Zoilus by Carl Wilson

NXNEats Itself,
Polaris (Dog) Pondering, Book Notes

June 17th, 2009

There would have been more Zoilus posting this week if I hadn’t wasted so much fruitless time trying to find a coherent, utile version of the North by Northeast festival schedule. Band by band, the NXNE site’s fine, but if you want to know what’s happening hour by hour - say, to post in your own concert listings - NXNE seems to say, “Tough shit.” I’m becoming convinced this is a deliberate deal to keep NOW’s printed (but not online) grid the sole reference source.

Speaking of NXNE, The Globe & Mail today had a few of my picks for the weekend, along with some from my colleagues Robert Everett-Green (whose Homosexuals endorsement, among others, I heartily second) and Brad Wheeler. It’s worth noting, too, that for the first time (I think), out-of-towners will be able to watch live webcasts of select NXNE shows.

The other big Canadian music news this week, of course, was the release of the 40-album Long List for the Polaris Music Prize. I’m disappointed but not surprised my no. 1 pick, Blackout Beach, is absent. And frankly, though, the list makes it clear that 2008-09 was rather weak beer for Canadian music, if I compare it to last year’s, and I suspect that we are headed for another guitar-boy-heavy Short List. On quick survey my top picks of the 40 would be Fucked Up, Tim Hecker, Land Of Talk, Martha Wainwright and an undecided fifth (Junior Boys? Rae Spoon? Happiness Project?) but I have to do some remedial listening this weekend.

Meanwhile, the ticklingly named blog North by Eastwest is conducting its own “shadow” Polaris poll.

Toronto music-history enthusiasts should not miss this: Stuart Berman of Eye, P4K, etc., has today’s Book Notes at Largehearted Boy, in which he revisits TO-rawk of the ’90s, such as Change of Heart (who have a reunion show in NXNE) and the mighty Phleg Camp, as background to his fine new oral history of Broken Social Scene, This Book is Broken (being launched by a collection of the usual BSS subjects tonight in NXNE at Courthouse). It’s not my favourite period in Toronto music to say the least, but Stuart makes it shine. (Oh and I neglected to tell you when another Toronto writer and f.o.Z., Sean Dixon, contributed Book Notes for his novel Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal (published by Coach House in Canada as The Girls Who Saw Everything).

Finally, on matters bookish, I should mention that another P4K writer, Matt LeMay, who wrote the new 33 1/3 book on Elliott Smith’s XO, will be in Toronto a week from Sunday (June 28) and doing a reading and discussion with me at 2 pm at Soundscapes - appropriately enough since the first chapter of my book talks about the odd moment in history when Smith competed for an award against Celine Dion. (It could’ve been worse - he could have been Hey Rosetta up against Leonard Cohen …) Here’s the Facebook event page.


More soon. Meanwhile: Solidarity with the people of Iran.

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  2. Ian Mathers says:

    I’m incredibly bummed out about NXNE - I’d never been, and I got accredited to cover it this year… only to come down with a bad case of folliculitis which is almost definitely going to keep me out of Toronto for the duration. But I’m glad to hear that my inability to find of coherent NXNE schedule wasn’t just due to my inexperience!

  3. Ian Mathers says:

    Ugh, find A coherent etc etc.

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