Monday, August 31, 2009

Hands Up In The Air.

I was out earlier with fine young gentlemen/Hyphy Juice importers Phil Aubin (Hovatron!) & Seb Diamond (known collectively as Mofomatronix, and also just super dudes, with blog here) and small-talk turned to more small-talk about side-chaining, samples, and this song, specifically. The sampled song is Final Edition's I Can Do It (Anyway You Want), and Ducksauce = Armand van Helden & Montreal's own A-Trak, record out on the rolling Fool's Gold concern. After that, we went to the new Bofinger on Parc, dined in a suitably carnivore manner and enjoyed the last little bit of sunshine that summer has to offer.

These two kids (along with Brendan Duvall) are also bringing up The Juan MacLean for a special DJ set on the 17th of September, along with hometown hero CFCF.

Friday, August 28, 2009

This is tonight!


Free shot or beer ticket if you come before 11pm
After 11pm: $3 per beer, or 2 for $5
$2 shots all night
Free Red Bull

Bixi stand in front
Dress to impress

10pm - 6am
1265 des Carriers, Montreal, QC
Very close to the bike-path.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bravo!Fact Short Films Screening

Mark Slutsky (center), late observer of Leviticus 19:27

There's a screening of Bravo!Fact short films downtown tomorrow, including the film Day Before Yesterday, written and produced by the incomparable Sarah Beckett, and directed by Patricia Chica, who was responsible for last year's Rockabilly 514, with a score by Courtney Wing. Also, they'll be screening Paul Neudorf's dance film Refractions, scored by Gabriel Dharmoo, and Vengeance, a mystical fish-out-of-water story directed by Lanan Adcock, scored by King Khan & BBQ Show and featuring a number of actors associated with Automatic Vaudeville Studios*, including Goldkicks RSS subscriber & RSS technical consultant Mark Slutsky & Laura Wills (of Pony Up and recently, The Dears). Not to be confused with the 2009 film of the same name: this film has drunken fishermen in it, not France's Elvis Presley, Johnny Hallyday.

Mark Slutsky, Water Lord

Mark Slutsky on the lingering impression Vengeance made on his, prior to then, shaven life:
"This month marks my two-year beard anniversary. This beard was started
because director Lanan Adcock asked me not to shave for the month leading up to the shoot so as to create a rugged fisherman look. I liked it so much,I've had it ever since!"

Mr. Slutsky, in repose

Thursday, August 27th, 2009
Le Social
1445 Bishop Street

* Keep an eye out for their first feature, Peepers!

Pan-Atlantic Pop & Dancefloor Dilemmas

I remember being really struck by OMD's Dazzle Ships album when I listened to it a couple of years ago - the typically English fascination with World War II and skewed glances at industrial progressivism (that continues to this day, think of British Sea Power) in a concept album were more appealing than Pink Floyd to me. British pop musicians from, let's say the late 1960's on to the mid 80's, loved to use children's voices in their singles for some reason. Here are two fine examples. Genetic Engineering was a single, but (strangely) New Musik's On Islands wasn't.

Funk is not just a sound, it's a taste. A taste of the good life.

Nick Straker left New Musik to form his own project, which turned out to be more successful. For the longest time, I thought that the Nick Straker Band was a black R&B group, instead of a project fronted by a white kid from London who used to play in a wedding band. The Gap Band was, however, a black R&B group and proved their mettle in this fine display of special-effect-laden funk, as well as the bajillion other amazing songs they wrote and recorded over the course of their lengthy career.

I'm sure most of you recognize the Electric Light Orchestra song sampled on this remix of the Jungle Brothers. Best song to do the running man to, in my opinion. (For those romantic breakdancers out there, I suggest slow running man to Soul II Soul's Back To Life.) The Michael Zager Band's is a fine enough song, although Mr. Zager reveals an unseemly fascination with Gershwin during his baroque & klezmer brass-off towards in the latter half of the song. Nonetheless, there are hand-claps, disco calls, and that stellar bass-line - which make their way into this hip-house remix of the Ultramagnetic MC's Traveling at The Speed of Thought. Was hip-house as fun a genre as I think it is, or am I just inflicted with nostalgia for the early 90's, in the same way that people a couple of years my junior love Biggie Smalls?

A final thought: I would like to call a moratorium on anyone between the ages of 18 and 34 yammering on about Erik Satie. We know: you just discovered him, you love him, Parisian Bohemian Dadaist, etc. I hope they play Gymnopédie No.1 at your funeral. Did this just get added to Concordia's FFAR 250 curriculum recently? On an Animal Collective mix-tape I missed? I still claim he invented Muzak.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Soundalikes 2: From Union City to Stockholm

Ms. Kelly, applying sunscreen

Union City, Indiana's favourite sons The McCoys, notable for recording what I consider the best take on the Dorothy "Sloopy" Sloop story (Hang On, Sloopy) wrote Sorrow, which became a #4 hit for England's The Merseys, was covered by David Bowie on his Pin-Ups album, and, if my ears are correct, influenced Billy Bragg's A New England and Taken by Trees' Too Young TTA Way. (Yes, Goldkicks is as much for pedantic music lovers as it is for intellectual property lawyers.)

Phil Lynott sounds like he has a cold

Eminently tasteful music is always in great danger of becoming the soundtrack to your next car shopping experience, or given the staggering decline of the auto industry, your next brush with an iPod commercial on a transit shelter. Chairlift's Bruises* or the career of Feist, for example. Give me a softly strummed guitar, a beat you can clap along to, and a woman with a voice that shifts between tender and listless depending on the listener's mood, match that with an animated silhouette dancing on a picnic bench and we've got a campaign.

Victoria Bergsman had already proven her music licensing credentials, having sang on Peter, Bjorn & John's Young Folks, as well as with The Concretes, so felt that rather than establishing her own brand of fair trade coffee, she'd make some more music. With production duties handled by Dan Lissvik of Studio, we have the second album from her solo project, Taken By Trees' East of Eden, recorded in Pakistan and heavily referencing Sufi music, trance states and maybe even a John Steinbeck novel.

Yes, of course there's a National Geographic short film about her "journey." The album will be released by Rough Trade on September 7th.

Dan Lissvik has also recently paired up with Fredrik Lindson (of The Embassy) under the moniker The Crêpes to release a super-limited LP (& much more available mp3/CD release) called What Else? that's a soft and subtle homage to dusk, summer pop & (I'm assuming) the Traveling Wilburys.

Chairlift Bruises (Juan MacLean Remix)

Speaking of iPod commercials, here's the Juan MacLean remix, which only becomes recognizable at about 3 minutes in, and is far superior to the frightening 8-bit work-over that Passion Pit treats it to.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Speedboat Weekend

A boat.

June & July were such busts as months weather-wise, that I'm thrilled to be able to take it to the streets tomorrow for the Ste Catherine Street Sale. I'll be DJing at the American Apparel store at 1205 Ste-Catherine Est. from 2pm onwards, so come by, say hello, and block-party with me.

If you've ever made the mistake of delving into the Rockwell catalogue to discover if any of Berry Gordy's son ever matched up to the "paranoia rock" of Somebody's Watching Me, well, he never did (as you probably found out), but you were probably thrilled when Private's "Secret Lover" poppued up on your radar, as well as the various remixes that have been around on the blogs for the past couple of months. The Danish re-interpreters of 80's R&B and electro did it right on another track, Let's Make Love (Underneath the Apple Tree), this time cribbing from the same Human League cheat-sheet that The Juan MacLean had been hiding up their sleeves. And in fact, the rest of their album is full of on-target cues & sounds - enough MJisms and Stevie Wonder flourishes, but done in a fresh enough manner that it's not creepy.

Etta James, belting it out

Etta James gets the post-Pilosski treatment from Boston's Whiskey Barons, resulting in a wonderful summer BBQ stomper. It is always, always wonderful to hear a soul/R&B edit that is not Pilooski's edit of Frankie Valli's Beggin'. DJs & Sid Lee - time to leave it alone!

House Music! Passé Partouse & Tanuki: Racoon Dog

There's a Pan-Atlantic nomenclature meltdown when it comes to funky house - in my mind, I thought funky house (about as awful a genre name as one could imagine) house based around disco samples (at its most basic - Torontonian Nick Holder's Dance Dance Dance, built on a Chic song of the same name & not much else) - French Touch without the filter sweeps, while in the UK it's an off-shoot of garage music and the flipside to the dark & brooding dude kingdom of dubstep. Last year's break-out hit (uh, okay) being the above song, a Crazy Cousinz remix of Kyla's Do You Mind? This isn't the most intellectually astute stuff around, I know: note the words "funky" & "crazy", and pluralizing a noun by adding a z. Ouch. But it's a good enough pop song for me, with a Soca-beat, piano stabs & cute vocals. Recommended if you nodded along to Enur's Calabria 2007 but are programming music for your teenage cousin. *I added Calabria 2007 just 'cause it was so great.

The stellar blog Beat Electric put out a mega-post last week of American house tracks from the 80s, y'know, Adonis and Marshall Jefferson & what not, and rather than having an epiphany that, yes, this is the music I must love, I'm more dismayed that the classic house sounds like a music store clerk giving me a demo of every single feature a drum-machine has in 1987. There are notable exceptions, but D Train was more of an R&B group than a house group. Ah well, many props to everyone at Beat Electric for taking the time to put it up, & I think I'll just have to keep on digging.

Wildlife are from Brooklyn, and judging from their Myspace friend list have some tenuous connection to the Hollerboard. They also have a song called Wildlife, which makes me think that this might be the members' first band, as that's just the sort of classic first band move. Much the same in rap, where one has to follow the State Your Name, State Your Intention rule:
"My name is Jay, & I'm here to say..."
"We're here to rock the party"
If Geiger's Cocain-e appeals to you on more than a narcotic level, you'll appreciate Wildlife's mannered sound, with its not to classic 80's R&B, electro, disco and house. I'm eager to hear some remixes of Nature, maybe by Classixx or Treasure Fingers? Their first release is the International Girl EP. Scant info available on Wildlife's Myspace page.

Japophiles Take Note! Tanuki is a shape-shifting Hengu. Tanuki is the Japanese God of restaurateurs, has giant testicles, carries sake around him, is found beckoning people to enter bars or restaurants, and, as is often the case in the land of the Rising Sun, often found entering sexual congress with humans. We've got a lot in common.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bakersfield Bop & Motown Pop

Mr. David Ruffin, Ladies & Gentlemen

The Rev-Lons After Last Night
Chris Clark Love's Gone Bad
Frank Wilson Do I Love You? (Indeed I Do)
David Ruffin Anything That You Ask For

The Rev-Lons were a mid-60's girl-group from Bakersfield, California comprised of Rachel Hernandez De La Rosa, Lupe Hernandez Gaona, and Frances Hernandez Crane, put together by hard-living producer Gary Paxton, the existence of which greatly influenced jailbird producer Phil Spector in his decision to put together The Ronettes. I love the way the trio slur the word "girlfriend." An obscure track from a much-mined time in pop music history, but great nonetheless.

From there, the final three were All-Rounder staples - northern soul hits that could easily fit into a string of Motown songs but didn't depend on being well-known or a soundtrack to put feet on the dancefloor. Love's Gone Bad is powerful, snapping, and direct. Chris Clark was nicknamed "the White Negress," owing to the power of her voice & her y'know, being white. She was also Motown founder Berry Gordy's girlfriend for a time. Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) has the dubious quality of a single being known more for its price-tag (a copy sold for $37,000) than for the quality of the music, but this is one of my favourite songs. You might recognize the introduction - it was sampled by Spank Rock for Sweet Talk. David Ruffin was the bespectacled lead singer of The Temptations, known for his rich voice, a legacy of great songs, and unfortunately, shuffling away from this mortal coil much to early at the age of 50. This song has the quality of pleading married to exuberance that marks any great soul song.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fake It Till You Ja-Make It.

Althea Forrest & Donna Reid

Patchworks & Mr. Day Brothers On The Slide
Althea & Donna Uptown Ranking
Dillinger Cocaine In My Brain
Barrington Levy Here I Come
Damian Marley Welcome to Jamrock
Sister Nancy Bam Bam

Reggae, Dancehall, Dub - these are genres that I have only a passing knowledge of (unlike the devoted heads at Masala) and have never devoted enough time to speak with any authority about the music at all, much less to pass on a pastiche history of soundclashes, Studio One legends, and the potent strains of marijuana best suited for auditory hallucinations. I have no idea how a knife, a fork, a bottle and a cork spells New York. But what I do now is that the 6 songs above are extremely solid anchors with which to build a set that any hapless DJ can use. Brothers on the Slide is a cover of the Cymande original, and anyone who has been to a Bridge Burner in the past couple of years will recognize Welcome to Jamrock as Montreal's unofficial summer anthem.

Last year while I was working on Square Quotes, my co-host Alexander Buckiewicz-Smith got the chance to do an interview with Sister Nancy, now a banker in New York, to promote her appearance at the Pop Montreal International Music Festival last year. It's about 4 minutes in for the Sister Nancy Interview. (Yes, past Ali Rahman's Ira Glass impersonation.)

Bixis As Vehicles of Diversity: An Interview with Jonathan Maurice

When Morin Heights' favourite son Jonathan Maurice first rode a Bixi, the sky opened, the sun flashed, and in an instant, he was re-born. From importer of the infamous iPod Battle, he became a Bixi Supporter who may have unwittingly spilled the beans about a Communist plot to socialize transportation. (Bixis, shall I compare thee to a Lada? Though art more lovely& temperate.)

As an early adopter of the Bixi, you're uniquely qualified to offer insight and to comment on the Bixi phenomenon, the challenges it faces, and some of the great successes the program has seen in the past couple of months. When was your first Bixi ride, and what was the impetus for that ride?

As the average Montrealer, I was starting to be a little bit frightened of getting my bike stolen or vandalized every summer. It's been 15 years that I am living in this beautifull city, but it's been also 15 bikes or more I bought (actually, I did steal one back a night I have been robbed...I was drunk, far away from home and the stealer managed to leave an unlocked bike just near my stolen one...). Anyways, I was glad Montreal adopted Paris and Amsterdam's idea of sharing public bikes, so that I could ride freely, without feeling any fear of getting robbed again! The good thing is that it cost less than the price of a used Raleigh (low class) bike to get a year membership, and it does the job honnestly when getting from A to B. For the longest drives, well I guess I would have to borrow my grandma's bike. she doesn't use it anyways.

My first bixi ride was curiously when I got back from Paris in this year may. On vacation, I had the chance to try the velib (Paris' bixi equivalent) and I was waiting for the bixi to arrive in Montreal. As a matter of fact, I knew it was coming in Montreal, but I did not know it was coming the exact same date I was coming back home. When I got back, I was eager to try the new bixis so I just put my credit card and rent it for a simple ride, a pure "goingnowhere" 2 wheels roadtrip! It was a lot of fun actually! I think I went to parc Maisonneuve with a friend of mine. It even inspired me to be romantic for a short period of time, as my friend and I decided to buy some goodies at the public market to do a romantic picnic in the middle of the montreal ecosystem.

Do you see the Bixi as part of a broader civic approach to alternate forms of transportation, or is this a one-off pilot program destined to fall into disrepair with the arrival of winter?

I really foresee the Bixi as one of the elements of Montreal's mayor proud. I know that he gave himself a lot of credit for copying what Amsterdam and, more recently Paris, were already doing. He also decided to export "his" idea to Boston, London and New York, which will sooner or later have Bixis also. So for me it is inconceivable that he would stop investing in one of his favorite project! I would not be surprised that Montreal decided to heat the bike paths up this winter! Honestly, I think bixi is more of a marketing "tour de force" than any civic approach. Obviously, it sells for itself because it is a green form of transportation, but for me, it is mostly the signature of a political gesture. A political gesture yes, but at least a political gesture that is useful!

What's the smoothest thing about a Bixi ride?

The smoothest thing about a bixi ride? Hmm, I don't really think it is that smooth of a ride. The bike is really heavy and tough to run in the hills, but in a downhill situation, yesss, it is smooth. Beside that mechanical issue, I think the smoothest thing about a Bixi ride is the fact that you don't have to find a place to lock your bike. You just leave it to the stand and forget about it. If you want to go somewhere else, you go and you don't have to bother yourself of always carrying a bike from places to places. It's like having a little genie in the pocket that makes a bixi appears anywhere you need one. There is really a lot of stands, so it is not hard at all to get a bixi anywhere in the plateau, mile end or downtown area!

As a high-profile Bixi rider (you were featured prominently in a daily commuter newspaper early on in the program), do you feel any pressure to muffle your criticisms about the Bixi program, as one would with a loved, yet flawed, family member?

Not at all. Maybe if they'd paid me though, but even then... And by the way, I hope I am not seen as an ambassador of the Bixis. I was just happy to offer myself as a satisfied user of the bixis for the medias, but the city didn't ask me anything, so I don't feel like I owe anything to the city at all.

What are some of the cosmetic and structural changes you would make to the Bixi?

I don't really care about the cosmetic of the Bixis. I am totally aware that they are far from being as sexy as the fixed gear bikes per example, but for me, the usage of a Bixi is everything except sexy. Sexiness is for cupid and individual purposes. Bixis are mostly element of a communist or communitarian philosophy, which endorse common sense and compromise, more than eccentricity and style. Maybe someday, when our society will become totally narcissistic, we'll remember the Bixis as the good old age of our past humanity, and than, they will become sexy...maybe. I don't know. I just suddenly feel so visionary!

Anyhow, the system is not perfect. Sometimes the stands are broken or the key doesn't work, but again, it is like in the former CCCP, I am sure the Ladas were not always the best reliable cars, but they were almost free!

Who do you think the typical Bixi rider is, and do you think with the program's success, a whole subculture might develop around the Bixi? What would tie together the various practitioners of the Bixi Lifestyle?

Again, as a broad public initiative, it is really unlikely to develop some kind of a ghetto usage of the bixis. I think it will be hard to identify any tendency or fashion around it. You will always find fat tourists, as well as hipsters around a Bixi stand. That's the beauty of the thing. It is democratic. It represents our diversity. For some purists, Bixis will never worth a try, but again, I am ok with that. It leaves more Bixis for my usage.

iPod Battle #1, 2006
featuring such titans of the Montreal music world as Mike Durcak, John Lee, Peer Pressure, Christopher Pare, Baz, Annie Q, Heidy Pinet, Guillaume Decouflet (pre-Khiasma days), Mange ta Ville, & me with a terrible haircut.

Monday, August 17, 2009

All-Rounder est mort.

91 editions of the All-Rounder, and finally, the lumbering & genre-swappin' night that is the All-Rounder is laid to rest. In honour of the sweaty times, the wonderful times, and the excessive times, here are a number of mp3s culled from the archives to celebrate 2 years or so of whatever it was that was going on in Montreal's favourite unlabeled bar. I'll add more throughout the week. Thanks to all of our guests, the staff & owners of Korova, everyone who stopped by to imbibe or dance or both, & everyone else. Enjoy!

Montell Jordan, Disco Divas & Kraut Rock

Could it have been that wise to own a parrot during the cocaine excess of the disco years?

In 1999, Kappa Alpha Psi frat brother and R&B superstar Montell Jordan took a trick from the Puff Daddy toolbox, sampling Claudja Barry's Love For the Sake of Love for his chart-topping single Get It On Tonite, the video of which featured an early example of text-message infidelity, making a case for the zeitgeist-anticipating qualities of the R&B genre. In 1980 was there a rock band with a track as prescient as Ronnie Jones' Video Games? (Incidentally, that song was also produced by Claudja Barry's pet-producer, who I discuss later). Not likely!

David Shaw is one-half of the Loose Joints duo here in Montreal, an incredibly talented graphic designer, and an extremely nice & hilarious guy to boot. He's also associated with the international DJ & production cartel Attitude City. For whatever reason, David & Davey Lahteenma (the other 1/2) are one of Montreal's best kept secrets - mixing & mastering for years and earning them the righteous love and appreciation of everyone who ever manages to catch their set, as well as bringing in Hercules & Love Affair, Brennan Green, Mike Simonetti & countless other guests before their big moments in the blogspotlight. Hopefully I'll have some other edits to post in the next little while, but in the mean-time, here's a live-set of David Shaw recorded last year entitled Disco's Dead. (Full-disclosure, I had the great privilege to DJ with him this past Saturday at Pop Montreal's Italo Disco Bike In and it was awesome.)

And now to our diva... Jamaican-transplant turned Torontonian Claudja Barry left Boney M in 1976 to pursue her own singing career, and thank God, because it gave us many great & fine songs, not the least of which is the simple and strutting song Love For The Sake of Love, the b-side to 1976's Sweet Dynamite. Production duties on this (and many other Claudja Barry tracks) were handled by German producer Jurgen S. Korduletsch, who prior to this was working with kraut-rockistes Amon Düül II.

Kraut-rock & disco are not mutually exclusive, which is where Can's I Want More comes in. Also released in 1976 (on the album Flow Motion), the seemingly disparate worlds of the dancefloor & Deutschland find themselves in perfect union here, and thus became their only Top 40 hit in the UK and earned them a slot on Top of the Pops. The guitar-work & full-group vocals on this song are amazing, and the organ-stab anticipates the same stab on Diana Ross' My Old Piano.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sounds Like Walking or Running

The Crystals, many years after recording Da Doo Ron Ron

There are certain songs that, owing to that bizarre alchemical process known as "record production" produce in me a physical desire to not dance, but to move forward somehow - usually run, sometimes just walk and skip a bit - but propel my body forward. In the case of these two songs, I've managed to narrow it down to two elements - piano arpeggios and tympani. Although none of Philip Glass' compositions produce the same effect, so maybe I'm off-base. Or is it just that one song mentions walking specifically, and in the other, "ron ron" could be misheard as "run run?"

The Crystals' Da Doo Ron Ron is a lovely bit of nonsense written by song-writing duo Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich and produced by Phil Spector. You know it, no doubt.

I first heard (Walkin' Thru The) Sleepy City on Metamorphosis, a spectacular collection of Rolling Stones' singles, demos and b-sides from their early career under the tutulage of Andrew Loog Oldham that's frequently spotted at used record stores and well worth the $3 or so one has to put down to own it. Some of the songs on the collection recorded as demos to be shopped around to other groups, and such is the case with this one. The Mighty Avengers (or their producer) foolishly decided to bury the piano in the mix, and there's a naivety in the vocals that pales in comparison to the y'know, transcendent snarl & knowingness of Mr. Jagger in the Rolling Stones' version. (Another similar sounding song worth your time in the collection is I'd Much Rather Be With the Boys)

So, is it just the title then that compels me to walk or run? Let's see. Here we have two songs with the same title that are vastly different in terms of subject matter. The Supremes' Run, Run, Run is a strangely off song written for the group by Motown's sweetest song-writing trio Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1964 that resulted in a dismal chart-showing. The Velvet Underground's Run, Run, Run performed even more dismally on the charts, of course, although at this juncture it's the more well-known of the two. Neither of these songs make me want to move much.

Your step-father, before he met your mother...

There's an unrepeatable story that explains the ubiquitous use of the term "Night Moves" amongst my friends, but like most inside jokes and small infants in the wild, it wouldn't last very long out of the watchful eyes of its creators. And it's not that much easier to speak about one of Detroit's many favourite journeyman musicians Bob Seger, either. His name brings up images of an earnest and bearded man who was never as cool as Bruce Springsteen nor as unbearable as John Cougar Mellancamp, but occupied a similar niche for men of a certain age, of a certain class, and probably a certain type of beer, too. (Is that why his backing band is called the Silver Bullet Band?) Step-father rock, but not Steve Earle.

So, I'll talk about the song, despite the salacious and entirely unwholesome imagery and memories the phrase conjurs up in my mind, this song is a soft and endearing bit of roots rock with piano that recalls The Band or alternately predicts Bruce Hornsby's playing on The Way It Is, more than the honky tonking it was probably intended to recall. So, for all of you working men & working men's offspring, who will be finishing their work late this evening, after hoisting bails of hay or tool-boxes or hefty grant applications, this is an appropriate song for which to end the working day, allowing you to segue into more ironic and rocking territory before hoisting bottles of beers to your weary, bearded faces. Oh shit, this is a song about one night stands? Weird.

Cut Copy's I Thought of Numbers EP (2001)

The other day, I was thinking that there should be another Cut Copy album coming down the pipeline, and lo and behold, no word of anything yet. Alas. The Australians are easily one of my favourite electro groups around today, managing to penetrate my low-level hostility and antipathy towards that continent. To tide myself over, I returned to their 2001 debut EP, I Thought of Numbers, from which the songs above are taken. Rendezvous best bears the Cut Copy sonic stamp of the three songs here - the rolling synth-lines, disaffected vocals, and chopped vocal samples: not quite ready for the dancefloor yet, though. Drop the Bomb sounds a bit like the Avalanches, or the Bumblebeez or the hybrid edits that Jacques Renault specializes in - certainly more of a UK break influence being felt at this time, while Standing Up Sitting Down is a faux-Teutonic head-nodder that eventually morphs into a sample-fueled disco mid-tempo work-out.

You can still buy a 12" from Modular that has four of the songs on it.

As an addenda to yesterday's Fleetwood Mac post, here's Australia's favourite Golden Boys re-mixing another Christine McVie song from the So Cosmic mixtape that they put out last year. The layers of jet-propelled melancholy are perfect if you find yourself biking up a mountain an hour before sunset or so.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Slinging Summer Sounds

I remember playing the hell out of the A. Skillz vs. Beat Vandals mashup a couple of years ago, and only being vaguely conscious of the sample. Didn't give it much thought. It took the fine aural instincts of my friend Mauricio to tie it back to Lucy Pearl at first, and Roy Ayers later. As you can see, the song's been many things to many people in the 30 plus years since it was first released: popping up to nod heads with Brand Nubian; providing credentials for Mary J. Blige's snoozeworthy My Life, with production reminscient of Gospel-pop; with the creases ironed out in Naughty by Nature's libidinal labial lyric, and done the best way, I believe, by Lucy Pearl, that oft-missed super-group comprised of the ever-dapper Raphael Saadiq*, Dawn Robinson of En Vogue, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest.

First, here's the classic title track from the debut album by Oakland's Souls of Mischief, which includes a sample from the song Stratus from fusion drummer Billy Cobham, who kept musical company with Mr. Ayers.

Who knew the Friday soundtrack would be so popular and strike such a chord well into the 21st century? Ice Cube? I still get at least a couple of search referrals every day from people looking for an mp3 of 2 Live Crew's Hoochie Mama that I posted years ago, so I figured I'd satisfy at least 100 of them until the Yousendit link runs out. Probably familiar with the song, but if not, listen & sing along "Hood Rat, Hood Rat, Hoochie Mama!"

* He just released a fun video for "Let's Take A Walk" last month.

It was all a Mirage, I used to read West Coast Magazine...

Paranoia, Jealousy, Hand-Tinted Photographs

When it comes to Fleetwood Mac, there are a couple of idées fixes that I tend to harp on about when the topic inevitably arrives. First, there's my suspicion that when Lindsey Buckingham wrote 1986's Everywhere, he was either directly or indirectly paying homage to the Talking Heads' This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody), which was released in 1983 (and with the intro, possibly the sound logo of Disney's Buena Vista). Both of these songs are passable as hipster mating calls, which would explain the following videos.

MGMT cover The Talking Heads

Vampire Weekend cover Fleetwood Mac

Secondly, that a couple of years ago, Fleetwood Mac's Tusk album was the album that allowed people of my age and generation the chance to re-evaluate Fleetwood Mac, primarily because the strange excess and weirdness of the album itself and the recording process gave us permission to. That was followed by an embracing of Tango In The Night (I'm thinking now of CFCF's great re-working as evidence), and that we'll shortly be in the age of Mirage, after which there will be a Photian Schism for a couple of years while various sects develop around The Cult of Peter Green, The Gospel of Christine McVie (née Perfect), The Doctrine of Stevie Nicks, & maybe even The Decrees of Mick Fleetwood's Zoo (that's least likely, I think.)

So, what's going to give us all permission to delve into Mirage? Truthfully, the nasally voice of Stevie Nicks has always rubbed me slightly the wrong way, to say little of her neo-gypsy art school teacher outfits (I hate free spirits), so it's going to be a Christine McVie song first, Love In Store, which is awesome in much the same way that the Grateful Dead's Touch of Grey is awesome, and has given me great results as a late-night dancefloor closer.

After Love In Store, my next pick on the album is the 9th track. The opening piano roll of Hold Me is a compelling dance-floor shuffler that eventually picks up steam & becomes a near-perfect expression of desire and the anticipated satisfaction of that desire.

Christine McVie back when her last name was Perfect

Finally, there's the album closer, Christine McVie's ballad Wish You Were Here, reportedly about her deceased lover Dennis Wilson (of The Beach Boys). Incidentally and (by now) obviously, I love Christine McVie's voice, and how much does Victoria Legrand of Beach House's voice sound similar? Just prior to Christine McVie joining Fleetwood Mac, she recorded and released a solo album called Christine Perfect that I would highly recommend to anyone else enamored with her voice. Here she sings noticeably deeper, and the music is bluesier than her later solo work, especially on a cover of Etta James' I'd Rather Go Blind and my personal favourite, No Road is The Right Road, which is the stylistic forerunner of Holly Golightly's There Is An End.

This could all be moot, though. It's been a long time since I've mp3 blogged, and maybe now we've all got rid of our musical hang-ups, which would go a long way to explain the widespread enthusiasm for the Italo Disco Bike-In this weekend.

Lindsey Buckingham pays tribute to Adam Ant & the Nouveau Pirate Movement

Kano's "Don't Try To Stop Me" & Ring My Bell: Pop Montreal Italo Disco Bike-In

A sleeper Italo Disco Funk hit from Kano from their 1981 album New York Cake. It's a super fun boogie vocoder-laced workout, similar to their dance-floor slayer I'm Ready.

I'll be DJing (as Jay Watts III, natch) the 3rd Annual Pop Montreal Bike-In this weekend, along with the ever-talented Why Alex, Why?, David Shaw (Loose Joints), and Bethany Benzur (New York City) at Terrace McAuslan. In previous years, the themes have been R. Kelly & Bollywood, (I'm hoping next year it'll be a Hip-House Bike-In) while this year we'll be celebrating the artistic heights that the greats of Italo Disco managed to scale. If the names Kano, Jimmy Ross, Scotch, Carmen, & Pineapples mean anything to you, or you consider the ouevre of Ken Laszlo to be beyond compare, then I'm sure you'll appreciate the night.

There's also a screening of Michaelangelo Antonioni's dubious masterwork Blow Up happening at dusk. All free, just pay for your drinks & food!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Art Garfunkel's "Break Away" & Non-Canonical Yacht Rock

Discovering non-canonical yacht rock songs is one of the true and distinct pleasures of searching for music. While it's always interesting to re-discover the familiar songs of the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, and the rest of the giants of the 70's soft rock pantheon, it's a far rarer and more delightful treat to come across a song that, given my age, has passed me by or never even got the chance to. The titular track from Art Garfunkel's second solo album, Break Away is just such a song. Penned by Gallagher & Lyle, the Scottish songwriting duo who also wrote A Heart in New York, which Simon & Garfunkel sang at their concert in Central Park. (Garfunkel's version sounds like Chicago, incidentally.)

Art Garfunkel's voice doesn't crack here or warble, an affectation that served him well in his songs with Paul Simon, but marred some of his solo work. I'm thinking specifically of the verses in I Believe (When I Fall in Love it Will be Forever), which is far too insistent a song to fall under the rubric of yacht rock. More a raft caught in a squall, than the pleasurecrafting of Break Away.

Guests on Garfunkel's "Break Away" album include Paul Simon, Toni Tennille of Captain & Tennille, Graham Nash & David Crosby, & Beatles-friend & former Manfred Mann member Klaus Voorman.

What are the qualities of a yacht rock song, good or bad? Obviously, from the great television show of the same name, we can find out that it's the smoothness of the sound and generally written and performed by a group of associated musicians in Southern California during the 70's, but this song doesn't fit that description and yet it's definitely yacht rock. The jazz-inflection, the presence of a Rhodes piano, vocal harmonies, an easy and gentle tempo: these are a few of the obvious signifiers.

Does The Black Ghosts It's Your Touch count as a contemporary yacht-rock song? I'd generally say not, though it's certainly smoother. Closer to Sade and Zima commercials, though. The Black Ghosts is a bizarre Hammer Horror British Noirist recording project from Simon Lord of Simian Mobile Disco and Theo Keaitng of The Wiseguy. I don't know how I feel about this song, really. I liked the sound and the production (it certainly reminds me of Phoenix) but the vocals lag and commit the familiar British crime of the Pitch Shift Whine that annoys me about Muse, Radiohead, and Elbow, to cite a few of the major offenders.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Jens, meet The Chairmen of the Board. Gentlemen, meet Jens. Oh, wait, it appears you've already met. Our Swedish friend Jens is, of course, no stranger to the curious desire and pull that influences, conscious or not, can exert on one's work. In previous songs, he's graciously lifted from The Left Banke, Belle and Sebastian, and The Mamas & The Papas, and in deference to our esteemed corporate friends above, Mr. Lekman has often launched into a cover of Give Me Just A Little More Time during his performances. Pop!

Sinbad Richardson directs a new video for Think About Life's Sweet Sixteen.

The Friends & Fellow Travelers at Pop Montreal are putting on the Passion Pit show this Thursday at Sala Rosa. It's all sold out online, and I imagine the last 10 tickets available at Casa del Popolo will be gone by the time it opens its doors in 45 minutes.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Nice Day for a Bixi

Richmond Lam
, photographer & general nice fellow, had his first taste of the Garden of Earthly Delights yesterday when he rode Bixi for the first time. Citing a broken bicycle (he's going to get it fixed soon, he says) as the impetus for his first foray into Bixi land, the young man took to it like Icarus to his wax-wings, but without the melting and crashing. Remarkably solid things, those Bixis, and as our hero demonstrates above, mocassin-friendly.

(Yes, Eve, the Ganakoo is real.)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Get To Know Your Bixi Rider

Nevermind about dogs you can ride, let's talk Bixi. Montreal's own bicycle-taxi system, The Bixi, has been keeping me laughing since I first saw one of those things, and recently, I've become a bit obsessed with the Bixi Lifestyle. So much so, that I'm about to go all Midnight Poutine and develop a new feature called Get To Know Your Bixi Rider, in which I adopt the traditional man-on-the-street approach and interview Bixi lovers, novices and afficianados alike about the Bixi: its culture and history, and the impact of the Bixi on the lives of those who ride Bixi.

Who is your typical Bixi rider? Is there even an average Bixi rider, or does the convenience and spirit of the Bixi transcend all barriers between people?

If Arrested Development were around today, Jeb would not ride a Segway. No. He would zoom around Orange County in comfort and style astride his Bixi.

Ex-patriate Frenchman cultural critic and blogger Fabien Loszach (of the Almost As Cool As Fighting blog) and I were taking the air, as it were, biking to see the MSO perform a number of crowd-pleasing favourites in Parc Ahuntsic on an overcast Thursday (that turned foul hours later), when he told me of the seminal indie-rock band, The Bixies and their sleeper-classic, Where is my Bike? A week later to the day, my bicycle would be gone - stolen from outside of my house, not 50 feet from a Bixi docking station. If it were a particularly slow newsweek, I imagine my conversion from 10-speed Plateau-ish cyclist to a full-on Bixi rider would earn me a place in the Montreal Gazette's lifestyle section - a wide-angle photograph of me crossing my arms by the spot where my bicycle was stolen under the headline, "Bike Bandits have this Boy Whistlin' Bixi."

From now on, whenever you think about Bixi (and trust me, you will), visit Goldkicks. In the coming weeks, we'll be talking to the people that make Bixi what it is, representatives of the Bixi subculture, Bixi detractors, and get to the bottom of the painfully unsuccessful and bizarre Bixi thefts. Bixi Branding - what is it, and does it work? Do you find the Bixi is compelling enough as a concept? Does it emotionally resonate with you, or is the Bixi Identity too utilitarian? Can a Bixi be sexy? All these questions will be answered, and new ones will undoubtedly arise, as we chart the exciting life and times of the Bixi.

Other Notes