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Archive for the ‘Louis Reil’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: AHI-Tiny Desk Concert #693 (January 16, 2018).

AHI is apparently, inexplicably pronounced “eye.”  He is an Ontario-based singer.  There’s nothing strikingly original about his sound, but his songs are pretty and thoughtful and his voice has a pleasing rough edge.

Bob says,

AHI’s gruff but sweet voice and openly honest words were my gateway to this young Ontario-based singer. AHI says he sings Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” at the end of every set with a sense of hope. It was powerfully moving, without a note that felt clichéd or overly nostalgic. At that moment, I knew he needed to play a Tiny Desk Concert.

With a tasteful band comprised of Frank Carter Rische on electric guitar, Robbie Crowell on bass guitar and Shawn Killaly (a man of a million faces) on drums, AHI put his heart into three songs in just about 11 minutes, all from his debut album We Made It Through The Wreckage, which came out a year ago this week.

“Alive Again” builds slowly, but by the time the chorus comes around and he adds some whoops, the song really moves. I’m quite intrigued at the constant soloing from guitarist Frank Carter Rische.  It’s virtually nonstop and really seems to propel the song along.  It’s a catchy and fun song the way each round seems to make the song bigger and bigger.

About “Closer (From a Distance)” he says, we all have relationships.  Some are good; some are bad and some are just awful.  You may care about someone with your whole heart only to realize that you care about that person more than they care about themselves.  No matter how strong you are your strengths may not be as strong as their weaknesses.  Sometimes the only way to save the relationship is to walk away–“maybe we’ll be closer from a distance.”   This is a really heartbreaking song.  The lyrics are clearly very personal and quite powerful.  And the soloing throughout the song is really quiet and beautiful.

“Ol’ Sweet Day” is bouncy and catchy with a propulsive acoustic guitar and lovely licks on the lead acoustic guitar.  The drums are fun on this song as Killaly plays the wall and uses his elbow to change the sound of the drum at the end of the song.

The burning question that is never addressed is way he is wearing a helmet –motorcycle? horse riding?  It stays on the whole time.  At one point he even seems to “tip” his hat.  How peculiar.

[READ: December 8, 2017] Glorious and or Free

The Beaverton is a satirical news source based in Canada.  It began as a website in 2010 and then added a TV Show in 2016 (now in its second season).  To celebrate 2017, the creators made this book.

They have divided the history of Canada into 13 sections.  As with many satirical history books, you can learn a lot about a country or a time from the kinds of jokes made.  Obviously the joke of each article is fake, but they are all based in something.  Historical figures are accurate and their stereotypes and broadsides certainly give a picture of the person.

Some of the humor is dependent upon knowing at least a little about the topic, but some of the other articles are just broadly funny whether you know anything about it or not.

When we made this book our goal was to transport readers back to grade school to remember what they were taught n Canadian history class.  And so what if your teacher was hungover most of the time?

~30,000 Years of History in About Four Page (3,200,000,000 BCE – 1496)

“What the hell is that?”  –God after forgetting he made beavers. (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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SOUNDTRACK: DAVID FRANCEY AND MIKE FORD-Seaway (2009).

Mike Ford introduced me to Louis Riel on his album Canada Needs You, Volume One.  The song “Louis & Gabriel” features the lyrics “Oh, Louis Reil, here comes your friend Gabriel” outrageously simplistic (it is for kids after all) but so incredibly catchy it’s in my head whenever I see this book.  This is Ford’s most recent album, a collection of songs by himself and David Francey–who I didn’t know before this disc.

Seaway is a collection of 16 songs which are in one way or another about the sea.  Two of the songs appear on Ford’s release Satellite Hotstove, but the rest are new.  I don’t know if Francey’s songs are new or not.  I’m also unclear from the credits if Ford and Francey worked on these songs together (the notes suggest they did) or if they were recorded separately and then compiled.

The songs are primarily folk–simple acoustic numbers, often solo guitar, but sometimes with accompaniment.  Mike Ford has a great, strong voice, and is capable of some interesting stylistic changes.  His songs are more vibrant on this disc.  Francey has a wonderful, almost whispered voice.  He has a gentle Scottish accent which is great for his storytelling songs.  Mostly he speak-sings, but on some tracks, like “The Unloading” he sings a full-bodied chorus.

But it’s Ford’s song that bring a lot of variety to the disc.  “There’s No Rush” has a sort of calypso feel to it and “When You’re the Skip” has a wonderfully dramatic sea-shanty/musical feel to it.   And “21st Century Great Lake Navigators” is a rap–Ford frequently raps a song on his various albums.  His voice is very well suited to it, and his rhymes are clever and often funny.

This is a charming disc.  I wouldn’t say it’s essential, but it’s a good introduction to both singers, and, of course .

[READ: January 26, 2010] Louis Riel & Gabriel Dumont

Of the six Extraordinary Canadians books, I was least excited to read this one.  I’m not sure why, but I wound up leaving it for last.  But lo and behold it was easily the most engaging and, dare I say, exciting story of the six.  I’m sure part of that is because I didn’t know the outcome (even if Gabriel was somewhat famous in the U.S., I still didn’t know what had happened to him or to Louis).  And by the end of the book, I absolutely couldn’t put it down.

Joseph Boyden is a Métis writer (who I’ve never read before).  It’s obvious from the get-go that he is sympathetic to Riel and Dumont (which is to be expected in a biography, I would think).  He gets a tad heavy-handed about John A. Macdonald, but it seems justified.  For really you can pretty much take only one of two points of view about Riel and Dumont: they are either rebel heroes, standing up for the oppressed Métis, or they are traitors, intent upon destroying Canada’s expansion.

Now, I admit that I don’t know much about Canada’s expansion.  The first prime minister, John A. Macdonald, was instrumental in Canadian Confederation and was the driving proponent for the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway.   But as with American westward expansion, Native cultures are in the way of this expansion. (more…)

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