Sunday, October 10, 2010

You Go, Grrlz!!

Alright, I put it down to a looong, post-Joan Jett hangover. All that estrogen and all those chords pumping through major amperage, why, it's given me a crrraving for grrlz wot rock!!

Erm, what more to say? Well, I guess I could try and explain why grrl rawk entrances me so. Is it the inherent challenge of women appropriating a male artform? Possibly. Could it be the juxtaposition of the female voice and clangy gee-tarr?? Mebbe. Could it be that when they do it properly, they rock with in-yer-face growl & howl unmatched by any male? Quite probably.

Argh, enough with the floundering. Here's what I'm talking about:

Silverfish - Vitriola (buy here or e-here)
Not the creepy crawly that eats yer books, but the in-yer-face Camden noiseniks fronted by formidable feminist Glaswegian goddess, Lesley Rankine. Subsequent to Silverfish s-he swapped the shoutiness for downtempo trip-hop and formed Ruby. Last I heard she had taken time off to devote to another awesome female pursuit, i.e. motherhood.

Pack A.D.
- BC is on Fire (buy here or e-here)
Ohh, yess, here's some awesome, home-grown, blues-n-garage rawk from Vancouver's own Becky Black and Maya Miller. Growly, gritty, straight-up goodness. Currently finishing up a US tour on the east coast.

Thee Headcoatees - Teenage Kicks (buy here or e-here)
And since we're on the subject of garage rawk, I doff my hat to these fine, fine, female acquaintances of Billy Childish. Although they started off as his backing band, make no mistake: Kyra, Holly, Ludella, and Debbie were no less loud & proud.

Voodoo Queens - Supermodel Superficial (buy here or e-here)
Back to Camden, then, to have a howl and a shout circa 1993 with Ms Anjali Bhattia, whose sentiments on mainstream fashion were --and still are-- spot on.

L7 - Just Like Me (buy here or e-here)
Donita Sparks? I wanna be just like her. Sigh...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I Love Rock 'n' Roll

JJ courtesy of Lorena

Yes, well, I know it's been a while. Close to five months, actually. But Dearest Friends, I'm not going to spend oodles of e-screed explaining where I've been or where my blog-o-mojo went. It's all good, I'm all good, good to be back. But what brought me back, you ask? That's a fair question, and one deserving of an answer. Rock 'n' roll brought me back, Dearest Friends, and to be more specific: Joan "F**king" Jett. Oh, yessssss...

Back in May I watched The Runaways while I was 30,000 feet over the Canadian prairies. Suddenly, Air Canada booze and reheated chicken lost it's appeal; I wanted to rip my tiny screen out of the seatback, undergo a sex change, piss on the stewardess, and play whirling air guitar while belting out "Ch-ch-Ch-ch-Ch-ch-Ch-ch- CHERRY BAWWWMBB!!"at the top of my lungs. But I restrained myself, and consequently remain off the "No Fly" list. That said, the film became firmly cemented in my Top Ten faves and may well be the best rawk film I have ever seen. And henceforward I will never be able to hear The Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" without getting a warm, tingly,throbbing feeling down there. You have been warned.

My first exposure to Joan Jett (no, not THAT kind, you pervy lot) came in the early 80s with her & The Blackhearts's version of "I Love Rock & Roll." Pretty standard for all sniveling brats of my era, I supposes, but I was taken by JJ's attitude and snarl. Over the course of my subsequent musical education, I became acquainted with and appreciative of various bits & pieces of the Runaways story, hagiography, and oeuvre. But the film really pulled it all together and put everything into place; the lineage from glam to punk, the hard graft, the shit, the dedication, the insecurity, the passion, the attitude.

So when I saw that Joan Jett & The Blackhearts were playing the PNE in my Beloved Vancouver on 27 August, well, I just had to go, didn't I? So my chum Dearest Lorena and I and headed out to enjoy all that the Fair had to offer - landmines, pigs, newborn calves ripped from their mothers at Safeway Farmland (vegetarianism beckons), deep-fried Mars Bars, and the finest rock 'n' roll going. JJ took the stage looking small and tough in skinny black jeans and Chuck Taylors to a screaming audience comprised of small children, fortysomethings, lesbians, and me. The crowd went wild, and JJ greeted it by dedicating the show to her mother, who had died the previous morning.




Pins drop. Clangingly.

And then she rips with no quarter into "Bad Reputation," followed by "Cherry Bomb." I cream my jeans, along with every little nobody shit in the crowd. Each number is a stormer, from the earnest, self penned "Change the World" to the plethora of covers on which JJ&B have built their kick-ass reputation.

The following day I found myself in Vancouver's mighty Neptoon Records, chatting with the owner while negotiating the purchase of a Fall album and some obscure 60s garage compilation. He relates that some friends of his who had attended the gig reported arsely that JJ really doesn't have enough original material to sustain a full show. I venture that they were fucking prog rock geeks who had missed the fucking point. Sure, much of what JJ & co played covered hallowed ground ("Crimson & Clover," 'I Love Rock & Roll"). But it was played with heart, verve, passion, and belief that exceeded everything the songs' progenitors had ever put into them. And her original compositions, while perhaps not always up to the technical perfection of those of her ancestors, were heartfelt, honest, and fully meant. So fuck you, friends of Neptoon Records owner. JJ means it, maaaaan.

When I got home that night, I picked up the dust-coated guitar my Dearest Father-in-Law had given to me two years ago, plugged it into my heretofore dormant amp, turned everything up to eleven, and for the first time ever strummed out a few discordant, uneducated chords. It felt electric good, like nothing else ever.

I love rock & roll. And Joan Jett.

Joan Jett with Evil Stig - Crimson & Clover (buy here or e-here)
Cover of a cover born of a benefit collaboration between Joan Jett and members of Seattle's The Gits in memory of the group's lead singer, Mia Zapata, who was raped and murdered.

Joan Jett with Steve Jones & Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols - I Love Rock & Roll (buy here or e-here)
I know, all you 80s brats out there think this here song was penned by JJ herself. Well, it was actually written & recorded in 1975 by a UK band called The Arrows. Joan wanted to record it with The Runaways, but her bandmates weren't keen. So in 1979 she partnered with Messrs Cook & Jones to record it. Though this version never got a release, it got heavy rotation and wild audience appreciation on the mighty 92.7 WLIR.

And finally, here's a tune I had clear forgotten about until Joan launched into it at the PNE. Penned by La Jett along with Paul Westerberg, it's a beaut:

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

It's Still Paul Haig Day Over Here

By my watch it's 11:10 PM here in Vancouver, which means I'm still in time to add my voice to the second annual Paul Haig Day. The event was born out of a DMCA takedown notice received by the marvelous JC, aka The Vinyl Villain. Rather than retell the story, pop on over here to get the full meal deal. Indeed, I'm not sure I can really add much to what has already been said in the blogosphere to commemorate the event - heck, even the song I've posted I'm sure has already been tacked up by someone more prolific these days than I am.

So then, why do I care enough to take part, and why should you? OK, to distill it down to the key points:

  • Haig produced some of Scotland's finest indie pop, and continues to do so - sign up to his label's mailing list at Rhythm Of Life

  • Unlike many of his fellow musicians, Haig is a keen supporter of the blogging community and has been very gracious in allowing bloggers to post his oeuvre

  • His first band, Josef K, is named after the protagonist in Franz Kafka's The Trial, a masterpiece whose nightmarishly absurd story has similarities to the music industry's campaign against bloggers.
If you want more reasons (and it's in your interest to), then drop by The Vinyl Villain, read up, and visit the many fine blogfolk who've participated in Paul Haig Day II.

Josef K - Sorry For Laughing (buy here)
Paul has become quite disenchanted with his first band's output, but apparently he makes an exception for this track. Which is good, coz it's one of my favourites of his. And if you want to viddy the vid in all its jelly-belly goodness:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Let's Get Nekkid

Oh my! I've been roused out of my torpor not only because Dearest Marcy and Dearest Tricia --two of the finest examples of female pulchritude and luminosity in the podcast/blogosphere firmament-- provided the ever titillating Contrast Podcast's most recent theme, but also because that theme happens to be: Naked!! I mean, if you can't get excited by the prospect of wodges of excellent choonz coupled with the heady, free rush of nudity, then your soul must be a dry, withered thing, indeed.

Speaking of dry, withered things, this CP reminded me of a little beach walk I took with my then-five-year-old Darling Daughter soon after we arrived in Vancouver. We happened to be up by the University of British Columbia and I vaguely recalled that there was a beach nearby. Sure enough, I soon found the steep, looooong flight of stairs that wound down the steep, wooded path to Wreck Beach. It wasn't until we had nearly completed the tiring descent that I ran into the sign posted at the top of this post. Ah, I had forgotten that this point at the westernmost tip of the university peninsula was bastion of naturism...

For a moment I considered retracing our steps, wondering if it would be awkward to continue on down with a child. But I swiftly thought better of it; meh, if she asks, I'll tell. So we continued on down. Sure enough, we were pretty much the only ones who'd exercised our option to stay clothed. But Darling Daughter was oblivious to both the drumming, fire-juggling hippies and the dry, withered, and wrinkly senior citizens out for their constitutionals. Instead, she was all about the shells and seaweed and sand - y'know, the beachy stuff. And I felt stupid for having considered, even for just a second, turning around...

Anyway, head over here if you want to catch last week's first installment of nudity, and over here if you want to bare yourself to this week's naturist offerings, a teaser of which I offer you below:

(00:00) Billy Mitchell - The bumble bee invaded a nudist colony
Tim from The face of today

(03:49) Iron and Wine - Naked as we came
Linda from Speed of Dark

(06:41) Vargas Blues Band - Striptease
Greer from A Sweet Unrest

(10:18) Judge Dread - Take off your clothes
The In Crowd from I’m learning to share!

(17:38) The Orb - S.A.L.T.
SAS Radio

(25:26) Artie Malvin and Lois Winters - Dressing myself
Mike from Wearedust

(28:45) The Weather Prophets - Naked as the day you were born
John Q.

(34:44) Depeche Mode - Stripped
Conrad from Eron Records

(38:56) Barenaked Ladies - Alcohol
James from Appetite For Distraction

(43:35) Hilary - Drop your pants
FiL from Pogoagogo

(50:04) Jesse Matheson - Nothing at all
Marcy from Lost in your inbox

My offering is a bit of New Wave synth naughtiness from Hilary that got me quite excited when I was a spotty teenager. But I also considered stripping off to these:

Class - We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off (off of the Double Agent 1980 compilation, which I've no idea where to find)
Peter Green and Leigh Tsai take a wistful, tender, indie-as-fuck take on Jermaine Stewart's R&B , erm, classic.

Velocette - Strip Polka (buy here or e-here)
Aww, these lasses delivered some lovely, bright, shimmery pop straight outta Camden in the late 1990s, when the rest of their Wiija labelmates were noisily lurching about.

And finally, as mentioned during my intro, while I was off skiing in the Swiss Alps this January, I lost my iPhone on one of the runs. Thankfully I found it a few hours later, but I quickly realized that someone had used it to record a video. I offer it up to you below for your consideration. Be warned, it deals with nudity and nakedness...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My First Purple Heart

Well, quite frankly I'm surprised it hasn't happened before. After all, it's been nearly four years that I've been peddling my musical wares for your titillation, and up until now I've been pretty much left alone. But today I was whacked by one of those digital drone attacks that have become all-too-common in the blogosphere, a DMCA C&D, fully known as a Digital Millennium Copyright Act Cease & Desist order.

It seems I was wounded (hence the self-awarded Purple Heart) in the latest spring offensive launched by The Man in His attempt to crush the rag-tag band of music bloggers that he sees as a threat to his way of life. Now, it seems I got off lightly; Blogger merely took the offending post from 9 February offline and flipped it back into Edit mode, while informing me that I was welcome to republish it once the objectionable material was removed. Trouble is, while I was invited to visit Chilling Effect to see the details of the C&D, upon visiting I couldn't find it. Moreover, after perusing the other C&Ds listed, I'm not sure I'd be able to figure out which of the three songs I had offered up was to blame. Two came from PR sources with what I thought was pretty explicit permission to post, but there are Kafkaesque stories galore about bloggers getting blessing from the artist or PR to post, only to find themselves enmeshed in nightmarish battles with rekkid companies who have other ideas. So, having little time or inclination, I just removed all three tracks.

It is actually getting very serious out there; along with a squadron of others, Dearest Coxon of To Die By Your Side recently had his blog shut down. You can read about it all in this Guardian article. Now, I don't intend to add to the steamy indignation out there, largely because my energy is needed elsewhere - like Sunday's demonstration against the evisceration of public education by the BC Government. But let me go on record as stating that I abhor the persecution of bloggers --who by and large are music lovers dedicated to spreading the Gospel of Good Music and putting $$$ into artists' pockets-- by the big record labels and their lackeys. Moreover, the Holy Bible of Copyright that they allege to defend was originally crafted to promote innovation and the flourishing of ideas, not to lock intellectual property up in crates and milk them for decades. I would encourage you to listen to the podcast Who Owns Ideas?, a fantastic Canadian Broadcasting Corporation programme about this very subject. It's a war folks, a war for culture.

Anyway, I'm going to go lick my flesh wound, but in the meantime here are a few tracks to get you stoked:

Sex Pistols
- Who was It [aka EMI] (buy here)
Taken from the Spunk bootleg, reissued by Castle, which is now a subsidiary of Universal Music Group. Say, is that the buzz of a drone I hear??

Max Romeo & The Upsetters - War Ina Babylon (buy here or e-here)
It's a war folks, a war for culture.

Ninja High School - It's Gonna Be Us (buy here)
Yep, that's right, we who love tha choonz shall prevail! Ninja High School was a Toronto noisenik outfit that sadly disbanded in 2007. Choose now, Babylon or Zion. IG-88 take the stand!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Love Is Not A Commodity

If you've been round here before on or about February 14, you may recall I'm not a big fan of the whole Valentine's Day schtick. It's not that I'm not all about The Lurve and romance - indeed, I'd like more of both, pretty please. It's just that I do not like our economic system dictating to us when and how we get and give it. And this year , thanks to all of the commercialism swilling round town due to the the Olympics, I was even more crotchety than usual.

That's not to say Dearest Wife and I didn't use the occasion to attempt to carve out for ourselves a quiet night in with a tasty, simple, home-cooked dinner and a mutually acceptable DVD. Try we did, but as those of you with offspring can attest to, nothing can kill romance dead like bickering, squalling children. By the time the dust had settled, we barely had time to eat dinner and get halfway through the film before bedtime beckoned. Bah and humbug - it's not just for Xmas, you know.

But despite my spite, I still do love you all, so here are a few apposite tunes for us to frug to in a cool-ass-funk, post-punk-with-extra-added goth stylee. Mwah, mwah!!

Gang of Four - Is It Love? [Extended Dance Mix] (buy here or get the album versh here)
Put on constant rotation at the mighty WLIR back in the days when it would "Dare To Be Different," this is one of those tracks that covertly shaped and sculpted my musical sensibilities as a wee lad.

Killing Joke - Love Like Blood (buy here)
When I was in 8th grade, I had a secret crush on Angela, the punky goth senior who would slip Killing Joke references into her submissions to the school literary magazine. Le sigh.

Gene Loves Jezebel - Desire (buy here or e-here)
I think the singer manages to stay on the correct side of sounding like a cat in heat. But only just.

Dalek i - Destiny [Dalek I Love You] (buy here but be quick!!)
Aww, those bumpy dustbins of intergalactic terror are quite sweet, really...

Throbbing Gristle - Hot On The Heels Of Love (buy here)
Everybody throb together!!