Posts Tagged ‘Emily Haines’

We often hear about celebrities being triple threats. Usually that entails having a music, acting and some sort of entrepreneurial career, ie perfume line, clothing line, etc. Sure these celebrities are somewhat successful in all their paths, but for the most part: actors can’t make music, musicians can’t act and neither are actually all that involved with their businesses (except to use their face to sell them.) So I’d like to turn your attention to those celebrities that truly are dangerous: musicians who lend their talent to several bands, all of which get them recognition.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Dave Grohl. He first appeared as the mad-tastic drummer for Nirvana. A 90s grunge band that defined a generation. After lead singer Kurt Cobain’s suicide, Grohl wasn’t ready to leave music just yet so he decided to make his own band: Foo Fighters. But this time, he was on guitar and song writing. In their illustrious 19-year career, they have won a whopping 11 Grammys, and have released seven studio albums.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            During his stint with Foo Fighters, Grohl took a mini-break and joined Queens of the Stone Age (QotSA) in 2002 as their drummer. He recorded their third and most successful album, Songs for the Deaf, and toured with them in support of it. In 2009, Grohl took another vacation from the Foos and joined QotSA frontman Josh Homme and ex-Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones to form Them Crooked Vultures, with Grohl back on drums. They’ve released one album to date and are currently working on their next one. So that’s four bands, playing two different instruments and even songwriting. He may not have a shoe named after him, but that’s one talented dude.

Emily Haines. Haines hails from Toronto and is best known as lead singer, guitar player and keyboardist for the uber popular indie band Metric who put out their first album in 2003. And she plays a mean tambourine. Prior to forming Metric, Haines was part of the Toronto music collaborative Broken Social Scene: a concept formed by two indie musicians who bring together the best of indie music in Toronto. The band has had as little as three members to as many as eleven. The musicians are typically part of other bands, and just lend their vocal or other music talents when they can.

After releasing two albums with Metric, Haines formed Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton, a much more mellow version compared to Metric, and where she more often uses her piano skills. She released one album in 2006 which included the single “Our Hell” which is sure to give you goosebumps. In 2007, Haines got back in the studio with Metric and between then and 2012, have released three more albums, including 2009’s Fantasies, easily one of the best albums released that year. One band, a solo project, and guest starring vocals in an extensive indie music project, mostly consisting of Canadian artists. Plus the ability to play multiple instruments. Can she be any cooler?

Chris Cornell. First known as lead singer/guitarist for prominent grunge band Soundgarden. They’ve been around since the late 80s and have released six albums and won two Grammys. While Soundgarden was rising to fame in 1990, Cornell combined forces with most of the members of yet-to-be-famous Pearl Jam, to form Temple of the Dog, as a tribute to his roommate Andrew Wood, who had passed away earlier that year. They released only one self-titled album which spawned the classic track “Hunger Strike.”

In 1997, Soundgarden hit a rough patch and they broke up, so Cornell went solo. His 1999 debut release wasn’t incredibly well received, but the single “Can’t Change Me” was nominated for a Grammy. Next, he joined Rage Against the Machine’s band (minus lead singer Zack de la Rocha) and formed Audioslave. Another hard rock band who put out three albums and were nominated for three Grammys. Due to creative differences, they disbanded in 2007, and Cornell went back to his solo career, made two more albums, the more recent Scream produced by Timbaland. Again, not critically acclaimed but it was Cornell’s highest charting solo album.

Finally, in 2010, Soundgarden reunited, put out an album and are touring. Cornell writes all his lyrics, his vocal range is out of control and he has also lent his voice to several soundtracks, including my personal favourite “Sunshowers” from Great Expectations. So three bands, a solo career, writing credits and having his music in movies. Bonus: if you ever see him live, it’s like seeing four bands at once.

Anyone who wants to become a celebrity will find some way to do it. With all the mediocrity we see out there, all the reality-show-fabricated talent, all the YouTube sensations, it becomes increasingly difficult to recognize true celebrity: being famous/recognized for being amazing at what you do best. Not being average at several avenues leading to celebrity. These three musicians are a breath of fresh air, a sight for sore eyes because they are so talented and live for music so much so that they will find any way to be able to create it. And for us who long for what’s real, without all the glitz and glam, it’s a reminder that it still exists. And that’s a beautiful thing.

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Day 3 was a bit of a struggle because my body started getting angry with me. My back had had enough and I was forced to start popping Advil to get by. I also had to succumb to buying more supportive shoes – apparently flip flops aren’t the sturdiest – so that I could survive the day. Which I did. Barely.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It was raining on and off all day, the grounds were disastrously muddy, skies were dark, but it was still humid as ever outside. The first act I stumbled upon was Woodkid. Sadly I only caught the tail end of their incredible set. Hailing from France, Woodkid, aka Yoann Lemnoine, sings in English accompanied by indie rock music with obvious tribal influences in it. The rain had stopped for a while and during one of their songs while the drums were coming to life, fans were jumping around to the music and all of a sudden it started to pour – almost like the crowd was doing some sort of rain dance that induced the waterfall. It was a glorious scene to witness. I became a fan on the spot.

Next up was Bloc Party, who I was looking forward to seeing since Day 1. I was surrounded by a bunch of giant guys which didn’t really concern me until they started playing. All the giants then decided it would a good idea to start moshing – ie body checking in dance form – and crowd surfing. Again, not the biggest deal in the world, actually seemed kind of fun. Except when you’re my size, it’s quite possibly the scariest thing ever. My claustrophobia kicked in and in a true fight or flight response, I fled. Saved myself from what could have been a traumatic episode, with only a bloody broken toe nail. Gross, I know. I watched the rest of their performance from further back, but was surprisingly underwhelmed by it. They did a good job, I just prefer listening to them with my noise canceling headphones so I can fully absorb their music.

Next, I caught Toronto’s own Metric. I adore watching lead singer Emily Haines perform because she is as elegant as she is edgy. Perfect blend of loud and soft, fun and serious, poetic and to the point. I then trekked over to see France’s electronic group M83, most commonly known for their track “Midnight City” which was on HBO’s How to Make it in America. The packed crowd and insane beats made everyone go wild. The lighting and effects on stage made the show come alive, so you could enjoy it even from any distance. Last but not least, the festival ended with headliners The Black Keys. The subway ride home was bittersweet because the music was finished, but my body could finally get some rest.

There are plenty of reasons to attend a music festival: travel, spend time outdoors, hang out with friends, grab a few beers, sport the latest fashion trends – for girls, high-waisted shorts, hippie braids and baggy tank tops. My reason was the music. For everyone who really understands that, I wish you were there with me.

For photos check out Me vs. the Music Blog Page
For video footage check out Osheaga 2012

Oh Canada. Having been born and raised in this fantastic country, I have been exposed to some great music. And no, I’m not referring to Shania Twain or Simple Plan. I’m talking about bands that are popular amongst us Canadians (exemplified by several Juno nods), but haven’t made it really big – yet. The following are amongst my favourite Canadians and if you haven’t had a chance to check them out, please do, you will not be disappointed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         First off is Metric. Fronted by Emily Haines, who not only sings, but also plays guitar and a mean synthesizer, they have taken music to a whole other level. Their earlier stuff, circa 2003-2006, was raw, loud and edgy (“Glass Ceiling”, off 2005’s Live It Out is fantastic). When they released their 2009 album Fantasies, that’s when all hell broke loose and people started paying attention: I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve listened to it. It’s a combination of beautiful lyrics sung by an even more beautiful voice (I swear, Haines actually sounds like an angel), along with an incredibly unique sound all wrapped up in one perfect package. This disc feels like a more mature version of the earlier albums, and has brought Metric right into the spotlight (their songs are now appearing on movie soundtracks and TV shows). Fantasies has produced so many singles, including “Sick Muse” with lines like “Watch out/Cupid stuck me with a sickness/Pull your little arrow out/And let me live my life”. I’ve had the distinct privilege of seeing them live and what blew me away the most was how ridiculously talented Emily Haines is live – she’s fun and made it all seem effortless (can she be any cooler??).

Next we have The Arcade Fire. Here’s a band based out of Montreal, lead by lead singers Win Butler and Regine Chassagne, who also happen to be married. Their first release was Funeral in 2004 and critics fell in love right away. Their sound is as original as you can get, using all kinds of instruments, including violin, cello, xylophone, accordion and harp. They’re like an entire marching band with each instrument contributing its own flavour and bringing an anthemic quality to their music. Regine has a pretty voice (though she’s no Emily Haines) and Win’s voice is hauntingly beautiful (best depicted on “Oceans of Noise” off of 2007’s Neon Bible). Every album they put it out is better than the previous, with their latest, Suburbs, being no exception. A 16-track production with its first single, “Ready to Start” sporting lines like “I would rather be wrong/Than live in the shadows of your song/My mind is open wide/And now I’m ready to start”, should be everyone’s break-up anthem. Their live show is also quite the production – with all the different instruments and musicians it creates an almost orchestra-like effect and immediately draws you in – you couldn’t avoid it even if you tried. Have a listen.

Last but not least, City and Colour. This band first caught my attention with their first album in 2005 entitled, Sometimes. A soulful venture into relationships and break-ups and all the confusion that accompanies them. Lead singer/songwriter Dallas Green has such a soft and honest voice full of passion that you can actually feel his emotions in everything he sings. The track “Comin’ Home” expresses Dallas’s feelings about a broken relationship: “I never thought you could leave me/I figured I was the one/But I understand your sadness/So I guess I should just hold my tongue“; and is one of my all-time favourites. Their second album released in 2008, Bring My Your Love, was a much happier album and when he puts his heart and soul into his lyrics and singing, you want to be the girl he’s singing to (in reality it’s his wife Leah Miller, ex-MuchMusic VJ, current hostess of So You Think You Can Dance Canada). Their live show is very simple, a guy, his acoustic guitar (and occasionally a harmonica) and his band. Now call me a sucker, but there’s something incredibly sexy about a guy pouring his heart out with an acoustic guitar. Gives me chills. If you ever have a chance to see them perform, you will understand.

Canadians tend not to brag about themselves like Americans do, we tend to bring a little humbleness to the table. I don’t know what it is, maybe some leftover pride from this year’s Olympics, but I feel like everyone needs to know about these bands (and so many more) that this country has to offer. After all, Canadian music rocks.