Sunday, December 26, 2004
Leftover turkey. Brand new top ten entry.
Must say that two weeks of butter, turkey and booze was good for the soul, if not for the waistline. I must also say that the folks at Celine Dion Airways sure know how to kill a buzz (the flight from the left coast - normally a 5 hour ordeal - took nearly 12 yesterday. I pulled in at 4:30 am without the benefit of my baggage. Stay tuned to this space for a theme mix of plane songs.) No aerial rock tonight, friends. No tonight we head back into the breach. Into my take on this year's ten best. Sam Beam v. Bonnie Prince Billy: Who will be crowned "PWI: Beard of the Year?" Number 4 Iron & Wine Our Endless Numbered Days Listen to Such Great Heights (not on the record) Sam Beam makes the warmest records you'll ever hear. They're sonic blankets, hot chocolate for the ears. Our Endless Numbered Days includes some of the haziest, most gentle paeans to love, death and family to ever be reviewed by Pitchfork. As great as "Endless" is, it doesn't include my track of the year. That honour goes to Beam's cover of The Postal Service's Such Great Heights which appeared on the Garden State Soundtrack. I might have to consult with Liza, this may well be the best cover ever. Buy Our Endless Numbered Days Buy The Soundtrack to Garden State In addition to writing excellent songs, John Darnielle does a mean Tony Robbins impression. Number 3 The Mountain Goats We Shall All Be Healed Listen to Against pollution (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) I must still be soft in the head from all the gravy and champagne. I keep wanting to type the word "goats" with an "h" (ghoats? Goahts? . . . sigh!). Maybe it just goes to prove that none of what some people say matters. Lou Reed once wrote a song raging against his limitations as a human being. The song, called Magic and Loss - The Summation included these lines: But you can't be Shakespeare and you can't be Joyce so what is left instead You're stuck with yourself and a rage that can hurt you You have to start at the beginning again John Darnielle isn't Shakespeare or Joyce, but he's the kind of writer who leaves other writers shaking their heads and wondering "why can't I do that?" We Shall All be Healed takes the listener on a whirlwind tour of a world full of meth-heads, petty criminals, shady businessmen and gun-toting liquor store clerks. It's grimy and it's intimidating; the sound of a post-apocalyptic Woody Guthrie reminding us that we've sinned and giving us a peek behind the curtain of the consequences. Buy We Shall All Be Healed The Arcade Fire: Une Année Sans Bad Reviews Number 2 The Arcade Fire Funeral Listen to No Cars Go (Not on the Record) Part of the difficulty of writing your top ten list late in the year (or, in this case, early in the new one) is trying to say something new about a band like the Arcade Fire after other people have already used up all the superlatives. So, how about this: I really, truly, sincerely and with a large portion of my heart hope that Win Butler and Régine Chassagne and the rest of the Arcade Fire are able to keep making the kind of art they want to make. I hope they can rise above the critical handwringing over a sophomore slump, the false praise from A&R reps with dollar signs in their eyes and the inevitable backlash from being the symbol of the power of the internet in music marketing. I hope they can ignore the whole shot and just continue to make the kind of records they want to make, because they are obviously talented and they have made my year more pleasurable than it would have been had I not discovered this brilliant gem of a record. Buy Funeral (I mean, really! Buy it!)
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Still counting down
Number 8 Jay Z and DJ Dangermouse The Grey Album Listen to Encore (Go! Download the Rekkid!) Thank God for the damn lawyers. Hollywood Records' lawyers introduced me to The Kleptones and EMI's lawyers turned me on to what may well have been the best mash-up of 2004. As I've said before, Dangermouse and Eric Kleptone were responsible for two of the most innovative, creative and subversive recordings of 2004. The Grey Album comes out ahead solely because I've managed to spend more time with it. The saddest part is, now that D-mouse has managed to become a mainstream success, it's unlikely he'll have the chance to do anything without the record company's approval ever again. Thanks to the lawyers, you can't buy the Grey Album. You can however download it here. Number 7 The Streets A Grand Don't Come for Free Listen to Blinded by the Lights (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) If there's a better way of merging edgy club beats and tight, erudite rhymes; I haven't heard it. A Grand Don't Come for Free is a book of short stories you can dance to. That's worth number 7. Buy A Grand Don't Come for Free Number 6 Drive-By Truckers The Dirty South Listen to Aint Never Gonna Change (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Three records, three straight appearances on the top ten for the best musical export from Alabama since, well, Alabama. The Dirty South isn't the best record of the three (that'd be 2002's Southern Rock Opera) but it is a confirmation of a situation that was hinted at in last year's Decoration Day. Namely, that Jason Isbell is the best songwriter in a band featuring three of the most talented ones in rock. Buy The Dirty South Number 5 Wilco A Ghost Is Born Listen to At Least That's What You Said (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) It's gotta be hard to be Jeff Tweedy. Member, with Jay Farrar, of one of the greatest bands of all time. After they split, he records three, gradually more experimental albums with Wilco, before he begins to realize Rock and Roll's is just a little too small for him. With that thought in mind, he fires half of his band, gets together with Jim O'Rourke and a room full of microprocessors and makes last year's best record: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. After YHF, many Wilco fans (particularly us long-timers who actually LIKED it when Tweedy sounded like Gram Parsons) were left asking: What's next? The answer is a Ghost is Born, a record that mashes up Neil Young with a complete disrespect for the grand old convention of verse/chorus/verse. The problem with "Ghost" is that some of these tracks lean too far down the road towards experimental noodling. There are tracks with 3 minutes of noise and other tracks which feature guitar solos which sound like a perfectly good guitar falling down a flight of stairs. And yet, there is Tweedy, writing a track like At Least That's What You Said which celebrates it's length and sounds modern while still bringing more than enough guitar to bob your head to. It might be hard to be Jeff Tweedy. But watching him is still a treat. Buy A Ghost is Born
Friday, December 17, 2004
Hold On, I'm Comin
Very busy in the pre-Christmas rush (TMBGIW and I are headin' to Vancouver tomorrow for the holidays). Never fear, though, will be completing that top ten list and getting together the "blogland" top ten before long. In the meantime, listen to Tom. Buy Mule Variations
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
A sad addition to this year's losses
Alex Soria, former Nils, Chino etc, was hit by a train and killed, Monday. Thank you for the music, Alex, and rest in peace.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Quick confession. I have an un-natural love for end of year ten-best lists. I read ALL of them, argue over them, agonize over them, and re-write my own eleven or twelve times before committing it to the Christmas disc or elsewhere. With that in mind, I've taken it upon myself to approach the "list thang" from a few different directions this year. 1) I'm going to post my own list in installments this week. 2) I'm going to feature the lists of some buddies here in Fat City (including the input of some "Real Journalists"(tm) . . . ) 3) With much love for the recent feature on Information Leafblower I'm going to bring those opinions together with some of the greatest minds on the interweb (what, what WHAT?) to try and come up with Die 2004 Uberlihst. With no further ado This machine kills fascists, and boring music: Ted Leo Number 10: Ted Leo + Pharmacists: Shake the Sheets Listen to Bridges/Squares No, I'm not posting Me and Mia. It's a perfect song, but this is a few words about missed opportunity. Ted and the Pharmacists have played in Fat City at least twice in the last few years. I missed both shows. If you look closely, you can still see the self-inflicted boot marks on my forehead. I started kicking myself approximately .1539 seconds after hearing the opening notes of Hearts of Oak earlier this year. Mr. Leo can write guitar hooks with the best of them. He accompanies the hooks them with lyrics that spin from the Pope to Francis Fukuyama, without breaking up your desire to sing along. In a year that will be remembered for politics, and in some ways frustration, this is a political album that remembers that you can sooth with melody as well as message. Shake the Sheets is the next step in what I hope will be a long band/hopeless fanboy relationship. Buy Shake the Sheets The artist formerly known as Billy Number 9: Bonnie "Prince" Billy Sings Greatest Palace Music Listen to Riding Sometimes, it's nice to be wrong. Everyone hated this record. Pitchfork skewered it. Long time Palace Music fans dumped on it and me . . . I thought it was great. I'm wrong and I don't give a damn. The guitar and string lines on Riding are so insistent. You feel as if you're you're being chased. You can almost see the trees on the side of the road blurring in your peripheral vision as your headlights turn the corner. Atmospheric, tense, good. Buy BPB Sings Greatest Palace Music A few words from a "Real Journalist" (tm) I gave my buddy K.C. an assignment to come up with his top ten, he ended up writing something more...like a top 15 and some quite thoughtful insights.
Brother...this turned out to be something of a challenge, given not so long ago I was struggling to name 10 discs I'd bought this year, let alone a top 10...turns out I had a good 30 to choose from, and some damn good music -- julie doiron, streets, uncut -- didn't even crack the top 15....it's been a blast listening to all this stuff...Thanks for the challenge. last proviso: serious hockey injury kept me from picking up dizzee rascal. He mighta made it. Ok, here ya go. 15. Killers, Hot Fuss 14. Stars, Set Yourself on Fire 13. Drive-By Truckers, The Dirty South 12. Neko Case, The Tigers Have Spoken 11. Jim Guthrie, Now More than Ever (if Elliott smith had killed himself a few months sooner, this was in my top 10. it prolly should be anyway.) 10. Steve Earle, The Revolution Starts...Now. (Is it as good as El Corazon? No. Is there a better way to rage at the outcome of the year's seminal event? No. That'll do for No. 10) 9. Elliot Smith, from the basement on the hill. (Ever hear the record Bob Geldoff recorded after Paula Yates killed herself? Smith's is just as heavy, but with a little more melody.) 8. K-OS, Joyful Rebellion. (Sure, the streets is a pretty good story teller. Given the outcome of the year's seminal event, I'll take some hippety-hop that's a little easier to dance to.) 7. Calexico, Convict Pool. (Buy this, and it will never leave yer extended rotation. Ever. Can u say that about Franz Ferdinand?) 6. Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose. (The woman's been on the planet for seven decades, and singing about getting loaded and getting it on with Jack White -- that's rock n roll. I played the shite out of this thing for months.) 5. Franz Ferdinand (What can I say, really? Long live britpop, in all its forms) 4. Interpol, Antics (I'd drop Turn on the Bright Lights in my top 10 if it wasn't two years old. Antics is fine transition, with a few dance numbers thrown in for good measure.) 3. Tom Waits, Real Gone. (Why? Because Waits cud chew up everyone else on this list, defecate, and turn the whole thing into an album that wud rip yer heart out.) 2. Arcade Fire, Funeral. (Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.) 1. Wilco, A Ghost Is Born. (I already told you, I'm not going take these guys for granted this time. As good as Funeral is, Ghost is a different album every time I put it on. Tweedy et. al. are at another level.)
Get outta here hippy, or I'll impound yer car!
I want to ride your coat tails or at least nail them to the floor: Carolyn Mark Listen to Edmonton Carolyn Mark is unique among Canadian musicians. No, not because she's making a living as a singer/songwriter despite living in Victoria (home of the newly wed and nearly dead . . . oh, and also Hot Hot Heat). Not because she can out-drink, out-smoke and out honkey-tonk the boys. Nope, Carolyn Mark's true claim to fame has to be as the only Canadian rock and roller to ever hit on your's truly.
(Railway Club, New Year's Eve, 2001) FC: "Hey! Do you think she wrote (Edmonton) about someone in particular?" My buddy Arno (raising his voice as the singer passes into earshot): "I dunno, why don't you ask her?" Carolyn Mark: "Ask me what?" FC (shifting nervously foot to foot): "I, um. I mean we, WE, were wondering if you wrote that song about someone in particular or if it was umm, you know, like. . . C.M.: ". . . An amalgam?" FC: "Yeah, an amalgam." C.M.: "The song's about you." FC (Now blushing painfully): "Heh-heh, heh-heh. Cool." (In my defence, remember the 9th law of rock. Remember as well that I'm a dork) C.M. "O.K. Bye"Don't matter none. I'm sure she says that kinda stuff to all the boys . . . Buy (as if THIS doesn't make it worse) "Party Girl" Looks like Carolyn and her "new best friends" are back at the Railway for New Year's this year.
Monday, December 13, 2004
The Hustlers, victorious at basketball, have since set their sites on the 1958 RCA intermural bowling league. Listen to We Are Wolves: We are all Winnners (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Third straight finals and, finally, success. (I know you don't care. You don't have to humour me. Just listen to the tasty Montreal-based rock and roll track.) We are Wolves (who along with AIDS wolf and Wolf Parade form a disturbing Montreal based lupine triad) do not have a web site or a record to buy. I got We Are Winners from the Pop Montreal comp. which is available through Maisonneuve.
What time is it?
Listen to Shoot out the Lights (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) It's game time! (Woot!) The Hustlers go into tonight's (surprisingly, hotly-contested) rec-league final with an, as yet, unblemished record. Wish us luck. More rock later. Buy a copy of Beat the Retreat, A Tribute to Richard Thompson which includes this excellent X cover of Shoot out the Lights and R.E.M. doing an excellent version of Wall of Death. (Sorry not available on the CanAmazon . . . strange)
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Portland Kicks Ass!
Listen to Morningwatch (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) I think I wanna move from Fat City to the Rose City. I mean, they have great book stores, there's nice weather, they have Cheech and Chong in the starting five of their basketball team and you can buy pastries filled with fruit that's been named after a crack-smoking former mayor of D.C. What's not to love? The music scene kicks ass too. So varied. You've got The Decemberists holding down that whole "Pre civil-war influenced baroque pop" niche that's so hot right now. Sleater-Kinney for the kids and The Dandy Warhols for my buddy K.C., who has an inexplicable love for rock with electronic influences. And then there's Dolorean. Delicate, pensive, earthly folk-rock; it's music for nights that turn into bleary mornings and days that don't seem to end. Buy Violence in the Snowy Feilds
Friday, December 10, 2004
Guess who's back?
Danny Michel (Mee-Shell) ruins a perfectly good suit. All this and more tonight at the Black Sheep Listen to Bones (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Reason #4584 the Junos suck. Last year, former fat city resident, former member of Starling and all-around high- quality guy, Danny Michel lost the "Best New Artist" award to crooner of the week Michael Buble (that's BOO-blay to you. . . I know, I know, who cares?). Now, it's not the fact that Danny lost that confuses me (the Junos are notorious for their lack of quality, they're named after a federal bureaucrat fuhgawdsake) it's his qualification as a "new artist." Tales from the Invisible Man, the album that got Danny the nod, was his third solo full-length by my count. He's been making music for 15 years or more and recording for nearly as long. I think I might buy a Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences membership this year and send my own votes in 2005. Anybody wanna help me make my picks? I'm sure there will be some interesting battles between Avril, Shania and Celine. Buy In the Belly of a Whale.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Rock n' Roll Poutine?
Sure, it looks tasty. But wait until you sober up . . . Comme un Homme Libre: Amour Entre Les Animaux (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Speaking of ladies in garage bands, Comme un Homme Libre are Jonquiere's answer to the Come Ons. Granted, their live show isn't exactly being hailed as the second coming of the MC5, but this track certainly is a soulful slice of organ and fuzzbox drenched Franco-philia. Just how bad are the reviews of Comme un Homme Libre's recent live outing at Pop Montreal in October? Well, check out this unpleasant assessment:
Opening the night with a cover of the Go-Go's "Our Lips are Sealed" that didn't even merit a performance in a high school talent show, the Jonquiere-based Comme Un Homme Libre played a set full of derivative, unoriginal songs. The band had an awkward stage presence, led by a flirty but uncharismatic lead vocalist. The band seemed somehow unfamiliar with their instruments (save for the drummer, who managed to make things interesting for a second) and perhaps the man behind the sequencers, who seemed bored with the set himself.Ouch! C'est pas gentil!
Rock and Roll makes you pretty
Listen to Come Ons playin' Whatcha Got (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Ko Shih is iron-clad proof of Fatcitizen’s Incontrovertible Law of rock, Number 9: A woman on stage playing a guitar and/or singing is at least five-times as sexy as the same woman walking down the street. Drums add a ten-fold increase. (explaining Meg White and Penny Jo Buckner) Ko is one of two bass players in Detroit’s most soulful (and maybe most loud) garage band: The Dirtbombs. She also plays keyboard on Whatcha Got and a few other tracks on the Come Ons’ first, self-titled release. I wouldn't look at her twice in the supermarket check out, but there's just something about a girl behind a Fender nearly twice her size . . . Don’t tell TMBGITW, ok? Buy The Come Ons Speaking of Meg, however briefly, the CBC’s web presence never ceases to amaze. Here’s a link to an excellent White Stripes live show at the Commodore in Vancouver.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Look, peering out from behind those fishnets . . . It's Death of Fashion Listen to These Days (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Ok, first, don't hate them because Darryl Specht (far right in your photo, far out in your heart) stole Robert Smith's haircut. In fact, just consider this equation:
"(Echo and the Bunnymen - Ian McCulloch) + Jim Morrison on Vocals = Death of Fashion singing These Days.In short, long live the synth rock revival. You can buy Death of Fashion's (formerly just "The Fashion") five song E.P. Lovely and Guilt Free by contacting the band here. Does anyone else think "Lovely and Guilt Free" sounds like part of Tom Waits' monologue from Big Time? Perhaps the same part of that monologue that inspired the name of this here part of the interweb? Just askin. Much love to aeki tuesday for the hook up on this track.
More reasons I need a fact checker
The NQ Arbuckle track is now up. The producer of that track was "Luke Doucet" not "Luc Doucet" (Dang franco-winnipeggers). The link to bootmixed works again (they were havin' server problems, but those are all ok now). I've got a lot of stuff you need to hear. I'll post it later.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
NQ Arbuckle: Mixkin Dancehall Blues (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
This drinkin's no good, but it makes me feel better When I first started this whole music bloggin thing, I set aside a list of artists I wanted to tell the "world" about. People who didn't have record sales, people who didn't have big turnouts for their live shows. D.I.Y-ers. Artists who needed support. What I've ended up doing was writing personal essays about Bruce Springsteen and posting pictures of Britney Spears waiting to go pee. . . Sigh! No matter. Today we actually chalk one up for the underdog. Nyle (Arbuckle) Quinlan is a songwriter first. He writes simple, brittle, heartfelt songs and doesn't guild them with much arranging. His first, and only, record, Hanging the Battle-scarred Pinata, features production by Luke Doucet and a guest spot from west coast alt-country fave Carolyn Mark (more on her, later). Oh, and he just happens to related to Frank Johnston. Buy Hanging the Battle-scard Pinata.
Monday, December 06, 2004
Hey! Erica! Here's your Britney!
There's a brand new dance, and I don't know it's name Yes, PWI takes requests (well, sorta). Check out THIS amazing mixtape (particularly the Bowie v. Britney mashup "Slave to Fashion". . . VERY tasty).
You're a woman, I'm louder than a dozen 747s
Listen to Romantic Rights (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) If you've been anywhere out in blogland recently you've already heard Death From Above 1979 (the GTA's loudest two piece since Mel and Marilyn). Many of you in the Fat City area haven't heard the latest buzz from the Williamsberg and, therefore, may need my encouragement. Go! To! Babylon! To-nite! But only if you like rock and or roll. Buy You're a Woman I'm a Machine
Thursday, December 02, 2004
Grime Time, X-mix Also Rans: Volume 3
Oi! Geezers need excitement . . . and Kung Fu! Listen to Blinded by the Lights (Go! Buy tha Rekkid!) Eighty years ago, Mike Skinner would have been in Paris writing short stories and having his head beat in by Morley Callahan. Instead -- since it's the 21st century and everything -- he's written intimate, evocative narratives and made trippy, grimy hip-hop out of them. A Grand Don't Come For Free is a rock-n'-roll novella. It's subtle and it's smart. It's full of stories about intensely normal people worrying about intensely normal things and, like a good book, it reveals itself slowly on repeat visits. Unfortunately, it's also an example of a whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Each individual track on "A Grand" is good, but there's no one GREAT song (like say, Don't Mug Yourself, on the first Streets Album, Original Pirate Material). Buy A Grand Don't Come For Free. He made an album, over 100,000 people bought it (thank you) Listen to Dream (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Showtime, Dizzee Rascal's followup record to critically acclaimed (and over 100,000 selling) Boy in Da Corner, answers a question I get asked a lot; well, enough that I'd remark on it. People come up to me and they say: "Hey, Fatcitizen, what would it sound like if a really talented MC tried to pull his jerky, syncopated rhymes over top of playful, syncopated (almost soca like) beats that sound like they were produced using a 1980s toy box?" Well, it'd sound like this. And, it'd sound good (if a little Polka dot Door). Buy Showtime.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Will work for downloads
Things will soon look grave at the Fat(citizen) farm The Itunes music store is now officially alive in Canada. Looks like they kept their promise to begin in the month of November. I may never leave the house again.