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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 2 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (November 12, 2004).

The Rheostatics, live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, November 12, 2004. This was the 2nd night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.  This show was exactly 13 years ago!

I compared all of the setlists from the nine shows and was somewhat surprised to see just how much repeating they did. Most of the repeated songs are new ones–they played a lot from 2067, which makes sense.  But for a Fall Nationals, there’s really not a lot of “popular” or “rare” stuff.  But the band is in terrific form for all nine shows and the recordings are consistently great.

They open intensely with “Christopher.”  It’s a great version and Martin is in very good voice.  Similarly, “King Of The Past” sounds terrific.  Once again, “Pornography” opens a lot like “Bread, Meat peas and Rice,” but the backing vocals sound great .  At the end, Dave notes: “a bit of folk disco there for ya.”

Introducing “The Tarleks,” Dave says it’s “from our new album called 2067.  It’s the year of Martin’s 100th birthday and Canada’s bicentennial and the year we get a hit single.  We’re having a party and you’re all invited.  Martin: “Unfortunately so are these guys, the Tarleks.”  The song is perfect and segues right into “Marginalized” which is also great.  The whole band is in great form and I love the guitar sounds as it segues to the chorus.

“Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne” is slow and fine.  And Dave says, “and you doing the super tokes you are…. from the country.  Tim: “Mmm smells good. Smells like grade 12 math class.”  MPW:  Shop class.  Dave: Back in the 70s they let you do that sort of thing …80s.  Tim, snapping fingers: “It’s cool.  Foosball is like soccer crossed with shishkabobs.”

“Fish Tailin'” rocks and then comes “Me and Stupid,” which hasn’t been played in a while.  Tim plays the riff and sings “Dave is tuning, tuning his guitar, Dave is learning how to use a tuner on his guitar.”  Dave starts the song and after the first verse he stops the song “I gotta re tune.”  Tim: “He’s just leaning.”  MPW: “That’s okay my hands hurt a little.”

“PIN” and “Mumbletypeg” sound terrific and mid song Dave says, “We’re the Rheostatics were from Etobicoke, it’s west of here.”

Dave: “We’re gonna take it down a bit.”  Tim: “We’re gonna take it down but its gonna become very heavy” with “Here Comes the Image.”  While waiting Tim pays the bass riff to “Tom Sawyer.”   Tomorrow at 2 o’clock we’ll be at Sam the Record Man.”

“Shack In The Cornfields” sounds quite different with Dave’s bass backing vocals.  It takes a while for the song to start really rocking but once it does it’s so much fun.  I like the chorus of “Try To Praise This Mutilated World” more and more.  I’m assuming by now that the spoken part is prerecorded.

“In This Town” starts quietly but martin sings a big growly ending.  “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds” slows down in the middle with a drum solo and a clapping solo.  After the solo, Selina Martin comes out and sings the end with Martin.

Martin: “Dave Alexander Herschel Bidini wrote that in 1972.”
Dave: “Hell of a year.  What with Ian Sunter’s field goal and everything.   This refers to the 60th Grey Cup in which Hamilton ran the clock down while getting close enough for Ian Sunter to kick a 34-yard field goal on the last play of the game to win.]

Tim plays a great “Bad Time To Be Poor” and Dave says “We will conclude with a song from 2067.”
Someone in the audience shouts: “what do you mean conclude?”
Dave: “what do you think I mean?  We’re fucking right off after this one.  The limo is idling, baby.”
Tim: “conclude the first set.”
Martin: “it’s really just a smoke break for me.”
Dave: “oh we got rail and hoo-ers waiting, don’t worry.”

“Making Progress” is lovely as always.  “Feed Yourself” starts off a little rocky but it sounds great.  Dave gets a little crazy with the “inside his head” bit at the end (and someone is manipulating his voice to echo and process in one way or another, which is cool).

After a quick encore break, they’re back with a Dave song while Martin smokes.  In “My First Rock Concert” he changes The Ramones to Johnny Winter for some reason.

Someone keeps shouting “Saskatchewan” and you can hear a rhythm guitar playing the melody.  Mike says this ones for the greasy wheel, but then the guitar switches to “Self Serve Gas Station” and Mike says “make up your mind I’m trying to decide which way to adjust the chair.”

Before “Desert Island Discs,” Martin notes: “We stayed in the same hotel as Van Halen a week ago.  (Those hookers in the lobby were not for us).

Desert Island Discs is sloppy and fun with people picking these discs:

Dave: Ramones-Rocket to Russia; Cars-Cars; PiL-Metal Box.
Tim: Bob Marley-Survival; Tom Waits-Closing Time (huge cheer); Pavement-Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.
MPW: It’s his first time.  He says it’s like ordering last in a restaurant.  Anything by Gino Vanelli; Music for a Large Ensemble; Steve Reich (Tim: try to follow the groove) Metal Machine Music-Lou Reed.
Martin: my first record is (plays “Tom Sawyer”); Second Mary Margaret O’Hara-Miss America; Third uh… uh… uh… uh…  Mood Music for Beer and Pretzels
audience members
first one has a hard time: Led Zeppelin, Martin Teilli-Operation Infinite Joy; Rheostatics, of course.
second one: Weakerthans-Left and Leaving; The Beatles-Rubber Soul  and… [Dave: you don;t want to hear the E minor chord] Weezer-Weezer.
As they wrap up the song Mike keeps going after the final chord.  They bust his chops and say he is in the legion hall trance.

The set ends with a great “Legal Age Life At Variety Store.”

They take an encore break and Martin comes back out with  a ‘suede banana’ jacket “Very Century 21–he sold the most houses in the band.”

For the encore, they play “Rain, Rain, Rain” and Martin introduces “Mister Dave Bidini on lead” (it’s sloppy but fun).

This show runs about 2 and a half hours and it sounds great.

[READ: April 6, 2017] Star Scouts

Boy I loved this book.  I loved everything about it, from the understated to the perfectly stated.

The book opens with an alien creature getting yelled at.  Her name is, humorously, Mabel.  Mabel is scanning planets to collect a new species.  It turns out that she is doing this for a badge for scouts.  She selects a newt.  But she accidentally switches from Newt to New Kid (an amusing joke if not a little strange) and the teleportation begins.

The New Kid is Avani.  Avani speaks Hindi (which in itself is pretty awesome).  She and her dad (there is no mention of a mom) have just moved to a new place.  Avani has no friends.  She thinks everyone thinks she’s weird.  Even though she feels like an outsider she is also keeping people away, determined to feel sorry for herself.

The only social activity she has is Flower Scouts. Back home he Scouts were awesome, but here they just talk about make up and boys.  When Avani tries to talk about rodeos, the other kids laugh at her.  And they are equally horrified when she doesn’t swoon over Chaz Wunderlip the boy band sensation.  She would like nothing more than to get out of Scouts but her dad won’t let her quit. (more…)

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olymmpSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 1 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (November 11, 2004).

The Rheostatics, live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, November 11, 2004. This was the 1st night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.  This show was exactly 13 years ago!

I compared all of the setlists from the nine shows and was somewhat surprised to see just how much repeating they did. Most of the repeated songs are new ones–they played a lot from 2067, which makes sense.  But for a Fall Nationals, there’s really not a lot of “popular” or “rare” stuff.  But the band is in terrific form for all nine shows and the recordings are consistently great.

PIN is kind of sweet sounding, Martins guitar “sounds” even “smaller” than usual.  As with many versions of this era, he’s changed the line to, “you’ve got the key to my bosom.”   Then you hear Mike say, What are we playing, I don’t have a setlist.

They are playing “Soul Glue” which is delightfully chaotic with all kinds of backing vocals (MPW is great with the b voc).  Tim is having a bit of fun with this song, calling the “poliziei” and adding the line: “execrate, take a big dump on.”  It jumps right into “Polar Bears and Trees.” Martin is making some really cool scratching sounds before he brings in the big riff.   The “can’t do it” part feels like a fun improvised section with lots of different vocal parts overlapping.

Martins guitar sounds great on “Marginalized.”  I love the little fills and of course the crunchy guitar.  This song does loud and quite together very well.

Introducing “The Tarleks,” Martin says we made a new friend the other day.  His name is Frank Bonner and he played a brilliant character Herb Tarlek in the WKRP TV show.  He knew what was going on.  You never know when you meet somebody what their situation is, but his was good.”  The song is really great with lot of keyboard accents from Christopher…  Lots of banter from the band:

We got a new guy, Chris Stringer.  He’s shy but he’s new.  He’s just checking us out.  He got the elite week pass–sit on stage and play synthesizer with the group.  Did you win that off the radio station or something?  He didn’t go far enough to get the vocal mic.  Oh he got it, he went for the super deluxe gold.  He helped us make our last record and he’s up here to help us remember how to play it all.

This is the first song on our new album “Shack In The Cornfields,” it’s about growing up as a kid in Kitchener and wandering around cornfields.  Next comes “Pornography.” The intro sounds like “Bread Meat Peas and Rice.”  When the song ends Mike shouts: Four. More. Beers!

The keyboard solo on “Here Comes The Image” is pretty similar to what Mike plays but with a few more frills.  “Try To Praise This Mutilated World” starts out quietly with some picked acoustic guitar.  Then Martin throws in some gentle solos and Tim adds some bass.  I love this song as it gets bigger and bigger–the guitar lines and the harmonies are just wonderful.  Its unclear who does the spoken word–recording or live?  I assume recording.

“The Royal Albert (Joey Part 2)” starts almost comically with a really strange pacing before Martin starts singing about Joey.  Midway through the song they start the riff to “Satisfaction.”  As it ends, Mikes says, “that was corpulent.”

Dave introduces a “couple of songs that kind of go together thematically.”  They play a quick two-minute romp of “Torque Torque” which segues right into “Claire.”  Martin gets a great solo which is followed by a rather strange keyboard solo.

Torque, Torque is a quite 2 minute romp that segues right into Claire  after a great martin solo there’s kind of an odd.

Send those two out to Paul Quarrington our friend nominated for the Giller Prize tonight–didn’t win but it looks good on him.  A friend of his daughter will be opening for us on Sunday: Hebrew School Drop Outs.  All ages, late afternoon matinee.

Dave: I got my beer back.  Touch and go for a minute there.  It’s called “Trailhead,” I’ve never seen of it before either.  Is that a kind of fish, Martin?  Nope. “A mythical beer fish?  Canada’s national animal is a mythical beer fish.”

“It”starts out slow and then has a roaring guitar solo in the middle.

Our new back drop for 2004 (up at the top).  Designed by Martin.  We’re auctioning them of at the end of the run and all profits will go to ….charity?  Mike: “yeah, that’s right, charity.”

“Making Progress” has a cool creepy synth opening and a very pretty acoustic guitar ending.  The more I hear “It’s Easy To Be With You” the more I’m surprised it wasn’t a hit.  There’s certainly some weird lyrical content what with it being from a kids’ album, but it’s so catchy.

“Stolen Car” starts out slow with a lengthy intro.  Martin sounds great and there’s a terrific solo from Martin.  He ends it in the middle of a line though, I think he should have stopped but kept going.

“Little Bird, Little Bird” is slow but nice.  There’s some lovely, quiet work from Martin throughout the song.  When it ends, Dave says, Happy remembrance day.  Do you say happy Remembrance Day?”  We’ll do two more for you.  It’s getting late.  Don’t want to overstate our case.

They play “Aliens” which sounds great.  There’s a cool spacey solo and some fun bass work from Tim in the middle of the song.  It gets extended with Tim playing a faster bass line and Martin saying “jamming!”  Martin gets into it with some crazy guitar sounds muttering “gabba gabba hey” and then the group singing all kinds of classic rock lines: “Mother…” “Voodoo Chile.”

Dave thanks everybody but Martin starts playing the opening to “I Dig Music.”

Tim: he said two more.

They have a lot of silliness with this song, appropriately.  Mike: there’s only so many more times I’m going to come out here and do this.  This is one of them. During the end part “some say I’m an animal,” Tim sings “too bad,” “too fucking bad” in falsetto.  The full song is called “I Dig Music (The Jazz Animal)” but by the end they are singing “Jazz enema.”

During the encore break, Dave says “Chris will be with us every day but tomorrow.  It’s his brother’s wedding tomorrow (Mike says: “he’s got to spend the night in jail).

Tim: thanks to By Divine Right for starting this whole thing off in the rockingest way possible.  We have a weeklong pass that’s available for sale.

When they mention the all ages show, Mike points out: “there will be a little bowl of earplugs for the young ones.  Dave says: “You can eat em too.”  And cigarettes for the youngsters.  Dave: they don’t call them candy cigarettes anymore they call them candy stix.

They play the mellow instrumental “Who Is That Man, And Why Is He Laughing?” which I would find a disappointing encore, except it’s followed by a rocking intense “Fan Letter To Michael Jackson.”

This is a terrific show and runs almost 2 hours and 15 minutes.

[READ: Summer 2017] Olympians 9

I’m still not sure how many books O’Connor has planned for this series, although in his introduction he talks about saving his favorite books for the end, so I assume there are at least two more (although 12 seems reasonable).

Here’s the summary of the man himself:

George O’Connor is a massive geek and Greek scholar.  He has done lots of research for these books, including going to Greece and visiting sites and antiquities as well as comparing all manner of ancient stories to compile the most interesting pieces. He explains that since these stories were orally passed down, they were modified over the years.  He doesn’t change the myths, he merely picks the story lines that are most interesting to him.  And then he adds a lot of humorous modern touches (and dialogue) which keep it from being at all stuffy.

O Connor’s drawing style is also inspired by superhero comics, so his stories are presented in a way that seems much more like a super hero than a classical hero, which is also kind of fun.

Each book ends with an author’s note which is hugely informative and gives plenty of context.  It also has a bibliography, but more importantly, it has a list of notes about certain panels.  Do not skip these notes!  In addition to providing a lot of insight into the myths of the characters themselves, there are a lot of funny comments like “Greeks raced in the nude (point and laugh)” which really bring new depths to the stories. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE MYNABIRDS-Tiny Desk Concert #668 (November 10, 2017).

I thought the name The Mynabirds sounded familiar.  Turns out they performed Tiny Desk Concert #64 (by my count).

Bob Boilen says he

first met Laura Burhenn ten years ago for a songwriting project she did with John Davis, her then bandmate in the duo Georgie James, here at NPR called Project Song. [which I plan to write about at some point].  Her current band, The Mynabirds, are Tiny Desk alum, Laura having played her first Tiny Desk Concert in the spring of 2010.  I’m not one to repeat artists at the Tiny Desk. I’m more into discovering and challenging new bands to play in this intimate and awkward setting. But this project was so different and Laura had ideas about how to make it even more special from what she’d done back in 2010, so I couldn’t resist.

2016 was a tough year … the elections and subsequent inauguration, which were devastating to many. But what transpired next for anyone dismayed by those events was inspiring: The Women’s March united many who were in despair, while giving purpose and focus to what for them was an unthinkable outcome in the election of Donald Trump.

Then came the songs – nine new ones Laura Burhenn wrote with Patrick Damphier, inspired by the many marches around the country, listening to the news, seeing social media, talking to friends and taking it all in. The result is The Mynabirds’ politically charged 2017 album Be Here Now.

The band sings four songs.  “Golden Age” features Laura on keys with a backing band of cello (Alexia Kauffman), guitar (Emily Moore) and bass guitar (Damphier). This song is full of lamentations and her husky voice works quite well with it.  She speaks of dead musicians, and political horrors.  The solo in the middle is interesting for it being deliberately jarring and somewhat out of tune.  Lyrically the song is pretty outstanding

Tell me, where are our heroes
Are they stuck at the wall?
Cause we got some real villains to stop
Before they kill us all

I see what you’re doing
With the Jews and the Muslims
You’re sawing us all
In half with your fake fear

My heart’s full of love
And all kinds of peace
But I think even
I 
Could punch a Nazi 
In the face

I just wish the song was more angry than sad.

For second song, “Shouting At The Dark” The People’s Choir come in.  The song rocks more with a great swinging bassline and some interesting muffled chugging guitar.  The choir really fills out the song and it sounds great.

I love the melody of the chorus which is once again, not entirely pretty–slightly haunting, except that they sound beautiful.  Adriana-Lucia Cotes is hitting these slightly dissonant notes that really standout in an interesting way.

Before the third song, “Hold On,” Laura talks about the choir, songwriting and the Muslim travel ban:

While recording this album, a travel ban was issued affecting six Muslim-majority countries. She wrote a song for refugees inspired by the ban and got in touch with friends back in Omaha at the Refugee Empowerment Center. It is there she learned of the Umoja Choir whose members include resettled refugees from The Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia and they ended up singing on her record. Laura also started a GoFundMe campaign for them to record their songs. Now some of those choir members Diendonne Manirakiza and Eric Esron (refugees from Burundi) have come to the Tiny Desk for a powerful set of songs. They’re joined by Michael Boggs, another Tiny Desk alum: Jessica Lea Mayfield. It’s an inspired project that I’m excited to share.

“Hold On” is “about having a heart.”  It’s a slower song with acoustic guitar and prominent cello.  The choir sounds like a “real” choir instead of backing vocalists on this uplifting song.

“Wild Hearts” opens with a cool echoed electric guitar.  For this song the choir works as powerful backing vocalists on this even more uplifting song.

[READ: May 20, 2017] Pretty Deadly 2

I didn’t really like the first book of this series.  And I didn’t like this book much either.  So I am officially giving up.

This book continues with the exposition by butterfly and dead rabbit.  An old woman, Sarah, is dying.  During the night she is visited by a ghost–of the man with slashes across his eyes, Fox (I can’t recall their relationship). Granddaughter Clara walks in and see the ghost.  Clara’s mother comes in and sees the ghost too.  And after some ugly words they ask if they can keep Sarah from dying until her son gets back to see her one last time–he is off fighting in a war somewhere. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ANI DIFRANCO-Tiny Desk Concert #667 (November 8, 2017).

Back in the day, I really liked Ani DiFranco.  I saw here live a few times.  I loved her whole indie thing (all her music on her own label) and her politics.  Plus her songs were interesting and catchy.  And then, some time around 2000 I lost interest in her music.

I didn’t really like the new jazzy/funky/extended sound that she was playing with.

This Concert has two newish songs and one old song (it’s great to hear the old song again).

For her Tiny Desk debut, DiFranco brought a hell of a backing band, with drummer Terence Higgins and singer/violinist Jenny Scheinman joined by none other than Ivan Neville on keyboards.

I felt that her song writing style didn’t really lend itself to jazzy funky style. And I still feel that way.  The blurb notes that the band lends a slithery underpinning of funk to three songs that stretch across much of DiFranco’s career.  And Opening with “Dithering,” from 2014’s Allergic To Water, that is true.  But one of the things I loved about her music was her excellent guitar playing.  And on “Dithering,” all of the action of the song comes from the funky keys (and it’s a great groovy funky song), but I find that he singing style doesn’t quite work with the music.  Her voice still sounds terrific, though and Scheinman’s backing vocals are terrific.

Even if I still don’t love her new songs, I’m glad she’s still doing her own thing:

But she’s also kept her core values intact, from her outspoken commitment to progressive social causes to her strenuously maintained independence from the machinery of the music industry.   DiFranco introduces “Play God” (from this year’s Binary) with a monologue about reproductive rights and gender relations.

And it’s fantastic–pointed and thoughtful with just enough edge.  Musically, the song brings back some of her fingerpicking style and I do like Neville’s funky keys.  In fact the funkiness of this song feels natural.  And lyrically it’s great too.

She and her band close with 1998’s “Swan Dive,” which she calls “an early attempt at a happy song.”  I get a kick out of how she gets another guitar change and says “I never play a guitar twice.”  This song showcase what I loved (and love) about her songs–a complex and interesting guitar/rhythmic/percussive pattern that she does by herself.  The additional musicians add more fill, which sounds nice–the gentle keys and the slow violin (which also makes some great noisy sounds) as well as the way the drums kick in for the chorus.  It all works great.

It’s been about fifteen years since I really listened to her and I’m glad she’s still rocking to her own beat.

[READ: May 1, 2017] Pretty Deadly 1

I love Kelly DeConnick’s work with the Marvel Universe.  So I was pretty excited to read this story which is her own creation.

When I went to log this book on Goodreads, it said that this book marries the magical realism of Sandman with the western brutality of Preacher.  And I found that uncanny because as I was reading it I thought that the style of elliptical writing and even the placement of the text boxes in relation to the pictures was very much like Sandman. But the brutality of the art and the setting reminded me of Preacher. Clearly I was onto something.

I loved Sandman. I liked Preacher (never actually finished it, though), and I fear that this book is more Preacher than Sandman for me.

It begins very confusingly with a butterfly talking to a dead rabbit.  They are telling each other stories and they tell the story of when they met (which appears to be when the rabbit was shot and killed). (more…)

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giant-daysSOUNDTRACK: MARTIN TIELLI-The Starlight Club Waterloo, ON (September 24, 2008).

This Martin Tielli show is the final solo show (excepting a Bidiniband that I am saving) on Rheostatics Live that I have to write about.

This is the first show of a tour at The Starlight Club in Waterloo Ontario. Just prior to release of The Ghost Of Danny G Part 1. Only live recording I have to date of “Ship Of Fire” and “Our Keepers.”

As Martin comes out he says, “This is our first show, we’re starting it here at my favorite club.”

This is a new band
Selina Martin – acoustic guitar, vocals, bowed saw ;  Monica Gunter – piano, synth, viola, vocals ; Greg Smith – bass, vocals ;
Ryan Granville-Martin – drums, vocals, glockenspiel.  There’s a lot of Martin up there.  Martin says, “My name is Martin because my mum’s last name is Martin.”

I really enjoyed this set a lot . The sound quality is excellent and the band is in tremendous form.

“Dead Is The Drunkest You Can Get” starts with just acoustic guitar and voice.  But when the get to “just like a child” the backing vocals come in.  And the xylophone sounds pretty.  It’s quite a surprise when the drums kick in mid way through the song.  “That’s What You Get For Having Fun” opens with some quavery violin and guitar trills–very different from the Nick Buzz version.  It’s overall more rocking and less cabaret style.

“Love Streams” sounds really pretty on piano.  He says, “that was a song I did a long time ago with a group called Nick Buzz.”  “(A Romantic Place) She Said, ‘We’re On Our Way Down'” opens with a musical saw!  He tells us, “I have to adjust the teleprompter here.”  He says it’s tough one, it’s a song I wrote about a place I love in Toronto.  A bar called the Inter Steer.  I wrote it in the bar while other music was going.  There’s too much music in pubic places, I think.  We should ban it.”  It has some great low acoustic guitar trills.  Overall, it’s a pretty spare song with Martin on guitar and the saw playing along.  When it ends he says “sorry about my brain… my brain my brain.”  That’s one of my favorite chorus of any song.  It’s by Wayne Omaha.

“That’s How They Do It In Warsaw” has a false start and lots of laughter.  He describes it as a “bit of a rockabilly number,” and when it’s over he says, “there were some devil notes in there.  Satan!  Frightening music that rockabilly.”

He opens “The Underbrush” by saying , ” the next few songs are on my subscription series records. These 2 record are about growing up in rural southern Ontario.”  This one is about a feral child.  Then he tells a story about his sister: She had an afro but she used to wear a towel on her head pretending she had straight hair.  I used to ask her what is wrong with an afro, it’s awesome….   We don’t talk anymore.  She lives in Brampton.

I love that you can hear the footsteps like in the beginning of the album and love how quiet and delicate it is with lovely backing vocals.

He busts out the vocoder for “Something In Those Woods.”   And then plays the beautiful “Watersriders”  They guitar is terrific and the keyboards add wonderful atmospherics. I love the guitar melody on “I’ll Never Tear You Apart” as well.

He tells a little bit about the subscription series: I had a bout of bravado about 4 or 5 years ago.  I’d do a subscription series and do 4 or 5 records in a year.  Then we blew the entire budget on the first record, Operation Infinite Justice, uh Joy.  Justice was the name that Bush gave to the first war on terror.  The town I’m writing about is Priceville.  Someone has heard of Priceville?  Priceville is where my grandparents live. His Italian grandparents are from a town near Verona, Italy.   A month ago I celebrated for a week because I finished all of the paintings.  The art is an important part of these records.   I was hoping to have it ready for Halloween because there are spooky musings about ghosts and spirits.  But now I’m hoping Christmas.

“Beauty On” jams through the whole first part even the normally quiet intro: “i am not.” It sounds great with the percussion.  But he asks, “Did we drop a verse n that song, it seemed too short.  He confesses, “I like working in bars because you can drink cocktails while you do your job that you get paid for.  I have a passione for the cocktails.

It’s nice to hear him do a Rheos’ song: “Take Me In Your Hand” is quite slow and different-sounding with the female backing vocals.  The coda on bells and melodica(?) is charming.

“My Sweet Relief” sound nice with the piano and Neil Youngish with the backing vocals.  “A Hymn To The Situation” is solo piano.  he interrupts the song to say “At the end of the next verse, there’s an axe and I want some heartfelt applause for the idiot I’m portraying, not an idiot…an honest guy.”  The crowd responds wonderfully.   He says that he’s been trying to rearrange “Sane, So Sane” so much that that’s the only way it can be done now.  It sounds good you can really hear the “lesbian pasta, please” lines.

He then says, “the next song is one I wrote with a certain hockey writer/sports writer.  Nice fellow, very gregarious.”  “Saskatchewan” opens sounding like “I’ve Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day” and the band jams it for a moment before playing a really good version of the song–appropriately rocking.

He uses the robotic voice thing again for “Sergeant Kraulis.”  It sounds great but when he gets to the end, it feels like he wants to do something else but it just sort of fades out with him playing weird notes. The backing guitarist plays the notes that should come next, but he says “That’s the end.”

Then he introduces a “Totally new song.  I’m pretty sure it’s going to be on my next record after I finish this subscription… debacle.”  He says “Our Keepers” is “full of hate… the most invigorating emotion, hate… the most delicious, invigorating, joy-inducing emotions.  bloody ..and loving.”  The song totally rocks and the middle section is pretty classic rock sounding.  It’s shame it’s only available on More Large Than Earth (We Will Warn the Stars).

Apropos of nothing he says, “this is Buddy Holly’s Stratocaster–midi Stratocaster.  The light keeps things from getting too spontaneous.”

Then it’s back to the music with “another song I wrote with this Armenian-looking guy who writes columns for the Star and is on the radio a lot.  I stole the song and changed the entire meaning of it.”  “Stolen Car” sounds great.  The backing vocals are different, but Martin is the heart of this song and he songs it great.

Then it’s back to “Sergeant Kraulis” with the “Reprise.”  The song picks up with the repeated notes from earlier and then Martin repeats primarily the “we were opening packages” mantra on the robotic voice.  The end is a long jam with wild soloing from Martin.  At the end, We had to pick up the last bit of that song.”

During the kind of encore break, he says “thanks for helping us kick this little tour off.”

The intense “Ship Of Fire” has a rather Neil Young sound but with some cool synths.  This is the only recorded live version of it which is a shame because it is intense live.  There was more robot voice at the end.

Martin begins tuning and says, “Let’ do ‘Voices from the Wilderness.'”  And you hear someone say “Oh, yeah, okay!”  There is a hunt for capos “Capos have been located.”  More tuning Martin says, “Talk someone, while I tune.”  Selena sings “G…  A….” (as Martin tunes those notes, then asks, “So uh what’s things like in Waterloo?  I never get to spend any time here.  Just soundcheck, show.  It seems like a swell place.” Martin chimes in:  “I got to spend a lot of time here when I was a kid–Kitchener/Waterloo.  There was a big cemetery we used to play in.”  Someone asks, “Did they used to be two towns that grew together, kind of like mold?  But good mold on cheeses.  When we get big we’ll have people who can tune guitars for us–were working on that.  You know Gibson has expensive guitars that actually tune themselves.  I think Jimmy Page had one a really l long time ago.. because he could.  Voices has a lovely guitar melody and bells.   I like that he puts in the line “I know Geddy, but he don’t know me.”

[READ: April 20, 2017] Giant Days Vol. 4

I was so excited to see two volumes of Giant Days out!  This meant I could read them right after each other.

And its a good thing because the third book ended with a bombshell that Esther was dropping out of school.

Chapter 13 opens with Esther storming around her house, her parents quite upset about her decision.  But Esther is certain and she even goes out to find a job.  She gets one at Bakerymax as a sausage roll technician.

And how is Esther enjoying being home?  She runs into her old best friend Sarah (who has fun hair) and they catch up.  There is a wonderful joke about textiles.  And then she sees her ex, Eustace.  But he just looks at her and walks away.  It’s ugly being home.

Meanwhile Daisy is so upset to have found out that Esther is not returning that she talks to her grandmother for advice (I love the way she twists anything her gramma says into something good for her).  Daisy and Susan decide to go and find her to bring her back.  They show up at Esther’s house and her parents are thrilled to see them (and thrilled to offer them so free luxury–Esther’s parents are loaded!). (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: NICK BUZZ-Lula Lounge, Toronto, ON (December 9, 2010).

I was looking through the solo concerts on the RheostaticsLive page and realized that there were only a few left for me to post about.

This is the first of two Nick Buzz shows on the site and the one I hadn’t posted about yet.

This audio has been taken from the Mini DV recording of the show that I put on YouTube (which is available in 13 parts).  These clips are all available on YouTube.

It’s interesting hearing Martin with Nick Buzz because they are clearly a more cabaret style–even on Martin’s solo songs.  As of this recording, they had released Circo and the Shoenberg EP.

“Spilling The Wonderful” sounds terrific.  It’s odd and cabaret-ish and as the title says, Wonderful.  On “That’s What You Get For Having Fun” it is cool watching him pluck at his guitar.  It’s a weird song but always sounds great.

He says, “Thanks a hell of a lot for coming” and then takes off his suit jacket.  “Just Because” is quiet and pretty.

Then he explains that the next few songs are from the Schoenberg EP.
I can’t tell how they do that opening collage of music and spoken words for “Gigerlette.”  But Martin seems to be enjoying it.  At the  end of the song he says “Strangely all these rather formal songs that Schoenberg wrote back then are all about sex, is that strange?  I don’t know.”  I cracked up that during “Der Ganugsame Liebhaber (Black Persian Kitty) he shakes his head after he sings “it shivers as I stroke its velvety nap.”  Then he even does some jaunty dances.  The final one is “Arie Aus Dem Spiegel Von Arcadien.”  It is so much fun with the boom boom boom bits.  He notes: it’s 100 years old.

“A Hymn To The Situation” is from “our first and essential only album Circo.  The other album was part of a subscription service I’ve done over the past 38 years–a collection of the creepiest Schoenberg songs.  But this is one of the most despicable songs I have ever written.  And I want to share it with you.

“Milkeek” is a new song.  It’s inspirations are from a dream world.  It doesn’t make any sense to me hopefully it will make some sense to you.  And it’s about keeping certain types of food separated from other types of food.  There’s scratchy violin.  He says that song was about “The relax”.
This song ain’t.  “Eliza” features banjo and Martin takes his guitar guitar back.  Although once the vocals start he takes the guitar off again.

“L’Astronaut” has an amusing story attached:    He says it’s inspired by a fantasy:  one of the things that occurred to me and a friend of mine was how we felt at folk festivals.   We would like to attend one in a spacesuit with tools to take samples of the boutiques and booths and bongo jams and take samples and do observations to take back to our world.  To use a boring drill to take sample drill into a djembe.  We’ll play the song and see if its comparable at all.   Don’t think so.  Not sure if there’s second unknown song or if that was part of “L’Astronaut,” but at the end, Martin jokes, “yes, we’re a little bit country.

“The House With The Laughing Windows”  is spare and pretty with a lovely piano melody.  I love when the guitar comes kicking in near the end of the song.  “Sane, So Sane” opens with him saying” Are you enjoying the show so far?  This is only our second show in a normal venue.  We’ve only done abnormal venues at this point things like television and classical tent arrangements.  This is a song about Toronto where I don’t live anymore.  There’s some really cool sound effects throughout.

“Love Streams” is from our album Circo.  The first time we played it from top to bottom we kept it for the record.

He says this next song features my bass playing.  It’s “Uncle Bumbo’s Christmas.”   It’s pretty long and for the end he’s basically playing two notes.  I wonder if he was bored.  The final song “If You Go Away” gets cut off at the end, but it is a delightful torch song.  Martin walks away for a bit in the beginning but comes back after 2 minutes to start singing.

I assume there were more songs at the show, but we will have to make due with what we have.  The quality is good and the band sounds great.  It’s nice to see Martin working with violinist High Marsh in the Rheostatics reunions.

[READ: April 20, 2017] Giant Days 3

Boy do I ever love this series.  It might just be my favorite graphic novel series yet.  And that’s saying a lot.

The only thing that confounded me a bit was that in the year since I read the last book, I’d forgotten a bit about what was going on.  But it only took a short amount of time to get caught up again.  I also noticed that I said I didn’t like Max Sarin’s drawing style in the previous book.  Well, I find that I really like it now and that I just didn’t like the change from one to the other in the middle of the previous book.  Because here it’s just right on–exaggerated and fun, but still delightful.

Chapter Nine opens on what I thought was a confusing scene–Ed and a woman (Amanda) are spying on the student government. The woman is an editor at the paper, she is older and pretty intense.  But they find out some shocking secrets (which allows them to make great use of the joke “absent Parent”).  After their espionage, Ed falls for this editirix.  And she is quite taken with him so she invites him home.  But she is older and more experienced and well, soon someone has some stories to tell. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ANIMAL MASKS-EP (2017).

Animal Masks is a band based out of Somerville, NJ (almost my home town).  They have an EP out (buy or stream on bandcamp), and it’s a great four song collection that melds a 70’s glam rock feel with a kind of 80s pop punk.

They are a trio and have the thick, meaty sound that trios do so well.  The disc doesn’t give a lot of details, but the band consists of Dave DeCastro, Dan Zachary and Ronny Day (not sure who does what).

The last three songs of the Ep have more of the punk edge–the songs are faster and shorter (“Tear It Down” is just over 2 minutes), but they are in no way hardcore.  There’s a distinct  major label Hüsker Dü vibe to these latter songs.

“Sad Day” has some nice harmonies in unexpected places and I love the gritty minor key guitars.  The chord progression in the bridge is also a nicely unexpected change up for an otherwise simple melody.  It’s a sweet touch to get a fuzzy wah wah sound in the second half of the (not at all flashy) guitar solo as well.  The “Ohhs” at the end of the song are pure Mould/Hart/Norton.

“Tear It Down” is a bit more upbeat (surprisingly given the “when everything falls apart, it’s time to tear it down” lyrics).  I love the thumping drums (and the screamed harmonies) in the chorus.  “Used By the Universe” is a bit muddier than the other songs–I can’t tell if it’s the same singer on all the songs–he’s harder to hear on this track.  He sounds a bit deeper, gruffer on this one.  There’s some great bass lines in this song, and once again, the drum has some great fills.

The glam comes to the fore on the first song, “For Real.”  The singer’s voice sounds a bit less snarly and the guitars are wah-wahed and echoey in a way they aren’t on the other three.  There appears to be some other kind of interesting overdub sound floating behind the guitars, which is a nice addition.  The song is slower, but I really like the way the drum plays a fast four beats in the middle of the chorus.

One thing that tickles me about this song is that the main body of the song has a chorus of “is it always… now or never” the “for real” of the title doesn’t come until after four minutes (the song is just under 5) with a coda that repeats “are you for real.”

I wish the recording was a little crisper, but that’s probably personal preference.  I definitely wish the drums were mixed differently–they sound kind of flat–which is a shame because the drumming is outstanding.  All of this just speaks to how great they probably sound live.

[READ: October 30, 2016] Cool Japan Guide

After enjoying Diary of a Tokyo Teen, I saw that Tuttle Publishing also put out this book. I got it out for Clark but wound up reading it before he did.

Abby Denson is a cartoonist (the other subtitle is A Comic Book Writer’s Personal Tour of Japan).  She and her husband (Matt Loux–who did the Salt Water Taffy stories) love Japan and Japanese culture and they travel there a lot.  So this is her personal guide book to visiting the wild world of Japan.

While it has some of the same features as Tokyo Teen, this book is far more of a guide book for travelers than a personal memoir of one girl’s travels. The book opens with a pronunciation guide (very helpful) and each chapter has a list of useful phrases and expressions all introduced by the very helpful Kitty Sweet Tooth.

Denson is quite thorough in this book.  Starting from before you leave–getting a passport, making reservations, getting rail passes, everything.  Even what to expect in each of the seasons.  Upon arrival there’s all kinds of fun things to see immediately–train stamps (you get a stamp for every station you go to) vending machines (and how to understand them) and even what kind of (apparently delicious) food you can buy on a train in the country. (more…)

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