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SOUNDTRACK: GIRTH-Sleeper, Awaken! (2007).

This was the other disc in the Web of Mimicry Clearance section.  And it is radically different from Danubius.

Girth is an experimental metal band and these songs are heavy on the epereimental and heavy on the heavy.  Their page on Web of Mimicry notes:

We toured with this line-up for 6 months or so September 2005 through February 2006. The shows were our most brutal and experimental to date, often going off on long improvisational rampages. We recorded a through-composed 19 minute movie-like piece in four movements, entitled “Sleeper Awaken.” With Randall Dunn at the board, our intentions for this piece, were to create a mindfuck journey of psychedelic metal to supply a soundtrack for the listener during his/her most “indulgent” moments. WARNING: Not for the weak at heart… bum trips guaranteed for the unexperienced, depending on his/her state of mind.     — GIRTH [Guitar: Dave Webb; Keyboards: Andrew McInnis; Drums: Peijman Kouretchian; Vocals: B.R.A.D. Mowen]

This labum reminds me a lot of Naked City (but without the Japanese screamed vocals).  There’s very heavy sections and radically shifts in time signature and volume.  There’s wailing solos and quiet sections.  There’s pounding drums and no drums.  And it’s all done in about 16 minutes.

There four songs have elaborate titles:

  1. Confusion – “On the day my illusion shatters, I SEE.”
    The disc opens with a ringing bell and feedback but after 20 seconds the calm is exploded with some noisy guitars and feedback.   But it isn’t until 40 seconds that the left ear guitar takes off with super fast chaotic soloing.  The other ear is overwhelmed by noisy guitar squalls.  Washes of static and noise fill both ears for a time until a sort of noisy hardcore riff comes in around 2 and half minutes in.  Things alternate between intense noise metal and soloing (with echoed effects).
  2. Betrayal – “I will rise as you will die, diminishing within my luminous pride.”
    The songs segue into each other.  This song begins with some thunderous drums (five beats over and over) and staccato noisy guitars.  The middle of the song quietens down to some running water and dialogue (barely audible) until the end.
  3. Alone – “Wallowing in my indulgence, I am blind.”  “Divine perceptions unshackle power to dive within.”
    This opens slowly with quiet whispered noises and rumbling drums.  At 3 minutes comes the intense hardcore attack of punishing drums and squealing guitar solos.  The end of the song is a kind of tornado of guitar noises that seem to swirl around in between heavy two note punctuations
  4. Chaos – “This being is a vessel. You cannot stop me. I am Free, I am Awake And I LOVE.”
    Those two note punctuations continue into this final track but with much more frequency and intensity.  There’s some vocal at the end, but nothing especially audible–we’re there “vocals.” With a few more pummels and a fast guitar solo, the 16 minutes comes to an end.

This is a pretty intense record indeed and definitely not for the uninitiated.  I am very curious how they pulled off this challenging record live.

[READ: April 18, 2017] Birthright: Volume Three

This story continues to grow in excitement and tension.  Brennan is getting a little frustrated that Mikey seems to be hiding something from him (he has been getting hints that Mikey is lying about his mission).

But first there is a flashback to a time when Mikey disobeyed his handler, Rook. In this instance he disobeyed in order to help a helpless victim.  A young girl was about to sacrificed to King Lore and he risked his own life to save her.  Rook is furious that he could have been killed but also because he has now changed the way the world is supposed to work–the girl’s death was supposed to be a regrettable necessity.

Back on Earth, Agent Kylen has paid a visit to Aaron in prison.  He asks for Aaron’s help in tracking down his sons.  Aaron says no way but Kylen indicates that it is not a request after all.  So Aaron tells Kylen about his old house in the burbs of Chicago.

At the same time, Rya and Wendy are searching for them as well.  Rya is getting more exhausted (she is really close to giving birth) so Wendy winds up driving her. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DANUBIUS-Danubius (2002).

After seeing Secret Chiefs 3 recently, I went to the Web of Mimicry website and saw what other CDs they had to offer.  In their clearance bin, they had a couple of CDs including this one by Danubius.  So who are they?

Danubius is a San Francisco-based Eastern European band, specializing in traditional and Gypsy (Rom) music from Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and other countries in the vicinity of the Danube River.  Led by Music Director Roman Titcu, our music has been called romantic, passionate, energizing, and can be described as a cross between the genres of folk and Classical music. We play both Western and traditional Hungarian, Romanian, and Bulgarian musical instruments, giving us a unique sound.

Yes, so even though Secret Chiefs 3 experiment with various Eastern Europeans styles, Danubius is not about experimentation at all.  They are about authenticity.   This 53 minute disc has twenty songs broken down into sections.  And the booklet is quite detailed in its explanation of the various songs and styles.

The members for this recording are David Skuse – vioolin, viola, gadulka, bass , drum ; David Nebenzahl – violin, viola, bass, tambura ; Clark Welsh – tárogató, fluier, Romanian caval, ocarina, Bulgarian tambura and kaval, prim and brach tambruricas, cobză and sax ; Jutka Mándoki – accordion, kontra, acoustic guitar, cimbalom, brasca (viola), Tekerőlant (hurdy-gurdy), ütőgardon (Beaten cello), bass ; Magdi Ordasi, Szilvi Gilbert, vocals ; former band member: Balázs Králik – bass, violin ; guests: Roman Titcu – tambal mare (cimbalom) ; Odile Lavault – accordion.

I enjoy that the notes state that some of the songs are intended as show off pieces.

The sections include (I tried to get every accent right, but there will be no searching for these titles).

Transylvanian Suite
Doină De Ardeal; Purtată și Invârtita Din Țara Fagarașului; Hațegana
This begins with some slow horn melodies as the rest of the band plays traditional backing instruments.  Accordion is prominent in some songs too.  The third is described as “a standard show-off piece.”

Hungarian Roma (Gypsy) style songs
The mandolin (the only instrument not listed up there so clearly one of the other ones–likely the prim which is a kind of tambura) runs free with this fast melody that grows faster as it goes on.  Made popular in the 1960s.

Caval Suite (Southern Romania)
Cântec Lui Dumitru Dobrican;  Joc Ca La Stâna
The caval is a long, five holed flute with a very soft sound.  There’s some truly lovely flute melodies over slow backing chords for the first one.  The second one is really fast a totally show-offy kind of piece with accompanimnet by the lute, the cobză .

Nóta Suite (Hungarian Gypsy Restaurant Style)
Friss Csárdás; Maros Víze Folyik Csendesen (“the water of the Maros flows quietly”); Minek A söke énnékem? (“What is the blonde to me”);  Hull A Fa Levele, Hull A Hó (“the tree’s leaves are falling, the snow is falling”)
Four very short pieces (none over 2 minutes) with primarily fiddle as the main melody.  The notes say that these kind of songs were usually mean as lead off for instrumental extravagance.  “Hull…” is probably the most popular instrumental tune of all time–each violinist tries to outdo the others.

Geamparalele (Romania Black Sea)
Geamparalele de la Cernavodă – Leliță loană – Geamparalele  Bătute
A fascinating whistle sound very fast ans almost birdlike.  This song is in Balkan 7/16 meter (2+2+3) with four lead instruments.

Bulgarian Suite
Melodija; Blateshnichka kopanitsa (“Hoeing”)
The first is a free rhythm tune.  It’s first lead instrument is the gadulka (Bulgarian folk fiddle) with three melody strings and 10 sympathetic strings.  There is no fingerboard and the notes are stopped with the fingers.  There’s also the Bulgarian kaval a 7 hole flute.  The second piece is in 11/16 (2+2+3+2+2) meter with tambura as lead.  There’s lots of beautiful soaring flute in the first of these two songs.  The second is a fast picking experience.

Dunántúli Suite (southern Hungary)
Urgós (“jumping”); Lassú / friss Csárdás (“Slow and fresh dances of the inn”)
This is the only section with vocals, which I don’t like as much as the instrumental songs.

Kyuchek  (Bulgarian Roma)
Flute is prominent in this song which is in 8/16 (3=3=2).

Muntenian Suite (Southern Romania)
Hora rară; Brâul pe șase (“belt dance in six”); Joc Țigănesc De Doi (“Roma dance for two”); Brâul Pe Opt  (“belt dance in eight”)
These are furiously fast dance songs.  The first was first heard by David during the Ceaseșcu years).   Violins dominate this song but with a delightful fluier (sounds like a penny whistle) added ion.  They’re mostly fast numbers all about 2 minute long.

This whole record is an enjoyable trip into Hungarian culture.  And you can dance to it (well, some people can dance to it).

[READ: April 17, 2017] Birthright: Volume Two: Call to Adventure

As this book opens up Aaron and his wife, Wendy, are trying to reconcile.  They both see that their children are in something big here.  Aaron is still super pissed that she even for a second considered that he killed Mikey, and she is still pissed about well, everything else.  But they are willing to talk it out.

That is until Agent Kylen with the National Security Agency busts in and tells him that Agent Brooks is no longer on this case–things have gotten too serious.

Meanwhile back in the woods, Mikey is trying to toughen up Brennan a bit–cold river baths and a bit of swordplay, when they are attacked by a large bear.  But rather than violence, Mikey is able to communicate with the bear and pacify it.  Mikey says that he has a way with animals.  And then proceeds to smash its skull in.  Brennan is outraged, shocked, aghast that his brother could kill so easily.  But Mikey just say to do what you have to to survive.

Wendy discovers the journal that Mikey created when he was first in Terrenos.  And this is great way to learn a little more about his life there.  She reads how Mikey really wants to come home, but that he knows he has a job to do. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE WOODSHED ORCHESTRA-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 5, 2012).

The Rheostatics were originally supposed to play 3 Reunion concerts to help celebrate the 65th Anniversary of The Horseshoe Tavern. Unfortunately the concerts got cancelled but Dave stepped in and offered up a free show on Wednesday December 5 2012, what was to be the first of the reunion shows.  Dave Clark’s Woodshed Orchestra opened the show with a 48 minute set of New Orleans-style jazz (a limiting descriptor since their site says):

Legendary Toronto drummer Dave Clark (Rheostatics, Dinner is Ruined, The WoodChoppers Association, Gord Downie and Charles Spearin) pilots a five-piece horn section, four-piece rhythm section and full-ensemble vocals through New Orleans Funk, 2nd line and Jazz, R&B, Ska, Soul, Reggae, Punk, Rock n Roll, Blues, Country, Surf Rock, Neo-Greek, Ranchero, Polka, Disco, Samba, Afro-Pop, Waltz, New Wave, Cajun, Tex-Mex, Power Pop, Klezmer, Torch Ballads, Tango and Calypso, in an extraordinary celebration. This band is a funky, uplifting and joyful ride every time it plays.

The joy is utterly true. Dave is a warm and friendly guy, introducing all songs with a smile and calling everyone “friends.”

The play nine songs from their three albums.  Each song is a variant on that New Orleans style of tuba and banjo (and more of course).  It’s exemplified by “Love Letter to New Orleans” a song that seems like an instrumental but which is actually just really long before the words come in.

Dave introduces the second song, “There’s certain things I forget…. ”  “Drugs & Alcohol” is, unsurprisingly, a song about drinking.  He introduces our friend Pavel (Paul Kolinski) and then Karen Ng on “I Got No Clue.”

The next song’s entire lyrics are the band members meowing while they play.  I can’t find the name of the song.

Dave introduces the next song as a dancing song dedicated to one of the greatest guitarists to walk the planet.  It could be me or you or anyone on the planet because were all great then we try.  But this is for “Levon Helm” who looks like he was a bout to die on stage but still gave two hours of the slinkiest, grooviest music.

Next, Karen Ng is going to play you a song and then teach it to you: “Seasons of our Lives.”

Dave says, “We’re good for two more numbers or so and then we’ll take it out to the hallway.”

Then: “Let me name some names: Geezer Butler, Erica Badu, the guy from Crazy Horse who doesn’t t move but he’s got a really good voice.  Tim Vesely.”  This is all an introduction to their song “Geddy Lee.”

Want to hear a sing about sex?  “Clothes Off” features the line: “Come on take your clothes off I wanna see you naked.”

The final song is dedicated to each and every one of you and people you don’t get to see.”   “Penny & Mousie’s Antidotal Lullabye” is a sweet slow number, a nice send off of love and tenderness.

Considering that Dave Clark was always the weirdo in the band, and he is still a bit of a goof, this music is really sincere, and really good.

[READ: April 16, 2017] Birthright Volume 1

The name of this book intrigued me when I saw it in the library.  And I really liked the cover image.  So I grabbed it and volume two.

And man, did  I love how quick and abrupt the beginning of the story came.

On page one a dad is throwing a ball to his young son.  On page two the dad talks to his wife while the boy, Mikey, runs into the woods for the ball.  On page four Mikey is officially missing and the police have been called in.  On page five the dad is being accused of killing his son and by page ten the parents have filed for divorce.  Yowza.

In that time the mom has started dating one of the detectives (I think).  The dad, Aaron, has become a useless drunk.  But there is some news on the case.  The detective calls both of the parents and their older son Brennan into the precinct because they have brought someone in.

The man is in his mid 30s, totally muscular and wearing intense armor.  They immediately think that this man abducted Mikey. But the dad says no, that IS Mikey.  WHAT?  The detective says that the DNA matches. It makes no sense, but there are real indications that it is indeed Mikey.  It’s just that time moves faster where he went, obviously.

Mikey tells them it was destiny and then we see how he was grabbed by some flying creatures and some large orc-like creatures.  There is a brief story of Mikey’s introduction to Terranos–where it is his destiny to be the world’s hero.  And he has come back to earth to protect it from the bad guys of Terranos who plan to invade.

Twists upon twists and great storytelling.  But a pretty standard premise, right?

No, because Williamson has one more twist up his sleeve. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 5, 2012).

The Rheostatics were originally supposed to play 3 Reunion concerts to help celebrate the 65th Anniversary of The Horseshoe Tavern. Unfortunately the concerts got cancelled but Dave stepped in and offered up a free show on Wednesday December 5 2012, what was to be the first of the reunion shows. The show started out with Dave Clark’s Woodshed Orchestra and was followed by Bidiniband. The Bidiniband set was a mix of Bidiniband songs as well as a variety of Rheostatics songs featuring guests such as Dave Clark, The Woodshed Orchestra, Tim Vesely, Noah Campbell, Tim Sweeney, Matt Cowley, Selina Martin, Al and Colin of Jazzberry Ram.

Dave opens the set by wishing: “Happy birthday Horseshoe, 65 years old tonight.”

The set opens with two “new” songs.  Bidiniband’s album came out in 2012, but they have been playing most of these songs for years.  This is the first show on RheostaticsLive that includes “In The Rock Hall / Rock and Roll Heaven.”  “In the Rock Hall” is a fun singalong.  And “Rock and Roll Heaven” is a fairly vulgar song about groupies and whatnot.

“Big Men” is even catchier than before and the band sounds great.  They play a lengthy version of “Fat” which segues into a slow, fairly traditional version of “The List.”  This List ends with… “It’s true… fuck you.”

“We’re going to do a song and then we’re going to have Selina Martin come up and do the exact same song.  “Ladies of Montreal” is my most openly sexist song.  Not really.”  Indeed, after finishing the song they play it once more, this time with Selina Martin singing the lyrics in French!

It segues into a stripped down version of Rush’s “The Spirit of Radio,” which is a very different,loose take on the song.  At the end someone asks, “Can you do that one in French?”

This is the first time (on the site) they’ve played “On Camoragh Lake.”  There’s a lot of cursing in this song.

Dave asks, “should we go song guest song guest?”  Someone says, “Totally man it’s a lot of fun.  It’s fun to see a lot of Rheostatics shirts too.”  Is Tim Sweeney here?   He comes up, “thank god I’m not following Selena Martin.  The closest thing to church for me was going to a Rheostatics show, so this feels weirdly like  impersonating clergy.”  He sings “Ozzy Osbourne.”  It seems shaky with the first notes, but he does a great job with the main part of the song.

We’d like to get the Woodchoppers up for this one, if possible.  They blow through the really “Take a Wild Ride” and then Dave says, “Lets go to E!” and they segue into “Legal Age Life” with a nice big horn section.

Dave says: We all wish Martin Tielli was here big time, but he’s in Ancaster.  We’re thinking of him (yea, he’s the best).  There was a really important Knight Rider episode he had to watch.  He’s got a really nice TV room, I can’t blame him.  60 channels….  Sausages on the barbecue.  Don: Is that one of the channels?  Dave: “Nice one, Don.”   This next song features Don Kerr. It’s called “Guns.” [some chuckling as it’s a poem written by Dave Clark].  They play “Last of the Dead Wrong Things which opens slowly with great guitar work and backing vocals.  And the drums are tremendous.  Near the end he shifts the song to “Making Plans for Nigel,” but this time the band sings along with the chorus.

Dave says he brought some stuff from his basement to sell–some old Rheos discs, Whale Music on vinyl and one Five Hole Stories CD  (CD?)

Dave calls for Tim Vesely the Slovak Slayer (they don’t call him that).  “Tim’s got his electric rock guitar (someone shouts “Palomar”) “Its Tim Vesely of the Rheostatics and The Violet Archers (or The Violent Archers as I like to say).  Tim: “I don’t need any bass for these songs.” Dave: “It’s overrated.  Only 4 strings, how hard can it be?”

It’s nice to hear “Claire” and to have Tim back.  There’s a good solo from Paul and then he says, “We’ll do one more Rheostatics cover for you,” and they play “Bad Time to Be Poor.”  Which he introduces as “This song is for Tim Hudak [a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1995 to 2016 who represented the ridings of Niagara South, Erie—Lincoln, and Niagara West—Glanbrook.]

“All Hail Canada” is new to the shows–it’s a cynical look at Canadian politics.

Then: “Do the guys from Victoria want to come up and sing now?  Come on it’ll be fun.  Jazzberry Ram, the nerds from Vancouver.  They do a great version of “Quuer” and put their own spin on it.  After the song, Dave says, Do yo mind if Matt joins us?  He’s okay, really.”  Matt Cowley comes up to sing a gleeful “My First Rock Concert.”

Dave takes a moment:

I meant to say something profound about this night but I’m lost because we’re in the soup of this experience. He says he has been writing in cafes (cause I’m from Toronto, so I’m cool I write in cafes.  He’s listen to music and Rheostatics would come up on YouTube. He’d enjoy the songs and marvel at the parts they played. Then he would listen more and he would cry and wonder… maybe we should try to play again.  It didn’t happen,  but that’s not to say it won’t ever happen as long as you never stop listening to your Rheostatics records and crying, anything is possible.

The opening of “The Land is Wild” sounds an awful lot like “Horses” the way it opens.  Dave says this song existed in the Rheostatics for a couple of months but then they broke up.  This version really rocks (the backing vocals are tremendous).  You can hear Dave’s guitar get staticky near the end.  The song segues into “Yemen” sort of, but the statics is too much and they have to stop to fix it.  Dave tries to gt things going again: “Can we start off where that last song ended I think it was building to an interesting place.  Or was it not?”   But the static is irreparable.

“Terrible time in the night to have technical problems–during the last song.”

Dave says, “Okay folks one more.  The crowd shouts: five more.  100 more!  Dave: That would be impossible.

Take it into the crowd!  There’s some inaudible chatter and laughter but I think save heads out into the crowd with the guitar to play Stolen Car.  Not sure who is singing–but he’s a bit off on things.  At one pint he says, “my son told me I’d fuck up.”  Dave: “you fucked up good though.”

Doug–says “I grew up listening to that shit.” He then talks about a dream: he was trying to play Take 5 but the strings were all mushy (The band plays a bit of “Take Five.”  Then Dave talks about a dream he had about shows that never happened.  They did play shows where nobody showed up.

Tim’s my favorite was in Winnipeg or Alberta, a university pub gig  “1/2 price wings plus live music.”  There was nobody there yet there was set list from the band that played the night before.  We took it and went song by song off the list and made up songs on the spot.  I think it was B-52s in Winnipeg  a lunch hour gig named not after the band or even the plane.

Audience: “How were the wings?”  “Half Price.”

We played in Red Deer to two guys who had just come back from putting out fires in Kuwait and a sound man who put his headphones into the TV to listen to The Cosby Show–it was an important episode.  Don: But we got a good bag of weed out of it.  Dave: In red deer at Mortimer’s in the Capri Hotel.  The Shell sign with the s burnt out.  We should have known…   that’s rock n roll.

bzzzt  “I don’t think it’s the cable”  “Put a mike on it!”  “That’s why we need a professional studio engineer.  Don’s side career is that he runs the Rooster Recording studio!

“Horses” sounds great.  Everyone is into it and the addition of horns at the end is great with someone singing along with the horns:  bup bup bup.  And then it rocks to the end.  Despite the cable, it’s a great set with super guests.  Not bad a for a free night.

[READ: April 13, 2017] Sweet Tooth: Wild Game

“Wild Game” is the concluding book in the Sweet Tooth story.  And it remains as dark as anything.

It also begins, like Endangered Species, with a storytelling section–the book turned sideways with a lot of text. It catches us up on what happened in a succinct style.  How the environmentalists were able to return to the dam, how they invited our heroes to stay (Johnny and Bobby accepted–Bobby needs to hibernate after all) but the rest decide to head to Alaska, to their destiny.

Their crew is now Jepperd, The Fat Man (the guy they met out in the woods), Wendy, Gus and Becky.  Lucy is now dead and Dr Singh fled to get to Alaska on his own (he had an epiphany that may have sent him over the edge–he seems to think he might be a preacher, or even a savior).

When they finally arrive in Alaska, sadly Abbot and his team are waiting for them.  And Abbot is especially angry at his brother.  Which leads to a flashback provided by Nate Powell.  It shows Abbot and Johnny as children with their abusive father and how Abbot always stuck up for Johnny even when Abbot went to the military and Johnny had long hair.  When the Sickness began, Johnny was taking care of his ungrateful father and Abbot was at war.   He had returned–with far less hair, and far more attitude.  He took Johnny away from their dad and brought him to the camp where we found them at the beginning of the story. Of curse Abbot wasn’t in charge at first but he quickly made everyone know just how powerful he was.

And just how much things have changed.

Dr Singh meanwhile had been looking for information about Gus’ father. Could he rally have been a lowly janitor? While searching, he comes across Dr Thacker’s journal (I love the continuity).  And he learns a fascinating but of history about Gus and his father.

While browsing through the barracks our heroes learn that there are many more hybrids living here–they are feral but not mean.  In fact they are quite taken with Becky. But they are quite fearful.  And they meet Dr Singh who has some pretty tough truths to impart.

But there is no time for any of that.  Because Abbot and his men are coming.  And Jepperd needs to get everyone prepared.

Can anyone possibly survive?  Yes, some do, but several others will die in the bloody confrontation.

The final chapter of the series is outstanding,  It looks very different–clearly Lemire’s work but with a starkly different, somewhat softer appearance.  Gus appears to be chased by more humans. But Gus looks different somehow,  And that’s when we learn that he is.

And the conceit of the last chapter is that each little segment begins This is a story.  Starting like the beginning with This is a Story of a little boy who lived in the woods.  And that story moves along through many years–through happiness and bloodshed. Through conflict between friends and love between enemies.  And it has an incredibly touching ending.

What a great story.  If you can handle the violence and gore, it is so worth it for the ending,

Lemire is a master storyteller.

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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (September 18, 2010).

From: Concerts On Demand: Bidiniband live at the Horseshoe Tavern.

So I gather this show was recorded on CBC Radio 2.  It’s just over 32 minutes long and it rocks through some Bidiniband classics from the soon to be released In the Rock Hall.  It also sounds terrific.

Dave Bidini is best known in the literary world as a “rock and roll sports” journalist but in the indie rock world he will be forever known as a member of Canada’s first indie band The Rheostatics.

After the Rheostatics played their last show in 2007, Dave Bidini traveled around the world playing Rock and Roll and writing a book about his journey around the world and the last days of being in The Rheostatics. Once he returned from this trip he thought the best thing to do in order to get over the loss of one band was to form a new band. The result is BidiniBand – a progressive acoustic rock band that sings songs about dead hockey players.

CBC Radio 2 caught up with BidiniBand at The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. After a summer of touring the festival scene the band was primed and ready to rock.

All hail the return of Dave Bidini! (Eric Mac Innis).

The set opens with a gorgeous version of “Memorial Day” (relatively short at 7 and a half minutes).  There’s some intense guitar playing in the middle.  Next up is “Big Men Go Fast on the Water,” a really catchy song.  Dave doesn’t chat much during this set.  And right up next is “The Best Thing About the 80s is You,” a fun poppy song.  It’s pretty short and he name checks a whole bunch of 80s personalities: “Not Corey Hart, Pat Benatar, the 80s was you.”  “DJ suitcase, the 80s was you.  Oingo Boingo, the 80s was you.  Flouride toothpaste, the 80s was you.  Reagan football, the 80s was you.”

“Take a Wild Ride” is fast and almost punky.  And it’s followed by “The Land is Wild,” which Dave introduces, “here’s a song about a dead hockey player.  I mean, they’re all pretty much about dead hockey players, but as my son would say, this one is literally about a dead hockey player.  It also sounds great–the band is in top form.

Dave introduces the band and mentions that he has a new book out about the Homeless World Cup (Home and Away). And they close the set with “Last of the Dead Wrong Things.”  I love this line in the song: “We’re just a two-bit Neil Young rip of attack / they stole this song and we’re stealing it back / Doesn’t  matter how good or bad you can sing.”  The song rocks hard with a drum solo from Don Kerr and Dave going nuts on his acoustic guitar.

It’s a tight no-nonsense set, perfect for a half-hour radio show.

[READ: April 13, 2017] Sweet Tooth: Endangered Species

“Endangered Species” begins differently right off the bat–you have to turn the book sideways and read full-page pictures with lots of text. It’s far more narrative than piratical. But Lemire is a good story teller so it doesn’t feel like exposition.

This chapter one of the happiest in the series for not only do the travelers find a mall, which means warm clean clothes at last, but they also experience their first snow fall, which is magical to everyone.

With this new gear, everyone goes camping.  And, feeling a bit more comfortable, the girls go for a walk–Lucy, Becky and Wendy (the hybrid pig girl).

And then we get some backstory and for the first time other artists contribute to the book, creating backstories that look very different and giving them an excellent sense of “this is different.”

NATE POWELL draws Lucy’s backstory where she was a nurse. She cares, she really does, but even nurses feel fatigue.

EMI LENOX changes the style intensely for Becky’s flashback.  It’s all bright colors and big eyes.  Becky’s parents died when she was very little.  Foster families made it worse.  Until she just fled to try to manage on her own.

MATT KINDT provides Wendy’s backstory–how was she kept hidden and safe for so long?  It was fate–her mom became sick when people discovered Wendy.  And she was taken away, never to see her mom again. (more…)

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  SOUNDTRACK: L.A. SALAMI-Tiny Desk Concert #647 (September 13, 2017).

I know about L.A. Salami exclusively from NPR.  They played “Day to Day (For 6 Days a Week),” a while back and I really liked it.  Then L.A. Salami performed an SXSW Lullaby for them.  And now he;s back for a Tiny Desk Concert.

Bob says that Salami is a bit like Dylan.  It’s a fair comparison in one way–particularly Salami’s lengthy narrative style.  But Salami is British and is delivery is radically different–alert and agitated instead of slow and almost disaffected like Dylan.

But here’s the blurb:

Lookman Adekunle Salami, who writes and records as L.A. Salami, is a storyteller and a poet. His songs are deliberate meanderings on the mundane and the poignancy in everyday life. And in the way Bob Dylan took his guitar and harmonica to accompany his rarely repeating ramblings, L.A Salami embraces a similar aesthetic, albeit as a black Englishman instead of a white Minnesotan.

His opening song at the Tiny Desk, “Day to Day (For 6 Days a Week),” runs about six minutes, with over 600 words. He seems to rattle them all off effortlessly, with compelling, complicated rhymes that never repeat and phrases such as:

“Went to work for the NHS –
Mental health, people depressed.
Met Joanne – Scared of living,
Afraid of dying, terrified of being.
Then met Paul, a schizophrenic,
Shaking limbs, paranoid fanatic –
Unwashed 10 days in a row –
So afraid almost paralytic.”

And the blurb is right–he is effortless in the way he sings-speaks these complicated ideas.  The words are sophisticated and the ideas are powerful.  He plays this song on acoustic guitar, a simple, sweet melody that supports the multifaceted words.  When it’s over he says, “that song was dedicated to anyone who has a job, or doesn’t have a job, or anyone who needs a job.”

For the second song, “Terrorism (The ISIS Crisis),” he switches to electric guitar.  He says, “I’m guessing you guys have heard of the terrorist attack in Westminster.  This next song “Terrorism (The ISIS Crisis)” is about this.”  This song has a pretty radically different sound.  Especially in the chorus (the other two songs don’t even have one) which features a loud, ringing, sharp guitar lick and Salami screaming (mostly) “the ISIS crisis.”   It’s effective the first time through but it seems kind of limited after a number of verses.  The verses are, once again very powerful, especially the quiet middle section:

“This song is called ‘My Thoughts, They Too Will Tire open brackets, sigh, close brackets.'”  This song has a lovely melody (the acoustic guitar is on capo 8 so it’s mostly high notes).  It’s another lengthy pointed but meandering song, a style that Salami does very well.

[READ: April 28, 2017] Ms Marvel: Civil War II

I was puzzled as to why this was called Civil War II.  I actually thought that it was a sequel to a book I hadn’t read yet as it seemed to come out of nowhere.  But I don’t think I missed anything in the Ms Marvel universe.

What I did miss out on was an overarching storyline called Civil War II about which Gizmodo has a lot of very negative things to say.  So I gather this series is part of a bigger thing which I don’t care about.  Sigh.  According to Wikipedia:

Functioning as an allegory about the nature of determinism versus free will the story sees opposing factions of superheroes led by Captain Marvel and Iron Man come into conflict when a new Inhuman named Ulysses emerges with the ability to predict the future. The debut of the series was scheduled to capitalize on the release of the 2016 Marvel Studios film Captain America: Civil War.

As the book opens, Kamala and her friends are involved in the Tri State Ultra Mega Science Fair.  They are squaring off against NY and CT nerds.

Jersey starts with Skyshark (a shark in a floating bubble of water) which Connecticut says is cruelty to animals (because CT is full of lawyers, ha).

NY makes the Re-aktron which is able to absorb all of the static electricity in the air and use it to power electrical grids.  No contest.

But for round 2, Jersey brings put the Fusion Master2000 a pocket-sized nuclear generator.  (What could go wrong?)

Well, when it does go wrong, it turns out that Spiderman (in the black outfit–no idea what that means) is already on the scene–we see hes actually one of the kids in the fair) and then superhero Nova arrives–all three there to help out. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BLEACHERS-Tiny Desk Concert #647 (September 12, 2017).

I didn’t realize that Jack Antonoff, lead singer of Bleachers, was the lead guitarist (but not singer) for the band fun.

I really don’t like the lead sax by Evan Smith on two of the songs.

I particularly don’t like the sound of the sax on “Everybody Lost Somebody.”  When the sax is gone, the song which is otherwise just piano (Mikey Hart) sounds pretty great.  Antonoff’s delivery is quite interesting on this song, it reminds me of The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle–an almost-speaking, somewhat arch style..

After the song ends, Antonoff asks, “How often you guys do this?”
Bob says, “We got another one in an hour.”
Then he continues, talking about how NPR seems like a nice place to work.

For the second song, “Don’t Take The Money,” Antonoff says: “If you ever see Bleachers live, it’s two drum sets and it’s big and it’s kinda like this big statement that I could hide behind the tears with this big rock show. But the songs are written like this.”

This is kind of funny since the drums are played on a boombox and are quite loud.  The synths really fill the room, too.  Oddly the song segues into the chorus of Queen’s “Radio Gaga.”  Of the threes songs this is my favorite.  There’s no sax and Smith is playing along on a second set of synths to really make a full sound.

My favorite part of the song is at the end when he tries to get the boom box to stop.  He hits the button (trying to get a percussive sound), but it doesn’t turn off.  He and the pianist turn it into a cool improvised ending.

He says, “that’s cool we’ve never played that song like that.  That’s how it’s meant to be.  In some ways.  That’s what I love about playing live is to trick people–trick them into getting really sweaty and then going home and having weepy moments.”

After the song, Antonoff talks about the live show.  The blurb helps out:

“My manager says, ‘When you play for 1,000 people, don’t talk to one person. It’s only cool for them,'” Antonoff said. It was offered as an apology — he had just finished aiming a monologue about the link between dancing and crying at a single NPR staffer in the audience — but it was also a perfect encapsulation of the connection Antonoff’s songs create. Bleachers makes truly conversational pop, songs that sound expansive but retain a sense of intimacy, even when aimed at the masses.

This final song is called “Foreign Girls” and he tells the band, “I guess we’ll do it… like we talked.”  The sax is back and is almost obscured by him “la la la’ing” but it does peek through.

It’s interesting hearing them like this, but I don’t know what they sound like all big and dancey, so I can’t really compare.

[READ: October 1, 2016] Ms Marvel: Super Famous

Confusingly, this book collects issues 1-6, but they are definitely not the first issues one to six.  This is a whole new story line which follows the previous books and is listed as Volume 5.  The book has three artists: Takeshi Miyazawa (issues 1-3) , Adrian Alphona (part of issue 1), and Nico Leon (issues 4-6).  And it starts off almost where the last series ended.  Except it’s 8 months later and a few things have happened.

Like Ms Marvel has officially become an Avengers (there’s a cool two page spread of them coming down the alley (although I don’t recognize some of them, actually).  And Ms Marvel is doing pretty well.  However, Kamala, the girl who is Ms. Marvel is having a hard time keeping up with schoolwork, friends and family while fighting crime at night.

Oh and somehow in the last 8 months, her best friend/crush Bruno has started dating a wicked cool girl named Mike.  How did she not notice this romance blooming?  And can she take it out on Bruno?  Well, she can until she looks up and sees her image (well Ms Marvel’s image) on a billboard.  And this has her fighting mad, even more so when she finds out who is responsible for the billboard.

Turns out it is a bunch of developers creating Hope Yards–a plan to clean up Jersey City by making it unaffordable for undesirables.  And what’s worse is that the people protesting the unannounced building of Hope Yards are naturally associating her with the project. (more…)

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