Thursday, May 31, 2007

How It's Done

Oh my, it's been a week, hasn't it? Sigh. Sigh again. And once more for good measure...
Dearest Friends, my cyber-absence was due to me being kidnapped by the usual suspects, work and family. But I've managed to break free for a smidge - SEND HELP (in the form of lovely music, dark chocolate, stinky cheeses, Audrey Hepburn, bolshy red wines, PJ Harvey, and real ales, please). Truth be told I was also feeling a wee bit down on the weekend, but managed to swat away the pesky black dog come Monday. Huzzah!
And so, let me launch into my weekly song-and-dance about Contrast Podcast! Yes, episode 61 (Can you believe it?!?? Sixty-one weeks of lusciousness already!) came out this Tuesday and it asks a simple, yet burning question: "How??" To find out, download the podcast here or stuff your automatic podcast downloader thingy with this:
Here's a sneak peek at the answers:

(00:00) Dusty Springfield - How can I be sure?
Tim from The face of today
(03:15) The Hot Puppies - How come you don’t hold me no more?
FiL from Pogoagogo
(09:34) The Auteurs - How I learned to love the bootboys
Jim from Quick before it melts
(13:46) Ry Cooder - How can you keep on moving?
Linda from Speed of dark
(17:50) Ivor Cutler - Good morning, how are you? Shut Up!
Chris from
(19:51) Kultur Shock - How to fucc songs and irritate musicians
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away
(24:59) Snow Patrol - Ask me how I am
Andy from Circles of Concrete
(27:52) Junior Walker - How sweet it is to be loved by you
Crash from Pretending life is like a song
(31:09) Pelle Carlberg - How I broke my foot and met Jesus
Marcy from Lost in your inbox
(35:30) Martini Ranch - How can the laboring man find time for self culture?
Tom from Better in the dark
(40:42) The Shaky Hands - Why and how come
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus
(42:46) B.B.King - How blue can you get?
(48:10) Heaviness - How to avoid the sugartraps
Ross from Just gimme indie rock
(53:56) Sam Phillips - How to quit
Natalie from Mini-Obs

The Hot Puppies track shone through on sheer appeal - the torchy, pleading vocals and the timelessly retro arrangement snagged me. And it was such a perfect lament to accompany Cherie Sorbet's heartbreak. But I did consider these:
Boyracer - How Come You're Such A Hit With The Boys, Jane? (off the Girlracer EP, but no idea where you can find it)
Wetherby tweepop-punkers cover the Dolly Mixture classic. Wanna know more? Go here - Dearest Liz tells you all you need to know.

Inspiral Carpets - This Is How It Feels (buy here for only 74 cents!!)
I am frequently inspired by floor coverings. But I digress. FACT: Noel Gallagher auditioned unsuccessfully to be lead singer of this Cool-as-Fuck gang of organ-parping cow hypnotizers.

t.A.T.u - How Soon Is Now? (buy here)
Kakiye krasiviye maladiye Russkiye devotchki!! Manufactured Russian fake-lesbo kinderwhores cover/butcher (delete as appropriate) a fine, fine Smiths tune. But regardless of what you think of their talents, full props and respect are due for their outspoken stance against the endemic and brutal homophobia of their native land. And I think All The Things She Said is a grand piece of eurotrash pop brilliance. Damn, now I've done it...

Next week, Contrast Podcast takes to the ocean with all things maritime and marine. So dig out your briniest sea shanties and drop by here to learn how to take part! And I can promise you a special intro...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Catching Up

Hello, Dear Friends, I hope this finds you all well. Time for a spot of tidying up the odds 'n' sods, of doing thing that really should have been done already. Sigh, so delinquent, and that clock stares at me with such reproach...

First, Dearest Danielle of the lovely, multisensual blog music is art kindly invited me to participate in the latest instalment of her song/context/result feature. The idea is that contributors describe how a song takes them back to a specific momet, and what it all means to them. A neat, simple idea, but one that yields wonderful insight and revelation. Danielle posted part three exactly a week ago, and I have been far too slow in sharing it with you. So I invite you all to pop round here for a look, a read, and a listen. Though contributors are not linked directly to their contributions, you'll get no prizes for guessing which is mine...

Second, I was flattered, embarassed, humbled, tickled, and honoured to be given (relatively) recently not one, but two Thinking Blogger Awards: one from Dearest Marcy of Lost In Your Inbox, and one from Dearest Ash of Ash BC. Both of these lovely friends said very nice words about how my cyberscribbles make them think, which is the single, sweetly simple criterion for this award. Ash, Marcy, thank you so much for your kindness. I'm so very pleased that you find my little bit of the blogosphere worth coming to!

As a TBA recipient, I am invited to choose five blogs that make me think. Now, I'd like to make it clear that both Ash's and Marcy's blogs consistently stir my brain's thoughts and emotions. So by rights I should award TBA's right back at them. But I don't think that's the way it's supposed to work. Sigh, I always overcomplicate thinks when I'm forced to choose... Anyway, my five Thinking Blogger Awards go to:

Dearest Young Tim of Contrast Podcast fame. As curator of this marvellous cabinet of wonders, Tim has forced me (mind you, I did go willingly) to open my mind further to a host of musical wonders.

Dearest Bryce of Plastic Music is, by his own admission, a sporadic poster. But over time his mix of musical gems, tales of domesticity, and personal commentaries on that which seizes his fancy has been compelling.

Dearest Mentok of Mentok the Mind-taker has misnamed his blog. He doesn't take your mind at all. Rather, he gives it provoking and humourous tidbits to gnaw on.

And now, a newcomer, one that has only just made it onto my blogroll. You see, I only recently began visiting Minge and reading about his Morbid Adventures. But his evocative, wonderfully written pieces on temps perdu, his poetic tropes (see the Fib Sunday), and his fondness for The Pet Shop Boys and Doctor Who have all prodded my grey cells. Oh, and his photos are rather nice too, apart from the one of the vomiting fat lady.

Also hailing from Scotland, whence Minge, is my fifth award-winner, Dearest Colin of And Before The First Kiss. Colin is ace; he's got fabulous taste in music, a compulsion to share it generously with everyone, acerbic wit, firecely held convictions, a keen eye for the old piccies, and the wonderful ability to stitch it all together with lovely words. He is also my original cyberbloggy friend.

So thank you, you Famous Five! And now you have the chance to nominate your thinkingest blogs...

Finally, let me leave you with some songs that I found nestling with the dust bunnies under the sofa. You see, the ancient, creaking turntable that I have hooked up to the PC is STILL choosing to cooperate with me, and I have been taking advantage of this to rip a few tracks from some olde vinyle records. So here's some of what I found:

The Jasmine Minks - Cut Me Deep (buy here)
Coaxed from the grooves of Doing It For The Kids, a 1988 Creation Records sampler. The Jasmine Minks were one of the first bands to hop on Alan McGee's label, and can thus legitimately be called granddaddies of C86-twee. And they're Scottish, but if you didn't know you probably would have guessed it coz the music is so fine...

The House of Love - Destroy The Heart (buy it here if you're keen)
Sticking somewhat to the same vibe, this is the a-side to the proto-shoegaze band's 1988 single, also released on Creation. It's a bit scratchy, so apologies. House of Love split up in 1993, but reformed in 2005 and have been performing sporadically since. Enjoy the texture!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Theme From...

Dear Friends, it's Contrast Podcast time yet again, and this week our contributors are sharing their personal theme songs. Thank goodness no-one chose "Private Dancer" or "The Pina Colada Song..." Anyway, to listen to the words and music by which the CP nation lives its life, download the 'cast here, or subscribe using this RSS feed:

(00:00) Chet Baker - Look for the silver lining
Tim from The face of today
(03:24) Getatchew Mekurya with the Ex - Musicawi Silt
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away
(08:19) Loney, Dear - I am John
Marcy from Lost in your inbox
(12:28) Bach - Sich üben im lieben
Cindy from Adzuki Bean Stash
(17:30) Julian Cope - I gotta walk
Chris from
(20:15) Kraftwerk - The man-machine
Mark from Cinema du Lyon
(25:40) Massive Attack - Unfinished sympathy
Ross from Just gimme indie rock
(30:40) Hole - Celebrity skin
Lyle from Mentok the Mindtaker
(34:39) The Smashing Pumpkins - Zero
(37:34) Ben Folds - There’s always someone cooler than you
Natalie from Mini-Obs
(42:14) The Wannadies - Might be stars
Crash from Pretending life is like a song
(46:20) The Jam - Going Underground
FiL from Pogoagogo
(51:43) Michael Storey - Another Country OST
Colin from And before the first kiss

To be perfectly honest, I actually went with my backup personal theme. You see, Dear SAS Radio submitted the song I live by a few podcasts ago as his favourite 45, and I didn't feel it right to trot it out again, even though it galvanizes me like nowt else can. The song? Why, it's "Public Image" by Public Image Limited. Yes, yes, I know, Metal Box was far more groundbreaking, but, oh, that thrumming bass, those yowled lyrics, and that clanging, circular guitar!! "You never listened to a word that I said, you only seen me for the clothes that I wear..." Indeed! And yes, FiL was derived a long, long time ago from PiL...

Public Image Limited - Public Image (buy here)
Listen, and ye shall understand FiL...

Now Going Underground was a close second, don't get me wrong. It still maps my general political outlook rather accurately, and every time I flip on CNN I see those braying sheep and I want to shout and scream. But while "Public Image" has remained wholy relevant, I sometimes wonder if I'm a bit too old (gasp!) for"Going Underground." It has a tinge of the angry, spotty, young man about it, and at the ripe old age of 38 I occasionally feel that I should put away childish things. But then at other times I listen to it and I think that just coz my acne has cleared up doesn't mean I can't and shouldn't get all pissy and indignant about the shite that's being shovelled...

I Am The World Trade Center - Going Underground (buy here )
OK, nowhere near as stunning as the original, but this electrosynthoparp version is rather groovy in its own way. It's sorta like Paul Weller snogging that chick out of Berlin on the warm leatherette in the back of a Ford Cortina with Ladytron squalling out of a tinny dashboard cassette player. Or something.

Next week's theme trots out the last question in the "who, what, when, where, why" series and asks us to contemplate "How?" So click here to find out how (nyuk, nyuk) you can contribute a song with that word in the title to the podcast.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Where Do Drifters Go?

Photo not mine, courtesy of bigkyle28

Thursday morning, six-twenty. Already it's a fine day, clear sunshine washing the still empty streets. I'm in my car, a few blocks away from work. I drive past a parking lot on my right. Standing at its entrance is a husky, pear-shaped man. He is wearing jeans and a slate-blue hoodie. His arms are outstretched; in one hand he clutches a worn broom, in the other a dustpan on a stick. His mouth is open and he seems to be singing, like a tenor serenading cars to the lot.

I smile to myself.

Thursday afternoon, twelve-thirty. I'm walking along the seawall towards Granville Island, mulling over my lunch options. The tide is out, exposing the barnacle-crusted rocks that slope down into the water. I pass a worn broom and a dustpan on stick lying on the wall. The pear-shaped man is down on the rocks, grey mud on the cuffs of his jeans. He is still wearing his slate-blue sweatshirt, despite the warmth. He moves his arms slowly, gesturing to the sea while chanting inaudibly. The sun shimmers in his spectacles.

I am somewhat bemused.

Thursday afternoon, one-fifteen. I am returning to the office, again along the seawall. I look for the pear-shaped man on the rocks, but I do not see him, nor do I spy his broom and pan. I scan a bit further along the shore's edge and spot a heron, standing in the water. My heart flutters with possibility; it is slate-blue and staring out to sea.

Something moves past me on my left, and I turn to look. It is the pear-shaped man, muttering incoherently. His hoodie is up around his head, and haunted eyes stare out from behind skewed glasses at nothing in particular. He clutches his broom and pan tight to his chest as he lurches past me. He smells of stale sweat.

I feel unreasonably disappointed.

Jussi Bjoerling & Robert Merrill - Au Fond Du Temple Saint (buy here)
Camera Obscura - Lunar Sea (buy here or e-here)
The Icicle Works - Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream) (buy here)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Playing with Tom, Dick, and Harry

A picture of the three gents, courtesy of Tim.
How he got Tom Jones (centre), Dick Whittington (left)
and Harry Enfield (right) in the same room, I haven't a clue...

So, Dear Friends, you see, it's true: Contrast Podcast is the voice of the common person. For this week it was turned over, thanks to Dearest Nats, to Every Tom, Dick, or Harry. Each of these fine gentlefolk is well represented in the mix of contributions, and it seems there is also a smattering of smutty double entendres concerning Richard - ooer, missus!! So, as ever, I counsel you to download the podcast directly here, or via this RSS feed:

Now, come meet the nice boys:

(00:00) Harry Belafonte and The Smothers Brothers - Every man should be free
Tim from The face of today
(03:17) Harry Nilsson - You’re breakin’ my heart
Natalie from Mini-Obs
(07:08) Little Richard - Nuki suki
Murf from False45th
(13:00) Mickey Avalon - My dick
SAS Radio
(16:11) Faces - Pool Hall Richard
Steve from Domino Rally
(21:18) Sham 69 - Hurry up Harry
FiL from Pogoagogo
(24:47) Thomas Mapfumo - Ndanzwa Ngoma Kurira
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away
(28:52) Thomas Truax - Escape from the Orphanage
Crash from Pretending life is like a song
(33:12) Buffalo Tom - Treehouse
Ross from Just gimme indie rock
(37:38) Ian Dury & The Blockheads - Billericay Dickie
Chris from
(41:38) subNatural - Omnipresence
Cindy from Adzuki Bean Stash
(47:22) The Dicks - Dicks hate the police
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus
(49:41) RATM - The ghost of Tom Joad
Waffles from Waffles Radio
(55:26) The Muffs - I’m a dick
Linda from Speed of Dark
(57:25) The Dickies - Gigantor
Tom from Better in the dark
(01:00:29) Placebo - Peeping Tom
Alex from Totally true tales from Texas
(01:06:06) Phil Ochs - Here’s to the state of Richard Nixon
Charles from Heartache with hard work

So, I bet some of you are wondering where the phrase "Every Tom, Dick, or Harry" comes from. Apparently pairs of common male names were frequently used in Elizabethan times to refer to the great unwashed. The first recorded instance of this practice dates to 1555 and Sir David Lindesay's Ane Dialog betwix Experience and ane Courteour. Indeed, at the end of the 16th century even Willy Shakespeare had jumped onto ye olde bandwaggone, referring in Henry IV, Part 2 to "Tom, Dicke, and Francis." The famous triumvirate was most likely first brought together in The Farmer's Almanac of 1815, which tells us 'So he hired Tom, Dick and Harry, and at it they went.' Ooer missus, yet again.

I had a bit of a tough time choosing a song this week, but in the end elected to stay away from Dick, as most of the choonz bearing his name were rude and I've not yet recovered from CP's X-Rated episode. So here's what you might have had:

Gorillaz - Dirty Harry (buy here)
Getcha some light funk, some kiddiez singing, and a cartoon band. Um, yeah...

Thompson Twins - Lies (buy here)
My word! Timewarp! Everybody, flop your fringe about and dance lika a dementedly happy eighties chicken!!!

Oh, alright, you dirty people. Just to stop you salivating, here's one of the naughty tunes. Actually, it's not a Dicky one, but it is still very sordid and not at all suitable for children:

Momus - Harry K-Tel (buy here or e-here)
Harry is a dirrty, dirrty man...

Next week's meme is "My Personal Theme Tune." So get thinking, get recording, and go here to find out how to take part.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Adieu, Jerry

Moral Majority = Immoral Rat Joy

I don't believe in infernal damnation, nor do I believe in a heavenly gated community staffed by winged harpists. The idea of reincarnation based on karmic accounting also stirs my incredulity. But when I heard that homophobic, sexist, intolerant, preacher man Jerry Falwell died today, I had a hard time stifling thoughts of him slowly marinading in an eternal deep-fat fryer, or being recycled as a lamprey.

This was a man who said "AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."

This was a man who said "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians" helped bring about 9/11.

This was a man who sought to replace democracy with theocracy.

This was a man who preached divisiveness and exclusion from the most commanding of pulpits.

That said, I was doing pretty well on the compassion groove. Reflecting on the fear and anger that might have given rise to his views. Avoiding all those destructive emotions. All the right things. Then this song came on the mp3 playah in the car, and I yowled it all the way home, visions of a roasting Jerry in my mind:

The Tiger Lilies - Hell (buy here or e-here)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Beware of the Voice in the Sky

Driving through Delta, 22 April 2007

Yesterday afternoon Little Man spent quite some time running around the garden while ominously intoning: "Be-WARE... of the VOICE... in the SKY!!!"

I have no idea what he was talking about.

Jens Lekman - Sky Phenomenon (buy here or e-here)
The Harvey Girls - In The Sky (buy e-here or e-here)
The Bats - Up To The Sky (buy here or e-here)
Echobelly - Big Sky Mind (buy here or e-here)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

No One To Play With

Grump, grump, grump. And phooey. And poo.

Take me out tonight, I had begged, where there's music and there's people...

Well, alright, it wasn't quite such a desperate cry. But I had wanted to see The Tranzmitors support the legendary Teenage Head tonight at Pub 340. But it's not to be. Dearest Wife, for all her charms, is not really a ramalama punk kinda gal (we're going later this month to see Lisa Gerrard), all my potential companions were otherwise engaged, and you already know of my prediliction against being the seedy old solo saddo at the back.

Grump. And darn. And damn.

The Tranzmitors are a quartet of Vancouver's finest antsy young men, who collectively transmit an infectious stream of modpoppunkwave. Think equal measures of mid-career Jam, Buzzcocks at their brightest, a dash of Futureheads in spiky mode, and a wodge of fun. I saw them support Armitage Shanks soon after landing in Canada, and I have it on first-hand authority that Shanksy frontman Dick Scum counts them as one of his bestest bands.

The lads actually have a distinguished combined pedigree, hailing as they do from such great B.C. bands as The Smugglers, New Town Animals, and Emergency. Singer Jeffie Genetic also fronted his own band, Jeffie Genetic and His Clones, which brought back New Wave just a tadge sooner than it was generally thought cool to do so. Bryce Dunn, who drums with the fervour of a Born in 69 man possessed, is also the program director at CiTR, University of British Columbia's radio station. That they still shine with vim, vigour, and excitement fresh from the still is a direct function of their undimmed passion.

So you see why I wanted to be there. And Teenage Head? Meh, legends shmegends...

The Tranzmitors - Dancing in the Front Row (buy here)

The Tranzmitors - Alma Blackwell (buy e-here)
Off their new, eponymous album, which rocks, oh yes!!

Jeffie Genetic and his Clones
- Oh No I've Been Cloned (buy e-here)
All the best bits of eighties music squished into one great song

And Dearest Friends, just for the sake of comparison:

Buzzcocks - Get On Your Own (buy here)

The Jam - When You're Young (buy here)
Alright, that's all the Jam round here for a a while now...

Finally, to compound my misery, the Eurovision Song Contest is happening tonight and it has totally passed me by. Those of you who were around last year may have seen how excited I get about this event. But this year I'm almost totally out of the loop. Fiddlesticks.

That said, I have seen the Ukrainian entry, and I'm fervently praying that it wins. My hopes rest on you, lovely Verka Serdyuchka. Take a look, Dearest Friends, and you too will be smitten. Sieben, sieben, ein, zwei..

SUNDAY EDIT: Travesty! We wuz robbed!! How could Ukrainian dahlink Verka (see above) be beaten by a mewling Serbian cross between KD Lang and Mrs Potatohead (see below)?? THERE IS NO JUSTICE!!!!!

Sigh. Here are both tracks for posterity. And for further Eurovision thoughts, drop by Homo Eclectic and The Morbid Adventures of Minge.

Verka Serdyuchka - Danzing Lasha Tumbai
Marija Serifovic - Molitva

Buy the CD here or download songs here

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Music about Music

Alright, this week, Dearest Friends, Contrast Podcast has gone all meta on us. No, that's not "metal" as in "heavy metal" or "thrash metal," but meta, meaning "about it's own category."

Confused? Here, let me explain: this week it's all about songs that mention other songs, bands, or musicians. There, that's clearer, no?

In the finest smorgasbord tradition, on offer is a little bit of everything, and it's all scrum-diddly-umptious. So dig into the feast, either by downloading the podcast directly from here or by slapping the following RSS feed into your favourite aggregator:

(00:00) Murray Lachlan Young - I’m being followed by The Rolling Stones
Tim from The face of today
(04:05) M J Hibbett & The Validators - The lesson of The Smiths
Simon from Spoilt Victorian Child
(08:31) Spearmint - Scottish pop
Colin from And before the first kiss
(12:44) Half Man Half Biscuit - Irk the purists
Chris from
(15:01) New Bad Things - I Suck
Shaun from Cold Citrus
(20:28) Dickie Goodman - Frankenstein meets The Beatles
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away
(23:10) Frank Zappa - Bobby Brown goes down
Marcy from Lost in your inbox
(26:21) Ministry - Jesus built my hot rod
FiL from Pogoagogo
(33:16) Built to Spill - You were right
Matt from Earfarm
(38:50) Peter Parker - Vanishing point perspective
Taylor from T-Sides
(42:30) Sebadoh - Just gimme indie rock
Ross from Just gimme indie rock
(46:06) Warren Zevon - Play it all night long (live)
Linda from Speed of Dark
(53:01) The Damnwells - I’ve got you
Chip from Atomic Ned
(56:40) Barenaked Ladies - Brian Wilson
Lyle from Mentok the mind-taker
(01:02:30) The Dandy Warhols - Cool as Kim Deal
Natalie from Mini-Obs
(01:06:12) Prefab Sprout - Faron Young
Mark from Cinema du Lyon
(01:10:19) Dexys Midnight Runners - Reminisce (part 2)
Crash from Pretending life is like a song

Before settling on the motorific Ministry (yes, I know, one paltry mention of Jerry Lee Lewis is a bit pathetic, but that's Gibby Haynes from The Butthole Surfers doing the talkie bit,which has gotta count for something), several other tunes were considered and summarily dismissed. They are offered here as documentary evidence of my thought process, and for your possible enjoyment:

Falco - Rock Me Amadeus (buy here)
1998, Austrian 80s pop star Johann Hölzel, better known as Falco, dies in a road accident while on holiday in the Dominican Republic.

CSS - Let's Make Love to Death From Above (buy here)
I boogied like a fool to this for large chunks of last summer, and I might just do so again this year.

Stereo Total - Ringo, I love you (buy here or e-here)
Stereo Total, I love you!! If ever anyone disses the European Union, put on a track by this Franco-German combo and they'll come round sharpish.

The Clash - 1977 (buy here)
Argh, that was 30 years ago...

Anthrax with Public Enemy - Bring the Noise (buy here)
Yeeeeaah booooiiii! When rap first met metal. So these guys are to blame/thank (delete as appropriate) for Slipknot. Oh, and I have the 10-inch vinyl picture disc of this single - it looks like this.

Next week, Natsthename from Mini-Obs has opened up the podcast to Every Tom, Dick, and Harry. To find out how you can be a part of the podcast, click here and DO IT! Erm, please.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Promise Kept

This one goes out to Dearest Colin of And Before The First Kiss, along with an apology for tardiness. You see, Colin was my first real cyberfriend, and he remains a shining example of blogging at its best. About a year ago, we had a brief comment exchange about Bleach, a lovely band from Ipswich that lasted only a few years in the early nineties. I promised to rescue my vinyl copy of their self-titled compilation EP from the basement of my New York childhood home and digitize a few tracks for Colin's (and my) benefit. Alas, for all my good intentions, one thing happened, then another, then something else, and the record, now sitting in Vancouver, remained unripped.

Oh, the guilt.

But this weekend, miracle of miracles, the planets aligned. Having only just managed to coax my ancient record player back to life (aside: have any of you ever crimped a stylus cartridge with your teeth?), I cleaned up the EP and got a-ripping.

Let me fill the rest of you in on the group, which shouldn't be confused with either the Japanese girlie punk combo or the American Christian rock band which share their name. Bleach was formed in 1989 by brothers Nick and Neil Singleton. Steve Scott joined on drums, and Anglian TV researcher Salli Carson was enticed onto vocal duties. Their layered sound was dominated by a swirl of fuzzy guitars mixed with stark, jerky post-punk spikes. It was lovely stuff, complemented by Salli's voice, which ranged from the strident to the ethereal. My introduction to them one dark night while listening to the late, great John Peel.

Initially celebrated by press and punters alike, Bleach soon became a problem. Were they shoegaze? Kinda, but they're a bit too brash. Were they grunge? No way, too much gauze and not enough flannel. Britpop? You're having a larf. Salli was accused of being a sex symbol, and she responded by shaving her head. Their EPs were followed by a full-length album in 1992, but it was a bit of a disappoinment. They subsequently faded rapidly from view, though Salli's voice did resurface on Idlewild's 1999 album Hope is Important (and it IS, you know??).

So here you go, Dearest Colin, as I promised all that time ago, four Bleach tracks, including the one I think you liked the best, 'Dipping,' and my favourite, the storming 'Wipe It Away.' And I'm very, very, very sorry for the delay.

P.S. All the rest of you lovely folk can download and listen to them too.

Bleach - Dipping
Bleach - Bethesda
Bleach - Wipe It Away
Bleach - Burn

All tracks can be found either on Bleach's eponymous compilation EP, or between 1990's Eclipse and 1991's Snag. But easy to find they are not...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Spirit of '77

Time to go back to basics. Recently I've found myself getting all nostalgic for the Spirit of '77. I mean it, maaan.

As I mentioned in my interview below, I missed the detonation of UK punk by at least a good six years and several thousand miles. Truth be told, even had I found myself at age 15 that year in Malcom & Vivienne's emporium at 430 King's Road, I would probably have been too repressed to do anything about it. But my curiosity-driven purchase of Never Mind The Bollocks some seven years later from a record store on Austin Street in Queens, NYC electrified me.

So, Dearest Friends, I offer you a gobby set of punk artefacts from the frothy days when all you needed were a few safety pins, a couple of chords, and a slug of attitude. I wasn't there, but the mark these rammy (Hi Marcy!!) tunes left on me is indelible.

Anyone fancy a pogo??

X-Ray Spex - Oh Bondage, Up Yours (buy here)
Poly Styrene was not yer typical frontwoman. Spotty and with a mouthful of braces, she belted out bratty anti-consumerist, anti-capitalist diatribes over a squalling saxophone. See it all here!

Eater - I Don't Need It (buy here or e-here)
Famous for their 14-year old drummer. Eater were the real thing - no artistic pretensions, just angry young lads with little conventional talent who got together to make a righteous racket.

Siouxsie & The Banshees - Love in a Void (try eBay for the single, but another version can be found here)
Oh yes, we all know Siouxsie the Goth Queen. But remember she came straight outta Bromley propelled by the The Pistols. This is my favourite Siouxsie track EVAH!! Check out the YouTube vid up top to see why. The mp3 is ripped from an old copy of the 1979 Polydor single, so please excuse the pops & cracks...

Alternative TV - Life (buy here or e-here)
Mark Perry founded Sniffin' Glue, the fanzine that documented the early days of UK punk. Eventually he got tired of reporting on the scene and focused instead on the band, folding in heretical elements of dub, psychedelica, and heavy metal (throw devil horns! wooot!!).

Subway Sect - Ambition (buy here or e-here)
Oh my, very different indeed. Stuart Goddard and his mates eschewed the "three-chord wonder" approach and instead served up a rich mix of parping organs and sparse strumming that presaged post-punk while punk was still in full flow. I possess this 7-inch single and it's probaby my prize piece of vinyl. I sleep with it.

Sham 69 - Borstal Breakout (buy here or e-here)
Fronted by the blue collar and politically conscious Jimy Pursey. Shame about all those skins.

Penetration - Don't Dictate (buy here)
As a band, Penetration were also-rans. But this shrill ditty can hold its own with the best of 'em. Here, have a look - just mind the beer...

Stiff Little Fingers - Suspect Device (buy here)
Proof that punk wasn't just for the Engerlish. The Northern Irish Troubles set to shouty lyrics and a few magic chords.


I had intended to include this track last night, but ran into technical difficulties that have since been resolved. So now I can give you:

The Nipple Erectors - Nervous Wreck (buy here)
Fronted by a gobby, sped-up, punk scenester named Shane MacGowan (yes, him of The Pogues), The Nipple Erectors started out in a peppy, punkabilly stylee . This track was the b-side to the group's 1978 single, King of the Bop.

You can see Shane and The Nips in action here back in 1980, by which time they'd added a coat of pop gloss. And if you're into trainwrecks, feel free to compare and contrast that video with this one of him being interviewed in late 2006 by two Celtic muppets on Irish TV. Ye gods!!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Quarterly Report

Squid imports into Japan were slightly up in 2006, when compared to last year. This was mainly due to higher imports from South America. Total imports during the last year should thus have reached 67 000 tonnes, the highest level in recent history. Prices in the Japanese market went down somewhat during 2006, reflecting higher availability. Coldstorage holdings of squid were faintly higher in 2006 than in 2005, but overall the squid market in Japan looks very mature. (FISH INFOnetwork, "Market Report on Squid," Jan 07)

This week Contrast Podcast offers contributors the chance to share with us their top tunes of 2007 to date. Think of it as a first quarter report to you, the shareholders, of Music plc. Quite what that has to do with the price of squid in Japan I'm not quite sure, but I'm sure one could find some sort of correlation between cephalopod supply and music quality, if one were so inclined. But speaking of quality, I must let you know that Dearest Young Tim's intro is quite superb...

So, to hear one collective view on what's the best 2007 has on offer so far, click here for a direct download, or else paste in theis handy RSS feed and let your PC do the rest:

And onto the report:

(00:00) Great Northern - The middle
Tim from The face of today
(apologies for the intro to Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip)
(04:24) Love of Diagrams - Pace or the patience
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus
(07:55) CéU - O ronco da cuica
The Duke of Straw from The Late Greats
(11:52) The Harvey Girls - Lazlo, buddy
Melissa from The Harvey Girls
(buy their new EP from SVC - all proceeds to RAINN)
(18:21) The Persuasions - Dry bones
John from You must be from away
(21:05) Chocolat - Magalie
FiL from Pogoagogo
(24:48) Psy’Aviah - Demons in mind
SAS Radio
(31:29) Tokyo Police Club - Box
Lyle from Mentok the mind-taker
(35:11) The Hours - Icarus
(38:52) Laura Veirs - Pink light
Natalie from Mini-Obs
(43:27) Piskie Sits - Big fat mouth
Ross from Just gimme indie rock
(47:03) The Prairie Cartel - Fuck yeah that wide
Chip from Atomic Ned
(52:24) Tracy Thorn - By Piccadilly station I sat down and wept
Crash from Pretending life is like a song
(55:04) Ola Podrida - Instead
Marcy from Lost in your inbox

I'm especially keen to hear what the CP family has to offer, as I've been a bit of a slacker when it comes to new music this year. It's just that I enjoy digesting what I find at my leisure, rather than just gobbling up every new dish, no matter how tasty, as soon as it pops out of the kitchen. But as a result, I do get a bit behind on what's on the current menu, and sometimes I miss delectable morsels. Sigh, must try harder...

All that said, let me skip straight to dessert. Top of my list for 2007 to date is definitely the Chocolat EP whence came my submission for the podcast. There's a whole lotta francophone shakin' going on in Montreal, and I'm determined to find out more. Chocolat is fronted by one Jimi Hunt, a lo-fi garage type wot I found whilst I was busy impersonating 17-year-old Christina Aguilera fan. Here, dip into the choccie box and have another taste:

Chocolat - Gabrielle (buy via their Myspace page)

I've also come across a song that I'm not sure whether to include on the "Best of" or "Most Maddening of" list. You see, upon first hearing "Atlas" by The Battles, the pesky choonlet wormed itself down my earhole and into my cerebral cortex, where it has sat since. So far I'm enjoying playing host to this musical parasite, but I'm afraid it might eventually drive me mad...

Battles - Atlas (preorder the album here)

Next week's CP theme is "Songs that Mention Other Songs, Bands, or Artists." So get thinking and submitting - Tim describes all the mechanics right here.

EDIT THURSDAY 3 MAY: Anyone interested in popping along to see The Paper Dolls (featuring ex-Buffet/Stuck-Up Tiffany Lee), The Manipulators, and The Zip Guns this Saturday, 5 May @ Pub 340? It promises to be a fun evening of fuzzy garage rawkous roll, but I've no-one to go with and I don't want to be the creepy old guy propping up the bar...