Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Favourite Music of 2014

2014 has been awesome.  It was a great year for music and was also a very special year for me because I got to marry the amazing Raffaella Fornarelli.

For me this year's music discovery came through travel across Canada to places like Halifax, Winnipeg, Montreal and Vancouver coupled with a few trips stateside to NYC, Austin. Of course I also learned about new music through music streaming services, radio stations from around the globe and believe it or not on music television;)


I love this time of year because it's when I get to make lots of new playlists.  When I look back it always amazes me how much I've actually done of the course of 12 months. It's crazy the amount of music that I've been lucky enough to see live, hear for the first time - or even hear differently for the 800th time. Like most people I've got a ferocious appetite for NEW music and will go to any length to discover and be a part of it all.  I truly love working around music.


With out further adieu here's what I've been listening to throughout 2014...

I've broken this out into a few categories including my top 5 favourite albums, top 5 favourite songs, top 5 videos and my top 5 favourite concerts. If you have 7 hours and 43 minutes to spare here are my top 110 favourite songs of the year (and growing) - Gregg's Best of 2014

Top 5 Albums of 2014

  1. Sam Smith - 'The Lonely Hour'
  2. The Black Keys - 'Turn Blue'
  3. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
  4. Sam Roberts Band - 'Low Fantasy'
  5. Ed Sheeran - 'X'

Top 5 Songs of 2014

  1. Tobias Jesso Jr. - 'True Love'
  2. Belle and Sebastian - 'The Party Line'
  3. Sam Smith - 'I've Told You Now'
  4. SonReal - 'LA'
  5. Ed Sheeran – Afire Love

Top 5 Music Videos of 2014

  1. Duke Dumont - 'I Got You'
  2. Sam Roberts Band - 'Shapeshifters'
  3. Chet Faker - 'Gold'
  4. Cherub - 'Doses and Mimomsas'
  5. Arcade Fire - 'We Exist'


Top 5 Concerts/Shows of 2014

  1. Sam Smith at St. David's Communion Church, Austin Texas SXSW
  2. Kasabian at Sound Academy, Toronto
  3. Against me! at Olympia Centre Stage, Halifax 
  4. Arctic Monkeys at Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto
  5. Arcade Fire at Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto


Thanks for reading/listening.

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

Gregg

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ginger. Rusty. Red. Carrot Top. Big Red. Ed Sheeran.

If you have red hair (it's actually orange) then you've likely been called one, if not all, of the above mentioned nick names at some point in your life.  Perhaps in an endearing way from friends and family or in a down right cruel way by some ignorant prick.  I digress.  

M.I.A. didn't help matters in 2010 when she released a video for the song 'Born Free' depicting police and army types going on the hunt to rid the World of my fellow pale skinned amber heads. 

National Geographic published an article back in 2007 saying that red haired people are set for extinction within the next 100 years.  It also spoke of the fact that less than 2 percent of the World's population have this as a natural colour.  Here are some other interesting facts about gingers from your favourite list makers Buzzfeed '11 Redhead Facts Everyone Should Know'.

Ed Sheeran is probably the World's most famous ginger at this time and with good reason.  He's one talent young man that keeps creating hit after hit.  At the ripe age of 23 this lad from Yorkshire, England has reintroduced the youth of the world to something called the singer songwriter.  It was something that had been missing from their vocabulary and was much needed on the heels of auto-tuned era featuring many choreographed groups.

Ed's not only a solo artist - he's penned, composed and collaborated on songs for some of the most popular acts in the World today including One Direction, Taylor Swift and more.  He's respected by pretty much everyone in music including the hip-hop side because he's a pretty decent rapper too.  

I've had the pleasure of meeting him on a few occasions over the past couple of years.  The first time was when he came to play the 2012 Much Music Video Awards seen here.  I met him in his makeshift dressing room around rehearsals at which time he was literally building a Lego castle.  He gave it to me to give away on Much's social media sites.

The second time was when he returned on that same album and performed on the 2013 Much Music Video Awards seen here.  The 3rd time was when he came back this past summer in support of his second album to perform at the 2014 MMVAs seen here.  He even stopped by our after party to hang out until the wee hours.  He's a true gentleman and remains very humble from my experience meeting him.

I write about Ed today because I recently dove deep into his new album and it's fucking amazing.  The kid has it all.  He's got soul, style and is writing some of the most popular songs in music today.  I am guessing that there's lots more to come too.  The ginger jesus - as his fans called him - also makes some of the most interesting music videos around.

Here's a few of my favourite songs by Ed Sheeran's or in collaboration with others...

Ed Sheeran - 'Thinking Out Loud'

Taylor Swift featuring Ed Sheeran - 'Everything Has Changed'

Ed Sheeran - 'Afire Love'

Ed Sheeran - 'Lego House'

Ed Sheeran - 'Stay With Me' (Sam Smith cover)

Sam Smith w/ Ed Sheeran - 'Stay With Me' (Live)


Not bad for a ginger eh? 

Thanks for reading/listening.

Gregg

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Music Content In An A.D.D. World

I started to type the title of this post as 'Music Content in an A.D.D. Generation' when I realized that it's not a generational thing at all.  A.D.D. is a characteristic of the World we ALL live in. From Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y/Millennials to Generation Z we're all in this together.

Over the past few months my music team and I have been working hard on our 'Top 100 Music Videos Ever' list to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Much. This might sound like a simple task - but there's a very big difference when it comes to the GREATEST music videos vs. the most ICONIC videos of all time.  We're looking for the most amazing videos that stand the test of time and are truly deserving of inclusion in this list.  This is an example of an ICONIC video that does NOT belong on our list.  It's a difficult task and so we've been watching thousands of videos for the past few months narrowing things down as best we can. 


We're almost there and I can't wait to share the final list :)


Back in 1981 MTV was the ONLY place you could watch music videos in the America.  In Canada it wasn't until 1984 that we had our own offering which came in the form of MuchMusic.  This was the place were I learned about many of my favourite artists and picked up in new ones along the way.  It was the only place to learn about new music at the time. Much was a monopoly when it came to music content and that continued for decades.  If you wanted to see the new Bon Jovi, U2, Barenaked Ladies or Twisted Sister videos then the only place you could watch was on broadcast television on one specific channel. It sounds crazy when you say it that way - knowing what we know today.   


In the late 90s Napster took the music world by storm and excited a new generation all at the same time.  This brand new peer-to-peer file sharing service allowed computers to communicate with others globally - and more importantly share files.  Files that contained music from all of their favourite recording artists big and small.  This opened the flood gates for torrent sites allowing users to share movies, television shows and music videos too.  
It was the beginning of the beginning, not the the beginning of the end.  Now you can access anything at anytime and anywhere and it's wonderful.

While screening potential videos to make this list we've become very aware of the transformation and evolution of how people consumer music content.  Michael Jackson was making 16 minute music videos like Thriller and Bad in the 80s with the help of Martin Scorsese and John Landis.  These videos were epic feature film like pieces set to the music of MJ. These visual interpretations of songs gave the fans a chance to dive in and analyse the song more - and give them visual context to what the artist had been singing about in the first place.  Well that's the theory anyway.  It wasn't just Michael either - Madonna, Peter Gabriel, Queen, Aerosmith, Aha and more where making magic in this era.


What I'm getting at is that since television used to be the only place to watch videos people paid full attention to the music video in question.  There were no distractions or skip buttons in the 80s and early 90s.   


I believe music content's getting better and better and that there's more of an appetite for it than ever before.  There's just more buffet style consumption going on and so you'd better be making great music to cut through the clutter.


Jimmy Iovine has been quoted saying that "Curation is the key".  I know this is as fact.  We see direct results when we curate specific play lists to compliment events like festivals, big shows and current events.  I also listen to curated play lists regularly on streaming services. You need people that eat sleep and breathe music to filter things for the masses since most people just don't have the time or energy to do it themselves.  This is exactly what we've been doing and I really hope that you take some time to check it out.  It's an epic 11 hours long - so set your VCRs and stock up in VHS tapes.  Or you can take the list and skip through them on YouTube later.  Regardless - trust our picks and enjoy!


Tune in to Much on Saturday, August 30th at 10am EST for 11 hours of what we've deemed the 'Top 100 Music Videos Ever'.  

Here's a few of my personal favourite music videos that may or may not make the cut...



Temper Trap - 'Love Lost' 

Miike Snow - 'The Wave'

Depeche Mode - 'Wrong'

Michael Jackson - 'You Rock My World'

Grum - 'Through The Night'

Thanks for reading/listening,

PS.  I know that I truly do have the greatest job when this is what I've been up to for the past while.

Gregg

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Something for the Weekend


I'm not sure where the time goes, especially in the summer, but I've not had a second to blog of late and I really missed it.  I will NEVER claim to be a writer - but I find blogging about music to be therapeutic and down right fun.  

It's been a minute so I figured I'd keep it simple and recommend a few new tracks that I'm in love with right now.

First up is by the wonderful Jesse Ware.  This is song's from a forthcoming sophomore album and it's down right gorgeous.  Jesse Ware has the voice of an angel and her past album gave me goosebumps with each listen.

Jesse Ware - 'Tough Love'


Mr. Roberts and his band can do no wrong in my books.  They've created their finest record yet with this groove filled banger.  The album's produced by the same guy that did The Verve's 'Urban Hymns' and it sounds fantastic like a continuation to that perfect recording.  There's many great tracks on this album - but this one's my favourite at the moment.


Sam Roberts Band - 'Too Far'


Drake's the king and I don't care if you disagree.  He's proved himself time and time again while amassing a monster catalogue in a very few short time.

This track has scents of Kendrick Lamar's 'Swimming Pools' laced with stunning - yet haunting - bits of James Blake and Drake's own signature flow. 

The man and his crew don't stop and that's fine by me as long as they keep releasing tunes as good as this.

Drake - '0-100'


Speaking of Drake - here's the first video from his boys Majid Jordan who are set to make waves on July 22nd with the release of their debut EP.

This song makes me want to do very bad things and and rage until the sun comes up.  The video enhances that urge even more. 

I'm also proud to say that the video is partially funded by MuchFACT 

Majid Jordan - 'A Place Like This'


I've been saying that Sam Smith will take over the world for the last 6 months or so and it's finally happening.  I've had the pleasure of seeing him live twice now and he's the realest of the real in the vocal department.  He's poised to become the male Adele and I can't wait to tell you that I told you so.

His EP was phenomenal and so where his collaborations with Disclosure and Naughty Boy this past year.  His debut full length has just come out and is picture perfect.

I can't get enough and this is my favourite track (at the moment) from his album entitled 'In The Lonely Hour'.  Here's a link to Sam performing it live so you can see what I'm talking about.

Sam Smith - 'I've Told You Now'


What can you say about Arcade Fire that hasn't already been said?  They truly deserve every award and accolade they've been given because they're that fucking good.

This new album reminds me of Radiohead's 'OK Computer' - not musically - but monumentally as it's a game changer on some many sonic levels. 

This particular track takes you back to the great new wave era of the 80s while kicking you in the head to remind you that there are 7 of the best musicians on this planet making this noise.  

Arcade Fire - 'We Exist' 


Thanks for reading / listening.

Gregg

Thursday, April 24, 2014

10 Fantastic New Songs

The past few months have been pretty hectic in the best possible way.  I've been to Austin, Texas for SXSW and then went to Winnipeg, Manitoba for The JUNO Awards.  Now my team are preparing for Canadian Music Week which takes place here in Toronto in 2 weeks.  Oh yeah and we have the 25th anniversary of The Much Music Video Awards on June 15th which is a big deal.

All this while trying to plan my wedding in late May. Truth be told this part is all Raffy - I'm simply making some play lists - but I digress.  (Thank you Raffy xo)

During these past few months I've seen, heard and been privy to some fantastic new music.  There are at least 2 songs every day that catch my attention and become mainstays there after.

It's been strange going through my library to create these wedding play lists simply because all I want to do is listen to new music at this time.  There's so much goodness to explore when it comes to new music.

Here are 10 fantastic tracks I'd like to recommend you give a spin...

The Horrors - 'So Now You Know'

Hudson Taylor - 'Battles'


Lykke Li - 'No Rest For The Wicked'

Elbow - 'New York Morning'

Sam Smith - 'Nirvana'

Kiesza - 'Hideaway'

Beck - 'Morning'

Against Me! - 'True Trans Soul Rebel'

City and Colour - 'Harder Than Stone'

Thanks for reading/listening.

Gregg


Friday, March 21, 2014

Texas Forever

How in the hell is it the end of March?  South By South West is already a distant memory and the conversation's have already gone from Texas to Winnipeg for The JUNO Awards.  Once that's done we'll be laser focused on The 25th Anniversary of The Much Music Video Awards but I digress.  I'm not complaining because this is simply fuel to the fire - and I love this stuff.

SXSW truly is the most important music week each year (IMHO).  It's the week that everyone descends on Austin, Texas for 2000+ bands playing on every inch of the city.  From street corners, rooftops, grocery stores, churches to parking lots and more.  It's hectic and gives me anxiety - but this festival is the real deal for those looking to learn about the next big thing or to see the biggest stars in the world in a small space. 


This is the 3rd time I've been down to SXSW and it just keeps getting better.  I know there are more and more people each year and many more brands taking over - but there's something for everyone which still makes it so good.  


Here's a day-by-day snapshot of what I saw this year.

Tuesday

This was a travel day but my team and I had some great laughs going from Toronto to Dallas and then on to Austin.  I was also seated next to Drake's beat maker Boi-1da on the second leg and it was great to hear his back story on how he got into music.  This Grammy Award winner's from my hometown of Pickering so it was nice to have had the chance to meet him.  You may know his work from songs like this...


Drake - 'Best I Ever Had'

Wednesday

This was the official start to our festival.  We headed to the conference centre to grab our badges and I checked out a couple panels including one with Jarvis Cocker of Pulp.  He read lyrics to various songs including some of his own hits and explained the background on each.  It was fascinating to me as I'd been singing along to songs like'Sorted for E's & Wizz' for years with no idea what it was about.  It's about The Stone Roses famous Spike Island gig in May of 1990.  As the room filtered out I saw that the legendary BBC 6 Music DJ Steve Lamacq had been sitting in too.  As he walked past me 'Wonderwall' played over the speakers in the hall and my mind nearly exploded.  I love Brit pop.

From there we headed to CIMA's annual Canadian Blast BBQ.  It's a great place to start each year as you can see who's all there from the great white north and catch-up with people from across Canada that you only ever deal with on emails.  There were loads of great performances including Siadah Baba Talibah, The Darcys and Grand Analog to name a few.

After feasting on some delicious Texas food we headed to our friends showcase for Dine Alone Records.  This showcase was in a new section of Austin called Rainey Street which is super cool.  It's all abandoned houses and empty lots converted into clubs and patios.  There are loads of food trucks on the streets and about 25 different venues.  The showcase featured many acts including standouts like Noah Gundersen, Tokyo Police Club and Apache Relay.  This place was packed and not just full of festival punters.  There were loads of musicians like the bass player from Soundgarden and one of the Mumford lads. Pretty damn cool for a Canadian Indie label from St. Kits.

Thursday

Thursday Austin awoke to the terrible news that a drunk driver had taken out a street full of festival goers killing 2 and injuring many more.  It was a somber mood throughout as people tried to understand.  
Photo: Ain't No Love performing at the MuchFACT brunch
This day was my team's first event at SXSW and so we hosted a brunch at 6th street's Iron Cactus rooftop.  It was fantastic - and we can even boast some wonderful performances from Canadian acts like Ain't No Love, The Belle Game, July Talk and A Tribe Called Red. This will be a mainstay for us and look forward to having everyone next year. 

Right after our MuchFACT brunch we headed to the Universal Music Group showcase where The Kooks played an outdoor set under a perfect blue sky.  I've loved The Kooks for ages and so to see them play new material alongside a mere 200 people while the sun beat down on us was pretty special.

That evening we feasted on fajitas washing them back margaritas - as you do.  Then it was over to Swan Dive to see Jeremy Messersmith and The Strypes.  The Strypes are like watching The Rolling Stones in their early days doing their finest James Brown moves and being absolute fucking rock stars on stage.  These 4 kids (literally) have more R&B soul than many acts claiming to be in this genre today.  Expect big things from these 4 lads from Ireland.

During The Strypes 30 minute set one of the SXSW employees jumped on stage to ask the crowd for 2 minutes of silence to remember the 2 people killed 2 nights before.  This was done right across the festival at the exact same time.  Chilling.

From there it was over to Maggie Mays in the heart of 6th street to see the Sam Roberts Band.  To see these guys in a small venue is an absolute treat.  They've done so well in this country and aren't afraid to get their hands dirty and start over State side.  They've got a deep catalogue - but with 30 minutes to impress they have to stay laser focused on simply knocking the socks of these new crowds.  They're fucking amazing and I hope you check out their new album 'Lo-Fantasy'.

Friday

We hit the ground running on Friday morning and went directly to the convention centre. We had learned that if you have a delegate pass you're entitle to a trump card each day.  The trump card allows you to walk directly to the front of any line and get right in.  You get one a day and so you should always pick the one that you think is going to be the most sought after shows.  Sadly we didn't learn of this special card until 2 days in.  I would have been able to have seen Kurt Vile and Little Dragon the night's before:(

From there it was over to the world famous Stubbs BBQ for Spin Magazine's annual party.  There we caught Warpaint, Schoolboy Q and Against Me!.  This was easily one of the most amazing moments that I've experienced in music to date.  Watching Laura Jane Grace performing with her band with a smile from ear to ear made me smile from ear to ear.  She was comfortable in her own skin having gone through a year of transformation from Tom Gable to Laura Jane Grace - the bad ass anarchist lead singer of Against Me!  Watching the crowd full of 'bros' sing along to songs like 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues' and 'True Trans Soul Rebel' was fantastic.  It gave me hope for a very bright future for all walks of life - that is truly what rock n roll's about.

I had never heard a note of Against Me! until that afternoon and now know that I've been missing out. It's something I'll never forget and hope that this important album receives the accolades it deserves.

As if that wasn't enough music for one day we were just getting started.  Next stop was a friend's showcase for Photo Finish Records at Speak Easy on Congress. Here we caught The Mowglis and another set from The Strypes.  I still can't believe the amount of talent and star power these guys ooze.  They were signed by Sir Elton John - so if that's any indication of what's to come then we're all in for a treat.  

Next stop was a bit of dinner with some friends and some famous table side guacamole at The Iron Cactus.  Amazing conversation about radio, streaming, new bands and the future of this crazy business - I could have sat at that table for ever.  Sadly we couldn't as there were many more bands for us to see.  Half of the table were off to see Soundgarden perform their classic album 'Superunknown' from start to finish on a rooftop. Others were off to see some Canadian acts at Canada House and my partner in crime, Alana, was off to see Broken Bells.  I was off to see Sam Smith and then meet back up with Alana to use our trump card and see the ultimate hipster Julien Casablancas & Voidz at my favourite venue Cedar Street.

I actually ran into Sam Smith on the street about an hour before his show as St. David's church.  He's very tall and looks like a star.  He was super nice and I told him that we'd like to work with him when he comes to Toronto in a few weeks.  I hope we can as this is exactly the time you want in on acts.

Sam is already know for his collaborations with Disclosure on their massive hit 'Latch' and the infectious 'La La La' from Naughty Boy.  These 2 tracks have an astonishing 300,000,000+ streams on YouTube combine.  

His performance in that church was a truly religious experience.  This man is poised to be the biggest thing in 2014.  Mark my words his solo career will be on par with the likes of Adele.  This is just the beginning.  The band Tennis  were on just before and then Joy Vance end that showcase.  They were good - but Sam Smith was the man that night.

Saturday

After hitting the convention centre to grab my trump card for The 1975's headline set it was off to The Agency Group's party at Lamberts BBQ.  The room was full of agents, bands and managers along with some talent.  The likes of Taylor Hanson and Sam Roberts Band were there hanging with their agents and having a few drinks.  We got to spend some time with the amazing guys in Sam Roberts Band and enjoyed laughs and great conversation about tunes.  They invited us to join them at a private party hosted by Rachel Ray and there's no way we would say no to that invitation.  

Rachel Ray's parties are known for their spreads and this was no exception.  Gourmet hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches and a full pig complete with an apple in its mouth.  Oh and the band played a small stage as the sun went down.  They opened with a new song 'The Golden Hour' which made the moment perfect. 


After their set the guys in Sam Roberts Band stuck around for a few hours before heading off on tour to California.  They might be rock stars but they're also some of the nicest guys in music today.  Each member is so different and on paper I don't think it works.  For some reason it does and only the gods of rock know why.  Thank you for the amazing day guys it was a blast.



The last stop on this adventure was to see a band that I was introduced to at last year's SXSW called The 1975.  This time last year they played the backyard of Red Eye Fly and on tiny little stages around the city.  This year saw them play the MTV Woodie Awards and then close out the Saturday night at Stubbs BBQ to a sold out crowd of people hanging on their every word.  It was the perfect ending to another amazing trip to SXSW.


video

Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.  Texas forever.

Thanks for reading/listening.

Gregg

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Songs In Films

On a night when Hollywood celebrate all things film I've decided to made a quick list of my favourite scenes that have used the perfect songs.

Every second of a movie has some sort of music bed playing in it.  You might not even notice them at times but they're there to set the mood throughout the whole film.  You do however notice when a great song is used to enhance a scene and when it's done properly it can't be beat.  It's vital and makes a movie even better when the right music has been picked.

Here are some of my favourites songs in movie scenes...

Donnie Darko:  Tears for Fears - 'Head Over Heels'

Office Space: Ghetto Boys - 'Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gansta'

Old School: Whitesnake - 'Here I Go Again'

Karate Kid: Peter Cetera - 'The Glory of Love'

American Psycho: Phil Collins - 'In Too Deep' *PG 13

High Fidelity: Beta Band - 'Dry The Rain'

Say Anything: Peter Gabrielle - 'In Your Eyes'

Do The Right Thing: Public Enemy - 'Fight the Power'

Thanks for reading/listening,

Gregg

Monday, January 27, 2014

A New Play List

It's Monday and I'm sifting through my iTunes, iPods, DMDS, Rdio and Spotify accounts while Raffy's at the Jay Z's concert.  It's usually the opposite way around - but she loves music just as much as I do which is one of the main reasons I asked her to marry me.

I'm constantly working on play lists for our big day.  The hardest part's going to be narrowing it down to the best of the best.  I'm currently sitting at 8 hours 55 minutes and not even close to finished adding.  I send myself notes daily as I come across songs that I may have missed.  There's just so many songs I want to play throughout the course of the day but so many things to consider when it comes to these play lists.  I know for a fact that I'll be working on this right up until the last minute.  

I'm taking a break from that right now as I've started a new play list.  A new play list of some of the most exciting songs I've been listening to of late.  God damn is 2014 starting out on a high note.

Here's a few tracks I'd like to recommend...

Thanks for reading/listening.

Gregg