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Archive for the ‘Kevin Hearn’ Category

 SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Ultrasound Showbar [2nd GSMW Night 1] (February 25, 1994).

The next four shows are four of the five nights from the Second Annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar Feb 25-Mar 1, 1994. Setlists for all shows were fairly similar in content focusing mainly on the 25-30 songs that they would use for consideration on Introducing Happiness which began recording the following week. This first night featured 24 songs never previously released and a few that were played live very very rarely including Joey III, Floating, Fluffy, Green Xmas (which would appear years later as The Music Room on Harmelodia) and Symphony. Some of the audio on the beginning of each side of the tape is a bit warped and thus has a bit of a flange like effect for a few minutes.

That flange is very noticeable on “Jesus Was Once a Teenager, Too,” but it all settles down for “Tim Vesely going electric” on “Introducing Happiness.”  Bidini jokes that this is going to be their “up with life” album.

Introducing “One More Colour,” Dave Clark says, “Our next diddy is by a friend of ours who we last played with in Guelph.”  They follow it up with “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson” and “Full Moon Over Russia.”  After this song they ask the audience which chord they like better during one section–the minor chord wins.

They introduce “Fishtailin'” as a song about “love and life and living and loving.”  But an even better introduction comes for “Earth/Monstrous Hummingbirds” in which Bidini says it’s a song about the missing link.  Mankind was just walking around on earth drooling a lot.  And then all of a sudden they were up flying kites and making hotcakes and colorizing films and making Top 40 Radio.  Some say aliens impregnated cro-magnon man.  Dave thinks they came down for just two days and made everything happen.

Before the next song, Clark asks, “Dave what’s the best time of the year?”  Bidini says “Spring time: spring training starts.  Clark says I find around September 23rd (Bidini says, that’s coz baseball’s ending) because it’s 21 degrees–my favorite temperature.  Bidini: “yeah well spring’s better.”

There’s some banter about rehearsal space.  Clark says the band that used the microphones after them left them smelling like cheese.  Tim: “and by coincidence the band is called “Cheesemike.”  Then Clark tells a story about them being on Lunch TV, with his friends calling up saying “hey man, what are you doing on lunch TV,” and I said, “what the fuck are you doing watching it?”  Martin is annoyed because he stepped all over his introduction to a sweet version of “Take Me in Your Hand.”

They ask if there are any complaints so far.  Has everyone who has written the band gotten a reply?  Then Tim requests that Martin sing a verse of “Fluffy” which has only been played one other time on the live bootlegs (back in 1990).  The verse about champagne  Champagne?  Martinis, sorry.  It’s incredible falsetto, but Martin stops the song and says it sucked.  The last time they did that song a dark cloud came over Saskatoon.  Martin gives himself credit for writing one of the sickest songs ever.

Then they do one of the “not sickest” songs ever written: “Claire.”  Whale Music the film is locking down on Tuesday.  Clark jokes “Lee Majors is in it!”–he isn’t.  And then a great version of “Me and Stupid” before they take a break.

Paul McCloud “and his two little clouds” played in between sets.

They come back and At the conclusion of “The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos” Dave says that song is where Jethro Tull meets Rush.  Someone shouts, “What corner?”  Dave replies, “The corner of Bloor and Symington” (voted as the worst intersection in 2012).  At the end of “In This Town” Clark asks “who’s got Olympic fever? I do!”  Bidini asks, “Who’s your favorite Olympian?” Clark mentions a sportscaster….  Bidini says, “Dave hasn’t watched one second of the Olympics clearly, or he would have said Myriam Bédard.

Then there’s “Floating” a song I don’t know at all.  It’s a slow building Bidini song with a bouncy refrain of “up in the air” and a really noisy middle section.  After that he asks, “Didn’t everyone on the Finnish national hockey team look like Great Bob Scott?”  Clark says, “It’s funny you should mention that.  If I was gonna write a song for anybody it would be for Kevin Hearn, my favorite clown.  Of course none of you know who Kevin Hearn is… (ironic that they opened for BNL the previous year)

We had an idea one night that we would do a sequel to Melville–continue the stories from the album.  They only have two, this one “Onielly’s Strange Dream: is one of them.  It starts out very pretty with a recognizable guitar riff, but midway through the tape must change or something, it gets really loud and flangy.  It’s okay, it’s virtually impossible to forget the words on record.  It’s virtually impossible to forget the words “chicken Jimmy kept em alive,” To which Martin mumbles, “yea well he did.  It’s not funny.”

“Symphony” is also new to me.  On the song Bidini plays drums.  Martin stops the songs after a few verses and Dave complains that Clark was so jealous that Dave was playing drums that he forgot to turn the snare on.  And then Martin says it was way fast.  There’s some cool riffs and a line about no one takes solos in this band.  I’d like to hear that one more clearly.

Before the next song, Bidini says, I don’t play guitars on this, thank the lord.  Then there’s some drummer jokes:

Drums is a promotion actually–a drummer told me that.
Clark yells, “If Laura Lynn’s in the audience shame on you for cutting on drummers–they’re the foundation of any band.”
Bidini: “What did she say? How do you know a drummer’s at your door?  The knock speeds up and gets louder.  Coz if she did, that would be okay.”
Clark says, “Of course the most schooled musicians sit behind the tubs.”

The slow and country sounding “Row,” gets the dramatic introduction, “This is a song… Tim wrote.”  Then comes a rocking “Triangles on the Wall.”

Before “Bread, Meat, Peas and Rice,” Clark asks, “Just acoustic guitar and voice?”  But no, “Full band.” Clark jokes, “We’ll attempt a song we don’t know.”  At the end Clark asks, “Was that cannibolically inspired?”  “Alomar” is always a fun treat especially when followed by a wild and raucous “PROD.”  At the end Tim asks, “I wonder if Steven Page had a song, “We are the people’s republic of Steven Page, how would it go?”  And they give it a shot.

They then launch into the lurching “The Royal Albert” the other song that’ s a sequel (“Joey Part II”) which ends with the guys all singing what sounds like “soooey.”  After this song, Dave says, “We’ll take some requests because we’ve run out of new material. [Much shouting] Okay we’ll do them all.”

They start with “Record Body Count” which ends with a fugue vocal of everyone singing “Joey stepped up on a block of ice,” which is pretty cool.  It’s followed by the unrecorded “Joey III” (all three parts together, just out of sequence).  “Joey III” contains the “do you believe it” refrain from “Christopher,” which is a little odd, but which works.  This segues into a slow “Self Serve Gas Station” that eventually rocks out.

They end the set with some covers: a short, sloppy but fun version of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” (sung by Martin) and a pretty rocking version of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” (sung by Dave) which segues into a blast of “RDA.”

Despite the slightly muddy sound, this is a great set, especially if you like Introducing Happiness.

[READ: January 18, 2017]: “In This One”

I don’t really have a sense for what Stephen Dixon is doing in his writings.  He really likes to play with convention as a way of telling a fairly conventional story.

So, in this one, Dixon uses the phrase “in this one” in nearly every sentence.

It starts out “In this one he’ll have only one daughter and no other child.  In this one he’ll be divorced and his ex-wife will live in California…”

The character being discussed is a writer, “in this one he’ll have finished a novel a month or so ago after working on it for more than three years.”

In this one, his daughter tries to set him up with a coworker but neither finds the other interesting.

It sounds like Dixon is trying to write a new story–trying to create a character based on other characters.  But as the story proceeds it seems like this story is far more self-reflective.  In this one he meets a woman and he’s off to bed with her. But he warns her that it has been a long time and he hopes he’s able to get started. (more…)

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sardine4 SOUNDTRACK: AUTOMATISME-Momentform Accumulations [CST118] (2016).

Layout 1Constellation records had been rather quiet this year in terms of new releases.  And then back in August they announced three new discs with this intriguing blurb:

Constellation’s three new fall releases by Off World, Automatisme and Jason Sharp are dropping on September 30th…  These new releases are wildly different yet satisfyingly leftfield albums that share an electric thread of sorts.  Electronic music strategies, technologies, histories and sensibilities come into play, in very diverse ways, with each of these debut records – making them stand out a little differently in the context of the Constellation catalogue perhaps, but also informing one another and making a lot of sense to our ears as an album trio (somewhat in the spirit of our Musique Fragile series).

This is the second of those three.

From the Constellation site: “Automatisme is the electronic music project of Quebec-based producer William Jourdain, who has been self-releasing a brilliant series of albums and tracks under this moniker since 2013, exploring various intersections of drone, dub techno, electronica, ambient, electro-acoustic, and noise.”

This album is, indeed, very drone, dub techno, electronica, ambient, electro-acoustic, and noise.  There are six tracks: Transport 1, 2, and 3 and Simultanéité 3, 1, and 4.  The Transport tracks are all about 5 minutes and the Simultanéité tracks are all about 9 and they are interfiled on the record.

“Transport 1” seems to be all about the thumping drums. The synth lines are fairly simple and serve to propel the song along as almost an ambient dance track.  “Simultanéité 3” opens with some mechanical drone sounds and a beeping almost like a heart monitor.  The beeps change and then a new drum beat is added while fiddling synths tickle along the top of the song.  Things slow down and speed up and the track reminds me a lot of something you’d heard on NPRs awesome Echoes program.

“Transport 2” is more about drums. There are several different percussion themes going on–fat repeated drums, the main steady beat and then some low synth that runs through pretty much the whole thing.  “Simultanéité 1” is a drone song with a drum sound that is like a heart beat.  About a minute in the note changes and 30 second later the song takes on a different texture and pulse.  It remains largely ambient for most of the song.

“Transport 3” has more percussive sounds that make this track much faster than the others. The final track “Simultanéité 4” has what sounds like voices (although I assume they are not) echoing underneath the slow pulsing rhythms.

While the track listing alternates between drum heavy tracks and more mellow tracks, the whole disc has a very chill vibe.

[READ: December 5, 2014] Sardine in Outer Space 4

Sardine is a children’s book published by First Second.  It was originally published in France (and in French) and was translated by Sasha Watson.  There are six Sardine books out.

This time the inner flap says “No Grownups Allowed (Unless they’re pirates or space adventurers),” and this book had some of my favorite cartoons yet.

“Under the Bed” has the kids getting lost under Little Louie’s bed and finding all the monsters that hide there.  But Sardine’s adventures are so scary that the monsters don’t stand a chance trying to frighten him–they’re even a little afraid of Sardine, too.  Of course the kids have someone who they can go frighten. (more…)

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logo_OL-lgSOUNDTRACK: MARTIN TIELLI-Lee’s Palace, Toronto, ON (April 5, 2002).

Lees-Front-360x238By April, Martin was back in Toronto.  The newer album would be coming out in 2003, and he plays 4 songs from it.  The rest of the songs comes from his first solo album with a couple of Nick Buzz songs, a Rheostatics track and a Joni Mitchell cover thrown in.

For the first three songs, it’s just him and his acoustic guitar.  “World in a Wall” sounds great and he even plays a gnawing sound on the guitar strings (sliding the pick up them).  He’s got cool, aggressive strumming in “Double X.”

For Joni Mitchell’s “River” Kevin Hearn plays piano. It’s quite lovely (and Hearn is applauded, of course). Then Martin plays an outstanding version of “She Said ‘We’re on Our Way Down’” (each live version gets better).

Before playing “My Sweet Relief” he says “stay tuned for Operation Infinite Justice.”  He is clearly keeping this as the band’s name, even if the next album will be changed somewhat to Operation Infinite Joy.

There’s a great percussion sound on “That’s What You Get for Having Fun.”  On Voices in the Wilderness” he finally just comes out and mentions the source of the lyrics: after singing “if you choose not to decide…” he changes his own words to “I know Geddy, he don’t know me” (from the usual “I know him, he don’t know me”).

During “Sgt Kraulis” (one of the newer songs) they have a jam section in the middle it turns reggae and someone starts singing “Legalize It.”  And in “Love Streams” the piano (I assume no longer Kevin Hearn) plays a “stoned” melody when the lyrics speak of being stoned (musical humor!).

“Saskatchewan” sounds great—it’s a really passionate versions (with some backing vocals going “woah woah” near the end).

Martin has fun with “How Can You Sleep?” he seems to be talking during it, expanding on a line in the song ”Want to quit drinking? Cut off your head.”

This is a outstanding show.   The recording quality us great and Martin is in fine and funny form throughout.

[READ: October 20, 2015] Killer Dope

Since I found some McPherson books in the library, I decided to also grab this book.  This is a short story, but it was published by Bad Moon Books (in a limited edition of 150 copies) and was the winner of 2004 New Cat Tattoos.  I believe that it was reprinted in his short story collection Six Ways to Sunday (but I cannot confirm this).

So this story is, as the title suggests, all about drugs.

Our two protagonists are Two Seconds (whose name has a wonderful derivation) and Little Fish (whose name is also cleverly derived).  Little Fish is painting graffiti under a bridge (a UFO flying out of the eye of a kid shooting smack). Two Seconds is watching him add details and believes it to be the best art he had ever seen.

Then Little Fish asks him if he is ready for tonight.  (more…)

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academiaSOUNDTRACK: MARTIN TIELLI-“We didn’t even suspect that he was the poppy salesman.” (2001).

popptI wrote about this album once before, and while I made notes about it after listening to it again, I found out that they were pretty much exactly what I thought of the record four years ago.  So I’m going to simply repost the review here, but I’m going to add some new notes seamlessly intermingled.

Martin Tielli’s first solo disc is a proper solo release: it’s almost all him on acoustic guitar and his gorgeous alto voice.  I hadn’t listened to this disc in a while and I was delighted by how much of the disc I knew so well.

The opening track, “I’ll Never Tear Your Apart” is deceptively simple: beautiful harmonic’d guitars and his gentle voice.  There’s a great video to go with it here.  That is followed by the wonderful “My Sweet Relief” which sounds like a great Neil Young folk song: great verses an a strong chorus.  Lyrically, though, it is all Tielli.  “Double X” highlights Tielli’s beautiful acoustic guitar work.  It’s another great story song, this one about a destitute person hanging under a superstore with a K and an M.

“Voices in the Wilderness” is a simply beautiful song, a lovely guitar melody and Tielli’s high voice singing along.. I also love that the lyric  (mis)quotes Rush very nicely: “‘If you choose not to be free you still have made a choice,’ said a high and squeaky voice.”

“Farmer in the City” is the only track that Tielli didn’t write.  It’s a nearly 8-minute song by Scott Walker.  I had never listened to the original, but having now done so, I find the Walker version to be far superior.  Walker’s voice is so eccentric and wonderful.  So even though I love Martin’s voice, he just can’t compare to the original.   Also find Martin’s version to be just a little spare (the Walker version has lovely strings. Kevin Hearn plays celeste and Selina Martin plays wine glasses on the track.

It’s followed by the delightful “World in a Wall” which uses mice in the wall as a metaphor for a broken relationship (with wonderful detailed lines like: She’s like a mouse, I know she’s around It’s a gnawing sound. Leaves little brown poohs from a little pink bum.”

This is followed by “That’s How They Do It in Warsaw” which is the first really rocking song (it has bass and drums) and a voiceover in Polish by Kasia Zaton.

It’s coupled with a slightly less rocky but still loud track “How Can You Sleep?” (which makes another fun musical allusion, this time about Guided by Voices). It has a co-songwriting credit from Dave Bidini and has a kind of vocal allusion to Bob Dylan, although I doubt it is about him.

“She Said ‘We’re On Our Way Down’” is a song that I really want to enjoy more.  But It is so spare and Martin’s vocal line is so abstract, that I can never really get int it. But the guitar riff is really powerful and cool.  And yet, the song seems to eschew melody but then a gorgeous guitar or vocal line shines through and really sounds brilliant.  “From the Reel” is a beautiful, aching acoustic ballad.

The disc ends with the odd, seven minute “Wetbrain/Your War.”  The first part (wet brain) is kind of slow but it builds into a beautiful dark song about addiction.

This is a really beautiful album, although there are moments when I fell like Martin gets too delicate, it’s amazing to hear just what he can do when he’s on his own.

[READ: October 19, 2015] Academia Waltz

Way back a long time ago I was pretty excited to read all of the Bloom County reissue books.  Somehow I only got through Books 1 and 2, although I see now that five volumes were released in total.

Presumably at the end of that run, (which technically ended in 2011) comes this volume.  Academia Waltz is the strip that Breathed wrote back in college.  This book collects some (but apparently not all) of the strips.  It’s odd to not collect them all since there is also an art gallery with all kinds of original pieces (complete with edits and scribbled notes) that duplicate many of the earlier strips.

The first part collects pieces from Academia Waltz the 1979 collection.  The second part comes from Bowing Out, the 1980 Collection. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 5, 2015] Rheostatics

2015-09-05 22.26.36I am a huge fan of the Rheostatics, but I never saw them live before they broke up.  There was an attempt at a reunion a few years ago but it fell through (apparently do to Martin Tielli’s stage fright).

Then earlier in the spring I saw the incredible news.  The band was going to reunite for three nights at the AGO.  They were celebrating the 20th anniversary of their album Music Inspired by the Group of 7 and they were going to play the entire album.  Now, I’ll admit it’s not my favorite Rheos album.  I like it fine, and there’s some good stuff on it, but it is mostly instrumental, and there’s only really 2 “songs” on it.  But who cared?  It was the Rheostatics!

And who cared if the show was in Toronto, an 8 hour drive away.  I knew the venue was small (it sold out pretty fast).  On the day of tickets sales, I arrived late to work so I could order online.  And after I secured them, I thought….now how in the hell am I going to do this?

Well, we decided to make a vacation out of it.  The show was Saturday night, the kids didn’t start school until Tuesday, so I took some days off of work and we drove up to Niagara Falls on the Wed before the show.  We toured the Falls and then drove to Toronto, where we did so much sightseeing, my legs were tired.  And then, when concert time approached, Sarah and I headed off to the AGO. (more…)

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walrusaprilSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Ted’s Wrecking Yard Toronto, ON (May 29 2001).

bye byeThey marked the final two nights that Don Kerr would play drums with the band (after six years) with two nights at Ted’s Wrecking Yard.  [Technically, they reveal at the end of the next show that there is a final show in a few days, but that somehow it doesn’t count].

The two shows together are a simply fantastic collection of Rheostatics music.  Don created the setlists for both shows.  The one downside on this recording is that one of the guitars was recorded very low (although Darrin, the site’s commander, has remixed the show so you can barely tell).  On the plus side, it means that you can hear Dave’s amazing rhythm guitars very well.  Another major plus is that Kevin Hearn plays on this night, and the set list reflects Kevin’s keyboards and songwriting contributions to the band.  This means a bunch of stuff from Harmelodia (including “Home Again” and “Monkeybird” and “The Harmelodian Anthem.”

Don is leaving to tour with Ron Sexmith.  In the middle of the set Don says that he is leaving because Ron has better coke (Kevin chimes in and asks if he needs a keyboard player).

The band is also in great spirits and, to send off Don in a great way, they are really at the to of their game–having fun yes, but committing a fantastic set to tape (these shows were originally going to be released on disc but fifteen years later, that seems unlikely).

The whole show is great.  But some observations: “Four Little Songs” is actually “Five Little Songs” tonight with Kevin getting a verse.  They also ask him about Lou Reed, and Kevin tells a story about meeting Lou for pizza.  And they joke about hot knives.  Kevin eventually did tour with Lou in 2009.

The setlist is a wonderful selection of old and rare songs.  I barely even recognized “The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos” and can’t imagine when they played it last.  They also play “The Reward” which is an underplayed gem–they even remark that they forgot how to play it.

There’s a funny bit where Kevin starts a new song called “guitar changes” while one of the guitarists is yes, changing guitars.  It’s great to have an improv artist like Hearn in your show.  For a real surprise (and for reasons unspoken), Dave sings “Stolen Car,” something I’ve never heard before.  Since Martin’s voice is unique, it’s a very different performance–more melodic with fewer high notes.

They end the set with “The Pooby Song,” a piece of nonsense which is introduced with a long discussion of “pooby” for Kevin’s benefit.

It’s an amazing show.  At some point Dave says they are going to play for a long time–and someone tells him it’s already 1 AM. Wow..

[READ: March 17, 2015] “Changeling Girl”

The girl in the title is not actually a person in the story (which I was rather was looking forward to).  Rather, she is the title of a song by the punk band that this story is about (they are called The Changelings).

The first person story recounts the rise of the band.  And the opening pages are full of the excitement that loving a kind of music and really embracing it can bring.  It is described as a kind of montage as kids play The Clash and kids try to out punk each other with clothes or hair or names like Beamish Mingo, Helen Hopday and even Gash Ragged.

The impressive thing–especially given that I assume the time frame is the early 80s–is that the band is multigendered.

Once the story settles down into their first gig, though, it seems to lose some steam. After the initial rush wears off, we have to slow down–that middle slow section, right? (more…)

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sardineSOUNDTRACK: CENTENNIAL SECONDARY SCHOOL MUSICAL THEATRE–The Story of Harmelodia (2000).

Cover-CSSMT-HarmelodiaAs mentioned in yesterday’s post.  The Centennial Secondary School and Choir released their version of The Story of Harmelodia. This CD (which to the best of my knowledge is no longer available for purchase anywhere) is newly available from the Rheostaticslive website.  While the (very cool) cover is there, there’s no information about the musicians.

The disc is about 35 minutes long and it recreates most of the music from the original CD.  For reasons which I’m sure have to do with rights, they do not include “Monkeybird” (everyone’s favorite song) and the songs about the Wingophone.  Those songs were all written by Kevin Hearn. I’d be very surprised if Hearn didn’t give them the rights to the songs, so there must be something else at play.

They also do not include the narration.  This of course makes the story a lot less clear–although at this point I feel like the songs are just fun and sweet, even if they story is lost.

The school’s version is quite good.  The band sounds great (with a whole host of instruments).  While the opening music on the first track sounds a bit high school bandish (perhaps because it so spare) as soon as the choir kicks in it really ratchets up the quality of the music.  And it stays high throughout.

The choir is outstanding, and the variety of instruments (I can hear all the brass, an autoharp, synths (there’s some fun spacey keyboard sounds on “I am Drummstein”) and some electric guitars) makes for a really compelling collection of songs.

One of the biggest difference is that many of the songs have horns playing the main melodies. “Invisible Stairs” has a flute as the lead instrument.  It’s very pretty and I like that it plays the “twinkle twinkle” melody as a counterpoint to the proper melody. It’s a very pretty version.  I also love the way “The Music Room” came out.  And the mostly instrumental “The Sky Dreamed” sounds really lovely.

I don’t know how many lead singers there are (or what their names are, although judging by the concert, I assume it is the same kids).  The female lead as featured on “Home Again” is great.  I like the male lead a little less.  He sounds a but too stiff to me.  Although I do like that on many songs he gives his own reading of the material.

The final song, “Song of the Garden,” sounds terrific.  I love the way the two singers harmonize and the way they place a cool horns section (which reminds me of The Beatles) as the song trails out.

I am of course curious why the couldn’t release those missing songs.  But I’m more impressed that the school (presumably with different people) performed a stage version of the show in 2004 which was played live in several places.

[READ: December 5, 2014] Sardine in Outer Space 2

Sardine is a children’s book published by First Second.  It was originally published in France (and in French) and was translated by Sasha Watson.  There are six Sardine books out.

This time the inner flap says “No Grownups Allowed (Unless they’re pirates or space adventurers),” and I found that I enjoyed book 2 quite a bit more than book 1. Perhaps the jokes just appealed to me a bit more–there were a number that I thought were very funny.

I enjoyed the double cross (well they pretty much all have a double cross) in The Brainwashing Machine.  But I really got a kick out of The Cha-Cha Fly.  When the fly bites you, you get stupid dance songs stuck in your head.  Nice premise–even funnier that the flies are named Britney, Christina, Justin and Clay. (more…)

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