Tuesday, March 29, 2005


The Other 5-Oh: Episode 10

Wondering what all this is about? Before you begin, you might want to read days one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine. The List so Far: Round 1: Hockey: Jane Siberry (Mike) Helpless: Neil Young (Keith) I Go Blind: 54-40 (Peter) Nothing at All: Maestro Fresh Wes (Aaron) Tired of Waking Up Tired: The Diodes (Carol) A Case of You: Joni Mitchell (Carl) Round 2: Have Not Been The Same: Slow (Mike) Hallelujah (Live): Leonard Cohen (Keith) Wheat Kings: The Tragically Hip (Pete) Vetoed By Carol Subdivisions: Rush (Carol) Vetoed By Keith Rags and Bones: Nomeansno (Carl) Round 3: One Great City!: The Weakerthans (Mike) Westray: Weeping Tile (Keith) Vetoed By Pete Deeper Than Beauty: Sloan (Pete) Having an Average Weekend: Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet (Aaron) I've Been Everywhere: Hank Snow (Carol) Illegal Bodies: Simply Saucer (Carl) Round 4: Help Me Rhonda: The Langley Schools Music Project (Mike) Vetoed By Pete Secret Heart: Ron Sexsmith (Aaron) (FC's note: Actually Aaron's Round 2 Catch Up Pick!) Daylight: The Nils (Keith) Barrett's Privateers: Stan Rogers (Pete) Vetoed By Mike Skip Spence: War in Peace (Aaron) In today's flashmob: Skip Spence gets the V-bomb, we down with the OP and GSBE! "music without barrier or pretense" or "elevator music for the art kids" Mike: So I finally listened to that Skip Spence song and just to cement my reputation as the philistine on the list I have to say I really didn't like it/ get it. As I've been a bit distracted and with limited access to e-mail, forgive me if I missed an exchange or two, but I'm wondering if we've discussed the merits of this song (whatever they may be). In reading the subsequent posts on the page today and even this thread I noticed that Carl was the only one that weighed in on the music and then a debate shifted to genealogy, Michael J. Fox and what to do in Winnipeg. Given my feelings for this song, I'd rather debate those issues too, but I would like to know if people think it deserves to make the cut...and any other thoughts on this Thamesmen-on-acid stuff from Nigel Tufnel's Canadian cousin. Keith: G'head, Mike, drop the v-bomb (I feel like the kid in the playground trying to get the other ones to fight). Mike: I don't know that I could veto a song that I'm so indifferent to...It really sounds like a bad parody to me. At least Barett's Privateers makes me wretch, er...I mean, long for my drunken days in Edmonton where the bad sing-along of choice was Cheeseburger in Paradise (and then we'd all go to Humpty's for a 4 in the morning helping of eggs and perogies or to the Funky Pickle for pizza...mmmm, funky pickle). Keith: This might be blasphemy, but the Skip Spence track kinda reminds me of a hippy Radiohead. (I don't really like Radiohead). Mike: How so? Does it make you picture a stinky Thom Yorke in Birkenstocks and a poncho driving a VW bus around upstate New York following The String Cheese Incident or is it something more gut-feel than that? btw, there's a great read from the Division of Communicable Disease Control of the California Department of Health Services re. hepatitis outbreaks at a certain bands' shows... There is a multi-state outbreak of hepatitis A in young adults associated with attendance at concerts given by the band String Cheese Incident. As of July 17, there were a total of 10 confirmed and 11 suspected hepatitis A cases. Seven of the ten confirmed cases occurred among young adults who attended a concert and camping event in Sedona, Arizona over Memorial Day weekend, May 24 and 25, 2003. The cases range in age from 17 through 43 years; half are male. Illness onset occurred between June 1 and July 4, 2003. Many String Cheese Incident fans ("Cheeseheads") follow the band from concert to concert. Two of the cases attended concerts in Telluride, Colorado on June 19 and in Santa Fe, New Mexico on July 4 and 5. Secondary transmission is an ongoing concern. CDHS requests that local health departments report Hepatitis A cases with a history of attendance at a String Cheese Incident concert to Celia Woodfill in the Immunization Branch (cwoodfil@dhs.ca.gov or 510-849-5066). The String Cheese Incident will be playing in San Francisco on July 24 – 27 and in Hayfork in Trinity County on July 29 and 30. CDC has contacted CDHS, and the San Francisco and Trinity Public Health Departments about the possibility of conducting an outbreak investigation and preventing further transmission. You don't get that at the Dan Hill... Carol: zzzz ...sorry what? I actually saw the Dan Hill at a Grey Cup game 1/2 time show at Skydrone. He was in a hot air balloon. I kid you not. Dreadful. Mike: Sorry, the Dan Hill reference was an homage to South of Wawa. Keith - you mentioned that you weren't a fan, any other thoughts? Keith: Soundtrack featuring Lee Aaron? Saaaaay, now there's an artist no one has picked yet. No, no Birkenstocks, Mike. Spence's voice reminds me somewhat of Tom Yorke and the guitars sound, as you mentioned, a mite like "Listen to the Flower People" (I can almost see Derek Smalls staring at the camera and mouthing "I love you"). Veee . . . . No, I better save it. I think a few of us may be feeling an urge to "veto hoard." (Except for Pete, Pete's spending em' like a drunken Congressman). I intentionally didn't set up too many criteria for the picks for a few reasons: 1) I thought they'd develop organically through discussion and 2) I'm lazy and often in a hurry. The first concept has, to a point, come to pass I think. We seem to have two - equally valid, I'd argue - approaches to the list. Some of the picks seem to be taking a "hidden Canadian gems" approach (Simply Saucer, Skip Spence, Nomeansno) while other tracks seem to be more of the "build a mixtape of great Canadiana the CBC missed approach." (Leonard Cohen, Jane Siberry, 5440, Rush - R.I.P). I see the Spence track as an attempt to fit into the first category. It's definitely hidden. I just have doubts as to whether: A) It's Canadian enough or B) It's a gem. Mike: Pete - you didn't answer your own question, and I am curious - is the Skip Spence Canadian enough? I'd love to know what, to your mind, differentiates it from the Langley materials which have Canadian performers and Canadian arrangements? Pete: Well, there's no empirical answer to this Canadian-ness question, but for me the fact Spence is Canadian, and he actually composed the song, makes it different from the Langley kids, who merely covered a song that was composed by an American and is quintessentially American in every way. (It's an icon of the California surf era.) I should note that was not the basis for my veto of the song, however. Does that make him Canadian enough? Dunno. I know whenever we have something in the paper saying no Canadian has ever won the Nobel for literature and I say "Saul Bellow was born in Montreal," everybody looks at me like I'm nuts. And I realize I still haven't answered the question. But I feel no need to veto Spence. The song doesn't thrill me, but I'm okay with it as a part of this list. Mike: This is like a Cooperstown induction debate - the old "What hat will he wear when he goes in to the hall of fame?" What odds would you give that Saul Bellow considers himself American? He left Canada when he was nine, has American citizenship and is so of Chicago that I can't picture him choosing the maple leaf for his Cooperstown hat. Yeah, he was born here but it ends there. There are three reasons I haven't vetoed the Spence track so far. 1) I haven't heard anything substantive from Carol and Keith and wouldn't mind additional input 2) at this rate we'll be lucky to be done by Canada Day 3) I don't want to be down to one veto so early Peter: I know I'm fighting a losing battle on Bellow, but somebody's gotta do it. Carol: I don't mind trippy psychedelia. It can be pretty fun and creative. However, I didn't hear anything outstanding in "War and Peace"; it could have been made by anyone. Why is it special? Because the artist was born north of the 49th parallel? The back story is interesting, but the actual song? Not for me. Simply Saucer is much better. Peter Somebody's going to veto that one. Once we get all these vetoes out of the way, this enterprise will move more quickly. Mike: Perhaps Carol, Keith and I can put in a 1/3 veto each. Carol: Michael, I think I owe you a veto for my fence sitting with "Barrett's". So consider poor, deluded, stoned Mr. Spence V-toed. That leaves me with one v-bomb in my arsenal. Peter: I have one veto left. I'll sell it to the highest bidder. Keith: And you guys thought I was kidding with that "drunken congressman" comment. Carol, do you have a pick? Carol: (Listen to Static: Terrible Canyons of Static; Chart #3; World Police and Friendly) I’m not sure how obscure this band/project/collective is; depends on the circles you run with. Perhaps the CBC spares them some airtime at 3 AM, but the likelihood of any commercial station doing so…well slim to none is a conservative estimate. I came to them via a friend in San Francisco recommending it. He had been spot on with every other music pick, so I took a chance, popped the $20 disc in my player and opened up the gatefold to read the liner notes. And what before my wandering eyes did appear, but a concert photo of an old Ottawa punk band called The Trapt! I was slightly flabbergasted knew nothing else about this incarnation. So I closed the gatefold and continued listening. And focused. And paid attention. Very important. Godspeed You Black Emperor have seamlessly edited together collected sounds with fine instrumentation. It’s environmental music. I found it very difficult to name just one track; they flow together as a single piece. They feel like a movement in the classical sense, although I’m not fully knowledgeable where compositional structure is concerned. So, from disc 1 of Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven! I’ve selected the second movement, “Static: Terrible Canyons of Static; Chart #3; World Police and Friendly”. Aural landscape? Perhaps, if that landscape is an urban industrial spread during the bleak grey days of November. Godspeed isn’t beautiful. You won’t feel better. You won’t bounce down the street with a smile on your face. You will float over the mind numbing commute realizing that your brain can escape the anesthetic. Conversations blend into the now smeared advertising; it’s all meaningless. The music provides a soundtrack by which you realize your cynicism need not cannibalize your individuality. What I admire, though, is Godspeed’s organic-ness. Band members have side projects without angst-ridden headline-making break-ups. Live shows draw pilgrims to congregate with quiet respect and experience the performance art; no chit chat or hipster posturing. The musicians stay true to themselves offering up space for local political causes and independent artists. They aren’t glamorous. They don’t court major labels. They make music successfully without the trappings we are led to believe are necessary. And it works. Is the artistry of Godspeed You Black Emperor essential? Absolutely. The fruit of the members’ labours draws nourishment from myriad of music without barrier or pretense; 4 chord punk marries classical cellist. Both draw from the experience of life which is itself universal. The fact that they are Canadian is simply a plus. Keith: Ladies and gentlemen, we have broken the 21st century barrier. This is the first nomination recorded after Jan 1, 2000. Carl: Sorry folks, like most Tuesdays I've been up all night on deadline with my column, and now am in the midst of editing a big feature, and searching around for (a) my next pick; and (b) a way to go back in time and undo Carol's Godspeed! pick and convince her to pick something, almost anything else from the Hotel2Tango/ Constellation/Alien8 scene, like a Sam Shalabi project maybe? Maybe a Christof Migone one? Godspeed is a band with good musicians-creators in it but something in the concept of the band is flawed. Is it the string semi-arrangements? The neither-here-nor-thereness of its patterns, repetitive but not minimalist, in most songs getting louder and bigger on a monotony with some psychedelic-ish out-of-phase slop and then fading out? Is it the lackadaisical employment of the found sound? Either way the result is elevator music for the art kids. Funny thing is that all the stuff that bugs some people about Godspeed!/Constellation - the noncooperation with the press, the political manifestos - is fine by me, and I think the Hotel2Tango ---> Constellation ---> Casa collectives' contribution to the turn in the Canadian indie scene, to the way things developed in Montreal in the 1990s, and particularly out of Godspeed's financial success, was pretty key to getting us where we are today. (The best period in made-in-Canada recorded Canadian music ever.) I just don't usually like their music at all. However I'll wait to hear the track again before I veto, as I haven't heard gybe! for a long while. Carol: a way to go back in time and undo Carol's Godspeed! pick and convince her to pick something, almost anything else from the Hotel2Tango/Constellation/Alien8 scene, like a Sam Shalabi project maybe? Maybe a Christof Migone one? Had I heard of any of these artists (or scene) before your post, I may have. As it is, I haven't. So Godspeed it is because I happen to really like their records. Hence my pick. And if GBYE are elevator music, then I'll press all the buttons in the panel and go to every floor. Mike: GYBE! is an interesting pick and a band that really benefits from the shuffle feature. Don't know that I'd ever stick their cd in and listen to it straight through but when one of their songs pops up it's a nice change in the aural landscape. Once again, I'm going to be the schulb that says that's not my favourite song by the band - the last track on the disc is more of a standout for me. The collection of the children's voices that weave in at the 3 minute mark seem to give that track a little more humanity than the songs on the rest of the album. For what it's worth, I also think they may just be the kryptonite to chick rock in my house as it's my wife that dashes to the iPod to press skip whenever they come on. Carol: For what it's worth, I also think they may just be the kryptonite to chick rock in my house as it's my wife that dashes to the iPod to press skip whenever they come on. And if no other reason, GBYE must be deemed essential! Mike: Not a lot to say about this pick. (Listen to Blues for Big Scotia) Of all the artists the CBC missed, I think OP was the biggest oversight. I expected someone to pick something from his Canadiana Suite or Hymn to Freedom (it is the Unesco folk song or some such thing) but to leave him off completely is unexcusable. I chose Blues for Big Scotia because it's an original composition and it swings. For all of Peterson's technical proficiency, the reason I listen to him is the bounce he puts in so many tunes. This number really picks up at the one minute mark (fifty-six seconds) and just rolls...I only wish I could find the big-band version that features Canonball Adderley, but my collection only contains the original and a live version. And while I'd love to think the tune is named after Canada's Ocean Playground, it's actually a reference to Ray Brown's nickname for Peterson's wife Lil who hails from Nova Scotia... Carol: Great pick, Michael. Jazz falls into the "I don't much about it, but I know what I like" category for me. I liked this. Nice change up. The count is now 1-0. Who's on deck? I'd like to put this runner on base. Hey, it's spring! humour me :) Peter: Great track. I can get behind that. There's even more of The OTHER 50 on DAY ELEVEN.
"Band members have side projects without angst-ridden headline-making break-ups."

the only reason they don't make headlines is coz none of them talk to the press. this band has had its share of membership changes and dramatic fall-outs.

" Live shows draw pilgrims to congregate with quiet respect and experience the performance art; no chit chat or hipster posturing."

have you ever seen them live? it's full of hipster posturing, chainsmoking jackasses who are there to prove how cool they are and tell their friends how cool they are.

and i actually like (though not love) this band... i just thought those points should be clarified.
gy!be are corporate wh0res - if you want to hear their music you have to pay pay pay - they don't even have mp3 on their website.
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