Tuesday, November 30, 2004
X-Mix Also Rans: Volume 2
Did somebody say Hat Act? Bobby Bare Jr.
Listen to Bobby Bare Jr. sing Visit Me in Music City (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
Bobby Bare Jr. may not have ACTUALLY been born at the Grande Ole Opry, but he IS the son of a country legend (Dad Bobby Sr. used to room with Willie Nelson and toured with Dylan) and it sounds like he understands a thing or six about the way the biz works in Nashville.
In my (admittedly limited) experience, Music City seems to be full of desperation for stardom (not unlike L.A., I'd imagine). The guy at the hotel front desk had head shots, the bartender was a drummer, the coffee shop had a weekly songwriter's night.
EVERY coffee shop had a songwriter's night.
True story, I once drove solo all the way from Niagara on the Lake to Nashville to catch a Wilco show. While hanging in a bar not far from the venue, I met some cool locals who talked to me and bought me beer (my experience has been that orphans get treated really well in rock bars and not so well in record stores). Anyway, the conversation with one Nashvillian went like this:
Fatcitizen: "So, you were born and raised here. Do you work in the music business?"
Nashvillian: "Naw, man. I'm FROM Nashville."
FC: "How 'bout your family?"
NV: "My dad was a coal miner, man."
THAT, my friends, is music city U.S.A.
At The End of Your Leash is Bobby Bare Jr.'s newest record. You can buy it from Bloodshot (one of my all-time favourite record labels) here. Though his previous album, Young Criminal's Starvation League, is even better. You can also buy it here.
Also, Nashville photog Thomas Petillo has shot an excellent portrait of Mr. Bare. I'd have used it to top of this post, but he asks everyone to "be nice" and respect his copyright. And, I'm nice. Seriously! Ask anyone.
Look at Thomas's great portrait here.
Monday, November 29, 2004
Canada can't have the mango
Danko Jones demonstrates his five-finger palm exploding heart technique
Listen to The Mango Kid
Listen to Bounce (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
There are strange rhythms to rock geek conversation.
“Have you heard BAND X?” one geek will ask, casually arranging the one-inch Joe Strummer and Atari 2600 buttons on the lapel of his corduroy sport coat.
“No,” geek two will reply, eyes peeking out from under his razor cut hair, hands resting on his ironically large belt buckle. “Where’re they from?”
“Where’re they from.”
Not “What do they sound like?” or “Who’s in the band?” but “Where are they from,” as if, in these days of instant song transmission, where musical trends fire from Tokyo to Toulouse in hours and days instead of weeks and months, a local sound can survive.
Though there’s no mistaking the geography behind much of today’s hip-hop (the dirty south, doesn’t sound much like the East Coast to my ear) I’d argue that the concept of a “local sound” hasn’t existed in mainstream rock n’ roll since the Sub-Pop days in Seattle. (what’s currently happening in Detroit is definitely a sound. Then again, as much as I love it, it’s pretty much the same sound that came out of Detroit last time).
As for non-mainstream sounds there’s always Florida and for non-rock there’s Nashville and, well, Florida again.
Though I don’t think local sounds are a big deal, there’s no doubt that bands will still leave home if they feel setting up shop somewhere else will get them closer to their goals.
Toronto three-piece Danko Jones - they of the Budweiser neck brace commercial – have made a pilgrimage in hopes of getting a better shake. It’s a strange one though.
Rather than pulling up stakes for New York or London, Danko and the boys have set their sites on the OTHER great white north . . . Stockholm. That’s right, when they appeared at last year’s south by southwest, Danko Jones’ promo. material indicated that they have traded in Hogtown on the Lake for Beauty on Water, Tim Hortons for lingonberry pancakes. Mats Sundin for, well, Mats Sundin.
“Danko writes two kinds of songs,” my buddy Hagga-B once told me. “The ladies love him or the ladies done him wrong.”
Now, that repertoire wouldn’t make the Mango Kid any different from half the blues legends ever to pick up a guitar, but no one is going to mistake Danko for Buddy, Muddy or B.B. There’s a little too much Paul Stanley in the vocal delivery.
In fact, to paraphrase Jon Spencer, “Danko Jones don’t play the blues, they play rock n’ roll.”
Sounds like Canada, indeed.
Visit Danko Jones on the web. While you're there, be sure to check out his radio show on Rocket 93.5 "The Rock Home of Stockholm"
For more on the Skanda-rock scene check out the mighty mighty It's a Trap.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
X-Mix Also Rans (With bonus track!)
X-Mix Number 6: A real production
Listen to The Mountain Goats Against Polution (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
This might be getting ahead of things, but I'm REALLY looking forward to Christmas holidays this year.
I'm already down to the short strokes in developing my annual mixtape/ Christmas card. Which, despite the Elvis themed cover art, leans more towards classic funk and hip-hop than old school RnR. (Damn You! Tofuhut, Soul Sides and Cocaine Blunts).
Rather than post tracks from the mix itself (I know some of you reading this will actually receive one . . . you know who you are Shinkle, Scam and Simpy) I thought I'd give some quick props to some great tracks that I couldn't fit on this year's platter. (It also reduces the amount of effort I have to put into posting, as being up late three school nites in a row working on cover art has turned my brain to pudding).
As I've mentioned before (and as the bloggin' community has been chanting for some time) John Darnielle is a freakin' genius.
Go buy We Shall All Be Healed
Jenny is my all time favourite Mountain Goats track. It was recorded on a ghetto blaster (you can hear the destinct grinding whir of the motor in the background). Listen to it too!
In addition to writing music, JD writes ABOUT music. Last Plane to Jakarta is one of the best-written online music zine's going.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Just like Canada
The Argos decide which one of them gets to suplement his
income by melting down the Grey Cup for raw silver
Listen to All Kinds of Time by Fountains of Wayne (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
Listen to Champion by Songs:Ohia (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
To paraphrase Gary Lineker: Canada's a country where 30 million people live, and at the end, Toronto wins.
Good time had by all, though I feel like I need a break from the alcohol and pizza slices.
Buy the perfectly servicable but somewhat unremarkable Welcome Interstate Managers by Fountains of Wayne
Buy Songs:Ohia's Axxess & Ace
Saturday, November 20, 2004
It's samizdat, and you can dance to it
Two of the best records of the year aren't available in stores. In fact, they're banned and (even more subversive) they're free.
Musicians? Naw, we're the hammer that knocks the nail in.
DJ Dangermouse's Grey Album is another case of rock and roll math.
JayZ (Black Album) + Beatles (White Album) = Grey-tness.
If you haven't heard it you are missing out on, if not the best, then at least the most talked about mash up of all time (and a record that will certainly be on dozens of critic's top ten lists this year despite never being in stores).
In fact, getting a C&D from the Beatles' lawyers may well have been the best thing to ever happen to tha Mouse (real name Brian Burton). Since then, he's been named the Hottest Hip-Hop Producer in the World by NME, one of the music industry's 100 Most Influential People by Q Magazine and one of the coolest people in music by Spin. He's probably also had more groupie love than he can handle despite his tendency to dress like an extra at a Flaming Lips show.
You see the strangest things on the D train.
Speaking of the Flaming Lips, the mysterious Kleptones' first project was a full scale lift/tribute of Wayne Coyne and the boys. That said, Yoshimi Battles the Hip Hop Robots, though cool, didn't come close to the vastness and, it must be said, brilliance of the currently banned Night at the Hip Hopera (a mash up featuring Queen, a who's who of hip hop - Busta Rhymes, KRS One, Eminem, The Beastie Boys and the ODB - and clips from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Big Lebowski and Peter Jennings).
Kleptones it's not just the lyrics, it's the beat
In short, rather than just pissing off two sets of lawyers like Dangermouse, Eric Kleptone has created something that will invite the wrath of the RIAA the MPAA the American Broadcasting Corporation and every other lawyer in copyright land. They supposedly haven't found him yet but they have tried to force others to take down links to the files.
The funny part of all of this is that the more the lawyers get involved, the more popular the downloads will become. I hadn't even HEARD of the Kleptones before I read about the ban on waxy.org, now I can't stop playing it.
The music world is changing. Change is a funny thing though; like a train, you can either be on it, or under it.
Guess where the lawyers are.Wanna actually HEAR the records? You can get the Grey Album here and the Kleptones here.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Ad Contracts? Fuggedaboutit!
"Don' touch the leatha!"
File under: What a Surprise (Not!)
Turns out a member of New York's Bonanno crime family has told the FBI that Alfonso (Fonzie) Gagliano - former Minister of Public Works and Ambassador to Denmark - is (was?) a made member of la famiglia.
Just when you thought one of Canada's most disgusting men couldn't make you any angrier . . .
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
the Nils: Canada's Greatest Ever Boy Band
Do you really really really believe?
Listen to Daylight (Go! Buy the rekkid!)
There is nothing like finally finding a record you've been looking for everywhere.
Better still, there's nothing like finding that record used for 11 bucks (thank you, thank you, thank you Cheap Thrills).
the Nils started in a garage in suburban Montreal in the late seventies when lead singer Alex Soria was only 12 freakin' years old. They played their first gig two years later in 1981 and went on to record a couple of contributions to comps (1983's Something to Believe In on BYO records and 1984's Primitive Air-Raid on Primitive Industry) and two EPs (Sell Out Young on Psyche Industry in 1985 and Paisley on BYO records in 1986) . They've been referred to as "Canada's Replacements" but I don't think it's a fair comparison. First, because they kinda beat Minneapolis to the punch (Husker Du's Bob Mould referred to them as one of his major influences) and second because they skipped the hardcore phase altogether leaning instead towards mid-tempo melodic rockers (think if you will of "Bastards of Young" rather than "Kids Don't Follow").
Like many of the great acts of that era, I've come to the Nils late. Daylight used to be a staple encore in Jim Bryson's live shows.
Better late, than never.
In 1996, the whole Nils catalogue was gathered up by Montreal's Mag Wheel Records into an amazing 29-track package called Green Feilds in Daylight. Buy it here.
the Nils Broke up in 1994. You can learn a little more about their life and times here.
Alex's current band is called Chino.
The amazing Jim Bryson (The man who INTRODUCED me to the Nils) is currently without a record contract. I repeat ONE OF THE BEST SONGWRITERS IN CANADA IS CURENTLY IN NEED OF A RECORD CONTRACT. If you own a record company, or know someone who does, you should learn more about Jim here.
Does this mean I get free buffet?
As a matter of fact I'd LOVE the new Sadies record
If you've bothered to read my profile (and really, if you haven't, you've already been forgiven) you'll note that I flack (read "run a small PR consultancy") for a living. That means, sometimes, I have to organize events, write press releases and send them to journalists hoping (praying) that real news doesn't get in the way of me getting my client's picture in the paper. You write, you send free stuff, you beg, occasionally you get ink.
It's been a long time since I was considered a journalist myself (and, even then, it was two stints a corporate/community paper named after a brick of aluminum . . . not exactly The Economist) so when the press release came this afternoon from the excellent folks at Yep Roc I was a little taken aback.
"Greetings Music Press!" begins the note from their Director of Publicity. "As the end of the year approaches, we wanted to take a moment to remind you of all the great releases brought to you by your friends at Yep Roc Records during 2004."
Oh my god, I'm being flacked!
After the initial shock (I mean I've spent so many years on the Dark Side of the media force) I was left with one firm feeling:
"Finally, somebody gets it!"
You see, file sharing isn't the enemy.
Small labels, like Yep Roc, have enough trouble getting their excellent artists' names (including Caitlin Cary, Los Straitjackets and recently Marah and Hogtown's The Sadies) out to bother threatening people with Cn'Ds.
They KNOW that the people who buy their records are going to live shows (you know "supporting" the artist), they KNOW that people who really love music are using shared files as a test drive, not as a replacement for CDs. Wilco's last two albums have proven it. . . "Music is not a loaf of bread."
Music lovers, support the people (labels, bands, promotors, venues) who support you.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Phrases that OUGHT to be in the dictionary
Stroller Derby: n.
pl. stro·ler der·bies
A collection of (usually) young, occasionally attractive, mothers whose offspring are getting in the way of daily events.
"I was gonna buy an X-Box today but the lineup at Toys-r-Us was a total stroller derby."
The Arcade Fire. Equal parts Talking Heads and Raelian choir music.
I know they're from Montreal, but they're so good, I'm gonna call em honourary citizens of Fat City. (actually, their new drummer, Jeremy Gara, formerly of Weights and Measures, is from the Capital)
"They" are the Arcade Fire. Easily the most buzz-worthy thing to come out of Montreal since the Compassion Club. If you haven't heard of them, you've obviously been spending too much time out in the real world and not enough in dim rooms reading Internet music sites.
Their debut record (Funeral) is fighting out for the number one spot on my top ten this year. As good as it is, however, it can't hold a candle to their live show. Don't believe me? Hear the Good News.
Bradley's Almanac has posted an entire Arcade Fire set, recorded at the November 12th show in Cambridge, Mass.
Check it out quick before he hits his bandwidth limit!
Sunday, November 14, 2004
Dirty ho . . . no mo
Listen to Da Mystery of Chessboxin'
This is not a claim to great hip hop knowledge. If you really want the straight goods, go visit Cocaine Blunts
It is, however, a note of respect.
Ol Dirty Bastard, formerly of Wu Tang Clan, passed away in a studio in NYC earlier today.
Dirty (Russell Jones) had an approach to the mic that was equal parts hillarious and intimidating. He'd scream, grumble and singsong his rhymes. It was a trainwreck, but a fun one to listen to.
Unfortunately, Dirt's life away from the mic was just as freakish. Shot by a rival rapper in 1994, he was thrown in jail for failing to pay child support for one of his 13 (!) children in 1995.
Later highlights included a drunken rush of the stage at the Grammys
, being shot a second time (this time in an attempted robbery) a suicide attempt and a scarily explotive VH1 reality series
R.I.P, O.D.B. R.I.P.
Friday, November 12, 2004
From Buckeyes to Acorns
Rolf Klausener, takin' a bite outa modern rock
Listen to the Acorn: Do you not yearn, At all?
Look out Austin! Watch your back Reykjavik! Heads up, Montreal!
Oi! Glasgow! Stand still laddie!
Fat city has its entry into the guitar noodlin’, verse-chorus-verse paradigm smashing world of post rock. They’re arty, they’re friendly and they’re called The Acorn.
The Acorn started as a basement four-track project of lead guitar player Rolf Klausener (also of Kelp Records heroes Greenfeild Main and The Recoilers). Over time, Rolf added another guitar noodler (painter Howie “the Mongrel” Tsui) bass player Jeff Debutte (of Soft Disaster) and drummer Bill Guerrero (of expatriates). The resulting record (The Pink Ghosts) is full of things I like (ahhhhh, steel guitar) that somehow work wonderfully with things I usually don’t (that whole world of beeps and clicks we call electronic music).
The leaves are falling, this is the post rock cure for fall.
Buy a copy of the (beautifully packaged) Pink Ghosts.
Visit The Acorn on the interweb.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Lest We Forget
And this one is for bravery/And this one is for me
And everything's a dollar in this box
Listen to Tom Waits: Soldier's Things (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
How can we remember that which we never experienced? Well-told stories bring us near an event, but memory, real sensory memory, immerses us. Memory has sounds and smells. It tastes of mud and cordite. It hints at terror once felt.
My remembrance of war is, thankfully, so indirect as to be almost insignificant.
I remember during the first Gulf War, university pals and I debating whether we would answer a draft call to fight in Kuwait. (I wonder if students in the U.S. are having the same conversations today)
I remember my father telling about living in appeasement-era Britain. (How the soldiers marched with broom handles over their shoulders because they had no rifles)
And I will always remember my visit to Oswiecim. (and the room full of shoes, and shivering in July)
This Remembrance Day, I hope that Canadian youth will continue to have the luxury of abstract memory of war. Real memories, the kind American youth are earning today, have too great a price.
The CBC has developed an in-depth Remembrance Day information page.
Today is the last day of Canadian Blood Services "Report for Duty" campaign to give in honour of service men and women.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Ohio:Songs, Volume Five
We sent our sons to Korea and Vietnam/Now we’re wonderin’ what they were dying for
Listen to Bruce Springsteen: Youngstown (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
First, I have to apologize. I know audioblogs are supposed to be cutting edge. They're supposed to feature tunes you've never heard from parts of the world you'd be hard pressed to find on a map. New approaches, old 78s, Senegalese death metal, Malaysian bluegrass . . . you know, cool stuff. They’re certainly not supposed to be about politics. (Everyone ELSE writes about politics, particularly American politics).
The theme mix this week has broken every Cooler Than Thou rule in the book and for that I’m truly sorry. Starting tomorrow I promise to dig into my vast collection of Japanese thrash and central Canadian post rock.
But until then . . .
I grew up in a company town, like Youngstown.
When I was in school, I did a summer, white collar PR job in the metal plant.
The men who did the real work pushed spruce poles underneath electric anodes the size of a two-car garage. The poles were used to free the fluoride gas from the liquid metal. The same gas which - everyone in town said - had burned the pines on the surrounding mountains copper brown.
When I went onto the shop floor – huge buildings the size of aircraft hangars called potlines - the smell of the alumina powder and the heat from the metal left me feeling irritable. My head ached, even after I went back to my air conditioned office to take “anniversary” pictures of the men who had worked there for 10, 20 or 35 years.
It was a place I felt lucky to leave.
Listening to Youngstown, I find it hard to believe Bruce, the ultimate blue collar, blue state, multi-multi-multi-millionaire working class hero with Louis Vuitton rock n’ roll boots (check the cache on the second hit, I can’t direct link to it) hasn’t actually spent time in such a place.
The track almost has a smell: coal smoke, burning leather, blood money and desperation. It’s old America, rust belt America and it sounds angry.
Buy The Ghost of Tom Joad.
Seems my old home town is in a Youngstown type spin over the use of electrical power from the Nechako River. Check out the fight against Uncle Al: here.
Monday, November 08, 2004
We interupt the regularly scheduled rock...
. . . to give you this shamelessly un-edited press release.
Michael Ondaatje, one of Canada’s most treasured writers, will be speaking about‚ The Art of Writing, Editing and Film when he delivers the Sun Life Financial Lecture at Carleton University on Tuesday, November 23.
Best known as a novelist, Ondaatje's work also encompasses memoir, poetry, and film, and reveals a passion for defying conventional form. From the memoir of his childhood, Running in the Family, to his Governor-General's award-winning book of poetry, There's a Trick With a Knife I'm Learning To Do, to his classic novel, The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje casts a spell over his readers.
Tuesday, November 237:00 p.m.
Bell Canada Theatre
Note: The lecture is free and open to the public, but seating is limited.
Ondaatje gave a similar -- and facinating -- talk about editing with Walter Murch at the Hay Festival in 2002. Listen to that here.
More rock to come, but for now, I have to go play basketball
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Ohio:Songs, Volume Four
Listen to Jason Isbell sing Ohio (live)
The down side with theme mixes is the obvious picks.
If you're going to post a bunch of songs about Ohio, you can go with Bonnie Prince Billy (who re-recorded the Ohio Riverboat Song for Greatest Palace Music, one of my favourite records of this year) or you can go with Johnny Cash or Doc Watson or Sun Kil Moon or the Jayhawks (if you're willing to forgive them for the nightmare that was Smile). Sifting through the choices, I honestly didn't realize the Buckeye State took up so much room in my record collection.
At the end of the day, though, Neil Young's Ohio is the 500 pound gorilla of Ohio songs. Now, you don't need my encouragement to buy Neil Young records (and I don't want to post two of the man's tracks in a week) but in an Ohio mix, how can you avoid Neil Young?
Well, by covering him, of course.
Jason Isbell is the newest member of the Drive By Truckers' singing/songwriting trio (along with nominal "front man" Paterson Hood and Mike Cooley). Don't make me pick a favourite of the three, but Isbell's got fantastic songwriting chops for a 25 year old (Don't believe me? Pick up a copy of Decoration Day and give Outfit or the title track a few minutes of your time . . . damn!)
Thanks to Stereogum for posting this Isbell track where I found it and to Largehearted Boy for diggin it up in the first place. (sorry for cross posting, but it fit far too well into this week's theme for me to pass it up).
Buy a DBTs record. It'll put hair on your chest.
Friday, November 05, 2004
Ohio:Songs, Volume Three
Photo by: Allan Tannenbaum
Freedom of Choice/Is what you've got
Freedom from choice/Is what you want
Listen to Freedom of Choice (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
Yesterday wasn't intentionally political (and was a somewhat forgotten song).
Today is intentionally political, and the song is less forgotten (hell, Nirvana covered it for crying out loud).
Devo were from Akron, like the Black Keys and Lebron James and Goodyear tires. You knew them, of course. They wore flower pots on their heads and moved around like robots. Kraftwerk's fashion sense without the droning and the synths (sorta).
TMBGITW is calling me for dinner, so I gotta split.
Go, buy a Devo record. No collection is complete without one.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
R.E.M: Cuyahoga (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
"Let's put our heads together/And start a new country up."
Ohio:songs, Day 2:
I don't think this is a political song, per se, but the lyric content sure feels contemporary. Way, way back to the days of the LAST two-term Republican.
You see, there was a time when R.E.M. was less shrill. When Michael Stipe mumbled rather than shrieking. When there were legends about him not wanting to explain his lyrics, or even write them down.
It was, in my humble opinion, a better time (well, except for the Reagan part).
I listen to this track and hear a lot of the modern rock that has come since. The triangle (did you hear it? it's at the beginning of the second verse, but not for long) and organ line remind me of a quieter Arcade Fire. The lyric content is elyptical enough to be from a recent Wilco record (except Jeff Tweedy would've sneaked something in about wanting to kill his wife).
Buy Life's Rich Pageant
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
What's high in the middle and round at both ends . . .
Listen to Look at Miss Ohio (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
Had so much fun with the theme week concept a while back that I thought PWI could get topical for a few days. So, until I think of something better, it'll be all Ohio radio.
Gillian Welch (it is, for some reason, GILL-ee-an by the way folks not, as you'd assume by looking at it, JILL-ee-an) isn't from Louisiana, West Virginia (or even Cincinnati). No, even though she sings about coal miners, farmers and sleeping under the stars and even though she does it with a vibe that seems stripped directly from American Folkways Recordings, Gill grew up in west L.A. and went to school at Berklee.
Born blue state and grew up to sound red? God Bless America.
Buy Soul Journey.
Visit Gillian on the web.
Seems like Harper's has also picked up on the whole "If he wins I'm leaving the country" sentiment.
Thinking of moving?
Listen to Helpless (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
The National Post seems to think there'll be a mass northerly exodus of Democrats tomorrow (They had a picture of Robert Redford this week with claims that he's gonna move to Ireland. I can't find a link and Canada.com has gone pay access with it's coverage so you'll have to trust me)
Anyway, it's 2 am. CNN is still holding off putting Ohio in Dubbyah's camp, but the rest of the world seems to agree it's four more years. At least the decision looks clear and all of y'all actually made use of your franchise.
It's too late to say anything deep about things (as I've mentioned before, I don't think this is the place) and I don't know any towns in north Ontario, but there are a few good bars here in the east. If you're on the run, drop me a line.