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Music: Tick Tick Boom by The Hives November 25, 2008

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My very good friend (and next-door-neighbour) DMcN often says that I like “fluffy” music. True, I do have some Top-40 tunes always in my head, and I know that she thinks that deep house music ain’t all that and a bag of chips. But I also think I do have a little bit of an edge in regards to the music I listen to, so I present to you another of my favorites: Tick Tick Boom by The Hives. Surprised? Shocked? Yeah, I *love* this tune.

Music – St. Marks Square by Black Science Orchestra November 19, 2008

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I’m a big fan of deep house music, and particularly of Black Science Orchestra. One of their best tracks, New Jersey Deep, is always on my iPod. The song whose video I’m inserting here is pretty much another one of those “tunes that define me“.

The rhythms in this song are completely along the lines of what I like to dance to, what I dance to when I am at home or in a club. Although I think the last time I heard this type of tunes was (believe it or not) at Bar None (in Yaletown, Vancouver)! Oh no, that’s not exactly true. It was at the Media 2O party (one of the best parties I’ve ever attended – only comparable to BarCamp Vancouver 2008 party!)

New Jersey Deep – Black Science Orchestra October 16, 2008

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My friend Phaedra spins house music, my friend Trevor seems to enjoy house music (from what I saw in one of his Flickr photos) but for some reason I never seem to hear from any other of my friends anything about deep house (although I think Nomade Moderne would enjoy it and so would Lotus Effect) . So I figured I’d show you the kind of tunes I am most likely to enjoy. This is an old one (e.g. I’ve enjoyed this one for a while now, but I don’t think I had had a chance to post a YouTube video. I do love Black Science Orchestra’s deep house, and “New Jersey Deep” is the one I enjoy the most. Fourteen years and this tune is still rockin’ in London!

Feel free to add your comments, e.g. if you like it, or not, or whatever πŸ˜‰

Music review – Mayday (M’aidez) by People in Planes October 8, 2008

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I had the great fortune of watching the Welsh band People in Planes live in May of 2008 at The Biltmore Cabaret (right around a very stressful time for me) and I kept trying to find the video or the MP3. Luckily for me, someone uploaded this song on to YouTube so now you can enjoy it (and yes I love People in Planes, as I do Death Cab by Cutie, The Darkness, The Smiths, and a few other bands that aren’t as “fluffy” or pop as the majority of the music I listen to!)

Jully Black at the Surrey Fusion Festival August 1, 2008

Posted by Raul in music, Surrey Fusion Festival.
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I had a chance to go to the Surrey Fusion Festival (Rebecca has awesome write-ups on the Festival here and here) with JT. This is not precisely his scene, but he knew it was important for me to go so we ended up going there on Sunday afternoon. It was a really nice experience overall because, even though our Sunday nights are usually very chill, we rarely get to attend this kind of festival (unless it’s summer).

We quickly discovered that the Maps app for iPhone is static and not dynamic, as we were so enthralled in our conversation that he forgot to turn as indicated by the app, so I had to basically navigate the rest of the way until we hit Holland Park (also aided by my own personal navigator, Rebecca, who knows the city well).

We spent a few hours at the Festival, until we got a chance to hear Jully Black. I didn’t recall that I had ever heard her sing until I listened to a couple of tracks on her website. But the one that she performed live and that I absolutely loved was “DJ Play My Song”, and the video for that song is presented here.

As JT was very tired from the city drive, I drove back (which is not unusual for me, since I am used to drive everyone everywhere, although I do not own a car in Vancouver, I am usually the designated driver, particularly because of my hummingbird-like personality, I tend to have a lot of energy and be very focused when I drive). It was a very pleasant drive back, as the traffic through Surrey, New Westminster, Burnaby and Vancouver wasn’t really all that crammed.

I took the King George Highway, crossed the Patullo bridge and then took Royal (crossing all New Westminster) until I hit South Burnaby, and then just took Marine Drive until I hit Main. Very pleasant also because JT got a chance to look at the new housing developments, and stuff like that while I was the one driving this time. I don’t think I tell him enough how much I appreciate that he drives, and he doesn’t get to enjoy the views I do. But I guess in the next few months I’ll be doing more of the driving.

UPDATE – The original video is no longer available. Grrr. Have checked other source. The one that I re-inserted seems to work.

And now for a cheesy tune: All Dressed Up in Love (Jennifer Hudson) June 23, 2008

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I rarely visit the iTunes store, for many reasons. One, I’m definitely not a Mac geek. I’m still PC-based. Two, I usually buy rare deep house music which is often not available on iTunes. And third, simply because I forget πŸ™‚ But today I was browsing for a song from the Sex and the City soundtrack, and I found that you can only buy the WHOLE ALBUM. Um, sorry, thanks but NO THANKS. There are reasons why I buy only certain songs!

And I know that I’m going to be called cheesy or mushy, but heck, I love this particular tune: “All Dressed Up in Love” by Jennifer Hudson. That’s the music with which the movie ends, and it is particularly cheerful. Somebody took the time to create a mashup of scenes of the movie trailer and the song, and I really enjoyed it. Hope you do too!

For Derek and Airdrie June 18, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, friends, music.
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In a recent post, Airdrie asked for some summer tunage. I like Derek and Airdrie a lot, have had the chance to spend some time with them, and I think (I hope!) this tape reflects some of the love that these two lovely geeks have for each other. I am not 100% sure I hit all the marks with the music, but I love these songs, some of them are cheesy, some are hard rock, some are soft rock and a few pop, Top 40 kind-of songs. But the tape in and of itself is created with a lot of care for these two, you lovebirds you! πŸ™‚

Airdrie – I hope you like the summer-y tunes… There’s some The Corrs, and some Madonna … πŸ˜€

Derek – There’s some Van Halen, some Lonnie Gordon, a bit of Phil Collins here and there… πŸ˜€

Everyone – of course, your opinions are, as always, appreciated. But mostly, I made this mixtape thinking of Derek and Airdrie. If you guys like it, all the better, but it’s dedicated to them anyways πŸ˜‰
[mixwit_mixtape wid=”92603cf52af41e6c577064898d5e9f47″ pid=”3680f3e4e2a3f34dd818c13af4490318″ un=”hummingbird604″ width=”426″ height=”327″ center=”true”]

RockBand-ing with friends May 18, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, friends, music, Vancouver, Yaletown.
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I am not usually a computer game guy, mostly because I really wasn’t crazy about PacMan growing up. Up until when JT got his Wii and I played Wii Tennis with him, I really didn’t care much for videogames or computer games. However, along came Tanya and Rock Band, and my view towards videogames changed completely. There are two intrinsic elements here that make playing Rock Band with Tanya and her friends so awesome. First, Tanya herself is an outstanding host, and a great friend. We have awesome conversations every time I come by and visit, and she makes sure everyone is having a great time. The second, all of Tanya’s friends are awesome, which makes it very easy for everyone to enjoy hanging out.

Anyhow, last Friday, after having been taken out to dinner and dessert by C, B and L (which I’ll summarize later in my blog), I asked Tanya if I could come by as she had a gathering with friends for martinis and playing Rock Band. I am horribly computer-game-challenged, but I try hard. The great advantage with Rock Band is that even though I’m not a great singer, the different songs that I have been singing along every time I’ve played RB at Tanya’s have given me a sense of confidence that I can do a fairly decent job if I’m on vocals (I am horribly bad at bass or guitar, and don’t even get me started on the drums).

Anyway, in honor of a great evening on Friday playing Rock Band with Vern, Tanya, LB, Jeremy and other friends of Tanya’s, here is the video of what I think is my best song (when I’m on vocals) while playing Rock Band: Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones. The video shown is the Rock Band version on Expert. Of course, I never do vocals on Expert!

The second video is not a song that I’ve played along on Rock Band but if I had it my way, it would be the song that I would sing along to: You Look so Fine by Garbage. Warning: The video may not be Safe For The Office (SFO).

I’ve sang along to “I Think I’m Paranoid” on RB and yes, I can hold my own with this song, but really not my song. But this one… oh yeah, for sure. Although it’s not really rock-band-ish. Now, the question is on to you… if you had to play Rock Band, what song would YOU sing?

IMPORTANT EDIT – How could I forget that I *did* sing Creep by Radiohead and did not sound 100% horribly? Not sure but here is the song (not my rendition though!)

Teaser – High School Musical review May 13, 2008

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I was treated to an extraordinary performance of High School Musical (Broadway Across Canada). However, I’ve already written four posts that are queued and I just don’t have the time to post a full review. However, I hope you enjoy the song I loved the most.

First, the video that has the cast of the movie (Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and two others I can’t recall their names). This video doesn’t have the highest sound quality though they sing in the studio, so it kinda looks cute.

Secondly, the video I found has the best audio. So if you want, you can listen to this one instead:

I know, these songs and HSM are totally teen-oriented, but what can I say? I have two adorable teen nieces and both of them like HSM … so there πŸ˜‰

Live show review: People in Planes at The Biltmore May 9, 2008

Posted by Raul in local events, Mount Pleasant, music, Vancouver.
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Despite being absolutely swamped with work, I had already scored tickets for a live show of People in Planes at The Biltmore, so I felt absolutely compelled to attend, even if only for a couple of hours, for various reasons. First, I love People in Planes‘ music. This 5-men Cardiff-originated ensemble is incredibly talented. Second, I live ridiculously close to the Biltmore. It took me all of three minutes to get there and three more to get back home. And last but not least, I scored free tickets thanks to Beyond Robson. How often do you get free tickets to hear one of your favorite bands? Almost never, right? Well, there you go. So I had to extract myself from doing my work to spend a couple hours enjoying the band (also, my brain was not functioning at the time, so everything aligned itself).

The band’s front man sometimes reminds me of R.E.M.’s vocalist, but I was absolutely delighted to find that they sound pretty much exactly like they do on their website and albums. I have seen Maroon 5 live and have noticed that Adam Levine needs to lower his pitch when he sings live as he can’t reach such high notes as he usually does on his studio-recorded songs. However, this was not the case with People in Planes. They performed a large number of their upcoming album’s tracks, including my absolute favorite: Mayday (M’aidez)

There were a number of things that were slightly disappointing (none of them related to People in Planes nor the Biltmore nor Beyond Robson). First, there was a slight confusion at the door so it took them a while to find out whether I was on the guest list or not. But that was quickly resolved. Second, and this part really annoyed me: NOBODY seemed to really have the energy to dance to People in Planes’ tunes. They opened with Mayday (something I probably wouldn’t have done, I probably would have started with Last Man Standing to build the energy in the crowd. However, I was super excited to hear Mayday live, so I didn’t care much. It was surprising to find that I was pretty much the only one singing along. But then a few other folks started singing along the rest of their songs, so maybe they just needed to find the right one for them.

I am sorely disappointed in the music-attending crowd, because in every concert (at least indie band concert) I’ve been to, I don’t find that folks jump, scream, sing and yell along with the band. It was a very tame crowd for my liking. Plus, I didn’t have a +1. Normally, my good friend HZ would join me for these events but I neither told him on time nor did I have the heart to ask him to join me considering that he’s been away from his girlfriend for a few months, and they really need time together. I’m sure that when he reads this he’s going to scold me for not asking anyway, but truth be told, I am self-conscious when it comes to asking people to join me in adventures particularly when they’re partnered. I don’t like feeling like I’m the one who is taking them away from their partners (for however short time it is!). As my good friend HZ would say, I’m usually socially guilt-ridden, hehehe.

Overall, a great event. I would have really liked People in Planes to come after say, May 20th when my life will be slightly normal-ish. But to be fair, just being able to see the band live, and to hear Mayday (M’aidez) live was a highlight.

UPDATE – According to Wikipedia, “The first single from Beyond The Horizon, “Mayday (M’aidez)” will be available only on iTunes on May 6th, along with “Last Man Standing” and the “Pretty Buildings” video.” … but last night it was unavailable on iTunes, so maybe wait a few days.

Vancouver podcasters – An analysis and some link love on a Tuesday April 15, 2008

Posted by Raul in music, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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I am (as many of you may know or may not know) a non-native English speaker. However, I speak six other languages in addition to my native tongue, so if you’ve heard me speak, you probably know that it is *really* hard to tell my accent. I speak good enough (this is commonly designated near-native fluency) to not only make myself understood, but to have been able to create deep friendships and share meanings and communicate my thoughts with fairly good precision.

Anyhow, the reason why I bring up the accent is that I have been incredibly tempted to podcast at some point, but I’m somewhat worried about my pronunciation. I am very fond of several local podcasts, which I will describe below very briefly, because instead I want YOU to go and check them out.

Several elements really attract me to podcasts.

1. The first element, the podcasters’ pronunciation. I have a huge admiration for podcasters who speak slowly and clearly.

2. The second element is the podcasters’ choice of background or associated music. If the music is not exciting, it is unlikely I will be excited about the podcast.

3. The third element is the choice of technology. As a non-geek (though this excuse is becoming a little bit overused, because I have indeed absorbed some geeky knowledge), I appreciate it when podcasters choose to embed the podcast and/or give choices as to the way in which I can listen to their product.

4. The fourth element is what I call the podcast design (maybe it’s not called that way but hey, this is my blog and my own analysis, so…there). Does it give me enough background? Do the podcasters introduce themselves? Why should I be listening to *this* particular podcast instead of another?

5. And the fifth element that attracts me to a podcast is the blog/webpage content. Yeah, I know you are surprised. Why would I care about the blog content, if what I am looking for is the podcast itself? Well, in an era of multi-taskers and adult ADD (attention-deficit disorder), do you *really* think I’m only listening to the podcast? No, I am also scanning your website or blog and trying to see the content. That doesn’t mean that I am *not* paying attention to the podcast, it only means that I am now associating the content you give me in print to that you are giving me now on audio.

Ok, and now on to some Vancouver podcasts that I think you should check out.

Lip Gloss and Laptops: I am a male, admittedly, but I do have a mother and I am very close to her. Since I was a child, I helped her choose her lipsticks. Because of her heritage, her skin tone is particularly difficult to associate with some lipstick colors. However, she always does find the right match and she looks beautiful. I grew up, did some catwalk and portrait/profile modeling and learned a bit more about colors, and skin tones, and aesthetics, knowledge that you can now find distilled and concentrated on Lip Gloss and Laptops. This podcast, helmed by Airdrie and Kerry-Anne is very fun and covers the cosmetics industry. You can check it LipGlossAndLaptops right here.

RadioZoom: My blog, by it’s very nature, is very random. One day you hear about how my weekend was, and the next you read me talking about the problems in the Ddowntown East Side, or pondering about love. Not surprisingly, these are some of the reasons why I love Radio Zoom podcasts. These podcasts give me a window into what used to be the life of John Bollwitt (before he moved to Canada to be with Rebecca), and what it is right now. John and Rebecca’s lives are always intermingled with music and radio, so RadioZoom gives your ears a peek into these. You can check RadioZoom right here.

PenMachine Podcast: I have lost one of my grandmothers and one of my dearest aunts to cancer. Thus, I have an inherent admiration and respect for those who are currently battling this deadly disease. Derek K. Miller is one of those brave people, a professional musician, a great podcaster and a role-model in many ways. I have yet to meet Derek in person, but just reading his blog and listening to his music makes me admire him even more. You can check Derek’s PenMachine Podcast right here.

Feel free to recommend other local podcasts (you can email me at hummingbird604[a]gmail.comsubstitute [a] for @, or follow me on Twitter as @hummingbird604).

Music that defines me: I Love You by Unity (Manoo and Francois Remix) April 8, 2008

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Anyone who knows me well (or who reads my blog) knows that I define myself in many ways. Being a competent salsa and tango dancer is one of them, my absolute dislike for cheese is another, and my love for deep house is yet another. This particular song (I Love You by Unity, remix by Manoo and Francois), I believe totally encapsulates many aspects of my personality. Don’t focus on the lyrics, just listen to the song. And if you feel inclined to do so, (particularly those of you who actually know me in real life), drop a comment and indicate what you think of this song. Does it actually sound like me?

For the song, click here.

I am hoping that the code I found to embed the song will appear on my blog (fingers crossed). If it doesn’t, I’ll come back and add a link. UPDATE – It did upload the widget, but it didn’t show the actual player, so it’s kind of useless. I was hoping I was going to be able to show the online player so that all you needed to do was click the “Play” button, but that didn’t happen. However, I have linked to the song, so I’m hoping you’ll be curious to check it out.

Music review – Fever by Kylie Minogue April 3, 2008

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I admire Kylie Minogue for many reasons, not the least of them the fact that she battled and survived breast cancer. I lost my Grandma and my Aunt to, respectively, liver and lung cancer, and currently my Mom’s only surviving sister is battling the disease (she seems to be doing well, though – something I’m very happy about). Thus, anyone who knows me will realize how much respect I have for people who are currently fighting cancer. Minogue did it and emerged victorious and still is a great singer. I know she is heavily criticized but I really don’t care. Her music is fun, and very good for dancing (and since I’m a dancer, well… enough said).

This is perhaps my favorite song of hers, Fever. I found other videos that were not SFO (Safe For the Office) but this one seems to be pretty ok. Disclaimer – she wears light clothing (shorts and a top), so don’t say I didn’t warn you. Video from YouTube, apparently it’s from her live performance in Manchester.

Music review – Give Me a Reason by The Corrs March 8, 2008

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Irish group “The Corrs” captivated my attention in 1996, when I was about to move to Canada. Considered an “Irish rock folk” group by Wikipedia, I don’t really care much about how they are categorized as much as the kind of music they make. This song, “Give Me a Reason” brings lots of sweet and positive memories (like one of the first times I received a kiss under a full moon). I can tell you that story another time πŸ˜€ For now, just enjoy the song πŸ˜‰

Video from YouTube

UPDATE – Props and thanks to Rebecca for teaching me how to do the video!

Music review – Trouble by Pink February 28, 2008

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Sometimes I feel guilty about writing ‘Music Reviews’ as I rarely have ‘new’ songs on this blog, but mostly these are songs whose rhythm and/or lyrics and/or vocals I enjoy (or hate, like in the case of a remake of ‘You Really Got Me Now”). This song, Trouble (by Pink) is particularly enjoyable.

While the video is themed as a ‘Western’ movie, the song itself is kind of rock-ish. But the video is hilarious. Pink basically starts a brawl (something I’ve always dreamed of doing — yes I know, it does sound crazy). But mostly, this song is the first one that comes to my mind whenever any of my closest friends smirks and tells me “oh, Raul… you *are* trouble” … and yeah, I got to admit, sometimes I can be a little bit of trouble πŸ™‚

Video from YouTube.

Music review – Somebody Help Me by Full Blown Rose February 26, 2008

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This is one of my favorite songs, and used to be the theme for a TV show with Eliza Dushku, “Tru Calling” – which by the way was filmed in Vancouver). I am sure that if you hear this song, you’ll love it too.

It has rock sounds, nice vocals, and lyrics that make me cringe because I don’t really think I need help right now (well, unless you wanted to give me the job opportunity of my life, but that’s not the point right now). Apparently, Full Blown Rose is now defunct. Seems like people didn’t heed the call for help on time (sorry, had to make this joke!)

Video from YouTube.

Band review – Delhi2Dublin February 22, 2008

Posted by Raul in music, Vancouver.
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D2D in full force
Originally uploaded by Raul P-V (Rolex)

Great friends usually means great perks. And having a close friend who is a die-hard fan of talented local bands usually means getting dragged along (very willingly I might add) to impromptu gigs. So HZ brought JH and myself along with him to see a live, in-studio performance of Delhi2Dublin. His review of the evening is here.

I don’t think I can add much more to his review. You have to listen to D2D to really understand the uniqueness of their music. They simply rock (and no, they don’t actually do rock – it’s a fusion of Irish, Indian with some overtones of African I’d say).

It had been a long time since I saw a live performance (admittedly I am a fan of the Backstage Lounge, which is one of the venues where you’d see local bands perform). But, back to the D2D review. I was absolutely transported, and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. One of the things that I would have personally enjoyed would have been to hang out with them after the performance (maybe have a drink or something). I’ve done that with other bands and the insight you get into their music and style is much better.

In this case, we ended up doing dinner (where our good friend BS joined us) and then a drink at 1181. More in-depth review forthcoming. But here is a picture of the performance last night. I am SO sorry that it’s such poor quality, but I don’t have the equipment. JH and HZ, on the other hand, are much better photographers and own better tools for their hobby. So, I am sure that at next D2D’s gig you’ll get better pictures. For now, you’ll have to do with mine.

Music review – Give It to Me Baby by James Rick February 19, 2008

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If you grew up in the era of funk, you’ll immediately recognize this song, which remains one of my all-time favorites! Since I’m planning to get my close friends to go out and do karaoke in the not-too-distant future, I am browsing through my old archives of awesome music, to decide which tunes I think I can sing and which ones I want to see them sing. This is definitely one of them.

Music review – Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone February 19, 2008

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I’ve reached the 600 posts mark way faster than I thought! If you think about the fact that I am not a geek, don’t do this for a living, and I reached 500 posts in December (and it’s only February now), this is an important milestone for me.

So I thought I’d celebrate it with some music. The song featured here is “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone. Admittedly, this tune has been listened to much more in Anglo-Saxon North America than it has elsewhere (for obvious cultural reasons).

I just heard it for the first time in the first 3 minutes of the movie “Definitely, Maybe” which I just reviewed. Again, I insist… The song sounds so much better in a movie theater with surround stereo sound. Great choice of song to begin the movie (you have to see it to understand what I meant).

Video from YouTube. This is not the actual video of the song, but I couldn’t find a rendition that sounded similar to the one I heard during the movie.

Music review – D.A.N.C.E. (Version Finale) by Justice February 6, 2008

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While I’m ultra-busy with my own work, I have managed to still maintain some degree of social life. The weekend recap is coming up, but in the mean time, you can hear the song that is played in the trailer for the movie “27 Dresses” (which I recently reviewed). It’s called D.A.N.C.E. and apparently it includes a homage to the work of Michael Jackson. And I just realized that it’s nominated as one of the Best Dance songs at the Grammys. I love the music that Justice creates!