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.