Thursday, January 28, 2010


A film by Keiichi Matsuda, for his Master's at London's Bartlett School of Architecture.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Accents: New Caribou Album & Track

Caribou Odessa
from the album Swim, out April 20th on Merge Records

There's a new track from Dan Snaith, aka Caribou, fka Manitoba. I really like the Erlend Øye thing that Dan Snaith has going on with his voice here, not to mention the Röyksopp meets orchestra-hit house feel of the production. Is that Erlend Oye (Whitest Boy Alive, Kings of Convenience) singing on this track? Such a collaboration wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility. It's rhythmically simple enough but sonically interesting enough to make for some great remixes, I imagine. Classixx, get on the remix!

Noise music is old hat for Depression-era Robber Barons.

The Society of Beaux Arts Architects have completed all arrangements for the Beaux Arts Ball to be held in New York. The affair is to be a "fete moderne - a fantasie in flame and silver" and will be held on Friday evening. [...] It will be modernistic, futuristic, cubistic, altruistic, mystic, architistic and feministic.
The orchestra will be assisted by nine riveting machines, a three-inch pipe for live steam, four ocean liner whistles, three sledge hammers and a few rock drills.
Beaux Arts Ball Will Be Modernistic Fete,
The Pittsburgh Press, January 21st, 1931

Back when the average drug-poncho wearing RISD grad's grandparents were in shortpants, the scions of high society were dressing up as skyscrapers, getting wasted, and making an unholy racket, proving that even noise music is old hat for Depression-era Robber Barons. Tickets were $15, which is $201.19 in current US dollars, and the event was sold out.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tenebrism & Chiaroscuro, Blame It On Pasternak.

John Mulaney, Nick Kroll & Julie Klausner as lifestyle-loving divorcees in Manhattan.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Polaroids by Carlo Mollino, architect of the Societa Ippica Torinese

Outremont's fleetest-of-foot hustlers Arbutus Records, home to the Silly Kissers and Blue Hawaii amongst others, released a couple of notable records earlier this week. The first is a 12" by frequently blogged Edmontonian transplant Sean Nicholas Savage, titled Spread Like a Butterfly and the second is Geidi Primes, a cassette release by Grimes (Claire Boucher), who carefully embroiders loops, delayed melodies and her own voice in a manner evocative of, but not derivative of, Kate Bush, Gang Gang Dance, and the less indulgent 4AD bands of years gone by. If you want to grab a copy, physical or otherwise, check out the Arbutus website, where it's also available as a free download.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Suggestion Diabolique

Something Wild

Jonathan Demme's 1986 film, Something Wild, starring Jeff Daniels, Melanie Griffith and an unhinged Ray Liotta, also features The Feelies covering David Bowie's Fame. The bassist seems to be particularly camera-shy, and the group is called The Willies in the film. Check out those white bucks that Daniels is soft-shoeing it on the dancefloor with! This film's arguably in the same genre as Martin Scorsese's After Hours - yuppie gets more twilight Gothamic adventures than he bargains for when he meets a wild girl. The soundtrack's pretty spectacular - New Order's Temptation, a bunch of Feelies songs, the Fine Young Cannibals covering the Buzzcocks, Laurie Anderson*, David Byrne**, and X, amongst many others.

A couple of years after this film, and after Swimming To Cambodia, doing a New Order music video, and, for the sake of argument, Married to the Mob, Mr. Demme would eventually give himself fully over to the pursuit of cinematic boredom, with such armchair snoozers as Philadelphia, an adaptation of Toni Morrison's Beloved, and other treacle borne out of the unholy union of white liberal guilt and the Oscar pursuit.

Despite the fact that, like a later group also from New Jersey Yo La Tengo, the Feelies are about as nerdy a group that have ever formed a rock group (excepting the unbearable They Might Be Giants and The Decembrists), I've always loved 'em since I picked up The Good Earth in Victoria so many years ago.

* Last year I had a strange afternoon where I thought that Big Science was about the most amazing thing I'd ever heard. The feeling quickly passed and has yet to return.
** Actually, the David Byrne song on the soundtrack is pretty much unbearable, as if David Byrne was mostly moved by a recent Miami Sound Machine performance.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

One Hit Blunder

Sluice, Kate MccGwire 2009

Either you're into the Grateful Dead or Phish and the like, or you're a noise-loving RISD student who took a tip from Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and opened your mind to the joys of the group, or you're like me and despite numerous attempts to keep an open mind, can't get into the group at all. Anyone I know who actually likes them,tells me that to really get the Dead one has to dig through countless tapes of their sets from California to Connecticut over a period of thirty years and over 2300 shows. I don't even know how many Grateful Dead songs there are, but let's assume approximately 12 per album for 20 albums = 240 songs. If it takes 2300 shows, playing hours of a set every night, to get anything near a good double album of music that their most fervent fans would agree on as being awesome, well, that's a fucking horrible ratio. And you know what I think? The best song the Grateful Dead ever wrote and performed was Touch of Grey, not that any live versions of Touch of Grey would reveal that. No, it's all about the album cut and subsequent music video. Basically, it took the Grateful Dead 22 years to write one good song.

Tonight, the Medicis of Modern Music arrive in Canada with a launch at Igloofest. Car company and patrons-of-the-arts Scion are presenting tomorrow's line-up of DJ Mini, David Carretta and Jesse Rose.

Everyone's heard about declining record sales, and with even relatively recent revenue streams like televison and film licensing drying up in the last little while, it's more crucial than ever that musicians and others find some way to make some cash. Say what you will about artistic compromise (and really, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anybody who actually thinks that corporate support somehow compromises artistic integrity in the current music scene: you don't need money to make the music anymore, just to get it heard), but I think it's great that companies like Scion, Bacardi, Mountain Dew with Green Label Soundin the States are letting some money flow. Of course, whether that means you or I are more likely to enjoy a refreshing Mountain Dew & rum cocktail our next night out on the town is a whole other issue entirely.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cloud 9 CFCF & Jay Watts III at 3519 St. Laurent

Tokyo Thursdays are such an unholy union of music, people, and drinks that the club got busted last time, and is out for the count this week. That's why the whole evening is moving into exile. Under the watchful eye of our Chiang Kia Shek Lookout, we'll be moving a little further south for a temporary stay in the old digs of Panthere Noire - last summer's flash-in-the-pan club that unceremoniously disappeared after a couple of months.

This Thursday, and this Thursday only, I'll be playing along with CFCF (Mike Silver), which is always a bunch of fun and sometimes involves a bit too much talk about Fleetwood Mac.

If you're like me, you probably love Cut Copy and don't like Elton John. Well, Cut Copy have been notoriously slack in the music-making department since their last album, but thank God friends and fellow countrymen Knightlife have stepped in to fill some of the void for polished floor-filling electro-house. As for Mr. John, I've never been much of a fan, despite my mother's undying love for the little guy. Nonetheless, this edit courtesy of recovering English acid-house head Ashley Beedle passes the dancefloor test.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Sophisticated Boom-Boom

Since the Walkmen seem to have lost the plot (along with a bag of hooks) and the Rockateens have... Well, I don't know where they've gone (oh yeah, Tenement Halls!), but where is one to turn in the quest for fuzzed out, sepia-toned melodies hammered through a Fender Twin Reverb amp set to 60's go-go rhythms played on a skeleton drum-kit? Drunken crooning at the Stardust Ballroom? Spin Magazine tells us this about Stuart McLamb of the Love Language:

In 2006, McLamb was kicked out of his former band, garage rockers the Capulets, after he broke into their practice space in a drunken stupor to teach a girl to play drums and ended up trashing some gear. After a painful breakup with his girlfriend, his downward spiral culminated in a drinking binge of epic proportions. "When I came to, I was in a friend's apartment in handcuffs with my ankles bound, not knowing how I got there," says McLamb, 28. "That was a pretty ugly night, but it was also a turning point."

I can sympathize with Mr. McLamb, as I, alas, was once kicked out of a band. It was the early 90's, I was in high school, parted my hair in the middle, and favoured a burgundy Top Dog t-shirt that set me apart as decidedly more streetwise than the rest of my peers, who loved No Fear shirts. I sold the dirtbike my father bought me for my 10th birthday (a Honda CR-80), and bought a guitar (a Hurricane Stella) and a bass guitar (I can't remember what brand, something ghastly and it weighed a god-damn ton).

I started a band with Jon Cranny (our vocalist), Jon Mueller (the guitarist, who would later go by his middle name Milton - named after the author of Paradise Lost, and later, a dimunitive of that name, Milt), and Stan Geisbrecht (drummer, and star percussionist in the high school band). Taking inspiration from (of all things) my tennis racquet, our band name was 96 Square Inches of Feedback. (Bizarrely enough - a latter band I was in, Three Inches of Blood, also favoured the imperial system for nomenclature).

I played one show with the band, in the courtyard of our high school. I can't remember much, but I think we covered , and there was a topical joke song that mentioned O.J. Simpson. It was pretty ghastly pop punk, but without the skills and polish required to pull off pop punk. My technique was ghastly - I strummed the bass with my entire hand upwards, and I was bad enough that they sent me to practice with another band (Headcase).

The next show for the unfortunately named 96 Square Inches of Feedback was in a friend Karl Derksen's garage. Kraft dinner was served. I don't know how it went, because nobody told me about it, and I heard about it two months later. I learned my lesson from that first instance, and quit every band I was in before they had a chance to kick me out. Alas, with women, I have not been so forward-thinking.

And so here's to Stuart McLamb of Love Language, and to rock bottom!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Who is the Modern Wang Chung?

Sundowners photographed by incomparable mid-century WASP Slim Aarons

Les Sins is a high energy, rolling piano house from the genius mind of one South Carolinian Chaz Bundick, now known far and wide as being behind the kodochromatic blissed out funk pop Toro y Moi. Just like another Chaz (Jenkel), he's got a firm understanding of the dynamics of rhythmic funk (listen to that guitar!), as well as a flair for the more addictive elements of French Touch house (listen to that sample!). If 2010 is not going to disappoint me, there's got to be a studio date between this guy and Philippe Zdar at some point. Maybe they can score a remake of William Freidkin's To Live & Die in LA.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Sweet Bird of Youth...

Relentless caper for all those who step
The legend of their youth into the noon
Hart Crane

The big difference between people is not between the rich and the poor, the good and the evil. The biggest of all differences between people is between those who have had pleasure in love and those who haven't.

Tennessee Williams, Sweet Bird of Youth

Misery & Regret: Hello, 2010!