Thursday, March 30, 2006

Square Pegs.

Shapes And Sizes - Island's Gone Bad.mp3

I'm off to Hawaii to work on an article about Queen Lili'uokalani's songbook and Hawaiian nationalism, but before I go, I'll be checking out Victoria's chipper and rose-cheeked pop quartet Shapes & Sizes, who'll be stopping by Casa Del Popolo tonight. I long ago promised to write something about them and their Canadian baroque pop brethren: The Paper Cranes, The Dymaxions, and Code Pie, but that'll have to wait. For now, here's a lament for the departed ex-pats of Victoria, BC, long may they suffer.

My first column in the Mirror just appeared today. Scope out at your own risk!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Weekend Double Dosing

The Embassy - Some Indulgence.mp3

Sweden's The Embassy sort of passed me by. Albums in 2002 and 2005 won over Sweden, but unlike minimal design at bargain prices, sensible automobiles, and blonde pop chanteuses, they never seemed to make it over the pond.

The Embassy trade on the sort of late New Order-esque sophisto-Euro-pop production (a solid base of acoustic guitars, chimes, crystalline oohs and ahhs) that activates my musical sweet-tooth (and may bring up a bit of something in the back of the throat along with memories of Erasure and The Pet Shop Boys for some of you). Dreamy-yacht-rock may be perfectly suited for car commercials (the hidden historical aim of indie rock's progression, synthesis to thesis and antithesis), but it's done without the bad faith or second-guessing that hounds say, graduates of Evergreen College. Ambitious feel-good pop music best played on your stolen Bang & Olufsen turntable.

Band Website or Label Website

Primal Scream - Accelerator.mp3

To cleanse the palate, similar to a whiff of coffee beans, here's a song originating from a similar school (Creating A Universe Within A Studio), but arrives at different conclusions... Primal Scream, who've pretty much cemented their reputation as The Only Supergroup Worth Talking About with members like Mani (formerly of the Stone Roses), Kevin Shields, and collaborations with Two-Long Swordsmen, Kate Moss (in her pre-Doherty days) and many more, are set to release a new album in May titled Riot City Blues, which will add to the roll-call of British music's leading lights by featuring contributions from Echo & The Bunnymen's Will Sergeant, The Bad Seeds' Warren Ellis, and Alison Mosshart from The Kills.

This track is from 2000's skull-cracking XTRMNTR, which I'd argue is the most completely realized statement articulating PS' mission, encapsulating most of what was worthwhile from the various musical subcultures they toyed with in the 90s while remaining. It could do without Pills' hip-hop stylings, though.

On another note, I've got a column in the Mirror that's starting this week. No name as of yet, still sussing that out, but the focus will be on mp3s, blogs, and other aspects related to music online. Montrealers can read it next Thursday, gratuit.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Gotta Get Your Love

Clyde Alexander & Sanction - Gotta Get Your Love.mp3

A couple of years back I picked up the spectacular compilation Disco Juice, a double-LP featuring selections from Harlem's P&P Records, including Jesse Gould's Out Of Work and L.J. Waiters' Hooked On Your Line.

The first cut on side C is the one above: Gotta Get Your Love, recorded by Gary Davis in 1979, by Clyde Alexander & Sanction, Sanction (a group featuring Gary and his younger brother Wendell). A choice song in the UK's Northern Soul scene, this track is a killer slice of gritty disco that (thankfully) lacks the sheen of overproduced string sections and too chirpy back-up singers. Beyond the sizzling horn section, this track kills it for a number of other reasons - the up-in-the-mix rolling bassline, the stuttering snare break, and the chattering vocal interplay, touching off my fetish for songs that hint at a party setting (think Roxy Music) whether through champagne glasses clinking or general party sounds.

A strange aside to all of this, though it was released ostensibly as a track by (at the time) 15 year old vocalist Clyde Alexander, he barely appears on the track, his contributions lost far, far in the mix, while Rhonda Whaley's vocals dominate, the strange situation owing to a demand for exclusive contracts for performers only signed by Clyde. Quickly a choice song amongst DJs in the UK's Northern Soul scene, a second version was recorded by Gary Davis in 1982 using the same players (sans lil' Clyde, sadly) and self-released on Chocolate Star Records.

Grab The Comp Here

Monday, March 20, 2006

Disco Lazers... Ring My Bell.

Anita Ward - Ring My Bell (12 Inch Version).mp3

24 year old substitute teacher and gospel-trained singer Anita Ward scored a subsantial dancefloor burner with 1979's Ring My Bell. Originally penned as a teeny-bopper homage to telephone obsessed youngsters, and intended for 11 year old Stacy Lattisaw, it might not have been recorded by a reticient Ward were it not for Stax Records producer Frederick Knight's insistence. Hitting number one and holding for five months in the States (to say little of her impressive numbers in Britain, Canada, Europe and elsewhere), she toured heavily, before retiring back to teaching and motherhood.

Ward's soaring high-pitched vocals play off the cooing back-up singers, and the shuffle beat and disco lazers make this the sort of jubiliant pop song that often seems woefully underrepresented when journos, "Remember The 70s" VH1 shows and others look back at the "disco era." Far from the presumed homogenity of gawdy fabrics and banal club decadence, there was an inventiveness and spirit in a lot of the music missing from mainstream rock music at that time*. It's not necessarily a forgotten classic (Ward performed this at New Year's Eve in New York in 2000, there have been a whole slab of remixes floating about), but it's a choice one, on par with Clyde Alexander's Gotta Get Your Love, another one of my faves that I'll feature tomorrow.

*Yes, yes, I realize I'm pretty much preaching to the converted here, I don't know that many people who fly the rockist flag all that much, not even the Mojo Magazine tribe members, but I'm too lazy to fabricate any other intellectual/historical context to justify my affection for this song with.

IVORY TEMPLE will be filling in the blanks between soundchecks and sets and bathroom runs on Wednesday night at Club Lambi (4465 St. Laurent) as Scandinavian electro-popper Annie return to Montreal. Given that she's got a higher profile than at the time of last year's Pop Montreal festival, one would expect a little more people than the music critics and forward-thinking St. Catherine Villagers that made up the bulk of the audience at that point.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Baltimore Club-It: Fuck You Up Like A Percoset

Spank Rock - Sweet Talk.mp3

Hotly anticipating their return to Montreal in just over a month, I've been periodically squealing in delight since partner-in-crime Guillaume (aka G'Homme) played this for me barrelling down Ste. Catherine last week. Baltimore-based Spank Rock's Sweet Talk hits similar po-funk spots as bi-coastalians !!! or AreYouFamiliar faves Velella Velella: a head-nodding, arm-thrusting number that finishes with a cascading schoolgirl chant, leavened with sweet percussion and their patented brash lyric stylings...

Heads would do well to check out a Spankrock video hosted by the BigDada crew, featuring some extensive MTL metro action, including a detailed explanation of the ACT. It's here in Quicktime format.

Montreal, QC
Thursday, April 12th
Spankrock, Devlin & Darko et guests
@ Main Hall (5390 St. Laurent)
$12 adv/$15 door

Everybody's favourite jet-set juvenile Douglas Ko of SLUM fame had 'em over in Vancouver last month, and from all accounts, it was incredible. Now, someone throw Think About Life on this bill!

Order Spankrock from BIG DADA or TurntableLab if you're so inclined.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Goldkixx II

...sorry about the disappearing act...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Uffie Pops...

Uffie - Ready To Uff.mp3

Cut-to-shape perfect bio: pint-sized female rapper with a foul mouth, originally from Miami (f'real?), worked with Feadz (that's her boypal, sorry, fellas), remixes by Mr. Oizo and SebastiAn, a 12" (Pop The Glock) released on Pedro Winter's Ed Banger Records, and all of 19 years old. This is cross-continental stumble-hop with RapMaster synth-estra hits, which gives me high hopes for the upcoming full-length. Jesus, with the exception of Poirier, Ghostface & Spankrock, the only new hip-hop I've been really excited about has been from Europe (Modeselektor, Roots Manuva, TTC, et al.), huh?

Unfortunately the Uffie/Mr.Oizo/Feadz tour wasn't able to stop by Montreal this time given the short notice, but I'm hopeful that Uffie will be here sometime soon. MEG, perhaps?

Curious nerds can drop paypal euro$ at ARCADEMODE, or get creep-like at her myspace page.

Goldkixx II: Yours, Mine, It's All About Crime.

Goldkicks was getting a bit sluggish, owing to its advanced age and the burden of extensive archives of drunken rambling, half-baked commentary and earnest pleas to attend various DJ nights.. Here's hoping that version 2 will prove to be a more focused effort.

Guillaume Decouflet and myself are DJing under the moniker IVORY TEMPLE and have some more nights and gigs coming up, as you can see on the top-left. Hook us up on the myspace if you're so inclined.

I'll be in Vancouver for a couple of nights (March 31st and April 12th) on my way to and from Hawaii. Anyone with points to check out in Maui, let me know, and I'll see a lot of you V-couvs, however briefly, soon!

A couple of points of interest over the next week or so... Ghetto-tech-er Disco D at Kop Shop on Friday. Tonight's a new PeerPressure night @ Blizzarts... I'll be recovering at home, but it should be good. If you're in the same state as me, stay home and check out my man Alex' show on McGill's threatened station, CKUT 90.3, midnight - 2 am.