Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolved


Alright, time to dig out. Chrimbo has come & gone, and I'm trying to figure out why I had such the allergic reaction to it this year. There must be something to learn from it. In good time...

So, it's New Year's Eve. There must be something in the air --odd vapours, peculiar plasms-- because I'm feeling the inclination to make resolutions.

Seriously.

You see, ordinarily I don't hold with That Type Of Thing; you know, gin-fuelled, ill-considered attachment to unreasonable goals, followed by disappointment and self-criticism when they're not met. But of late I've been bouncing a few ideas off of mental walls. Weighing them up. Poking them. Prodding them. Nothing life-transforming, you understand, but I suppose this is as good a time as any to stop molesting them and adopt them. So, without any further ado, I resolve to:
  1. Get in shape for the 2009 Vancouver Sun Run

  2. Start taking gee-tarr lessons

  3. Listen to more music

  4. Volunteer, cos talking about change isn't enough

  5. Sort out that thing that I should have sorted out ages ago
I would be grateful if you could see your way to helping me stick to them... A very happy, compassionate, and rockin' 2009 to you all, Dearest Friends!

Camera Obscura - Happy New Year (buy here or e-here)
The Bodines - Decide (only available on the original 1989 12-inch, methinks. Try here.)
Asobi Seksu - New Years (buy here or e-here)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Piss Off


It's over, so just go away. That's right, push off, and take your commercialism and unrealistic expectations and forced bonhomie with you. Oh, and don't forget all that bloody snow - you can stick it in your sleigh as well. I'm sick of shoveling it.

Jack White - Christmas Time is Nearly Over (buy here)
The Stuck-Ups - Piss Off (buy here or e-here)
Blackavar - Heart of Winter (buy here)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Conspiracy


Well, according to NORAD, Father Christmas is currently over Brian Head, Utah and is heading north. You see, I finally figured it out: Old St Nick is in cahoots with the military-industrial complex and is using alien spacecraft technology adapted by the US Air Force to travel the globe at high hypersonic speeds (see the photo above for PROOF!), distributing gifts in support of the reification of Christmas and general commodity fetishism, which in turn compels people to spend spend SPEND, thereby propping up the Capitalist system.

Shockingly fiendish, isn't it?? But now you know the truth.

Anyway, here are a final few seasonal tunes without which for me Chrimbo would be zilcho. Happy hols, Dearest Friends.

The Kinks - Father Christmas (buy here)
The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping (buy here)
Holly Golightly - Christmas Tree on Fire (buy here)
Shonen Knife - Space Christmas (buy here)
St Etienne - I Was Born On Christmas Day (buy here)
Jacob Miller - All I Want for Ismas (buy e-here)
Bullette - Blue Christmas (buy her stuff here)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Silent Night, My Arse!


Dearest Friends, I find the holiday season is SO much more enjoyable when it's noizeee in a punk rock stylee. Don't you agree?


Easy Roy & The Flux Capacitors - Little Drummer Boy (I know nothing about the band or this song!)
The Vandals - Oi To The World (buy here or e-here)
New Bomb Turks - Christmas [Baby, Please Come Home] (buy here or e-here)
Celibate Rifles - Merry Xmas Blues (buy here or e-here)
Crucial Youth - X-Mas For The Skins (buy here or e-here)
Didjits - Under The Christmas Fish (buy here or e-here)
Exhumed - No Presents For Christmas (buy here or e-here)
S Punk 7 - White Trash Christmas (buy here or download more e-here)
Mistreaters - Santa Stole My Baby (buy the Flying Bomb Surprise Package here)
Devil Dogs - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day (buy here or e-here)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Last Christmas


Dearest Friends, you may recall that last Christmas Santa FiL got a bit too full of seasonal spirit(s) and utterly disgraced the red suit. It's true. However, I'm relieved to say that this year he's stayed off the egg nog. Well, not entirely, but he hasn't dissolved his brain in it. That said, there's still Christmas itself to get through, and a bottle of medicinal vodka in the freezer. Just in case...

Peter & The Test Tube Babies - I'm Getting Pissed For Christmas (buy here or e-here)
Dwarves - Drinking Up Christmas (buy e-here)
Lord Beginner - Christmas Morning The Rum Had Me Yawning (buy here)

Speaking of last Christmas (WARNING: FACILE SEGUE ALERT), what about that damn song?? Truth be told, with a skinful in me I can just about appreciate the campy cheesiness of the original by Messrs Ridgeley & Michael. But hearing its insipidness while sober and in a retail establishment in December makes me want to do unspeakably harsh things to shop mannequins. What surprises me, however, is the sheer number of cover versions there are out there of this tat. And while some of them are as bad (if not worse) than the original, I've actually come across a few that, erm, are quite good, actually...

Gordon Campbell - Last Christmas (buy here or e-here)
No, not the Premier of BC (at least I think so), but a devotee of the pan pipes. God, how I hate pan pipes. I'm convinced that there's only one Peruvian pan-pipe band in the whole world, but it follows me around everywhere I go, tormenting me on random street corners. But I digress - and I listen with prejudice. OK, this is the only truly awful version here, promise...

Le Sport, Montt Mardié, & Mr Suitcase - Last Christmas (no idea where to find this)
If you're off to Ibiza for a bit of a Chrimbo boogie, you might very hear this one. Loungey & housey all at once. Methinks the vocalist must have very tight underpants. Actually, all three of them are Swedes.

Animal - Last Kristmess* You Burst All My Warts (download it and others here)
Oboy, this is reeeealy something special. All skippy and trippy and jagged and ragged. Truly glorious in its abomination.

The Revolvers - Last Christmas (buy here)
These German punx rock! Dearest Marcy put it up already last week, but I love it soooo much you're going to get it again!! In fact, she's got a few other Last Christmases up, including a very good one by Jimmy Eat World. Please drop by!

Punk People - Last Christmas (buy e-here)
Mysterious cover artistes. Chugs along rather nicely (if predictably) & does exactly what it says on the tin - wuntoofreefwarrr!!

And if you want more covers, pop on over here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Filthy Little Christmas


I made this...


So Dearest Wife whips up a batch of lovely gingerbread homunculi, which she and the Delightful Children decorate in a manner appropriate to the season. At my request, they leave me a couple to embellish. After all, it's the family togetherness wot makes this time of the year special, right??

My first attempt results in a rather unconvincing zombie; it was hard to get the exposed brain just right. But my second baked golem turns out rather better; Dearest Friends, I give you the anatomically (more-or-less) correct Ginger Bready, the most sensuous erotic artiste ever to be formed out of pastry. OK, the kids think she's wearing a bikini and holding a cellphone, but y'all know it's really boobs 'n' pubes 'n' lube...

Actually, I blame all this filth on Dearest Tart. Yes, I was lured into the sultry world of Chrimbo smut by her provocative posts here and here. There oughta be a law against this sort of thing, but I'm glad there isn't, because I'm about to drip some seasonally saucy sounds all over you...

The Bellrays - All I Want To Do Is Shag For Christmas (buy e-here)
Dear Santa, for Christmas please can you bring me Dearest Wife with a ribbon (and nowt else) round her waist? Just mind where you put her, the tree can get a bit prickly. I've been too good all year. Love, FiL.

Ms Jody - Humping Santa (buy here or e-here)
Well, I think the bluesy Ms Jody got EXACTLY what she wanted from the man in red.

The Soul Sisters - Wreck A Buddy (buy here)
OK, strictly speaking this isn't a Chrimbo tune, but these Jamaican lasses do get all rude to the tune of Little Drummer Boy. So it counts.

Broken Social Scene - Handjobs For The Holidays (buy here or e-here)
A specialty item - you don't see these advertised at Wal-Mart...

And What Will Be Left Of Them? - Have Yourself A Filthy Little Christmas (from the 2006 Filthy Little Angels Xmas album - go download the magnificent 08 edition here)
Not the smuttiest song under the tree, but a rollicking tune with the best title! And I hope you do, Dearest Friends, I really hope you do!!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Can't Stop the Revelry


Until now I have been able to avoid it. I looked the other way when Dearest Tart started in on it obscenely early. And I plugged my ears when Dearest Ed started spinning his seasonal discs back at the arse-end of November. But December has ushered in the relentless tyranny of green and red and bells and fa-la-la-la-fucking-la. I cannot escape it and so I grudgingly accept an egg nog latte made with two parts schmaltz, two parts tension, and a diluted shot of cheer.

Christmas is coming.

Let's get one thing straight: I'm no Scrooge. I want it to be all about generosity and kindness and compassion. And I try very hard to make it so. Always have, always will, this year no exceptioin. But what Chrimbo inevitably turns out to be is stress and conflicting expectations and strained diplomacy and arguments and obligatory, joyless socializing and mutually unsatisfying compromise and orgiastic consumerism. Oh yes, the screams to buy buy BUY that are louder than ever this year as the keepers of the capitalist beast shame and guilt and exhort the financially stressed to spend so as to feed their starving pet.

But there is the music. Yes, there's quite a lot of good Christmas music about, in amongst the shite and tripe. Let's have us a bit of music, shall we? Accentuate the positive, and all that.

Maybe this year will be different...

Oscar the Grouch - I Hate Christmas (buy here)
I grew up hanging out with Oscar in his trashcan. Do you think he's the same species as Yoda??

Shrag - Stop the Revelry (I downloaded it here a couple of years ago)
A magnificently bittersour tune from these mighty Brighton artrockers. With parping Chrimbo keyboards to boot!!

The Sonics - Don't Believe in Christmas (buy here)
Vintage Seattle garage rawkers calling it as they feel it.

Jet Boys - Merry Christmas, Fuck You (buy here or e-here)
A younger vintage of Japanese garage rawkers calling it as they feel it.

Velodrome 2000 - Christmas Sucks (buy here)
Defunct Sheffield indiepop outfit flies the anti-hols flag high...

Wild Billy Childish & The Musicians of the British Empire - A Poundland Christmas (buy here or e-here)
Back to the garage with the legendary Wild Billy Childish, with an all-too-relevant tune for this year. But maybe that's just what we need: spend less, give more.

P.S. Now that I've started, I'm sure there'll be more Yuletide music to come...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Bangers & Mash


Oh, good Lord, it's been a bloody age, hasn't it? Look, I promise to tell you all about The Trip, but right now my time is all mashed up with work, kids, and that bloody pain in the arse known as Christmas. So please let me be glib and say: "Speaking of mashed up..."

The ever faaabulous Contrast Podcast this week serves up a steaming plate of delicious mash(ups), with a few bangers thrown in for good measure. And Dearest Tim's even gone and made his own delectable dish!! Download the whole heap of potatoes here, and tell us how tasty you find it all here.

What's on the menu?

(00:00) DJ Marcel Dejeune - Drop it like your heart and brain are done in (Bonzos vs Snoop vs Death Cab)
Tim from The face of today

(04:12) Brat Productions - Easy heaven (Commodores vs The Cure)
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(08:14) IDC - Hey mug (The Streets vs Outkast)
JC aka The Vinyl Villian

(12:52) DJ Lobsterdust - Baby Arrow (Marvin Gaye vs Mary Wells vs The
Carpenters
vs The Album Leaf)
Chris from Culture Bully

(18:36) Go Home Productions - Ray of gob (Madonna vs The Sex Pistols)
FiL from Pogoagogo

(23:31) DJ Schmolli - Wicked wedding (Chris Isaak vs Billy Idol)
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(28:17) A plus D - An honest M.I.A. (M.I.A. vs The Bravery)
Eiron from The S+7 Method

(31:25) Bobby Martini - Too busy thinking about the magnificent seven (The Clash vs Marvin Gaye)
Tricia

(34:47) The Illuminoids - I’m a girl U want (The Monkees vs Devo)
Ross from Hummin’ Cummins

(38:14) The Very Best - Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (ft. Vampire Weekend)
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(42:39) Aggro1 - Wonderwall Tribulations (Oasis vs LCD Soundsystem)
Adam from Pretending life is like a song

(47:10) Norwegian Recycling - How six songs collide
James from Appetite For Distraction

(53:31) 65 Days of Static - I’m dreaming of a white noise christmas (ft. Christina Aguilera)
John Q.

There are those who say the mashup has had it's day, and that even in its day it was the province of geeky, middle-class, white boys with too much time and money on their hands who shamelessly plundered hip-hop tunes. Well, if that's true then some of those white boys whipped up some arse-shakingly good stuff. And if as a result little Tarquin of Teddington discovered the joys of Jay-Z mixed in with his Hot Chip, then so much the better!!

The track I submitted is my all-time favourite serving of mash, but there are a whole slew of others that get my booty going. And here they are:

Jay-Zena - 99 Luft Problems (Jay-Z vs Nena)
Lady Sovereign vs Ministry - Love Me Or Hate Me Every Day
Silence Experiment - We Will Rock You In Da Club (50 Cent vs Queen)
2 Many DJs - No Fun & Push It (Salt-N-Pepa vs Stooges)
DJ Tripp - Jumping Someone Else's Freak (Missy Elliott vs The Cure)

Speaking of mashups and potatoes and white folks (and in honour of Tim putting some Snoop in da mix), here's Martha Stewart vs Snoop Dogg mashing potatoes together. For real.



Goodness, I hope regularly scheduled programming returns soon...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Holiday in Seattle



Dearest Friends, I'm so excited. And I just can't hide it. You see, tomorrow morning early I set off for Seattle. But this is no ordinary weekend jaunt, oh no. Why? Because I finally get to meet en chair et en os our Dearest Colin. Isn't that splendid?? Colin was one of my first ever bloggy friends, and I'm delighted that finally we will be breaking the electron barrier.

So, what are our plans? Well, first we'll be visiting Dear Old Aunt Lucy. We're not sure what to bring such an aged relative; perhaps some Yardley's Soap, maybe a Cadbury Milk Tray. After that, I'm tagging along to a sociology seminar to observe Colin in his professional capacity. Possibly inbetween, but certainly thereafter, we will find time to down a jar or five. And I'm sure there will be music, sweet music. There'll be music everywhere. Singing and dancing, records playing.

Not enough? Well, on top of that we'll be meeting up with Dearest Juan and hopefully Dearest Nico. More? Dearest JaG is driving down to join in the festivities! It'll be a true blogger jamboree. As an aside, I wonder what the collective noun for a group of bloggers is? A blogspot? A screed? Answers in the comments, please.

And finally, to top it all off, Colin is accompanying me back to Vancouver so he can sample its delights for a few days. Careful, we might like him so much up here that we won't give him back...

I suppose you're going to want some music to go along with that. In fact, you're probably expecting me to post some hip Seattle bands. Maybe some vintage Subpop, or Fatal Taxi for Sweetie. Well, forget that, but you will get some appropriate choonz:

Public Image Ltd - Seattle (buy here)
The Business - Holiday in Seattle (buy here)

Since my heart is going pitter-pat in anticipation, I thought it'd be appropriate to tell you about this week's Contrast Podcast, which kicks off a new series on parts of the body. And where do we start? Why, the heart, of course. I fear I'm in too much of a rush tonight to post the tracklisting like I usually do, but trust me, it's a cardiac-arresting lineup this week. Download it here and post your comments here.

Actually, this week's CP links nicely to tomorrow's meetup in that my intro was a joint one with Dearest Mentok, and we recorded live in a Winnipeg hotel room. Fact. You see, Mentok was in town for a political shebang, while I was visiting for workish reasons, and we managed to overlap by a day. What fun! He's a grand fellow, and it was lovely to see him, even if he did abandon me at the Heart of Gold...

Truth be told, we picked our track a) for kitsch value, and b) because Neil Young hails from Manitoba; neither one of us especially likes "Heart of Gold." Now, "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," that's altogether a better song. Especially these versions:

Psychic TV - Only Love Can Break Your Heart (buy here)
St Etienne - Only Love Can Break Your Heart (buy here)

Anyway, I must be off. Seattle or bust!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Whistling in the Dark


Whistling over here

I can't really whistle properly - just never properly mastered the combination of lips & tongue & breath. I can do a reasonable approximation, but I sound like a sickly air mattress leaking air. My Father had a tremendous taxi whistle; with his two fingers in his mouth he could hail a cab from Jupiter. But alas, he never taught me how to do it...

OK, so I have some whistling baggage, I'll admit to that. Nevertheless, I think this week's Contrast Podcast theme is grand; Dearest Tricia (of no fixed blogabode) challenged contributors to come up with songs that make use of use sibilancy, and the result is indeed sooooper contrasty. You should really download the 'cast here, and feel free to comment here.

Here's something to wet your whistle:

(00:00) DeVotchKa - The enemy guns
Tricia

(05:58) Alfredo Linares y su Sonora - El Pito
The In Crowd from I’m Learning to Share!

(10:10) Alphabeat - Public image
FiL from Pogoagogo

(15:11) Paul K and the Weathermen - Golden opportunity
Greer from A Sweet Unrest

(18:33) Loose Fur - The ruling class
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(22:44) Rammstein - Engel
Adam from Pretending life is like a song

(27:07) DJ Riko - Whistler’s delight
Chip from Atomic Ned

(33:54) Geert Chatrou - Basilique de la bicyclette
Tim from The face of today

(37:32) Morgan Manifacier - I lost my dog
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(42:19) Lenlow - Bjorn slippy
Chris from Culture Bully

(47:50) Jan Turkenburg - Water
Eiron from The S+7 Method

(51:51) Less than Jake - Malt liquor tastes better when you’ve got problems
James from Appetite For Distraction

(54:43) Half Man Half Biscuit - Reasons to be miserable (part ten)
John Q.

(59:23) Elliott Smith - Jealous Guy
Dirk from Sexy Loser


This week I went rather contrarian and offered up a song that I really don't like. It's not that I feel that my beloved 'Public Image' is somehow too sacred to be covered, it's just that I think Alphabeat have done an exceptionally dreadful job of it. They eviscerate the song of all its snarly venom (sidebar: "'Public Image' is not the first Public Image Limited single; it is really the last Sex Pistols single. Discuss."), they flay it of its throbbing bass and jagged chaos of guitar, and replace it all with a deadpan, humourless delivery, tepid pop instrumentation, and that bloody annoying whistling. Argh. Fuck. Kill.

Before deciding I had to expose this travesty to the cold, harsh light of truth, I considered a few other whistly tunes, though none I considered awesome enough to deploy. I figured if I couldn't do ffabulous, then I'd do dreadful. See? I was feeling contrary. Crotchety old man syndrome, perhaps. Kids these days, no respect. When I were a lad, it were all wax cylinders and Morris dancing...

Happy Mondays - Step On (buy here)
Original Madchester über-baggy. I actually saw the Mondays open for The Pixies in NYC back in 1989. Talk about a dreadfully mismatched pair of bands; we indie kids had no clue what to make of Bez with his thousand-yard stare, freaky dancing, and maracas...

J Geils Band - Centerfold (buy here)
OK, I'll admit it: I thought this song ROCKED! OK, I did when I was about 12. Ply me with drink and I might sing you the entire song, though with air-mattressy whistling.

The Monochrome Set - Jet Set Junta (buy here or e-here)
While maybe not an awesome tune, had I thought of this ditty by these London post-punks before I sent off my submission, I might well have spared you the dreadfulness of Alphablech. Oh well...

Next week is the start of another series, this time focusing on body parts. And we kick things off with: The Heart. So get submitting! How? Like this.

P.S. It's time to start thinking about Christmas! Tim's preparing another Festive Fifty episode, and he wants you to list your top songs of 2008 in order (up to 50, but top 10 is OK as well) and send them to him at contrast.podcast@gmail.com by Sunday, 16 November. Zoiks! That's only four days from now! Get moving!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

God What A Racket!


FiL, post-GWAR

How to tell if you're at a GWAR concert at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver:
  1. Despite a widely advertised smoking ban, a fug of pot smoke hangs over the audience, more pungent than you would find at any hippyfest.

  2. There are large demons onstage with instruments, musical and other.

  3. They play screamingly fast & loud thrash metal with a satirical (if juvenile) edge.

  4. The show revolves around a storyline that pits GWAR against various contenders for the Intergalactic Wrestling Championship Belt.

  5. Within the space of fifteen minutes two of the contenders, Barack Obama and John McCain, are beheaded and flayed/disemboweled, respectively.

  6. As a direct result of point 5 (supra), you are covered from head to toe in blood. Plus you get some in your mouth because you’re laughing.

  7. You find yourself singing along to “Bring Back The Bomb.”

  8. You keep tripping over shoes lost in the mosh pit, and you’re grateful for your eight-hole Doc Martens.

  9. The nice people who fling you into the mosh pit are only too glad to pick you up when you fall. They even offer you their joints, which you have to decline on account that you need to drive home.

  10. You can’t wait until GWAR come back next year on their 25th anniversary tour.

GWAR - Bring Back The Bomb (buy here)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Greeks in the Edicule



So this Sunday morning while eating my (non-holy) bread I came across a BBC story about a skirmish earlier today between Orthodox Greek and Armenian monks at Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is built on the alleged site of Christ's crucifixion. Apparently one of the Greek monks insisted on standing in the Edicule, said to house Christ's tomb, while the Armenians were trying to process through it in order to mark the supposed discovery in the 4th century of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Words were exchanged, punches were thrown, and religious paraphernalia went flying. With their elaborate garments, the holy men looked rather like professional wrestlers.

There, in a nutshell, is everything I find ridiculous about organized religion. Petty tribalism masquerading as faith and spirituality. It's all rather silly, as is this:

Chumbawamba - Look! No Strings! (buy here)

And this:

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ch-Ch-Changes


Barometric reading taken from here

Alright, let me try to get this thing restarted...

Yes, yes, I've been away from here for a bit. Life. Rats. Leaky windows. Plumbing. Global financial meltdown. Kids. That's why...

But enough of that - what better way to get restarted than with me waving the flag of Contrast Podcast, which this week experienced Change thanks to Dearest Adam's theme. There's certainly much about metamorphoses on offer, but what hasn't changed is the fine mix of clever intros and rock-solid music choices. Download it here, and comment here, if you please. And if you want to see what you're getting:

(00:00) Dudley Moore - Goodbye George

Tim from The face of today

(04:23) Billy Bragg - Days like these (DC Mix)

Adam from Pretending life is like a song

(08:08) Steve Forbert - The change song

Natalie from Mini-Obs

(13:38) The Faint - Agenda suicide

FiL from Pogoagogo

(19:04) Julie London - There’ll be some changes

ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(21:53) Moloko - Remain the same

Chris from Phosphorous.net

(27:05) John Betram - Change

Linda from Speed of Dark

(31:09) The Red Guitars - Good technology

John Q.

(36:16) The Charlatans - Everything changed

Tricia

(40:04) Rancid - Tropical London

Eiron from The S+7 Method

(44:04) Pink Nasty - Don’t ever change

Marcy from Lost in your inbox

(48:07) Fountains of Wayne - New Routine

Thom from Better in the Dark

(52:47) Ruut - Changes

James from Appetite For Distraction

(56:54) Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Are you ready to be heartbroken?

Greer from A Sweet Unrest

(01:00:33) The Low Scores & MF Doom - Change the beat

Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(01:04:40) Dean Whitbread ft Danny Payne on drums - The other side

Dean from Pod of Funk

(01:09:02) Mildred Bailey and her orchestra with The Delta Rhythm Boys - There’ll be some changes made

The In Crowd from I’m Learning to Share!

(01:11:36) Billy Bragg - A change is gonna come (live)

Dirk from Sexy Loser

(01:16:29) Leonard Cohen - Democracy

JC aka The Vinyl Villian


Given the then-upcoming US election, I figured there'd be many contributions inspired by the electrifying campaign of now-President-elect (oh YEAH, that feels so GOOD to type!!) Obama. I toyed with the idea of following suit, but opted instead for a story of personal change, and how music was its handmaiden. You'll have to listen to the podcast to hear the tale, but suffice to say it involved the near death of the soul and how a suicidal song helped forestall its demise. Another song that assisted was "I Am A Revenant" by LA punk outfit The Distillers. Singer Brody Dalle's harsh screams of rage reminded me that although I might be walking dead, I was still walking...

Distillers - I Am A Revenant (buy here)

I also considered posting an aptly named Style Council tune, and using it as a trope for describing how my love for The Jam changed to indifference during the career of the Council, then accelerated into derision after Weller frolicked into the wild Wildwood of Dadrock and wooden beads. But Dearest JC and Dearest Adam both had already echoed similar sentiments here and here, so I spared you my polemic.

The Style Council - My Ever Changing Moods (buy here)

Finally, had I decided to wax hopeful about the election, I would have pinned my passion to an wholly apposite track by the multicultural marvel that is Cornershop.

Cornershop - Change (buy here or e-here)

Dearest Friends, I was indeed thrilled that the promise of change triumphed this past Tuesday. But my joy was tempered somewhat by change of the wrong kind: the passing of Proposition 8 in California, which removes the recently granted right of same-sex couples to marry. For goodness sake, why shouldn't two folks who love each other be allowed to commit themselves to each other formally and legally, regardless of their sex? What's that you say, Cardinal Mahoney? It's not "God's plan for people living upon this earth throughout time?" Well then, I hope you're following all the rest of God's plan, including banning cheeseburgers (Exodus 23:19 "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk"). Folks, there's still change to be fought for...

So at the risk of being rude, this one's for the 5,424,916 Californians who voted for Prop 8:

The Senseless Things - Homophobic Asshole (buy here)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Spinning Around


Photo taken by this talented lady

I was going to post something tonight. One of the many stories that have accumulated and jammed up both mind and soul.

But I just couldn't.

I feel like I'm going around and around on some infernal carousel, sometimes awake, sometimes asleep, sometimes a bit of both. At times the ride is thrilling, but mostly I just want to get off.

Sigh.

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry - Spinning Around (buy here or e-here)
Music for Zombies - Carnival of Souls (buy here or e-here)
Christian Death - Sleepwalk (buy here or e-here)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Seven in a Row


Typical. It's like the bloody bus; you wait ages for one to come by, then several show up at once. However, in this case it's not a curse, but a blessing; right now there are soooo many fine shows coming up in Vancouver that I just couldn't sit in the bus shelter and watch them drive by.

Recently I've been to see The Wedding Present and Abigail Washburn (about which more at a future date). Then over the next six weeks I'm off to with Frightened Rabbit supporting The Spinto Band, gory thrashers GWAR, garage noiseniks King Khan & BBQ, and finally the delightful Holly Golightly.

Phew!

And last night, Dearest Friends, I finally got to see The Legendary Pink Dots, whom I've long wanted to experience. It was a bit of a dilemma, for Wire were also playing that same evening, supported by the mighty Japandroids. But The Dots it was. LPD have been floating around the fringes, in the ozone, and underground for the past twenty-eight years, during which time they've prolifically released thirty-six albums plus a clutch of LPs. How to describe them for the uninitiated? Um, with difficulty. But here goes: LPD weave a dense and vast musical mesh of fairytale whimsy, surreal mysticism, and unsettling menace out of strands of electronica, goth, krautrock, folk, techno, dub, and psychedelia. Think (WARNING: Facile Artist Comparison Mishmash Alert!) early Pink Floyd meets Skinny Puppy meets Hawkwind meets Nurse With Wound meets Gorkys Zygotic Mynci meets Joy Division. I was hooked many years ago when I first heard frontman Edward Ka-Spel feyly singing of etchings and licking wax off moustaches in "A Day At The Dreamies."

LPD did not play that tune last night, but concentrated instead on their latest album, the excellent Plutonium Blonde. The show was, like the curate's egg, good in parts; the surrealy twee "My First Zonee" and the stalking, malevolent "Torchsong" were particular highlights for me. Oh, and I was particularly tickled when Niels van Hoorn, the mad saxophonist, went walkabout in the crowd, his instrument blasting out a fierce light from its bell with every bleat. However, I fear that overall the LPD live experience fell somewhat short, at least on this occasion.

Perhaps it was the venue; Richards on Richards is a rather soulless box, and last night it was only about a quarter full - perhaps everyone else was at Wire. But that aside, LPD's albums are glorious, grand, sweeping, immersive, mysterious things, and the group wasn't able to replicate that on stage. The three insistent strobe lights and the rather feeble pfft-pfft-pfft of a dry ice machine were a bit embarrassing, and the enigmatic Ka-Spel, clad in a black robe with a pink pashmina, looked like a cross between wee Ronnie Corbett (Yanks: see video in previous post, bloke on the right), Ozzy Osbourne circa 1971, and the singer from The Polyphonic Spree. While it was all quite endearing in an am-dram sort of way and the crowd was fiercely appreciative, it left me all rather underwhelmed.

Driving home in the rain after the show, I slipped Plutonium Blonde on the car stere-ere-ereo. As its otherworldly magnificence unfolded, the car brakelights in front of me became skittering cosmic paramecia and the windshield wipers the flapping wings of a mothlike pixie that sprinkled comet dust on my windscreen.

Now that's more like it!

The Legendary Pink Dots - Torchsong (buy here or e-here)
The Legendary Pink Dots - A Day At The Dreamies (buy here or e-here)
The Legendary Pink Dots - Princess Coldheart (buy here or e-here)

P.S. Here's a splendidly wibbly video of "Rainbows Too?," another fine track from Plutonium Blonde:

Monday, October 13, 2008

I Know My Place



There's stuff in the works, Dearest Friends, believe you me. In the meantime, I was tickled to within an inch of my life by my discovery of this absolutely stunning gem from 1966. Featuring a young, pre-Python John Cleese and The Two Ronnies, this Frost Report sketch sends up the British class system something wicked. Quite possible one of the cleverest, most biting, ninetysome seconds ever committed to celluloid.

The Monochrome Set - The Ruling Class (buy here or e-here)
Hello Saferide - Middle Class (buy here or e-here)
Ringo - Working Class (buy here or e-here)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Tidying Up


No, I'm not going to crap on about how busy things have been and how I really want and intend and promise to post more frequently. Although I just did and I do.

But it is time, Dearest Friends, for a spot of housekeeping. You see, my blogroll has been in dire need of updating for some time, but I've been most negligent in attending to it. So this evening I invite you to join with me as I slip on my pinny and rubber gloves (did you hear that lovely latex Snap! as they went on??), pick up my mop, and get ready to tidy things up...

First, it's time to part with a couple of blogs that seem to be no more. The Roaring Machine has not roared for many, many months, and I can but hope that Her Highness Dearest Liz, Queen Supreme of Tweegoth, is happy and serene on the Isle of Man with her Spoilt Victorian Child consort. Likewise, the Diary of a Contemporary Dandy has not been e-scribbled in since January. The blogosphere is a poorer place without Dearest Gayest Neil's frothy and hi-LAAA-rious prose.

Fret not, Dearest Friends, for as I sweep clean with mop in one latex-enrobed hand, so I restock with my other. And so, my shelves heave and groan with the addition of not one, not two, but SIX blogs! Who knew tidying up could be such fun (snap!)??

Pretending Life Is Like A Song is not actually a new blog round here, but the splendid reincarnation of an old favourite. Dearest Adam has been back with us for some time, and his wonderfully scribed reflections on songs picked out of his Bag of Excellent Taste are well worth your and my whiles.

A Stubborn Mule's Perspective isn't really a music blog per se, but please don't let that put you off. Dearest Sean from Oz explains things ranging from the financial to the mathematical to the interwebby in language that thickoes like myself can understand. Moreover, he and I go waaay back and have shared stories (which you'll never hear) involving bums, welts, grease, vodka, hospitals, cinema seats, Ministry concerts, dissolute coyotes, and gas masks.

It All Started With Carbon Monoxide, according to Dearest Agnes, who's also from Down Under. And from there it moved on to stories about music and other compelling matters, all with a refreshingly Aussie slant. And no jokes about shrimps on barbies; they're actually called prawns. And koalas are just koalas, OK? Not koala bears.

I Correct Myself, I Mean All The Time says Dearest Tart, but I don't believe her since there's nothing at all correct about her blog. Which is what makes it so delish. Drop your inhibitions and drop on by for heads of bread, music ranging from Motown to electrosleaze, and libido a go-go.

Dearest Mulrine is indeed extremely Pop Cultureddd, so you should visit chez elle in the hope that some of her cultcha may rub off on you. And you might get a dollop of sociology on the side, along with the main course of yummy words and fresh, hot music.

The Roman Empress reigns over a most stylish blog whose empire encompasses, inter alia, London, timeless music, priests, and, er, moustaches. She is a most benign monarch, and worthy of your adulation.

There, that's looking proper spic 'n' span now!! Now just a quick rubdown with some appropriate tuneage:

Echo & The Bunnymen - Do It Clean (buy here)
George Formby - When I'm Cleaning Windows (buy here or e-here)
Eminem - Cleanin' Out My Closet (Jacknife Lee Mix) (This RAWKS!!! Buy some Eminem here)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mockingbird Bible


Dearest Friends, you will recall that last year I was captivated by the songsmithery of local country-western-folk-blues singer/songwriter Rodney DeCroo. Well, he has a new album out, Mockingbird Bible, and I got religion.

As a quick recap for those of you who weren't listening the first time around, he's been variously compared to Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Neil Young, John Prine, and even Bruce Springsteen. But don't let yourself get lazy and think that with that you've got him pegged; he's kinda sorta like the best bits of them all stitched together, with more on top.

At the core is a man with a superb talent for crafting poetic stories out of words and experience. Stories of people carrying burdens of regret, shame, fear, trauma, and self-doubt; of loves and relationships gone askew; of difficult memories and difficult questions; and also of beauty. They are sung in Rodney's supremely evocative voice; it's neither a polished nor a perfect voice, but its gritty and gravelly imperfections convey an honesty and authority based on hard experience and emotion. The songs are carried forward by Rodney's acoustic guitar, which he plays with an an elegant economy, and are embellished on the album by contributions from some fine Vancouver musicians; sweet backing singing by Sam Parton of the Be Good Tanyas, Ida Nilsen's tender vocals and piano, and the rich pluckings of stringmeister John Wood.

Mockingbird Bible is shot through with an introspective sadness and bitterness. The album's quasi-title track, 'Mockingbird,' is downright harrowing; Rodney picks at the strings as if they're his nerves as he sings an tense, high-pitched blues story of rejection and betrayal that leaves me exhausted each time I hear it. 'Loneliness Has The Heart Of A Spider,' which is just a fantastic metaphor, is mellower, mournful tale redolent of self entrapment. 'Shooting Stars' seems to lament the loneliness of a life on the road, with Rodney singing of "lonely girls in heartbreak bars / they love the way you play your guitar."

But it's not all gloom and doom and bleakness; if you want that, just stick to your Joy Division, you miserable gits. For in amongst all the angst are islands of spirituality. Now rest assured, I'm not talking about old-time, tub-thumping evangelism or kumbayah hippy-drippiness. It's a less-focused faith in grace and redemption, one that brings a sense of hope, however grubby. Nowhere is this more in evidence than on 'Spinning Wheel,' which sits roughly in the middle of the album's sadness: "I stand at the razor's edge / as these lights burn through my head / and despite every word I said / I praise this spinning wheel."

Probably what I find most powerful about Rodney's music is how it often it will sneak up and suddenly stab straight through my outer hide and pierce some damned, dammed up pool of emotion that I didn't even realize was there. Heck, that happened the first time I ever set eyes or ears on him, and it happened again while listening to the album. Twice, in fact. And though sometimes I can figure out why it does ("Oh my mother / Oh my father / Will we ever be reconciled? / Though I went out and I wandered / I am still your only child"), often I'm not really sure. "Deep waters, they don't run dry" - why does that bit from 'Black Earth, Green Fields' twist my heart in a knot??

I've been trying to figure out why the album is called Mockingbird Bible, which is odd because usually I'm fairly accepting of whatever an album is dubbed. Life's A Riot With Spy Vs. Spy? Yeah, sure Billy, cheers. Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? Um, right, WHAT-everr. I even asked Rodney, who gently encouraged me with a twinkle in his eye (well, there probably was one while he typed the e-mail) to decide that for myself.

So what did I come up with? Well, I was reminded of Miss Maudie's declaration in To Kill A Mockingbird: "Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy ... , they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us." In the book the bird becomes a symbol of innocence, and of innocence tarnished. I think Rodney just wants -perhaps needs- to sing his scarred heart out for us. And this album is his Bible, chapter and verse.

To top it all off, folks, Rodney is an excellent live performer. To mark the release of Mockingbird Bible he played a packed Railway Club with the robust backing of his three-piece Convictions. Interestingly, the band punched up the songs to a rockier-n-rollier pace, which traded in some of album's sadness for a greater sense of urgency. All of which was grand; after all, if a band just plays their repertoire note-for-note on stage, why bloody bother going out & staying up late??

Bottom line, Dearest Friends: buy the album, and go see him live. If you're in western Canada, you may well have the chance to catch one of the shown on his current tour of BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. If you do, take it. Pop over here to check out dates.

Rodney DeCroo - Shooting Stars (buy here)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Torn Covers


Quilt by Lisa Visser, photo borrowed from here

Yes, yes, I know I'm late again. My excuse this time is that I'm nursing a cold. Forget rats or mosquitoes, kids are without a doubt THE most efficient disease vectors...

Anyway, I'd still like to draw your attention to the Contrast Podcast, which this week dove back under the covers to bring you a slew of cover versions that are very different from the original. In fact there was so much coverage that Dearest Young Tim only managed to bring us half this week; the rest will be forthcoming this coming Tuesday. Download it here, vent yourself here.

What's lurking beneath the covers:

(00:00)
Polysics - My Sharona
Tim from The face of today

(03:41) Hands on Heads - School
Ross from Just gimme indie rock

(05:02) Erroll Garner - (They want to be) close to you
Chris from Phosphorous.net

(10:45) Rats with wings - Hungry like the wolf
Matthew from Song by Toad

(16:34) Cake - I will survive
JC aka The Vinyl Villian

(26:13) Jill Sobule - Hot in herre
Agnes from It all started with carbon monoxide

(29:56) La Perversita - (I can’t get no) satisfaction
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(32:57) The Cardigans - Iron man
Greer from A Sweet Unrest

(37:41) The Postal Service - Against all odds
Andy from Circles of Concrete

(42:28) Giant Bear - Head like a hole
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(47:05) TV on the Radio - Mr Grieves
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(51:33) The Secret Machines - Money (that’s what I want)
The In Crowd from I’m Learning to Share!

My contribution is coming up next week, so I'll wait until then to share with you what almost made the cut. But while perusing my covers collection I remarked how many versions of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" I seem to have amassed. Indeed, if "Yesterday" by The Beatles is the most covered song in history (as the Guinness Book of World Records tells us), then I think "LWTUA" must be hot on its mawkish heels. Now plenty of others in the blogosphere have remarked upon this, so this ain't no big revelation. But truth be told, I think the original meets John Peel's definition of the perfect song: "There's nothing you could add to it or subtract from it that would improve it." And that, Dearest Friends, is why I didn't consider submitting any covers of it for the CP.

But that won't stop me sharing a wodge of them with you tonight...

Vitamin String Quartet - Love Will Tear Us Apart (buy here or e-here)
A stringy version performed by Vitamin Records' anonymous house quartet. From The Gothic Wedding Collection, but I recxkon that if you're playing this at your nuptials then you're pretty much doomed from the start...

Rebecca Hancock & The Prison Wives - Love Will Tear Us Apart (buy e-here)
A sorta acoustic, C&W, folky take by Aussie singer-songwriter Hancock. Wouldn't be out of place on your local honky tonk's jukebox.

P.J. Proby - Love Will Tear Us Apart (buy e-here)
Oh my, here the vintage Texas crooner/friend of Elvis/JD-swiller/ex-shepherd takes stab at it. Surely it should have been Love Will Tear My Trousers Apart Again?? No, please, hold your applause till the end of the show, folks...

Paul Young - Love Will Tear Us Apart (buy here)
A fairly characteristic version by the eighties white soul boy. I always thought he sounded a bit like a strangled bullfrog.

Bis - Love Will Tear Us Apart (buy here)
The now-separated Scottish DIY rascals give it the electro-indie treatment.

Tiger Baby - Love Will Tear Us Apart (buy here)
Less bleep, more ambient electronica and breathiness from these dishy Danes.

Boy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart (from the Zick Zack Records sampler "Bis Auf Weiteres eine Demonstration - Geräusche Für Den Tag Danach" which I have no idea where to find)
No, this isn't queercore. Boy Division are a shouty trash-pop-spielart cover band from Hamburg, Germany whose singer is given to broadcasting his vocals via megaphone.

The Cure - Love Will Tear Us Apart (don't think there's a versh to buy, but correct me if I'm wrong...)
Does exactly what it says on the tin.

The Shanes - Love Will Tear Us Apart (buy here or e-here)
Ye gods, another German cover version, this time in a Poguesian, Eastern European, squeezbox stylee. Recorded live in Serbia, apparently.

Calexico - Love Will Tear Us Apart (buy here)
A fine, motoring interpretation from Arizona's finest alt.country collective.

Albert Kuvezin & Yat Kha - Love Will Tear Us Apart (buy here or e-here)
Oh yeah, a Tuvan throat-singing version. This sort of mix-n-match gets my juices flowing...

Swans - Love Will Tear Us Apart (buy here or e-here)
Seminal NYC noiseniks have a go, with The Living Jarboe on vocals.

Oh, there are more, but that's all you get right now...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm gonna try. And I mean what I say.


Dearest Friends, once again I find myself in a horribly vexed position. I've got scads to write about, but no time in which to write it. My hyperactivitied offspring have conspired with AIG and Lehman Brothers to suck up all free time. Curses, foiled again!!!

But let me try to start the clawback...

Recently I fell in love with Havana Guns. "But FiL," you cry, "they're old news! So passe! So oh-five-oh-six!" Yeah, well, I'm a couple of years late, so fucking what. The fact is that their single She Always Goes Down made its way onto my computer and I've been utterly smitten by its aching, yearning, uber-catchy pop. "But still we danced all through the night / the DJ could not save our lives / the record stops then starts again." Gaaaah! I'm not sure why, but those lyrics cut me right through to the heart.

So, first I rushed over here to buy the only available vinyl single. Then I did a bit of snooping around on the interwebby to see what I could find about The sound comparisons are sound: The Strokes meet Blondie having a ciggy with the Jesus and Mary Chain while The Long Blondes play a set up on the pub stage. They call it "motorcycle pop." The band formed in 2004 in London, had some indie success with She Always Goes Down, and released NYCS in 2007. Most of the Guns seem to have recently coalesced into Rock City Sixteen, which seems to have added a big smear of post-punk into the mix and amped up the shoegazy guitar fuzz. I bought that single as well - told you it was love...

Havana Guns - She Always Goes Down (buy here)

Rock City Sixteen - Antarctica (buy here)

And here's a wee video of the brilliant NYCS for you:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cheese, Glorious Cheese

A platter of pure loveliness: (clockwise from top) Stinking Bishop, Epoisses,
Chabichou de Poitou, Beenleigh Blue, 5-year gouda



Last week the craving returned. I tried to resist, for the sake of both my wallet and my body. I tried manfully, but ultimately to no avail. By Friday morning I was desperate.

I had to have ... CHEESE.

And so round lunchtime I hopped, skipped, and jumped the few blocks from workplace to my main local dealer, Les Amis du Fromage, and dropped an embarrassing amount of money on some fine dairy product.

At home that evening, I realized with much disappointment that I had left my swag in the fridge at work. I managed to sweat through the night, and the next morning Little Man and I made a Hail Mary run to the office for salvation. After discharging some ancillary errands, we returned to the house for lunch. And we ate our cheese.

I was uncertain whether Little Man would share my enthusiasm for any of the ponging, pungent pieces that huddled on the cheese tray, but I needn't have worried; his favourite was the butterscotchy five-year-old gouda ("Almost as old as me!" he declared), followed by the wrinkly, goaty splendour of the Chabichou du Poitou (or "Chubby-chew," as he dubbed it). The sweet mouldiness of the Beenleigh Blue he found pleasant, but he was less keen on the the in-yer-face strength of the Epoisses and my favourite, the delightfully fetid Stinking Bishop. Give him time...

Dearest Friends, I nearly wept for joy. Joy at the sight, smell, taste, and texture of my beloved cheeses, and joy at the fact that Little Man loved them too

Les Trois Fromages - La Tartiflette (buy e-here)
French pop-punk whippersnappers sing the praises of cheese. Straight up.

P.S. Since 'tis once again the season to automotively schlep the kids from activity to activity, I burned a CD for inflight enjoyment. So here are three of the tracks that Daddy FiL and the bairns currently bop to en route:

Althea & Donna - Uptown Top Ranking (buy here)
Thee Headcoatees - Teenage Kicks (buy here or e-here)
The Real Tuesday Weld - Bathtime In Clerkenwell (buy here)

And if you've never seen the Bathtime In Clerkenwell video, you need to do so right now.