Top 10 of 2014 (So Far)


1. Beach Slang - Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken

Favourite new band of 2014.


2. The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

Here is what I wrote about the album for Exclaim!’s Top 25 Albums of 2014 So Far.


3. Solids - Blame Confusion

Canadian duo that knows how to meld pop hooks and noisy guitars.


4. Bob Mould - Beauty & Ruin

Mould continues on his hot streak.


5. Perfect Pussy - Say Yes to Love

Perfect Pussy is a force to be reckoned with, both on stage and on its debut album.


6. Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else


7. Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots


8. Greys - If Anything


9. OFF! - Wasted Years


10. Warpaint - Warpaint

*Similar list submitted to Exclaim’s Top 25 Albums of 2014 So Far. I included an EP on this version.

Top 10 of 2013


1. Recondite - Hinterland - Ghostly International


2. Moon King - Obsession II -  One Big Silence


3. Jon Hopkins - Immunity - Domino Records


4. Graze - Edges - New Kanada


5. Gucci Mane vs. Boards of Canada mix


6. The Knife - Shaking the Habitual - Mute Records

Here is what I wrote about the album for Exclaim!’s Best of 2013: Top 10 Dance & Electronic Albums.


7. A$AP Rocky - Long.Live.A$AP


8. Kanye West - Yeezus - Roc-A-Fella Records


9. Danny Brown - Old - Fool’s Gold 


10. Kurt Vile - Walkin’ on a Pretty Daze - Matador

Honourable Mentions: Burial - Rival Dealer, André Bisseck - T_204 mix

Top 10 Albums of 2012

Better late than never.

1. Propagandhi - Failed States

2. Grimes - Visions

3. The xx - Coexist

4. Guy Gerber - Fabric 64

5. Japandroids - Celebration Rock

6. Bob Mould - Silver Age

7. Poolside - Pacific Standard Time

8. Greys - Easy Listening

9. OFF! - OFF!

10. Purity Ring - Shines

Honourable mentions: 2:54 - 2:54, The Lytics – They Told Me, John K. Samson – Provincial, Dinosaur Jr. - I Bet on Sky & Matthew Dear - Beams

Djed - Tortoise (UNKLE remix)

Interview with Steve Aoki

Photo by The Cobrasnake.

L.A. electro madman Steve Aoki is back in town on January 3rd/13 at Republic. Here is an interview with Aoki from five years ago that originally appear in Uptown Magazine and has been marooned on Myspace.

Even though Los Angeles-based DJ/producer/record label owner Steve Aoki is the toast of Tinseltown and demands impressive appearance fees at the biggest clubs worldwide, his hipster-friendly label, Dim Mak, had very humble beginnings. 

"When I started Dim Mak in 1996, it was never really meant to be a label. I was just putting out a record," explains Aoki over the phone from his home base after a busy weekend DJing and hitting up star-studded Coachella after-parties. "When I gave The Kills 800 bucks, that was all the money I had." 

With over 100 releases in its impressive back catalogue from acts such as the Klaxons, The Rakes, The Icarus Line and Canadian duo MSTRKRFT, the label is just one of the growing list of projects Aoki juggles. 

"I have always been like this. I always seem to put myself in the centre of chaos. This is how I am as a person. I just like being busy," Aoki says. "I am always trying to maintain five things at once. You can’t do everything, but I do my best to be involved as much as I can." 

Along with maintaining a tireless travel and DJ schedule, running a successful record label, starting up a clothing line, developing a new line of sunglasses, and creating signature shoes for Supra and headphones for WESC, Aoki has also been trying to set aside time to head into the studio to work on original material and not just churn out remixes for acts such as Duran Duran or The Bloc Party. 

"I just never had any fucking time to get in the studio, now I am making time. It is really important for me to do this now. As an artist, changing shit up is important." 

Between working on his own material in the Dim Mak studio in Hollywood and jamming with members of The Faint and Alex Ridha of Boys Noize in a new project called Herculez, Aoki found time to finally release his debut mix CD. Instead of just licensing all the hottest tracks and playing it safe, he called up his friends and got them to drop exclusive verses overtop his handpicked selection of bombastic bass lines, neon bleeps and Technicolor hooks from outfits such as French duo Justice, England’s Klaxons, U.S. pioneer Green Velvet and Canada’s Peaches. 

"Who is going to buy a mix CD in the first place if it’s just a bunch of popular tracks that people have already downloaded from the Internet for free?"

Uptown Magazine - October 25th

Bones Brigade: An Autobiography
 After a successful debut at the Sundance Film Festival, director Stacy Peralta (Dogtown and Z-Boys, Riding Giants) and his influential skateboard team, the Bones Brigade, decided to bypass the traditional movie-distribution system and embrace skateboarding’s DIY approach, handling every aspect of his latest film. Peralta and his seminal crew of skaters — which includes legends such as Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Rodney Mullen and Lance Mountain — have launched an aggressive social-media campaign to promote the documentary, offering up treasures from skateboarding’s past and memorabilia from their personal collections for sale, along with giving away their 1987 film, The Search for Animal Chin, as a way to draw in old fans and engage new ones. It all seems to be coming together for Peralta and his hand-picked team from the ’80s, as the buzz around the film project has spread across the web like wildfire. This could be the documentary filmmaker’s most successful project yet. 

10 Female Electronic Music Pioneers You Should Know
Everybody knows that DJ culture and electronic music in general is still an old boys’ club. Considering the growth of the genre over the past few years, there’s still a glass ceiling for female performers. However, some influential female artists have managed to stand out in the male-dominated culture and create their own paths. breaks down the 10 Female Electronic Music Pioneers You Should Know.

Top 100 Dunks of 2011-2012
With basketball season right around the corner, take a look back at the Top 100 Dunks of 2011-2012. These rim-smashing highlights are 11 minutes of pure bliss for b-ball fans.

MP3 of the Week: 2:54 – Creeping
Currently on tour in the U.S. with The xx, sisters Hannah and Colette Thurlow have been getting a lot of attention since the release of their self titled debut, 2:54, on Fat Possum this past May. Molded from a slurry of dark, shoegazer guitars, simple bass melodies and confident drums, Creeping’s moody, claustrophobic vibe is a nice lead-in to their cover version of Seal and Adamski’s classic, Killer, which was recently uploaded to their Soundcloud page. Hopefully they’ll officially release the track.

Video of the Week: Die Antwoord – Fatty Boom Boom
 Known for its outlandish videos, wild style and over-the-top rave-rap, South Africa’s Die Antwoord is back at it again with the Zef-influenced anthem, Fatty Boom Boom. Pulling together clanging drums, souped-up synths, an unrelenting pace and a blow-the-roof-off vibe that would even make Diplo blush, Die Antwoord has to be one of the most outrageous groups around right now. Its bombastic beats and modern-meets-trashy dazzle will be front and centre on the upcoming eight-city Sonar tour that hits Toronto and Montreal next month. 

Exclaim! - Michael Mayer review

Despite being one of the figureheads of Germany’s Kompakt, it has been eight years since Michael Mayer’s debut, Touch. Known more for his dynamic DJ sets than his production work in the studio, Mayer has crafted an album that touches upon many of the elements that have made Kompakt into one of the most uncompromising labels in electronic music. From dreamlike ambient textures to seductive, bass-draped post-club beats to warm analog synths that flicker with pop undertones, Mantasy's broad strokes are fitting coming from the Cologne resident. Released on any other label, tracks like the horn-driven “Rudi Was a Punk” or the playful “Lamusetwa” might seem out of place, but they embody the Kompakt aesthetic that Mayer, Wolfgang Voigt and Jürgen Paape have been cultivating since they launched the label in 1998. Mayer's instincts, developed behind the decks, come subtly bleeding through on Mantasy, but his sophmore album also shows an artist that’s comfortable with revealing lurking melodies and smearing the lines between genres as a producer.

Originally appeared here.

Exclaim! - Fur Coat review

After the runaway success of Fur Coat’s early singles on influential contemporary house label Crosstown Rebels, it would have been easy for the Venezuelan duo of Sergio Muñoz and Israel Sunshine to simply duplicate their formula on their anticipated debut, Mind Over Matter. While you will find deep, ominous bass lines, tripped-out vocals and concise percussion patterns tailor-made for the Rebel sound on “Pettit Pillow,” featuring Rap Lisa, “Going Nowhere,” with Stee Downes, and “Understand What I Do,” with Big Bully, it’s when the South Americans stretch their boundaries on cuts like “Change Resistance,” “This is the End” and “Spirit” that the debut takes shape. Coming after the album’s interlude, the West coast-influenced synth line of “Spirit” plays off the duo’s brooding bass perfectly without stepping too far out of their comfort zone, while “Change Resistance” drops the tempo and works as a simple late night melody. Fur Coat have definitely established their identity on Mind Over Matter, now it will be interesting to see where they take it.
(Crosstown Rebels)

Originally appeared here.

Exclaim! - Departures release party review

Photo: Nigel Webber

8 out of 10

Winnipeg’s Departures may be one of the best kept secrets in the country right now, but with the release of their fantastic debut album, Still and Moving Lines, that’s all about to change.

Tucked onto a makeshift stage at the back of the Ace Art Gallery in downtown Winnipeg’s Exchange District, the noisy post-rock five-piece, made up of close friends Nick Liang, Steve Kesselman, Graeme Wolfe, Rob Gardiner and Alannah Walker have a musical chemistry that can only come from the singular pursuit of creating engaging art, leaving the rest of the baggage of the music industry to work itself out.

Right from the opening number “Pillars,” singer/guitarist Liang’s presence commanded attention, while drummer Gardiner (Greg MacPherson’s band) hammered away at a powerful foundation that would be the bedrock of the more aggressive elements of the night.

For a relatively young band, Departures seemed extremely comfortable shifting between drawn-out melodic moments and punctuated blasts of urgent, controlled noise, using those sonic bridges to tie a common thread through the ebbs and flows of the material on Still and Moving Lines. 

Transitioning to the repetitive synth undercarriage of “Winter Friend,” the band explored a more constrained groove, while toning down the dense guitar work to give the song space to breathe.

"Left You Here," featuring Walker’s vocal and synth contributions, broke up the nearly hour-long set, with the Cannon Bros. member trading off singing duties with Liang throughout the song to add yet another layer to the band’s sound. It’s a shame that both Walker and Liang’s vocals were blurry in the mix, making them difficult to understand at times.

Finishing the night off with the shaggy guitars of “Contempt” and distortion-driven workout of “Being There,” it was easy to hear why Departures may be one of the best up-and-coming bands to come out of the province in the last couple years.

Originally appeared here.

Interview with DJ AM

 Adam Michael Goldstein - March 30, 1973 – August 28, 2009

I interviewed Adam about a year and a half before his death. He was friendly, candid and genuine in his love for music and his desire to push DJing as far as he could. I have spoken with hundreds of artists over the years, this one will always be significant to me.



At 34, Adam Goldstein (aka DJ AM) has already avoided being a Hollywood cliché who got on the fast track only to crash and burn.

Although he battled a serious crack cocaine addiction that threatened to derail his career early on, AM has been clean and sober for over nine years and is one of the most in-demand club DJs in North America. 

Tackling his demons and coming out on top has not only shaped who Goldstein is, it’s also given him a deeper understanding of how to deal with problems he faces in his day-to-day life. 

“Age is a matter of feelings, not years. So the more I experience, feel and go through, the older and wiser I get and the more my character is shaped by what I felt,” the DJ explains from his apartment in New York. 

“Not even so much how you felt, but how you dealt with it. If you stuff it down or run and hide, you don’t really grow the way you do if you allow yourself to go through it. I have been through some shit, but so has everyone.” 

Goldstein’s struggles with his weight, addiction and his relationships with Nicole Richie and Mandy Moore are well-known, thanks to the celebrity-driven media circus that L.A. has become - but what’s never really brought up in stories on the DJ is that AM actually knows his way around the turntables. Even if the A-listers at the Oscar after-party or hipsters at LAX can’t tell the difference, the time Goldstein spent honing his craft is obvious when you hear him spin. 

“No DJs really looked to other DJs to learn from. I was the guy who was playing in the clubs, but also watching battle videos,” Goldstein says. “I was really big on watching DJs who were better than me. I knew that I couldn’t learn something from people who knew less than me. I always wanted to be a versatile, all-around DJ as opposed to just being the guy who wanted the cool job and to hang out where the girls are.” 

Despite his obvious skills, Goldstein recognizes that he’s living under the spotlight more for who he is than what he can do behind the decks. 

“At first it was just strange and it made me really self-conscious. I started thinking about image and what people are going to think about me. It is really easy to get affected by that. I know it was for me,” he says. 

“I just had to keep telling myself that none of this means anything. At the end of the day, I am the same dude. I can see how for some people it could just keep escalating and escalating and turn into something where you think you are something that you aren’t.”


Originally published in Uptown Magazine. Feb/08

Also appeared as Quote of the Day on Perez Hilton.

Uptown Magazine - August 23

Where the Fuck Should I Go to Eat?
 Simple yet effective like, Where the Fuck Should I Go to Eat takes away all the guess work when it comes to picking a place to grab some food in an unfamiliar city or neighbourhood. You could scour Yelp reviews and dig around Urban Spoon — or you could just use WTFSIGE and see what comes up. Similarly, if all you want to do is go out and have some adult beverages with friends, Where the Fuck Should I Go For Drinks? ( should be able to sort you out quickly. If you’re spontaneous, don’t mind trying new places and want to explore whatever city you’re in, both these sites should be right up your alley.

Escape Velocity Radio
 A few years ago, a couple of the guys involved in the now-defunct G7 Welcoming Committee Records, Derek Hogue and Chris Hannah (Propagandhi), had a radio show/podcast on which they played music they liked, cracked jokes (usually at each other’s expense), talked about some important issues and chatted with guests. They also did the short-lived Propagandhi podcast together. Hogue and Hannah have relaunched under a new name, Escape Velocity Radio, but it looks like they’re keeping a similar fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants formula. In the first podcast, they preview Propagandhi’s new album, Failed States, talk with hip hop artist and local broadcast journalist Wab Kinew, and take some shots at Enbridge.

MP3 of the Week: Hatchmatik - Frank & Oak Summer Mix
 After tearing it up on the MS River Rouge with Toronto party-starters Torro Torro a few weeks back, Rawdman, Footwerk, Ric Hard and the Big Dancing crew have Montreal’s Hatchmatik slated for their next beats ’n’ bass throwdown on Aug. 23 at Ozzy’s. Check out this laid-back pre-party mix that Hatch did for clothing line Frank & Oak featuring tracks, remixes and edits from Party Ben, Tensnake and Santigold.

Video of the Week: Greg MacPherson - Frequencies
 After going most of his career without a video, local music vet Greg MacPherson has released his second video in under six months. Directed by the multi-talented Rod Bailey (mcenroe), Frequencies is available on GMac’s recent album, Disintegration Blues, which was released by his and Cam Loeppky’s fledgling label, Disintegration Records. With a near perfect bassline, chiming guitars and one of Greg’s distinct vocal deliveries, Frequencies only gets better with mcenroe’s simple video concept and cleverly shot piece. 

Uptown Magazine - August 16

Snoop Dogg’s Reincarnated
Right from his early verses on Dr Dre’s legendary album, The Chronic, West Coast MC Snoop Dogg has been a force to be reckoned with in the hip hop world. His laid-back style, stoner slow vibe and instantly recognizable voice has helped him become one of the biggest players in the game. Disenchanted with hip hop, Snoop spent a month in Jamaica finding himself and has come back with a new name (the much-discussed Snoop Lion), a deeper appreciation of Rastafarian culture, an album full of reggae-flavoured tracks he cut in the studio with Diplo (Major Lazer), along with a who’s who of the island’s tight-knit music community, and the belief that he’s channelling Bob Marley. Produced in association with Vice Films, Reincarnated, a documentary charting his experience, will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this September. A book, the aforementioned album and probably a slew of remixes will follow.

The 239 Issues Tackled by Degrassi Over 12 Seasons
Everybody loves Degrassi. From Hollywood types such as Kevin Smith to hip Americans teens who have made it a cult hit south of the border to Canadians who knew who Drake was before he turned into a hip hop millionaire, few shows have endured like this Canuck classic. One of the secrets to Degrassi’s success has been that it has never shied away from the issues and obstacles young people face. Over 12 seasons, the most recent incarnation of the show has tackled nearly 250 issues that Vulture painstakingly lists. From being humiliated on Twitter to having abusive parents, if it happens to those between the ages of 12 and 18, chances are Degrassi has done a show about it.

MP3 of the Week: DJ Hunnicutt – Funk Boat 2012 Promo
Voted the No. 1 and No. 2 DJs in the city this year by Uptown readers, Co-op and Hunnicutt are getting ready to throw their 10th annual Funk Boat party. A highlight of the summer for the past decade, veteran record collector and DJ Steve St. Louis is also onboard for the scenic trip down the river and will be spinning an all-vinyl set — something you don’t see too often around these parts anymore. Advance tickets will set you back $15 and are a must if you don’t want to be left on shore when this party sells out (it always does). Hunnicutt has put together a special promo mix featuring tracks, remixes and edits from Sly & The Family Stone, Sandy Barber, Mayer Hawthorne and DJ Prime.

Video of the Week: A$AP Rocky – Goldie
Harlem bad boy A$AP Rocky turns out this hazy video that he directed for his Hit Boy-produced single, Goldie. His much anticipated debut, LongLiveA$AP, will be released on Sept. 11. 

Uptown Magazine - August 9

Need a new email address?
Remember when Hotmail was all the rage? Millions of people may still use the service, but Gmail has been a far more effective and efficient email-management system for the last few years. Hotmail is still around, but Microsoft is rolling out a new online email system at If you are looking for a new email address, are tired of what Yahoo or Google have to offer, are looking to break free from the shackles of a Shaw or MTS address or just want to start your digital life over with an empty inbox, make sure you grab your desired user name before it gets snapped up. Even if you don’t switch over completely, you can always forward the account to whatever service you are using now, or go all in and move everything over to Outlook if it meets your needs better. If you have stock in Microsoft, you may not want to dump it yet. Early reports are very positive for the new email service.

Full Flex Express tour photos
 While it’s uber-annoying to have to register at just to see the pictures bigger than a thumbnail, talented local photog Shawn Fillion was right in the heart of the action at Shaw Park last month, capturing the largest electronic music event ever to be held in the province.

MP3 of the Week: Neil Young - Harvest Moon (Poolside cover)
 If you missed Poolside open up for Twin Shadow at the Pyramid this week, here’s its laidback take on former Winnipegger Neil Young’s iconic track, Harvest Moon. While Uncle Neil may not be hip to slow-burning house and would probably hate this version, this cover is a must for your next road-trip playlist.

Video of the Week: My Favorite Robot
 Slices is a cutting-edge digital magazine in Europe that’s focused on electronic music. While it used to be almost impossible to get the DVDs in North America without spending truckloads of cash, thanks to the magic of YouTube, you now can stream plenty of the interviews from the web. In this latest instalment, Slices takes a look at red-hot Toronto trio My Favorite Robot — a recent headliner at the Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition (MEME) — and its constantly evolving sound. 

Uptown Magazine - August 2nd

Lollapalooza 2012: The 48 sets you can watch via webcast
 Going to Chicago next week for Lollapalooza? Me neither. Luckily for us, 48 acts will be streaming live from Chicago’s Grant Park. With over 150 artists performing, having nearly one third available online is still pretty amazing for music lovers who can’t make the trip to the Windy City. Some of the acts you can catch streaming include Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, AVICII, Metric, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, At The Drive-In, Franz Ferdinand, tUnE-yArDs and Jack White. Check Lollapalooza’s YouTube page for the full schedule and set times.

Hate Tweets to Frank Ocean
 Odd Future’s Frank Ocean may have one of the biggest records on the planet right now but, as we all know too well, homophobia has no boundaries. People have always been ignorant; now it’s just easier to round up all their stupid comments.

MP3 of the Week: No List – New Noise of the North Compilation
For the past 18 years (including a six-year hiatus), Winnipeg’s No List Records has been carefully constructing “the new noise of the North.” One of the province’s most underrated labels, No List has done it on its own, without taking government grants, using Kickstarter, bottle drives or endless benefit shows to fund its projects. With a unwavering love of vinyl, high-quality art work and a dedication to bringing some of the heaviest bands out of the shadows, No List has managed to survive without compromising its original vision. With its 30th release, a seven inch from Calgary’s Breathe Knives, just around the corner, the DIY label is giving away a new 13-track sampler featuring an unreleased Kittens live recording of Queen of Clubs, Into Nothing from The Strap, Null and Void by The Great Sabatini, KEN mode’s Flight of The Echo Hawk (taken from its Juno-winning album, Venerable) and a slew of other No List gems. The next few months will be busy for label, with releases from new local bulldozers The Strap, Cowtown’s Breathe Knives and Toronto’s Vilipend. The label is holding a release show with The Strap and Breathe Knives on Aug. 26 at Frames Gallery at 313 Ross Ave. The Great Sabatini will be in town on Aug. 10 for Arsonfest at Negative Space, 253 Princess St.

Video of the Week: The Funk Hunters
Hailing from the West Coast, beats ’n’ bass-loving DJ duo The Funk Hunters have been on a roll lately. The pair recently got back from a five-week, 17-gig tour through the U.K. and six other European countries. Check the mini-tour documentary and see what all the hype is about. 

Uptown Magazine - July 26th

Rich Kids of Instagram
Everyone knows that photo-sharing site Instagram allows you to offer others a carefully curated look into your life, but what happens when you have more money than you know what to do with? You get Rich Kids of Instagram. From partying in the Hamptons to hanging out on yachts to taking helicopter rides because you’re bored, if you (or your family) are loaded with cash and have an Instagram account, you probably are going to end up on this site.

Make a Dare
Make a Dare is a new socially driven website on which users challenge each other and the results are uploaded to the site. You can earn “street cred” when other users vote on your videos or pictures of the dares you have completed. (Don’t blame me if the vinegar challenge goes horribly wrong.)There are way too many dares asking to see people’s butts or show off their underwear, so this site might not be safe for work if your office has super-strict web-use policies in place.

Roadtrip Mix
Anyone who has been on a road trip knows just how important the music can be. Roadtrip Mix is a new web app that creates “a playlist of music by artists that from the area you are travelling through. Drive through Boston and you might hear Aerosmith or Donna Summer. Drive through New Orleans and you might hear Lil Wayne or Dr. John.” One of the downsides is you need to be a Rdio subscriber to hear the full songs, otherwise you only get a 30-second snippet. Also, this music tool would be way cooler if it was a mobile app tied into your Rdio account that you could actually take in your car the next time you hit the road.

Video of the Week: PS I Love You – Toronto
Paper Bag Records’ PS I Love You offers up a new video from its album, Death Dreams. Directed by Christopher Mills, the video for Toronto is a rough and raw mixture of the band’s hometown, 8-bit art, grainy performance shots and processed clips that works really well with the track.

MP3 of the Week: Joe Silva – Trashbot Apocalypse
When he isn’t crafting thoughtful deep house or working with Ali Khan on their Tonepushers project, veteran local electronic producer Joe Silva is increasingly doing soundtrack work for local indie movies, TV, theatre and dance companies. His latest compositions are for Trashbot Apocalypse, a Fringe show at Venue 6 (Tom Hendry Warehouse Theatre). You can download the soundtrack for free during the Fringe, and you can check out Uptown’s review of the show at