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)