Monday, May 30, 2005

Maybe Get Out To The Starting Line

Just the two on the right, thanks.

Given that Eno's newest album is to be his first stab at lyric-based pop music in 25 years or so (according to him), it's an appropriate time to resurrect what might have been if not another stab, at least a slash!

In 1990, Brian Eno and John Cale collaborated on the Wrong Way Up album, ostensibly a Cale solo album that led to a co-credit because of Eno's hijacking, or so some people might have you believe. (I'm suspicious, it wasn't James & Eno Laid, ya know). The album's 10 tracks of varied pastiche-work - music-box melody here, Hawaiian rhythm there, gospel harmonies punching in and out - tends to muddy the waters, but that's both strength and weakness.

The midi-rock vibe hard was to ignore on a couple of the tracks - they'd be better served as bumper music for a campy sit-com, or the more flaccid elements of the Talking Heads (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! chose to appropriate their feyness), but I got past that, justifying it as Eno Experimentalisationalism, and discovered a surprising album that I'd previously passed over. I'm chosen Spinning Away here, but Lay My Love and One Word are standouts, too. (Check out Eno's MS Paint-style album artwork for an extra treat)

The song is a little overwrought: the presence of aching strings and doubled-up vocals on the chorus atune the listener to the deep pathos and longing of these balding geniuses, and the repetition of the phrase "Pale Moonlight" fulfills some hidden 90s schmaltz quota. The rhythm of this song is calling out for an interpretative reggae version. (Oh Christ, I've just found out that Sugar Ray did a calypso version on The Beach soundtrack!) Anyways, mp3 below!

Brian Eno & John Cale - Spinning Away.mp3

Tomorrow night in Montreal (that's Tuesday), myself and Michelle Adelman will be DJing at The Green Room (5386 St. Laurent). Another fairly incoherent smattering of whatever you might download from this blog, plenty of surprises, drink specials, Yoko Ono, Can, and Michelle's extensive record collection are all on the plate. No cover, 'f course... 11pm-3am!

A bit of gossip: I've heard through the grapevine that Shepard Fairey, he of Andre The Giant Has A Posse, is now living Montreal.


FINALLY, that CAN I've been promising!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Up on a hill, as the day dissolves!

My girlfriend and I went and saw Woody Allen's Melinda & Melinda last night, which wasn't the film that the critics in Cannes were surprised by, some of them actually enjoying it. I enjoyed it, but truthfully, I have enjoyed every single Woody Allen film on some level, and I find it very difficult to seperate the immersive experience of seeing a film at a theatre from the merits of the film. It's big! It's loud! It's dark! It usually takes a couple of days before I realize whether the film was actually bad or not. Sure, I'm some sort of noble savage - raised without television or movies until I reached the double digits, I'm still expecting the train to come out of the screen and run me over.

If it seems like I've turned into a fourty-five year old British punter in my absence (Keith West, Faust and what not), the blame is to be placed at the foot of my new roommate. He's got an extensive collection of old Mojo magazines that I've been thumbing through in my spare time. Thankfully that hasn't led to any unreasonable lusting after books chronicling the very minute details of The Beatles early days in Hamburg, or Lennon's holiday in Spain with his rumoured homosexual lover.

Sandie Shaw - the British square-jawed pop chanteuse, rose to prominence with 1964's There's Always Something There To Remind Me, won Eurovision in 1967 with Puppet On A String, and was an unqualified success in the rather tame world of bubblegum pop.

In 1969, EMI released Shaw's Reviewing The Situation album, comprised of remarkably prescient material for a pop singer at the time - it's hip, in other words. Nary a jazz crooner's ill-advised rendition of Eleanor Rigby to be found (Love Me Do stands in for that), and the ultimate cut-bin find. Dylan, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Beatles, and, as wel'll see below, a song from Oliver! and Led Zeppelin!


That's one Tull-like introduction, for Christ's sake! The title-track of the album - shimmies and shakes, staggering attitude, easily the best. Composed by Lionel Bart for the musical Oliver!, which my grandmother made me watch as a child, this is a swinging and rocking rendition, and her voice betrays none of the "slightness" and "wispyness" attributed to her by that intolerable arbitrator of music history's crimes and successes, The All Music Guide.

Sandie Shaw - Reviewing The Situation.mp3


The very first Led Zeppelin cover to appear on an album! A straight-ahead arrangement of the original, another dimension added by the song being done with a female voice. The production is remarkably tasteful, too. A true story: A couple of weeks ago, preparing to DJ at a local bar called the Green Room, I started cueing this song up, but couldn't get to it in time. The next song on the CD that was left in the other tray began, and it was the original Led Zeppelin version. Woah.

Sandie Shaw - Your Time Is Gonna Come.mp3

Smiths fans will probably be aware of her owing to Morrissey's championing of her and appearance on the second version of Hand In Glove, after which she returned to recording, graduated as a therapist from Oxford (!), works in television production, amongst many, many other accomplishments. (A regular Louise Brooks!) She recorded a song penned by Morrissey, too: Please Help The Cause Against Loneliness, and in 1986, released a song for the pompadoured Mancunian, Steven (You Don't Eat Meat), in which her voice adopts more of a Debbie Harry meets Siouxsie tone with some interesting
octave jumps. The chorus is, as one would expect, somewhat embarassing. You Don't Eat Meat, But You Eat Your Heart Out, Steven.


Rare CAN, and Eno rediscovers Pop with a friend's help!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Lying On Your Back!

"Count the days into years
His eighty two brings many fears"

This particular excerpt being Grocer Jack (what's with British groups and songs about men named Jack?), sung by Tomorrow's vocalist Keith West and a precocious child chorus, and penned and produced by Mark Wirtz, who also produced Tomorrow's ode to the free ride, My White Bicycle. Named in homage to a habit of uber-creepy Kim Fowley, it's one of those lost psych-pop classic, and despite rocketing to the top of the charts, the recording session was so extraordinarily expensive, even in the context of Swingin' Sixties Spector-like vanity projects, that the label's enthusiasm quickly fizzled out (never there to begin with, a certain amount of hoodwinking was necessary to get the start-up money anyway) and decided not to fund the completion of the album. (Cherry Red issued an somewhat ramshackle compilation of related material from the Teenage Opera a couple of years back.) Those "lush" strings, choir, timpany, brass cost more money than EMI was willing to shell out. The introduction , the more sophisticated arrangements and changes, the tale of an unappreciated grocer stumbling and dying, a town only appreciating him in his passing, all of this places Excerpt in the same league as The Pretty Things' S.F. Sorrow album (clandestinely recorded at Abbey Road Studios during the night, after The Beatles were done their White Album sessions for the day, pinching George Harrison's sitar, or so the legend goes). Like its title character, Grocer Jack, Excerpt From A Teenage Opera is honoured and beloved post-humously, and it's a shame that Wirtz was never even given a fair chance to at least fail.

Keith West - Excerpt From A Teenage Opera.mp3

"It's a rainy Day, Sunshine Baby
It's a rainy day, Sunshine Girl!"

Beloved by Julian Cope, collaborators with Tony Conrad, and German. A great song despite feeling too topical (Montreal's sadly not rushing into summer), this song is from Faust's second album Faust So Far. It builds with a great guitar bit (the tone sounds similar to the guitar used in OMD's The New Stone Age), 4/4 tom beat and piano repetition, adds Schulz-ian synths and a harmonica, before a superb saxophone bit carries us into the fade-out. Someone was taking note, perhaps? Faust also did a number of seperate versions of this song, some titled Stretch Over All Times and Ice Rain.

Faust - It's A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl.mp3


: Sandie Shaw, rare Can!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Like an English Summer...

COLDPLAY + BLACK MOUNTAIN UPDATE The Black Mountain / Coldplay tour is for 17 dates including the show at the White River Amphitheatre near Seattle, no Vancouver show.

Mary-Catharine introduced me to the French group, Konki Duet, after a copy of the album came into the office a couple of weeks ago. The tricky bit about writing about Konki Duet is avoiding mention of The Lapse and Blonde Redhead, given the shaded vocals of Japanese ex-pat Kumi (formerly of Crazy Curl), but that's a bit of laziness on my part: the group is as capable of speaking about the influence of Robert Wyatt as converging disparate aesthetic threads of aging Europe and the perceived dilettantism of Japanese sensibilities.

The album strikes deeper than the cabaret-pop revisionism or space-lounge of the previous Franco-Japanese collaborations that we've had a glimpse of in North America. It's as whimsical as anything by 60's baroque-poppers Left Banke or American duo Puerto Muerto, delicately constructed and playful without the silliness or affected daintiness of any myriad of artists who might meet the previous description. (More Vashti Bunyan than Joanna Newsom, say...)

Truthfully, there are some moments that fall flat or drag: the instrumentation is poorly served by the inclusion of a drum machine on a few tracks and those low moments could be resolved with a different production approach, but the songwriting is unimpeachable and thestand-out tracks resonate strongly. Album-closer Do! Family, for instance, begins as an organ and guitar lead surrounded by a trio of airy harmonized voices before a lifted arpeggiated motif (courtesy Philip Glass?) arrives and paints the song a sinister shade. The title track Il Fait Tout Gris, available below, is a cover of Visage's euro-synth hit Fade To Grey. (Listening to it, keener folks will probably notice that Visage is owed some unpaid royalties from Ladytron) Extracting a morose subtext from the original, Konki Duet amplifies the humanity of the song by replacing Visage's icy synth and programmed drums with violin and acoustic percussion. Their version is also mostly in French, and therefore, far more humanistic!

Additionally, Konki Duet are members of the Toxic Girls All Stars ensemble, along with members of The Very Ape, Noak Katoi, and Tam. More info on their various projects at!

Konki Duet - Il Fait Tout Gris.mp3

Visage - Fade To Grey.mp3 Original Version

Tomorrow Faust vs. Keith West!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Mile Envy in Montreal


Tonight, DJ Prions en église guests at Mile Envy, with your hosts Luke Bradley and me, now known by my summer DJ name The Jah Watts Soundsystem. It's at The Green Room (5386 St. Laurent). 10pm, no cover, drink specials...

neu-wave / post-punk / manchester bullshit / hip hop summer jams / kosmische rock / etc.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Yellow Mountain?

I'm coming out of retirement to announce that, according to hearsay, grumbling and rumour, Coldplay have asked Vancouver's psych-kosmische kollectif Black Mountain to tour with them. You heard it here first!

Also, Victoria's Chet, who I wrote about a couple of months back, are halfway through their Canadian tour. If you're around when they're around, I not only highly recommend, but implore, that you go out and see them for yourself. The album's going to be released to stores (through Scratch Distribution) at the beginning of June, but they have copies of it available right now. It just came in at #39 on the Canadian campus charts!

Sunday, May 22
Montreal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo (w/ Courtney Wing)

Monday, May 23
Ottawa, ON @ The Manx (w/ The Flaps)

Wednesday, May 25
Peterborough, ON @ Grassroots Café (w/ Jay Spectre)

Thursday, May 26th
Guelph, ON @ The E-Bar – (w/ Selena Martin, Wayne Omaha)

Friday, May 27th
Toronto, ON @ Rancho Relaxo – (w/ The Great Lake Swimmers and Wayne of Cuff the Duke)

Sunday, May 29th
Thunder Bay, ON @ The Apollo

Monday, May 30th
Winnipeg, MB @ Music Trader – In store performance

Tuesday, May 31st
Saskatoon, SK @ The Basement

Wednesday, June 1st
Edmonton, AB @ Sidetrack Café – (w/ Fractal Pattern)

Thursday, June 2nd
Calgary, AB @ TBA

Friday, June 3rd
Nelson, BC @ The Royal

Saturday, June 4th
Vancouver, BC
9:00 pm at the Tahitian Twilight Lounge in the fabulous Waldorf Hotel with The London Apartments and Blackout Beach (Carey Mercer from Frog Eyes)

Saturday, June 11
Victoria, BC @ Hermann's with Great Aunt Ida

P.S. Deja Voodo.