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

(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 ├╝ber-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 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


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

(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


(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)