Sunday, December 7, 2008

Magazine round-up: the Weakerthans and Leonard Cohen

Some cool Winnipeg-related news in this month's magazines:

1. The new Blender with its new and not-improved minuscule size and typeface features the 33 best CDs of the year, the 144 best songs, and "the 1001 greatest songs to download right now."

Hidden away in the 1001 list, under "awesome songs by Canadians" is the Weakerthans, for "One Great City!" Sez Blender, "Winnipeg punk rockers turn a tourism slogan into a sad, beautiful acoustic gripe about the wave of gentrification sweeping their frost-bitten prairie bug."

And in last month's Q Magazine, the Weakerthans were on Billy Bragg's current playlist; he may have picked up their album right here in Winnipeg when he came through town last year.

Blender gets bonus marks for sandwiching the Weakerthans between Arcade Fire's "Rebellion (Lies)" and the Hidden Cameras' "Awoo." Blender loses bonus marks for saying that Lil Wayne has the best album and single of the year. Wah, wah, wah.

I'll always love the Weakerthans, not just for their music, but for their guitarist Stephen Carroll's generosity last year, when he came in to Red River College to talk to Creative Communications students about the band, then read through their publicity plans for the band's then-new CD "Reunion Tour." Great guy. Great band.

2. Leonard Cohen shows up on the cover of this month's Uncut Magazine. It's a great interview with him, his partner, band, and collaborators. Among the insights: Leonard eats healthy food, except when he sneaks away for an occasional Filet-O-Fish at McDonald's. Can you imagine the voice that sang "Suzanne" coming through the drive-thru speaker? "McFish, please." Awesome.

Most exciting is that at the end of the article, Cohen says he will end his current world tour with a swing through Western Canada. I saw his two shows in Winnipeg in 1993, and the first of the two was probably one of the best concerts I've ever seen. The show was hypnotic, at times hilarious, and he even sang "Hallelujah" (just rounding out that last "h").

Due to my cousin's inadvertent generosity (he was then president of Sony Canada), I had 14 free tickets to the second show, and I treated everyone I knew (and some who I didn't know) to a free Leonard Cohen show. It was only later that I found out that those tickets had been left for me accidentally, and no one from Sony could get into the show on the night of the concert. Sucks to be them! Har, har...

Let's just hope that karma doesn't boot me in the arse this time...

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