by carl wilson

Alt-Weekly Wig-Out (Thursday Reading)

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It's a big day in the Toronto alt-weekly market: NOW has its annual "Best of Toronto" issue - which has finally disposed of the inane reader's-choice listings that always named, you know, Chapters as the best book store and Blockbuster as best video store, and so forth. It makes the section a much better read. The paper's unbylined choices for the best in Toronto music make a fine mini-primer. They lean to the conservative side but not as much as in past years - sure, choosing Oscar Peterson as best pianist is more than a bit stodgy, but Maggie MacDonald's choice as "best arts revolutionary," Blocks as best label and Amy Millan as best female singer is close to the pulse of the moment. I also appreciate the shout-out to my current home, the Gladstone Hotel, as "best art hotel vision ever." And fists were thrust in air over the choice of our pal Margaux Williamson, named "Best Painter." For damn sure. Tune in, world, you're missing out.

Meanwhile, eye weekly launches its long awaited redesign, masterminded by Tyler Clark Burke. (Whom competitor NOW kinda-amusingly included in its best-ofs. Oops!) The cover feature on Jon Rae and the River (at the Music Gallery tomorrow night) was a great choice to launch the new look, with an arresting image up front; I'm still getting used to the interiors, which I find a bit hard to navigate but very clean and easy to read once I'm there. Still, I'm a bit disappointed that it doesn't look like this. (Did Tyler also do the website redesign, by the way?)

Also in NOW, interviews with RA the Rugged Man and the perpetrators of the Do They Know It's Halloween benefit spoof single (making some fine points about charidee), and a nice TO Music Note on Jennifer Castle, who's opening for Jon Rae tomorrow.

And also in eye, an interview with Craig Finn of the Hold Steady on his secret hip-hop masterplan (2nd review) and a continuation of the essential cussing-out of CTV on its idiocy for not renewing Veronica Mars. We'll wear 'em down.

An examination of the review sections also reveals this: People who don't like the Fiery Furnaces like their new Grandma album, and vice-versa.

It's also a big week in the American alt-weekly scene. On one hand, the grandpappy of the form, The Village Voice, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an issue packed with bohemian history. For rock-crit fans, Robert Christgau's and Greg Tate's contributions are natural must-reads, though Xgau's isn't as good as I'd have hoped - not on par with this previous take, for instance. But browse through the chronologi-scope for more bits of music crit and culture. (Also in the same issue there's a good balanced look at Liz Phair's new album by Georgia Christgau, for those who can stand more Phair discourse.)

Yet just as it toasts itself, its toast may actually be on fire. Um, by which I mean that the Voice-as-we-knew-it, already a pale reflection of its old self, was OPD'd this week with its takeover by the New Times chain. New Times is not reputed to be friendly to the challenging possibilities of this medium remnant from the underground-newspaper days of the 1960s and 1970s counterculture, chillun. It's got a cutter and it likes itself some cookies. Matos is pithy. Howard Kurtz expands. Read the corporate memo. And weep.

Meanwhile, outside the weekly-world news, and on a happier note: Read this interview with Gilberto Gil, not only a brilliant Brazilian musician, godfather of tropicalia etc., etc., but a political figure who, if there were an artistic-expression-activist equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize, would deserve it this year.

There's also a very open and interesting interview with Dave Newfeld of Broken Social Scene on the Toronto Life web site now, an exclusive annex to Jason McBride's feature on the band in the current magazine.

And this is old, but in honour of next week's Constantines show in Toronto (a tour also bringing them to you Americans and yon Europeans) it seems like a good time to put up this link to Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe audio appreciation of the late, lamented Three Gut Records. McLean is often too cardigan-and-golf-cap for me as a radio host, but I was touched by his generous tribute to the young folk (whom he probably only heard about through Vinyl Cafe music programmers such as Owen Pallett and Julie Penner, but still).

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, October 27 at 5:12 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

COMMENTS

That Toronto Life interview with Dave N is really great.

Posted by Sean on October 28, 2005 3:29 AM

 

 

Awww...I held off running a Death Cab interview on my site, entirely in the hopes of getting mentioned in your round-up. :( Admittedly, it's just the drummer, but still!

Posted by matthew on October 27, 2005 9:47 PM

 

 

Thanks, Stu. By the way, I should have said - that Jon Rae feature is an excellent piece of writing, along with its poster-boy qualities.

Posted by zoilus on October 27, 2005 6:44 PM

 

 

Tyler did not work on the website redesign (other than supplying the odd font here and there). What you see online now is a temporary framework that will be built upon in the coming months.

Posted by stuber on October 27, 2005 6:35 PM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson