Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Standing Proud

Right, this week Contrast Podcast puffs out it's chest, fans out it's tail feathers, and struts about like the cock of the walk. In other word, it's fully indulging in the mortal sin of pride. And CP sure has a lot to be proud of! Well, more specifically, those fine folk who contribute do. So download the podcast here, listen to it, and don't forget to tell everyone here how proud you are of us all.

Here's the f'ing awesome playlist:

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

(02:29) Cassius Clay - I am the greatest
Tim from The face of today

(04:57) The Fall - MC5
Chris from Phosphorous.net

(08:50) A plus D - I’m really Hot! Hot! Hot!
The Professor from Old fridges can kill

(12:48) The Beach Boys - Hang onto your ego
Brendan from The Rising Storm

(17:10) I, Ludicrous - Preposterous tales
Dirk from Sexy Loser

(23:09) The National - All the wine
Marcy from Lost in your inbox

(26:35) King - Love and pride
Mark from Cinema du Lyon

(30:18) Pride tiger - Let ‘em go
FiL from Pogoagogo

(34:12) 1990s - Pollockshields
JC from The Vinyl Villain

(39:29) Ringo Starr - I’m the greatest
Natalie from Mini-obs

(43:17) The Decemberists - The apology song
SiD from Too Much Rock

(47:03) Neil Young - River of pride
Linda from Speed of dark

(50:40) Zebrahead - I’m money
James from Appetite For Distraction

(55:12) Pieter Spealman - Some song I made
Pieter from Two Tramps in Mud Time

(59:55) Hüsker Dü - Pride
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(01:02:14) Roxy Music - The pride and the pain
Conrad from White Car Records

(01:06:57) The Lightning Seeds - Three Lions
Crash from Pretending life is like a song

I was rather fortunate that the appropriately monikered Pride Tiger recently released a stonking album from which I could offer up a most excellent track. Actually, I was kinda surprised that I took to them; these four Vancouver lads worship at the altar of seventies vinyl rock; you can sure hear the Hendrix, Sabbath, and Thin Lizzy leaking through. And that's generally not my favourite idiom. However, each of those three acts have one or two songs that I think rule. Paranoia. Boys Are Back in Town. Foxy Lady. And Pride Tiger manage to sound like the best bits of those songs all scuzzed together. What's more, their name comes from a freak collision of a Dio video and Okanagan apple cider. So, awesome local band + theme-appropriate name = no brainer. And I'll even take the uncharacteristic step of posting my contribution:

Pride Tiger - Let 'em Go (buy here )

What else was under consideration? These tunes:

Vice Squad - Stand Strong, Stand Proud (buy here or e-here)
Vintage 1978 Bristol pop punks fronted by the tough-as-nails, glam-as-fuck Beki Bondage. The band sort of dissolved into messy factions in the early 80s, but now Mizz Bondage is once again leading a reconstituted Squad with herself as the only original member. This song is from 1981, the year the band signed/sold out (delete as you feel appropriate) to EMI. It's a good stomper, but could do with being louder, faster, and more in-yer-face, IMHO.

Dayglo Abortions - Proud To Be A Canadian (buy here or e-here)
Another local(ish) band. The DA's hail from BC's provincial capital of Victoria and have been churning out their gross-you-out, sophomoric thrash punk (c.f. Argh Fuck Kill, I Killed Mommy, Fuck Satan To Death) for over a quarter-century now. Long may they continue.

Speaking of sin, I'm off tomorrow to Las Vegas for a full week of the stuff. Actually, Vegas isn't my favourite place on earth. Too much fake, too much materialism, too much too much. And yet it fascinates me - I can't help but see it a uniquely American 1920s mashup of Weimar Republic decadence, Versailles Palace just before the French Revolution, and The Shopping Mall. But despite my ambivalence, I plan to try and go with the spirit of the place (purely for reasons of anthropological research, of course).

The latter four days of my stay will be spent at a work conference, so the debauchery content of those days should be rather low. However, for the first four days I will be off duty, so anything might happen. I am actually meeting up with Dearest T, who occasionally visits and comments round these parts. He is one of my closest friends, and I'm looking forward to a stonking time. We've discussed which sins to focus on, and have agreed to ditch Envy, Anger, and Pride. That leaves Greed, Gluttony, Lust, and Sloth. The actual proportions of the mix we'll leave to chance. Après nous le Deluge.

So, I suppose I should post a few songs to get us in the mood for Vega$$$. But before I do, next week Contrast Podcast celebrates the year 1997, coz Tim likes it. Get thinking, and get submitting.

Right, music.

The Beat - Jackpot (buy here)
Roy Batty - I'm Too Sexy For Sex (no idea where to find more of this mashup goodness)
Duran Duran - Hungry Like The Wolf (buy here)
Sex Pistols - Seventeen [Lazy Sod] (buy the now-official Spunk bootleg here)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Oooh, is that Angelina Jolie who just dropped by for a visit? Or maybe Parker Posy?? No? Oh well, I suppose I just got carried away by this week's Contrast Podcast theme of "My Brush With Fame." This episode sees a veritable gala of podcastic stars sashay down the red carpet to take the stage and recount their various dalliances with The Famous. Oh, and the soundtrack is bloody ace, as usual. Download the whole thing here, have a listen, and scribble your fanmail here.

So, on to the credits:

(00:00) Oasis - Don’t look back in anger
Anna from Music I-Quiz

(06:49) Bill Haley & His Comets - Rock around the clock
Natalie from Mini-obs

(10:26) Revolver - Heaven sent an angel
Crash from Pretending life is like a song

(16:30) Henri Salvador - Monsieur boum boum
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(20:33) L7 - Hanging on the telephone
FiL from Pogoagogo

(25:54) Charlotte Hatherley - I want you to know
Chris from Phosphorous.net

(29:13) Thurston Moore - Fri_Emd
Ross from Just gimme indie rock

(34:16) Filter - Hey man, nice shot
SiD from Too Much Rock

(41:02) Five For Fighting - Superman
Alex from Totally true tales from Texas

(46:22) Spike Milligan - Knees
Tim from The face of today

(50:00) The Builders And The Butchers - The gallows
Pieter from Two Tramps in Mud Time

(53:58) The Hotknives - Holsten boys
Dirk from Sexy Loser

(01:00:42) New Order - Ceremony
JC from The Vinyl Villain

(01:10:08) Haircut 100 - Fantastic day
Mark from Cinema du Lyon

(01:13:34) The Magnetic Fields - Famous
Linda from Speed of dark

(01:16:48) Tanya Donelly - Acrobat
Thom from Better in the Dark

(01:20:57) The Delgados - Everything goes around the water
Steve from Domino Rally

(01:26:30) U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday
Brad from Brad’s Blog

(01:31:45) Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Noise brigade
James from Appetite For Distraction

(01:35:41) Math and Physics Club - When we get famous
Andy from Circles of Concrete

(01:38:20) Talking Heads - Mind
Greg from Broken dial

The bristles of fame have brushed me lightly several times over the years, so I had several anecdotes to choose from. In the end I went with the story of how Marcel Marceau trapped me in a London phone booth. It's true - he did. But as for the rest of my story, well, let's just say it's somewhat impressionistic. Among the other anecdotes I considered were:
  • Almost getting run over at Heathrow Airport by baggage trolleys being pushed by the Fun Lovin' Criminals. They apologized.

  • Standing RIGHT behind the legendary John Peel in a queue to pick up tickets for a Therapy? concert at the Cambridge Junction. I was too petrified to speak to him (so I can empathize, Dearest Ross).

  • Leslie Ash, a toilet, and me.
As for alternate musical choices, I almost went with two songs about fame itself. But in the end I decided not to be so damn meta...

Momus - Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous (buy alternate version here or e-here)
Now please don't go confusing this track with the one by pop-punk chancers Good Charlotte. Think instead Pet Shop Boys meets Pulp for a clever conversation about Divine Comedy. This Scottish scoundrel describes himself as "ultraconformist, voyager, timelord, tennis and ping pong champion, tender pervert, poison boyfriend, hippopotamus, philosopher, folk singer, star forever." Which actually makes a whole lot of sense.

Sheep on Drugs - Fifteen Minutes of Fame (this is a remix, but you can buy alternate versions here or e-here)
Born out of a techno miasma of sleaze and sarcasm while everyone else was too busy raving and getting loved up. Original frontman Duncan X is now a tattooist, while his partner Lee continues to occasionaly whore the band around (and I mean that in the nicest possible way).

Next week it's back to the next deadly sin: Pride. Don't be too proud to contribute...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Smoke Gets In Your Ears

(Koff koff koff) Hello, Dearest Friends, (hack, splutter) and welcome to the smoking (koff) section. Yes, this week Contrast Podcast is indulging in all things related to that filthy habit: cigars, cigarettes, pipes, cigarillos, etc. Who would have though that the clean-cut Dearest Marcy could come up with such a theme??

Anyway, light up by downloading the podcast from here, and don't forget to leave your comments here. So, what does Tobacconist Tim have on offer for us...?

(00:44) Sarah Vaughan - No smokes blues
Marcy from Lost in your inbox

(03:46) The Toy Dolls - I’ve got asthma
Dirk from Sexy Loser

(07:10) The House of Love - Soft as fire

(12:34) Patsy Cline - Three cigarettes in the ashtray
FiL from Pogoagogo

(17:10) The Replacements - More cigarettes
Natalie from Mini-obs

(19:17) Otis Redding - Cigarettes and coffee
Crash from Pretending life is like a song

(23:56) Scarce - Glamourizing cigarettes
Linda from Speed of dark

(26:35) The Pogues - Bottle of smoke
JC from The Vinyl Villain

(29:37) K.D. Lang - Your smoke screen
Rick from Are you embarassed easily?

(33:30) James Hunter - No smoke without fire
Ross from Just gimme indie rock

(36:40) Serge Gainsbourg - Les cigarillos
Tim from The face of today

(38:50) David Bavas - Cigarettes and bourbon
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(43:06) Hot Snakes - Paid in cigarettes
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(47:33) The Coconut Monkeyrocket - Smoky smoky
Mèden O. Zephyr from Old fridges can kill

(53:00) Marah - Coughing up blood
Lyle from Mentok the Mind-taker

(58:30) Bubble puppy - Hot smoke and sassafrass
Pieter from Two Tramps in Mud Time

(01:02:09) The Alarmists - Light a smoke
Andy from Circles of Concrete

(01:06:08) Hefner - The Hymn for the cigarettes
SiD from Too Much Rock

(01:10:13) Ben Folds Five - Smoke
James from Appetite For Distraction

(01:15:32) Nick Drake - Been smokin’ too long
Conrad from White Car Records

(01:18:51) Sam Cooke - Smoke rings
Anna from Music I-Quiz

I've never been much of a smoker; when I was younger I used to have the occasional cigar or cigarette on special occasions, but frankly never puffed more than three or for times a year. That said, I do still have a wee scar on my left palm where I once stubbed out a smoke, but that's another story. As is the wacky baccy.

The last time I smoked was in a North African restaurant in London about two years ago. After indulging in a tremendous meal, I noticed that one of the dessert menu offerings was a hubble-bubble. After some encouragement, my fellow diners agreed to join me and an elaborate hookah was brought out. Yes, the gurgling of the water did cause titters, but the resulting smoke was cool, silky smooth, and frankly delicious. (Sidebar: will we see hookah smoking catch on in the US? Will Johnny come marching home from Iraq with a hubble-bubble in his kit bag? Will chewing tobacco disappear to be replaced by cowboys puffing on water pipes? Just a thought).

But enough about me. Well, OK, almost enough. Patsy Cline was almost pipped at the post as my submission by Sheffield spiky electro-art rockers, Smokers Die Younger. So download it now, coz it's absolutely brilliant. Even if it's not Patsy Cline.

Smokers Die Younger - I Spy Dry Fear (buy here)

The only other contender this week was Mister Smokey Robinson. And this is the track wot I'd have offered up:

Smokey Robinson
- Going To A Go Go (buy here)

And speaking of smoking, happiness is a cigar called Hamlet...

Next week's CP theme is "My Brush With Fame," so dust off those stories of wild, celebrity one-night stands and get submitting...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Belated New Year's Post

2007 fades, Mayne Island

Yes, well, here we are one week in 2008. Is it too late to look back on what has gone before, reflect on where we are now, and ruminate on what might be to come? No? Alright then...

2007 has been a funny old, by my reckoning largely good, twelve months. We are now two-and-a-half years (OMG!!) into our life here in Vancouver, and things are comfy. Those of you who've pogoed a go-go for a while are probably sick to the back teeth of me gushing about this fabulous city and my beloved Mayne Island ("Smug bastard!!" shout the assembled chorus). Both Dearest Wife and I are gainfully employed, and I had what one can define as a successful year (brace yourselves: the programme that your FiL is managing now stands at $1 billion; isn't that crazy scary? I'm crazy scared.). Bairns are thriving and not psychopathic, so a pass mark on the parenting front as well.

Despite the foregoing, I find myself starting 2008 in a small, greyish cloud tinged with dissatisfaction. Over he past few years I've shed the teleological idea of finding an end-point or goal; frankly I don't believe there is one. The trick is to reflect on (and ideally rejoice in) the journey. However, it's all been rather hectic around here of late, so much so that I've been finding it difficult to ascertain the path. I'm being a bit of a spoilt brat here; during my final years in London I lived largely like a pithed frog, ground down by city and City life, while here I have a most acceptable work-life balance. But I'm still finding it extremely hard to be as mindful, reflective, discursive, and creative as my soul tells me I need to be. So the plan for 2008 is to rediscover that path. Goodness, is that the time? Right, must move on - I'm sure you don't want to gaze at my navel any more...

One of the most cockle-warming developments of the past year has been how his blogging lark has evolved. You are all fine, wonderful folk and I stand gobsmacked with awe and wonderment when I consider the friendships and connexions that we have woven. Dearest Wife, who remains robustly uninfected by the blogging virus, still occasionally refers to my imaginary friends. Let me assure you that each time she does I counter with lengthy, well-supported arguments to the contrary. You are all very real to me, and I'm thrilled and grateful that my Dearest Friends --both those with whom I have long offline history and those who I know only as electrons-- choose to visit. I could list all those requiring special mention, but my finger (yes, I'm a monodigital typist) would be worn down to a stump before I got through you all.

Did someone say "list?" I'm hopeless at compiling year-end "Best Of" parades. But as we're on the subject, and seeing as y'all realy only come here for the music (I know you do, stop pretending it's cuz you like me), here's an incomplete, messy rundown of some of the tunes that rocked my world in 2007. Not all were released last year; there's old, new, borrowed and blue in the pile. But I love them all, as I do you!!

Old Man Luedecke - At The Airport (buy here or e-here)
One of the fine, fantastic treats of 2007's Vancouver Folk Music Festival. Here's what I had to say about him at the time.

Rodney DeCroo - War-Torn Man (buy here or e-here)
Another fine Festival discovery. This is a haunting, unsettling, raw track. I've tried and failed to see Rodney again during one of his many gigs around town, but maybe in 2008. Pop over here if you want to find out why he grabbed me so.

The Fugitives - Shiny Plastic Bags (buy here)
Yet another gem I came across at the Festival - now do you believe me when I say it ain't all about tie-dye, granola, and dirty hippies?? These kids are simply astounding, and they weave yards of stunning musical cloth out of multi-instrumental genius and rich, textured language. Some labels flung at them include slam-folk or folk-hop, but those tags don't do them an iota of justice. They've been peppered with awards and nominations in the arenas of both poetry and music, and frankly they're a fucking Canadian national treasure. Barbara Adler is a shining lyrical goddess. In fact, I'm kicking myself right now for not having posted about them sooner. FiL, yer a goddamn lazy eedjit. Listen to this track, let it swell in you till you almost burst, then go back and listen again to try and understand why your eyes are damp with tears and all the hairs on your body are standing at attention. Repeat.

Les Breastfeeders - Ostrogoth A Go-Go (buy here or e-here)
Groovy garage rawk goodness from Quebec. I tell you, there's a whole lotta Francophone shakin' goin' on back east. I especially love this cos it namechecks those East Germanic Goths (as in ancient tribe, not Bauhaus)...

Verka Serduchka - Danzing Lashai Tumbai (buy here)
My love for Verka knows no bounds. The Ukrainian diva was ROBBED of her rightful Eurovision title by the underhanded Serbs. A truly guilty, trashy pleasure - call in the Ostrogoths for a boogie...

Tranzmitors - Is Your Head Hollow (buy here or e-here)
These local garage-mods are my Heroes of the Year. Fast, tight, and catchy - as I told you here and here.

The Out Cast - You Gat A Call Me (buy here)
Back in October I met up with Dearest JC while he was stationed in Toronto. During a boozy visit to a small-but-perfectly-formed record shoppe I stumbled across a CD of Japanese Group Sound (GS) garage bands from the sixties. I had to make it mine - listen to this mighty track from The Out Cast and you'll understand why. It also does a lot to explain Shonen Knife and the's...

Gore Gore Girls - Astral Man (get some Gore Gore here or e-here)
They're from Detroit, they're grrrlz, they make a rammy good sound, and they've been on the empeefree playah frequently over the past 12 months. This track is a freebie off of their myspace page.

Rai Ko Ris - Nepal Bandh (download more here, buy from this guy)
OK, here's an example of that connexion thing I got all weepy about earlier. After submitting a Nepalese ska-punk tune to the Contrast Podcast, I noodled around the internetty to see if I could find any more Kathmandu noise. Long story short, I came across these fast 'n' loud hardcore punks with heart and principle and was galvanized. After a lovely exchange of e-mails with guitarist/bassist Sareena (that went far beyond music into parenting, life-values, and politics), I got hold of some more of their stuff from German world punk champion Ingo at Punkdeluxe. Watch this space - you'll be hearing more from me about them.

We Are THE PHYSICS - Less Than Three (buy here when they have any in stock)
I got switched on to these frenzied Glaswegian lads early on in the year and remain mad for them.

CocoRosie - Japan (buy here or e-here)
It were Dearest Toad wot turned me on to these two eccentric sisters. Quirky, dreamlike, trippy-hoppy, and mesmerising.

Palomar - Bury Me Closer (buy here or e-here)
One to play at my funeral. Bright, shiny, heartfelt, and sad all at once.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Look What I Found Under The Tree

Not sure if I was naughty or nice, but Santa Claus brought me a twangy guitar for Christmas. I have no idea how to play it, but I'm absolutely chuffed to bits.

So, armed with nowt but Mark Perry's classic advice on how to figure it all out, I'm going to turn myself into a garage rock hero. But any tips on teaching old dogs new tricks gratefully accepted.

The Adverts - One Chord Wonders (buy here or e-here)
Radiohead - Anyone Can Play Guitar (buy here)