A Weekend Trip To Sweden

December 17, 2012 § 7 Comments

Sure, it sounds a little crazy to take a weekend trip to Sweden, especially the weekend before we fly to Canada for Christmas, which is followed immediately by a New Year’s Eve trip to Paris, but we did it anyway! Why? Because there’s only a few weeks left in The Year Of Yes and we’ve got to make it as incredible as possible.

Nick and I took the 6pm flight from Newark on Thursday, which landed us in Stockholm at 8am Friday, Sweden time. We took the very speedy and enjoyable Arlanda Express train from the airport to Stockholm City and enjoyed a 20 minute ride with views of snow and snow-covered trees.

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We immediately checked into our hotel which was walking distance from the train station, and after barely sleeping on the plane ride there, fell asleep for a couple hours. When we woke up around 2:00, we realized from the amazing view from our room that the sun had begun to set. Apparently the sun sets at about 2:45pm in the winter there! This was an interesting addition to our bodies’ confusion of what time it was.

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We decided to venture out and find some lunch/dinner/breakfast/whatever meal it was supposed to be at this point, and found this great area full of shops.

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Oh, Conor Oberst is big there too.

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Even though I felt like I should be eating meatballs and lingonberries, we ended up eating fajitas. 500 dollar fajitas! Just kidding, it was 500 kronor. $1 USD = roughly 7 kronor. Which means these fajitas were still pretty expensive.

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We left our meal and decided to explore the shops. Then it started snowing!

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Big, fluffy, pretty snowflakes.

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Found a mall with some great stores, including an awesome designy-type, full of fun trinkets.

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Including the “i-Woody” wooden iPhone for kids. Made by “Donkey”.

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Chocolate balls are huge there. Like giant donut holes, covered in crunchy, minty things. Yum!

I loved being able to shop at Vera Moda! As soon as I saw a giant photo of Alexa Chung outside the store, I knew it would be good.

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We relaxed in our hotel room that night – our very Swedish, subtly well-designed hotel room.

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And enjoyed being dressed in matching flannel.

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Saturday’s outfit. I was so glad I packed my Tretorn boots. We got up fairly early to say goodbye to Stockholm and take the train to Linkoping.

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The train stations and airports in Sweden are awesome. Very clean and modern, with great and subtle design. This room was designed to be an “oasis” to relax in while you were traveling. It played bird noises from speakers so it sounded like you were in a rainforest.

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Maybe we could go to Uppsala instead to visit Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist?

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Nope, we are going to Linkoping to see Nick’s band, Ghost!

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They were debuting their new stage show with the new (but equally terrifying) priest outfit.

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Hard to see, but the “white Papa” priest was saying goodbye to unveil the new “black Papa”. Their fans went bananas. It was interesting to experience a show in Sweden. Although a show full of metal heads, everyone was pretty respectful and well-behaved. Swedes are awesome. And also really good-looking.

Some backstage doodles in Ghost’s dressing room.

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After the show, we went to the after party, but only after hanging around the venue after the show had ended for way longer than expected. We both knew we weren’t getting a decent sleep since we had to leave our hotel at 5:30am to head back to Stockholm for the airport. We just went with it and ended up talking Batman with the singer of Watain while he tried (unsuccessfully) to get me drunk on gin.

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(Beer can-filled snowbank in front of the venue)

And just as quickly as we arrived in Sweden, we left it, landing back in New York around 1:00pm. Nick and I are both so grateful for the opportunity to visit, even in our overtired state. We would love to visit again someday!

The Best Records of 2012

December 6, 2012 § 2 Comments

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It’s my favourite time of the year for blogging you guys, it’s List-Making Time! We begin with one of my favourite things to compile on a yearly basis: My Favourite Records of the Year. These are in no particular order and I even break a rule with one, so enjoy and let me know if I missed anything you think I’d enjoy!

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Cat Power – Sun

What a gorgeous record. I absolutely could not stop listening to it for about a month after it was released. Every time I sat down at my computer, I’d try to listen to something new, but would eventually give in and put this on since it’s what I wanted to listen to anyway.

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Feist – Metals

Another beautiful record by a beautiful singer. My favourite Feist record to date. Just try not to sing along, girls.

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Japandroids – Celebration Rock

The catchiest record of the year? I think so. Two Canadian boys haven’t made this much noise since Death From Above 1979!

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Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

This record summed up in three words: perfect grungy sound.

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Future of the Left – The Plot Against Common Sense

If you miss Mclusky, you’ll be happy to know Future of the Left has made (in my opinion) their best – and longest – record yet.  One song entitled “Robocop 4 – Fuck off Robocop” was clearly written for me, mentioning both Voldemort and Billy Corgan.

I was so lucky to see this band live four times this year, especially because they’re from the other side of the Atlantic. I highly suggest you rock out to their heavy, quirky, and snarky songs now.

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Grimes – Visions

It surprised me how much I liked this record. That just goes to show you, don’t judge a record, or a musician for that matter, by its cover. The songs are actually delightfully mellow, perfect to listen to while you work on repeat.

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Metz – Metz

Who would have thought I’d be including my ex-boyfriend’s band in my Top 10 list? That’s how undeniably good this record is. Sub Pop has put all their efforts behind this release to spread the word of Metz to the world. It’s time you listened.

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Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania

This is the first Smashing Pumpkins record that’s made my top list since… Adore? I don’t know, but it’s definitely an improvement of all of the band’s (by which I mean, Billy’s) work. It’s been said the sound is in the same vein as the songs from the 90s, and that’s exactly what any SP fan wants. Keep putting yourself out there and getting your heart broken, Billy! As much as I love you, being happy does not make for good songwriting.

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Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness and Pisces Iscariot Reissues

Now that’s what I’m talking about. Look at all that loot!

The reissues for Mellon Collie and Pisces Iscariot were released this year and came with unreleased songs, DVDs of old concerts, postcards, giant lyric booklets, and full color books about the making of the records. My Mellon Collie deluxe set came in the mail last night and I couldn’t help but wish I could somehow send this box of delight back in time to my high school self – I would have slept with it under my pillow.

Definitely worth splurging on for any major SP fan.

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Tom Waits – Bad As Me

I know, I know, this was released in late 2011, but I feel like I didn’t get the time to spend with it to full enjoy it until 2012. If you like the weird, jangly Tom Waits accompanied by a quirky horn section, this is for you! Want a preview? Check out his awesome video for Hell Broke Luce.

Bricks and Mortar

November 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Cancer Bats‘ new video makes my heart happy. These hilarious headbangers proudly show off their favourite Toronto restaurants, venues, and shops like Town Moto, Lee’s Palace, The Horseshoe, Bikes On Wheels, Sneaky Dees, Honest Ed’s, Suspect Video, and Sonic Boom. Consider this your guide to Toronto, courtesy of Cancer Bats.

There couldn’t have been a more perfect video for a song called “Bricks and Mortar”!

Smashing Pumpkins Homecoming

October 22, 2012 § 3 Comments

If you know me at all, you know that Smashing Pumpkins have been my favourite band since I first saw them live in 1996; my first concert ever. Since then, I have seen them in many incarnations: Billy, James & D’arcy; Billy, James, Jimmy & Melissa; Billy solo; Jimmy’s jazz band; Zwan; Billy reading poetry in a church; and Billy with a band full of hired musicians who called themselves Smashing Pumpkins. This however, was the first time I was able to see them in Chicago, their music-rich hometown that I’ve always had a soft spot for.

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Nick’s band Anberlin was opening for them this leg of the tour, so we flew out on Friday afternoon for the show that night. Arriving on a windy and rainy day (miraculously) without any problems, we checked into our hotel and did a bit of work and ate some dinner before heading over to the Allstate Arena.

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Now, I’m a 31 year old former-music industry professional and have been around many rockstars in my time, including Billy Corgan, but I still get a little silly from time to time. If you’re also a fan, you’ll appreciate that my flight number was 3-33 and that there were porcelain pumpkins sitting on the counter at our hotel’s check in desk. IT WAS MEANT TO BE, YOU GUYS.

When we arrived, Anberlin’s lovely tour manager Andy had these waiting for us.

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Then I found out there would be a VIP pre-concert mini show in the room right across from Anberlin’s dressing room. YES! I was so happy they left the door open for the first song, so I could watch Billy’s entrance. Even after the door was closed, I listened to all of the short set, including a rendition of Plume from Pisces Iscariot. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that one live before!

Anberlin were great! I don’t think I’ve seen them in years and years. Nicest guys ever. They were the only opener since SP played for almost 3 hours.

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Their stage show included an enormous orb, used as a film screen but as a complete sphere.

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They played Oceania in its entirety.

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Then they rolled out the hits including XYU, Cherub Rock, Mayonnaise, Stand Inside Your Love, Bullet With Butterfly Wings, Tonight Tonight, a cover of Space Oddity, and more.

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The performance of Tonight Tonight was almost out shined by the projection of the video on the sphere. It was so cool to watch all warped!

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Friday night was one of those amazing moments in life where I had to sit back and remind myself just how great what I was experiencing was. One of those times where you feel like you must have done something right to be in the situation you’re in now. In short, thank you Nick and Anberlin for crossing another “must do” off my list of life goals – watching Smashing Pumpkins live in their hometown.

(P.S. Click on the photos to see them larger on Flickr – they look much better that way!)

Tomorrow Never Knows

October 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Listening to one of my favourite Beatles’ records, Revolver, this morning made me realize that whenever “Tomorrow Never Knows” comes on, I think of that great scene in last season’s Mad Men. It was used so perfectly, it was worth the $250,000 it cost to license it for the show. Then I found this fantastic round up of season five.

Warning: serious spoiler alert!

Mad Men season 5 is released on DVD two weeks from today. I can’t wait to rewatch it!

Governor’s Ball

June 25, 2012 § 1 Comment

This weekend’s weather was perfect! I was lucky enough to spend Saturday at the beach in Long Island and Sunday at the Governor’s Ball music festival.

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The festival was held on Randall’s Island, a skinny piece of land between Queens and Manhattan, very full of grass and trees and everything nice. I felt almost like I could have been at a Toronto Island summer concert.

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I arrived at 2:00, just in time to see Phantogram. I came alone, but found some old TAG coworkers pretty quickly.

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I also found my former Deja Vu Discs coworker/old friend Travis and his girlfriend Lisa there! I was just in time to join them for a game of beer pong.

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What’s better than sitting on a grassy hill, drinking beer with Canadians?

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Some other favourites from the day included Built To Spill

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…and of course Modest Mouse!

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Summer has officially started! Here’s looking forward to the next ten weekends.

Travis and I

Strangers

June 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

I am on a bit of a Wes Anderson kick (when am I not?) and finally gave The Darjeeling Limited a second chance this weekend. Of course, I loved the movie and especially its soundtrack. This Kinks song stood out to me in particular. A perfect tune to accompany Anderson’s directing opinion that everything is better in slow motion.

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