October arts and music

October has been a great month for music more than anything and it is also the month of Broken Pencil's annual independent arts and zine fair, Canzine. Truthfully, I've wanted to write about these topics for ages but things happen and I honestly don't think it requires much more explanation than that. I've been trying to get better at making this blog more frequent but, honestly that goal isn't really as easy as it sounds. The summer I started this blog I posted a creative piece a day and, as soon as I had the famous condition that many writers these days are skeptic about called writer's block the postings would stop for long periods of time and I would suddenly have absolutely no clue what to write about but, as these blog began to advance and I noticed that people were actually reading it I started to try very, very hard to make the posts much more frequent. It hasn't really been easy but I'm getting much better at keeping this thing going on a much more regular basis.  My goal: at least once or twice a week and much more frequent than that when something that I perceive as cool is going on.
Last weekend was the annual Toronto Canzine fair. I have a more insider perspective on it because I was one of the Canzine volunteers. It was an attempt to help out with something I care about and network with people who are either active or passive participants in the Toronto independent arts community. My networking turned out to be successful. I met two prominent staff members of Broken Pencil: Lindsey Gibb (the editor of the magazine) which was a total starstruck moment for me because I got to meet the editor  of a magazine I have deep levels of admiration for. I also read all her columns in the magazine (which I have been a loyal fan of for nearly four years), like the things she writes about, and genuinely feel like she has done a great job of running the magazine. For me this was like meeting a celebrity. I also meet Tara (please forgive me if I have spelled the name incorrectly) who I know from reading the magazine works for Broken Pencil and two Broken Pencil interns. Meeting members of the Broken Pencil team was also very important since Broken Pencil is such an important part of the Toronto and a majority of the country's independent arts community. 
It was a rewarding and satisfying day as well because I met a bunch of real cool people (as I already mentioned) and I got the opportunity to help out with and be an active participant in something that encourages artists to be bold and push their creative boundaries to whatever extent they choose. The talent I see coming out of the Canzine vendors is mind-blowing and quite extensive and by having fairs like these they are getting the opportunity to reach out to an open and friendly audience. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I had last year to be a vendor simply because I learned so much and got the opportunity for my work to reach out to a brand new audience and I didn't get the opportunity to do that this year I will hopeful return next year because, regardless of how well my stuff sells at the fair it opens interesting and brand new doors for me as an artist. Potential ideas: Original Noise Volume 1 and 2 and/ or some sort of self- published anthology thing in a zine-like format. I know that sounds vague but it is an unfinished idea and an unfinished thought.  
I did not get the opportunity to explore the fair as much as I did in previous years but I caught one Canzine mini-event and saw some of the tables. The vendors continue to be extremely impressive with their immense level of  artistic talent. Zines are a beautiful , precious, and unique form of artistic expression because every last detail is important and carefully crafted and if I was filthy rich (and I'm not so the following is an imaginary scenario) I'm pretty sure I would of bought every last zine at the fair simply because the choice was so difficult.
Okay now for the report on this month in music. This month marked the release of several albums by some musicians that are worthy of renown. The Weather Station, Bjork, Bruce Peninsula, and Feist all released new material. I have heard bits and pieces of the Bjork album and I just got a copy today and I heard a couple of songs off the new Bruce Peninsula album at my favorite record store and online. The moment I heard the Bjork album I couldn't help but make comparisons to the songs I heard from the album that she released three years ago,Volta produced by a well known music producer that many of you may of heard of: Timberland due to his work with many mainstream R&B, pop, and hip hop artists. Volta showed signs of Timberland's influence and had a lot more going on in the background and, although Bjork's music focuses on experimentation with electronic instruments and Bjork's extremely unique voice, this was Bjork at her loudest and well...I can't think of a better word to describe it so I use this word anyways: (aggressive). Yes, Bjork's music is often quite experimental but Volta was Bjork's music at it's least tame at has ever been. The reason why I was reluctant to say aggressive was because Bjork in terms of my impressions of her in interviews and photographs is the least aggressive seeming person I have ever seen. Yes, she is extremely articulate about her music and the political issues that she cares about but she isn't really aggressive just a little bit out there. Her brand new album, Biophilia is much more earthy and nature focused and uses mostly keyboards, drum kits, and nature imitations to explore musicology and nature and according to Bjork's interview on the CBC radio program, Q earlier on this month is meant to be an educational album about those topics. Each track is also available as an ipad ap due to Bjork's belief that music should be a visual experience.
Bruce Peninsula are just as remember them (see blog entry about Bruce Peninsula): the perfect blend of folk and rock. They have focused their album on redemption and music from that album and their previous album was featured in the movie Small Town Murder Songs. I was in my favorite record store recently and, although I only heard a couple songs was blown away by it for the same reasons I was blown away by their debut album and went to several of their concerts: they were like nothing I had ever heard before (in a positive way of course). Speaking of Bruce Peninsula one of the members of Bruce Peninsula, Tamara recently released  her second solo album by her band that she sings lead vocals in, the Weather Station. Her influences include Lucinda Williams and many country singers of that same era. She has a beautiful voice and sings in a very soft but powerful voice that draws you in due to the intimate quality of her music and her lyrics. I posted a clip of her singing in a recent, unrelated post but I'll also post a clip here. This is called "Everything I saw" and she describes it as a song about her house:

Okay, I have one more thing to cover: sorry this entry was so long you guys probably have other life related things to do: Feist's Metals. Feist has released a brilliant, soulful album that has proved to me that she is truly an artist in which has evolved in a positive direction and that fame that she got from The Reminder and the ipod commercial that included a music video for her song 1234 hasn't gotten to her head. Based on what I have heard, it has in fact exhausted her but it by no means has subtracted from her music in fact it has made her much more courageous and fearless as an artist. When I listen to the album's lyrics it was quite clear that a large percentage of it is inspired by complicated emotions related to the sudden taste of fame. Metals was Feist's return to her more soulful routes and shows clear signs that Feist has evolved and found her voice as an artist and is Feist at her all time best. I highly recommend checking it out and it is by far one of th e best albums I have heard all year. She tours with a great group of back-up singers and I didn't know until quite recently, when a girl I know from university introduced their music to me. Their style of music is very similar to Feist's music and they are a group called Mountain Men.
In conclusion this has been a great month for music. Next month my radio show that I am hosting on my college radio station called Original Noise returns and every time I hear these albums that I mentioned above I can't help wondering how the heck I'm going to pick one song per album because I am spoiled for choice. It has been a great month for music.