Friday, December 30, 2005

Ride - OX4

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bring Back Slow to Burn Records!

Daddy's Hands - Bastard You're A Hard Man To Love / Redman
Daddy's Hands - Granny's Gotta Eat

As I'm a cheap user, anyone referred to this site from editor Greg's alternative top 20 list looking for Daddy's Hands would find nothing. I wouldn't want to deprive anyone, or at the least, tease a couple of people, so here are a couple of mp3s from the (collective?) figure that cast such a large shadow. Lives have been touched!

The first is a track from the Group Therapy Explosion compilation, released way back last century by the sadly defunct Slow To Burn Records in Victoria, BC. If my memory serves me correctly, that's Johnny from Atlas Strategic on saxophone. You may be erroneously expecting an appearance by a Wu Tang personage. Not the case.

The second track is from an album recorded earlier this year, for release at some point in the future, let's all hope by a label with enough resources or enthusiasm behind them to give it the promotion that it so richly deserves. This month's Dave Wanger Fanclub Hotspot: Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Todah Rabah

Talking Heads - Thank You For Sending Me An Angel (CBS Studio Demos)
Yo La Tengo - Be Thankful For What You Got

Allow me a bit of a rare indulgence: to write with a smattering of sincerity about some of my favourite blogs. More than animating a lifeless afternoon in an office, or being clever diversions on the level of the ILM messageboard, these people have showcased music I've come to love - bold and (damn it) invigorating artists and songs oft times matched handsomely with crafted, witty critiques and praise, a testament to the care and intelligence that the scribes represented by the blogs below put into these things. This is no complete or conclusive list, as there are plenty of other great sites out there (some on the side-bar to your right), but these have my ear at any time, and would benefit anyone greatly from a visit.

20jazzfunkgreats The UKids at 20jazzfunkgreats have consistently been one of the capital-G Great blogs of this past year, (and the year prior!) curating a sonic vision of post/post and pre/post punk grit that's consistently awesome and surprising, which ain't, you know, all that easy. Inspiring feelings of 7 Inch Envy, they've also showered much love on Montrealers like Dandi Wind, Duchess Says, Les Georges Leningrad, and We Are Wolves, to name a few.

Said The Gramophone The oft-checked Said The Gramophone, a venerable institution (if Fluxblog is the Grey Lady of the mp3-blog world, Said The Gramophone is the New York Review of Books) had a face-lift recently. It's a ternary operation with points in Edinburgh, Montreal, and Toronto, that occupied many of my hours when I came upon it in 2004 while working at McGill. It's edited, it reads well, and advocates a well-crafted form of pop music that if oten, sadly, an anachronism in these times.

Popsheep In my mind, they're ...SaidTheGramophone's little bro (not to indicate a diminutiveness of importance, however). Popsheep feels hand-crafted and cared for - like stumbling upon a zine that surprises by reading well, being smart and leaving guests smiling. Correspondents of their roughly hewn wire service are stationed in Toronto, San Diego and Vancouver.

Are You Familiar? Another daily visit, Are You Familiar?, the cleverly titled dwelling of Toronto's own Greg - a young man who sneaks time away from an 80 hour work week to dig up gold soundz from here and there, and rescue Toronto from its reputation as the Mecca of Canadian musical mediocrity, which is a nasty, petty conceit I'm slowly weaning myself from.

Daughters Of Invention Newcomers Daughters Of Invention are purveyors of hidden dance-floor jewels, currently and from decades past, sold without bad faith or ironic distance, and occasionally leavened with lilting selections from the left-field of the 2nd fin de siecle musical almanac. There are salesmen, and then there are merchants...

Molars And finally, there's Molars, Kevin's state-side blogger, who's been known to (from time to time) drop rare A. Collective covering Nirvana tracks, as well as giving frantic nods to Montrealers like Shalabi Effect. A veteran, and frequent updater!


If you're one of those sorts who make grand pronouncements about the intertwining of social circles and music production when you're drunk, only to regret it later and spend the rest of the year defensively swatting at the publications they appeared in, you'll remember the helpful fellow pictured above as being David Carr. The NYT culture critic and one-time chronicler of Anna Wintour gives us ent-blog Carpetbagger, which I shamefully check every two or three days.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Atlas Strategic! Again!

Atlas Strategic - The Day It Came To Earth

It's time for another one of those cred-building posts, wherein I stroke my ego, bruised as it is during this season where I, the Gentile aspiring to convert to Judaism, finds himself straddling two worlds, not quite at home in either. Consequentially, I drink, I curse, I eat lentils and rice for four days, and now, I post another track from Atlas Strategic's second album, released in a limited, limited edition, only available during a brief tour and in one record store - that indisputable heavyweight of the West Coast - Victoria's Ditch Records (635 Johnson St - go there!).

Atlas Strategic was, of course, the band that Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade fronted previously. Joining him were Johnny (on backing vocals, organ and mini-korg), Brooklyn (on bass), Steve (on drums), and later, Jeff, on drums, with occasional appearances by half-deaf, legendary producer of Victoria punk rock records since time-eternal, Scott Henderson. Released in two pressings - the first featuring some futuristic themed artwork briefly spotted on their NewMusicCanada website, and the second, a Victorian-themed Cat motif, designed by drummer Steve and printed by yours truly (cred, cred, gimme more cred!) at the expense of the BC provincial government (under the table grant program), this album ain't kicking around anywhere for your grubby little mits. Global Symphonic, however, did have the first album which was in print up until rather recently. I'm sure some random distro in Kentucky or somewhere (think Stickfigure?) has a couple of copies lying around.

I've posted stuff from this before, so astute observers of this blog should be slowly, over a period of five years or such, be able to acquire the album. What an incentive to check in daily! Anyway, this album also features the song National Flag, which would be revived as a Wolf Parade song under the title National People's Scare. Dig!

Now you're the coolest kid in your dorm!

Turzi: Torches Of The Sun...

Turzi - Soloromano.mp3

Turzi are Parisian, fronted by guitarist, vocalist and namesake Turzi: relying on repetition, evocative arrangements and strong synth work to convey a spacey and airy 21st century vision of rock kosmische. The group released an album on RecordMakers, home to AIR and Sebastien Tellier. Can is an obvious touchstone throughout the EP - texturally and rhythmically, though where their unique soundscapes charted the macabre elements of the human psyche, one of kitschless paranoia, Turzi lace their songs with synths and rhythmic elements more common to early Klaus Schulz, or the more exubriant bits in the Cluster catalogue. I'm hopeful that we'll see the group on this side of the Atlantic in 2006, and I think that the material on this record (Made Under Authority) will come fully alive and soar in a live setting.

The above song (Soloromano) shares similarities here with Hawkwind's Opa-Loka (from Warrior On The Edge of Time), though the latter has less of a melodic focus and doesn't fall apart halfway through, its rhythm re-assembled and coupled with a rusty modulated synth-line. Listen to at a high-volume, and scoot over to the Record Makers website to listen to more and order the damn album.

Monday, December 26, 2005


So, bored out of my skull, I downloaded all of these podcasts, including four episodes of what is quite possibly the funniest radio program I've heard in the twenty-five lackadaisical, slack years I've been alive. The genius of having the character Carl explain the bizarre logic behind many of his hypothesises is evident after one listen, and he receives more licks than he deserves sometimes, the amount of thought he's put into his absurd worldview is astonishing. If you're really itching for a Hannukah present from me, or even, say, a Christmas present, well, this is all you're going to get, and Jesus, it might even be more than you're worth.

Laughter, what else is there? What have we to share? What jumps the chasm between generations with ease and provides delight for all ages other than the greatest and most human of all arts, comedy? Please, for your health and mine, visit the website of San Francisco's Coyle and Sharpe, where you can uncover relics of a bygone era, when wit served to create a stylistic wackiness. Download the Druggist mp3. Wonderful.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Print Media! Podcasts!

The Goldstein

1. Dan(ager) left behind a copy of the premiere issue of Guilt & Pleasure at the office. Many distinguished contributors grace the masthead, including broadcaster Jonathan Goldstein (host of CBC Radio's Wiretap and droll contributor to This American Life), cartoonist Ben Katchor, and writer Nathaniel Deutsch. The publication evolved from a salon in Toronto on modern Judaism and Jews to the journal on (vaguely) the post-assimilationist return to Judaism and Jewish culture, secular and religious. File next to Jewsrock, Jewlicious and Heeb Magazine. It's often easy to lose sight of the true meaning of the season, to get caught up in the holiday hubub and demands, that one is tempted to skip the double-bills and Chinese food altogether. Well, that may be fine for some, but as for me, I'll be seeing The Producers and King Kong this weekend.

2. Having some serious problems sleeping, a state I believe to be directly attributed to a potent strain of marijuana, and deciding that upon hearing CBC Radio 1 hostess Sheilagh Rogers' voice that it was necessary for me to leave the apartment today, I made my sleepy way off to the office, arriving to find a large stack of the first issue of Bang Bang, a French-language publication, its cover adorned by psych-wavers We Are Wolves. I've only thumbed through it, so I've got little else to say, though I must issue a dire warning to any publication that chooses to highlight a Lagwagon interview.

3. Journalist, actor, DJ, musician (remember Do They Know It's Hallowe'en?, We Are Molules, The Hot Pockets?!?!?!?!?) and my personal nemesis Adam Gollner has inked a book-deal with Scribners' & Sons to publish his book The Fruit Hunters. According to Publisher's Weekly, "the book will combine travel, horticulture and business in its look at a variety of people passionate about fruit, not only genetically modified supermarket fruit, but small, unique types one has to travel far afield to get, cultivated by often-fanatic naturalists eager to preserve endangered varieties and invent new ones." I'll begrudgingly congratulate him on that.

4. The Mile End's favourite Freudian, Andrew Rose has been busting his ass getting all of the year end Pop Montreal Podcasts together. So, do yourself a favour, and check 'em out at Pop Montreal or the mass is secretly obsessed with nipple dream. "Jung was a tool."

5. Patrick Watson has signed some sort of "record deal" - an antiquated arrangement of some sort that old timers might recall as being quite prevalent in the last century, details will be floating about soon, I assume.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Hu Hu!

RD Burman, Asha Bhosle and Kishor Kumar - Lekar Ham Diwana Dil.mp3

If you see a drunk jerk such as the one picture above (hey, that's me!) tonight at The Green Room or tomorrow at Zoobizarre (for that Echo Kitty / Sean Kosa / Services triple-bill) in Montreal, come up and speak clearly into the microphone. Yeah, yeah, I'll be out shilling and drilling for the Pop Montreal Year-End Popcast, so I'll need album, show or band picks from 2005. Andrew Rose will be on the decks at the Green Room, along with Thomas Sontag, for the last Fondue night of 2005. Perhaps the new year will come complete with a new moniker (I love you, man, but melted cheese dip is not the most alluring name-sake for a night)...

Remember a couple of years ago when all those Bollywood comps were coming out? Ehh, vaguely, as I was working/hanging out on my weekends at Ditch Records in Victoria. Just prior to the release of Ghostworld, which must have felt like one hell of a back-hand to record nerds everywhere, and after all of them had ordered in every damn Morricone import available (and many not). I didn't really pay attention, which is kind of irksome to me, as over the past year it's been a constant staple in my listening diet. And no one plays this shit anywhere, possibly because they had an overkill of it a couple of years back. Anyway, another spectacular Burman/Bhosle coupling above, complete with those great orchestra hit tone-drops. Yessah!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Summer Nights Are... Alright.

JENNY WILSON - Let My Shoes Lead Me Forward.mp3
The Knife (feat. Jenny Wilson) - Take My Breath Away.mp3

31 year old Swede Jenny Wilson, (mother, occasional The Knife collaborator - that's her on calypso-electro grinder You Take My Breath Away above) played, produced and slammed together a wonderful 12-song debut, Love & Youth that came to me a little after... Her unique voice, a precious mixture of the Bee Gees' Gibb brothers falsetto and stage-trained projection, belongs squarely in the idiosyncratic corners of 70's AOR. The production is rich and smooth - vibes, rhodes and other organ flourishes are coupled with acoustic guitar recorded to Tony Visconti's standards, and the clean and sparing production allows both the diverse instrumentation and vocal overdubbing to stand-alone. A head-nodding, stylish, substantial and sophisticated debut: the appropriate mixture of economy and abundance...

Let My Shoes Lead Me Forward, the single, is upbeat, with a great bridge and soaring chorus, that struts, bobs and dips...

Related... Swedish duo The Knife, comprised of Karin Dreijer and brother Olaf (aka Dj Coolofs) have a new album ready for a March release, tentatively titled Silent Shouts. The last album (Deep Cuts) was a treasure-chest for producers, overwhelming with enough textures, ideas and skewed melodies, as well as a dance-floor favourite, that my expectations are running pretty high for this, occupying myself with the Vitalic remix of Royksopp's What Else Is There?, which features the unique, parsed vocals of Karin, and their remix of labelmate Jenny Wilson's Let My Shoes Lead Me Forward. If you haven't heard The Knife yet, or alternately you're creeped out by them (my first reaction), I'd suggest investigating a bit further. There's a similar creepy theatricality that the group shares with Destroyer's Your Blues album - a world where the weight of history and decadent rot is temporarily lifted by the timbre of the midi trumpet.

I have to tip my hat yet again to the impeccable taste and crate (err, mp3?) digging persistency of Greg at AYF, after yesterday's post introducing me to West Coast r&b-pop quartet (nooo, don't run away, come back!) Velella Vellela. Hit it up.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My Upstairs Neighbours...

ECHO KITTY - Suzi.mp3

Where has the appreciation in 2005 been for Echo Kitty? Why so absent - critics, fans, music-lovers? There's been a considerable amount of attention concentrated on some very deserving acts that exist outside of either the Arcade Fire / Wolf Parade or Tiga/I Love NEON paradigms throughout the last half of this year - that is, Dandi Wind, We Are Wolves (who seem to receive more coin-tosses from the post-hardcore set, than the electro-types, though), Duchess Says, Call Me Poupee, but none for Xavier et co.

I received a bit of a tongue-lashing from Xavier around last year's Pop Montreal when I expressed my distaste for the name, but I think that one should be open to considering that the group is not receiving the attention they do truly deserve primarily because of that name. People are shallow, a rose would not be just as sweet, and so on. But I trust that you, good readers or at least occasional skimmers, will ignore that, give the above song a listen, and if in the hood, come and see them this weekend. It may help to think of the band's name as FRXCOBRA or EARTH OR JAPAN.

The song has one of the most sugary-hooks I've heard in a long time, a breathy that pops it's head up once and leaves me wanting and expecting a reprise. This is Indochine-esque pop awash in carefully chosen textures and crisp vocals, graciously lacking the stain of backwards-gazing irony.


ZOOBIZARRE, 6388 St-Hubert, 6$, 21h

  • True believers with musical talent may be interested to hear that Echokitty have put out a call for drummers and synth-players... Check the website for more details.

  • ...Toronto-watchers should check out Shack-Up's 1st Yr B-Day Party the night prior to the above show, hosted by Mikey Apples and Jaime of Daughters_of_Invention
  • .

    Monday, December 12, 2005


    Some sort of bizarre border trouble has sent Blood On The Wall back to the US, so tonight's show at Sala Rosa will be a two-band bill - Psychic Ills and Feu Therese, for $5. See ya there.

    Greg of Are You Familiar just put up a Best of 2005 list. In this case, we've picked the top Canadian Acts of 2005. Contributors are Greg (natch), Stuart Berman of the Eye Magazine, yours truly, and include an addenda by Jaimie at Daughters of Invention with her top 3.

    A couple of groups on the list I'm not familiar enough with to really put them on my 2005 list, though I'm looking forward to whatever happens in 2006 - notably, MSTRKRFT, The Diableros, and The Paper Cranes, and a number that I was pushing for, but didn't make the cut - Et Sans, Think About Life, Anemones, Feu Therese, and some people I had no idea about, but will check out.

    The Alternative List of Canadian Bands By A Few of The Other Canadian Bloggers

    Friday, December 09, 2005

    SURGERY: The Nail In The Coffin of Post-Rock?

    The Psychic Paramount - para.five

    1.Two years ago I was recovering from a wicked hangover after a West End Vancouver evening, year ago, reading Tokion and drinking tea.


    3.The Psychic Paramount - red-eyed, blood-curdling, galaxy-straddling, throwing down the psych-gauntlet. Nuances, maybe? Noo. I hear telecaster run through a fender twin reverb (is this some alternate universe incarnation of Scanners/Genius Pool?), brain-pan scooping, 12 year old stoner fantasies about slasher flicks and sci-fi worlds, low-flying combat helicopters... This is from their first studio album, the gargantuan Gamelan Into The Mink Supernatural, which is about as stupid a title as all the free-association rambling I just typed above...

    Christopher Taylor, National Gallery summer intern big-wig and AIDS Wolf-er, hosts an exhibition by Matt Moroz and Morag Kydd entitled Remote Viewing Of A UFO Safari tonight. According to Herr Taylor, there will be "beer, wine and girls." And, I assume, some sort of art?

    The Blackboard Gallery
    2222 Plessis (off of Sherbrooke east, souh of Parc Lafontaine)
    More info at: 514.690.0252

    Thursday, December 08, 2005

    Paranoia & The Psyche.

    I've been skipping through a couple of alien8 releases today, which is no easy task given the lead-like nature of one of them. The Nadja debut Truth Becomes Death has a hefty dose of doomy, Neurosis-esque baroqueness, at about 16 rpm or so, and loosely based on a number of texts relating to the Golem myth, which should make it a shoe-in for placement alongside the Tzadik trading cards at one of my neighbourhood's Hasidic grocers. I never had much of a stomach for the procession of grinding and almost paralyzingly slow noise bands, but it makes a nice palate cleanser after enduring to the myriad of mp3s, cassettes, 7"s and albums from the bastard-children of Lightning Bolt et al. that I'm usually swamped in while seeking out new music.
    Buy it at Insound!

    The Shalabi Effect - Pai Nai.mp3

    Also in the pile was the most recent Shalabi Effect album Unfortunately, which begins with Out of The Closet: a paranoid and schismed cut-and-paste opus, stomps through Pai Nai (about the closest to a pop construct the quartet makes it - Hawkwind communing with Harriet The Spy) and seems to warn off any spiritual seekers. Y'know, the path to transendence (injected, inspired or otherwise) is crooked, off, sinister and foreboding, leading to a series of dead-ends or caverns. What moments of cheer and exubriance glimpsed here have a manic, creeping quality. Cinematic, dark, more than a little macabre but ultimately seductive, I don't think that I'm in possession of a strong enough mindset to listen to this under the influence. Buy it!

    Clips available on the alien8recordings website

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    Heron - Yellow Roses

    Heron - Yellow Roses

    ...From their first self-titled album, released in 1970 on Dawn Records (an imprint of Pye, specializing mostly in prog), a charming slab of British Isles folk that bears no trace of the braying donkey-like vocals that marred other similar albums from The Incredible String Band (a village drama teacher lending her vocal skills on those album cuts, perhaps?) et al, and possesses forward-thinking production and instrumentation that allow the album to age quite handsomely. According to lore, this album was recorded in the middle of a field: bird-sounds!

    The group re-united last year, releasing a couple of albums and performing in England, but I haven't had the chance to listen to them. Relaxx Records is run by Heron member Steve Jones, and albums are available for order from his website, and there's a film titled In A Field Of Their Own documenting their return to performing music again.

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    Losing Yr Vestiges

    GEIGER - Cocain-e

    A more alluring tribute to that deadly white rabbit or horse or dragon (whatever it may be) has never been penned. Maybe you've got to be rolling on a huge enough scale to make weekly trips in a charter jet to procur your supply to have your coke go down this smoothly - that soft falsetto, with tastefully strummed guitar chords and a bubbly, popping bassline, has nothing in common with the acrid taste of burning metal that pops up after you bring your head down for the second time, and especially nothing with the petrifying, paralyzing feeling of shame that keeps you in bed until 3 in the afternoon the next day, looking through the listings for a movie that's playing that'll keep you away from the terrifying ruminations on your life, social setting, and how you don't know if anyone really and...... Oh well, one would imagine such a situation arising. I've heard stories.