Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kicking It around

It's the fourth down on the ten-yard line...Rick flicks it to John Q, who heads it to Steve...oh, and the Vinyl Villain dribbles it down the left and passes it to Tricia...who throws it to Tim...Tim lines up on the goal...he shoots...the goalie dives the wrong way AND ITS A GOOOOOOOAAAALLL FOR TEAM CONTRAST PODCAST!!!

Yes, this week it's a mix of pigskin and pitch as the CP nation explores football in all its musical permutations. Come listen to the match over here. The team roster:

(00:00) The Rosebuds - Push it
Rick from Are you embarrassed easily

(05:03) The Hitchers - Strachan
John Q.

(11:00) Colourbox - The official colourbox world cup theme
Steve from Domino Rally

(16:32) Fountains of Wayne - All kinds of time
Thomas from Better in the Dark

(22:00) ¡All-Time Quarterback! - Cleveland
Marcy from Lost in your inbox

(25:02) Cock SParrer - Trouble on the Terraces
FiL from Pogoagogo

(31:48) Outkast - Morris Brown
James from Appetite For Distraction

(36:36) Billy Bragg - The boy done good
Charles from Heartache with Hard Work

(40:28) The 1982 Scottish World Cup Team with B.A. Robertson and John Gordon Sinclair - We have a dream
JC aka The Vinyl Villian

(46:20) Shawn Lee - The big game
Eiron from The S+7 Method

(52:37) Chixdiggit - I should have played football in highschool
Chris from Culture Bully

(55:24) The Housemartins - We’re not deep

(58:41) Jiskefet - Mijn club

(01:05:25) Mel and Tim - Backfield in motion
Adam from Pretending life is like a song

(01:08:21) The Meat Puppets - Touchdown king
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(01:13:37) Ballboy - Sunday league (acoustic)
Dirk from Sexy Loser

(01:16:59) Alex Constantino, Danny Baker and Danny Kelly - Bohemian Rhapsody
Stuart from The Accies Blog

Now I must admit that I am not a fan of any of the various species of football. Indeed, I'm not much of spectator sports aficionado at all. Growing up in the US, I had plenty of opportunity to watch the American variety, but it just bored, bored, BORED me to tears, especially when the final five minutes of a game would telescope into an hour, what with all the time-outs and ad breaks.

Despite my looong stint in the UK, I am similarly lukewarm towards The Beautiful Game. In the office I was regularly teased for not having a team, so much so that I finally told my colleagues that they could pick a team for me to follow if it would make them happy. Alas (thankfully?), they could not decide who I should support; I think it had come down to Charlton Athletic, QPR, and Liverpool (the last because I am rather fond of the late John Peel, who was a keen Liverpool supporter), but the lengthy debates never reached resolution.

I suppose what really turns me off team spectator sports is the tribalism; the "us-versus-them" mentality, the trash-talking, the jeering. Yes, yes, I know it's usually all in the good, healthy spirit of friendly competition, but even then I just can't see the point of investing emotional capital in it. And then you have the occasions when the tribalism gets ugly. It would be facile of me to tar all sports with the brush of hooliganism, but that distasteful element does rear its head far too often for my liking.

Perhaps what cemented my dislike of football (soccer) in particular was my Leeds experience. In the late nineties Dearest Wife was living and working in Leeds while I did likewise in London. Every Friday I'd endure the Great North Eastern Railway service from Kings Cross to Leeds, and every Sunday afternoon I'd endure it again in reverse. However, the journey back was most often rendered much more of an ordeal by the drunken football fans returning home to their ratholes after the fixture of the day. The puke, the chants, the verbal - it was awful. It got so bad that eventually I started taking the Monday dawn train back to London instead. It meant getting up at around 4:30 AM, but at least I could sleep for a couple of hours (sometimes more, if there were leaves on the tracks) without being bothered by bovver boys...

Despite all my kvetching, I must admit to going to the odd Canadian football game as of late. Why? Well, the Canuck version of the American game is faster paced, as it isn't quite so commercialized and it boasts one fewer down. The fans are better behaved in general , although I have seen police intervene in the stands on occasion. But the real reason I go? My Fantastic Father-in-Law quite likes the game, and I quite like spending time with him.

What's that? Oh yes, the music. Here are the two other tracks that I almost submitted:

Tribe Called Quest - Can I Kick It? (buy here)
Football? Kick? Geddit??

The Adicts - You'll Never Walk Alone (buy here or e-here)
Everybody's favourite clockwork punks do their version of Liverpool FC's anthem.

Next week, it's all about Sizes. Pop over here to find out how to contribute.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

They Say The Tardy Fruit's A Fuller Wine

Abigail Washburn with Bela Fleck
Vancouver Folk Music Festival, July 2008

Dearest Friends, we are experiencing a rare moment of calm and downtime round Chateau FiL. Darling Daughter is somewhere up the Sunshine Coast enjoying (we hope) her weekend at Girl Guides District Camp. Dearest Wife is upstairs preparing her lectures on Celtic gods & goddesses for the upcoming week. Ginadawg is curled up in front of the fire. And Little Man & I are ensconced on the sofa watching The Wizard of Oz. There's no place like home... there's no place like home... there's no place like home...

Things have been a bit quiet round pogo a go-go way of late. You know, the whole offline life thing. But I won't whinge about it, cos it's just how it is that's not what you've dropped by for. Here, why don't you join us on the sofa for a mug of hot milk & honey and a bit of a catch-up??

I've been meaning to tell you for some time now about Abigail Washburn. How long is "some time?" Well, um, since this past summer, actually. I know, pretty crap of me, but better now than never, because she sounds as wonderful today as she did six months ago when I saw her play the Vancouver Folk Music Festival with The Sparrow Quartet. While I was perusing the Fest's programme she caught my eye for three reasons. First, she plays the banjo. Ever since I saw Old Man Luedecke play the thing at the previous year's Festival I've been a fan, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Played well, it can be by turns marvellously evocative and pogoliciously rambunctious. Oh, and she plays the clawhammer banjo; dunno exactly what species that is, but it sounds hardcore. Second, Abigail narrowly escaped being a lawyer. She was on the verge of treading down the path of international corporate law when a fortuitous encounter with an agent at a bluegrass convention resulted in a demo and ultimately a decision to follow the music rather than Mammon. Third, she fuses her love of old-time pluckin' with her love of China. Yes, you heard right. While a student, she developed a deep respect and passion for Chinese culture during a trip to that country, and went so far as to learn Mandarin. She now composes and sings in both idioms.

If the programme whetted my appetite, seeing her left me hungry for more. I was spellbound, and the shivers danced up and down my spine, raising the hairs on the back of my neck. Dearest Friends, whenever that happens I KNOW what I'm hearing is magnificent. I was watching her and the Quartet with Dearest Father-in-Law, who commented that her banjo-playing, while good, wasn't particularly complex. Maybe that was true, particularly when compared to quartetite Bela Fleck, who is widely regarded as the finest banjo meister alive. But there was something so pure and clear and gorgeous and evocative about her plucking and singing that relative technical prowess seemed irrelevant. She flitted from old skool Appalachian tunes to Chinese folk songs with wondrous ease, her seamless weaving supported magnificently by fiddle and cello, as well as Bela's second banjo. On top of all this she is lovely, both on stage and off. I chatted briefly with her on the second day of the Festival and she was most gracious. Afterwards I thought that maybe I had been bewitched by the setting; in the past certain artists who I enjoyed at the Festival seemed slightly less fabulous upon subsequent listenings. Not so Abigal; I saw her and the Sparrow Quartet perform brilliantly a few months later at the more intimate Rogue Folk Club and I realized that I had been bewitched, not by the Festival, but by Abigail and her music (but you should have guessed that, since I only tell you about those artists who truly ARE fabulous). As she sang and picked, the shivers returned; they were particularly electrifying on this sublime song:

Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet - A Fuller Wine (buy this splendid album here or e-here)

Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet are currently on the tail-end of a long spate of touring that has taken them all over the US, Europe, and China (see Abigail's Myspace page for a brilliant set of thoughtful, erudite, and eloquent blogposts about that visit). If you're in Kentucky, Colorado, Washington DC, or New York, do go prepared to be spellbound:

4 Feb: The Oriental Theater, Denver, CO
5 Feb: Colorado College, Clorado Springs, CO
6 Feb: Fox Theater, Boulder, CO
7 Feb: Wheeler Opera House, Aspen, CO
10 Feb: National Geographic, Washington DC
11 Feb: Joe's Pub, New York, NY (N.B. two shows on one night)
15 Feb: Comstock Hall (University of Louisville), Louisville KY

It was lovely chatting with you, Dearest Friends. Stop by again for a hot mug of something.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Gitarre Verboten

No guitars, no dogs. I don't want to go here, but Jan did.

By order of The Vinyl Villain, Dearest Tim has banned all guitars from this week's Contrast Podcast. Other than banishment from the episode, I'm not sure what the penalty would have been for not respecting the Guitar-Free Zone. But I wasn't going to find out. Download the 'cast here to find out how good music can be without axes of any sort.

Guitarless goodness:

(00:00) Neil Young - Like a hurricane (unplugged)
JC aka The Vinyl Villian

(07:35) Mark Kozelek - Around and around
Linda from Speed of Dark

(09:49) Geoff Berner - Drunk all day
Ross from Hummin’ Cummins

(12:35) Hermine - Blue angel
Dirk from Sexy Loser

(15:43) Ella Fitzgerald - Sunshine of your love
Chris from Phosphorous.net

(19:33) Rory Mcleod - Love is like a rock (in a stormy sea)
Adam from Pretending life is like a song

(23:43) Cat Power - Wild is the wind
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(28:03) Tobacco - Gross Magik
Diana from Lipsynchsuck

(32:33) Deretraum - Zikabender
Eiron from The S+7 Method

(34:50) Jamie Lidell - Multiply (Gonzales remix)
Marcy from Lost in your inbox

(38:50) Laura Barrett - Robot ponies
Jim from Quick Before it Melts

(43:30) Ben Folds - One down (live)
James from Appetite For Distraction

(48:04) Regina Spektor - Samson
Agnes from It all started with carbon monoxide

(52:50) Mr Hopkinson’s Computer - Fake plastic trees
John Q.

(57:43) Tiger Lillies - Banging in the nails
FiL from Pogoagogo

(01:02:38) Markéta Irglová - The hill

(01:07:40) Laurie Anderson - From the air

(01:12:53) Dead man’s bones - In the room where you sleep
Chris from Culture Bully

(01:17:46) Interbellum - 6EQUJ5
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(01:23:15) The Roy Hargrove Quintet - Strasbourg / St Denis
Greer from A Sweet Unrest

I decided fairly swiftly that I wanted to submit a Tiger Lillies track, primarily because they are ace and secondly because they operate off of accordion, upright bass, and drums. I then reckoned that in order to get the full effect across, I needed to offer up one of their more shocking songs. You see, seamy, sordid, saucy, and sacrilegious is what these Brechtian cabareters do best. Finally, I wanted to go for something punchy and punky, despite the guitar prohibition. So you got what's probably their most outrageous number, but I also considered this one:

Tiger Lillies - Hell (buy here or e-here)

Now I did briefly consider going with a spot of electronica, so you might have gotten this dose of 80s minimalist Eurokitsch, only I was afraid you'd all hunt me down after it had been stuck in your head for a month after the podcast:

TRIO - Da Da Da (buy here)

And had I not been in such a rammy mood, you might have been treated to this lovely piece, which always fills me with an odd sense of yearning...

Orbital - Belfast/Wasted (this version is from the excellent third edition of Volume magazine, which I think is now best found on eBay)

Next week, the CP celebrates Football. Pick your side, pick a song, then learn how to submit it here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Feet First

Ask Nick where he gets his shoes

Right, this week Dearest Tim's really put his feet in it. Well, his feet and those of others. And the "it" he's put them in is this week's Contrast Podcast. Yes, Dearest Friends, the current episode is given over entirely to matters podiatric: tootsies, boots, shoes, walking, and the like. So move your feet over here to download it, and don't forget to comment here.

What's afoot:

(00:00) Mud - Tiger feet
Tim from The face of today

(04:32) Kirsty MacColl - In these shoes?
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(09:29) Starlet - When the sun falls on my feet
JC aka The Vinyl Villian

(14:10) Hello Saferide - Get sick soon
Agnes from It all started with carbon monoxide

(17:32) Cinerama - Heels
John Q.

(21:29) Bernard Bresslaw - You need feet
The In Crowd from I’m Learning to Share!

(24:58) Moonbabies - Walking on my feet
Marcy from Lost in your inbox

(29:51) Quincy Jones & Bill Cosby - Toe jam
Chris from Culture Bully

(34:52) Patrick Macnee & Honor Blackman - Kinky boots
FiL from Pogoagogo

(39:33) Jean-Paul Sartre Experience - Own two feet
Dirk from Sexy Loser

(44:05) Nobody & Mystic Chords of Memory - Feet upon the sand
Rachel from Untitled Records

(49:07) Bleep - Dipping toes
Eiron from The S+7 Method

(54:50) Good shoes - Small town girl
Adam from Pretending life is like a song

(59:44) Clinic - Second foot stomp
Jim from Quick Before it Melts

(01:03:07) Catch-22 - As the footsteps die out forever
James from Appetite For Distraction

(01:07:33) Oh Susanna - Forever at your feet

(01:11:38) Billy Connolly - If it was’nae for your wellies

This particular body part seems to provoke a strong reaction; folks seem either to really, really like them or to find them utterly revolting. So where do I stand? Somewhere in the middle, I suppose. I find a well groomed, well proportioned female foot can be most aesthetically pleasing. Conversely, when the weather warms up I'm always amazed at how many folks insouciantly bare their yellow-nailed, dragon-skinned, taloned paws. And why is it that whenever one talks about feet in a non-clinical/medical manner it seems rather pervy??

As an aside, methinks Dearest Wife isn't too fond of my tootsies; for Christmas I got a gift certificate for a pedicure. Actually, I'm rather looking forward to the experience. D'oh! Here comes that pervy feeling again. Quick, onto the other songs I very nearly submitted:

Adam Ant - Goody Two Shoes (buy here)
Nowt to do with feet, really, but a bloody good slab of 80s pop. Fill yer boots, as they say here in Canada...

Helen Love - Put Your Foot On The Fuzzbox (buy here or e-here)
More to do with the fuzzbox than the foot. Fast, loud, and mad!!

Clifton Chenier - Long Toes (buy here or e-here)
You can't beat a good dose of Zydeco. No way, no how.

And then there was "Footloose." No, not the Kenny Loggins film ditty, but this tight bit of hip hop from Toronto's own Wio-K. It's dope, da shizz, & all that. It may well have made it, but for timing. You see, I caught the tail end of it on the telly late on Monday, by which time my choice & intro had already been put to bed. But I was snaffled by That Bassline and that sharp ragga hook by Tasha Rozez, Mizz GunznRozez. Omigod. So I offer it up to you here, Dearest Friends. But before I do, I want to dedicate it to Greer. You see, on last week's CP she told us about her late brother, his love of hip hop, and her consequent appreciation of the genre. And it really touched me. Folks, it's what music and people's love of it is all about.

So here you go, Dearest Greer. This one is for you and your bro.

Wio-K feat. Tasha Rozez - Footloose (buy on iTunes or Napster)

And that video...

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I omitted a very important resplution from my list below:

Tell more stories...

Little Man and I have just seen my Mother off at the airport. We exchange hugs and promises of next visits while around us others spin out their own tales of departure and separation with tears and smiles and laughter. I tell her I was glad she had come; she replies with a smile and thanks, followed by a sudden, sharp mugging with the memory of a perceived slight. We then stand and wave our last goodbyes as she slips through the opaque sliding doors that separate the secure from the unsecure. My mind stings like a slapped cheek. Why does each chapter always have to end this way?

I turn away, planning to head for the car and home to our own home story. In front of us a jade canoe heaves into view, frozen in bronze yet seeming to glide forward, towards the unknown. The Spirit of Haida Gwaii is one of my favourite sculptures. I ask Little Man if we should go have a look, and with an impish grin he speeds off towards the massive craft, crowded with a fantastic, mythical crew. I catch up with him and he begins asking questions. Who's that? Is that an eagle? What are they doing? Where are they going? I reply that the sculpture tells a story, and ask if he would like to help me tell it.

I take him to a plaque off to the side and begin to read to him about the Spirit of Haida Gwaii. As I describe the craft and its crew, he races off eagerly to find each creature. Sitting in the bow is Bear, staring resolutely backwards at a past he refuses to abandon. Next to him is his human wife, Bear Mother, who clutches her cubs while looking for the future. Trusty Beaver paddles steadily ahead, as does the Reluctant Conscript, the everyman who is both taken for granted and the reason for it all. Then there is the alluring Dogfish Woman, who exudes a mystical desire as deep and dark as the ocean, despite her hooked nose, gill slits and wild piercings. The sharp-featured Mouse Woman huddles in the stern, hiding under Raven's tail; she is the guide between worlds. Wolf digs his claws into Beaver's back, while chewing on Eagle's wing. In turn, the noble Eagle's pride compells him to bite Bear's paw. Frog sits partly in the boat, bridging the land and sea. The cunning, charming Raven sits in the stern, steering the canoe wherever his trickster fancy takes him. Finally we come to the Shaman, who sits stoically in the middle of this tumultuous vessel, clutching the intricately carved staff that represents the world view of the Haida. A story within a story.

Having met all the creatures, Little Man's attention turns towards a promised hot chocolate. We sit in comfy chairs as travellers pass by, sipping our drinks. I tell Little Man that stories are important, so very important. They help us understand ourselves and others. They record what must be remembered. And they help us make sense of what we don't understand.

He looks at me for a moment, then busies himself with exctracting the dregs of chocolate foam. My mind stings a little less.

Pothole Skinny - Stories Locked In Time (buy here or e-here)

The Clock Work Army - Read Me A Story (buy here or e-here)