Thursday, October 28, 2004
Johnny K is 'lectrafyin' . . . sorta (thanks to Wonkette for the pic).
And Dubbyah is, well, Dubbyah is the President of the United States.
Listen to Billy Bragg sing Help Save the Youth of America. (Go! Buy The Rekkid!)
I received a great e-mail this morning from Craig. He's set up a little gig he's calling "Music Bloggers for Democracy" encouraging everyone who writes an audioblog to remind their friends in the United States that Tuesday is a pretty important day for all of us.
Lots of people have heeded his request to post the exact same text, song and graphic. If you haven't already seen the results, you can find them here, or here.
Now, if anyone changes their mind about voting in the presidential election because some dude who claims to look like Bill the Cat told them to, they're in bad shape. So, seeing that I'm not 'merican, I thought I'd take a different curve on things and try to give the perspective of someone watching everything roll out from a distance. Someone whose more than a little scared that low voter turnout is going to result in a disputed result and a beat-down to the entire global economy.
Someone who cares, dammit! I mean, really.The references Billy Bragg makes might be a little dated (I remember Chernobyl, though for some it's likely an event that's lost some of its metaphoric punch) but the sentiment the tune packs in is a very powerful one.
The sentiment is, if I can take a moment to paraphrase Billy:
"Hello, Mr. and Ms. USA. You have a privilege on Tuesday that many people around the world -even people in other democracies- wish they had. You may not care about what happens in your White House, but the results of that election are kinda going to drag us along for the ride. . . so if you won't vote for your country, or for your future, vote for the impact that the one man who gets to sit in that chair is going to have on the rest of the planet."
The USA, and indeed the world, is run by those who show up.
Buy Billy Bragg's Talking With the Taxman About Poetry
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
No tunes to blog today (too busy keeping up with excellent links forwarded by my good buddy Kenny Shinkle).
First, Eminem goes Phil Ochs with the video for Mosh. (the best part is that the song is much better than the tune in the Michael Jackson video he took all the crap for).
Second, Gary Benchley, the lead singer of the soon to be less completely unknown band Schizopolis has been writing a running column at the Daily News. Watch as Gary trades oral sex for rent (but not as you'd first guess), swoon at the tasteless Michael Jackson jokes, learn the ins and outs of modern brand consultancy.
Oh, and he hates blogs, which is good.
John Peel, one of the coolest guys in Britain, has died at the age of 65.
Friday, October 22, 2004
The Dragons: R.I.P.
"(If you) got a drink in your hand, then you're a Dragon tonite. Let's get LOADED!"
Listen to Needs (Live) (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
The Dragons, unfortunately, are no more. Though I’m having trouble nailing down the specifics, it seems this San Diego four-piece fronted by Alejandro Escovedo’s younger brother Mario has called it quits. Though their last couple of albums (2003’s Sin Salvation on Gearhead and 2000’s Rock n’ Roll Kamikaze on now RIP’d Junk Records) suffered from weak production, Live at the Casbah (released on Junk in 2000) was a thing of beauty: loud, stumbling, booze-fueled and young at heart. Think Chuck Berry licks, Johnny Thunders energy, good-time-all-the-time lyric approach and Stinson/Westerberg (if not Keith Richards) sized chemical issues.
Buy Live at the Casbah
Visit The Dragons
(It seems Gearhead has re-masted and reissued Rock n’ Roll Kamikaze. You can find it here)
Thursday, October 21, 2004
"It was supposed to say Spinal Tap first... "
Sure, the folks at Metropolis misspelled Nuardwar's band's name, but at least they got a bigger dressing room than the puppets.
Bad Wizard: Free and Easy (Hey! Buy the Rekkid!)
Bad Wizard's Curtis Brown wants to kick your ass!
Sensitive indie rockers beware, you are now officially leaving the land of flouncy haircuts and ironic hat choices. You are entering the land of balls out rock, a land where sweaty dudes with 10 o'clock shadow scream about beer, broads, broken hearts and jail time. You've entered the Bad Wizard zone.
Managed to get some stuff I'd left in Montreal a few weeks back and thought I'd take the opportunity to hit you with some of it.
I received a couple of enquiries from folks who asked if I actually LIKED the Bad Wizard show I saw a few weeks back. I guess suggesting that the music knocked me senseless could - admittedly - have been interpreted more than one way.
So, ok, listen to this track turned up really, REALLY loud and ask yourself, if you like rock n' roll, how could you NOT have had a good time?
Free and Easy is the title track from BW's first release on Tee Pee Records. Buy it here.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Simp's suggestion of the - as yet unreleased - new Fiftymen track made me realize I have yet to post anything from Fat City's finest country rockers.
It's too late in the evening to go into great detail (and besides, the Sox are about to tie up the series) but let me leave it at this: If you think Johnny Cash covering Soundgarden or Nine Inch Nails sounds good . . . then think of a Replacements cover band playin' Johnny Cash. It might just be what the doctor ordered. (Plus anyone who refers to Steve MacQueen in a rock tune is good enough for me).
Buy After Darkfall by contacting the band
Sick Week Will Not End!
Ethel's giving the air quotes because today's post only "sorta" belongs on an audio blog
Just to make sure not ALL of my sick week (month?) correspondents are my virtual friends I asked my good man - and real world pal - Simp to get in on the sick week act. He came through in spades (mostly, I'd bet, because he's been feeling under the weather a bit lately as well.) I think there's something for nearly everyone in this list, no posted tracks though (sorry, I don't have any Ethel Merman in my record collection!).
Simp's Songs of Sickness
Entirely unnecessary explanatory note: I’ve generally stayed away from songs about addiction, which are plentiful in rock n roll, though I’m abitrarily made an exception for Steve Earle and John Prine, because I’ve decreed that their songs are as much about being sick as they are about resorting to drugs as a cure. And I’ve included songs about mental illness.
Mark of Vaccination - Slim Cessna’s Auto Club (They’re not going to get sick, because they’ve been vaccinated.)
The Right Profile - The Clash (Chronicles Montgomery Clift’s descent into sickness.)
Why Does It Hurt When I Pee - Frank Zappa (“I don't want no doctor/To stick no needle in me...)
Sick of Being Tired - Fiftymen (Fat city band's new song. As yet unreleased)
Bodies - The Sex Pistols (“She was a case of insanity/ her name was Pauline she lived in a tree.”) Important note: Our eldest cat, Polly, is named for this song.)
Gone Again - Patti Smith (lament for hubbie Fred, who got sick and died.
Dogs - Pink Floyd (“And it's too late to lose the weight you used to need to throw around/ so have a good drown, as you go down, all alone/ dragged down by the stone.”)
Also too good to pass up:
CCKMP - Steve Earle
Sam Stone - John Prine
Making Plans for Nigel – XTC
I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramones
Jesus Gonna Be Here - Tom Waits
Locomotive Breath - Jethro Tull
Rock and Roll Suicide - David Bowie
The Ledge - The Replacements
Mother’s Little Helper - The Rolling Stones
Paranoid - Black Sabbath
It Is A Good Day to Die - Robbie Robertson
In My Time of Dying - Led Zeppelin
And, finally, one for hypochondriacs:
You're Just in Love - Ethel Merman ("You don't need analyzin'/It is not so surprisin'/ That you feel very strange but nice ... there is nothing you can take/ To relieve that pleasant ache/ you're not sick, you're just in love.")
Monday, October 18, 2004
Sick Week: Redux
The 27 Various: "I Feel Damaged"
In the spirit of the community potluck that is music bloggin' I've asked some of my pals new and old to add to the sick week theme.
The "best" thing I read was from Liza over at Copy, Right?
Ummmm, that is AWESOME! It also reminds me of this. Anyway, Liza's other suggestions included a tune for y'all to try:
Liza says: The 27 Various: "I Feel Damaged" - (an old Minneapolis band whose primary songwriter, Ed Ackerson, went on to form Antenna and Polara)
Fatcitizen says: Sounds VERY 80s Minneapolis (think Husker Du and Soul Asylum). And very good.
Liza also recommends:
Unrest: "So Sick" (from the album Pretty Teeth)
ABBA: "Get on the Carousel" (Liza says: "(It's) about getting sick from, you guessed it, riding on a carousel ... although perhaps it's metaphor for the bands tumultuos and incestuous relationships.")
The Verve: "The Drugs Don't Work"
Also, Sonic Youth covered Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick," and, on the Red, Hot & Country compilation, Syd Straw and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy do a version of Ernest Tubb's "The TB is Whipping Me."
Thanks Liza! Go visit Liza, she gives good cover.
Keith over at Teaching the Indie Kids to Dance Again and I had a running conversation that was somewhat interupted by all the goings on at the CMJ Music Marathon (you New Yorkers have it so good!) but he managed to make a couple of suggestions (including one from Minneapolis):
Tommy Gets his Tonsils out by the Replacements . . . and one more Ted Leo - Treble in Trouble - (is, as I recall, about AIDS).
Note to those of you who know me, I did not ask Keith to post those picks. He did so all by his lonesome!
Go visit Keith! There's indie gold in that thar site!
Finally, John over at the mighty hut has made some low-fi suggestions:
Hank Williams "Lovesick Blues"
Any of a zillion bluesmen: "St. James Hospital" (Fatcitizen sez: How about Iron Head Baker version on this Rounder Comp?)
What you might call a "wi-fi" suggestion:
Wesley Willis "The Spin Doctors"
An, of course, a Polish one:
Mu-siq's "Sick Porter"
If you haven't already visited John, you should. His blogroll alone will eat away several hours of hard-earned free time.
Well, what are you waiting for? Go play with the neighbours! G'wan, git!
I don't think The 27 Various have any records in print. They do have this very old skool web site.
As for covers of songs about being sick, one of the contestants on Norway Idol, Kjartan Salvesan, sang Matchbox 20's "Unwell."
Friday, October 15, 2004
The Weakerthans: (Hospital Vespers) (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
Sick Week: Volume 4 (The Final Chapter)
As I've said before, John K. Samson deserves to be added to the pantheon of song writing excellence. If one does not exist, it should be built. Canadian taxpayers should pay for it. We can carve it with tools fashioned from moth-balled submarines. I mean, if being in Austin Powers earns you a star on King Street then Hospital Vespers should earn John K. Samson a four-story bust on the side of a mountain.
One of the things that strikes me most about this track is Samson's amazingly light hand with the mix of faith, hopelessness and black humour that happens in hospitals. When the narrator describes the gifts that he's brought ("A toothbrush and a Quick Pick with The Plus") and his friend's reaction ("You tried not to roll your sunken eyes") I can almost smell the antiseptic and plastic mattresses in the room of a patient who may not come home.
"Vespers" is the second movement in the three-song cycle that marks the beginning, middle and end of The Weakerthan's 2003 wunderdisc Reconstruction Site.
Now I know that using the word "movement" to describe indie rock songs makes me a wanker (so, probably, does making up the word "wunderdisc"). Sorry. But the fact is these are tunes that share a melody and a narrative arc.
(Manifest), the opener, establishes the chord progression with horns and drives it along with marching-band-like snare rolls. It sounds like a parade. (Hospital Vespers) reprises the melody line through disorienting tape loops of a what sounds like a piano playing backward and (Past Due) closes the record with the spare, echoing vibes; the soundtrack to a newspaper obit.
Buy Reconstruction Site (Seriously! Go buy this record! It will make your life better!)
Visit the Weakerthans on the web.
Just found this AMAZING John Samson solo session on CBC radio 3. It was recorded before Reconstruction Site dropped. Interesting demo versions of three of the RS tracks.
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Sick Week: Volume 2 and 3
Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers
Have you recently looked at a photograph of Dee Snider circa 1985? Go ahead, take a look, I'll wait.
Had enough? How about this one? (ok, just kidding)
Do you see how MUCH lipstick the guy was wearing? I mean, how he looked like he was modeling for one of those John Wayne Gacy clown portraits?
And yet, I remember when his black and hot-pink stretch pants and his 32-pound, Chiahead perm were the coolest thing going. It was the eighties, and it seemed right at the time. We've dealt with it and we've moved on, but every time I see an image of Dee and the boys, an era is reborn in my mind. An era where rugger pants, shiny Adidas bags and Kangaroos were rocked without irony.
Heck, it was an era with significantly less irony altogether.
I only mention this because, for me, Hospital represents the exact opposite time-warp phenomenon. Every time I hear it, I think: "This thing was first recorded in Nineteen-freakin'-Seventy One?" It's so unbelievably ahead of its time, it seems out of synch.
Jonathan Richman moved home to Boston from New York in 1970, wanting to be in a band like the Velvet Underground. After several line up changes, the first full-length Modern Lovers record came out in 1977. It sounds more like some of the cool eighties stuff that would follow it (think The Cars and The Talking Heads - two bands that included ex-Lovers - and the whole New Wave thing) than anything out of Warhol's Factory.
It's mind-boggling when you think about it, but the Modern Lovers sound skipped punk rock entirely and went straight from the Velvets to synth-pop and new wave. Dee may have the hair, (I mean, the hair) but Richman had the eighties sound, even in 1971.
Buy The Modern Lovers.
Jonathan Richman is playing Fat City November 11th. Get your tickets at ticketbastard.
I Gotta Rash
Universal health-care. It's soooooo Canadian.
I'll let you in on a little secret though, PWI fans. Canadians have this little, semi-medical problem. It's called an inferiority complex.
Rather than appreciate our home for what makes it amazing. Rather than being satisfied with our status as a small-population country, a moderately-influential-yet-immensely-comfortable place to live, we spend buckets of time and energy expressing our nationalism in sour ways.
In fact, many Canadians feel the best way to express our pride is by talking about how great it is that we aren't American (y'know, stupid and ignorant about the world and violent n'stuff). Joe Canadian, I'm talking to you, and Rick Mercer and that fat-assed dinner theatre actress Sheila Copps.
Nardwuar the Human Serviette and his band The Evaporators aren't about all that. They fly the maple leaf without even mentioning the ole US of A. They're Canadian, and they rock. Pointe. Finale.
Nardwuar's been on UBC's CITR radio longer than I can remember. More recently, he's taken his butt-ugly hat choices, beyond-encyclopedic rock knowledge and broken-glass-in-a-blender interview style to MuchMusic. Those of you who haven't seen or heard a Nardwuar interview should really download one here. Those of you with dial-up connections should imagine a high-pitched Gilbert Godfreid voice, Kim Mitchell hair and a grasp of English syntax courtesy of Rain Man.
With The Evaporators, Nardwuar's gets to play centre on a Vancouver indierock All-Star power play with members of The New Pornographers and The Smugglers on each wing. Their live show takes advantage of Canadiana props (CBC Mic. covers anyone?), fascinating costumes and Nardwuar's do-anything for a laugh stage presence.
Evaporators, we stand on guard for thee!
Unfortunately, you can’t buy it. I Gotta Rash appeared on now out of print split LP with Thee Goblins released on Vancouver’s Mint Records.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Slobberbone: Lumberlung (Go! Buy the rekkid!)
In "honour" of the fact that I've kicked my first cold of the winter (there are usually a few) PWI is gong to unceremoniously bite the "theme week" idea from John over at the Tofu Hut (hey, he owes me one!).
The theme: Great songs about being sick. Those of you who think this will mean more “Grand Weepers” than “Grim Reapers” haven’t heard the Evaporators. Those of you who think sad songs are bad news should refer back to the LASH Principle.
Ok, so, Slobberbone are pimped by some to be one of the better live acts in the Excited States of 'Merica. In my one experience – at Mohawk Place in Buffalo a few summers ago – their opener, New Orleans’ Dash Rip Rock unceremoniously blew them off the stage.
I've been told that the poor showing can be written off to Brent Best (I originally said "Travis Best" but that just proves I have basketball on the brain) - Slobberbone’s lead singer/songwriter - being sick himself at the time. True or not, Slobberbone has recorded four excellent full-lengths. The tunes are mostly of the “here-are-three-solid-chords-that-Neil-Young-and-Jay-Farrar-taught-me . . . mind if I crank em?” variety.
One of the strengths of Lumberlung is its familiarity.
Anyone who’s ever had a fever can feel the claustrophobic, sticky dreaminess evoked by the first verse of this song. Anyone whose fever has caused a hallucination - I once saw Ty Cobb taking practice swings in my livingroom - can understand the second.
Buy Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today.
Visit Slobberbone on the net.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Westerberg on The Jim Rome Show
"Hell, I'm more difficult than a room full of Axl Roses."
Westy on Today's Jim Rome Show
If you're home sick, like me, or if you have radio at work and get the Jim Rome Show
in your 'hood, you may want to turn it on . . . quick. The man is on pluggin' the new record
Monday, October 04, 2004
Tributes to Alejandro Escovedo
Listen to Pyramid of Tears by Solemn Fist.
Listen to Broken Bottle by Jon Langford and Sally Timms.
Alejandro Escovedo is a 53-year-old, 98-pound-soaking-wet piece of rock-n-roll history; truly, a living legend.
His life story reads like a plaque in the modern rock hall of fame. Alé lived in the Chelsea Hotel at the same time as Sid n' Nancy. In 1978, his first band - The Nuns - was on the bill for the last ever Sex Pistols show. (Yes, I said last. That '96 reunion tour didn't happen. Hear me? Did. Not. Happen.)
He's recorded with Willie Nelson and shared rehearsal space with Ornette Coleman. He used to hang with Lester Bangs and Sterling Morrison and the Stooges.
Unfortunately, Alejandro's sick. Very sick. In April of last year he collapsed on stage in Arizona from complications related to Hepatitis C. To make matters worse he's uninsured and living in Texas (a.k.a. bankrupt, or close to it).
To soften the blow, his friends, fans and family have set up a trust fund, staged numerous benefit concerts across North America and recorded a pair of tribute albums.
The first, Por Vida, on Chicago's Bloodshot Records, is filled to the brim with some of the bigger names in roots rock (Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, The Cowboy Junkies, Gillian Welch. Jon Langford and - cough - Los - cough, cough - Lonely Boys). No Ryan Adams, though, which is surprising given that the former Bloodshot prodigy's old (i.e. good) output included Escovedo covers (The True Believers' Rain Won’t Help You When it's Over on the limited release In Your Wildest Dreams EP) and collaborations (Three songs on 1997’s Strangers Almanac). I guess (c)Ryan's too busy ripping off the Smiths and picking fights with posters on his bulletin board to bother.
Anyway, the second tribute record is an all-Canadian production featuring some interesting names from the Vancouver and Toronto scenes. Escovedo 101 features former Wilco sideman Bob Eagan, former Spirit of the West-ie Linda McRae and the last ever recording by the late Ray Condo.
Now, tribute records are kinda like charity golf tournaments or company softball games. Most folks are happy to just show up for four hours and collect the free beer. Some people - a rare few, it seems - actually try to make a game of it. This isn't to say that there aren't good tribute records (I particularly like Return of the Grievous Angel, and I'm Your Fan - which introduced all sorts of 90`s kids to Leonard Cohen) but it's a tricky thing to pull off.
Alejandro has recorded some incredible work over his solo career. So Solemn Fist, Langford and Timms succeed by taking advantage of some great raw materials. They are also succeed by adhering to Fatcitizen`s Incontrovertible Law of rock, Number 4: Carbon copy covers - particularly of songs that everyone knows - suck. Interesting covers - like these - take an old song and make it something unique and fun.
Buy Escovedo 101.
Buy Por Vida.
Donate to Alejandro Fund.
Copy, Right? is dedicated to cover tunes. That fact, and that fact that Liza offers smart, tightly written (oh, and funny) insights into the tunes, make it one of my favourite music blogs.
In 1998, No Depression Magazine named Alejandro Escovedo Artist of the Decade (whatever that means). Check out the article that accompanied that pronouncement here.
Sunday, October 03, 2004
Delays, Franz Ferdinand, Maplewood, Bad Wizard
Bad Wizard @ El Salon
I wanna see Curtis Brown fight Fred Durst. I mean kick his Britney-bangin', red-hat wearin', you-call-THAT-hard-rock lovin' (?) ass!
Curtis Brown fronts Brooklyn's Bad Wizard with extreme predjudice and complete lack of irony. He and his bandmates strut and spit and scoff and knock over monitors and turn it up to eleven plus, plus, plus.
Seriously, by the time they'd finished their set, I was dizzy. The guitar solos had concussed my inner ear.
The band's name may bring up visions of Dungeons & Dragons (or even better, Harry Potter) but it actually comes from a grocery store clerk's mispronounciation of Budweiser.
Their new record is called #1 Tonite.
Howler records has a couple of Bad Wizard tracks posted here (check out So Bad So Bad). To get the live experience, hook your PC up to speakers the size of Kias. Now turn it up to eleven. . . crikey!
Franz Ferdinand @ Metropolis
"Best drummer in the world? Ringo wasn't even the best drummer in the Beatles."
Picking on a band as "of the moment" (and good, by the way) as Franz Ferdinand for having a lousy drummer is quibbiling, admittedly. But Paul Thomson has bad teeth and a tendency to muddy some of the wonderful angles on Nicolas McCarthy's guitars.
Other than the quibble, FF lived up to the hype. Their stage presence was warm and endearing (including front man Alexander Kapranos' feeble attempts to connect with audience in French) and when the tempo change came in the middle of Take Me Out the crowd screamed, shook and jumped like a parishoners in a Pentacostal revival tent (except they were really sexy parishoners, and the organist was playing Love Will Tear Us Apart instead of Washed in the Blood of the Lamb. You know, THAT kind of revival tent).
Delays @ Metropolis
Maplewood @ El Salon
See review for Delays.
Tonight: Magnolia Electric Company, Mission of Burma and maybe Melissa Auf Der Mar
Saturday, October 02, 2004
Constantines, C'mon and Xavier Rudd
Listen to Rock-n'Roll Can Break Your Legs by C'mon.
Listen to Arizona by The Constantines.
Day three of PopMontreal yesterday (Unfortunately, only day one for me . . . Damn you day job! Damn! You!)
At the registration desk (which was managed by Mo, who was super friendly despite the fact that I wasn't from a label . . . thanks Mo!) I met Frank Weipert. Frank is one of the producers at Vancouver's New Music West. In his spare time he manages Jim Rose and Aussie super-hippie Xavier Rudd.
Now Rudd, is a sight to behold. He's a one man band who's instrumental lineup includes didgeridoos (yes, plural).
No, it's not a nightmare of Phish-like proportions. Some friends and I had the opportunity to see Xavier do his thing at the Fat City BluesFest in July and were genuinely blown away. Didgeridoos or not, it's good . . . honest.
In other news, it seems Frank has landed Mr. Rudd a promotion and distribution deal with Universal. Sometimes big labels do happen to good people.
Access to the rock was limited last night due to dinner with TMBGITW and her family, but I did get out to see the last few songs of the encore for C'Mon (an Ian Blurton project featuring his girlfriend - Katie Lynn Campbell of Nashville Pussy on bass) and the tail end of the Constantines show (attended - as most good Montreal shows are - by half of FatCity's rock-n'-roll lovers including John Bartlett of Kelp Records/Greenfeild Main/Rhume).
The Constantines were excellent. Great tunes, great room, lots of sweat . . .
Tonight's schedule includes The Evaporators, Franz Ferdinand (!) and, if schedules work out, Xavier Rudd.