November 2013

Top 10 Canadian Indie Songs about Winter

Snow has hit Ontario and we got to thinking about songs inspired by the frigid weather.  It was years before I realized that winter actually equates to recording time for musicians as no one wants to dare risk hit the road in -40 degree weather for a club that’s made even colder by the fact that only a few dozen souls have braved the weather to support their favourite band.  So instead I present you a Top 10 Canadian Indie Winter Song Playlist to keep you warm… or at least brave enough to pull out the parka.

What’s your favourite winter-themed song?  Let us know in the comments below!

K-OS – Zambony – Hockey rink + rhymes about cold Canadian weather + Hayden Christensen?


The Weakerthans – Our Retired Explorer – Dancing penguins and giant winter coats?  Sign us up for the next Arctic adventure!


The Goodluck Assembly – Wait for Me (*also our clients!) – so much snow!


Amos the Transparent – Sure as the Weather – Best 1 take music video of 2011 with all 4 seasons represented in the most adorable fashion


Rob Moir- Cold – This video couldn’t BE a more shiver-inducing representation of bitter cold and loneliness.


Stars – The North – Lots of their songs are about snow, sadness and Montreal, but this one in particular is about cuddling up for survival.


Dinosaur Bones – Ice Hotel – I’ve never been to the ice hotel but I sure hope this is the soundtrack.


Elliott Brood- Northern Air – Dose of indie-folk


Joel Plaskett- Snowed In/Cruisin – Mr. Plaskett understands the feelings of being stuck inside and going a bit stir-crazy.  This could be the most Canadian song on this mix.


Kathleen Edwards – Empty Threat – Yes, yes, we understand Kathleen, it’d be nice to run away to the warm American South when the mercury drops, but please stay and write more songs like this.



and just in case you want to heat things UP indoors…

Thunderheist – Jerk It

Honourary mentions- Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – home on the ice, Regina Spektor Blue Lips, Grizzly Bear Speak in Rounds, Cut Copy Unforgetable Season, Joy Division Ice Age, Foals Blue Blood,

Rock movies you’ve never heard of but should watch RIGHT NOW

Do you watch High Fidelity every time you get broken up with?  Did you watch Almost Famous when you were a teenager convinced that was going to become your life as a music journalist?  Or do you just quote Spinal Tap when you’re on tour and can’t find the stage exit?  Those are some lesser known rock films that YouRockRed highly recommends.   (P.s. Hey, ma!, I’m using my film degree today!)


While yes, Cate Blanchett did an amazing job portraying Dylan in the Oscar nominated feature a few years back, this is the first true rockumentary.  It captures the very first time Dylan went electric, his witty quips to reporters in response and an incredibly real confrontation with Scottish musician Donovan who was clearly smashed.  There’s also an adorably romantic scene with then girlfriend Joan Baez in a cab.  It also kind of spawned one of the very first music videos in the gritty back-alley one-camera set up of him with the lyrics of Subterranean Homesick Blues being tossed onto the ground.  This documentary pre-dates any sort of reality TV, but for those of us accustomed to seeing every aspect of our favourite stars, try to think of this as the first glimpse of a rock stars’ life backstage.



Disclaimer- Before new wave icon David Byrne was writing books he was writing screenplays and this 1987 feature-length rock musical is a testament to his brilliance.  He wrote, produced, starred and scored the entire cult film.  After being on the road with the Talking Heads Byrne was inspired by tabloid stories about a man with a sign advertising for a wife on his front lawn and a woman who lied about everything including having a tail.  John Goodman stars in this film and dances like a fool to Wild Wild Life.  The satiric monotone delivery of David Byrne as the travelling cowboy in a corvette convertible commenting on American life gets me every time.


CBGB (2013)

I just recently saw the CBGB film starring Alan Rickman over the weekend and was elated to see some of my favourite punk rock stars come to life in such accurate character actors (including Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters as Iggy Pop).  The down and dirty portrayal of the Lower East Side of New York too full of cockroaches and rats and drug addicts dying on the street- here’s the link.  Seriously, if you love Blondie, the Ramones, Television and watching rock stars fail upwards, watch this film.



I saw the Stone Roses documentary last week that made me miss concerts in England so much.  The filmmaker Shane Meadows (This is England) is from Nottingham where I used to live and his fandomness of the band is crucial why it got nominated for a BAFTA for best documentary this year. The street scene when BBC 1 announces a rare free show and fans are literally running up the street with their old records in arms was so what good documentary films are made of.  That scene may have run a little long but it really gave insight to what the British band meant to its fans and the filmmaker capturing “I Wanna Be Adored” the first time the band played it together in over 20 years in their jam space juxtaposed with the amazing audio quality of all the Stone Roses fans singing back all the lyrics in the small venue – just gave me goosebumps. 


9 SONGS  (2004)

Now this is one music fans can truly relate to because it combines their two passions:  sex and rock and roll inspired by it.  From filmmaker Michael Winterbottom (who also did 24 Hour Party People) watching this film almost feel like a voyeur on the cute couple that can’t take their eyes off each other at the last gig you went to.  It stars an American/British couple that out to concerts at places like the Apollo to see artists like Franz Ferdinand, The Von Bondies, Super Furry Animals, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and even Michael Nyman.  In 2004 it became the most sexually explicit film in history of British cinema after Last Tango in Paris… and the sex scenes are freakin’ hot!


Knowing what is funding is available to you as an artist

I met with a new client yesterday to talk about potential grant opportunities and got to thinking that this would be a great blog post.  As an artist, you want to focus on your music, not the business side, but if you do not treat it as a business you will only limit your opportunities, and if you know where to look, there’s plenty of them that will no doubt inspire your music.

With the new Ontario Music Fund announcement of $45 million dollars available to those in the music industry (not artists but those who support their work) I’ve been combing over the fine detailed print.  But for everyone not in industry here’s a bit of insight into what is available to you as an artist through government granting system.

Artists take note- grants are not just there to help fund your album recording

-          Apartments overseas from Paris to Germany for months at a time for song writing development

-          Informal recordings to try out new songs/styles

-          Showcase costs (e.g. getting to Great Escape Festival, SXSW)

-          Specific tour merchandise (yellow vinyl, branded toothbrushes!?)

-          Hiring your team of publicists, booking agents

-          Performing on trains across North America

-          Album art and manufacturing

-          Training with mentors

-          Viral video

-          Media development

-          Website and apps

-          Songwriting workshops, professional training opportunities

-          Music commissioning for public exhibitions (want to try your hand at a rock opera or scoring a silent film?)

There’s also the standard

-          Touring

-          Marketing

-          Music video

-          Electronic press kits

-          Travel opportunities

Want to find out where to apply?  Drop me a line at and we can talk about how you can find the right grant for you.

This is an artist I first booked over 10 years ago in rural Quebec that I was able to catch a few weeks back when he returned from his world tour.  Rob Moir just released this music video for his newest single “Cold” today and it’s perfect for the Eastern Canadian winter that’s headed our way…

Questioning the fate of the Grand CD

Stacks of jewel cases used to be a point of pride; a conversation starter at a party.  Something you’d stare at longingly and beg, if you had a best friend with more music knowledge than you, a chance to borrow one of those prized items.  Only later would they learn your penchant for accidentally scratching their favourite Modest Mouse album.  (Woops!)

But the actual jewel case CD?  Breaking the cellophane wrapper and eagerly whipping out the interior booklet to see the album art and thank yous associated with them is a thing that I fear is not regarded the same anymore.  I know for me I’ve got CD wallets (remember those??) hidden on book shelves and boxes of the cases at my mother’s storage unit.  What’s most valued is what’s on my hard-drive storage.

It used to be limited to industry personnel to get free music but now everyone can get free digital music whereas before a trip to your favourite record store was the only way to be connected to that world.  Nowadays bands like the Weeknd and Vance Joy can get huge record deals and award nominations through their bandcamp.  You could go years without hearing a song repeated now with all the free music available online.  Youtube, Bandcamp, Sound Cloud… it’s overwhelming to think of actually.

I feel spoiled with free music nowadays and my younger self would have been literally rolling *carefully* on the jewel cases in sheer glee since I  grew up in the country with limited dial-up driving my parents crazy downloading music from Kazaa and Limewire and literally no friends into alternative music to show me the way.

I was reliant upon whatever I was given at concerts and one of the most profound realizations came when an entire indie record label catalog was delivered to my parents’ home (instead of the radio station I was DJ’ing at).  The label isn’t around anymore and truthfully the records weren’t all that great, but a huge box full of music was better than Christmas for me.  Fast forward 10 years later prepping for festival season and a major label sends me their most popular artists albums in CD form and it felt so foreign!  I opened some of them but truthfully thanks to Rdio and Itunes, I already had the songs at my disposal on my computer, iphone and wherever else I wanted to plug into.  I had this confused moment where I had to question, where am I going to put these CDs?  The CDs that are stacked around the office are usually just clients’ demos and past work that I physically need to write grants and whatever else I’ve written about.  The rest though are handed to me at events.  I still love getting them but I feel badly that some just gather dust as I’ve already got them on my media devices.

That said, I get just as excited when I get emailed exclusive media-only listening pages for bands I’m interested in as when I’d wander into the record stores that marked my youth, but now are tragically closed, like no doubt so many of your favourites probably are.  So here’s to celebrating CDs and the nostalgia associated with them!

How about you?  What’s your favourite form of music?  Vinyl?  Cassette?  MP3s only?  Let me know in the comments below !