Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy Noo Ear

Dearest Friends, I am back in Blogville, but only for a fleeting moment. The end of the year is nigh, and you all know what that means, eh? Time for a funky New Year's Eve party! If you're looking for a fin d'annee soundtrack, head on over to Contrast Podcast, where Old Father Tim(e) has a fantastic one on offer. You can download it here or subscribe to all the upcoming 2007 'casts by using this RSS feed: The lineup is:

(00:00) Ella Fitzgerald - What are you doing New Year’s Eve?
Tim from the face of today
(04:18) The Zombies - This will be our year
Hiram from The Harvey Girls
(07:04) Asobi Seksu - New Years
Ross from Just Gimme Indie Rock
(10:09) The Buzzcocks - Boredom
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus
(13:44) The Dismemberment Plan - Ice of Boston
Chip from Donewaiting
(18:52) U2 - New Years Day
FiL from Pogoagogo
(25:06) AC/DC - Have a drink on me
Natalie from Mini-Obs
(29:32) Paul Weller - Brand new start
Crash from Pretending life is like a song
(33:30) Yu Fei Men - Happy New Year
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away
(37:43) The Alice Project - I hope this year is better than the last
GD from Bitesize Bonus
(40:49) Brenda Khan - Yellow Sun
Tom from Other People’s Toys
(45:54) Ween - It’s gonna be a long night
Michael from The Yank Sizzler
(49:34) Martinn - Around the world on New Years Day
Waffles from waffles radio
(53:10) The Walkmen - New Years Eve
Andy from Circles of concrete
(55:37) Luka Bloom - Bridge of Sorrow
Tristesse from And before the first kiss

I must confess, it has been years since I celebrated New Year's Eve. I believe the last time was in 1999, when we had a street party to welcome in 2000. Even then I remember shivering outside in the cold, wondering when would be the earliest I could diplomatically slink inside the house and into bed. I often wonder why I'm such a New Year's Eve Scrooge, seeing as I do enjoy a party and have little fear of embarrassing myself. I suppose it's the notion of enforced frivolity and enjoyment: You WILL stay up until midnight and you WILL drink lots of champagne and you WILL enjoy yourself and you WILL make chit-chat with people who don't care if you live or you die. So I reserve my 'Bah, humbug' not for Chrimbo, but for New Year's Eve. That said, I do hope you all enjoy yourselves...

In a similar vein, I've been strongly resistant to the idea of posting an end-of-year list. So many people have already done a fabulous job of rounding up this year's nuggests of goodness. Coxon posted his fave songs, albums, and gigs; Fraser couldn't contain himself and did it here and here; Andy wrote his in concrete, Marcy got lost in her inbox not once but twice, and Rachel treated us to a myriad of excellent 2006 fayre served up in different ways over here. So in the end I have given in to peer pressure. I am very easily led astray...

And here it is, my list. This is not a 'Best of 2006' - goodness knows I'd never presume to tell you what you should be or should have been listening to. No, this is a totally subjective and flawed recollection of choonz released in 2006 that made me a happy FiL at various points during the year. If I thought about it more, I'm sure I'd come up with others. Definitely not in any order of preference.

Cansei de Ser Sexy - Alala (buy here)
Oh, maan, best thing to come out of Brazil since cachaca.

Snowden - Anti-Anti (buy here or e-here)
Post-punk is not dead. It's alive & well & living in Georgia. Peachy.

Motorettes - You Gotta Look The Parts (buy here)
These lads make me grin summat fierce.

Buzzcocks - Flat-Pack Philosophy (buy here or e-here)
There's life in the old 'Cocks yet. Indeed, they're are at the top of their game.

GWAR - Tormentor (buy here)
Most fun at a gig I had all year. And the fluids!!

Teddybears Sthlm - Hey Boy (buy here)
These Swedes sukapunched me and lodged in my brainstem, where they remain to this day. Thank you, SAS Radio!!

Harvee - Magical Mind (buy e-here)
Lovely Canadians! I wish them bags of success in 2007.

Pony Up! - The Truth About Cats & Dogs (Is That They Die) (buy here or e-here)
More lovely Canadians!! But unfortunately they speak the truth. Ah, the suffering of change...

Ndidi Onukwulu - Old Heart (buy here or e-here)
My surprise discovery of the year. This young blues diva knocked my socks off at the 2006 Vancouver Folk Music Festival.

Sambassadeur - Kate (buy here)
More Swedes! These ones have occupied my soul and are making it ache with their sweet sound.

Camera Obscura - I Need All The Friends I Can Get (buy here or e-here)
Oh, Traceyanne Campbell, how you make me all giddy & giggly. And the kids love you too. As do mine. Sigh.

Well, that's it from me for this year. I'm off to pick up Dearest T from the Vancouver aerodrome, then it's off to Mayne Island early tomorrow morning. I will be incommunicado until sometime during the first week of January, so until then (and afterwards as well), I wish all of you a rollicking start to 2007.

Edit: Damn, damn, damn! I knew I'd forget some worthy tracks, but this one was really too worthy to leave off: Mouse Eat Mouse - Mair Licht (buy e-here). Think Mark E Smith meets Ivor Cutler and Billy Connolly. In a Haircut 100 single played at 33rpm. I have a certain Scottish blogger to thank for this gem.

P.S. Dearest T has arrived, but British Airways saw fit to leave his bags and those of thirty other passengers somewhere in Heathrow. So first stop was to an all-night drugstore to buy a pair of Rhino underpants. Tee hee!

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas
(apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

'Twas the night before Christmas, in the blogosphere
But not a blogger was posting, it was powerful queer.
I trolled the old stalwarts in search of new fayre,
But came up with nothing, the web was all bare.

Perhaps all my blog friends were seized with good cheer,
And have spurned their computers, for those held dear.
My heart, it was much warmed by this kind seasonal thought
What miracle, what magic had Christmastime wrought!

No bootlegs of Sufjan, not a Kooks rarity,
No Camera Obscura, nor an Arctic Monkey.
No Britney-meets-Carcass-meets-Manilow mash,
No insightful reflection, no wit, no flash.

About this occurence, I felt I must post,
So I typed on my keyboard, and grew deeply engrossed.
For three hours, nay four, I wrote prose most sublime
And picked music tracks that were perfectly divine.

My labour most heartfelt I then tried to upload,
But Blogger just froze and Fileden did implode.
I then understood the fair bloggers' Yueletide plight,
Merry Christmas? Fuck that, I'm off to bed, goodnight.
Dear Friends, I'm going to be out of the blogosphere for a few days now as we gear up for the Chrimbo festivities. I should be back briefly after Boxing Day, but shortly thereafter we are off to glorious Mayne Island to see in the New Year.
Thank you all so very much for stopping by - I really do enjoy your visits! And to my Dearest Friends, including those blogospheric denizens who've become ones over the course of the year (you know who you are), I send extra special holiday greetings and FiLlurve.
Since this will be my last chance to post Yuletide muzak until 2007, here are a final trio of tunes to blast on Christmas morn:
I Am The World Trade Center - Rockefeller Tree (buy e-here, and if you don't know what a Rockefeller Tree is, see here)
Holly Golightly - Christmas Tree On Fire (buy e-here)
The Bellrays - All I Want To Do Is Shag For Christmas (buy e-here)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Feeling Scroogey Yet??

Contrast Podcast is back this week with yet another batch of Christmas cheer to force down your gullets. But this isn't just more of the same-old mouldy fruitcake, oh no! This stuff is cool and crisp, just like a new snowfall on Christmas morning. The Vandals! The Muppets!! The Wedding Present!!! And more!!!! Rejoice, rejoice!!

As usual, you can pull the podcast out of this stocking, or you can get Santa to regularly drop off each episode by subscribing with the following RSS feed:

OK kids, let's do some rapping and unwrapping!!

(00:55) Eric Metronome - Jesus Christ
Eric Metronome (website/myspace)

(03:58) The Vandals - Oi to the world
Simon from You can call me Betty

(07:04) The Shitbirds - Christmas is a-coming (may God bless you)
SAS Radio

(08:58) The Wedding Present - Step into Christmas
Jim from Quick before it melts

(13:33) My Chemical Romance - All I want for Christmas is you
Bethanne from Clever titles are so last summer

(18:10) Emmy the Great & Lightspeed Champion - Christmas in Prison (buy the charity album here)
Tim The Daily Growl

(21:58) Garrison Keillor - The 12 days of Christmas
Rick from Are you embarassed easily?

(25:50) Unio and Petito - a balm on yer
Deek Deekster from Pod of Funk

(31:37) Loretta Lynn - It won’t seem like Christmas
Michael from The Yank Sizzler

(34:55) Frickin’ A - Merry merry merry frickin’ Christmas
Tom from Other People’s Toys

(38:44) Danny Elfman - Making Christmas
Shawn from Das Mobius

(42:59) John Denver and The Muppets - The Christmas Wish
Spoodles from Robot hand is the future

(46:54) Emmy the great - The Woods
Tim from Fun Fun Fun

(50:05) Miles Davis and Bob Dorough - Blue Christmas
Marcy from Lost in your inbox

(53:26) The Flaming Lips - Christmas at the Zoo
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(57:01) Neko Case - Christmas card from a hooker in Minneapolis
Brian from The Rant

(01:00:57) Victor Scott - O Holy Night
Victor Scott (website/myspace)

For those of you thinking beyond Christmas, Tim's already accepting submissions for the New Year's Eve podcast. But you'd better hurry: submissions are due no later than 21 December!! Still don't know how to participate? All is made clear here.

Now, I know some of you out there are sick to the back teeth of this whole holiday rigmarole for one reason or another. So, in an attempt to put a wee smile, however wry or twisted, on even your faces, let me offer up a batch of tunes that celebrate the darker, downkey, and depressed aspects of the season. If you're dreading yet another year of family arguments, the sardonic Shrag have the tune for you. On the flip side, that nice, morose man fellow from Casiotone For The Painfully Alone paints a lonely picture for those left all by themselves for the holidays. Vancouver's own Young And Sexy ruthlessly reveal Santa's class bias, while the Long Blondes block up their chimney and nurse a bitter, broken heart. And finally, Faster Pussycat and BTFABG paint it all a gothicky black.

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Cold White Christmas (buy here)
The Vichy Government - (One More Widow) One Less White Christmas (atmospheric freebie download from last year. Now unavailable, but this year label Filthy Little Angels is giving away a massive 70-song sampler - for free!! Get it here!!)
The Long Blondes - Christmas is Cancelled (this was a freebie download - how kind!!)
The Raveonettes - The Christmas Song (buy here)
Merle Haggard - If We Make It Through December (buy here or e-here)
Shrag - Stop The Revelry (find this & other similar goodies here)
Young & Sexy - Santa Likes Rich Kids Better (buy here or e-here)
Faster Pussycat - Silent Night (buy here or e-here)
Black Tape For A Blue Girl - Chanukkah, O Chanukkah (buy here)

And for the purists amongst you, here's Oscar the Grouch with his inimitable Noo Yoik take on the holidays: I Hate Christmas (buy here).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I Grow Old...

I grow old. . . I grow old. . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

-- T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Dearest Friends, today was my birthday. And though I am that little bit older, I do like to think that I will not end up as Eliot's Prufrock, embittered by and regretful of an inauthentic life of paralysis. Yes, so much has happened, and there have been many avenues, now closed, that I did not explore. And I wonder what would have happened if I had. But I look ahead, and am convinced there are still adventures as yet unhad, and opportunities to be uncovered and seized.

It was a low-key day; I spent a good deal of it up on the garage roof unblocking drains and sweeping tree litter. But Dearest Wife made for me a most fantastic chocolate-almond cake spiced with cardamom and chili. And Little Man made me a card in which he drew his first ever recognizable representation: a snowman. A low-key day, but a good one.

Do I hear you ask, "How old?" Well, here, let me give you some clues - first one to get it right gets a copy of the cake recipe.

Donovan - Hurdy-Gurdy Man (buy here)
The Beatles - Revolution (buy here)
William Shatner - Mr Tambourine Man (buy here)

I fear that this day in history is actually a bit of a musical desert. The best I can come up with is that I share a birthday with Bananarama co-founder Sara Dallin. But I am pleased to say she's several years my senior. Was that bitchy? Bop-bop-shoobee-doo-aaah...

Bananarama with Fun Boy Three - Really Saying Something (buy here)

But the real question is: do I now qualify as a dirty old man??

Thee Headcoatees - Dirty Old Man (buy here )

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Contrast

Well, roger me sideways with a candy cane and douse me in mincemeat, it's time for the first instalment of the Contrast Podcast Yuletide extravaganza! And at the helm of this runaway sleigh is none other than jolly old Chrimbo Timbo. Ho Ho Ho and a bottle of rum. The CP elves have obviously been hard at work, picking the finest festive ditties for your enjoyment.

There's no need to wait until Christmas - just click here to unwrap this present, or get the gift that keeps on giving by subscribing through this RSS feed:

Woah, the reindeer are getting restless - I'd better get to the list...

(00:00) Eels - Everything’s gonna be cool this Christmas
Tim from the face of today
(03:28) The Wombats - Is this Christmas
Ross from Just Gimme Indie Rock
(07:23) And What Will Be Left Of Them? - Have yourself a filthy little Christmas
FiL from Pogoagogo
(10:58) Laura Nyro - Up on the roof
Adam from Beggars Banquet
(14:49) Axydlbaaxr - Carol of the bells
Axydlbaaxr’s stumbleupon page
(19:13) The Andrews Sisters and Bing Crosby - Mele Kalikimaka
Kip from Hip to be square
(22:47) Mydols - Merry Frickin’ Christmas
GD from Bitesize Bonus
(25:38) Remy Zero - Someday at Christmas
Andy from Circles of concrete
(28:41) My Morning Jacket - Christmas Time is here again
Duke of Straw from The late greats
(35:18) Barry & the Beachcombers - Booka’s list
Crash from Pretending life is like a song
(36:26) Centro-matic - It’s starting to look like Christmas
Alex from Totally true tales from Texas
(40:39) John Leguizamo - The night before Christmas
Cindy from Adzuki bean stash
(44:40) Dressy Bessy - All the right reasons
Amy from Shake your fist
(47:39) Low - Just like Christmas
Natalie from Mini-Obs
(51:18) The Smashing Pumpkins - Christmas Time
Jamie from The Run Out Groove
(55:08) The Von Trapp Children - Carol of the Bells
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away
(59:53) Fear - Fuck Christmas
Chris from Culturebully

If you've got a seasonal carol you want to share, don't despair! There's still time to contribute to next week's part two - find out how right here.

Dearest Friends, my stockings are soooo chock-full of Christmas warbles that it goes without saying that there were loads of runners up. So let me sling another lot of choonz your way. Now, don't fret, I'm not going to get all reflective on you. This won't be another one of my "I-liquefied--my-left-hand-in-the-blender-making-egg-nog-daquiris-but-it-taught-me-the-true-meaning-of-Christmas" posts. This one is all about arse-out fun. Yep, 'tis the season for making silly. For going along to excruciatingly cheesy parties and snogging Brenda (or Bruce) from Accounts Receivable under a sprig of mistletoe. For getting giggly with gramps and granny on the gin. For moshing round the menorah with the menschen. For conducting regrettable experiments with advocaat, Baileys, soy egg nog, and port. For rockin' around the tree with Da Kidz. For gorging on shite like plum pudding and friutcake that at any other time of the year would be used to pave streets.

And so, in the spirit of Christmas parties everywhere, here's a poptastic holiday mix for your enjoyment. Better run, coz I'm about to break out that mistletoe and Baileys...

St Etienne - I Was Born On Christmas Day (buy here)
Boney M - Feliz Navidad (buy here)
Kurtis Blow - Christmas Rappin (buy here)
Sam Flanagan - Frosty DMC (this mashup f'ing rawkz da bellz!!)
The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping (buy here)
The Pipettes - White Christmas (freebie from Memphis Industries)
Supposedly The Beatles - White Christmas (Allegedly off of a fanclub flexidisc, but some of my kind & discerning readers say otherwise, and they're probably right. Calumny! I've been duped!! And to think I traded the family cow for this tune - what will Mother say?? I no longer warrant the authenticity of this track- you click the link, you take your chances...)
The Kinks - Father Christmas (buy here)
Slade - Merry X-mas Everybody (buy here)
Beach Boys - Little St Nick (buy here)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

It's A Fair Cop

A Very Nice Mountie

Dearest Friends, our family's downward slide into criminality continues. You may recall Dearest Father-Out-Law's brush with the Mounties back in October. Well, it is with a heavy heart that I must report my own descent into lawlessness. Yes, in one brief, fleeting moment I was transformed from a staid, respectable, family man into Gangsta FiL. Here is my sorry tale...

I had just dropped off Little Man at home after his regular Saturday swimming lesson. My intention had been to run a few errands on the way, but his sporadic breakfast cough was becoming increasingly persistent cough and told me that he was probably not up to the task. I also felt a wee bit of guilt begin to gnaw away, asking me whether sending him off to swim today had been wise. So with Dearest Wife's imperative to return in less than an hour so she could take Darling Daughter off to ballet, I jumped into the Golden Pimpwagon and took off.

As I tooled down the road, I mulled over all I needed to do: pick up an ink cartridge, find a Chrimbo prezzie for my mother, order a ham at the butcher for Christmas dinner, and fill up the car with petrol. A quick glance at the clock told me I could do it all, if I hurried. Then I got a bit annoyed - hurry, hurry hurry. I hate hurrying. I hate hurrying particularly on the weekend. And doubly so during the holiday season. Hadn't I told myself that I wasn't going to let myself be forced to hurry this year? Irritation grew, and to top it all off that nasty provocateur Julian Cope was egging me on with his popular beat combo music on the stereo. My foot grew heavy on the accelerator, and then, off the the right...

A policeman. Waving me down. Telling me to pull over.

"Good morning sir, you were doing over 100 kilometers in an 80 kilometer zone. May I please see your driver's license and registration?"

I waited on the shoulder while the cop checked my details back in his squad car. I sweated, thinking about the five keys of blow I had in the spare tire, the unlicensed Glock 9mm in the glove compartment, and the endangered Golden Lion Tamarin under the front seat. But I really started to tremble when I thought of my mp3 player - that unauthorized Yo La Tengo track alone would get me five years in maximum security...

Alright, so yet again I exaggerate. No blow, no Glock, no protected, tiny monkeys, and no Yo la Tengo (whew!). Just an embarrassed, mad-at-himself FiL.

The cop returned. He was ever so nice about it all; he gave me the lowest fine he could ($138, reduced by $25 if paid within 30 days), and didn't even feel the need to lecture me. As I pulled away nice and slow, he bagged another miscreant with his radar gun.

Sitting in the Staples carpark, I spent a few minutes trying to stop feeling so stupid. I asked myself what was I supposed to learn from this episode, apart from the obvious "Obey the speed limit." What it came down to was that despite my self-entreaties to chill out, I had become caught up in the hectic frenzy of the season. I had let myself get frazzled and irritated, and had paid for it. Indeed, I thought, this was a lesson that went beyond Christmas.

Having somewhat regained my equilibrium, I proceeded with my errands. Though I didn't manage to fill up the car or get a present for Mum, I did stick to the speed limit.

And I felt a whole lot calmer for it.

Lightnin' Hopkins - You're Too Fast (buy here or e-here)
Nouvelle Vague - Guns of Brixton (buy here )
Grandmaster Flash - White Lines (buy here)
Clinic - Monkey on My Back (buy here )
Classix Nouveaux - Guilty (buy here)

And as a bonus, here's the sublime Copey track that I tried to blame for pushing me over the edge: Julian Cope - An Elegant Chaos (buy here)

In this elegant chaos / I stand to one side / Shouting 'Ha!'

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Punky Christmas Party

Santa & The Klawz, NP-34 Research Station, 1/12/06

Well, the Christmas frenzy has well and truly started, but so far I've managed to steer calmly through the froth. I do apologize if this sounds a bit smug, but methinks I've already done about 90% of my gift shopping. Yep, thank you,, and (Dearest Wife, avert your eyes RIGHT NOW unless you want to spoil the surprise) amazingly funky local boutique LouLou Luv! LouLou's is a wonderful girly-girl place, stuffed to the gills with fantastic handbags and jewellery. The shop itself has a real fin-de-siecle a Paris vibe and their window displays are always extraordinary. Currently they have two stunning Christmas trees fashioned out of sparkly silver and gold evening clutch bags. Ho Ho Ho & Oh La La!!

I am particularly thrilled that I managed to limit my exposure to The Dreaded Mall. Indeed, I made but one brief foray into the roiling waters of Oakridge Shopping Centre, and managed to escape before being crushed by a combination of piped Yuletide muzak, overheated and recycled air, zombie-shopper hordes, and enormously bloated decorations (Look out! It's a six-foot-wide velvet bow!!). As I emerged (empty-handed, I might add) into the refreshingly cold outside air, I had a brief, frightening flashback to one December night a couple of years back in London...

It was either the penultimate or final shopping day before Christmas and I was sadly behind on my shopping owing to a maniacal year-end workload. In desperation I went that evening to the city's premier shopping strip, Oxford Street, to hit the major department stores: John Lewis, Selfridges, Debenhams, House of Fraser.

I found myself in hell on earth. Wall-to-wall bodies. Tortuous check-out queues. Displays picked clean. Packed, sweaty Tube trains.

I can't remember what all I bought. But I do recall feeling despondent that I hadn't been able to put my heart into it, that I had spent a lot just for the sake of buying, that I had let Christmas become an automated, compulsive duty.

And so, Dearest Friends, let me give to you the second of my festive mixes, one which I hope will give you the stamina, courage, and bolshiness to muscle your way through all the shite and aggro of the season. I tell you, these are the tunes that Santa, his reindeer, and the elves are pogoing and slamming to in the North Pole mosh pit. Merry effing Xmas to you all - I mean it, maaaan!!

The Vandals - Oi to the World (buy here or e-here)
The Damned - There Ain't No Sanity Clause (buy here)
The Dickies - Silent Night (buy here)
Sloppy Seconds - Hooray for Santa Claus! (buy here or e-here)
Crucial Youth - Santa is Coming (buy here or e-here)
Peter & The Test Tube Babies - I'm Getting Pissed for Christmas (buy here or e-here)
The Ramones - Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight) (buy here)
Celibate Rifles - Merry Xmas Blues (buy here)
The Jet Boys - Merry Xmas, Fuck You (buy here or e-here)

And for Dearest Liz, who goes for this song most every way it's dished up: The Revolvers - Last Christmas (buy here)

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Sound of Money

Clink... clink... ka-chiiing!! This week, Contrast Podcast is bopping to the beat of cash tills, the sound of shaken piggy banks, and the rustle of banknotes. Yes, the theme this week is, as Abba so eloquently put it, "Money, Money, Money." And since time is indeed money, let's get on with it: you can download this musical cash cow here, or you can improve efficiency, and therefore both your profit margin and return on equity, by subscribing via this RSS feed:

And so, let's open the vault and sift through the treasure therein...

(00:00) Toby Slater - Consumption (Waverunner remix)
SAS Radio

(05:21) Mudhoney - The money will roll right in
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(07:59) Billy Bragg - The marching song of the covert battalions
Sid from Too Much Rock

(11:54) XTC - Love on a farmboy’s wages
Crash from Pretending life is like a song

(16:06) The Coup - Pimps (freestylin’ at the fortune 500 club)
Katherine (who doesn’t have a website)

(21:23) Jamie T - If you got the money
Tim The Daily Growl

(25:38) Horace Andy - Money Money
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(30:18) Daisy Chainsaw - Love your money
FiL from Pogoagogo

(33:48) Whodini - What people do for money
Tom from Other People’s Toys

(38:30) Jens Lekman - Pocketful of money
Jamie from The Run Out Groove

(43:20) Billy Bragg - Bad Penny
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(46:23) MxPx - Money tree
Alex from Totally true tales from Texas

(48:57) Fang - The money will roll right in
Michael from The Yank Sizzler

(51:42) Hamel on Trial - The lottery
Ross from Just Gimme Indie Rock

(54:42) Think about life - Money
Marcy from Lost in your inbox

Over the next fortnight CP is getting into the holiday spirit with not one, but TWO festive episodes on subsequent weeks. So break out your favourite seasonal ditties, though I promise to send Rocco & his ninja elves round your house for a friendly chat if you submit any Aled Jones. Indeed, why limit yourself to Christmas? Pelt Old Saint Tim with your Kwanzaa and Hanukkah tracks as well! Go here to see how you can get your presents under the tree.

To be sure, as I rummaged through my change purse trying to decide what to drop into the donations box week, several songs caught my eye with their lucrative glint. So here are a few of the not-quite-so-valuable tracks that were considered:

Buzzcocks - Credit (buy here or e-here)
From this year's corker of an album, "Flat Pack Philosophy," which is in my Top of the 2006 Pops list. And they're stunning live, even if they're old.

The Jam - Pretty Green (buy here)
Paul Weller explains the complexities of the monetary system to us all in down-to-earth language even a banker can understand.

Momus - Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (buy here)
No, no, nothing to do with those nice, suburban kiddies, Good Charlotte. This is lovely, squiggly, bleepy, indie C86 Eurodeesco, not unlike a slightly more knowing Pet Shop Boys. When you're up, everybody wants your babies.

So, now that we've talked about money, a brief word about love. On Sunday, Dearest Wife asked if I would help her henna her hair (I dare you to say that last phrase ten times fast). With some trepidation, I agreed. The process involved strategically pasting her lovely chestnut locks with a whiffy, greenish mud consisting of grass clippings, freshly brewed coffee, and apple cider vinegar. As I worked the gunk in with my mismatched rubber gloves (one pink, one yellow), I mused out loud that this situation must indicate one of two things: either that all the magic and mystery had drained irretrievably from our marriage, or that our relationship was so firmly cemented that it could withstand such banalities. I'm going with the latter...

Haircut 100 - Love Plus One (buy here and dance like a mad, eighties fool)

And in this holiday season, remember: love trumps money anytime...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bah, Humbug! vs Deck the Halls!

Hooray! It's the first of December! The advent of Advent! The moratorium on things Christmassy has been lifted! Cue engorgement on atrocities like egg nog and fruitcake! Bring on fevered, last-minute shopping for novelty stocking stuffers! Roll out and repeat ad nauseam syrupy-stringed muzak versions of "Winter Wonderland"! Better get me a bucket...

Heck, old Snow Miser even dumped a ton of snow on us here in Vancouver to jam it down our throats. Quite useful, you see, as the Canucks cannot rely on Thanksgiving as the starting pistol for the holiday season, like their bretheren south of the border can.

I've always felt a bit odd about the holiday season. In many ways it fills me with dread. Why? Oh, the usual reasons. Feeling obliged to try and enjoy it. The sense of disappointment, inadequacy, and frustration when you don't. Pervasive, rank commercialism. The hurtful politics of some families. The painful gluttony. The panic of trying to meet work deadlines before everyone f*cks off on vacation. Bah, humbug.

But over the past couple of years I have found myself trying to focus instead on that which I find good in the season. The shared rituals, such as a good neighbourhood carol service. The excuse to give because you really want to give, not because you have to. The sense of anticipation and wonder, magnified by that of Darling Daughter and Little Man (who at my office's Christmas party for children really believed that S. the receptionist WAS Santa Claus and hugged him no less than FIVE times to thank him for his gift). Actually, having created my (er, yes Darling Wife, I meant "our") own family has helped me try and centre on these latter aspects. It's as if creating a critical mass has allowed me to better define what it all means to me, and to offer up to others.

Bloody hell, I sound like a flipping greeting card. When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best (tm). To the cynics, I apologize. You're rolling your eyes so hard I can hear the muscles popping. But I am sincere in hoping you get something out of this holiday season. Other than heartburn and heartache.

And with that in mind, here's a brace of holiday choonz to get you going. A wee bit of something for everyone, from Lord Nelson's taste of calypso Chrimbo to the best cover of "Blue Christmas" EVER to Klaus Nomi's surreal Club Bossa Nova versh of "Silent Night." And I can promise you a few more stockingfuls of seasonal music over the next few weeks. Regardless of whether you've been naughty or nice.

And now, I'm off to boogey with the elves...

Jimmy Eat World - Last Christmas (no idea where you can buy this)
Tralala - Everybody Christmastime (buy here or e-here)
Shonen Knife - Space Christmas (here's the only copy I could find!)
Lord Nelson - Party for Santa Claus (buy here)
Klaus Nomi - Silent Night (er, once again, sorry, can't point you to the single, but try this)
Bullette - Blue Christmas (don't know where to find this, but she's lovely & you should download her debut album here)
James Brown - Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto (buy here)
Daniel Johnston - Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree (buy here, tho' admittedly there's not much point...)
Sufjan Stevens - Come on! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance! (buy here or e-here)
Three Wise Men (XTC) - Thanks For Christmas (buy here)

BONUS! From the finest Christmas TV special ever created, I give you: The Heat Miser Song!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Bird in the Hand

Flap your wings and cock-a-doodle-doo with joy! This week's Contrast Podcast is out today and the theme is "Chickens and Other Birds." Prepare yourself for a veritable flock of aural, avian delights. And there's not a genetically modified, battery hen of a track in sight - it's all free-range, corn-fed tuneage with plumeage.

Enough of my twittering. Fly on in to this wondrous dovecote, where KD Lang, The Cramps, Sufjan, and Bobby Darin all share a perch. You can do so directly here, or else you can sbscribe using this RSS (chicken)feed:

(00:00) Herbie Hancock - Bring down the birds
(00:53) Bobby Darin - A Nightingale sang in Berkley Sq.
Tim from The face of today

(03:51) The Trashmen - Surfin’ Bird
Ross from Just Gimme Indie Rock

(06:24) The Cramps - Chicken
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(08:35) The Bat Boys - OK Blue Jays
Lyle from Mentok the Mind-taker

(11:54) Buffalo Tom - Birdbrain
FiL from Pogoagogo

(15:43) Cake - Comfort Eagle
Tom from Other People’s Toys

(19:48) KD Lang - Bird on a wire
Marcy from Lost in your inbox

(24:40) Dead Kennedys - Chicken Farm
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(30:00) The Twilight Singers - That’s just how that bird sings
Alex from Totally true tales from Texas

(34:40) They Might Be Giants - Birdhouse in your soul
Jim from Quick before it melts

(38:54) Rachael Dadd & The Missing Scissors - Birds & Horses
Tim from FunFunFun

(43:10) Saves the Day - Nightingale
Andy from Circles of Concrete

(46:31) Weird Al Yankovic - I wanna new duck
Cindy from Adzuki Bean Stash

(50:02) Galactic - Funky bird
Deek Deekster from Pod of Funk

(55:13) Johnny Otis - Turkey Hop
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(58:38) Sufjan Stevens - The lord god bird
Tim The Daily Growl

Tim, our fine, feathered friend, is now soliciting contributions for the next three podcasts, so no excuses for not participating. Next week's theme is "Money, Money, Money," while the subsequent fortnight will be home to a two-part Christmas special (though I wager he'd take Hannukah and Kwanzaa trax as well). To find out how to participate, fly your tail feathers over here.

Though several tunes strutted their stuff and flashed their feathers in an attempt to woo me, it was Buffalo Tom's shrill screeching that won me over this week. However, also in the running were:

Lush - Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep (buy here for only $1.93!!)
Emma and Miki, the goddesses of shoegaze, turn this early 70s, proto-glam guano (remember Middle of the Road, anyone??) into sugar-spun gossamer. Recorded for the 1990 anti-poll tax album "Alvin Lives in Leeds."

Blackavar - Murder of Crows (buy here)
Please take your prozac before listening. A lovely, bleak, raw-voiced song off of the uneven eponymous album. And yes, I did post this a while back, but I'm happier now...

Hawkwind - Silver Machine (buy here)
It's got a bird in the group name, not the song title, which if we're being anal would have technically disqualified it. But it is a groovy, spacey, wibbler of a choon, so do come fly with a pre-Motorhead Lemmy. Factoid: The Sex Pistols opened with this number at their 2003 Crystal Palace reunion gig. It was actually quite wonderful...

You'll notice I have a photo of an owl up top. That's because they are my favourite birds, closely followed by ravens and crows. I'm not sure what it is about the nocturnal winged beasties that thrills me so, but thrill me they do. Actually, we're having a spot of bother at the moment with barred owls. You see, they've been attacking folks in nearby parks and woodlands. Yes, you read right, attacking. There have been signs up warning of the danger since August, but the owls were supposed to have ceased and desisted at the end of October. However, they still appear to be cranky; I just heard today of two new divebombing attacks in the neighbourhood. Scaaary stuff, but I still like them owls...

And finally, a power and weather update. Our electricity was off from 8AM to 8PM yesterday. While inconvenient, it was rather fun dining by candlelight and the kids thought it all a great adventure. Plus it was a good chance to chill (ho ho, how punny!) with Dearest Wife sans TV or computer distractions. This morning I figured the main roads were clear enough to drive on. However, I could not for the life of me get into the Pimpwagon - wet snow and minus nine temperatures had welded all the doors shut. So crowded bus it was. By this evening the car was cleared of snow and thawed of ice, so hopefully tomorrow will see me on the road again. Slow of speed and low of gear, methinks...

And so, to sleep, perchance to dream. Of owls. But not the bloodthirsty, blitzkrieg kind.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Back East and Out West

Room with a View, Toronto, 21/11/06

Hello, Dear Friends! I'm back from Back East, and am glad that I am. Oh yes.

From a functional perspective, the trip was a success. Business was concluded. Faces were put to names. Nice people were met. Relationships were nurtured, both in office settings and over expense-account meals in chi-chi restaurants. Indeed, I filled my annual red meat quota with some lovely venison at Bistro & Bakery Thuet and a very nice filet mignon at the rather staid Barberian's Restaurant. Head was rested on a king-size bed in a 27th-floor room of a comfy but cookie-cutter downtown hotel. All very satisfactory.

All that said, I don't like Toronto.

Clearly it is a city that's trying very hard. Yonge Street is ablaze with neon lighting and video displays, all attempting to invoke the brio and esprit of Picadilly Circus, or perhaps Times Square. Skyscrapers soar purposefully - in the name of commerce, and of cosmopolitan, condominium living. But I found no soul, only the steely, hard edge that cuts through so many metropolises. And speaking to its denizens, it is apparent that it suffers from urbanitis: lengthy and frustrating commutes, elongated working hours, and individuals isolated amidst the multitude.

Radio 4 - Save Your City (buy here or e-here)

Despite my general opinion of the city, I was happy to rediscover and spend my one free evening most enjoyably at Sam the Record Man's emporium. Sam's is something of an odd beast, much like a cross between HMV and a local, independent record shack. It boasts stock levels to rival the megastores, yet has wonderful pockets of eclectica and a laid-back staff. I left with a clutch of CDs, including a copy of Morrissey's "Your Arsenal" at the bargain price of three bucks. Result! But it was a Romeo Void compilation that I was most pleased to unearth. For my money, "Never Say Never" may well be the perfect Noo Wave track, with its dripping anomie, atomaton guitars, droning sax, and sleazy lyrics - "I might like you better if we slept together." Oh, my!!

Romeo Void - Never Say Never (buy here)

CDs in hand, I was most pleased to board my Friday flight Out West to Vancouver. My seat neighbour was something of a kindred spirit, having chucked it all in and moved, along with his daughter and wife, from Nottingham to Vancouver. We had a good natter comparing notes, and neither of us had any regrets. As our five-hour flight neared its end and the plane prepared to land, we both gazed out the window at the frost-dusted North Shore mountains. The afternoon sun stroked the peaks and made them glow with golden welcome. I am home, I thought to myself, and felt very contented.

My contentment is continuing, despite a strong dose of meterological incongruity. While I was in Toronto - a city (in) famous for its Arctic freezes and prodigous snow - the weather was sunny and temperatures most benign. However, here in Vancouver, where winter is usually a pussycat, albeit often a very damp one, we are groaning under a foot of snowfall and shivering through a freezly minus three cold snap. Yes, yes, Mr Mentok, I'm well aware it's minus fifteen in Saskatchewan. But we are gentle, fairer folk on the West Coast, and unused to such conditions. Plus our water is still turbid...

I must say, though, it was magical to wake up this morning to a pure white, silent, snow-muffled world. And even more enchanting to have the opportunity to build, along with Darling Daughter and Little Man, a wonderfully lumpen snowthing. We kicked it Old Skool, complete with twigs for arms and carrot for nose. And so I present to you our First Official Snowman of the season. I am sure you will agree he's a fine fellow.

Although we have a moratorium on Chrimbo music in our household until December (enforced unflinchingly by Dearest Wife), I couldn't resist posting The Ronettes's sublime version of "Frosty the Snowman" in celebration of FrankenFrosty's birth. It just seemed so right.

The Ronettes - Frosty the Snowman (buy here)

And so, to bed. I have no idea how I'm getting to work tomorrow, but the contingency plan is a 90-minute walk...

UPDATE 27/11/06 8:45 AM: Well, I managed to get into work this morning, though it took me just over an hour on a circuitous bus route. That said, it was still a shorter commute than my old regular one back in London. Ah, perspective. However, power is out across large swathes of the Vancouver area, our neighbourhood included. So fret not if you don't hear from me much. But hey, it's all an adventure!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Toronto Calling

Hello.... Do you read me? Over.... Bzzzpt... This is FiL... Over...

Well, this is fun! Here I am in sunny (for real!) Toronto, using my corporate-issue Blackberry to post. Truth is, this wee device isn't geared for lengthy epistles - my thumbs are cramping and my word count is limited. So I'll wish you well, keep it brief, and offer you this:

The Soviettes - Land of Clear Blue Radio

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Up On The Roof, 19/11/06

And now, Dear Readers, the word of the week: turbidity. That is, cloudiness. Murkiness. Sediment stirred up and suspended.

Last week the Greater Vancouver area was lashed by a particularly virulent winter storm. The wind and rain knocked out power (in some places for up to 48 hours), felled trees, damaged buildings, and closed roads. Chateau FiL escaped relatively unscathed; the lights stayed on and the three stratospheric fir trees in our back garden stood strong. There were a few fallen branches that would have given me or Dearest Wife quite a headache had we been taking out the rubbish at the wrong hour, but thankfully our timing was good.

Our main inconvenience has been the need to boil our water. You see, the authorities have advised that the storm has washed unprecedented amounts of sediment into Vancouver's rerservoirs, therefore increasing the theoretical risk of bacterial growth. So best not to drink or brush your pearly whites with untreated tap water. Actually, the boffins said: "As turbidity increases, there is a potential for increased risk of gastro-intestinal illness. Until turbidity returns to acceptable levels residents may wish to use an alternate drinking water source ... or boil their drinking water." I pictured the press release being written by Muppet Beaker. As a sign of our modern times, Dear Friends, Vancouverites reacted by cleaning out every shop of bottled water. "Why boil? I want my water NOW! Instant gratification, please. What's that? Landfill? Discarded plastic bottles? I don't understand what you're trying to say."

The Buff Medways - Misty Water (buy here)

Actually, for FiL the storm had the proverbial silver lining, in the form of a silver car. You see, on Wednesday I had taken the family car for servicing. Not the Squealing Pigmobile, but our Golden Pimpwagon: an airbag-laden, cream-leather-seated (Oh, yeah, baby!!) Volvo V40. However, the garage was caught in one of the power outages and I therefore had to drive the loaner car, a 2006, 2.5 litre, turbo S60 sedan for three day instead of the one. Oh, the hardship. Dearest Friends, I'm really not a car aficionado, but it was rather fun driving around in that overpowered executive chariot.

The Divine Comedy - Your Daddy's Car (buy here)

Coincidentally, as Vancouver scurried to recover from the storm, I found myself sitting in a hotel ballroom listening to four experts discuss disaster preparadeness and business continuity. You know, how to keep your firm working even when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are sweeping across the land. They talked about Asian flu pandemics, of the coming Big Quake, of fires, of floods, and spooky terrorists. I have very mixed feelings on this whole matter. On the one hand, it is valuable to be prepared. Fire extinguishers in the kitchen, blankets in the car, that sort of thing. Yes, we have our recommended five-day supply of food and water in the garage, just in case of earthquake. But on the other hand, I'm wary of people's fear being whipped up into a paralyzing froth of paranoia and anxiety. Yes, the world is a dangerous place with much that can hurt you. But it is also one of great beauty and wonder. Spend your life hiding in an emotional or physical fallout shelter, and you'll miss so much.

Mudhoney - Touch Me I'm Sick (buy here)
Iggy Pop & The Stooges - Shake Appeal (buy here)
Prodigy - Firestarter (buy here)
Caesars - Don't Fear The Reaper (buy here)

Back to the weather. As I type I'm seeing the sun for the first time in eons. For today, the weatherman forecast more rain and wind. Indeed, since even before last week's storms we've been under one of those wintery palls that makes you feel like dawn hasn't properly dawned all day. Your watch says high noon, but the sediment of grey clouds suspended in the sky tell your heart and spirit that its twilight. And though I find Vancouver gorgeous in any conditions, it has been hard going to remain sunny of disposition. I've also been experiencing a spot of emotional turbidity as well, almost as if nature's huffing and puffing has stirred up more than just mud. Lately I have found myself musing on relationships, in the broadest sense of the word. With people, living and dead, near and far, intimate and distant. With events, long gone, recently past, and in the present. With myself. But the dust motes that float in the dull rays filtering through the window are a salutory reminder that everything, including turbidity, is transitory.

Love & Rockets - It Could Be Sunshine (buy here or e-here)

Post scriptum: For most of the coming week I will be in the throbbing metropolis of Toronto on business. I will therefore probably not have much, if any, opportunity to blog (though I may have a cunning plan). So if indeed I am scarce, that is why.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Vanaqua, 12 Nov 2006

Dear Friends, I had intended to post something substantial tonight, but it is not to be. While I type, my head is literally nodding and lurching as I fight off sleep. I am drifting along the liminal shallows between the sands of consciousness and the deep of slumber, no longer certain whether the fantastical creatures I am seeing are real or surreal.

Alas, I must away. A polychromatic hyrax in a coracle is rowing me out to sea...

Psychic TV - Just Drifting (buy here)
Olivia Tremor Control - Define a Transparent Dream (buy e-here)
Styx - Come Sail Away (buy here)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Side One, Track One

Like clockwork, the Mighty Tim Young has today delivered our weekly edition of Contrast Podcast. This week we are treated to an entire virtual album of killer kick-off tunes. You know, those Side One, Track One songs that start off a record/CD by sending shivers down your spine. So prepare your vertebral column accordingly.

You can download the podcast here, or use this handy-dandy RSS feed to subscribe:

And so, without further ado, a record full of opening tracks:

(00:36) Sonic Youth - Dirty boots
Ross from Just Gimme Indie Rock

(05:43) Bob Marley - Keep on moving
Simon from You can call me Betty

(09:54) David Bowie - Five years
Michael from The Yank Sizzler Podcast

(15:15) Spank Rock - Backyard Betty
Bethanne from CTASLS

(19:28) Thragedium - Cupidus Gloriae
Marcos from Mindboosternoori

(21:55) Hope of the States - The black amnesias
Tim The Daily Growl

(27:23) The Stooges - Search and Destroy
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(31:26) Butthole Surfers - Sweat loaf
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(36:21) Bruce Springsteen - Thunder road
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(42:03) Matthew Jay - Let your shoulder fall
Alex (who might get a website one day)

(46:56) Weezer - Tired of sex
Tim from FunFunFun

(50:10) Elvis Costello - Beyond Belief
Fraser from BKYLN song of the day

(53:43) Diffuser - I am
Andy from Circles of Concrete

(57:56) Nerf Herder - Vivian
Tom from Other People’s Toys

(01:01:20) The Gift - Front of
Nuno from Undercover Songs

(01:08:28) Guided by Voices - Hardcore UFOs
Jamie from The Run Out Groove

(01:10:38) The Sex Pistols - Holidays in the sun
FiL from Pogoagogo

For me, this week was a no-brainer. "Holidays in the Sun" is, hands down, my favourite album opener. Period. Indeed, I've poked around my record box for other potential candidates, but have come up with precious little apart from an old 45 single adaptor and a worn-out turntable belt. Oh, and this gem, which is indeed precious, kicks off the magnificent Doolittle, and makes this chien andalousia dance like Ian Curtis on crank:

Pixies - Debaser (buy here or e-here)

But that is a paltry offering indeed, though the quality be high. So to float further down this stream of consciousness, here are two tracks by ex-Pistol singer John Lydon that also make me boogie.

Public Image Limited - Bad Life (buy here)
An oft-maligned bit of Lydon's work, methinks. I love the menacing edge and tribal drums set against the disco-esque beat.

Leftfield & Lydon - Open Up (buy here)
Alright, not the best of the lot, but I appreciated hearing the shrill & snarl of Johnny's voice at those 1994 indie discos. Actually, the best Lydon collaboration was "World Destruction" with Afrika Bambaataa. That rocked summat fierce. But I posted it not all that long ago, so am loath to do so again. Unless it really means that much to you...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Of Course You Realise This Means GWAR...

Dearest Friends, you may laugh, but tonight I'm off to see GWAR. I'm not entirely sure why I'm going, but I think it's largely due to idle curiosity. I mean, their support crew has to mix up 30 gallons of fake blood for each show. That's got to be worth seeing, if only to say at cocktail parties that you have.

GWAR - Tormentor (buy here or e-here)

See Oderus Urungus and Beefcake the Mighty interviewed by Joan Rivers here. I couldn't make this stuff up.

EDIT: Friday, 1:19 AM. I just got in and am still trying to process what I just saw. It was the grandest of Grand Guignol, tasteless, gross, and OTT. There were decapitations. Avulsions. There was prosthetic onanism. President Bush got his skull split open. Fluids gushed aplenty. I was peed on by Oderus (at least I think it was pee) and spattered with "blood".

The music? Loud. Thrash. Metal. Unremarkable, to my taste, when standalone, but galvanizing in the live context. Oh, and Devin Townsend came onstage and sang a couple of songs with them. Apparently he means something to metalheadz. He has good lungs. And I had bags of fun.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

Contrast Podcast is out. When? Right now! Oh, I see. Ahem. that's actually the theme of this week's episode. As usual, the Dear Contributors have created a lovely pot-luck smorgasbord for your delectation, with each musical dish containing that key ingredient, the word "when." Hustle to the table and download the podcast using the direct link or book yourself a recurring reservation using this RSS feed:
And so, a table. Quand? Tout de suite!!

(00:00) Alasdair Roberts - When a man’s in love he feels no cold (Planet Claire session)
Tim from The Face of Today

(04:39) Bony Bikaye - When doves cry
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(08:14) Mission of Burma - That’s when I reach for my revolver
Michael from The Yank Sizzler Podcast

(12:27) George Formby - When I’m cleaning windows
Ross from Just Gimme Indie Rock

(15:23) Elvis Costello - When I was cruel
Lyle from Mentok the Mindtaker

(23:15) The Jesus and Mary Chain - Happy when it rains
Nuno from Undercover Songs

(27:27) Love spit love - It hurts when I laugh
Alex (who still doesn’t have a website!)

(32:17) Everclear - When it all goes wrong again
Tom from Other People’s Toys

(36:54) The Good Life - What we fall for when we’re already down
Bethanne from CTASLS

(40:25) Swag - When she awoke
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(44:48) The Rocking Horse Winner - When songbirds sing
Andy from Circles of Concrete

(49:12) The Posies - When mute tongues can speak
Jamie from The Run Out Groove

(53:06) Idlewild - When I argue I see shapes
Tim from FunFunFun

(57:41) Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - I should have kissed you when I had the chance
FiL from Pogoagogo

(59:38) Ella Fitzgerald - When my sugar walks down the street
Cindy from Adzuki Bean Stash

Get your thinking caps on for next week's theme, "Best Album Openers," and go here to find out how to contribute.

This week there was only one song in the collection that jumped out at me with a back story. Apologies, Dear Friends, but I must admit I got all emo on you. I should be careful, as you know what happens to emo kids of all ages... Anyway, there were a couple of tracks that I considered briefly, but they don't merit a mention. No, really. Look, you'll be sorry, trust me. Don't make me do it! Please, don't ask again!

Alright you win. But don't say I didn't warn you:

Doris Day - When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along (buy here)

Dead Kennedys - When Ya Get Drafted (buy here)

Actually, the second one is not so bad. And it sort of ties in nicely with a bit of good news we received this weekend. Dearest Wife's Cousin returned last week from his tour in Iraq, all safe and sound. I think he's now off snowboarding somewhere that is as diametrically opposed as possible to the hot, dusty field post he was based at during the past year. He is thrilled to be back, but he does have over a year left in the Army, plus several more as a reservist. We're hoping he doesn't get sent back, but let's focus on the here and now: Welcome home, Dear Cousin-in-Law.

Dear Friends, I try not to wander into realms political here at pogo a go-go, but I am so incensed and sorrowful that human lives and resources are being squandered on an ill-conceived campaign of dubious motivation. The Iraqi adventure is a complete moral, civic, and geopolitical disaster. It was launched under the false pretense of thwarting a clear and present danger (imminent use of WMDs) and has pushed Iraq to the brink of becoming a failed state of the kind that incubated the murderous hatemongers responsible for 9/11.

I recall corresponding on the eve of the Iraqi campaign with a friends whose work takes them frequently to The Pentagon. They relayed to me then the deep unease that US military officers were expressing to him about the then-impending campaign. These soldiers fretted about the WMD allegations, about the aim of the war, about the limited resources allocated to the task. But, as is fitting and right in a democracy, they took their guidance from civilian leadership. And, sadly, they were right to worry.

One more point, Dear Friends (and I hope we still are friends, even if you do not share my view): if you are American, get out and vote today. It's your right, and therefore your responsibility.

Right, I'll put the soapbox away now, but will leave out these ditties for your consideration:

Tiger Lillies - War (buy here or e-here)

The Jam - Little Boy Soldiers (buy here)

IDC - Safe From US (check out IDC here)

Memo to self: You must do a full post on the deliciously sordid Tiger Lillies someday soon. Their twistedness deserves to be spread far and wide...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Care to Chat?

Evening Orchid
2 November 2006

Ah, Dearest Friends, how good of you to drop by. It seems like ages since we spoke. Yes, yes, I know we've exchanged hilarities over Contrast Podcast and all that. But we've not really chatted about how it's all going for some time now.

Well, I've just settled down in front of the (fake, gas) fire with a nice mug of tea and was planning to relax by watching reruns of "Dog the Bounty Hunter" or perhaps "Voyager," but I'd much rather have a natter with you. Here, have a seat on the sofa. Can I get you a cocoa or something? Oh, and do have a look at our orchid - rather splendid, isn't it?

You know, I've met two lovely new people recently. Fraser has recently been bitten by the Contrast Podcast bug and has his own place over at BKLYN Song Of The Day, whence he dispenses daily doses of ditties and general cheer of a good nature. And he's got fab earrings to boot. Liz I technically encountered a while back at the late, great blog Let's Kiss And Make Up (RIP). But it's only recently that I started to visit her Roaring Machine with any regularity. And what a wonderfully loud, existential noise it makes! Mix in a soundtrack that never disappoints and you'll understand why I pop round her way.

Our family Halloween was most enjoyable. As Dearest Wife, Little Man, and Darling Daughter were all donning their pirate garb, I spruced up the ghoulish decorations around our house of horror. The final touch? Sticking Nurse With Wound's "Spiral Insana" on repeat out in the front garden. Nothing like messing with wee minds. And here we are just before we sallied forth into the cold, cold night and plundered to our wicked hearts's content:

Oh, and a codicil to my Halloween music post: I've recently rediscovered that wonderful snippet of popgoth histrionics, Shriekback's "Nemesis." I simply adore the OTT lyrics, and I know of no other song that deploys the word "parthenogenesis" in quite the same way.

Shriekback - Nemesis (buy here)

What's that? What wedding? Oh, the Greek one that I DJed. Yes, I did promise to tell you all about that. Well, the wedding itself was lovely, as were the bride and groom. I'd never been to a Greek Orthodox ceremony before and it was all high church with stacks of chanting, smells & bells. The presiding priest was the splitting image of Bluto from Popeye, which was somewhat disconcerting, but the resemblance did add additional gravitas to the proceedings.

At the reception, I was supposed to tag-team with the bouzouki band. No problem. But soon I was to realize the full weight and might of the juggernaut that is Greek Culture. I started off spinning cocktail music, which went all swimmingly. Then the band and I interweaved during dinner, before they came on for a dancing sesh. Problem was, the Greeks didn't want the band to stop. The yayas, the fat men in ill-fitting suits, the glitzy glam Helens with mighty Aphrodite hairdos, they all danced their folk dances and sweated like nothing else mattered. And since my main concern as a DJ was that folk enjoyed themselves, that was absolute fine by me, except for two things.

First, the band played at Motorhead volumes, threatening to split skulls indiscriminately with their bludgeoning bouzoukis. Second, the non-Greek half of the 200-odd guests kept asking me when I was going to go on. How awkward. In the end, I managed to squeeze in only one half-hour of boogie, but I must say it did my heart a power of good to see the floor fill with people and sweat when I did. You see, though I DJed quite extensively while an undergrad (back in the days of vinyl), I hadn't spun the tunes for a good dozen years or so, apart from an evening DJing my daughter's preschool pool party in 2004. So I had seriously doubted whether any of my mojo remained. But I was pleased to see there appears to be a wee bit left in the tank. And I was most happy that I made people happy. But I didn't manage to work in that Greek heavy metal cover of OMD's "Enola Gay..."

Wolfcry - Enola Gay (buy here)

And how is it going in general, you ask? Quite well, I must say. However, I know there are thinks lurking in the underbrush. Much has happened in the past year, and though I have tried to reman mindful of it all, I am beginning to sense there are beasts that I have yet to face fully. Recently I've also heard the snuffling of the Black Dog, who is never a welcome visitor. But I'm hopeful I can keep it at bay.

And so, Dear Friend, it is late and I am feeling a bit tired. Perhaps we could just sit here and listen to a spot of music for a spell. I'd also love to hear how things are going with you, if you care to share. Do let me know if you'd like another mug of cocoa.

This Mortal Coil
- Mr Somewhere (buy here or e-here)