Friday, September 30, 2005
Pop Montreal Concert Review Haiku "At the count of five you will think I'm Chris Martin..." Dave Martel of Only Forward Only Forward Sadly, everything sounds like Coldplay now, except brash guitar solos. More balls than Only Forward, but still not too thrilling Cory Cyr (left) and Pete Frolander of Cyr Cyr So, Cyr is Pembroke's best? Perhaps Lumber King town needs more guitar shops Bandita Liz McDermott and her special-order, riotgrrl-only Marsha Stack Banditas Liz is still toughest rock chick in our Capital. Grumpy, gruff. So good.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
F**k a duck
Pregnant Pause Mayhem Bass Player Necro Butcher to Bergen concert goers: "I promise not to throw animal heads into the audience." Gene Simmons (passim.) on elementary school teachers: "They don't teach cool, I do." (via Stereogum) Bronfman to Apple: "If people using iTunes are only going to buy the songs they want - rather than paying for all the filler we've been force-feeding them - Apple better charge more." (See also, EFF to Bronfman: "You're a hypocrite") Chuck Klosterman to Bill Simmons: The only major problems with Pearl Jam's Vitalogy were that "(a) it had an oversized, environmentally -conscious jewel case, which makes it impossible to file, and (b) that it was titled 'Vitalogy,' which sounds like the name of a riboflavin supplement." Website to readers: "Please do not fuck the waterfowl." (vi(v)a ( le) Boing)
Monday, September 26, 2005
Hey y'all, sorry for the delay. I've been meaning to tell you all about some interesting developments in the land shared by hockey and French Canadian rock n' roll ...unfortunately a 24 hour flu, my French classes, the ole job thing (such as it is) and the setup of a brand spankin' new PWI Podcast (coming soon to an RSS reader near you!) have set me a little bit behind on the ole writin' duties. No worries, dear reader, for I've boiled down all that is essential in French-Canadian puck rock to three simple words: Les Dales Hawerchuk! Yup, the essential, (eternal?) Winnipeg Jet has been paid the ultimate tribute (final indignity?) of having an irreverent, alcohol-fueled Saguenay four-piece named after him. Watch the video for Dale Hawerchuk (wmv) Les Dales are great - they fit into my preconceived notions of what makes for fun French rock n' roll (ie, they're loud and fast) and do so without ever using an accordion or washboard - but they're not the only Montreal-based, francophone rock act to have named themselves after a former Buffalo Sabre.* Nope, they have to share the stage with comic book robo-rockers Mogilny. Watch the video for Technotronique Pregnant Pause While we're discussing bands that've named themselves after hockey players...Were you aware that there's a St. Catherines metal act that has a name suspiciously similar to an old Ottawa Senators backup goalkeeper? In the "news you can actually use" department, it turns out that Kelp is no longer having a multi-band showcase at PopMontreal. Don't despair, fans of Fat City rock n' roll, Banditas are playing Le Swimming Friday night. Turns out Chuck Norris recently had the idea to sell his urine as a canned beverage. We know this beverage as Red Bull. This and nine other little known facts about the star of The Octagon.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Guts Are More Important Than Skill
No music tonight, my brain is too full of French intransitive verbs. They're sharp and they make my head hurt. Pregnant Pause If my idle questions about the current state of metal got you thinking and if you're a do it yourself kind of gal or guy and if you just can't be satisfied with a copy of the (surely brilliant) Chainsaw Ass Massacre, then perhaps you might be able to use this do it yourself guide to becoming a black metal lord... (vi(v)a le boing) Ever wonder what would happen if Keith Primeau were a World War I trench sergeant? (Be sure you read all five or you'll miss Danny Markov's encounter with the popularizer of the steam engine...seriously) As funny as Chris Therrien as Frankenstein is (and it's pretty funny) I think this may be even funnier. (Via ESPN.com) Carl found this very interesting video for Final Fantasy's This is the Dream of Win and Regine. Unfortunately, the video uses a mix of the song I hadn't heard before (it's layered with plenty of what I'd consider unnecessary drum tracks).
Monday, September 19, 2005
Never the Douanes Shall Meet
Artists, and others, visiting this great country have always run into problems with my buddies at Douanes Canada. So many problems, in fact, that some of us have personified the agency. You know, given him a name. I like to call him Dwayne. Unfortunately, Dwayne and the Zoobombs had some manner of falling out that put a stop to the show scheduled for Foufounes last night. Sad, yes, but fear not, I have a replacement Tokyo-type sensation. May I humbly present to you the fabulous Tokyo Police Club. Listen to Nature of the Experiment by Tokyo Police Club Beyond his/their name Tokyo Police Club is/are an absolute mystery to me. As far as I can tell he/they is/are from Newmarket, Ontario (home of Glass Tiger) and he/they is/are opening for Pony Up at L'Escogriffe on October 1. No telling if he's/they're actually Japanese. Not that it matters. Check him/them out at a venue near you. Pregnant Pause Tokyo Police Club come to me via the very interesting Pop Montreal podcast (now in it's third episode here). The casts are a great way to figure out which of the smaller bands attending the festival might be worth your dollars and time.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Drop the frickin' bomb!
If you're not as energetic as you were at the age of 19, raise your hand. OK, that makes two of us. In fact, I'm looking at my brand spanking new PWI concert listing with equal measures of anticipation (would you just LOOK at all the great shows coming to town in the two months or so!) and fear (would you just look at the amount of SLEEP DEBT I'm going to be dealing with by the end of October). Those of you who reading in the Montreal area who like their Japanese blues-punk with a side order of funk (that'd be, what, five of you?) are in for a T-R-E-A-T tonight. Yup, Tokyo's masters of mayhem, The Zoobombs, are at Foufounes for the first of two shows in the next couple of weeks (the second is a Pop Montreal headlining slot October 1) . Though I haven't yet had the pleasure of seeing Zoobombs, I'm convinced this is going to be special. Why, you may ask? Well: 1) The Bombs 2001 live album (Bomb You - Live recorded at the El Mocombo in Toronto) shows a band that knows the impact of sloppy, rhythm-heavy power. Listen to Mo'Funky (live) (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) 2) Their 1999 album Let It Bomb includes a cover of Spinal Tap's Gimmie Some money. 3) See also #2, above. Pictures and a review tomorrow. Pregnant Pause Sign number 2861 that Montreal's economy has recovered just a titch too much...even this guy's found a new gig. Much respect to my hero John Darnielle but PWI saw em first. (As an aside, just when I thought my level of respect for Darnielle couldn't get any higher he starts showing love to the Ottawa Senators.) Have you ever wondered what happened to heavy metal? In high school, bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden were considered really heavy, evil and scary. Today, I listen to a track like Number of the Beast and - though it's great - it certainly doesn't seem heavier than current radio-friendly pop-rock. The lines have moved. The concept of heavy has definately gotten, well heavier. So, where's a guy to go today for really scary, heavy and evil music? How about Swizerland for a dose of Chainsaw Ass Massacre? (via best week ever) It turns out black people aren't the only people that W doesn't care about. (Listen closely to the beginning of Rock's speil) NPR is streaming Neil Young's new album Prairie Wind along with an interview of the man himself. Watch your back, Dr. Phil. It looks like Mr. T has parlayed a career of fool-pittying into a position as a tv advice columnist. Note to guests: Go easy on the jibber-jabber. In Montreal fine-arts news, Colonel Moammar Qadhafi's son isn't much of a painter.
Friday, September 16, 2005
The trip to Washington was valuable for a number of reasons. Not the least of which was a number of lucky finds in the used record racks of a number of The District's finer music establishments. In one well-appointed joint on the 18th Street Strip in Adams Morgan I managed to pick up two classics of the rhythm and the blues. One by some Hopkins guy (no not that one) and another by the remarkable, lightning in a bottle, rock supergroup moment that was the Hindu Love Gods. The story goes that the Hindu Love Gods' self-titled LP was recorded in one drunken session after a BBQ. The Gods were Mike Mills, Peter Buck and Bill Berry of R.E.M. and the late, great Warren Zevon. The album, in the words of Zevon, "took as long to record as it does to listen to." The results are a sloppy and drunken tribute to the power of spontaneity; full of and with a blazing version of Prince's Raspberry Beret thrown in for good measure (check out the crack of that snare drum). Listen to Raspberry Beret by The Hindu Love Gods (If it weren't out of print I'd tell you to Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Pregnant Pause You are the Eggman, I am the briefcase (via Kyle) Last night I dreamed that somebody commercialized another one of my memories. (via bedroom dancing)
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Raise your hand if you're incompetent
Who knew damage control had so many entrendres? For example, President Bush is dropping his plan for the rebuilding of the flood damaged parts of the Gulf Coast tonight at 9. Initial reports had the speech taking place in New Orleans, though it seems there is some debate about that now. Anyway, back to my continued attempts to stay to a non-political approach. Here's some more music. Listen to George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People by The Legendary KO. (thanks Arn)
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
"I've seen the future brother..."
Brief thoughts after four days in the District: - Is it just me, or have the Washington Nationals performed a complete, and completely effective, Stalinist re-write of baseball history? No one in the city wants to talk about the Expos. There are no tricolor beanies available at RFK or anywhere else in the city. Nos Amours have been disappeared, it seems. Too bad. - If D.C. had had the kind of effect on music history that it has had on regular history would Minor Threat have been as well known as the Ramones or the Sex Pistols? Would Bad Brains have been bigger than Nirvana? - If you have the time, and if you're really interested in reading the whole of what happened at the very interesting Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit I attended, you really have to check out what Glenn (a really nice guy, btw) has written over at Coolfer. Not sure how he fueled that multi-thousand word blogathon, but I have to tip my hat to his exhaustive coverage. If you've read all of what he had to say and are STILL interested in more, the FMC is reportedly making all the panel discussions available as podcasts. Watch this space for more details. - My "coverage" of the conference was limited by beer and my underpowered (and completely unwireless) Lappy 486 (note to self, time for a new laptop). Some things I did take note of, though: - In case you weren't 100 per cent sure, my experience at this panel confirms one thing: The RIAA and the CEA really REALLY don't like each other very much. - Singer/songwriter/producer Joe Henry on working with Starbucks/Hear Music: "Your CD can either be up at the front beside the espresso machine or at the back with the Dave Matthews records and the coffee grinders...No one wants to be by the coffee grinders." - Charles Bissell of the Wrens used the time between panels to sing a few numbers including a very moving version of Sinead O'Conner's Black Boys on Mopeds. It's a tune written about Margaret Thatcher's England, but I was struck by how much it has to say about Louisiana in 2005: Young mother down at Smithfeild 5am, looking for food for her kids In her arms she holds three cold babies And the first word that they learned is "Please" These are dangerous days To say what you mean is to dig your own grave Remember what I told you If you were of the world, they would love you - Chris Amenita of ASCAP on why there's a history of artists being screwed by labels: "Sure business isn't fair, that's why they call it business." Uhhh, thanks. - Michael Geist v. Graham Henderson on the subject of Statutory Damages for copyright infringement (two quickies: One, I know it's kinda wonky and I'm sorry and two: full disclosure, I do public relations work for the Geist established Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic): Geist: These tariffs should be revisited. They were set with an eye to discouraging large-scale, commercial piracy, not downloading by individuals. Henderson: Wait, what's wrong with Statutory Damages? Geist: They were set at high levels to stop large scale commercial piracy and are now being used to intimidate individuals. That's wrong. Henderson: No, we need those. They're very effective at scaring the pants off private casual copiers. Geist, surprisingly, didn't thank Henderson for making his point for him.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Cross my heart
OK, so I haven't been posting super-frequently and I've received enough complaints and concerns about my health in the last couple of days (not to mention the one or two "If you're not running your business in Ottawa full-time, and you're not working full-time in Montreal, why the hell AREN'T you posting seven times a week" e-mails) that I have to resolve to do SOMETHING. So, here goes. I'm gonna try like hell to get three posts a week in front of you all for the next eight weeks. This will be hard because: A) I'm lazy (it's true, ask anyone); B) I've been a little short of music to write about because I haven't been record shopping in several weeks (which is inexcusable, really); and, C) I'm headed to Washington D.C. tomorrow afternoon which will reduce - if not completely eliminate - my Net access until the middle of next week. (Then again, I'd love to figure out a way to liveblog THIS little bunfight) So, anyway, all of this leads me to talking about David Cross who
has directed stars in* the very fun and exciting new video for A.C., Dan (oh yeah, and Neko)'s New Pornographers.
Now**, I wouldn't normally mention The New Pornos, mostly because they already have gazillions and gazillions of fans and I'm not - strictly speaking - one of them.
I don't dislike the band (the music is perfectly fun, catchy and good) it's just that I've seen Neko Case live at least twice solo and once with the band and every time she's seemed like kind of a dick. At The New Pornographers gig (they were touring behind their first record, Mass Romantic, with the excellent - and deceased - Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire) Neko went on at length (unprovoked as far as I could tell) asking someone (a bandmate, a member of the audience?) if they wanted to see her "Tight wet pussy." Don't get me wrong, I'm not a prude, and had it actually been funny or sexy; had her tangent been in response to provocation (e.g. Moronic Fratboy: "Yo Neko! Show us your tits" Smart-mouthed Neko: "Why, wouldn't you rather see my tight wet pussy?") or the punchline to a joke (e.g. "So the rabbi says: 'Do you wanna see my...'") I could get behind it. However, as far as I could tell, Neko's between-song patter that night consisted of a half- hearted attempt to show that she had as foul a mouth as Flea***.
Anyway, I need the preamble to explain that, despite myself and all my biases, the video for Use It may well make me buy the new New Pornographers' record. The NPs not only have the good sense to include Vancouver's most beloved rock n roll oddball but they also throw a number of Vancouver Millionaires tee shirts in clip. Damn you Cross multi-talented New Pornographers keyboardist Blaine Thurier! You and your insidiously effective marketing! You're reeling me in! (Or maybe I just have a soft spot for the Famous People Players.)
* Attentive reader, and NP's keyboardist Blaine Thurier, points out that I've got my facts wrong. David Cross did give up his only day off in Vancouver to take part in the video, but he didn't direct it. In fact, Blaine did! Sorry, Blaine!
** Warning: Multiple subordinate clause and ranting, rambling paragraph(s) alert.
*** Who, the only time I saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers, said goodnight by reminding us "I have a gigantic cock..." Hooray!
Need another Narduwar vs. David Cross mashup? Stream The Human Serviette's radio interview with Cross here.
Over at coolfer, Glenn has an interesting look at the questions of nationality regarding Antony and the Johnsons' Mercury Prize Win. Some of the debate is similar to our panel discussions this spring during The Other 50.
My worst fears have come true, Everything Sounds like Coldplay Now (Via LHB)
Black Eyed Peas? Come to think of it, given their aggressive form of mediocrity this might be a more accurate name for them...
How do you cope with the stress of war, flood, and famine? Well, how about a big bowl of Smaller GovernMINT
Speaking of the famine part...I'm not a great fan of their music, but Les Cowboys Fringant are doing a great thing holding a benefit September 20th for the millions currently starving in Niger (a tragedy that should be filed under "just because it's not on CNN doesn't mean it's not important"). Unlike many benefit shows, every cent of the gate is reportedly (subscription required) going to famine relief.
Monday, September 05, 2005
In some ways, bluesman R.L. Burnside was more a character in some southern gothic novel than a living, breathing human being. Born in Harmontown Mississippi in 1926, Burnside drank hard, fathered 11 children, participated in welfare fraud and spent time (though not much) in jail for murder. The story goes that Burnside was released from his murder sentence after a plantation owner convinced a judge that Burnside's help was urgently required in the cotton fields. Burnside served three months and didn't seem particularly remorseful about his victim. "I didn't mean to kill nobody," he told the New Yorker in 2002. "I just meant to shoot the sonofabitch in the head. Him dying was between him and The Lord." RL had his own meeting with The Lord on Thursday. He died in a Memphis hospital at the age of 78. Burnside's life and death have me thinking a fair bit about concepts like "cred" and the importance of an artist's backstory. Musically there's no arguing Burnside's hill country blues are wonderful. These songs use the simplest of tools (a single guitar chord and a voice like a rusty door hinge) to evoke a distinctive time and place. They also roll with such insistent and incessant rhythm; it's nearly impossible to listen without tapping a toe or shaking a rump. It's a sound that millions of people around the world associate with the Deep South. Listen to Miss Maybelle Listen to Shake Em On Down (Go! Buy the Rekkids) And yet I can't help but wonder how MUCH of my interest in Burnside (or at least my initial interest, the interest that caused me and thousands of others to pick up his records in the first place) relies on the way we were first introduced to his music (for me, through his collaborations with the JSBX) and the "credibility" of his story as a bluesman. I wonder if, at first, I was more interested in the backstory sounding real than the music. Confused? No one could blame you. I feel like I'm writing in circles. Let's put it another way: Do you think you can actually hear Burnside's life experience - the poverty, violence and whiskey - in his music? If you can, does it follow that this music could NOT have been made by someone without those experiences? If someone - an actuary in the suburbs, say, or this guy - made a record in 1943 that sounded exactly like RL Burnside (or Robert Johnson, or Big Boy Crudup or Blind Lemon Jefferson) could it have been just as good? If it could, why are we still drawn to stories of bluesmen who did time, jazz players who did heroin and rappers who ran with gangs? In short, are we hung up on authenticity? How much does music being "real" matter? Is the actual music improved by authenticity? Is a lack of it fatal? Is Jay-Z more important a rapper because he used to hussle? Did Loretta Lynn's pipes improve because she grew up not being able to afford shoes? What is cred and how exactly do you earn it? Listen to Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues (Go1 Buy the Rekkids!) Your answer to those questions questions will, I think, go a long way towards dictating your reactions to popular music, if not all art, but they won't change the way I feel about RL Burnside. That man knew how to holler.