Saturday, December 22, 2007

An Irie Christmas

Toasty the Snowman stolen from here

Huzzah! I'm on holiday!! Yes, the work year is now behind me and for the next ten days I shan't have a single fiddle with my Blackberry. And you know what else? I found Natty Christmas - on emusic, no less.

There still is much to do on the Christmas front. But you know what? I've decided that I'm going to do it chill. No stress, no drama, just mindful calm. Or total irie.

Yes, that's it. Dearest Friends, I wish you all a most irie Christmas.

Jacob Miller & Ray I - We Wish You A Happy Christmas / Amharic Temple (buy here or e-here)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Stocking Stuffers

See that picture above? Well, Dearest Friends, that's what it's been like around here of late, all swirly and rapido and pixilated and pixelated. December has been relentless on the work and home fronts, to the extent that once again Christmas is in danger of becoming Just Another Task to Accomplish. Shit, it's almost here and I can hear the pile of unfinished Seasons Greetings cards taunting me from downstairs. Ever since one horrible, horrible Christmas Eve several years ago spent frantically shopping amongst hordes on an infernal Oxford Street, I've ensured that my shopping gets done well in advance. But this year the wrapping, which I detest, has yet to be done...

I fear that while swimming in this seasonal maelstrom I've not been as attentive a blogmeister as I would have liked. On top of not maintaining this allotment in cyberspace, I've neglected of late to visit many of the splendid gardens that flourish in the blogosphere. Sigh. And I have stories left untold, screeds lying unvented, thoughts left unexplored. Sigh again.

But let me share with you a few knicks & knacks that have been building up...

Last Thursday I spent a doubly enjoyable evening out on the town. First source of enjoyment was seeing the mighty Shonen Knife for the first time in about fifteen years. They are one of those bands whose capacity to make me not worry and be happy I frequently forget. They put on a splendid show (despite atrocious sound mixing) full of horn throwing, one-choo-free-foah Ramones worship, cuteness, poptasticalia, big cats, and anime. Guitarist/singer Naoko is a rock goddess, and I just wanted to wrap the whole band up and take them home for the holidays. Want to see how it all went down? Have a look here . You want sound? This is how they kicked the whole thing off:

Shonen Knife - Konnichiwa (buy here)

And the second source of enjoyment that evening? I met up with Dearest JaG at the show. I'm pleased to report (as if you needed confirmation) that she is indeed as lovely and fun and smart as she comes across over at Angsty. We chatted up a storm about life in BC, shoes, sailing, traveling, and, of course, blogging. Yes, we spoke about you. And you. And you, and you, and you. But don't worry, we agreed that our lives have been made immensely richer through knowing you lot. And we decided that we must get Andre McFarlane to come visit us here in Vancouver.

If that was a knack, then onto a knick: as some of you commented, it was indeed my birthday a few days ago. However, that was completely independent of the Yuletide debauchery described in my previous post. That was Santa FiL allowing himself, once off-duty, to be led astray and soaked in, of all things, dreadful amounts of Alizé. I just wish it had been a more respectable tipple. Yes, there are incriminating photos involving adult toys. No, I shan't be posting them.

Onto more serious matters. You will recall that Cousin Soldier was ordered to deploy earlier this month for a second tour in Iraq, despite still being in recovery from serious shoulder surgery. Well, chalk one up for military stupidity, and at the same time one for silver linings. You see, while his unit was preparing to move north from Kuwait, he buggered his shoulder again. How? By trying to lift his pack. Cousin Soldier was so unfit for duty that merely shifting his standard issue gear reinjured him. But at least the Colonel is able to say that he deployed his unit at strength, as ordered, though one of his troops did get wounded in a combat zone right off the bat. And the silver lining? Well, Cousin Soldier's unit shipped north into Iraq earlier this week, but Cousin Soldier was left behind in Kuwait, hoping for a trip back to the US, bureaucracy permitting. What a roundabout, cockamamie story, eh Readers??

And finally, some more Christmas music. When I was a callow radio deejay back in college, the station held an annual Reggae Christmas Party in honour of Jacob Miller's Natty Christmas. So, with these memories dancing around my addled brain, I offer to you a punky reggae Christmas selection. Please note that The Revolvers track is the best EVAH cover of Wham's Last Christmas. Which should not be confused with the awesome Last White Christmas by the groundbreaking, Don Letts initiated, post-punks Basement 5.

Aggrovators - Santa Claus Dub (buy here)
Basement 5 - Last White Christmas (buy here)
Didjits - Christmas Fish (buy here or e-here)
Lord Nelson - Party For Santa Claus (buy here)
Vandals - Oi To The World (buy here or e-here)
Revolvers - Last Christmas (buy here)
Yellowman - We Wish You A Reggae Christmas (buy here)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas in the Garage

Nanduloc! I said Nanduloc!!

Dearest Friends, you may recall from a post or so ago that of late I've been doing battle with rats in our garage. Yes, to date three big, grey rodents have fallen prey to The Trap, thanks to their fondness for peanut butter. So you can guess what I surmised when tonight I heard much banging and clattering in the building out back. Armed with a big stick, I gingerly opened the door...

But this time no rodentia scurried or scarpered, for the sounds came from none other than Wild Billy Childish's latest garage group extraordinaire, The Musicians of the British Empire. Indeed, they were belting out numbers from their latest Yuletide el-pee, Christmas 1979. Billy, Nurse Julie, and Wolf even donned elfin costume at one point and did a little winter jig. You don't believe me? Here, have a look! If that weren't gift enough, Childish cohorts Holly Golightly and Thee Headcoatees showed up to add a few carols to the proceedings. Finally, we all had some mulled wine and mince pies before they took their leave and I went to bed, with visions of sugarplum fairies rocking out in my head.

Wild Billy Childish & The Musicians of the British Empire - Mistletoe (buy here or e-here)
Holly Golightly - Christmas Tree on Fire (buy here or e-here)
Thee Headcoatees - Santa Claus (buy here or e-here)

And I suppose if you've downloaded Santa Claus, you'll also be wanting this:

Thee Headcoatees - Davey Crockett (buy here or e-here)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Too Much Chrimbo Cheer

FiL went to a Christmas party last night.

FiL dressed up as Santa Claus.

FiL got stinking drunk.

FiL had to be helped home.

Dearest Mrs Claus is not speaking to FiL.

But FiL feels no remorse...

The Dwarves - Drinking Up Christmas (buy e-here)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fuck Off, I'm Full

Go on, watch the video clip - it's wafer-thin...

Oh, Dearest Friends, I'm only joking - please don't fuck off. You see, I was only alluding to this week's Contrast Podcast (belch), which celebrates yet another Deadly Sin - that of gluttony. Yes, on offer is a truly diverse, heaving buffet of musical foie gras, lyrical suckling pig, and a melodic Knickerbocker glory for dessert. So get your noses straight into the trough over here and gorge until you can listen no more. Don't forget to leave the Maitre D' your comments over here. So, to the menu:


(00:00) Intro from Mr G. Letch & Mr A. Thrub

(02:55) The Oompa Loompas - Oompa Loompa Doompa-De-Do
Tim from The face of today

(03:51) Turbonegro - Everybody loves a chubby dude
Ross from Just gimme indie rock

(07:32) Steve Westfield & The Burnouts - Smoked a little too much monkey brain last night
Linda from Speed of dark

(14:04) The Grandsons - Last meal
Brad from Brad’s Blog

(18:20) Queens of the Stone Age - Feel good hit of the summer
Crash from Pretending life is like a song

(21:49) Charles Mingus - Eat that chicken
Chris from

(26:48) The Detroit Cobras - Hot Dog (watch me eat)
Dirk from Sacred Loser

(31:14) Alien Sex Fiend - Stuff the turkey
FiL from Pogoagogo

(35:00) Godley & Creme - Snack attack
Shaun from Cold Citrus

(39:11) Pinkie Maclure and The Puritans - Gluttony
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(44:45) Babybird - 45 & fat
Mèden O. Zephyr from Old fridges can kill

(49:35) INXS - The one thing
Thom from Better in the Dark
Watch the video that Thom mentions on Youtube.

(53:23) The Presidents of the USA - Candy
James from Jamesisadork

(57:23) Ben E. King - Stand by me
Natalie from Mini-obs

(01:01:04) Morrissey - You’re the one for me fatty (live)
Jim from Quick before it melts

(01:05:01) The Descendants - I like food
SiD from Too Much Rock

I must admit I had a hard time picking a song for this week, as the larder appeared to be quite bare. Indeed, all it seemed to have in it were donuts and sugary snacks:

The Lunachicks - Mmm, Donuts (buy here or e-here)
The Go-Nuts - Snik Snak Skaduliak (buy here)

But just when I feared I might go hungry, a pasty-faced, Alien Sex Fiend slipped into the kitchen and started gibbering madly while stuffing a turkey. It was the perfect dish, and oh-so-timely in a Christmas stylee. So while I usually don't post my submissions, I'll make an exception this week in a gluttonous, holiday spirit.

Alien Sex Fiend - Stuff The Turkey (buy here or e-here)

Actually, I must admit that the holiday season is a time of tribulation for me. I find it hard to resist the slew of delicacies on offer, and as a result every year I overindulge. Yes, I know it is a salubrious lesson on the nature of change, illustrating how something so appealing can become off-putting. But I've had that class several times and you'd think I'd learn by now.

Nervous Eaters - Get Stuffed (buy here )

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Is Upon Us

I know I didn't ask, but thank you hydromedusa...

The waves are not abating, nor are the waters getting any shallower. Nothing left for it but to pull on the wetsuit (mmmm, tight neoprene), strap on an oxygen tank, and swim like a fish. And since Christmas is coming (and the octopus is getting fat), it's utterly appropriate to slip on a Santa cozzie as well.

Yes, Chrimbo is ratcheting up chez nous, Dearest Friends. We went out en famille this weekend and chose our tree from the nice man with a chainsaw who sets up every year in the vacant lot around the corner. We had a small domestic discussion as to whether a fake tree would be more eco-friendly, but we convinced ourselves that the oxygen spewed forth by our cultivated lodge pole pine in it's 7-year life would not have been spewed had it not been for the Xmas market. Moreover, Vancouver has an excellent recycling programme, so it'll end up as mulch for other greeny-growy things. I trust that if my logic is flawed, you will point it out to me.

Having brought tree home, I had to spar with a rather fearless and cheeky rat in our garage while extracting the tree-holder from storage. But neither man nor rodent nor squabbling children could prevent Dearest Father-in-Law and me from raising the tree. Huzzah! And so in celebration, I offer you a selection of classic (at least for me) Chrimbo tuneage. For those of you grumping that I posted all of these last year, rest assured, there will be more to follow. But in the meantime, de-Scrooge and get yerself a bit of mistletoe.

The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping (buy here)
Sardonic and sentimental at the same time, and nooo-wave to boot!

The Kinks - Father Christmas (buy here)
One I remember playing on the raydee-aydee-aydee-oh from whippersnapperhood.

Bullette - Blue Christmas (get some more e-here)
Wonderful, loping, countryesque interpretation of this old standby by Philly's lovely Monica Bullette.

And What Will Be Left Of Them
- Have Yourself A Filthy Little Christmas (buy their latest here)
Oh, and I mean that from the bottom of my sordid little heart!!!

Shonen Knife - Space Christmas (buy here)

Speaking of Shonen Knife, I have an early prezzie if anyone wants it. You see, I have two tickets to see those groovy garage girls at Vancouver's Richards on Richards this Thursday, 13 December. However, I have no-one to go with. A friend bailed, and Dearest Wife can't get excited about them. I'm definitely going, but if anyone wants to join me, I have that extra ticket. Don't worry about the cost, just buy me a lime & soda (I'll be driving) and we'll call it quits.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Drowning Not Waving

Rows , columns, Christmas shopping, cells, data fields, soccer matches, interest rates, loan-to-values, ballet lessons, agreements, contracts, cooking twice a week, legal opinions, guarantees, blogging, indemnities, swap curves, seasonal parties, bond yields, secure FTP uploads, tax returns, program manuals, allocation requests, wardrobe culling, true sale approvals, accounting guidelines, Christmas cards, pricing models, liquidity projections, homework help, prepayment terms, $500 million dollars, washing cars, insurance fees, Beacon scores, basic hygeine, board presentations, reporting deadlines, minimal sleep. Drowning, not waving, and finding it difficult to see the shore for all the swell and froth.

Armitage Shanks
- Drowning Not Waving (buy here or e-here)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Cheap Holiday In Other People's Misery

Those of you who have been dropping by here for some time may recall that one of my Dearest Wife's cousins is a Humvee gunner in the US Army. Last November he returned from a tour in Iraq, during which he saw one of his best friends killed when a roadside bomb hit their convoy. His deployment also drained him of his idealism; he had signed up to do what he thought was his patriotic duty , but ended up sorely disillusioned both with the Iraqi adventure and the armed forces.

Max Romeo - War Ina Babylon (buy here )

We all breathed a sigh of relief when he returned free of (bodily) harm, though he managed to badly bugger his shoulder in a snowboarding accident shortly after returning. However, we saw a bright, silver lining to this mishap, as we were certain that recovery from the subsequent reconstructive surgery would spare him further trips to The Sandbox/The Sandpit/Tatooine (circle preferred military euphemism). We were wrong.

Today Cousin Soldier ships out for another tour in Iraq, despite the fact that his shoulder is still so incapacitated that he can't even put on his ballistic armour, much less man a .50-cal machine gun atop a vehicle. However, his unit commander apparently needs "bodies on the ground," regardless of their effectiveness, so he will be continuing his rehab in-theatre. Hopefully this means he will be kept out of harm's way, but the mind still boggles.

Tiger Lillies - Glory in Battle (buy here or e-here)

Technically Cousin Soldier has less than two month of his enlistment left to serve. However, given Uncle Sam's current "stop-loss" policy, we're all wondering whether he'll get a service extension in his Christmas stocking to go with his holiday with a gun. Bah fucking humbug, indeed.

The Vandals - A Gun for Christmas (buy here or e-here)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Martini Time

Dearest Friends, this week Contrast Podcast asked us all to stop by and have a martini or twelve. It promised to be a cool, hip time, set to an excellent soundtrack including Tom Waits, Pink Martini, and Babyshambles. However, sometime during the course of the day someone came along and shut down the bar; the post has disappeared...

I'm not sure who or what is to blame. Perhaps the nefarious S.L.I.M.E. (Suppress Lascivious, Imbibulous Musical Exuberance) launched a temperance raid? Or maybe a wee bit of coding went wonky?? Whatever happened, do check back here to see when your barman Tim Young resumes happy hour.

Anyway, it was with the greatest of glee that I offered up Eyeball in my Martini by those pulchritudinous purveyors of punkabilly, The Cramps. But I did briefly consider flowing with a James Bond vibe, even though that philistine has his martinis shaken, thereby diluting the drink and smushing its flavours into a ragged mess (sidenote: George Lazenby was the best James Bond ever. Discuss.). The dapper spy was adopted in the sixties as a style icon by Jamaica's rude boys, a fact which also generated some cracking ska tunes:

Desmond Dekker - 007 (Shanty Town) (buy here)

The Selecter - James Bond (buy here)

For the record, the best martini I ever had was at The Modern in New York, where they use Tanqueray infused with cilantro (that's coriander for you Brits) and a splash of lime to delicious effect. It's a dear drink at $14 apiece, although methinks it's worth every penny. But I'm still waiting for the Contrast Podcast Lounge to reopen...

Update 29 Nov: Oh, hooray! CP is once again open, and in time for lunch as well. Do pop on over for a drink, or if you can't wait that long guzzle down the podcast here.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

Well, today was Black Friday in the US, where an orgy of discount-induced, post-Thanksgiving spending was supposed to have propped up the shuddery American economy by propelling retailers into the black, i.e. into profit. It was also Buy Nothing Day, on which those not wedded to the cult of Mammon were supposed to abstain from purchasing.

So where did I come out? Well, I consciously didn't buy anything, apart from dinner and the five pints under whose influence I now type. Where does that put me??

The Clash - Lost in the Supermarket (buy here)
Buzzcocks - Credit (buy here or e-here)
Carcass - Exhume to Consume (buy here or e-here)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Classic Vintage

Some years are just better than others. Fact. Certain vintages see sweet, sweet music flowing like the finest wine known to mankind, while in others what dribbles forth is thin, pissy vinegar.

This week sees our musical sommelier, Young Tim, invite us all chez Contrast Podcast to a delectable tasting of music from, about, or otherwise connected to 1986. Just to be clear, we're talking Château Lafite-Rothschild, not Black Tower. So getcher musical corkscrew out and uncork the goodness here.

The winelist:

(00:00) Billy Bragg - Honey I’m a big boy now
Tim from The face of today

(05:43) Camper Van Beethoven - Good guys and bad guys
Sid from Too Much Rock

(10:13) Les Thugs - Never get older
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(13:29) The Jesus and Mary Chain - A taste of Cindy
FiL from Pogoagogo

(16:48) Foot and Mouth - Seymour! (The room’s a mess)
Dirk from Sexy Loser

(21:02) The Go-betweens - Spring rain
Natalie from Mini-obs

(25:00) fIREHOSE - Brave captain
Ross from Just gimme indie rock

(29:15) Madonna - La Isla Bonita
Anna from Music I-Quiz

(34:18) The Pursuit of Happiness - I’m an adult now
Tom from Better in the Dark

(39:37) The Redskins - Keep on keeping on
Crash from Pretending life is like a song

(46:12) Paul Simon - Gumboots
James from Jamesisadork

(49:35) Kate Bush - Experiment IV
Mèden O. Zephyr from Old fridges can kill

(54:22) Joseph Arthur - There is a light …
Linda from Speed of dark

(59:36) Philip Glass - Forgetting (feat. Linda Ronstadt)
Nuno from Undercover songs

(01:07:47) The Chameleons - I’ll remember
Colin from And before the first kiss

For me, the Jesus and Mary Chain were 1986. Yes, yes, I know Psychocandy was first released in November 1985, but I it and the Bruvvers Reid were ubiquitous all the following year. Hence my pick. And I must give a special shout-out to Dearest Cindy Adzuki, her hubby Travis, and my own Dearest Wife for contributing to the intro! Y'all are simply mahvellous, dahlinks!

So, what was I imbibing in nineteen-eighty-six? Well, for most of the year I wasn't of legal drinking age (I won't get into the bizarre convolutions of drinking ages in America, where you can vote, kill for your country, and marry before you can legally enjoy a beer), but I drank in a whole lotta that musical elixir. Here are a few drams:

The Cure - Close To Me (buy here)
Released in the US that year on the Quadpus EP, but Robert Smith and the lads pervaded my entire yoof.

PiL - Rise (buy here)

I first saw PiL live in 1986
in, of all places, Radio City Music Hall. Personally I think Album was Johnny Lydon's last great musical output - caustic, bombastic, sarcastic, and anthemic all at once.

Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls (buy here)

Not life-changing, but I did love the cool synth, arch delivery, and pop sensibility of PSB.

Then there was all that lovely shtuff that ostensibly traces its roots back to that indiepop Holy Grail, the C86 cassette. And I got drunk on a lot of that stuff too, from 1986 on. Oh, I could go on and on, so let me limit myself to two examples:

The Flatmates - Shimmer (buy here)

Jingly-jangly Bristol goodness, but with a bit of buzzsaw to boot. One of the most aptly named songs I know, this just shines and sines like a butterfly's wing on a hot, summer day.

The Brilliant Corners - Meet Me On Tuesdays (off the Fruit Machine EP, but buggered if I know where to find it)
This is near to perfecton, Dearest Friends. Sparkling guitars, youthful angst, and wonderful, WONDERFUL horns! Oh, I'm dancing as I type this...

For next week, pick your gin or vodka, then start shaking and stirring as Contrast Podcast asks you to consider "The Martini." For full mixological instructions, click here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Smiley Culture

Bah! I say it again, Dearest Friends: Bah! And humbug!!

It has been a bitty, hectic, addling few days. The sort that gnaw away at your calm and patience, leaving behind gritty fragments that you can't piece back together.


I was minded to write a rather fulminating post about any one of a number of things that raised my dander. Like cyclists who cycle at night without lights. Or local police brutality. Or climate change. Or Christmas plans.

But then I came across a sunshiny track for which I had long been looking, and it made me smile a big smile. So I have bottled the gloom, and instead I am offering up the choon in the hopes that it'll have the same effect on you.

Smiley Culture's "Police Officer" was released at the tail end of 1984, and it must have been shortly after that that the mighty 92.7 WLIR ("New Music First") picked it up, thus exposing me, a rabidly loyal teenage listener, to its infectious dancehall charms. And thanks to the magic of the interwebbythingy, I've been infected all over again.

Smiley Culture - Police Officer (try eBay)

Oh look, I found the video as well!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Random Acts of Podcast

Why, Herr Ernst, I would love another flugelhorn...

Though I value a fundamental degree of stability, I do so love the random. Rolling the dice, waiting for the spirit to move me, sucking and seeing. So I am particularly keen to hear this week's episode of Contrast Podcast, for which participants asked their digital music players to do the empee-3 shuffle and contributed the results. Obviously the CP nation shares my fondness for music by chance, since this week it collectively yielded over 90 minutes of podcastica!!

Download the whole thang here, but if uncertainty scares you, here's what's on offer:

(01:29) Jurassic 5 - Lesson 6 : The Lecture
Chris from
(07:29) OMD - Tesla Girls
FiL from Pogoagogo
(15:17) Third Eye Blind - Narcolepsy
Andy from Circles of Concrete
(19:23) Tar … Feathers - Rumours travels fast
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away
(23:39) Sean Na Na - Little leaning tower
Sid from Too Much Rock
(28:21) Fiver - Keep us in stitches
Chip from Atomic Ned
(32:43) Van Morrison - Everyone
Dweller from Child without an iPod
(36:35) Boss Hog - Get it while you wait
Dirk from Sexy Loser
(41:27) U2 - Bad
James from Jamesisadork
(47:02) Sparklehorse - It’s not so hard
Marcy from Lost in your inbox
(50:31) Antony & The Johnsons with Boy George - You are my sister
Crash from Pretending life is like a song
(55:10) Sean Watkins - Summer’s coming
Natalie from Mini-obs
(59:24) The Stranglers - Strange little girl
Mark from Cinema du Lyon
(01:02:52) The Ramones - All the way (live)
Tom from Better in the Dark
(01:05:33) The Cat Empire - Hello
Anna from Music I-Quiz
(01:09:58) Mulatu Astatqé - Mètché Dershé
Tim from The face of today
(01:14:25) 30 Seconds to Mars - The Kill
Mèden O. Zephyr from Old fridges can kill
(01:19:03) Forget Cassettes - Like tiny swords
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus
(01:24:21) Maps - Lost my soul
Linda from Speed of dark
(01:28:28) The Replacements - I’ll be you
Jon from Your moment of Zen
(01:32:21) Lee Scratch Perry - Chase the devil
Dean from Pod of Funk

I actually have three repositories for my digital music (laptop, desktop, and mp3 player), so I randomly selected one track from each, then engineered a blind selection from those finalists. Therefore, instead of the lovely Tesla Girls, you could have had either "So Horny" by 2Live Crew or "Seether" by Veruca Salt. But I'm not going to share them with you here - that'd be too predictable. I apologize to all of you out there who've been trawling the net for 2Live - I hope you'll overcome the crushing disappointment.

No, instead I've decided to do a wee variant on the old "Magic 8 Ball." Sitting here tonight I picked the first five random tracks off of the PC and have posted them below. And I ask you, Dearest Friends, to be my collective 8-ball and, via your pithy and insightful comments, give me guidance as to what this combination of songs is trying to tell me...

Poison Idea - Think Fast (buy here or e-here)
The Jam - Music For The Last Couple (buy here)
The Divine Comedy - In Pursuit of Happiness (buy here)
Interpol - Public Pervert (buy here)
Old Man Luedecke - Wrong Side of the Country (buy here or e-here)
Sidebar: He's supporting Feist back East! Read more about him here.

And here's some more random linky-link goodness:

The Random Masturbation Synonym Generator
Hit the button (ooer, there's one right there) and get yourself a euphemism like "pulling the Franklin" or "slap-boxing the monk." It does seem to be rather male-oriented...

The Random Band Name Generator
Tonight in concert: The Bile, with special guests Sir Spamerating, Comatose Quartet, and Your Seven Brown Eyes. Hmm, sounds like a stonking thrashcore/hip-hop/freejazz/emo bill...

The Random Kitten Generator
Makes ya wanna puke.

The Dylan Thomas Random Poem Generator
What a hoot! More fun than poking at red dragons with leeks while chewing on a chunk of laver bread. "I was forgotten mildly / By the goosefield of the skylark / Sucking lazily on the blind street / On thoughts of statues / Where girls lie savagely / And all the spellbound eyes cover and live." Indeed!

Next week, CP goes back to 1986. Pick a track accordingly, then go here to find out how to contribute.

And finally, Tim has unveiled plans for the Contrast Podcast Festive 50! Basically you need to drop him an e-mail at with a list of your five favourite Contrast Podcast tracks of 2007 in descending order of preference. There's even a contest involved. Oh, dash it, don't hang around here listening to me witter about it. Instead, pop on over here
to see how it works. But hurry - Tim needs your input by 27 November!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Give Us Our Peace

Give us a peace equal to the war
Or else our souls will be unsatisfied,
And we will wonder what we have fought for
And why the many died.

Give us a peace of accepting every challenge --
The challenge of the poor, the black, of all denied,
The challenge of the vast colonial world
That long has had so little justice by its side.

Give us a peace that dares us to be wise.
Give us a peace that dares us to be strong.
Give us a peace that dares us still uphold
Throughout the peace our battle against wrong.

Give us a peace that is not cheaply used,
A peace that is no clever scheme,
A people's peace for which men can enthuse,
A peace that brings reality to our dream.

Give us a peace that will produce great schools --
As the war produced great armament,
A peace that will wipe out our slums --
As war wiped out our foes on evil bent.

Give us a peace that will enlist
A mighty army serving human kind,
Not just an army geared to kill,
But trained to help the living mind.

An army trained to shape our common good
And bring about a world of brotherhood.

Langston Hughes
25 August, 1945

Marlene Dietrich - Lili Marleen (buy here)
Stars - Celebration Guns (buy here)
Kate Bush - Army Dreamers (buy here)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Yuletide Drear

I've just found out we may be getting a visitor over Christmas, and it's not Santa Claus. More like Scrooge. Or Heat Miser.

Oh dear.

Velodrome 2000
- Christmas Sucks (buy here)
Peter and 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)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Contrasting Musicians

Photo nicked from here

Tuesday is Contrast Podcast day, and this week Tim's lined up a whole mess of goodness for your earholes You see, it's another "Musicians" episode, where artistes introduce their lovingly hand-crafted, hand-picked tunes for your delight. While every iteration of the series has been a treat, this edition promises to be divine. For starters, the heart-meltingly wonderful Marianne Dissard is back (le sigh, le GROS sigh). On top of that, her talented hubbie, Naim Amor, has contributed. And if that weren't enough, Victor Scott has reappeared. Still want more? Dearest Ross treats us to his current band, Paper Cuts. Not satisfied? Then how about the intriguingly named Chainsaw Agent (about which tangentially more later) telling us we all feel like Holden Caulfield and can never go home??

Download it all here and tell everyone what you think about it here.

(00:37) Penny Century - Nothing burns like bridges

Penny Century’s website
Penny Century at Letterbox Records

(03:14) Marianne Dissard & Matt Mitchell - Boum

Marianne & Matt’s myspace
Marianne’s website

(05:03) Victor Scott feat. Lauri Apple Music corp. - Pink Motorola

Victor’s website (free album download!)
Lauri’s website
Lauri’s myspace

(09:17) Strangers in Wonderland - Behind the mask

Strangers in Wonderland website

(14:05) Naim Amor - Lychee girl

Naim’s website
Naim’s myspace

(16:59) Paper Cuts - Exit this topic

Paper Cuts on (free album download!)

(19:39) Rob Szabo - Family and friends

Rob’s website

(24:20) MJ Hibbett - A million ukeleles

MJ Hibbett’s website
MJ Hibbett on myspace

(30:46) Statehood - End the moderation

Statehood’s website

(33:28) The Jellyheads - Organumatron

The Jellyhead’s website

(41:27) Deek Deekster - Some of us just love to play

Deek Deekster’s website

(46:55) Moby Noor - Soulpilot

Moby Noor’s website

(52:14) Chainsaw Agent - Everyone feels like Holden Caulfield and you are never going home

Chainsaw Agent’s website

(57:11) Paul Terry & Moyra Noise - Smother me

Paul’s myspace
Moyra’s myspace

Next week's theme is cleverly simple, but demands nerves of steel. To participate, set your digital musique playah to "shuffle" and submit the first song that pops up, along with a plausible introduction if it turns out to be The Baja Men's "Who Let The Dogs Out?" To find out how to contribute, pop over here.

Right, obviously I didn't contribute this week. But in keeping with both this week's episode and next week's theme, let's do a bit of word association. And the random word I've picked is: chainsaw. Why chainsaw? Well, though I've never had cause to wield one, these strange engines somewhat intrigue me. Maybe I'm destined to become a Canadian lumberjack and I should get myself down to our local polytechnic, plunk down $210 (Canadian, Dearest Yanks; in your little dollars that's about $230, tee hee, and more when oil reaches a benjamin a barrel), and learn how to use one.

Anyway, enough of that. Here's some lovely chainsawish music:

Daisy Chainsaw - All The Kids Agree (buy here)
Ah, they burned so bright for so short... And ex-kinderwhore Katie Jane Garside is now doing this.

The Meteors - Chainsaw Boogie (buy here or e-here)
Psychobilly a go-go!!

Pop Will Eat Itself - The Black Country Chainstore Massacreee (buy here)
The Poppies in fine, early grebo form...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

C'est tiguidou!*

Hey, mon ami! This bright and sunny Sunday I'd like to share with you a spot of Francophone hilarity. Têtes à claques, which translates roughly as "a face one wants to slap," is the product of warped Quebecois Michel Beaudet. To date he has created some sixty of these manic little clips, and the French-speaking world has gone bananes for them.

In order to fully appreciate the humour of the fruity Quebec variant of French, laced liberally with Anglicisms, one should have at least a working knowledge of the language. However, I wager that even those bereft of any Gallic linguistic skills will be able to appreciate the daftness of what's on offer. Ben, watch bien.

And what a perfect excuse to post some fantastic Quebecois choonz:

Les Breastfeeders - Minijupe et Watusi (buy here or e-here)
Garage rock meets yé-yé, oh yeah!!!

Saveur Marmelade - Bombe au Chlore (buy here)
Grunge ain't dead, it just moved to St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

Chocolat - Gabrielle (buy here)
Rootsy, ramalama rawk with a soupçon of fuzzy psychedelia.

Les Amis au Pakistan - Pomme Segara (buy here)
Wonderfully arty, playful, and bootsy fun, fun, FUN from the stultifying suburb of Laval. "Etouffe ma pantoufle" - smother my slipper!! Indeed! How glorious!! Oh, and you must see the video:

*C'est tiguidou = Everything's peachy

Friday, November 02, 2007

Drama & Trauma

Dearest Friends, it has been a rather action-packed week, with dollops of drama and a wee bit of trauma. But fret not, all is relatively well...

For starters, Darling Daughter fell off a skittish horse last Sunday, and the meeting of her left shoulder with the ground resulted in a broken arm. To be specific, the poor thing is now sporting a proximal humerus fracture. Indeed, she recovered from the pain of the fall so quickly that initially we suspected only a bad strain or wrench. We only discovered the break after taking her to the doctor on Monday after she woke up a few times in the night complaining of discomfort. The doc sent us to the excellent BC Children's Hospital, where she was seen relatively quickly and efficiently - another set of full marks for BC's (Yanks take note) public health care system. Treatment is simple: sling to get the bones aligned, ibuprofen for the pain, plus follow-up visits to the ortho clinic to make sure the head knits with the shaft. Drama and trauma.

Help She Can't Swim - Hospital Drama (buy here or e-here)
An urgent, shouty (and y'all know I like shouty) guitar-synth gem from these Sarfeast English arty popsters.

Next up, Halloweeeeeen. My workplace actually goes whole hawg on the day, with a majority of folks actually dressing up. Our department's theme was "rock stars" and though I briefly considered going as Sufjan Stevens (not really), I finally settled on Ozzy Osbourne. I was in fine company; Alice Cooper made an appearance, as did the ghost of John Lennon. I enjoyed running around in an (even more) addled state (than usual), chewing on a rubber bat and shouting "SHARON!" at regular intervals. It's true, I have no shame. But even our CEO (who was dressed as a bug-eyed Roswell alien) seemed to approve heartily. Moreover, I'm proud to announce that at our afternoon costume judging, OzzyFiL came in second, just ahead of Alice, but behind a chicken from Human Resources. Lots of drama.

Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train (buy here)
Definitely off the rails. Oh yes. But if you want to see Halloween done right, visit Mentok.

And then there was today, when first thing in the morning a servery, switchy thingy keeled over at work, bringing absolutely everything to a grinding halt. No e-mail. No internet. No network drives. Nothing. Nada. Internet banking was unavailable. Folks couldn't pay their bills. As an additional result, two folks who work for me are having to come in Sunday to sort out that which they had hoped to do today. But it was an interesting anthropological experiment; bereft of electronica and computeralia, folks flapped aimlessly, pausing only to regularly prod their moribund Blackberries and desktops in the hopes of reviving them. Ye gods, we should just have done with it and implant the bloody electrodes in our brains (but only after they sort out decent backup). More drama, some trauma.

The Cure - Grinding Halt (buy here)
Aww, so nice to hear the boys at their angsty, gloomy best.

But finally, with no drama or trauma, my new header! Do you love it as much as I do? I hope so, because it's staying. It was a present from lovely, Dearest Tim Young. You see, in addition to being a podcast guru, a multitalented musician, and all-round generous chap, he's a Photoshop whizz. So when I asked him if he could modify a picture he'd sent me so that I could use it as a header, he came up instead with the wonderful image now flying proudly from my masthead. So, thank you, Dearest Tim!!

Tim Young - Gotta Go [Victor Scott Cover] (see it here)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Feeling Lusty

Taken from this lavvy wall

This week Contrast Podcast ventures into the realm of mortal sin by inviting us all to wade waist-deep in a steaming, roiling pool of thick, viscous, musical... LUUUST!!!

*Pant, pant, drool, quiver*

Ahem. Er, I'd best make this very quick, lest it get messy. Download the podcast here and prepared to get all hot 'n' bothered. Just have a cold shower running on standby, and watch out for the two dirty old men right at the beginning. Oh, and I found the tracklisting written up on the wall of a public lavatory:

(00:00) Intro from Mr G. Letch & Mr A. Thrub

(01:42) Betty Boo - Close the door
Tim from The face of today

(05:06) Betty Davis - Anti love song
Chris from

(09:51) She wants revenge - Tear you apart
Linda from Speed of dark

(15:16) Scraping foetus off the wheel - Lust for death
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(18:43) Gang of Four - Damaged goods
Sid from Too Much Rock

(22:28) The Jam - Start! (live)
Crash from Pretending life is like a song

(25:10) Amy Rigby - You get to me
Marcy from Lost in your inbox

(28:14) The Long Blondes - Lust in the movies
FiL from Pogoagogo

(31:27) Art Brut - Good weekend
Rick from Are you embarassed easily?

(34:39) Leon Haywood - I wanna do something freaky to you
Dirk from Sexy Loser

(41:47) Ultra Vivid Scene - Tar, iodine, blood and lust
Conrad from White Car Records

(44:42) Julian Cope - Eve’s volcano
Mark from Cinema du Lyon

(49:31) R.E.M. - Tounge
James from Jamesisadork

(53:45) Bruce Cockburn - Bone in my ear
Natalie from Mini-obs

(57:38) Prince - Sex temptation lust
Ross from Just gimme indie rock

You know, my choice (Lust in the Movies by The Long Blondes) somehow got me musing on pop cultcha dames I'd lusted after at one point or another. So, at the risk of totally humiliating myself, here's an abbreviated, annotated, and chronological catalogue of FiL's past lusts:

1) Catwoman. Yes, I know, there have been soooo many, y'all are dying to know which one tickled my fancy. Well, it was Julie Newmar in the glorious (sorry Mentok) sixties TV version. Yep, she was my first crush at around the precocious age six. Rrrrrroooowww!!

Link Wray - Batman Theme (buy here or e-here)

2) Marie Osmond. Yes, I religiously watched the Donny & Marie Show as a bairn. My Marie - that hair! Those chipmunk cheeks! Those dresses!! Embarrassing to think of it now, but back then, I'd be her little bit of country or rock 'n' roll or whatever.

But I confess: her teeth, huge and white like marble headstones, creeped me out. So much so that one day I took a pin to my theretofore sacred Donny & Marie LP sleeve and punched cavities in her toothy Mormon grin. It was then I knew we were not meant to be.

Donny & Marie Osmond
- A Little Bit Country (buy here)

3) Princess Leia. Oh man, those hair buns... But by the time she started getting all galactic with Han Solo, I was so over her.

Meco - Star Wars Theme (buy here)

4) Olivia Newton-John. Er, um, I blame circumstances beyond my control. Physical came out around the time puberty hit. My hormones were all over the place.

Olivia Newton-John - Physical (buy here)

But these days I far prefer this version:

Revolting Cocks
- (Let's Get) Physical (buy here)

5) Siouxsie Sioux. I am your humble servant, O my Goth Queen...

Siouxsie & The Banshees - Dazzle (buy here)

6) Kate Bush. Ah, now we're getting somewhere. However, I wasn't as smitten as one of my Dearest Friends was. Indeed, there was a high school French teacher at our school who bore an uncanny resemblance to the lushly maned warbler, much to his delight and anguish.

Kate Bush - Sat In Your Lap (buy here)

7) L7. All of them. In a vat of baked beans, please.

L7 - Fast and Frightening (buy here )

8) PJ Harvey. This woman is simply amazing in every way. Makes my heart go thrub, thrub, thrub...

PJ Harvey - Sheela Na Gig (buy here)

9) Audrey Hepburn. I don't much fawn over movie stars, but Audrey, oh my! Such grace, such style, such dignity. And she rode a Vespa. Le sigh. Le swoon.

Audrey Hepburn - Moon River (buy here)

I think that's what Eminem would call "cleanin' out my closet." Alright Dearest Friends, now it's your turn. Which slebs of screen, stage, or sound did/do you lust after??

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Low-Life Lullabies

Three glorious Tiger Lillies

The bloke in the pub was furious, shouting accusations of blasphemy in harsh, drunken Irish tones at the trio playing in the corner. The singer, a short, round man in a bowler, white shirt, and baggy black trousers held up by suspenders, leaned forward from the two-foot-high stage until he was face-to-face with the heckler. He continued to squeeze his accordion manically while spitting out the song's lyrics in falsetto:

I'm crucifying Jesus, nail him to the cross
The poor old bastard bleeds to death and I don't give a toss
I'm bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang banging in the nails
I'm bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang banging in the nails...

His bandmates, a skinny beanpole on upright bass and a rotund hulk on drums, looked at each other and smirked. The singer and heckler kept at it for some time, a few snarling inches apart, until the drunken Irishman was escorted out the pub's front door.

And that, Dearest Friends, was my introduction to the sick and twisted Tiger Lillies. And I loved it.

What this band does is quite unlike anything I have ever heard. Their music has been described as surreal-anarcho-punk-cabaret, their lyrics as blasphemous, blackly humorous, bawdy, and both Brechtian and Freudian. The world they inhabit is replete with prostitutes, lunatics, murderers, perverts, boogeymen, addicts, and misfits. But make no mistake; this is not just shock opera. Well, alright, a good bit of it is. But their raw, on-the-edge musical depictions of cartoonish grotesques reveal both a strong sense of compassion for us deeply flawed humans, and fierce outrage at the injustices of society.

Singer Martyn Jacques's apparently draws much of his material from the seven years he spent in London's Soho living above a brothel. In the late eighties he hooked up with two Adrians: percussionist Huge and bassist Stout. The compost in which they wallow has made them incredibly prolific: twenty-two albums, collaborations with the Kronos Quartet and Edward Gorey, an amazing adaptation of Heinrich Hoffmann's macabre Shockheaded Peter fairytales, and a Grammy nomination. Marilyn Manson loves them, as do Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos, David Byrne, Matt Groening, Terry Gilliam, and, of course, I. But, not surprisingly, they've always stayed out of the mainstream, swimming instead in murky tributaries.

So why have I chosen now to post about them? Well, for months I've been intending to confess to you all my love of the Lillies. But the immediate catalyst is that they're playing Vancouver tomorrow night, in, of all places, a deconsecrated church -- I simply cannot wait!! Dearest Friends, between now and year-end they're also playing these dates in Canada, on both coasts of the US, and in continental Europe. I beg you, go see them.

And so, onto the music. If you've not yet figured it out, let me paraphrase the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council: "The following songs contain scenes of violence, coarse language and nudity intended for adult audiences. Listener discretion is advised."

The Tiger Lillies - Banging in the Nails
The Tiger Lillies - Sheep
The Tiger Lillies - Whore
The Tiger Lillies - Snip Snip
The Tiger Lillies with the Symphony Orchestra of Norrlandsoperan - Masturbating Jimmy
The Tiger Lillies - Kill You
The Tiger Lillies - Heroin & Cocaine

Find out all about The Tiger Lillies over here. You can e-buy large swathes of their music here or if you'd like to get your grubby mitts on the hard stuff, have a look over here.

And here's a wee bit of the live experience for you. From a June 2007 show in Moscow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Back Where I Belong

Ena Sharples. Maybe.

Dearest Friends, I have returned from Back East, where I had a funny old ten days or so. Funny, and absolutely knackering. Indeed, my head still feels hollow, like its very pith has been scraped out by a dull spoon.

And I'm not sure when I'll find the downtime to recover...

The businessy bits went well; lotsa "useful" meetings and a couple of dog 'n' pony presentations (yes, I remembered to make 'em larf) interspersed with drunken gluttony into the wee hours, all the name of "relationship building." But the whole exercise was a bit sterile.

The absolute highlight of the trip, however, was meeting up with hizzoner JC, a/k/a The Vinyl Villain, for a long evening of utterly enjoyable japery. What a splendid chap he is! Generous, highly amusing, and brimming with passion for that which is dear to him, most obviously music and his own dear wife. I owe a particular debt to him for sharing with me his Toronto, the one which he has come to know during his few months in-country. He led me down Queen Street and its funky wee boutiques, stopping at a cool-as-fuck bar for a few alky bevvies. We then headed up to Little Italy, where I dined on baked strangled priests at his favourite trattoria, thence to the small-but-perfectly-formed Soundscapes where we spent a good deal of time browsing the esoteric CDs, DVDs, and books on offer. And, as he so candidly and correctly recounts in his account of our meeting, we ended up on the patio of a wanky jazz bar sometime after midnight. Oh, and there was indeed nude life drawing involved, of an Ena-Sharplesish bent (see photo above). Thanks to JC, I've now somewhat modified my rather lackluster view of Toronto - it isn't all just bland downtown core and dead lake. Next time I'll know where to go.

Mouse Eat Mouse - Mair Licht (buy here or e-here)
Coz JC's Scottish, you know. And it was our mutual friend Colin who brought this gem to my attention.

Richard Cheese - People = Shit [Slipknot Cover] (buy here or e-here)
The jazz was truly yawnsome. And JC did poke fun at my metal tendencies...

On Friday it was off to Noo Yawk Ciddy for a weekend visit to Mother. The trip down was aggravating beyond belief; my flight was canceled, which meant I had to reclaim my bags and clear Canadian customs to "reenter" the country, since for flights to the US you go through American immigration just after checking in. Then back to check-in, revisit US passport control, another strip search at security, yada yada yada. But I did have some very interesting conversations with about half-a-dozen fellow travelers along the way, so it wasn't all bad...

And my visit? Well, Saturday was nice. At least the exquisite cilantro (that's coriander for you Brits) & lime martini with my lunch at The Modern was. And the rest of the weekend? Utter disaster. I shan't go into details, but both mindfulness and compassion abandoned me in the face of unrelenting emotional onslaught. Sigh.

Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Happy (buy here )

But it's good to be back, and I have the latest Contrast Podcast to look forward to! This week it's limericks all around, and I'm eager to hear all the poetry. You can download it yourself here, and check out the listings and comments here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Flying Time

His flight, not mine. But you get the general idea.

Hello, Dearest Friends! This post is coming atcha from Taah-raah-naah, aka Toronto, where I flew on Sunday to do businessy things all week. Digs are quite comfy, if corporately bland (The Sheraton), and methinks I'll be fed and wined to excess if I'm not careful. Last night saw me at Canoe, 54 stories up above the city. I had a lovely meal (roasted cuttlefish & calamari to start, followed by Nunavut caribou), but it was one of those places where food, drizzled with fussily named fluids, rested on beds of of more food, after being lightly or delicately prepared. I always feel uncomfortable when it takes a waiter three minutes to describe what I'm about to eat...

I'm not a fan of Toronto; while not the size or pace of either London or New York, it's a concrete citadel full of fast-flowing folks too busy to say "Hello" or smile. The vast Lake Ontario on which it sits strikes me as flat and sterile, almost as if it has been boiled in some apocalyptic nuclear or chemical catastrophe. However, it is currently the home of one displaced Scot, and we're hoping to meet up and sup later this week in one of the city's ethnic neighbourhoods. Maybe that'll change my view somewhat.

So, onto time. Sigh. As of late there seems to be far too much on for the puny 24 hours that inhabit each day to accomodate. Double sigh. Dearest Wife recently started a part-time teaching gig that prep, lectures, marking, and lacksadaisical first-years have conspired to turn into virtually full time. Triple sigh. And then there's all this child-rearing and parenting stuff. Quadruple sigh.

Dearest Tim has been in a similar timeless space recently, hence this week's Contrast Podcast theme of Time. Download the current episode here

(00:00) The Smiths - These things take time
Tim from The face of today

(03:02) PJ Harvey - One time too many
Lyle from Mentok the Mind-Taker

(07:09) Wesley Willis - He’s doing time in jail
Pieter from Two tramps in mud time

(11:17) Eat - First time love song
Ross from Just gimme indie rock

(15:04) Jean Louis Murat - L’horloge (english translation)
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(19:08) Bob Dylan - Most of the time
Nuno from Undercover songs

(24:14) Rancid - Time bomb
James from Jamesisadork

(27:02) Secret Affair - Time for action
FiL from Pogoagogo

(32:15) Flight of the Conchords - Business time
Marcy from Lost in your inbox

(36:33) Joe Jackson - Got the time
Sid from Too Much Rock

(39:43) ballboy - I don’t have time to stand here with you fighting about the size of my dick
Dirk from Sexy Loser

(43:44) Clint Black - No time to kill
Rick from Are you embarassed easily?

(48:43) They Might Be Giants - 25 o’clock
Linda from Speed of dark

(52:34) Half Man Half Biscuit - Time flies when you’re the driver of a train
Crash from Pretending life is like a song

(55:42) Johnny Cash - Time of the preacher
Natalie from Mini-obs

(59:47) Weddings, Parties, Anything - For a short time
Anna from Music I-Quiz

(01:06:13) Matt McGinn - Little ticks of time
Dweller from Child without an iPod

I thought it was high time we had a spot of classic mod revivalism, hence my choice. But there were other timely tunes in the running:

Culture Club - Time (Clock of the Heart) (buy here)
Yes, I seriously considered this track, on a nostalgic tip.

GBH - Race Against Time (buy here)
Perhaps a hangover from last week's fit of noise. Leather, bristles and studs please, but hold the acne.

The Pop Group - We Are Time (buy here)
Frm punk to post-punk, even though GBH came later. Argh, timeline confusion!!

The Jam - Just Who Is the 5 o'clock Hero? (buy here)
Er, that'd be me, sort of. Without the lunchbox.

Ndidi Onukwulu - May Be The Last Time (buy e-here or here)
If you don't know Ndidi, you need to.

Right, must fly off for drinks. Maybe I'll have the narwhal for dinner tonight...