Friday, May 30, 2008

In the Back of the Van

Ladyhawke herself

On the surface it didn't seem like my kind of thing. Not at all. But because Quinn admitted to blowing it out his speakers con mucho gusto, I thought I'd give it a try.

Well,, wrap me in spandex and tease my hair into a Heather Locklear mane. It's brilliant.

It starts of with a bit of Van Haleny, Jump-esque synth. Then it adds a thump-thump-thumpy beat circa 1979. Then about thirty seconds in Stevie Nicks starts to sing. Well, it's not really Stevie Nicks, but Ladyhawke, who sounds uncannily like that seventies boho icon. And there's not a whiff of a post-modern, aren't-we-so-clever attitude. So by rights I should have rolled my eyes, shaken my head, and chortled knowingly into my sleeve.

But I didn't. I danced. Then on the next play I sang along. "You set me on / You set me on / You Set me on fye-yuuuh!"

Pure, unashamed, guilt-free fun, fun, FUN!!

Ladyhawke - Back of the Van (not sure there's anything for sale - yet...)

And the video - gadzooks!! More of the same sparkly, swirly, 70s-80s mish-mosh. With dry ice too. It's all SOOO BLOODY GORGEOUS!!!

I'm off for several days on a business conference junket over here. I will try to stay in touch, but in the interim, Dearest Friends, behave yourselves (well or poorly, I don't mind which).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Air Guitar 2008

Darling Daughter informed me yesterday that her school will shortly be holding its annual air band competition. Apparently each year this event is assigned a theme and a list of eligible songs is furnished to all the wannabee axe heroes/heroines.

And the theme this year?

The eighties.

I just about withered and died of old age when I heard that.

After recovering from my sudden and rapid decrepitude, I discovered that my street cred with Darling Daughter was increasing as I recognized and provided

both artist and useless facts to flesh out the names of their potential performance pieces. The menu included such hoary old chestnuts as The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go," Kenny Loggins' "Footloose," and Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." The last of these ended up being chosen by

my progeny and her gang of Grade 3 grrlz, primarily because of the title. At least it wasn't "Footloose."

But it got me thinking: if I had my druthers, what other eighties tracks would I put on the airband list? As I pondered, I realized this could get tricky; after all, cool as it might be to stick "Debaser"on there, Daddy FiL winced slightly at the thought of 7-year-olds miming along to "Got me a razor / Aaah haaa haaa haaah / Slicing up eyeballs..." You see my point. Anyway, below are a few ditties that I thought might fit the bill. And I would be most interested to hear your suggestions...

Adam & The Ants - Antmusic (buy here)
Oh my, this is just fun, fun, FUN swimming in a pool of edgy, pop sensibility.

Siouxsie & The Banshees - Christine (buy here)
Coz it's never too early to get your kids into goth, especially when it involves banana split ladies and turtles.

The Brilliant Corners - Teenage (buy here)
The eighties weren't all big shoulder pads, Madge, and synthopop, you know. But I'm pretty sure Miss Teacher didn't have this sort of C86 thing in mind. It might also be a bit precocious and hormonal for the bairns, but it does have a fat, charmingly innocent streak running right down its middle. Aw, bless, it's lovely.

In other news, this week's Contrast Podcast is now out and it slaps you right in the face with a halibut-sized serving of the best choonz of 2008 (so far). Given the excellent taste of the CP Nation, you can be sure that what's on offer is indeed among The Best of the year. You can download the podcast here and fawn over the music here. In case you want to look before committing to download (I don't know, kids these days) here's what's what:

(00:00) Flight of the Conchords - All the ladies of the world
Tim from The face of today

(03:05) Royal Bangs - Cat swallow
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(07:45) These Modern Socks - Where I came from
Linda from Speed of dark

(14:14) Japandroids - No Allegiance to the Queen
FiL from Pogoagogo

(21:47) The Cure - The only one

(26:24) DeVotchKa - The clockwise witness
Marcy from Lost in your inbox

(31:14) The Weepies - Old coyote
Natalie from Mini-obs

(35:41) KaiserCartel - Okay
Duke of Straw from The Late Greats

(39:31) The Wedding Present - Spider-man on Hollywood
Jim from Quick Before it Melts

(42:48) Be Your Own Pet - Becky
Dirk from Sexy Loser

(46:45) Blind Melon - Wishing Well
Chip from Atomic Ned

(51:17) Counting Crows - Cowboys
James from Appetite For Distraction

(57:29) At the Stars - Forget
Andy from Circles of Concrete

(01:01:49) Stars - Take me to the riot
Miss Wired

(01:06:10) Religious Knives - The sun
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(01:12:27) Sun Kil Moon - Unlit hallway
Greer from A Sweet Unrest

I submitted the mighty Japandroids, about whom I posted here. What else did I consider? Not much - this track immediately suggested itself and kicked away any other contenders before they came to my attention. Actually, one other song was in the running, from Vancouver neo-shoegazers, Hinterland:

Hinterland - Detwiler Pavilion (buy here )
A catchy ditty about, of all things, obsessive-compulsive disorder. From the album Pan Pan Medico.

Next week we're back to sinning, so think thoughts of Greed and get submitting by following the instructions here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Run Up That Hill

Today I come to you, Dearest Friends, with a request to do some good by helping someone else to do good. To generate karma, or mindful action. To do the right thing. I'm sure y'all will rise to the occasion...

One of our Vancouver friends, Dearest Michelle, is preparing to run her first full marathon: the the San Francisco Nike Women's Marathon in October of this year. Her primary motivation for doing such a daft thing is to raise money for the Canadian chapter of the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). The LLS fights cancers of the blood both by funding research and by providing support services to patients. Yep, it's an undisputed Fine Cause.

Now Michelle is an emergency nurse by training, so she's used to doing these sorts of medicky-shmedicky good deeds. Indeed, it were she and her upstanding orthopod husband who helped get a sozzled Santa back to his grotto last December and made sure he wouldn't drown in his own effluvia. But recently the wisdom of charity choice for the run became much clearer when her sister's husband was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer for which there is currently no cure. He's gone through a round of chemotherapy, and had his first bone marrow transplant in March. So now it's personal.

Anyway, Dearest Friends, I implore you most sweetly to head over HERE, have a gander at the enchanting photo of Michelle and her most excellent dog, and (if you can find it in your hearts & wallets) make a wee donation. Her fundraising goal is $6,000 (gulp!), so every little, tiny bit helps. Tell her FiL sent you. Or not. Up to you. And you can leave her an encouraging comment below, even if you've no dosh to slosh her way.

On the off chance that you need some more enticement to support this worthy cause, then hopefully this themed pack of tracks will do the trick...

Blitz - Fight To Live (buy here or e-here)
Coz that's what it's all about, really. In-yer-face bolshiness. Oi Oi Oi!!

Thee Headcoatees - Run For Your Life (buy here or e-here)
A bit of garage grrrl power to spur things along.

Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers - Roadrunner (buy here)
Telling it like it is, in a proto-punk, golly-gee-willikers stylee.

Belle & Sebastian - The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner (buy here or e-here)
Scotland's finest troubadours of twee keep you going when you're about to hit the wall.

Camera Obscura - Marathon Not A Sprint (buy here or e-here)
Just in case it wasn't obvious, Traceyanne & Co make the point in a fey, strummy kinda way.

Placebo - Running Up That Hill (buy here)
Betcha there'll be a fair few hills in San Fran. Good thing we've got gothy little Brian Molko to help evryone get up them.

Max Romeo - Chase the Devil (buy here )
You get the metaphor, do you not? A masterpiece from Lee "Scratch" Perry's Ark...

A Flock of Seagulls - I Ran (buy here)
Or to be grammatically accurate, "she will have run." Seagulls. It's a growing-up-in-the-80s thang. And I have a soft spot for cold synth.

Cake - The Distance (buy here)
Oh yeah, she's going THA DISTANCE!! She's going FOR SPEED!!

Mötley Crüe - Too Fast For Love (buy here)
Nope, methinks the LA heavy metal glamsters got it wrong this time. Here it's about both speed AND a labour of love.

And if you don't offer your financial and/or moral support? Well then, your pets will desert you, you'll become scrofulous, you'll develop chronic halitosis, romance will be an eternal alien to you, children will run screaming at your approach, and you will find you have a socially debilitating fondness for Christopher Cross. Probably. Maybe. Perhaps I exaggerate.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Only Ones

Dearest Friends, I'm back! I hope you didn't forget about me during my absence. Sigh, it has been ages...

So, where have I been? To New York and back, yes, but elsewhere as well. To my pasts (plural intended) and back. And to those of my parents. And back to my Mother's present. And to her future.

It could have all gone so badly, but it didn't. In fact, it went quite well. It wasn't easy at times, but, yes, all went quite well. Largely because my three wishes were granted: compassion, calm, and a night out or two. Actually, compassion and calm get most of the credit.

But there's much to digest. And I've only just started.

But enough about me, and onto some music! I (belatedly) draw your attention to Contrast Podcast episode 111, for which the theme was Number Ones. Now the intention was to get folks to submit their favourite chart-topping songs, which many did. However, as is usual and wonderful about CP, some contributed songs somehow related to the number one. Like Dearest JC, who gave us a song about wee. You can download the podcast here, and this is what you'd be getting:

(00:00) Althea and Donna - Uptown top ranking
Tim from The face of today
(04:44) Little Peggy March - I will follow him
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away
(07:43) The Chemical Brothers - Block rockin’ beats
Chris from
(14:14) Herman’s Hermits - Mrs Brown you’ve got a lovely daughter
Natalie from Mini-obs
(17:38) Joan Jett - I love rock and roll
FiL from Pogoagogo
(23:29) Kanye West - Stronger
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus
(29:38) Julie London - One for my baby
Greer from A Sweet Unrest
(35:17) Billy Bragg - She’s leaving home
(39:12) The Wannadies - Piss on you
JC from The Vinyl Villain
(42:47) Jimmy Cross - I want my baby back
Mark from Cinema Du Lyon
(46:33) The Motors - Dancing the night away
Dirk from Sexy Loser
(52:32) Pearl Jam - Once
Brian Stoos
(57:03) Foo Fighters - The Pretender
James from Appetite For Distraction
(01:02:37) José González -Remain
Eiron from The S+7 Method

Now usually I'm pretty loose with my approach to the Contrast Podcast theme, but this week I decided to restrict myself to picking a number one from the American Billboard Top 100 charts. Why? Well, because the US is where I spent my adolescence and young adulthood, and I didn't want to get all esoteric and pick some alternative chart to plunder. Besides, I felt up for a challenge. Though the pickings were slim, I was delighted and proud to put forth Joan Jett as my submission.

I briefly considered picking from the WLIR Screamer of the Week archives. 92.7 WLIR was the radio station that pretty much defined my musical tastes as a callow youth. I spent many hours with it, finger on the "pause" button of my cassette deck as I waited to pounce and record choice tunes. It was something of an oddity; a commercial outfit based in suburban Long Island, its tagline was "New Music First" and it delivered it by the bucketload. New Order, The Jam, B-52s, Love & Rockets, Dead Kennedys, Ramones, The Beat, Billy Bragg, TheSmiths, The Cure, Orange Juice, and sooo much more. It was literally a spring of lifewater for me. And every week you got to vote for the best new song of the week - the Screamer. Though the station has had a storied, twisty history since I was a listener (including a three-month format change to "jazz/chill") WLIR continues to broadcast today on 107.5 FM. But anyway, this is what you might have gotten this week instead of Joan:

Comsat Angels - Will You Stay Tonight? (buy here, but only if you have $100 and a record player)
This is just lovely pop. Very much of its era, and a departure from the Sheffield combo's early post-punkness, but still simply lovely. Screamer on 3 September, 1983

Ministry - All Day (buy here)
Though Al Jourgensen cringes in disgust these days at the memory of Ministry's synth beginnings, I loved and still do love the cool, stark, vaguely glam-goth aura of the early stuff. Mind you, I like the bone-crushing, industrial incarnation as well. Screamer on 1 September, 1984.

I also considered submitting my favourite number one from the UK Top 40 chart. And you may be surprised by what it is. The song isn't my favourite chart-topper for musical reasons, but mainly because of its context. The track was released on 24 December, 1990, when Sir Cliff "Bloody Flippin' Heck" Richard was at number one with his dreadful caterwaul of a song, "Saviour's Day." The timing was cunning; the week after Christmas is traditionally the slowest selling month for singles in the UK, which allowed the disciplined hordes of Iron Maiden fans to rush out with their pocket money and propel "Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter" straight into number one on 30 December, 1990. Who says there's no justice??

Iron Maiden - Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter (buy here)

And finally, for one fleeting moment I gave thought to submitting Olivia Newton John's "(Let's Get) Physical." As I've admitted and previously, a pubescent FiL had the hots something baaad for this songstress back in 1981. Be thankful the moment was just fleeting. Yes, yes, I know I posted it before, but I'm going to do so again, if only for the memory of my younger self.

Olivia Newton John - Physical (buy here)

These days I far prefer the working-over that The Revolting Cocks (Al "Ministry" Jourgensen's side project) gave the song in 1989. Originally it was going to be a pure cover, but after threats from Olivia's lawyers, they reinterpreted it. Imagine that, the RevCo boys cowering before ONJ. Who'da thunk it?? Again, I've posted this before, but in case you missed it:

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

And finally, since we're talking about RevCo and covers, I simply adore their skanky cover of Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" So I'm going to post it and the accompanying skeeeery, skeezy video right here. Just 'cos I love you all.

It's good to be back!!

Revolting Cocks - Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? (buy here)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Wings and Prayers

The view from 26F, AC 548, somewhere over Canada
3 May 2008.

Dearest Friends, I didn't mean to skip out on you like that. No, really, I didn't. But things got hectic, time got slippery, and it all slid out of my hands like a greased eel...

I'm in New York, you see, and will be for the rest of the week, helping Mother prepare for her move.

I'm trying to keep my expectations simple. So I'm only asking for three things:

Compassion to dilute anger.

Calm in the face of destructive emotions.

And just one night when I can f'ing tie it on and rip up the city.

Oops, don't think that last one's in the dharma.

So, Dearest Friends, until we meet again, here are three random New-Yorky songs. Make of the selection what you will, but I hope you will enjoy them.

The Moldy Peaches - NYC's Like A Graveyard (buy here or e-here)
Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Born To Loose (buy here)
New York Dolls - Jet Boy (buy here)

P.S. Contrast Podcast is out tomorrow, showcasing songs with talky bits in them. Do drop by to see what's on offer. And following on from last week's episode about the deadly sin of sloth, this one's for Dearest Marcy, specially by request:

The Orchids - Striving for the Lazy Perfection (buy here or e-here)