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Archive for the ‘Collecting’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-The Carleton, Halifax, NS (February 13, 2015).

This is the most current solo show from anybody on the RheostaticsLive webpage.

Bidiniband’s third album came out in 2014 and this show chooses from it pretty heavily.

The show starts (Dave sounds either like he has a bit of a cold or he’s just worn out) with Dave saying “We’re going to start with a song about the cold, because it is.  Fucking snow, eh  Wow.”  “The Grey Wave” has great chord changes in the chorus.  It is a slow folkie song about cold and snow.  I like that he whispers “let’s go” before the buzzy but quiet solo.  The chorus comes out of that fairly rocking (a least for this set).

Dave continues, “I have some news.  Last night I was offered cocaine in the bathroom of the Alehouse.”  (Don, on drums, whispers, “in exchange for what?”).  Dave: “I think the guy just wanted to be my friend.  He was a bit of an asshole.  Cocaine is the one drug I think where when people offer it to you and when you say no, they apologize for having assumed you wanted any.”

Someone else notes: “I like that we’re the rock band from Toronto and we’re the ones shocked by all the drugs everyone is doing.  We were in BC and we were shocked at the big jug of MDMA being passed around.”

“Everyday Superstar” is a rocking, swinging song.  I love that the chorus is “I’m an animal out of control” but it’s kind of slow and mellow and at one point he says “its true.” And there’s this lyric: “When it’s hot, I’m gonna be Bon Scott you be Lita Ford.”  At the end of the song, someone asks, “Does everybody in the house know what bass face is?  You never know when Haddon is going to a picture of you with that face.”  Dave tells a story that Haddon Strong had a subscription to a magazine and it was addressed to Hardon Strong.

Introducing “My First Rock Concert” he says, “this is a song about music.  I bet you think it’s ‘Proud Mary’ but it’s not.  That was done last night.”  He sings it kind of whispering/spoken.   In the middle, Paul plays the riff to “Brown Eyed Girl” while Dave is singing “you’re either a mouse or Steven Page.”

“Take A Wild Ride” is s short song that segues at the same fast tempo into “The List” which is, again, almost spoken.  He throws in some other people who have made the list.  Jian Ghomeshi and Joel Plaskett (he was in Thrush Hermit) and at the end he says, “only kidding about Joel.”

“Big Men Go Fast On The Water” is a great-sounding song–in this version, the guitar riffs between verses sound like Boston.  They played this song last night at “Stolen from a Hockey Card” at the Spats Theater.  Dave was disappointed there were no spats there.  He says, “If I’ve over pattering, just tell me.”

We wrote this song “Bad Really Bad” about the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Three chords and the truth.

“In The Rock Hall” is about the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland from a poem written by Paul Quarrington  Once again he almost whispers, “C’mon Halifax, let’s rock.”   About “Ladies of Montreal,” he says, “I didn’t think there were enough songs in indie rock well, elderly indie rock, independent seniors, about beautiful women… boobs, you know.  It came in a dream.  I had to write it.”  Dave says it is sexist although I don’t exactly know what he’s saying with the French words.

Getting ready to play “The Motherland Part 1,” he asks, “Jerry you brought your flute, did you?  Oh fuck’s sake.  It’s okay. I think I told you last night but we were both pretty hammered.”  “The Fatherland” is “a heavy metal political song…political metal… politometal.”  It totally rocks and at the end Dave says “I don’t understand, the dancing girl left and we’re playing our most uptempo tunes.”  Before they complete the trilogy with “The Motherland Part 2” someone in the band asks, have you got the cocaine?–its pure MDMA.  Don rehashes the story about him throwing up at a party in the closet because of hot knives.  The middle of Part 2 really rocks.

“Last Of The Dead Wrong Things” is quieter for sure but the chorus and backing vocals are great.  Where there’s usually a drum solo there’s a kind of quiet freak out.

He says, “we’re going to do one more” (boo) …well how many more do you deserve?  Seventeen, eh, you have a very inflated view of yourself.”

“We’ll do ‘Fat,’ (a song “by Rheostatics band”), it has similar chord shapes don’t hold that against us.  Did I tell you we were playing this one?”  “Would it matter?” Let’s have a round of applause for Kevin Lacroix on the bass and Don Kerr on the drums.  Paul Linklater on guitar.

“We played with Corb Lund yesterday, from Alberta.  He’s very handsome and very accomplished.  “Really really handsome.”  Kevin: “I made out with him.”  Dave: “I made out with a guy who I thought was Corb but who was really the cleaning guy for the hotel….  Last night on this very stage he intoned, he evoked the name of Washboard Hank Fisher….  You’re not going are you, it’s going to be a good song.”  They have Lots of fun with “The Midnight Ride Of Red Dog Ray”  with over the top backing vocals.  And in the solo, we get Paul Linklater, one more time pickin’ and grinnin.’

Before the next song Dave says, “What are you guys laughing at?  I can see you in the mirror, you know.  This is my favorite club coz I can watch my rock moves, they’re top ranked.”  Don:  “That’s actually Dave’s mirror, he brings it to every club and says that.  It’s embarrassing.”  Dave mentions a famous story (doesn’t know who it’s about) about a heavy metal singer who was hammered and he saw the guy in the mirror and thought he was mocking him.  So he challenged him to a fight.  That’s rock n roll.”

“You got a weak bladder Jerry?  I’ve got a weak bladder, too.  I’ve peed myself twice during this set.”

This is an album by Bidiniband called The Motherland.  It’s a delicious record and I’d like you to buy it.  All of you.  It’s only $10.  Produced in Toronto in a studio  … by professionals.  Trained professional sounds.  Nothing like what you’re hearing tonight.

There’s a great buzzy bass sound on “Desert Island Poem” which is “a funny song about cannibalism.”  Dave gets pretty crazy at the end.

It segues into a wonderful surprise of them playing”Queer.”  And then a terrific version of “I Wanna Go To Yemen” with a fun wild sliding solo.

He wishes everyone a good night and they leave for a few seconds.  “If we take a break we probably won’t play anymore.  But that was break…  We probably should have taken a longer break and milked it more… but we didn’t.”

“Do people who come to lean along the bar are they into the music?”  Kevin: “Those are some of the best people in Halifax…but the creme d la creme starts right here.”

Jerry didn’t find his flute did he?  Dave asks for a hand for the opening act, Communism Music, look them up

The first encore is the hilariously offensive song “Take A Bath Hippie.”   Sample verses:  “This ain’t the 1960s / These are brand new modern times / everyone is equal and everyone is doing fine,”  “Your revolution ended the day Trudeau retired.  A land of Stephen Harper… we got the country we desired.”   He asks, “You guys got hippies out here?  Probably not. You got Buddhists.  That’s just as bad.  They lie around in their robes  eating flowers.  Shaving each other’s heads.  Sacrificing a goat here and there.”

 We’re all getting G&Ts?  Thank you people of the night.  Kevin: “Treating us all equally?  Like my parents.  My parents would bring us all something she wouldn’t bring me a G&T without bringing one to my sister.”  Dave: They were saints.

FYI, tomorrow, there is Hockey Day in Canada–a ton of games on and footage from the concert last night with Theoren Fleury, Rich Aucoin, Buck 65, Miranda Mulholland, and the ever handsome Corb “The Boner” Lund and The Barra MacNeils.  Dave did a short movie about John Brophy, that’s gonna be on.  “Fuck, it’s Saturday… just sit at home and watch hockey.  It’s what we are supposed to do.  If you don’t, Stephen Harper will have your ass.  But I’ll save you because I’m the hockey guardian.  No I’m not, I’m just tired.”

We’ll try to do one last song.  Have we done “Take a Bath Hippie?”  We’ll save it for next time.  I’m trying to not do a typical show closer tune.

Last gig Kevin played with this band he was playing drums.   I guess it didn’t go well because he’s been demoted to bass. (ha ha).  Dave: “You’ve got the best bass player joke about what happened to Gordie Johnson.”  Kevin: “oh no that’s just nasty.”  Dave “You’re right, its for later in the washroom when were doing coke.”

They play a surprising “Stolen Car.”  It’s so weird to hear Dave sing this song (which he wrote)–he whisper sings it (and can’t really hit the notes).  It segues into a folkie
“Legal Age Life -> Do You Wanna Dance -> Legal Age Life” with them singing, “Oh yeah music is fun.  Friends are fun.  Rock n roll is fun.  Sloppy and fun.”  They end with a Johnny Cash line get rhythm when you get the blues.

Who would have guessed that just seven months later Rheostatics would reunite?

[READ: November, December 2017 & January 2018] West End Phoenix

West End Phoenix is a newly created newspaper.  It was inspired by Dave Bidini.

I have loved just about all of the music that Bidini has created (with Rheostatics and Bigdiniband) and I have loved just about all of the books he has written.  So why wouldn’t I love a newspaper created by him?  Well, possibly because it serves a community that I do not live in and have very likely never visited.  That’s right, this is a community newspaper for a community that isn’t even in my country.

And it is terrific.

But why on earth would I want to read it?  Can I really like Bidini that much? (more…)

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McSweeney’s #13 (2006)

13SOUNDTRACKPARTS & LABOR-Stay Afraid (2006).

partslaborParts & Labor have changed t heir style over the years going from noisemakers who have a melody to being melodious noisemakers.  This album is one of their earlier releases when noise dominated.  Right from the opening you know the album is going to be a challenge.  The first song has pounding drums (electronics that sound like bagpipes) and heavy distorted shouty vocals.  By the end of the songs there is squealing feedback, punk speed drums and screaming distorted vocals (complete with space sound effects).  It’s an aggressive opening for sure.  Song two opens with a long low rumbling and then “Drastic Measures” proves to be another fast-paced song.

“A Pleasant Stay” is 5 minutes long (most of the rest of the album’s songs are about 3 minutes).  It continues in this fast framework, although it has a bit more open moments of just drums or just vocals.  The way the band plays with feedback in the last minute or so of the song  very cool.

“New Buildings” has a hardcore beat with a guitar part that sounds sped up.  “Death” is a thumping song (the drums are very loud on this disc), while “Timeline” is two minutes of squealing guitars.  “Stay Afraid” has a false start (although who knows why–how do these guys know if the feedback sounds are what  they wanted anyhow?).  The song ends with 30 seconds of sheer noise).  The album ends with the 5 minute “Changing of the Guard” a song not unlike the rest of the album–noisy with loud drumming and more noise.

The album is certainly challenging, it’s abrasive and off putting, but there;s surprising pleasures and melodies amidst the chaos.   Indeed, after a listen or two you start to really look forward to the hooks.  If you like this sort of thing, this album s a joy.  It’s also quite brief, so it never overstays its welcome.

[READ: April 15, 2011] McSweeney’s #13

I have been looking forward to reading this issue for quite some time.  Indeed, as soon as I received it I wanted to put aside time for it.  It only took eight years.  For this is the fabled comics issue.  Or as the cover puts it: Included with this paper: a free 264 page hardcover.  Because the cover is a fold-out poster–a gorgeous broadside done by Chris Ware called “God.”  And as with all Chris Ware stories, this is about life, the universe and everything.  On the flip side of the (seriously, really beautiful with gold foil and everything) Ware comic are the contributors’ list and a large drawing that is credited to LHOOQ which is the name of Marcel Duchamp’s art piece in which he put a mustache on the Mona Lisa.  It’s a kind of composite of the history of famous faces in art all done in a series of concentric squares.  It’s quite cool.

So, yes, this issue is all about comics.  There are a couple of essays, a couple of biographical sketches by Ware of artists that I assume many people don’t know and there’s a few unpublished pieces by famous mainstream artists.  But the bulk of the book is comprised of underground (and some who are not so underground anymore) artists showing of their goods.  It’s amazing how divergent the styles are for subject matter that is (for the most part) pretty similar: woe is me!  Angst fills these pages.  Whether it is the biographical angst of famous artists by Brunetti or the angst of not getting the girl (most of the others) or the angst of life (the remaining ones), there’s not a lot of joy here. Although there is a lot of humor.  A couple of these comics made it into the Best American Comics 2006.

There’s no letters this issue, which makes sense as the whole thing is Chris Ware’s baby.  But there are two special tiny books that fit nearly into the fold that the oversized cover makes.  There’s also two introductions.  One by Ira Glass (and yes I’d rather hear him say it but what can you do).  And the other by Ware.  Ware has advocated for underground comics forever and it’s cool that he has a forum for his ideas here.  I’m not sure I’ve ever read prose from him before. (more…)

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lacavaSOUNDTRACKFUCKED UP-David Comes to Life (2011).

Fdavidor a band named Fucked Up, they make music that is surprisingly catchy.  Of course, as befits their name, they also have a pretty aggressive punk sound with lots of drums and loud guitars.  But many of the guitar lines and choruses are surprisingly melodic.  And then comes singer Pink Eyes.  He screams in a gravelly, rough, cookie-monster type voice (although he is mixed lowish in the mix so he doesn’t often overpower the music).  Despite the fact that most of the words are indecipherable, he also have a good sense of melody.

So how does a band that plays distorted hardcore punk with a barely comprehensible singer decide to make a 78 minute concept album?  Beats me.  But guitarist 10,000 Marbles has written a pretty solid collection of songs.  Of course, it also beats me exactly what the concept is.  According to allmusic the plot is: In the fictional town of Byrdesdale Spa UK, David has a humdrum life working at a light bulb factory, and finds an escape by falling in love with a communist rebel rouser, only to find out later that she has died in a terrorist bombing and that he has a lot of emotional turmoil to face.

I’ve listened to the disc a dozen or so times and never got that plot.  I even followed along with the lyric sheet and never got that plot.  Part of the reason may be that Pink Eyes sings all of the parts in the same way, so it’s really hard to notice that there are different characters (like Veronica) in the story.  While it is fascinating to hear a really catchy choruses sung by someone who is kind of scary, it doesn’t do a lot for the story.  The other odd thing is when Mustard Gas provides female backing vocals–they are sweet and pretty–a drastic counterpoint to the noise that Pink Eyes makes.  But she only comes in on a few songs.  I wish she did more.

There are some really great songs on this disc.  Song two, “Queen of Hearts” has some incredibly catchy sections.  And the “dying on the inside” harmony in “The Other Shoe” compliments the grizzly “It can’t be comfortable when you know the whole thing is about to fall” very nicely.  The b vox are also great in “Turn the Season.”  I find myself singing the “Hello my name is David, your name is Veronica.  Let’s be together. Let’s fall in love” section over and over.  It’s surprisingly sweet when sung by such a voice.

Since this is a concept album (or rock opera I suppose), there’s things like the nearly two-minute instrumental intro to “Remember My Name” which doesn’t fit with the rest of the song but is really catchy.  There’s also a kind of introductory “theme” that crops up in the album.  Fucked Up confound you at ever turn with beautiful melodies that morph into noisy punk.

By the middle of the disc (where I gather David is a low point), there’s some really loud heavy songs.  Amid the pummeling noise, there’s some nice acoustic guitar in “A Slanted Tone” and some very cool rumbling drums and bass that propel “Serve Me Right.”  These songs help to break up the flow nicely.  “Life in Paper” which is near the half way point opens with the same staccato notes as the disc itself, and it proves to be a very catchy song in which David asks “Who can I trust?”

The second half of the disc continues with the more catchy style with “Ship of Fools.”  But as the story nears the end, it starts to feel very samey.  There’s a few breaks, but it’s a hard row to hoe.  There is redemption in the end, but you still feel exhausted.  Perhaps 78 minutes of Fucked Up is too much.  For some listeners even 5 minutes will be too much.  Despite the accolades (and they received a lot), you won’t be hearing this one the radio (and not because the DJs couldn’t say their name).

And yet amid all of the noise, there are some really shiny gems.  They have even released four music videos for the album!  The first one, “Queen of Hearts” is especially cool as the video is set in a classroom and the kids sing all the parts (after a nearly two-minute spoken intro of the song.  I admit to not having any idea what’s actually happening in the video, but it’s still cool.

[READ: January 26, 2013] An Extraordinary Theory of Objects

This is a strange little book.  It was another one that I saw while waiting online at the library.  I was attracted to the cover (I know, don’t judge… but honestly, you can tell a little bit about a book by the way it is marketed. And this was marketed at me.)  It’s a small book with a stark cover and interesting drawings on it.   And then there’s the unusual title.

The book was only 180 pages (plus notes and a bibliography) and it was chock full of pictures.  I mean, this thing can be polished off in an afternoon.

And here’s what it’s about.  Well, let me modify that.  Here’s what’s in the book.  Stephanie is a young girl when her family moves to France (for her father’s work).  She has always felt like an outsider and now feels even more so in France.  She is introverted and spends a lot of her time in books.  Then she moves back to America and reflects on her childhood.

Yeah, that’s about it.  For here’s the thing, Lacava isn’t famous and she hasn’t done anything that you might have heard of.  She’s just a person who went to France as a kid.  The introduction kind of gives you some reason as to why you should read the book.  Lacava was a sad and miserable child and she took refuge in objects–not as a collector so much as an admirer.  On her windowsill she has collected various geegaws that she treasured (and which she brought from America in her carry on, they were so precious).  And she has this interesting relationship with objects.  Although, as with many things in the book, that relationship is not really delved into very much.   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MOGWAI-Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (2011).

With an album title like that, you expect, well, some pretty loud music, right?

For this Mogwai album that’s not what you’ll get.  You’ll get lots of keyboards, and on the opening track “White Noise” you’ll get one of their prettiest melodies in ages.  Sure, there’s some distorted guitar by the end, but this is quite pretty.  “Mexican Grand Prix” opens with a computerized drums, keyboards, a propulsive bass line and whispered vocals.  This could be a dance hit.  What has Mogwai done with Stuart Braithwaite?  When the processed vocals start singing along (no idea what they’re saying), you can easily imagine a dancefloor packed with people for this track.

“Rano Pano” brings in the buzzy guitars again, both the first intro sounds and the noisier melody guitar, while “Death Rays” returns to the happy keyboard feel for a song that reminds me of Explosions in the Sky.  Once again, the melody is beautiful.  “San Pedro” brings guitars back in, with another killer melody and at 3 and a half minutes, it’s the shortest blast of rock.

“Letters to the Metro” opens with a spare piano melody and adds delicate washes throughout.  “George Square Thatcher Death Party” opens with some chanting (no idea what they’re saying) and then some of the loudest bass so far.  It’s another propulsive song, with some buzzy guitars way in the background, but the main force again is the keyboards.  This song sounds very 80s to me, with the processed computerized voice and the keyboard sound they use.  “How to Be a Werewolf” is 6 minutes. It’s a nice song but it doesn’t really grab me like the others.  “Too Raging to Cheers” has more 80s style keyboards (reminding me of Brian Eno or a PBS documentary about space) until about 2 and a half minutes in, when the Mogwai of old come crashes through–lots of cymbals and loud guitars.

“You’re Lionel Richie” is an 8 and a half minute song that opens with some French dialogue.  There’s a complicated guitar melody that plays for a time.  By about 5 minutes, the noise comes in–guitars, keyboards, cymbals, and while it doesn’t crescendo like Mogwai of old, it certainly gives you tastes of them.  This later section of the song brings in a good guitar melody that plays along until the slow fadeout at the end.

I continue to think of Mogwai as a loud, intense band, but their more recent output shows a band changing into something else.  Their melodies are still top notch and they definitely flirt with using noise in some of their songs, but they seems to be making more commercial sounding music (although realistically no band that makes almost exclusively instrumentals can ever be accused of selling out).

[READ: August 10, 2012] “Ghost Town Choir”

I have a read a few things from Ferris.  This story caught me completely by surprise.

The story is from the point of view of a boy who is living with his mom.  She is dating a man named Lawton.  Lawton had moved some of his stuff into their house, including his record collection–his prized possession.  They have a fight; he sings to her from outside their trailer, “What have you got planned tonight, Diana, he sang, though my mom’s name is Sheryl.”  She threw all of her dishes at him until he left.  He came back later that night calling her all kinds of unforgivable names.

Then the story shifts to Lawton’s point of view (both POVs are in first person, although they are quite distinct in style).  The boy goes to Lawton’s trailer even though he is not welcome anymore: “Your momma and me, we’re done.”  Lawton fancies himself a cowboy, and the backing singer in a cowboy band.

Back at home, Sheryl is on a cleaning binge–purging herself of everything.  When she gets to Lawton’s records, she is ready to toss them but the boy asks her not to.  She doesn’t listen and hauls them to the dumpster.  The boy grabs them later on and brings them to his fort in the forest.  That’s where he kept all of the things that the men left in his house after they were gone: “I wonder did they know about he cigarettes they’d never finish?” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH on World Cafe, August 21, 2006 (2006).

Travelling back even further on the NPR timeline, Sonic Youth appeared on World Cafe in 2006 to promote Rather Ripped.

This is a brief session (only three songs) but as with the interview with Thurston Moore, David Dye does another great interviewing the band here.  Although it must be said that saying the band is once again a four piece (when clearly there are five people in the picture and in the studio and when he later says two guitars, two basses and drums–which I also think is incorrect, as I’m pretty sure Kim switched to guitars at this point, although I don’t know if she did during this set) is not a great way to start the interview.

Facts aside, the interview is informative and interesting and provides a glimpse into the band’s psyche all these years into their career.

The set is also good (although Thurston’s voice sounds a little off on the opener “Incinerate”).  The surprising thing about the set is that even with the five of them, the feeling is one of restraint. True, the songs on Rather Ripped are not as noisy as previous records, but this feels like they are trying not to wake anybody up the NPR folks.  It’s a weird feeling for a Sonic Youth set, but the plus side to it is that you can really hear everything clearly.

The other two songs are sung by Kim: “Jams Run Free” and “What a Waste” (why do they never promote any of Lee’s songs??).  And there’s the very amusing comment that the first time they played “What a Waste” Thurston and Kim’s daughter said it sounded like the theme from Friends.  Ha!

[READ: April 15, 2011] The Best American Comics 2006

I just recently learned about this series from The Best American line of books.  I had known about the Best American Short Stories and Essays and even Non-Required Reading (which I have not yet read).  But once I found out about the best comics, I knew I had to check it out.

The first issue came out in 2006.  The series editor is Anne Elizabeth Moore and the Guest Editor for this volume was Harvey Pekar.  Each of them has an introductory essay in the book.  To me the amazing thing about Pekar”s essay is how aggressively defensive he sounds (a sort of, “you may not like this one, but try this one” attitude) about these comics and comics in general.  I don’t know much about Pekar’s work.  I know he’s a kind of underground icon, but I seem to have missed him.  My impression of him is that this sort of antagonistic/defensive attitude seems to go along quite well with his comics, so I guess that makes sense, but I didn’t find it very welcoming.

But that’s okay, because I really enjoyed the comics.  And quite a few were by artists that I had never read before, which is even better! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK : BLACK MOUNTAIN-Wilderness Heart (2010).

As the Tea Party showed, it’s never too late to pay tribute to Led Zeppelin.  Of course in 2010, it seems really uncool.  So, why not go whole hog?  The opener, “The Hair Song” sounds uncannily like Led Zeppelin, from chord structure to guitar sound.  And then just wait until after a verse or two and you get the guitar solo which comes straight from a Led Zep song.  And, amusingly enough, the duet vocals of Stephen McBean and Amber Webber combine to sound an awful lot like Robert Plant.

It may not be fair to compare them to their forebears, but they seem so intent upon referencing them.  “Old Fangs” sounds a ton like Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul” (at least they’re fellow Canadians).  But the wonderfully 70’s-style sound of the keyboards raise the track above any mere copycat.

“Radiant Hearts” is a gorgeous acoustic ballad where you can really appreciate the split vocals of McBean and Webber (and which should make you go back to the first two songs to really listen to how great they sound together.  This is that rare ballad that doesn’t feel like a kind of sell out track.

“Rollercoaster” returns to the 70’s-lovin’ with a monster riff (and a solo) that Tony Iommi would be proud of.  But rather than simply bludgeoning us, the riff stops in its tracks and then slowly builds itself back up.  “Let Spirits Ride” moves out of the 70s and sounds a bit like a Dio riff circa 1983.  But there’s some cool psychedelic vocal processing on the bridge (and a massive organ solo) to really mess with your retro time frame.

“Buried by the Blues” is followed by “The Way to Gone.”  They’re both folkie songs (although “Gone” features a re harder edge).  After the heaviness of the first half of the album , these tracks seem like a bit of surprise but they match the album’s retro feel very nicely.  “The Space of Your Mind” reminds me in many ways of Moxy Fruvous’ “The Drinking Song” (you won’t see that reference too much to this album).  Until the chorus comes in, when it turns into something else entirely.

But it’s not all mellow for the end. The title track has some heavy riffage (and great vocals by Webber–she reminds me of some of the guest vocalists on The Decemberists’ The Hazards of Love, although she really sounds like any number of great 70s rock vocalists).  I love the way the track ends.  The disc ends with “Sadie” another folk song (which makes the album half delicate folk tracks and half heavy rockers). It’s a fine song, but the album is kind of ballad heavy by the end, and the teasing drums and guitars just never bring forth the climax I was looking for.

Despite the obvious homages to classic rock bands, (if you can get past that, the album actually sounds fresh (or maybe preserved is a better word) and strangely original.  Like the preposterous cover, the album is preposterous–over the top and crazy.  Yet unlike the cover, the pieces all work together to form a compelling picture.  Obviously it helps if you like classic rock, but there’s nothing wrong with good classic rock, now is there.

[READ: February 14, 2011] Literary Lapses

Despite the cover picture above, I actually downloaded this book from Google Books (and the cover of that one was boring).

So, obviously, reading the biography of Stephen Leacock made me want to read some of his humorous fiction.  True, I also wanted to read Mordecai Richler, but his books are much longer and I wanted this done by the end of February!

So, according to Margaret MacMillan, it is this book, specifically the first story, “My Financial Career,” that solidified Leacock’s reputation as a humorist.  And I can totally understand what she means (without having read the other books, of course).  “My Financial Career” is indicative of the others stories: not laugh-out-loud funny, but clever, kind of silly and very smile-inducing.  The gist is that the narrator is very nervous about going into a bank with his large amount of cash ($56!).  He asks to speak to the manager who thinks he’s Very Important and then proceeds to embarrass himself further. And further. It’s quite amusing.

“A Christmas Letter” is one of my favorite in the book.  It’s a very snarky look at a friend’s Christmas Party, with a great punchline.  And stories like “How to Make a Million Dollars” or “How to be a Doctor” are wonderfully amusing tales in which the narrator mocks the wealthy and “professionals.”

There are 42 stories in this book, so there’s bound to be a few clunkers.  Some were mildly amusing, some were mere trifles, and some are crazily out of date for a 2011 audience.  This book turned 100 years old last year.  (Neat). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: My Volkwagen Jetta hates The Beatles.

Lately, I have been playing some Beatles discs in my car.  And my Jetta clearly hates them.

First it was Please Please Me, when the entire CD player shut off mid-song.  It had lost all power.  I had to bang on it for about 5 minutes before it came back on.

The player played other discs fine after that.  Then, last night I played A Hard Day’s Night and half way through the disc it shut itself off again.  This time I was able to power it back on, but it wouldn’t play the disc anymore.  I ejected it and put in a new disc which worked fine.  When I put A Hard Day’s Night back in, same spot on the disc (“Can’t Buy Me Love”), and the player was totally off: no power at all.

A bit more pounding on the face and it came back on, and today played a Rheostatics disc with no trouble.  I guess I’ll not be listening to The Beatles in the car again.  Is it because the Beatles recorded versions of their songs in German but they weren’t included on the disc?

[READ: May 8, 2010] The Clock Without a Face

This review is about my first read of this book.  When I get to the end you’ll realize why there will have to be a second read and updated review.

This is an amusing tale.  And also a confounding (and evidently very real–see the bottom paragraph!–) mystery. (more…)

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