made an artist so great to begin with.
David Bloom also wrote a review of Out of the Game, and I admit that there are some points that he makes regarding the album that I had never thought of. I even doubted myself some and believed that I was being too sensitive and taking my dislike of the album too personally. I read a few more reivews and decided to give the album another chance. The second time I listened to it I realized I was correct in my assessment of the work. It’s overly pretentious, much too self-pitying, and just plain boring. I cannot give in to liking this record, and I believe I am entitled to that opinion. And just like so many others who have praised Wainwright’s efforts, I can voice a dissenting opinion to this popular belief if I see merit in the opposing view. I acknowledge that any form of publishing one’s opinion through a public forum, be it good of bad, comes with others’ equally entitled right to disagree with me–and I believe those at rutopia.info are gearing up to attack me personally (and my music) for upsetting them with my review, which they may do if they so choose.
However, with all of my disgust and repulsion towards Rufus’ new record there is a shining beacon of hope. I bought the iTunes bonus track of the studio version of “WWIII”. I am floored at just how stunningly beautiful it is. The opening lines, Rufus’ delivery, the lyrics, the melody, the arrangement, surge within me. I can feel tears well up every time I hear “World War Three / Between you and me”, especially when it creeps up on my by surprise in a random selection of a playlist I’m listening too. My heart lifts when within seconds the orchestra swells and Rufus sings: “Don’t bore us / Get to the chorus / There’s so much to come / The battle’s back in the saddle / Just turn your back and run / away from the guns.” If ever there was a song that epitomized a sense of tragic beauty, “WWIII” is that song. And so Rufus, you’ve done it again. You hooked me once more after I was convinced I had shimmied myself free of your shackles.
TV was great last year. I never truly understood the pretentious argument that television rots the brain, but film and books are stuff of true artistry. There are some superb television shows that rank higher, I would say, then some of the best films of last year. The way television portrays character and story arcs across a multi-episode season can allow for a greater in depth look at all the nuances and subtleties that inform the character development. Some of my favourite stories come from television shows–so suck it books and film!
10. Big Love
What a ride it was. Who could have guessed that a show about a super-religious polygamous marriage with one husband and three wives could be so riveting. What elevated this show above the occasional triteness of the first season was how these women bonded with each other and in relation to their mutual husband. Chloë Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin and Jeanne Tripplehorn were the real stars of this show negotiating their own significance against the drama that their husband was going through. The show ended on a controversial note, but a necessary one. The show was always about the wives and in the end that main mission statement was fulfilled.
So much trashy fun. I don’t exactly know when I fell in love with Revenge. My first impression was that it was a CW teen soap throwaway, until about the third episode when I realized just how much fun Emily had kicking ass against the demise of her father at the hands of the upper-class elite from her childhood. This show is not about wonderful performances and intelligent writing. It’s good ‘ole trashy fun done with a wink and a smile.
8. American Dad!
The underrated middle child of grossly obscene Seth MacFarlane. “American Dad!” isn’t as crass as “Family Guy” or as boring as “The Cleveland Show”. It’s an incredibly funny depiction of a family and a crazy nihilistic and narcissistic gay alien (which can be argued is the basis of the much more loveable Abed from “Community”). Often times overlooked because it doesn’t pack the same obvious and crude-for-crude’s-sake joke structure that made “Family Guy” such a household name, “American Dad!” is intelligent, outrageous and always hysterical.
7. Being Erica
Give it up for Canada finally producing a drama that isn’t so self-conscious that it tries to be all things to everything. Instead, it figured out a premise and stuck to it. It’s definitely a feely show about therapy and self-discovery. It’s not apologetic, always charming, and often times touching. The cast is great, and it’s refreshing to have a show filmed in Toronto that doesn’t hide the fact that it’s set in Toronto. Erin Karpluk does an excellent job of carrying the show–a lead that will be hard to replace once the American redux begins its production.
Community is a show unlike any other. It’s self-referential, playful, and meta, almost all the time. The entire cast is brilliant and hilarious and every combination of cast pairings or groupings results in nuanced story and character development. The most impressive cast member is little Annie (played lovingly and hilariously by the surprisingly diverse Alison Brie), who manages to hit so many beats of hilarity it’s insane–sometimes upstaging the show’s more popular Troy and Abed pairing. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Joel McHale is the sexiest man on TV right now.
When this show first started it’s superb (and as of now unsurpassed) first season, I knew that eventually the series would culminate into a show down between Patty and Ellen. I was right…just saying. Although Season 4 didn’t pack the same punch as the preceding three seasons of this magnificent legal drama that barely sees the inside of a court room, it did center in on the development of Ellen, who has always been the lead character of the show. Glenn Close is in top form in every scene, naturally, but it’s been the underrated Rose Byrne, who is often times overlooked as nothing more than a throwaway character who gets in the way of Patty being Patty, who stands as the central protagonist of the show. It’s her who I root for as she tries her best to stick to her defining principles and morals surrounding her passion for practicing law, and by the fourth season’s end we see exactly how these idealistic morals of hers will match up against Patty in season 5. Can’t wait!
4. American Horror Story
This frenetic show started to level out around episode 4, and thank god! It turned into a pretty amazing thrill ride that wouldn’t quit, and was never dull. The most impressive aspect of the show was how the maid Moira, played both by Frances Conroy and Alexandra Breckenridge shifted appearances based on the gender or intention of the beholder. Beyond that this show is jam-packed with characters running around rampant in that house, which in and of itself is a wonderful set piece. Jessica Lange chews the scenery in every scene she’s in and was completely deserving of that Golden Globe. The showrunner has revealed that every season of the show will be an entirely new set with entirely new characters and storyline, an anthology if you will. It’ll be hard to top this first season, but I’m interested in seeing them try.
3. Parks and Recreation
It’s a show about probably the most boring aspect of government–the parks and recreation department in small town Pawnee, Indiana–and yet is consistently hilarious. Although the show got off to a rocky start in its first season, looking to make Amy Poehler’s lead character Leslie Knope as an oblivious airhead who is loathed by her fellow coworkers, instead it switched gears and made the rest of the supporting looney toon characters respect and admire her for her hard work and dedication–even if they themselves have no interest in work. And even though the writers keep Knope’s character an overachieving neurotic dork at times, they’ve rounded her out well enough that she transcends a mere caricature.
2. Happy Endings
This show took me completely by surprise. I had no intention of wanting to watch it (let alone love it) because it took the place of my beloved “Modern Family”/”Cougar Town” one-two punch. I was offended that ABC had the audacity to replace “Cougar Town” with a “Friends” wannabe. Until I watched the first episode and kind of liked it. Then I watched the second episode, followed by the third and fourth and fifth and sixth–I had downloaded the entire season after its initial run. I fell fast and hard. I’ve almost completely forgotten about that other show who’s place it took. The show is smart and funny and brilliant and funny and unexpected. Stand out moment of last year: Penny and her mom (played by Megan Mullaly) sing their anger and frustration at each other.
1. The Good Wife
I’m sorry, but “Mad Men” has nothing on this show. I knew from episode 1 where a demure Julianna Marguiles contemplates her position as wife to a cheating and embezzling states attorney, that I would love this show. And I have. It consistently one-ups itself with every episode never overplaying its hand or over-stating its intention. The dynamic between Alicia and the absolutely fantastic deserves-every-acting-award-known-to-man Archie Panjabi’s Kalinda is the best relationship ever written for television, at times besting the friendship which blossomed between Buffy and Willow so many years ago. The show is intelligent, sophisticated, and expertly crafted.
2011 was a crappy year for movies. I’d say that the bottom three quarters (nos. 10 – 4) of the films on this list are films that I really liked, but wouldn’t put them in a “have to be nominated for an Oscar” category. Having said that though, the top half, I would.
10. Midnight in Paris
The day before my wedding, four of my closest friends took me out on a “bachelor’s day”, which included, among other things going to see a movie–we chose “Midnight in Paris” over “The Tree of Life” and I’m soooooo glad we did. I’m not traditionally a fan of Woody Allen, ok I hate him, but there is an undeniable charm to “Midnight in Paris” that made my heart lift throughout the entire film. It didn’t overstay it’s welcome, it was cleverly cast, and built on a simple little story that I found really intriguing. Also, as the last movie I saw as a single man, it holds a special place for me.
This one beat out “The Muppets”. Although I probably will enjoy that film for quite a while longer, there was something that impelled me to put “Shame” on this list–and it’s not the fact that you see Michael Fassbender’s wang-dang-doodle (which is only briefly at the beginning, btw). There were some great subtleties in this film that make me feel drawn to it–things that linger there and don’t let go. But that scene of Carey Mulligan singing “New York, New York” needed to be cut down by 5 minutes!
8. Paranormal Activity 3
It’s surprising just how much this series has managed to retain its fright factor–although, I have to say, that fan camera thing didn’t scare me as much as it did everyone else. This one was fun horror movie stuff, but for some strange reason it doesn’t resonate for me in the same way as other horror franchises have. Maybe they need to get a better development going for the lead characters in order to get it to the same caliber?
7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Yeah, I saw the original, and I liked it–it’s the best in the series. Although I was hoping for some “Let Me In” remake twists where certain scenes would be changed for the better, but alas that did not happen. That’s not to say that this American remake is without merit. David Fincher did the best job he could with the odds stacked against him, and although I was incredibly skeptical about Rooney Mara’s capabilities to fill Noomi Rapace’s big shoes, she impressed me over and over. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Daniel Craig is so darn sexy.
6. Scream 4
I remember when “Scream 3” was released and there was talk about a fourthquel. The word around the creators was definitely not, no way! Not unless it’s 10 years later and the characters are different. Well, I guess they remembered because this one hit almost exactly 10 years later. I don’t understand exactly why everyone hated this film as much as they did–I thought the villian was pretty clever and right on the nose with the whole fame and me culture phenomenon going on right now. I do agree that it could have taken some more chances in regards to how it ended, but I’m not going to say the entire dinner was crap just because I didn’t like the dessert.
5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Who would have thought that one of the most ridiculous premises would actually turn out a really great film? Well, it has. There’s something intriguing about a species developing the capacity to overthrow the human race as top of the food chain. So, with an interesting premise, expertly executed and great performances all around, this one was one of my favourites of the year.
Screw you if you weren’t scared by this film or didn’t get on board with where the ending went. It’s a ghost story, not a reality story for pete’s sake. I love horror, I love entertaining certain kinds of ideas and I don’t throw the baby out with the bath water simply because I may not like the way they chose to explain the end premise. That old lady in the black wedding dress scared the crap out of me! Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Patrick Wilson is super sexy.
3. The Help
Ok, now we get into the serious films. The films that I believe are deserving of award recognition their so darn good. First off, “The Help”–although not as risky as the book (which wasn’t that risky to begin with), still beautifully done with a superb ensemble cast. Viola Davis rightly deserved an Oscar for her 8 minute scene-stealing and game changing work in “Doubt”, but I will accept her earning it for her fine work here–as well as Octavia Spencer. Although, poor Emma Stone, she was amazing in this and seems to be consistently overlooked when this film is discussed–however, like her character says in the film, the story isn’t about her. My only beef is that they changed the relationship with one of the maids and her boss from a loving relationship to one filled with hate and entitlement–it was a minor subplot, but I liked how in the book there was more than a few white people who were opposed to Ms. Hilly’s proposal for Jackson-wide segregation, even though they pretended to be on board with it.
2. Martha Marcy May Marlene
Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen must be fuming! They have been in the business now practically their entire lives and in comes their younger (and much prettier) sister who can act circles around them. I mean CIRCLES! Elizabeth Olsen was completely and utterly brilliant in this film. Every year or so there is a new face that breaks through with an outstanding performance (a few years ago it was Gabourey Sibide) and this year it’s Ms. Olsen. The scene where the cult leader begins to play a song that he wrote for her character and the camera holds on her face as she is at first surprised, but then understands the severity of the situation she’s gotten into is completely breathtaking. Also, besides her standout performance, the film itself is startlingly disturbing as it slowly builds the tension and uneasiness of the experiences she went through.
For awhile in the summer when this was released on blu-ray, I couldn’t stop watching it. Literally. I think I had to re-watch the film almost every other night. There were times when I would finish watching it and then I’d want to re-watch it again. I devoured everything on that blu-ray: deleted scenes, outtakes, commentary, what-have-you. There are many things that make this film so irresistibly charming. Most people write this one off as a female version of “The Hangover”, but to do that does this film a great disservice. “Bridesmaids” elevates itself above the typical stupid comedy fare for many reasons: 1. The character development of Annie is so completely brilliant that you can’t help but love and understand every single one of her motivations, even when you think she’s crazy; 2. The entire cast is brilliant–they bounce off of each other so beautifully, it’s amazing; 3. Melissa McCarthy; 4. The friendship between Annie and Lillian is touching and realistic, especially near the end when Lillian is leaving for her honeymoon and the two exchange knowing glances; 5. The developing romance between Annie and the cop is sweet without being too rom-com saccharine and Chris O’Dowd does a fine job of being the cute nice guy who gets the girl in the end; 6. Although the film did have a romance, it wasn’t ABOUT the romance, and its blossoming was separate to the integral storyline of Annie bettering her life through her relationship with Lillian; 7. Melissa McCarthy; 8. Women rule!
We all need some pop in our lives. It’s not art, but it sure is fun, and this Rihanna 15-track romp is hysterically fun. Just check out the absurdity of “Birthday Cake” and you’ll know what I mean. Plus, I defy you not to groove along to “Do Ya Thing”. Go on, I defy you!
This album didn’t pack the same kind of punch for me as it did for other Radiohead fans, I found myself not gravitating to it a whole lot, but having said that, when I did put it on, I often times realized that I liked it a lot more than I thought I did. Also, be sure to download the extra few songs they released for International Vinyl day, as well as the live performances released on iTunes.
See Rihanna pop above. Now consider pop that is expertly crafted in such a way that it becomes an art form—and you’ll have Kyle Andrews’ most impressive album yet! This is 10 stellar tracks that never overstays its welcome.
Oh, the Tori Amos album that never was. In one fell swoop Sarah Slean proves that you can infuse classical music with pop and not make it sound trite and boring. Instead, Slean manages to sound sincere at every turn even though you know she knows her shit.
Who knew? Who!? Who could have guessed that one of the leads of Tony! Toni! Tonè! would be so freaking talented? After releasing some typical R&B fare, Saadiq has managed to craft a brilliant 10-track album of classic funk-infused 50s-70s psychedelic R&B. Completely worth checking out.
I’m beginning to realize that I really enjoy the electronic synth pop craze that is hitting everywhere. Of those released this year (M83, The Weeknd, etc.), Neon Indian’s sophomore album was one of the best. It’s expertly produced with a wonderful atmosphere that makes you want to listen to it over and over.
Speaking of synth pop, Washed Out’s debut LP was the catalyst of that genre for me in 2011. Although I enjoy the genre, I find that it’s difficult to penetrate due mainly to the incoherency of the songs’ various subject matters. Washed Out managed to transcend all that with this beautiful 10-track album. My favourite is “Amor Fati”.
As time goes on, and I get older, I find it more and more difficult to emotionally connect with newer artists. That’s probably not entirely this new generation of artists’ fault, but they definitely do play a role in it. However, Bon Iver’s latest was one of the first that took my breath away early on. It’s beautifully sung and masterfully executed. There’s power in this album.
Meshell Ndegeocello never ceases to amaze me, and with this, her 9th full-length studio album (Dance of the Infidels and Spirit of the Jamia are the same album), she has left me breathless again. It just proves that our favourite artists of the 90s who seem to be slipping in their potency can still evolve and change without losing their impact—they just have to know how.
After the disastrous jazz-inspired album “Birds” I had all but written Bic Runga off. When I heard she had a new album, I thought: “meh, I’ll give it a listen.” I was completely and utterly blown away at just how beautiful the album is from beginning to end. Runga has managed to create an album that details the experience of a French aristocratic play thing who is treated worse than she deserves. It’s amazing how Runga has managed to encapsulate the feeling of French pop with vague undertones of the Emmanuelle soft-core French series of films. And the fact that it was completely unexpected makes it all the more breathtaking.
My dearly beloved,
I think it’s time I take a big long break from music. I realize I threw a lot at you in the last few years, what with 2 albums, 2 EPs, and 3 singles. I feel now that I am just completely tapped out when it comes to music creativity, and given the state of the music buying public (or lack thereof), I really need to reassess my approach to music distribution.
Anyway, it was a fun couple of years, and I am immensely proud of the work I put out there. I think now I need to set aside a lot of time to think about my craft and what I want to produce next, if anything else at all. There are rumblings of things to come, but at such an early stage I have no idea what that is going to look like.
I hope you don’t forget me, because I won’t forget you…
See you in 2013!
Queer music blog “Fuck Yeah Queer Music” has reviewed Enio’s latest album “Today”! Understanding that the album is a wedding present, it’s described as: “full of unbridled joy and love. It’s sensual and sexy in parts, heart wrenching and romantic in others. Mostly there’s just love. Unfiltered, abundant love. Enio’s husband is a lucky, lucky guy.”
You can read the entire review here: http://fyeahqueermusic.tumblr.com/post/8411988814/fy-qm-reviews-today-by-enio
HOMOGROUND is a really cool podcast which features non-mainstream queer-oriented musicians. It’s an amazing podcast that plays some really cool music and this month, they’ve featured Enio! You can download the podcast by clicking on the link below. This weeks episode features the tracks “I Have You On My Mind (You’re In There All The Time)” and “The Table” from Enio’s new album TODAY (available here), as well as the single mix of “Knee-Jerk” from IMMOLATE (available here). Download it now!!
DOWNLOAD FROM iTUNES: http://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/028-ink-mink-think-quick-enio/id434095730?i=96042037