Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Dearest Friends, I apologise for not having posted as often and as fulsomely as I would have liked during the past week. You know all the reasons - flu, bachelorhood (have now learned to distinguish between washer and dryer), etc. But I still apologise.

I proffer further apologies for the fact that I will once again be taking a long-weekend hiatus from posting. Yes, I'll be spending the Labour Day holiday on --surprise, surprise-- Mayne Island, and that means this postlet will be the last missive from me until the middle of next week. I must cry off so soon in order to direct my energies into...

I'm afraid I can't tell you any more. People might be watching, you know (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). My lips are sealed and fingers stayed, for the moment.

Have a lovely weekend.

Secret Affair - Time for Action (buy here)
QUOTSA - The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret (buy here)
OMD - Secret (buy here)

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Dip in the Pool

FiL livin' it large, age 2 1/2, Miami FL

Well, I didn't die. I've not completely recovered, but it seems I am on the mend. It is a very nasty little bug, however...

Anyway, enough about that. Today is Tuesday, and that means it's Contrast Podcast day. In celebration of Tim's Mediterranean holiday, the theme this week is Poolside. Tim is expecting to spend much downtime chilling by blue, chlorinated waters, and was looking for a soundtrack to help him do just that. You too can lounge next to the pool (if you've no access to one, try your bathtub instead) and listen to what Tim's listening to by downloading the podcast via this direct link. You can also subscribe to this and future podcasts using the RSS feed:

Here's the poolside playlist:
(00:52) Stimmhorn - Mjandrio
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(08:15) Mosquitos - Boombox
Brian from The Rant

(10:45) Wax Poetic - Angels
Chris from Culturebully

(15:08) Henri Salvador - Vagabond
Marianne Dissard

(18:48) Augustus Pablo - Jah Dread
Colin from Let’s Kiss and Make Up

(22:19) Donavon Frankenreiter - Lovely Day
Jamie from

(26:02) Blotto - I wanna be a lifeguard
FiL from Pogoagogo

(30:45) Andrew W.K. - I get wet
Jamie from The Run Out Groove

(34:44) Emmet Swimming - Sunblock
Tom from Other People’s Toys

(39:29) James Figurine - All the way to China
Jeff from The DIY Rockstar

(45:02) Math & Physics Club - Weekends away
Bethanne from CTASLS

(48:08) Sly & Robbie - From the grass dub
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(51:59) James Hunter - No smoke without fire
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(55:26) Smog - Drinking at the Dam
Charlie from Nerdlitter

(59:48) Bong-Ra - Suicide Speed Machine Girl
SAS Radio

Next week’s podcast will build on the Who? theme of a few weeks back and pose the question ‘What?’ I would strongly encourage you all to give it a whack and choose a song with ‘what’ in it’s title and send it along with a 30-60 second spoken introduction to Go on, you know you want to!

As usual, there were a few tracks I considered before Blotto presented itself as the obvious choice. So here for your enjoyment are the runners up:

Camera Obscura - Swimming Pool (buy here or here)

Holger Czukay - Cool in the Pool (buy here)
Do visit his website, if only for his webcam. Watch him as he types! Marvel as he scratches his head!! Gasp at his silky, grey locks!!!

Sex Pistols - Holidays in the Sun (buy this or that)

Go-Gos - Vacation (buy here)

D.A.F. - Sex Unter Wasser (buy here)

On another note, in my febrile state I forgot to draw your attention the other day to a most excellent post on songs with cowbells over at Mars Needs Guitars. More fun than a day out at the Swiss cow fights!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I Really Should Be In Bed...

Darling Daugther

Dearest Friends, I am ill. A nasty summertime Lurgie settled in my head Friday evening and is cooking my brain in a gently boiling cauldron. His wee Lurgettes are painfully kneading my back and neck. Drat. Double drat.

In many ways I think I have myself to blame. Truth be told, I've been feeling somewhat rudderless all week in the absence of la famille; I miss Dearest Wife; I miss Darling Daughter; I miss Little Man, heck, I miss Old Dawg. As a result, I've probably not been taking the best care of myself; too little sleep and not enough healthy nourishment. I fear I effectively gave Lurgie the key to my skull. Sigh...

But though I'm a typical hypochondriac, wimpy male (i.e. right now I'm convinced I'm going to die in my sleep tonight), I know that this too shall pass, and next weekend is Labour Day, which means another Mayne trip. Hooray. Only this time, we're all coming back together. Double hooray.

Compounding my woe and wimbliness is the fact that last Thursday was Darling Daughter's birthday. And though I rang to hear of her chocolate cake and all the nice prezzies and the tasty lunch at The Wild Fennel, I really wish I could have been there. To celebrate, but also to devote time to her younger brother, who's nose got out of joint because no-one was paying attention to him. Double sigh...

So, for Darling Daughter, I give you two songs I sang to her (and Little Man) as lullabies because I was so utterly crap at remembering the lyrics to "Blinking-Hush-Little-Blinkin'-Baby" and "This-Bloody-Old-Bloody-Man." I'm utterly chuffed that both weans now know the words and we still sing them together. But I have to say, they were Darling Daughter's songs first.

Billy Bragg - I Don't Need This Pressure Ron (buy hard copy here or soft copy here)
Known round our way as "The Banging Song"

Ramones - Sheena is a Punk Rocker (buy here)

In other news, (quickly, before I expire), I have been completely smitten by a Magnetic Fields track that the ever tasteful Chere DJ Colleen Crumbcake over at Sugartown. It is a pure piece of happysadbittersweet wistful joy (and it reminds me of an old romantic entanglement of my own, Dear Friends). I've put the track below, but do go to her post since it has some equally delish morsels that you shouls check out.

Magnetic Fields - Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side (buy here or cybernetically here)

Must. Be. Quick. Strength. Fading...

If you've not done so already, please visit the wonderful writing and photography blogs of the lovely, talented, and large-hearted Ash. You deserve this lady in your lives.

One... Last... Gasp...

I have lately been indulging myself in the rich, lush textures of Marianne Dissard, described by Tuscon Underground as "an ironic waif with a will of steel." And a voice of smoky Parisian velvet backed by mellow Tuscon strumming, I would add. Marianne has collaborated closely with Calexico and the ever-shifting group, Giant Sand. She is on the verge of releasing a solo album, and you can find some of her demos on her myspace page. You can also buy over here a 7-inch vinyl copy (rock the old skool, boyz 'n' girlz!!) of all the demos, with download rights.

Marianne Dissard - Sans-Facon

And with that, off to my deathbead...

*FiL exits stage left, moaning and flapping pitifully*

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

She Is Now Wherever We Are

She whom we love and lose
Is no longer where she was before
She is now wherever we are
-- St John Chrysostom

This past Sunday we gathered on Mayne Island to bury the physical remains of my Beloved Mother-in-Law, Veronica, and to celebrate her life and spirit. It turned out to be a perfect day.

The service was held by her graveside next to St Mary Magdalene's, the modest, wooden, century-old church where Dearest Wife and I were married almost exactly eleven years ago. There were some twenty of us, family and closest friends. It was a simple affair, led by Thomi and Ellen, the two ministers who had been Veronica's stalwart companions on her spiritual journey. Simple, yet eclectic; among the readings were one of Rilke's marvellous "Letters to a Young Poet" and Veronica's favourite Rumi poem, "The Guesthouse." The relevancy of the latter was illustrated presently by a yellowjacket that decided to sting Dearest Wife between the shoulderblades.

Thomi spoke eloquently of Veronica and her graceful path. She told of how, while coming over to Mayne the previous day, she had seen a pod of orcas preceding the ferry, and reminded us, tearfully, that in Pacific Northwest First Nations mythology great spirits sometimes return after death in the form of these magnificent creatures. I looked over my shoulder down the gently rolling grass hill towards the sun-dappled waters of Active Pass, half expecting to see the killer whales trouping by. I realised, however, that that would have been too much of a coincidence. But I also noted that when they did go by, anyone standing by the grave would have a marvellously clear view of their passage.

And then we buried Veronica. My Dearest Father-in-Law gently placed the Indonesian grass basket containing her ashes into the ground, and one by one we placed handfuls of earth into the grave. I took Darling Daughter and Little Man up for their contribution, and I was very glad I was wearing sunglasses as my eyes were brimming. I was later told that I was not alone by any means. But the symbolic handfuls were not the end; one of Veronica's closest friends picked up the spade and continued to shovel earth into the grave. We truly did bury Veronica.

Following the service we adjourned to the house to chat, to laugh, to eat, to remember. Even my Own embittered Mother seemed to take at least temporary heart from the bonhomie and affection, much to my delight. A rescue operation had to be staged at one point to liberate a guest from a bathroom with a recalcitrant lock. Veronica would have been much amused - or perhaps she was.

That evening, after guests were gone and children bedded down, we headed down the stairs to the rocks at the base of the cliff upon which the house sits. The sky had turned the most unfeasibly gorgeous hues of blue, orange, and pink.

And then the orcas came.

There must have been at least thirty of them steaming first towards, then past us, blowing, spyhopping, breaching, and slapping as they went. A group of about four, including one calf, steered in close to where we were standing. My heart leapt as they porpoised past about thirty feet away, close enough to see their eyes. I had never before been so near to an orca, and Thomi's words rang in my ears, as did those of the closing prayer by St John Chrysostom:

She is now wherever we are...

Popol Vuh - Spirit of Peace (Pt 2) (buy here)
Dead Can Dance - Fortune Presents Gifts Not According To The Book (buy here)
Beasts of Bourbon - Rest In Peace (buy here)
The Pogues - Sally MacLennane (buy here)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Chapter & Verse

Hello, Dear Friends, I am back. But I will need to ease into things over the next few days, so please be patient with me as I look for my mojo.

Allow me to start off gently with this week's Contrast Podcast. Yes, through the magic of technology and a wee bit of forward planning, we are being treated to our weekly dose despite the fact that Contrast Capo Tim is sunning himself somewhere on the Mediterranean. We are so lucky that he takes such good care of us...

This week's theme is 'There's More To Life Than Books' (er, of course there is, like music, chocolate, cheese, dogs, and, er, that's about it. Oh, and beer. I mean real ale brewed in leather boots with twiggy bits that stick in your beard, not your pissy, gassy lager lager lager swill. But perhaps I digress...) and our bibliophiles have come up with quite the library of literary works and songs to go with them. Oooh, and we get to hear Marianne's voice again - excuse me while I melt right here...

You can download the podcast via this direct link or use the following RSS feed to become a full subscriber:

And so to the bookshelves:

(00:00) The Smiths - William it was really nothing
Book: Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
Tim from The Face of Today

(02:37) The Buff Medways - Troubled Mind
Book: Notebooks of a Naked Youth by Billy Childish
FiL from Pogoagogo

(06:09) The Beach Boys - Add some music to your day
Book: 31 Songs by Nick Hornby
Heather from I am fuel, you are friends

(10:38) Van Halen - I am the one
Book: Crazy from the Heat by David Lee Roth
Chris from Culturebully

(14:52) d_rradio - Never slept better
Book: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Mike from Nothing but green lights

(19:27) LN - It don’t matter if you bleed
Book: Vârt behov av tröst by Stig Dagerman
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(24:40) Spaceman 3 - Revolution
Book: Karl Marx: Selected Writings edited by David McLellan
Colin from Let’s Kiss and Make Up

(31:29) Serge Gainsbourg - Sorry Angel
Book: Les liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos
Marianne Dissard

(35:35) The Cure - Killing an Arab
Book: L’Etranger by Albert Camus
Simon from You can call me betty

(38:36) Golden Smog - Fear of Falling
Book: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(42:44) The Decemberists - Los Angeles, I’m yours
Book: The Replacements “Let It Be” by Colin Meloy
Bethanne from CTASLS

(47:53) Susan Cagle - Shakespere
Book: Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde
Jamie from

(52:35) Manic Street Preachers - The Intense Humming of Evil
Book: The work of Primo Levi
Jamie from The Run Out Groove

(58:24) Mr Bungle - Squeeze me Macaroni
Book: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Brian from The Rant

(01:04:15) Leonard Cohen - Came so far for beauty
Book: The Favourite Game by Leonard Cohen
Charlie from Nerdlitter

Like last week, I had little trouble in selecting a track for the podcast. I've also been in blog wildreness for nearly seven days so I can't even point you towards any luscious recent posts. So I've scraped the bottom of my barrel and, rather feebly, I offer you a smattering of book/story/writing/verse related tracks. I know, rather pathetic, but I'll try to do better next time...

Elvis Costello - Every Day I Write The Book(buy here)
The Nails - 88 Lines About 44 Women
(buy here - original EP/LP largely unavailable)
The Sundays - Here's Where The Story Ends (buy here)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Off Again

...and so my heart goes poum poum

Yes, it's true, my Dear Friends, I'm heading away for another long weekend on Mayne Island. While it will be wonderful to see the kids and Dearest Wife again, it will be an emotional time, since we will be laying my Beloved Mother-In-Law's ashes to rest on Sunday. My Own Mother is flying in from New York for the service, complete with her baggage. Much opportunity and need to practice mindfulness.

But my purpose is not to dwell on this. Rather, as I will effectively be starting off my weekend a day early and ending it a day late, I thought the least I could do is give you a few treats that might both get you into a fin-de-semaine mood and tide you over until early next week. Though they've been blogged about from here to Rio de Janeiro and back, I really wanted to get things started with current hipster faves, The Brazilian Girls. Who, in fact, have no Brazilian members. And only one girl.

Can you stand this much naked irony? Just about? Good.

'Jique' has carpeted the blogosphere like dental floss bikinis on Copacabana beach. Ordinarily that would put me right off, because I can be contrary like that. Some of you may remember how long it took me to get Sufjan, simply because I stubbornly refused to heed the hype (others lament that I now get Sufjan, but that's another matter). I picked 'Jique' just before it went supercritical, and I am sooo glad that I did. This is a truly humperful (for etymology see here) track that slinks, bumps, and smoulders all over you, like an anaconda in heat. Silky, sultry vocals that slip in and out of French AND English AND German, oh my! Sabina Sciubba, pour toi j'ai une faiblesse, indeed. Rumbly, grumping, parping keyboards. A soaring bit near the middle. Gosh, it's got me all hot and bothered.

So 'Jique' kicks things off, and I find myself carrying them on in similar sweaty fashion. Lesbians on Ecstasy spinning out a sordid tale of high-school impropriety (small and easily offended people, please make use of the emergency earplugs located under your seat). The sleazo-nihilist duo Sheep on Drugs taking you for a ride on their motorbike. The criminally underrated Wolfgang Press berating you, sucker, against an ominous beat. Al Jourgensen and his pervy Revolting Cocks trying to hump your leg whilst covering Rod Stewart (those not of a nervous disposition can watch them do it here). Linger-ficken fun all round in Big Sexy Land.

Oh my, oh dear, I think I've frightened myself. I'm off to have a cold shower, put on my jimmie-jammies, and snuggle down in bed.

Oh, but just before I do, two things:

First, Galateaa is back. Seems she had been sitting on a house. Or something. Rush over to her place and enjoy her latest!

Second, it's been quite a week for Dearest Rachel over at Untitled. She participated in her first ever Contrast Podcast to everyone's delight (especially the armadillos), she shared with us what makes her rock, and all on top of her usual fine fayre. Kudos and congrats!

See you all next week.

Brazilian Girls - Jique (buy this and try this)
Lesbians on Ecstasy - The Pleasure Principal (buy here or here)
Sheep on Drugs - Motorbike (buy here)
Wolfgang Press - Sucker (buy this fine, fine, fine album here or here)
Revolting Cocks - Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? (buy here)

Camera Obscura, And About Bloody Time Too!

Camera Obscura - The False Contender
Live at the Plaza Club, Vancouver, 24 July 2006
Without further ado, I give you Camera Obscura. Well, that's not quite true. Allow me a bit of ado. You see, Dear Friends, I had fully intended to post much earlier on this most excellent gig, but other things got in the way. Like children. Washing up. Weekends away. Other shiny gegaws that caught my eye and forced their way up my posting priority list. So now, three weeks on, I ask: should I even bother? Will people care? Or is Camera Obscura yesterday's news and now we're onto Brazilian Girls, Ratatat, and Viva Voce? Besides, already some of the finer details are fading from my memory. Or maybe that's due to being walloped in the head by a flying Ryan Adored at the Buzzcocks gig.
Whatever. I'm going to do it. I said I would, and I will. If you don't care, please feel free to hide behind parked cars and roll tumbleweed down my street, whistling like the cruel desert wind...
First up were Shapes & Sizes, a moderately buzzed-about Victoria BC band that recently signed to Asthmatic Kitty, home of Sufjan Stevens. Now I will admit that the sound during their set was mixed most poorly, but I must say I found their performance difficult. Much Deerhoofian sound bricolage (Editor: did that sound poncy to you, readers?). Nothing inherently wrong with that. However, the overall effect was akin to a salad with romaine and chard and avocado and blue cheese and smoked oysters and olives and ranch dressing: tasty individual ingredients, but all mixed together a wee bit hard on the stomach.
And then the Obscuras takes to the stage. Goodness, Traceyanne Campbell certainly looks the epitome of dour. Like the severest of school mistresses. Unsmiling. Clad in a most un-rockish purple belted dress, thick black hose, and sensible flat shoes. Casting serious glances at her bandmates as they set up. Fiddling with the most amazing baby blue guitar. The blokes all look older than I had expected. About my age, maybe (tee hee). Dressed in sensibly smart jeans and Gappish collared shirts. A final look round - everyone in place? And they're off...
Straight into the new album, starting (if I recall correctly) with 'Come Back Margaret.' I know I'm in for a treat as those wee hairlets stand to attention on the nape of my neck and my skin puckers up with goosebumps. Spider sense a-tingling in the bestest possible way. They are a fine and fine-tuned band, playing tightly and fluidly - and yes, that is possible. I am particlarly impressed by Dear Nigel, who throughout the set provides an incredible array of miscellaneous percussion (tambourine, bells, wooden blocks) and trumpetry with meticulous precision. Such loyalty.
The majority of the songs are from 'Let's Get Out Of This Country,' and that album's evocative wistfulness is reproduced with warmth and verve. Oh but Dear Traceyanne, how can a voice so sweet come from a mouth so stern (Editor: dontcha think she's probably tired about everyone crapping on about how dour she appears?)? Ah, but there is finally a hint of a smile. Wry comments about injuries on tour. And at the end of 'Let's Get Out Of This Country' she playfully meanders into the chorus of Paul Simon's 'Call Me Al.' There we go.
And then 'Country Mile.' Pure bliss. The audience at rapt attention. Well, apart from the two clods who push their way past two girls to the front thirty seconds into the song, stand right in front of Traceyanne, and proceed to babble loudly about this and that. Then they have the audacity to request 'Books Written For Girls,' to which a most irritated Traceyanne replies "Why should we bother? You'll just talk right the way through it." Applause. Hoots. Lots of it. The clods implore. Traceyanne sticks firm and moves on. The clods shrink to about two inches tall. Abso-f**cking-lutely righteous.
The set ends, but it doesn't end there. The band comes back for the obligatory encore, and Tracey declares that she feels bad for being "a bitch" and that she wouldn't be able to sleep at night if they didn't play 'Books.' And so they do, beautifully, in spite of health warnings that they hadn't played it live in ages. Pure graciousness and class. Then another couple of songs, and it is really over.
Dear Friends, it was lovely, and all the more so since it was the first concert Dearest Wife and I had attended together since a Billy Bragg gig in London at least seven years ago. Thank you, Camera Obscura, the pleasure was all mine.
I leave you with a selection of songs played that fine evening that are not off the current album, including the object of controversy, 'Books Written For Girls.' Also, as you probably noticed, at the top of the post is a clip from the very show I attended, thoughtfully posted by someone on You Tube. So click away, and you too can pretend that you're right there with me and the missus. If you're so inclined.
I now await the tumbleweed...
Camera Obscura - Suspended From Class (buy here or here)
Camera Obscura - Eighties Fan (buy here or here)
Camera Obscura - Books Written For Girls (as above)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dedicated to Contrast

Wow, you get TWO posts today, Dear, Lucky Friends. First up, it's Tuesday, which means it's time for another splendid edition, this time the 20th, of the Contrast Podcast. This week's theme is all about song dedications, so tune in and hear who --or what-- moves each illustrious contributor to song. Mine's a sappy one, I fear, so get your insulin jabs in beforehand...

You can download the podcast using this direct link or subscribe to the podcast as a whole (if you're a new-media-sophisticate) with the following RSSS feed:


(00:00) Ivor Cutler - Beautiful Cosmos
Tim from The Face of Today

(02:07) Conrad Ford - Golden Hearts
Rachel from Untitled

(04:38) James Figurine - 55566688833
Jeff from The DIY Rockstar

(11:42) Neil Young - Harvest Moon
FiL from Pogoagogo

(17:41) The Pixies - In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)
Brian from The Rant

(19:38) Gym Class Heroes - New Friend Request
Jamie from

(24:08) Number 1 I Love You - Be kind to me
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(27:58) Rickie Lee Jones - Danny’s All Star Joint
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(31:55) New Model Army - Green & Grey
Colin from Let’s Kiss and Make Up

(37:43) Ben Folds - Landed
Tom from Other People’s Toys

(43:03) The Get Up Kids - Valentine
Bethanne from CTASLS

(47:53) Joe Strummer - Ramshackle Day Parade
Charlie from Nerdlitter

(52:05) Neil Young - Like a Hurricane (Live)
Jamie from The Run Out Groove

(58:08) Ennio Morricone - Navajo Joe
Chris from Culturebully

(01:01:29) Howe Gelb - Fools Rush In
Marianne Dissard

Should you feel moved to comment, you can do so here.

This week I didn't really have much difficulty in choosing what to submit, hence there is no runner-up track per se. That said, a recent musing by Dear Colin at Let's Kiss And Make Up on pop and political consciouness set me to ruminating, which in turn caused a certain tune to start playing on a loop in my mind. Maybe I'm also still hung over from last week's Contrast Podcast theme of 'War & Peace,' but I'd like to dedicate the following track to fascists of all stripes and creeds. Wise up, suckers, you're bound to lose!!

Billy Bragg & Wilco - All You Fascists (buy here)

Stay tuned - more posting later tonight!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tastes of the East

OK, I'm sure that I'm flying in the face of all sorts of sage advice and etiquette here, but I'm about to blog while under the influence.

Yes, I'm slightly tipsy. More like pissed as a newt.

I've just had a splendid meal accompanied by splendid drinks at a splendid restaurant with better-than-expected company (it was a work shindig, after all) and I feel compelled to share this with you.

Vij's. Quite possibly the best restaurant in Vancouver. Not the priciest, not the most sumptuous, but the best.

Modern Indian cuisine done with thought and wisdom and artistry and verve and passion. And without pretense. Not a drop.

No reservations taken, but the 90-minute wait was passed happily quaffing pale ales and noshing on endless circulating platters of pakoras and cassava fries.

The genial Vikram Vij circulates and serves and buses and informs and frets over you.

Sweet, sweet, ripe, ripe mango and bitter gourd in a counterpunctual coconut and date sauce.

Perfect lamb tenderloin cooked as perfectly as a wee lamb tenderloin could hope to be cooked. Encrusted with pistachio and Indian spices, and cloaked in a light cream curry.

Pistachio ice cream laced with cardamom, a spice that makes me weep with delight.

And the drinks.

I was conquered by the Dark Army.

Appleton dark rum. Mango juice. Lime juice. Garam masala.

Ohboy. Two please. Right away. Like a real sour whiskey sour, or a mojito, with a dazzling spiciness.

Dear Friend, if you visit I will take you there and we will have a wonderful time.

And so, a grand reason to post a couple of tracks from a recently rediscovered East-Meets-West album, first heard on a fabulous mixtape made a dozen years or so ago by my Dearest Friend and sometimes commentor, Bishakh. Monsoon formed in the early 1980s as a serendipitous fusion of the delightfully evocative voice of Sheila Chandra and the pop sensibilities of an Indophile producer/writer Steve Coe. A beautiful album and a top ten UK hit ('Ever So Lonely') resulted in 1982, but stifling artist-label conflict ensued, the group shattered, and Chandra went on to pursue a successful, if sidestream, solo career.

So listen to the fluidity, clarity, and exotic lustre of these musical dishes.

Pity there are no Dark Armies to accompany them...

Monsoon - Third Eye and Tikka TV
Monsoon - Shakti (The Meaning of Within)
Monsoon - Ever So Lonely

(Buy the one and only Monsoon album here)

And I promise Camera Obscura next. Promise. You are so patient...

Currents and Tides

Sunset on the Georgia Strait
Somewhere between Mayne Island and Vancouver
July 2006

Dearest Friends, I'm back. But you probably already noted that from the last post. It's just taken me awhile to get fully up and running again. You see, it's this bachelor thing - I'm still trying to re-learn how to fend for myself with Dearest Wife and children away in splendid isolation until the beginning of September.

Laundry. Plant care. Cooking.

And the like.

Pretty pathetic, really. But true.

The long weekend on Mayne Island was lovely. But rushed. Rushed, rushed, rushed. Constant motion, coming and going. Dressing children, taking children out, cleaning children up, feeding children. Getting to market by 10:00 AM to get fresh fruit & veg, minister coming over at 11:00 AM to discuss Beloved Mother-in-Law's graveside service. What to eat, when to eat, where to eat. Pack up, head for ferry, head home, feed, iron shirts, sleep.

Mind you, there were beautiful islets of calm and mindfulness, made all the more meaningful by the background hubbub.

A splendid half-hour spent with Darling Daughter on a rocky seaside outcrop, watching, awestruck and electrified, as a pod of two dozen orcas frolicked, jumped, snorted, and splashed their way past us, not a hundred feet away.

Another spent pootling along a beach with Little Man, collecting shells and sea glass, counting galaxies of outrageously purple starfish, flipping rocks to watch the crabby crabs scatter, and discovering the amazingness of kelp.

But hélas, these islets were only briefly visited, before being covered by a flow tide of mundanities and imperatives.

However, Dear Readers, 'tis powerful strange. The whorling currents, the hectic undertow, the stressful froth, I have a sense that they are all pushing me -- us -- somewhere. Where, I do not know. Nor when. But I have a peculiar, ethereal sense that things are unfolding as they should.

Love & Rockets - It Could Be Sunshine (buy here or, for the cyber-minded, here)

Shifting gears, I have a cornocupia of music, the contents of which I've meaning to share with you for some time. Today it's a couple of local gems that I picked up a few weeks back at the opium den that is Zulu Records. Blackavar is fronted by Vancouver singer-songwriter Laura Cartwright, whose quasi-offkey voice spins a thick, husky web of dark, resonant, folkishness. Think Nico meets Hope Sandoval for a shot of whisky and a smoke in a rambling, tumbledown house filled with poignant memories, heavy disappointments, and rich longings. I find the self-titled album as a whole somewhat uneven, but the knockout tracks alone are worth the price of admission. Music for those tired of summer and yearning for autumnal melancholia.

Blackavar - Murder of Crows (buy here)
Blackavar - Your Eyes (I said, buy here)

The other Vancouver offering I have for you is the shoegazey album 'The Picture Plane' by Hinterland. Yes, it's all there: dreamy vocals by one Michaela Galloway, richly layered soft-LOUD-soft guitars, and more lush texture than you can run your dainty little fingers through. Did I say "Lush?" The band recorded a version of Miki & co's "For Love" for an AC30 compilation - come on, there's nowt wrong with wearing your influences on your sleeve. They're also not adverse to deploying such intimidating instruments as the glockenspiel. This is a fine "newgaze" effort, worthy of your attention, if you're into that sort of thing. I know I am.

Hinterland - Halflife (buy here)
Hinterland - Sirens (or here)

I promise, next post will be on the Camera Obscura gig...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

War & Peace

"If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children." - Mahatma Gandhi

Hello Dear Friends! Yes, it's time for your weekly dose of Contrast Podcast, and this week's theme is "War and Peace." As ever, it's produced an outstanding crop of tunes, but, somewhat worringly, it seems to be almost all War and no Peace. Sign 'o' the times, or are all of our contributors bloodthirsty belligerents? Here's the wartrack, which you can either download via this direct link or subscribe to using the RSS feed

(00:32) Time Zone - World Destruction
FiL from Pogoagogo

(07:18) P J Harvey - Bows and Arrows
Joe from Stage Hymns

(11:15) Motivés - Bella Ciao
SAS Radio

(14:00) The Faint - Paranoiattack
Bethanne from CTASLS

(18:50) Serge Reggiani - le dormeur du val (translation)
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(20:22) Manfred Mann - With god on our side
Dan from Burning Down the House

(25:44) Robert Wyatt - Shipbuilding
Jamie from The Run Out Groove

(29:33) Skeleton Key - Roost in Peace
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(32:46) John Vanderslice - Trance Manual
Richard from Invisible Limb

(37:36) Blue Öyster Cult - Veteran of the Psychic Wars
Rob from The Great Leap Forward

(42:41) Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Our Only Weapon
Charles from Heartache with hard work

(45:46) Live - 10,000 Years
Jamie from

(51:07) Orangutang - Leo Tolstoy
Tom from Other People’s Toys

(55:52) Michael McDermott - Hellfire in the Holyland
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(59:55) The Clash - Tommy Gun
Merz from Mars needs guitars

(01:03:48) James McMurtry - We can’t make it here anymore
Chris from Culturebully

In an attempt to bring a bit of balance, let me present the runner-up track that almost made it as my contribution. It's a lovely ditty that cleverly subverts imagery of war and fuses it with a paen to romance and tenderness.

Erm, or maybe it's just an unreconstructed piece of sexist, dirty-ass, 1970s sleaze...

You decide.

Kiss - Love Gun (buy here)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hold On Tight, This'll Be Bumpy

Dear Friends, I am so very sorry. Truly I am. I am sorry that I feel the need to share with you a song that, for diabolical reasons known only to it, dug its way out of my subconscious a few days back. Since then it has been dancing on my cerebral cortex like your embarrasingly drunk Uncle Ted did at your cousin's wedding last summer. And dang it if I can't swat it away.

So here it is. I warned you.

Loverboy - Working for the Weekend (buy here if you must)

I suppose it is an apposite time to be posting this, seeing as it is a long weekend here, on account of British Columbia Day. I will be decamping to Mayne Island, where Darling Wife and the Childlets have already taken up summer residence, thus leaving me to fend for myself against laundry, cooking, garden maintenance, and other humdrumities. Truth be told, I had been looking forward to a spot of bachelorhood, but apart from the Buzzcocks gig on Monday, it's all been rather mundane. Sigh.

I had hoped to post my overdue impressions of Camera Obscura's Vancouver show, but I fear that will need to wait until next week. Sigh again. But to tide you over, go visit my bestest blog friend Colin. Yes, he's back in glorious Glasgow from his holidays (Hallelujah!) and he's got a prime cut of C.O. for you. Oh, and given all this (Scotland, songs posted by Colin, being ready to be heartbroken) and that (weekends), it seems appropriate to post the following:

Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Lost Weekend (Get ready here)

Ah, much better than Loverboy. Go on, Lloyd, show Uncle Ted what you're made of.

Oh dear, I fear I'm losing control of this post. I blame ZB, who is probably the best psychotropic substance I've ever come across. Moving right along, here's a bit of Gabby La La, a San Fran area resident who makes sublimely nutty music using sitar, ukulele, toy piano, accordion, Theremin, and girlysqueak voice. Oops, those last bits of sanity are draining away rapidly and scrumdiddliumptiously...

Gabby La La - Backpack (buy here)

OK, time to go. And I leave you with Dirthouse Lapdance from Aggro1. No, don't think about it, not at all. Just mish mash mosh like a mutha while moving your mighty moneymaker.

Aggro1 - Dirthouse Lapdance (Static X vs N.E.R.D.)

Have a lovely weekend, Dear Friends.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Contrast to the North

Contrast Podcast 18 is out today, and boy is it a treat! The tracks themselves are all instrumentals, but the intros are all sung. Ye gods!! And yes, I managed to overcome my fear (but not my tunelessness) and take part. Gird your loins and download it here - it may take some time, but it's worth it. Just remove all glass, small children, and those with nervous dispositions from the immediate area. At least when my bit comes on.

(00:00) Dexys Midnight Runners - The Horse
Tim from the face of today

(02:37) The Beastie Boys - In 3’s
Jamie from

(05:25) Essential Logic - World Friction
Brian fron The Rant

(09:16) Alarm Will Sound - Mt. Saint Michel
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(13:42) The Bad Plus - 1972 Bronze Medalist
Duke of Straw from The Late Greats

(19:50) Nomo - The Book of Right On
Bethanne from CTASLS

(23:58) Serge Gainsbourg - Psychasténie
FiL from Pogoagogo

(29:29) The Smiths - Oscillate Wildly
Jamie from The Run Out Groove

(33:35) Mogwai - Summer
Simon from You can call me betty

(38:02) John 5 - Perineum
Marcos from Mind Booster Noori

(43:21) Jean Luc Ponty - New Country
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(46:35) Nine Inch Nails - Leaving Hope
Cindy from Adzuki Bean Stash

(52:18) dEUS - My little contessa
Coxon from To die by your side

(56:04) Gianfranco Reverberi - Nel Cimitero Di Tucson
Nuno from Undercover Songs

(59:35) Detektivbyran - HemvÃgen 16 A
Tom from My Voice Rising

(01:04:21) Joe Pass - Django
Victor Scott

Next week's theme (suggested by a very flattered me) is "War & Peace," so get mobilized and contribute!

In other news, I extend my congratulations to all the Dear Tykes in the audience, as today was apparently Yorkshire Day. By ecky-thump, I must admit to being rather partial to the county, as I spent a good deal of time oop North during a strangely interstitial year when Darling Wife was working and living in Leeds and I in London. I never did truly master the tongue, but I rapidly fell in love with Old Peculier, Roundhay Park (where I swear I once saw a girl walking her ferret on a leash), Polar Bear Records (now called Soul Alley), Rievaulx Abbey, the North York Moors, fish 'n' chips 'n' industrial-strength tea at Bryan's, and the Turkish Baths in Harrogate.



Rememberance of Things Past.

Anyroad, here's some of Yorkshire's finest for you.

The Wedding Present - Why Are You being So Reasonable Now? (buy here or here)

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry - Spinning Around (buy here or here)

Sisters of Mercy - This Corrosion (buy here)

Soft Cell - Sex Dwarf (Isn't it nice? Sugar and spice. Buy here.)

Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (buy here)

The Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict a Riot (totally reminds me of Leeds train station at 11:30 on a Friday night. Buy it here.)

Pulp - Babies (buy here)

The Housemartins - a fantastic acoustic version of Happy Hour (buy here)