Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Elli et Jacno - 'Je t'aime tant' 1982

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sanctified Women

The posthumous album has one of hell of a bad name (colloquially known as "cash-grab") with just about everyone except record executives, the unscrupulous producers who remix them, and any label-associated young buck who got to spit some lyrics along with Notorious BIG or Tupac, without any of the self-doubt that would come with being matched up with such a towering figure. Guy can't call you out on your weak lines - he's dead!

So, naturally, you gotta be skeptic when you come across an album like Marvin Gaye's Dream of a Lifetime, released in 1985, a year after he passed on to the other side. Thankfully, this is no collection of half-realized songs stretched out, with talentless hacks contributing vocal overdubs and other stylistic . It's a little rough around the edges, yes, but kind of awesome, too. And it's alternately raunchy and tender, with songs like Savage in the Sack, Masochistic Beauty*, and Sanctified Lady (a gospel electro-funk workout initially titled Sanctified Pussy) matched up with a smooth, rolling song like Symphony. And at the helm, long-time Gaye collaborator, Gordon Banks.

Another Gaye collaborator, Leon Ware worked with Quincy Jones on his 1974 sexually charged album, Body Heat, co-writing the title track.

And... From the soundtrack to the (bizarrely titled) film Soup For One, comes a spectacular R&B jam courtesy of Fonzi Thornton, produced by Chic with that same great piano, bass and guitar interplay that's unsurpassed in the genre.

On a similar tip, check out Rilly Guilty and Fiend's R&B and funk mix, hosted by the fine folks at Lookout.

* Sample lyrics: "If you do it right, you get the pipe." "It's my duty, to spank your booty."

Friday, November 05, 2010

House-Making Cinema

Films T.V. Phone Age

One-hit wonders The Maisonettes' hit Heartache Avenue, all Motown bluster and swagger, was most recently sampled to good effect by UK garage-ists Roll Deep, for The Avenue. Films were a Japanese new-wave group. Their first and only album Misprint bears paying some attention to, combining Abba-esque harmonies, new-wave fuzz, bubbly energy, and saccharine synth lines. In the case of Radio Zone, there's also some very liberal borrowing from an 80's hit for the verse that I can't put my finger on. (Give me a weekend).

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Photograph by Aneta Bartos
Luxuria Redneck
Colin Newman Better Late Than Never

Luxuria was Howard Devoto's post-Magazine project.
Colin Newman is the solo outing of the Wire frontman.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Didion's Interminable Documentary

"To have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference. If we do not respect ourselves, we are on the one hand forced to despise those who have so few resources as to consort with us, so little perception as to remain blind to our fatal weaknesses. On the other, we are peculiarly in thrall to everyone we see, curiously determined to live out – since our self-image is untenable – their false notion of us. We flatter ourselves by thinking this compulsion to please others an attractive trait: a gist for imaginative empathy, evidence of our willingness to give. Of course I will play Francesca to your Paolo, Helen Keller to anyone’s Annie Sullivan; no expectation is too misplaced, no role too ludicrous. At the mercy of those we cannot but hold in contempt, we play roles doomed to failure before they are begun, each defeat generating fresh despair at the urgency of divining and meeting the next demand made upon us.

It is the phenomenon sometimes called ‘alienation from self.’ In its advanced stages, we no longer answer the telephone, because someone might want something; that we could say no without drowning in self-reproach is an idea alien to this game. Every encounter demands too much, tears the nerves, drains the will, and the specter of something as small as an unanswered letter arouses such disproportionate guilt that answering it becomes out of the question. To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves – there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home."

- From On Self Respect, Joan Didion

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


You know, it's all great for Diamond Rings and all, but man, is that record boring. Put the Silly Kissers on the cover of Exclaim already, please.


Friday, October 22, 2010

666th Post - Grimes By Cotton Mouth

Grimes Devon (Cotton Mouth Remix)

"It's got samples from A Guy Called Gerald, Talking Heads, a miami bass group called Rican Crew, and most of the beat is from "Beat Bop" by Rammellzee and K.Rob, "produced" by Jean-Michel Basqiuat."
- Martin Horn, Cotton Mouth

Arbutus continues its long ascendancy to that great plane where crucial and relevant music is made with some more of their remixes. In this case, fellow Montreal-er and studio wizard (owner and producer at Digital Bird) Martin Horn, known to many as Cotton Mouth, takes a stab at Grimes' Devon and comes up with a beautiful Colin Newman-esque variation on an ethereal classic. 4AD or Mute should be on the phone in minutes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Goldkicks Loves Arbutus Records

I've never made a secret of my undying affection for the Silly Kissers (and the rest of the Arbutus Records stable!), and of course, it's an affection that's shared by others with more musical skill than I, which is why I'm really excited that this came to fruition. I'm super-pleased to present a special collaboration between Arbutus Records and three amazing artists, with minimal executive production assistance from myself. Jack Tennis, Sven Gully, and Martin Horn of Cotton Mouth contribute three different takes on You Could Even Like Me. Big-ups to Marilis Cardinal (super-PRista!) for making this all happen!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Manage Directionless

For more on early to mid-80's conceptual video-art and pop music, I refer you to a March post on Lynn Goldsmith's Will Powers project.

On October 2nd, I'll be moderating a discussion for the symposium portion of the Pop Montreal International Music Festival called From The Crate to the Dropbox. Panelists for the discussion include Jason Sigal, the Managing Director of the Free Music Archive; Yuani Fragata, Executive Producer of Radio-Canada's Bande à part program, Mike Silver (known to most as CFCF), and one more TBA. The event starts at 2pm, and takes place at the Agora Hydro-Quebec at 200 Sherbrooke Ouest.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Friday, August 06, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010


Linkwood Who La La?

I can't make the show tonight, but if you're in Montreal, do stop by Velvet tonight and check Linkwood out!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Don't You Want My Love?

The Caribou DJ night was great, thanks to everyone who came out, Dubinsky (natch) and Frontrunners. Lots more stuff coming up for the rest of the summer and into the fall.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Weekend Re-cap

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Eli Escobar

LOVE THING E.P. by EliEscobar

I'm far more partial to the classic house and disco vibes that are all over Love Thing Part 2, but that's not to say that this first legally-downloadable track (courtesy of RCRDLBL), featuring Amanda Blank, doesn't have some compelling moments to it, notably the sparse use of strings and the acid-tinged piano-roll elements towards the end. All the more reason to cop all of the single on Beatport (now) or iTunes (when it launches on July 13th).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cherry Chapstick

Cherry Chapstick are a Montreal-based trio who got in touch earlier today with a couple of recent tracks. Members Nigel Ward, Evan Mullen, and Julian Flavin operate in the preternaturally talented world of unabashed pop music that's been percolating in Montreal for the past couple of years, amongst groups like Blue Hawaii, Pop Winds, the Silly Kissers, with some stylistic nods to groups like Lo-Fi FNK and The Avalanches. Kind of makes sense that second track here is a remix of the Silly Kissers song from the recent Arbutus Records 10" of the same name.

Monday, June 21, 2010



Woah, majorly fun weekend, starting with a Thursday evening meal with Richmond, Mike and Chris at Kazu. Hands-down the best Japanese food I've had in Montreal, which might seem like faint praise, but it was really astonishing. A lot of the items we wanted to try were sold out (like the Tuna Belly), but we still had some amazing pork back, the 48 hour pork dish, and a grilled fish head that at $10 was the total steal on the menu. Actually, the whole meal was incredibly cheap, including the Asahi beers that were essential to knock back in the hot & humid environment. The staff were personable, funny and energetic. There'll be people lined up outside for the rest of the summer, I bet. If you get a chance to eat there, sit at the bar. Mike liked it so much he went back for lunch a couple of days later.

Anyways, the rest of the weekend was great - amazing wedding, met some awesome people, danced a lot, hung out at the street sale, had some great salmon tartare and kirs at le Petit Italien on Bernard, got a purple Hugo Boss hooded sweatshirt, enjoyed the magic o' Montreal in the summer.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

O hell! to choose love by another's eyes

I think that David Ruffin had one of the richest, deepest, most profound voices in soul music, with a tragic backstory to match. I love Marvin Gaye, but at times, the pleading in his voice can be too much. I read somewhere that he always had an uneasy time deciding between the Bible and the Bedroom, and perhaps this was what lead him to certain areas where the nervous tension was evident in his voice. Certainly on his divorce settlement album, 1978's Here, My Dear the self-pitying, hostility and sarcasm is so thick that could almost erase all of the good will the man built up for himself through all the other great music he gave us, where not human vulnerability such a crucial component to great soul music.

Ruffin's desperation was of a different sort all together, accompanied by the octave-jumping vocal acrobatics that has been so thoroughly perverted by contemporary soul and vocalists, with their overly trained voices and artificial throat bubbles. Anyways, these songs are best enjoyed without my off-base commentary, and I've got to run to prepare for a wedding tomorrow - one of those life and love affirming events that get me all sentimental and appreciative.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Calyspo Rum Hut

It's much easier to have ideas than it is to follow through with them - to exist in the realm of the kinetic, the sphere of potential, the vortex of hope! Once you get past the inevitable disappointment of failing at a project, and come to terms with the fact that you're not going to get everything done, you're open to a world of satisfaction that you haven't experienced since your childhood. It's important you follow through with some things, but really, is anybody upset because da Vinci never got around to making that helicopter?

Such was it with my failed coming-of-age script about a Calypso singer prodigy at a beach resort in Trinidad in the early 1960's. (Okay, not anything like da Vinci's helicopter - only that it was unfinished.) It was to be the calypso world's The Harder They Come, but with a much younger kid, some shark-skin suits and an appearance by an actor playing Robert Mitchum. I did the research, hungered for bake and shark, listened to countless hours of calypso (and really got fixated on Lord Kitchener, specifically because of the lewdness and humour - qualities I wouldn't really appreciate in any other genre except maybe Bmore, and that didn't exist in the Muppets' Pig Calypso), but couldn't figure out anything to propel the plot along. Dead end.

So, in honour of another failure, here are some calypso songs, including a steelpan cover of the Gwen McCrae funk classic 90% Of Me Is You, and Lord Kitchener's thoughtful contribution to horoscopes, romance, and astrology. I can't say I agree entirely with His Highness, but nonetheless, the lyrics are excerpted below.

August September and October, it will be Virgo, Scorpio and Libra,
Well the girls that were born under these three signs,

They like they like the English weather fortune change their minds,

Especially those born under Scorpio,
They just tell you yes and then they change to no,

And that is why i would rather be,

In love with a girl born January.

Well November and December don't trust their sight,

They like angels in the day and devils at night,

And that is why I would rather be,

In love with a girl born January...

Lord Kitchener, January Girls

Unrelated, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the apparent trustworthiness of the bearded male. Word. Link courtesy of fellow barberousse Cameron Reed/Babe Rainbow.

Keepin' Love Fine

For the longest time I thought that trainspotting referred to spotting musical references and cues in songs. As the train came to be replaced by other, more dominant modes of transportation in the 20th century and the wireless radio (and the BBC?) became responsible for transmitting key cultural elements of the British identity, the same fervor and fanaticism that doddering old bachelors in Harris tweeds displayed for jotting down the numbers and schedules of trains as they passed by was extended to the world of music, and the word trainspotting was adapted to that. Trainspotting actually refers to a method of heroin injection.

I say this with all the love in my heart (because 1) I have nothing but admiration for Nick Hillhiser and Alex Frankel of Holy Ghost* and 2) I really think, as the Van Pelt said, there's no problem stealing from our favorite thieves, especially in music), but tell me there isn't a bit of a touch of Holy Ghost's I Will Come Back on XYZ' Dancin', Breakin', Tonight? Specifically the cadence and lyrical style at the opening verse. By the time the chorus pops up, however, XYZ has jumped off fully into the musical territory favored by the programmers of bumper music for early 90's sports shows.

This is the opening track from XYZ' Disco Charts Vol. 1 released in 1984, which has an absolutely , and was written by Denny Motion. Mr. Motion's previous musical credit was as the titular head of the Denny Motion Group, on a 1981 LP Small Talk. The liner notes implore you to "Let Denny Motion carry you off to his contemporary guitar land. Let him accompany you to happy, gay parties. Journey through lovely countrysides and join in with his romantic feelings, far away from dull every day life." Sure!

* The Trinity/Triune God: Father = LCD Soundsystem, Son = Juan McLean, Holy Ghost = Holy Ghost.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Perfect Love

Thanks for the photo, Chris!
Krisp Sunlight

I saw Xavier Dolan's most recent film, Les amours imaginaires with Chris last night, and it was really good - about twice as much as I'd expected. I'll write more about it and the sound design of the film later, but until then, I'm on a combination new house and early 80's R&B/funk kick. From 1982, this is Krisp with Sunlight on Indigo Records, a one-off featuring members of Aurra, Civil Attack and Rajac.

And lest you think that all Nigeria had to commit to the world of funk was Afrobeat and the brood of Fela Kuti, the second track is the opening cut on the second side from Al Diamond's 1983 album Call Me Up. Don't Steam Me Up seems to be the counterpart to the titular track's demand, where Mr. Diamond regrets her answering that call.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Prends Ca Court: Outdoor Cinema in Montreal

Na Wewe

Next week, after the gigantic mess that is Grand Prix takes leave of our fair city, cooler and more civilized heads will prevail with an evening of award-winning short films at the Monument National Theatre. Five bones only, list below!

6pm Friday, June 18th at Monument National, 1182 Boulevard Saint-Laurent. $5.

  • LES BARBARES de Jean-Gabriel Périot (France)
  • SINNA MANN de Anita Killi (Norvège) - Prix du public et Meilleure animation, Clermont-Ferrand 2010
  • MY INVISIBLE FRIEND de Pablo Larcuen (Espagne) - Sélection officielle, Sundance 2010
  • TROLLS de Brianne Nord-Stewart (Canada) - Une des meilleures comédies de l'année!
  • ¿DONDE ESTA KIM BASINGER? de Édouard Déluc (France) - Nomination César 2010, Prix du public, Festival de Bruxelles et Festival de Brest 2010, Bayard d'Or du meilleur film, Namur 2010, Grand Prix et Prix Canal +, Clermont-Ferrand 2010
  • THE GROUND BENEATH de Rene Hernandez (Australie) - Nomination Oscar 2010, Best short, Aspen 2009
  • A GENTLE CREATURE de Marc James Roels (Belgique) - Meilleur court belge, Festival Leuven ainsi que Festival film Ghent
  • RAYMOND A PEUT-ÊTRE LA RAGE de Ramiro Bélanger (Québec) - Sélection COURTS DU QUÉBEC à Cannes 2010, Boston underground film festival 2010
  • OLD FANGS de Adrien Merigeau (Irlande) - Sélection officielle, Sundance 2010
  • NA WEWE de Ivan Goldschmidt (Belgique) - Prix du public, Festival du court métrage de Bruxelles 2010
  • CHIENNE D’HISTOIRE de Serge Avédikian (France) - Palme d’or du court métrage, Cannes 2010
  • LOVE PATATE de Gilles Cuvelier (France) - Semaine de la critique, Cannes 2010
  • THE NEW TENANTS de Joachim Back (Danemark) - Oscar du meilleur court métrage 2010
  • HORTUM de Ayse Altinok (Pays-Bas) - Sélection officielle, Cannes 2010
  • GLEN OWEN DODDS de Frazer Bailey (Australie) - Prix Canal +, Clermont-Ferrand 2010. Une des meilleures comédies de l'année!
  • LES SAUVAGES de Antoine Cuypers (Belgique) - Une des meilleures comédies de l'année!
  • THE LOST THING de Andrew Ruhemann et Shaun Tan (Australie) - En première mondiale, cette semaine, Festival d'Annecy

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Solvent Abuse

Pavement Gold Soundz

I remember the depleting ozone layer being a gigantic concern when I was in elementary school, late 80's, early 90's... There was a big hole the size of some state that only gets mentioned in Jeopardy questions about constitutional amendments or as a size comparison. The area was semi-tropical and green grass grew year around, I guess. People were told to stop using hairspray, and a lot of people did, although that was mostly because it went out of style and maybe also because of Jennifer Anniston. You know, important stuff. Concerns. Worries.

I haven't heard many people talk about the depleting ozone layer recently. I'm no scientist, but I guess it's because it's gone. No more ozone layer. And I think the biggest culprit? Graffiti artists. If you spend enough time with , you begin to realize that they're operating on a slightly, uh, different level thanks to years of inhaling the fumes. So just take the cumulative effects of an entire decade and beyond of tagging, spraying, and community organizations sponsoring graffiti walls and shitty murals and apply it to the ozone layer and, well, it's obvious... Graffiti artists killed the ozone layer.

Anyways, long time coming, but this day is gonna suck. Last year at this time I was starting a new job, which was pretty great. This year, not so good. Good riddance, June 10th!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Australia: The Maligned Continent II

Tame Impala Lucidity

About a month ago, I was talking to my friend Adrian (who just returned from an extended visit a couple of months back) about Australia and the general consensus was... Maybe Australia isn't crappy. Beaches, nice weather, good fashion mags. Another feather in the cap of that great southern landmass is Tame Impala, who specialize in blissed out psych-rock. The above track is from their album Innerspeaker, which was recorded with production assistance from Kevin Holmes of Death in Vegas. Like other good things (Cut Copy!), they're on Modular Recordings.

Rap Traxx 3: Redhead was a Kingpin

Probably the single most important tape that I ever owned in grade school, outside of a Fats Domino greatest hits cassette, was the third installment of the Rap Traxx compilations, put out by Polytel. There was a desperate bid to buy a 2 Live Crew cassette from the older brother of some girl in my class when he found an unspooled copy of it in a trashcan below the playground that never worked out (probably for the best), so about as nasty as I got to be was Redhead Kingpin and the FBI's Pump It Hottie, the final song on the cassette. While significantly less conscious-expanding than Do The Right Thing (with its sample of George McCrae's I Get Lifted, the titular song also samples the Tom Tom Club years before Mariah Carey), I could never really get into songs with siren samples in it (sorry, KRS-One and Public Enemy). I never really understood how Redhead was a Kingpin, presumably a mythical criminal of sorts, and also at once, the leader of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

I think I probably played played Kid n' Play's House Party soundtrack just as much, but didn't enjoy it as thoroughly. And then I bought the first soundtrack to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie for an exorbitant amount on CD.

On a similar tip for all Montreal readers, I'll announce further details when we get them set in stone, but there's going to be a pool party called New Jack Swim sometime later this summer.

Rap Traxx 3 (52:35)
1. Maestro Fresh Wes - "Let Your Backbone Slide" (5:01)
2. Young MC - "Principal's Office" (4:18)
3. MC Hammer - "Let's Get It Started" (4:12)
4. Queen Latifah f/ Monie Love - "Ladies First" (3:58)
5. Sir-Mix-A-Lot - "Beepers" (4:19)
6. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - "I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson" (4:52)
7. De La Soul - "Buddy" (4:58)
8. Heavy D & The Boyz - "Somebody for Me" (5:03)
9. Rebel MC and Double Trouble - "Street Tuff" [Radio Mix] (3:31)
10. Beastie Boys - "Hey Ladies" (3:51)
11. Digital Underground - "Doowutchyalike" [Radio Mix] (4:07)
12. Redhead Kingpin and the FBI - "Pump It Hottie" (4:25)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Life Is Elsewhere

Photo of your author by the incomparable Michael Chui.

Silly Kissers You Could Even Like Me

More amazing work at 140bpm from Montreal's Silly Kissers, who are only a couple of steps, lucky breaks and acts of fate away from becoming Canada's best band, or, even better, busting out of Canada altogether. At this point, it's getting ridiculous - as if they rubbed the lamp and instead of wishing for a million wishes, asked for an infinite amount of melodies. This is from their Precious Necklace 10", released on that bustling hive of activity Arbutus (nicest publicist ever - hi, Marilis!), but if you read this, you probably already know that.

Choose Life

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Youth, in Repose

Two songs that I am certain define the mating rituals of the over-educated and under-utilized twentysomethings and early thirtysomethings of my generation are the Talking Heads This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) and Fleetwood Mac's Everywhere. So infatuated I am by these songs, I never pass up a chance to write about them. (This post features MGMT and Vampire Weekend.)

So on that note, here's an extended mix from the 1986 12" that includes a (get this!) Jellybean Dub. Jellybean appears to have been one of those go-to remixers in the 80's, like Shep Pettibone. As the early days of digital studio excess are in full effect here, it takes a couple of minutes to figure out that this is not an instrumental version of the theme from a teen comedy set in southern California. No cinematic introduction and a lot of digital cowbell.

Cotton Mouth

When Martin Horn isn't slaving away behind a mixing console, putting polish on the music of a number of Montreal's brash new faces n' names (Parlovr, for example), he's... Slaving away in front and behind of a mixing console, writing and producing his own music under the moniker Cotton Mouth. In the case of the EP from which this song is taken, produced for an Ontario tour with The Luyas earlier this spring, the guys from Parlovr joined Martin. Mr. Horn described the process thusly,

I usually lay down the structure of a song, they kinda fill in the blanks in their own style. Occasionally I write elements of the arrangement based on things that they played when we jammed on loose structures I've put together. It's largely collaborative, even though I'm kinda steering the ship, and in any releases we do, it's credited as the whole band, regardless of who actually played what.

Cotton Mouth's musical dynamic, with liberal harvesting from the loosely defined and poorly maintained aural fields of art rock, is washed free of some of the more abrasive and atonal elements of one would expect, made all the more pleasant by the presence of actual melodic writing chops.

You can catch Cotton Mouth live in Montreal as part of Pop Montreal's Fringe Pop event on June 18th at 7pm at Parc des Ameriques, the following night as part of NXNE at Rancho Relaxo in Toronto, and as part of Osheaga on August 1st at Parc Jean Drapeau back in Montreal.

Fascinating Photocopy

I'm carrying on a conversation with myself right now about musicians that I keep on coming back to. Artists that for any number of reason are compelling enough to demand my undivided attention when my default attention setting is divided/fractured/scattershot. One of those artists is Harry Nilsson. Nilsson's music doesn't exert any nostalgic pull for me - no memories of putting on Nilsson Schmilsson and making out with a girlfriend or cooking breakfast on a perfect morning before September 11th or anything like that, even though the undercurrents of melancholy and emotion in his music, combined with the world-weary romanticism of his lyrics, are virtually tailor-made for just that.

Vancouver's Makeout Videotape contribute a bouncing, fun and fuzzy cover to the growing body of Nilsson covers, which includes the Walkmen's recreation of the Pussycats album and Sinead O'Connor's take on this very song, too. The Eternal Triangle's version doesn't really hold a candle to Nilsson's version, of course - there's something too-straight sounding which dates it terribly, but I'm sure in their time they were considered exceptional arbiters of good taste, like Fairport Convention doing an album of Bacharach.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Brusque Twins at the Belmont

This Sunday, June 6th, local neu-Italo duo the Brusque Twins make their onstage debut at the (best kept secret venue) Belmont along with a whole slate of knowledgeable and talented DJs to round the night out, including DBM (Le Matos) & SHOT BY JFK (aka ARCADE), DINO SECONDINO & SIZAN (of the wonderful Feeling Nouveau), CORESAIR and PARIS FRIPON. Visual by Gyroscope. Deep rhythm and mood from a cast that's charting a new path for Montreal nightlife.

More info on the Facebook event page.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Requiem For Nena

Whenever possible, I try to play imaginary producer. I pick a couple of musicians and imagine what it would be like if I could pair them together in a studio, or in the case of Nena, if I could just rescue her from herself or whoever has been in charge of her career.

Unfortunately, Nena is known primarily for 99 Luft Balloons and not much else. That's because there isn't much else - some middling synth-pop also rans on her first album, and then some dreadful late-90s dips into the Euro-trash and pop-rock pool that did nothing to present her to a new generation.

And maybe that's fine for her... I think in North America, within my social group, the default thinking about European mores goes that the continent is an enlightened little space full of progressive types wielding their pens against globalism (if you're Naomi Klein-inclined - okay, I'm not really friends with those people), or against philistinism (if you're, uh, my friends), forgetting that there is a gigantic lumpen-proletariat that's perfectly content to live on a high-starch, high-carb diet and, um, fight and fuck and lose their teeth just like American hillbillies. I know this, because I've seen them represented in Danish and Dutch movies filmed in digital video.

So, maybe Nena can hustle and do great business on the retro circuit, playing county fairs or whatever the German equivalent is - OktoberFest country fairs.

But, God, her voice! She has such a great throaty, evocative voice - a voice that, had she been born many years prior, would have been used as some siren-like German version of Tokyo Rose... I would have defected, jumped out of that B-52 with a parachute and made it across the Ruhr to Berlin to find it. It's such a shame that we've got 99 Luft Balloons (a great song, don't get me wrong) and nothing else of value to show for those pipes. I mean, at least a Neneh Cherry & Nena duet, rather than (God!) Nena and Kim Wilde?

Too Lazy To Blog: Stop Ou Encore Interview

Monday, May 10, 2010

Savage Furs: Throne of Satyricon

Former Vancouver resident Jack Duckworth (A Luna Red, Radio Berlin) continues to pursue his idiosyncratic musical vision, this time across the Atlantic in his adopted home of London. Consistently one of the most talented musicians I've had the pleasure of knowing, Jack in this latest post-punk exploration by collaborator Delaney Jae (Silicon Vultures, Crystal Wrists), as they cut a swath through all of the clueless revivalist landscape with a sound that's equal turns sinister and endearing.

Buried beneath the crushing slabs of post-industrial production and over-driven paranoia are some actual pop chops - vocal melodies and hooks that you might find in the Human League or on Simple Minds' Reel to Real Cacophony... While these are only demo tracks, I'm glad to say that Savage Furs are a continuation of Mr. Duckworth's stellar discography (well into its second decade now), and also an interesting departure point.

Also, I know there's a fair contingent of readers who'd be interested in this, but Mr. Duckworth has recently been sorting through old records and put up a new mix on his blog, titled Dye Your Hair Black and Absorb All Waves. This encompasses just about everything I was listening to back in those days, Antioch Arrow, Satisfact, 6 Finger Satellite, Brainiac, The VSS, GoGoGo Airheart, The Audience (das?), Ex-Dead Teenager, The Rapture, Trans Am, Glass Candy, and much more. If you don't want to take the time to walk down memory lane, it's worth it for the tags he's assigned to it alone ("Discussions about that die-cast Locust belt buckle, black "highwater" Wrangler trousers") Oh, and the Long Hind Legs song: damn, that's good. (LHL were a side-project of the Unwound guys).

17 Veins

I was talking last night to Tom Smith & Chris Clark about how you evaluate a press-release when it ends up in your inbox. Tom ignores anything press release with an all-caps title. I scan the subject, the title, look for other band names or musicians highlighted in bold (that they've worked with, no "influenced by", thanks) and then look for the download button. Seventeen Veins might not have highlighted other band names in bold, but outside of that, it was a perfect press release made all the better by my actually appreciating the music.

Seventeen Veins are two: Cristina P.B. and new Montrealer (via Tunisia and Paris) Neil H, both handling production and vocal duties on a variety of remixes (Noob & Brodinski, Riva Starr) and original productions. A lot of 17 Veins' work is more harder-edged than I'm accustomed to (I didn't grow up with a techno background), but in instances like the track above, Añoranza's twisted, doomy synth melodies won me over. Check out the Seventeen Veins website for more crisply produced tracks.

September 7, 1980: New Order's First Demos

Giasco Bertoli, Maryon Park (2007)*

Only a few months after Ian Curtis' suicide, even less time after their debut at the Manchester Beach Club, and six days before I was born, New Order recorded these songs (along with three others) at Cabaret Voltaire's Western Works studio.

* Thanks, Mike Chui!

Thursday, May 06, 2010


I've been trying to maintain a regular pace to my posting, but then I re-discover a song like this and because of the weather, my bonhomie and friendly feeling towards this blog's readers, I've got to post it. Pitch-perfect power pop, with that sense of urgency they share in common with the Feelies. This is the first track from their debut album Stands for Decibels, written by Peter Holsapple, who would go on to play with R.E.M.

La langue glorieuse de notre collectivité quatre!

La langue glorieuse de notre collectivité trois!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Jeep Beach Party

Lyrical profundity was never Freestyle's strong suit, which is why I generally resist playing it out when the temperatures are many, many degrees away from balmy.  Also, I think the syncopated rhythms and electro bass-lines can be a bit jarring for a dancefloor in the middle of the winter in Montreal, when even the most skilled pop and lockers suffer from creaky arthritic joints.  However, now that summer's around, it's the perfect time to bust out Debbie Deb, Lisa Lisa and other mixtape classics you'd find in the cassette deck of your older cousin's Jeep after she got back from the beach.

Friday, April 30, 2010

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities

"Clever they may be, but like all Swedes, their genius is derivative. Search, Delmore, search! Find the source!"

Yesterday, I alluded to the nagging suspicion that the first released track from The Knife & Mt. Sims' Darwinian opera reminded me of some other song (also the Penguin Cafe Orchestra for Depressives, I remember Jack Oatmon at The Montreal Mirror comparing it to alley cat copulation), and halfway through my shower, things began to clarify for me. At first, I thought that it could have been one of the songs from Low's 2001 album Things We Lost in The Fire, but that didn't quit stick enough to make it an Eureka! moment (and as we all know, since the days of Archimedes, Eureka and bathing have been forever linked). I hummed through it a couple more times, my mind skipping a year back, and what came to mind was the above Yo La Tengo song Everyday from their 2000 album And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out.

I have a very lengthy to-do list, and for some reason, (maybe the Delmore Effect), it's nonsense like this that receives priority over the more pressing things like the Sonic Youth piece I should be finishing for the summer issue of Maisonneuve Magazine. Which is what I'm working on now.

Free Screening: Montreal Premiere of Women Without Men

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 @ 7:00 PM
Maxwell Cummings Auditorium
Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion
Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal
1379 Sherbrooke Street W.

The Montreal premiere of acclaimed Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat’s first feature film, Women Without Men. This film marks an assured shift from her beautiful multi-screen gallery installations to the grand scale of the cinema.

Adapted from Sharhnush Parsipur’s magic realist novel, Women Without Men movingly chronicles the intertwining lives of four Iranian women in the summer of 1953 – a crucial moment in Iranian history – when an American led, British backed coup d’état brought down the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and re-installed the Shah to power. Opposition to the monarchy ultimately led to the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Brought together over the course of several days against the backdrop of political and social turmoil, the destinies of the four female characters converge in a beautiful, mystical orchard where they find solace, independence and companionship. Sumptuously photographed and majestically paced, the film captures a complex moment in Iranian society, while offering an imaginative archeology of the recent protests, which, although met with brutality and repression, remind us that the struggle is alive and well.

Shirin Neshat was born in 1957 in Qazvin, Iran, moved to the United States in 1976 and lives in New York City. She has gained wide international acclaim for both her photo portrait series of women overlaid with calligraphy Women of Allah and for producing a series of lyrical video installations addressing the complex social and religious forces shaping the identity of Muslim women, among them Rapture (1999), and Turbulent (1998), which won her the International Award at the Venice Biennale. She has had solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, New York, The Serpentine Gallery, London, the Hambuger Bahnhof, Berlin and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montreal. Women Without Men is her directorial feature debut.