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2015_03_16-400SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Snooks Pirate Radio: Raise A Little Band (2003).

snooksThis is one of the more unusual items on the Rheostatics Live site.  It is an evening of pirate radio by a guy named Snooks.

This is the explanation directly from Snooks as to what this is:

Hello,
In 2003 I had this hair-brained idea to run a radio station out of my bedroom. Two years previous, I attended Acadia University where I became the program manager of a thing called Radio Acadia nestled in the beautiful Nova Scotia Annapolis Valley, and was well aware of how to operate an online station. So, I set things up and ended up producing a show in my kitchen all about my favorite band, the Rheostatics. I had done numerous shows on them before, and I think I did a pretty good job with this one. I advertised the show on the Rheostatics yahoo list, but ended up with just one listener in Ontario I think.

Sadly, due to my rather busy work schedule, plans to take over the world with a pirate radio station that would change every music listener, and crush every commercial radio station into oblivion, had to be scrapped. Enjoy.

So this is 2 hours of Rheostatics music with some introductions by Snooks.  Snooks provides general information about the band, some chronology and band member lists.  But I think the best part is when he talks about meeting some of the guys and some personal anecdotes (especially about Tim Vesely).

I like the way he groups the songs thematically: History (songs from their early days and about the record industry), Acoustic Times (their more mellow numbers), Tim and I (songs by Tim), Bruce Willis and the Rheostatics (a great title if ever there was), Art (their more outlandish songs) and Reflective (their more reflective songs).  I am surprised that “Horses” didn’t make it, though.

There’s nothing new here–it’s all songs from the albums (including Double Live)–but it’s fun to hear them played in this order.

[READ: March 25, 2015] “All You Have to Do”

It’s 1972 and Sid Baumwell, aged sixteen,  is looking for more from his small town.  He was handsome and had a lot of potential (his teachers said so).  He genuinely believed he could be president.

One day at the grocery store he saw a card table offering a contest.  The man at the table asked him if he felt like a winner and Sid said yes.  The contest was for a lifetime supply of aluminum foil.  And the man at the table, Bill Baxter, said that Sid looked like winner. Bill smiled at him.  He gave him some sound if clichéd advice about school and made a slightly suggestive sexual joke.   And then Sid left.

On the way home, Bill pulled up next to him in his car and offered him a ride home.  Sid said sure.  They started talking about cars.  Bill laughed about his own car and after a few comments, Bill said that if Sid played his cards right the car could be his.  Sid is confused and Bill doesn’t really clarify.

As Bill drops him off, he suggests that Sid will want to get out of this town.  When Sid says it’s a nice town, Bill snidely remarks that nice is the kiss of death.  Sid if offended, but it makes him think about his town. (more…)

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lemocello[LISTENED TO: November 5, 2014] Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

We were looking for an audiobook for a recent trip and I decided to get Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.  I didn’t know anything about it, but the title sounded fun, especially for two librarians.

Well, I had no idea how much fun it would be for two librarians (and for others, too, I assure you).

So Mr Lemoncello is a game maker.  He has hundreds and hundreds of board games and in this universe, everyone loves playing them.  In the very first scene, Kyle Keeley and his brothers are playing Mr Lemoncello’s Indoor-Outdoor Scavenger Hunt (which is just what it sounds like).  In an attempt to finally beat his brothers, Kyle tries to sneak back into his house through a basement window (thereby saving the time of going down the stairs.  He inadvertently breaks the window and is grounded or a week (although he did win, so that’s something–and it shows just how intensely they play games in that family).

The next chapter opens up on the finishing touches of the brand new library in Kyle’s town.  Alexandriaville, Ohio has not had a library for 12 years and Mr Lemoncello’s gift to the town is the coolest most state of the art library ever built.  (Seriously, it is practically every librarian’s fantasy library with books and books and books (rooms coded by dewy number) and all kinds of high tech gadgetry to go with it.  I would love to see this place built).

Kyle is bummed about being grounded.  And to make matters worse, he forgot about the extra credit essay contest “Why I am excited about the new public Library.” At the last minute he throws together a lousy essay (which consists of “Balloons. There might be balloons,” and he is laughed at by just about everyone.  But when the essay winners are announced (12 of them), he is the final winner–how could that be? (more…)

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grantldnSOUNDTRACK: VOIVOD-Killing Technology (1987).

killingAs I said, this album’s art looks much better.  And you can hear from the first notes that this album is better produced and is going to be a lot more interesting than the previous two.  It’s hard to know just how much of a leap this is from Rrröööaaarrr because that album was so muddy–maybe there were gems of guitar chords under all that noise.  Like the previous openings, there’s a sort of prologue to the album.  But unlike the previous album’s swirls, this one is beeping with a computer voice announcing “we are connected”

The opening chords are heavy, but man they sound clear—like they weren’t recorded underground.  You can also hear all of Piggy’s weird higher notes—he’s playing complicated chords, not just solo notes.  And when the chorus of “Killing Technology” rolls around, it offers stop and start rhythms and Snake’s voice even goes up an octave at the end.  But the first real indication that Piggy is on to something new comes in the bridge. Underneath the robotic voice, Piggy is playing some really strange-sounding chords.  The story is that he had been admiring Robert Fripp’s guitar work and so he added some of those King Crimson-y angular weird chords to his repertoire.  And he melds them perfectly with the heavy thrash that the band had been playing.

Lyrically also, this album has moved away from killing and headaches.  “Killing Technology” while having “killing” in the title is a very different subject:

The star wars have started up
The new invention is coming out
Making a spider web over the atmosphere
To make them sure that we can’t get out of here

Computers controlling your functions
Seems like we got electronic alienation
Trading children for a new kind of robot
Waiting for the old people to disappear

Quite a departure from Rrröööaaarr’s “Fuck Off and Die”

Stand up, right now, kill

No pleasure, the pain comes down here
No return, don’t look back, there’s no tomorrow
And if you’re a fucker and don’t believe it
I’d say fuck off and die, fuck off and die

“Overreaction” leans more towards the heavier side—Snake screams a bit more—but the subject (nuclear disaster) is thoughtful.  Then comes their first truly amazing song: “Tornado.”  Not only building like a tornado, this song allows them to talk about violent imagery without resorting to bloodshed. It’s even scientific:

Cumulonimbus storms arrive
Lightning flashes a hundred miles around
Electrical collision course
Creates the elephant trunk

But the best part is the chorus—it’s simple enough (just the word Tornado repeated) but it’s completely catchy and sing-alongable with bright major key chords.

“Forgotten in Space” features some great drumming from Away—he’s really quite underrated both in speed and technique—which explands even more on later albums.  “Ravenous Medicine” is another highlight—an interesting series of uncomfortable chords opens this track about scientific research.  It’s a pretty fast, heavy song.  Although not too complicated except for the occasional breaks as the story progresses.

“Order of the Blackguards” is another fast song, but this one has so many parts that if you don’t like one, just wait a few seconds for the next one.  “This is Not an Exercise” ends the disc proper.  The middle section has a great heavy riff.  But it’s the beginning of the ending sequence which is so perfectly sci-fi that really sets the tone of the album and looks towards the next one.  It’s cool to think of Piggy playing these spacey chords on his guitar.  And when Blacky’s bass rumbles in to resume the song, it’s quintessential Voivod.

By th way, this disc is a concept album as well.  There’s a “Killing Side” (the first three songs) and a “Ravenous Side.”  The strange thing about the CD though is that they have added two tracks from their Cockroaches EP which is nicockroachesce.  But they put one song at track 4 (the end of side one).  How odd to put a bonus track in the middle of a sequenced album.

The EP came out before the album and it has a slightly different feel from the album proper.  Although as a step towards Killing Technology it’s perfectly in sync.  “Too Scared to Scream” is heavy and has some interesting time changes—I love the way the song feels like it is crashing to a halt around 3:30.   “Cockroaches” feels like more traditional metal.  It opens with drums and Piggy playing a typical sounding metal solo.  Then the riffing starts and it’s very heavy indeed. Even the staggered section near the end sounds like a mosh section more than the prog time changes that Voivod uses on the album proper.  The song ends with Snake screaming as the cockroaches are coming.  A good ending to the EP and a pretty good ending to the disc.

The whole album has a very mechanical and robotic feel—the chords that Piggy plays just sound like mechanical failure, it’s very well constructed and foreshadows the music of their future.

[READ: July 9, 2013] Grantland #6

Grantland #6 covers from Sept 2012-Dec 2012.  Despite the short time frame, this is the largest issue yet.  And it maintains all the quality that I’ve come to expect from the book/magazine thing.  Which means, I love the writing (especially about people/sports I’m not that interested in).  And it also means that the editing is typically crap.  In this issue the editing was crap more because they simply forgot to remove mention of hyperlinks.  At least I assume that’s why sentences like “See here for ____” are included in any given article.  But yes, there are some very simple typos that Word would correct pretty easily.

But beyond that, I really enjoyed this issue.  And I’m finding it amusing how much certain people and shows crop up in a given time frame.  So this is a four month period and Kobe Bryant still dominates (there will never be an issue without at least one Kobe article).  But this time Homeland is the big show (since Breaking Bad has been on hiatus I gather).  Basketball remains the favorite sport here (even though they speak of football as being the most popular sport).

Chuck Klosertman and Charlie Pierce continue to write thoughtful (sometimes funny) articles.  And I like how there is still talk of Jeremy Lin even if Linsanity has gone away somewhat. (more…)

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grantlandSOUNDTRACK: The xx–Live at KEXP (July 25, 2012).

I xxkexphave casually seen The xx on a few shows and I’m intrigued by them.  I’ve never really given their albums any time though, so I can’t say anything much about them.

However, I really enjoy the sound they get live (which is funny since in the article below they talk about how much of a perfectionist Jamie, the studio tech guy, is about the recordings).

This set from KEXP (KEXP always has great audio quality) contains four songs “Fiction” “Reunion” “Sunset” and “Angels.”  And I have to say the band sounds amazing.  So close, so clean, so intimate.  Oliver’s voice is right there, whispering in your ears, and Romy’s guitars sound gorgeous–gentle vibrato, chiming chords; her voice is also beautiful.

The thing that throws me about The xx is how spare their music is.  Sometimes it’s almost like there’s no music at all. And I keep thinking of reasons why I wouldn’t enjoy such simple music (it’s usually not my thing). Or that it should only be experienced in a dark room by yourself.  But the melodies are so beautiful that I think they’ve made a convert of me.  I really adore these songs.  And I must have heard “Angels” somewhere because it is completely familiar.

I wonder if they sound this good on record.  You can watch the show here:

[READ: July 9, 2013] Grantland #5

Grantland continues to impress me with articles about sports that I don’t care about.  They style that the writers have (and the humor they impart) is wonderful.  And it goes to show that if you are passionate about something you can make it interesting to anyone.  So, even if I don’t know who some of the people who they’re talking about are, I can still enjoy what they say about them.  Plus, their entertainment coverage is really fun, too.

BILL SIMMONS-“Battle of the Olympic Heavyweights”
I really enjoyed this article which compares Olympic swimming and gymnastics to see which one “wins” in this battle for TV coverage and the hearts of Olympic fans (hint: it’s gymnastics, but Simmon’s categories are very good).

BRIAN PHILLIPS-“The Death’s Head of Wimbledon”
Phillips tries to cover Wimbledon and finds it very difficult to manage because it is all designed for TV, not in person coverage.

REMBERT BROWNE-“I Feel Like a Free Man”
The amazing decision of Frank Ocean to come out and how little it impacted his career. (more…)

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grantladn4SOUNDTRACK: PUBLIC IMAGE LTD-“Poptones” and “Careering” on American Bandstand (1980).

abThe Dick Clark article below alerted me to this bizarre gem–PiL “playing” on American Bandstand.   The article talks about John Lydon ignoring the lip synch, climbing into the audience and generally disregarding the show’s script. The video suggests something sightly less sinister (although maybe for 1980 it was outrageous–do you really cross Dick Clark?).

Dick Clark himself announces the band nicely, and then the crazy off-kilter bass and simple guitar of “Poptones” kick in.   Lydon runs into the bleachers with the kids (most of whom are dressed in New Wave finery not unlike Lydon).  They shriek with glee when he comes nearby (do any of them know who he is?  I have no idea).  When Lydon’s spoken rambling come in a little later you can’t help but wonder what the hell they are doing on AB.

Then, Lydon starts grabbing people from the audience and pushing them towards the stage–something I believe was unheard of on AB.  The fans dance around to the impossible-to-dance-to “Poptones.”  The song ends and Dick asks John if he wants the kids out there for song two.  Yes, song Two!  He does and John faux lip synchs through “Careering,” avoiding cameras at all costs and dancing with the kids–one of the most egalitarian performances I can think of from Lydon.

And listen for Dick asking Jah Wobble his name (reply THE Jah Wobble) and him saying, nice to meet you Wobble.  What a surreal moment–wonder what Dick thought of it.

Enjoy it here:

 

[READ: December 28, 2012] Grantland 4

Grantland continues to impress me with these books (and no, I have not yet visited the website).  My subscription ran out with this issue and I have resubscribed–although I take major issue with the $20 shipping and handling fee.  I even wrote to them to complain and they wrote back saying that the books are heavy.  Which is true, but not $5/bk heavy.  The good news is that they sent me a $10 off coupon so the shipping is only half as painful now.

This issue’s endpages were “hypothetical baseball wheel-guides created by JASON OBERG–they were pretty cool and a fun idea.  They look very retro, but use contemporary batters, pitchers and catchers.  I’d like to see them for real.

Each issue makes me like sports a little bit more, but not enough to actually watch  them.

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACKKINDERANGST-“Let’s Play” (2012).

I heard this song on Kid’s Corner recently and I loved the verses.  This is a very funny song, in which two girls play together.  The verses are sweet, musically–a kind of retro synth sound.  They have a sing-song melody with the lyrics, “it’s so much fun to play with you, you’re my best friend.”

 Of course, as games go, the game devolves, so when they play Princess, the singer is the pretty one and the friend has to stay home.  Or in the pirate game, the friend gets caught by the Navy and is forced to walk the plank.  In the background you hear the friend getting more and more upset:  Huh?  Hey!   So true and so funny.

The chorus turns into a much punkier song, “I don’t like you any more…  If you’re really my best friend, we’ll never ever play this game again.”  I don’t really like the way the chorus fits in with the verse–I think more for the forced rhymes than the music.  I also wish the song had more resolution…it just kind of ends.  But the verses are very enjoyable.  Even if (especially because?) they are kind of mean.

[READ: November 5, 2012] The Flying Beaver Brothers and The Fishy Business

Book #2 in the Flying Beaver Brothers series is even more fun than the first book.  Why?  Because two of the “evil” penguins from Book 1 are back, but this time they help out the Beaver Brothers (one of whom speaks, the other just says “Ka”, (which I find very funny) and neither has eyeballs–in other words, they are adorable).  The two of them have moved into the Beaver’s house (without asking).  At first the brothers are freaked out (at seeing evil penguins) but the penguins prove to not be evil (they make pancakes for everyone).  But before anyone can determine what’s happening with these penguins, Ace notices the volcano that has appeared out their window.

The “volcano” proves to be a factory belching smoke.  And the factory is making Fish Stix Environmental Manufacturing.  Fish Stix are the most popular, best-selling sticks around and they’re good for the environment!  (That last claim must be true, they keep telling us it’s true over and over).  No one’s exactly sure what Fish Stix are, but they are the best! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SPARE THE ROCK, SPOIL THE CHILD PODCAST (2005-present).

Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child started as a small radio show in Massachusetts and is now syndicated to whomever wants it.

In browsing their playlists, I see a wonderful selection of tunes for kids (and adults).  There is a definite They Might Be Giants connection (I gather they did the theme song).  But in between bands like Deedle Deedle Dees, Trout Fishing in America and Wee Hairy Beasties, they also play Superchunk (“Hyper Enough”), NoMeansNo (“Joy”) The Beastie Boys (“Intergalactic”) and Firewater (!) (“Ponzi’s Revenge).  These are songs that any kid would love and the fit in very well with some of the more energetic music featured in the rest of the show.

You can see their blog site here.  You can listen to the archives (and subscribe) here.

[READ: November 5, 2012] The Flying Beaver Brothers and The Evil Penguin Plan 

I stumbled upon this book at the library.  I’m always looking for books for the kids, and this graphic novel seemed great for Clark to read before bed.  It turned out that Sarah really liked it and so did Tabitha and now so did I.

Maxwell Eaton III has written several different children’s books, like The Adventures of Max and Pinky which we loved, and Two Dumb Ducks, which was okay.  But we loved The Flying Beaver Brothers.  The brothers are Ace and Bub.  Ace loves adventure!  (The opening sequence is awesome!).  You can see his surfboard by the door and everything.  Bub, on the other hand, would much rather simply nap.  But it is time for the annual island surfing contest and Ace stands a good chance of winning, that is, if the huge beaver, Bruce, doesn’t get in their way (he wouldn’t be plotting something nefarious would he?). (more…)

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