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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-The Carleton, Halifax Nova Scotia (December 7, 2009).

This is the second night at The Carleton.  The previous night they played for two and a half hours; this show is ten minute shy of 3 hours.  There are two recordings of this show, an audience and a soundboard.  The audience one is quite good although occasionally when Linklater plays a loud guitar it drowns out the vocals a bit.

Unlike with the Rheostatics, this band plays pretty much the same setlist (mixed up and with some songs stretched out) both nights.  Even the guests are he same.

The only new songs are “Midnight Ride Of Red Dog Ray,” “Bud the Spud,” “Pornography,” and “Wendell Clark” and they don’t play “Big Men Go Fast on the Water” or “Moncton Hellraisers.”  There’s a lot of chatting during the show: “Man I miss Halifax already.  I feel like we left and then came back all in that last song.”

“Memorial Day” sounds great, a slow expansive epic song with a really intense, wailing guitar solo at the end.  “The Continuing Saga of Canadiana and Canadiandy” and “Paul and Donna” are sweet and boppy, although Paul & Donna sounds like it’s going to start as “Michael Jackson” before locking into “P&D.”

A noisy version of “Fat” (after the ‘I said you were fat’ line, Dave says, “it happens… we were just talking and stuff.”  It runs about 9 minutes and then he says, “sometimes one word titles suffice, like “Fame”  Someone else: “or Sting!”  Dave: “Sting is not a song it’s a lifestyle.”  Paul: “Does anybody here read the National Post? (no reaction).  Dave’s been writing a weekly column for the National Post and none of his friends read it.  Dave: “They are too cool.”  Paul: “He wrote an article about Sting a mock interview. Dave: Sting said he couldn’t do his job if he was a fat kid.  Dave doesn’t understand why and name checks larger people: Billy Joel, Fats Waller, Chubby Checker.  And as they are thinking of them, Dave says it’s time to bring up a guest.

Ruth Minnikin sings a slow, moody “Stolen Car.” And there’s a plug for the Peanuts Christmas album on Zunior: “It’s amazing, Ruth has taken Beethoven and messed with it in an amazing way.

“The Ballad of 1969” is an interesting mellow and folky song segues into the punky, 1 minute “Take a Wild Ride.”   It’s followed by a bluesy version of “This Song Ain’t Any Good.”  Dave has a lot of fun with the “you can play it when you’re drunk” line–he keeps messing up the sing along part.

Doug is friends with Chris Pennell a local pop and slap bass hero.  All of the gear we’re using tonight (and last night) was provided by Chris.  (we never learn why) .  Some of the gear includes pillows, blankets and beds.

Dave then tells a Stompin’ Tom story which says it’s in his contract that if you tour with him he can never be the last to go to bed at night so someone has to stay up and drink with him.   The drummer spent 3 days on hospital with alcohol poisoning.  Speaking of contracts, Al,  is it time?  It was in your contact, must follow a medley.  Al tuck sings a mellow song called possibly “The Rights of His Descendants.”

At Mike’s behest were going to do 2 sets–you can mingle buy merch.  It’s not merch, it’s art.

Leading into “The Land is Wild,” Dave says that Fogarty was a genius hockey player, broke Gretsky’s records at 12.  But he didn’t like hockey, he liked Metallica and Wrestling.

The next song is about the deep winter on the west coast.  Anybody hear from British Columbia?  Anybody here form Alberta?  Anybody her from Alaska? You gotta ask. “Desert Island Poem” has Leo Sayer eat their drummer.  This folky songsegues into a folkie, upbeat version of “The List.”

Dave says, …. if you wanna buy shots for the band, we really really discourage it.  If you want to go to the bar and are satisfied with the performance, we seriously discourage you.  Its’ the last thing the band need (the band plays Tequila)  Don says if you do buy is shots don’t invite us back to your house or I might puke on your ceiling.  A woman from Sydney whose sink don threw up in is there and Dave tells the every funny story about a crummy gig that turned into a debauchery filled night.

“Popcorn” has a lengthy ending section and Dave sings “Walk on the Wild Side.”

Then Dave shouts, “Where the fuck are our shots?”  Don: “Well, do you want shots or popcorn?”

“Michael Jackson” is quite subdued, he even quietly speaks the first “Michael.” It segues into “My First Rock Concert.”  The rest of the band sings the Joe Jackson part, and the song has a cool solo from Paul and then right after the swan dive part it segues into “Yemen.”

Mike O’Neill, will you come up and do a shot and a song with us.   What do you think of Mike’s ‘stache [cheers].  Wait what do you think of Mike without a ‘stache [more cheers].  Don: That ‘stache is freaking me out man.”  Mike: I don’t think my contribution to the Zunior album was that much less than Ruth’s.  Chuckles. They sing “Mr. Carvery,” which   sounds a bit like The Jayhawks

“Midnight Ride Of Red Dog Ray,” is “unamplified, Band moving around the bar. Dave on acoustic, Paul on Al Tuck’s acoustic guitar,Don and Doug on tambourines A 13 db boost was added to make more audible.”  Dave is singing and sings the wrong verse–“fuck!” As he’s getting it back someone starts singing, “My First Rock Concert.”

Dave: “More shots!” Someone: “You guys gut 7:30 flights, right?”  Dave dedicates his shot to Ruth Minikin and Al Tuck.  Don: “It’s always best to leave Mike O’Neill out I fins.  If you can hurt Mike O’Neill with a small gesture its always the best thing.
Dave: Dedicating a shot to him would just piss him off.
Don: Hes going to go home and write a song….  I just want to hurt mike O’Neill just a bit because of that mustache.”

“Last of the Dead Wrong Things” rocks and eventually segues in “Making Plans for Nigel.”

They play “Bud the Spud,” and then “Earth,” which has a nice simple drum solo.  The drums play on and on and then Dave segues into “Horses.”   We’d like t invitee Chris up–it’s your fucking bass.  He says he’s like Mike O’Neill on stage with a tambourine–stereo tambourines with Ruth Minikin.

Doug: Do you guys want to hear something funny?  I have to be at work at 10AM tomorrow, in Toronto.  [groans].
What kind of work do you do?
Doug: I’m a high school teacher.  [laughter].

They play “Pornography” which opens a lot like “Bread Meat Beans and Rice.”

Doug: you guys are great I want to move here to Halifax–I just have to convince my girlfriend.  Someone local says, “Doug and Paul are from Manitoba which is from now on the second most friendly province in Canada coz Nova Scotia has got these guys thinking about moving here.”

Dave seems pretty wasted by this point as he introduces “Wendell Clark” : I don’t care of you dot like the Leafs.  If you don’t like the Leads you can suck my cock. That’s how I feel.  Sometimes you just love stuff because it’s yours doesn’t matter how its judged.

we can all agree on one thing…no players play more virtuously than those from the great province of  Saskatchewan.  All Canadians love Saskatchewan.

When there were rumors that Wendell Clark was gay, I supported it.  “Wendell was the rockingest leather fag on Church Street.  If Wendell was gay then he was the best gay hockey player that there ever was.”

As the show ends, the host says, “You don’t have to go home unless you have to go school tomorrow, which I know most of you don’t.  Generally we hang around and drink tequila with the band.

I think I love the Maritimes, too.

[READ: April 13, 2017] Sweet Tooth: Animal Armies

“Animal Armies” features a series of stories called The Singh Tapes.  But this book is also about Gus–as Dr Singh goes through his notes about Gus.

I love the delivery of this story–Singh’s notes run along the bottom of the page while the story above tells a parallel story without words.  And in it we see that of all of the hybrids that were there, only Gus, Wendy and Bobby are left.  Wendy is educated, but Bobby is very dumb–at least by human standards.  He seems more animal than the others.

By the end Singh is convinced that Gus is somehow the cause of the Sick. Continue Reading »

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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-The Carleton, Halifax, Nova Scotia (December 6, 2009).

There are two recordings of this show up on RheostaticsLive.  There’s an audience recording of the full show, and a soundboard recording of the first set.  Normally the Soundboard is the recording of choice, but the quality of the audience recording is really good and has a bit more ambiance.

Dave greets the folks: “Hello its great to be in Halifax, port city.”

They open with the Rheostatics song “Fat.”  They mess up a few words in “Fat” and Dave goes, “yea, something like that.”  The song is generally slower and less angsty than the Rheos’ version.  The middle section has a real jazzy feel.

He introduces the next song “Desert Island Poem,” “This is a wintertime song for the first snowfall of the year.  It’s really bad snow in this song.  The worst kind of snow.  Cannibal snow.”  Before the songs he says, “We’ve been giving Leo Sayer a hard time. [not elaborated upon].  We’re gonna lay off Leo Sayer for this one.  They change the line to “Pantera and Slayer eat their drummer–who will cool and season the body?”

“Paul and Donna” is a sweet, catchy song.  Dave says “The song was written for Paul and Donna’s wedding.  It’s a wedding song.  “Stairway To Heaven” was a wedding song. Marriage of an evil maiden and a bewitching knight.”

He talks about getting his first photo shoot and addresses “Molly”(the opening act): have you done a photo shoot yet?  It’s so weird isn’t it?  One day you’re trying to play “Two Tickets to Paradise” in a mirror and then some weirdo is taking your picture.  They talk about travelling and a taxi driver asking what kind of music they play. New Wave?  Contemporary.  And while one of them said, yes exactly, Doug said, “straight ahead rock.”  When they ask who you play with they always assume you’re in the The Hip. Its’ cute to disappoint them.  “Not that I was wishing…..”  Being in this band is like being in The Hip.  Dave: “Yea right, $10,000 to be in the Hip?  Yea, I would too.”  Back to the photo shoot, it was in a bowling alley.  The guy said he was a musician too–guys, listen to this story it’s really good.  (Sorry Dave).  He says he wrote a song that’s going to be famous.  It’s called “Led Zeppelin Town” where all the heavies go to when they die.”  Before beginning Wild Ride, Dave starts singing a made up chorus of Led Zeppelin Town.”  The whole song is a short rocker.

“Yemen” has that great guitar line that I really like.  Then Dave says, “Mike O’Neill will you join us–it’s a cavalcade of stars tonight– a cavalcade of ‘staches.”  They sing the O’Neill song “Mr Carvery.”  At the end of the song he says, “one of Ontario’s finest exports.”

“The Continuing Saga of Canadiana and Canadiandy” is an imagined comic book loosely based on the lives of Paul Linklater and Don Orchard.  Only geographically I suppose and their misadventures across Canada.  Doug Friesen starts it with an electric bass solo–Doug I’m really looking forward to this bass part.

“Big Men Go Fast on the Water” has a very pretty chorus.  At the end, he confesses, “that song totally has no ending yet endings are hard.  Come back tomorrow night to hear the ending.  We’ll leave you shy and ending and you’ll have to come back tomorrow to see if we finish it. But we’ll leave a different ending shy tomorrow.  It’s in the handbook… on page 48.  Someone asks, “Is that song your ode to the jet ski…?  Part of the 14 songs you wrote about Lake Ontario and how its being destroyed?  Yes 30 in 30 swim drink fish club, the waterkeepers online music club.  It’s true, you can go download them.  Whoo!  Lets hear it for downloading!  Dave: “How was the gig?  It was a big downloading crowd.”

They play a groovy version of “Earth Revisited.”  The end is stretched out with a nice jam with Dave saying Keep Going and them singing “Keep Going” as backing vocals.  Dave says that song goes back to 1994.  Doug the bassist says, “I was 6….  Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.”   Dave says the young blood is what keeps him going.  During the applause they confirm that “Halifax is a really big Doug town.”

“The Ballad Of 1969” is a song about a lesbian school teacher.  The best.  After a verse, he messes up the lyrics, and says hold on hold on but they keep going with that groove and he catches up.   It’s a great song with and excellent guitar solo and multiple parts.   And interesting story song that is enjoyable multiple times.

They end the first set with “Stolen Car” featuring Ruth Minnikin on vocals.  I don’t know her and her delivery is a little flat (in fairness, it’s a challenging song).  But overall the song sounds good.

We don’t usually do breaks but Mike said he wouldn’t pay us unless we did.  This is the second song from our record The Land is Wild.  I have enjoyed this song, Memorial Day” more and more with each live rendition.  The band seems to be really gelling on this song.  The melody is great and the lyrics are really strong.  Linklater makes some great roaring guitar noises in the middle of the song that sound intense.

Show of hands for those who like to rock.  Solid.  They like to rock and they like to download in Halifax.  This is called “We like to Rock.”  It’s a folkie song, fun and all that, which is not all that loud or heavy.  Doug says, “We like to rock at a reasonable volume.”

We’d like to invite Ian on stage. It’s our first time ever laying with a saxophone player on stage.  Ian how do you feel about what you’re about to do?  “I’m excited and nervous.”  Dave asks, “Do you like the movies, Ian?”  “I love the movie I recently, rented Up.”  Pretty good eh?  “Great, I cried the first ten minutes.”  Someone in the audience goes “Squirrel!” and they kind of have to explain that joke.  “Popcorn” is a sort of song about the movies.  The song seems to sound a little different every time.  This one is more fun than usual. With a really long jam section–and lots of sax (that’s not too loud).

Before the next song the guitars are all playing some weird noises–flat picked notes, the bass sliding up and down.  And over this, Dave starts singing “Song Ain’t Any Good.”  The band kicks in after a verse and the song sounds great overall.

The download seems to be somewhat out of order here.   There’s a song about a Christmas Tree, which I can’t place.  The song segues into “The List” which has some different guitar styles and sounds great, especially the rocking guitar during the Stephen Harper verse.  It segues back to that “Hanging by the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve” song which ends with some futzing around with guitar picking sounds.  They begin “The Last of the Dead Wrong Things.”  This sounds great with the drum solo in the middle (with Dave scratching his guitar strings throughout).

They call up Al Tuck and Dave thanks everyone for coming and Chris for loaning them stuff.   Al says, “I wanted to play my old song ‘I’ve Got to Hand It To You,’ but I’m not going to play that one.”  Then he says, “I wrote this on the piano: ‘What Kind of Soul.'”  He also says he wrote this one his daughter’s birthday.

Dave says it’s fun to visit a city and see friends who you don’t get to spend time with and to have them up on stage.  He talks about the first time he played Halifax.  He feels his life changed after that show–he talks a lot now, but he didn’t talk much back then.  He was less secure, but something changed him in Halifax.  He also says that after the second song they heard muted cheering and wondered where that was coming from.  There were like seven kids behind the back door of the club–they couldn’t get in.

Thanks to Molly for opening for them.

This song is about he life of Bryan Fogarty and it’s the best version of this song I’ve heard.   I love that he whispers “Let’s Go” before the slinky guitar line kicks in.  Linklater adds some great interesting guitar sections to the song.

It’s followed by a quite folky version of “Moncton Hellraisers.”  Note: “Unamplified, Band moving around the bar. Dave on acoustic, Paul on Al Tuck’s acoustic guitar, Don and Doug on tambourines A 13 db boost was added to make more audible.”  You can hear them wandering the floor.  And then it’s time for the solo.  Dave asks Paul:   “Want to stand on the chair so everyone can hear?  It’s a really good solo.”    “Woah–bad table,”  He cant get the solo right, and seems to be trying to climb back on the chair.  Finally he says, “Wanna get on my shoulders?”  The crowd loves it  (“watch your head man.”)  It’s sounds pretty spectacular: Dave plays the main part with Paul on his shoulders (I assume).  The crowd loves it.  Someone says, “That was the most interesting double neck guitar I’ve ever seen.”

Someone requests, Conway Twitty.  “None of us have the hair to pull off a Conway Twitty song.”

Instead it’s a rocking version of “Horses” which sounds very different with Martin not playing the solos.  But the song rocks through to the end where Paul seems to have the song degenerate with crazy warped noises until Dave starts playing the guitar intro to “Michael Jackson.”   It is quiet and has spoken verses.  It works perfectly as a show ender.

While Bidiniband will never match the Rheostatics for amazing live performances, Bidiniband has really upped its game over the years and they sound pretty great–and do seem to out on quite a show.

[READ: April 13, 2017] Sweet Tooth: In Captivity  

As happens with many series, I read the first book and then forgot the rest.  Well, conveniently for me, the remainder of the books were all in at the library so I grabbed them all and devoured them over a spring break.

“In Captivity” begins with a flashback.  In fact, the bulk of the story is about Jepperds.  We see him as a young hockey player–he’s a bruiser and he is currently beating up Jeff Brown.  In the locker room the announcers say that when a hockey player is reduced to that, it means the end of career is in sight.  And then we see him carrying a bag.  This is the mysterious bag that he received at the end of Book One.

Next we flash to Gus.  He is in captivity by a bald guy with red-tinted glasses.  He has just thrown Gus into a room with other “freaks.”  But the scenes with Gus are few and far between and soon we are flashing back to Jepperds again.

He is with his wife Louise.  She is watching something on TV and we soon learn it is a story about the Sick and how people are dying everywhere.  Jepperds wants to flee their house, but Louise thinks they are remote enough to be safe.  Louise doesn’t want to leave but Jepperds insists and tells her that when it’s all over he will bring her back home.

It is then that we learn that Louise is pregnant. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-Hillside Festival, Guelph ON (July 26, 2009).

Back in 2003 Rheostatics played the Hillside Festival.  And here it was six years later, the Rheos had broken up and Dave Bidini’s band, Bidiniband were here to play.

And apparently there’s a downpour.

The announcer says, “I’m glad you’re semi dry.  I’ll ask you to stand away from the steel poles–it’s to do with lightning and all that.  We’re going to do a quick delayed sound check”  Dave interrupts, “Nah we’re not.  Can everybody hear your guitar?  Check 1,2.  There we go.  Fuck the weather. let’s rock”

The Bidiniband!

Some of these songs are ones he played solo, so it’s interesting to hear the with a full band.  Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-Hillside Festival, Guelph ON (July 26, 2009).

Dave Bidini played some solo shows in 2007 but by 2008 he had cobbled together a band: Bidiniband.  The band includes Dave, Paul Linklater, on lead guitar, former Rheo Don Kerr on drums and Doug Friesen on bass.

I’m not sure when they started playing together, but this is the first live show at Rheostatics Live.  The set list hasn’t changed much since his solo shows, but the songs sound really different with the full band.

Some of Dave’s solo work is about telling real life stories of unsung people.  They

re usually really interesting the first one or two times you hear them, but they kind of lose their power after multiple listens.  So “Zeke Roberts” and “The Land is Wild” (except for the fantastic chorus) wear out their welcome a bit.  But again, it’s a nice change to hear them with the full band.

“Fat” is interesting to hear with other musicians.  The ending isn’t quite as wild as with the band but these guys chant the “everyone’s a robot” with great energy.  After the song Dave says “Good  night everybody” to much laughter.  For the next song he says, “This is basically the same song but with a more ironic joke.  The irony is not in the tuning or lack thereof.”

Someone says, “You guys and your new strings. I haven’t changed my strings in like two years.”  “I thought t would be cool, you know, on a new tour.”

“This Song Ain’t Any Good” has a very different delivery than the folksier style that I’m used to.  He asks the band, “You want to do it sad, what did you mean?” They do the chorus in a kind of repeated downbeat “singalong.”

Thanks to Andy and The Two Minute Miracles for playing tonight.  We’re gonna do another song based in our country: “The Moncton Hellraisers.”  It has a rather country flair to it.

Someone shouts, “Do a hockey song.”  Dave says, “I think you’re out of luck tonight  Oh, no there’s a longer one later tonight….we’re making you wait for it.”

I love the jazzy opening of “Memorial Day.”  But even better is the full band rock of “Terrorize Me Now.”  Who ever in the band is screaming “And then we killed again,” is totally intense.

Dave asks, “Could anyone deliver a water to the stage, or I could put my guitar down…  From off stage: “only whiskey and cold coffee!”  “cold cuts?”

This next song is gonna feature Dog Paul’s on double bass for a song about cannibalism and Canadian rock.  “Desert Island Poem” features the line   “Rheostatics eat their drummer who would cook and season the body?”

Dave once described the song: “Yeah, and that’s sort of a true story in a way. I mean not the cannibalism part. But one time the Rheos were stranded in Drumheller [Alberta] and we were listening to the radio and we heard this story about that plane that crashed in Alaska. And we began to wonder what would happen to us if we never got out of Drumheller.”

For “The List”, the replaced Zack Warner with Sass Jordan (a Canadian singer) which features the line “you say I suck but it’s that suckdom of which I’m proud.”  Some one shouts, “that’s a fucking song that needed to be written.”  Dave says he has one more verse but he can’t remember who its about.

“The Continuing Story of Canadiana and Canadiandy” has a cool slide guitar solo in the middle of the folk.  Dave, “That’s from back in the day where all the Canadian folk singers looked like Jesus.  Those nice sweaters on, a nice beard.”  Mitsou?  “When I think of Canadian folk I think of Mitsou too, ironically.”

Someone in the band proposes the “Top five Canadian folk albums: Summer Side of Life, Old Dan’s Records,”  Dave notes: “That’s two from Gordon Lightfoot are you allowed to pick two from the same artist?” “And The Way I Feel.” Dave: “You’re just doing Gordon Lightfoot.”  “That’s what I’m trying to say, dude. “I’m getting your drift that you like the Gord.”  “Gordon never looked like Jesus did.” “No, he looked more like Bruno Gerussi.”

“Is everybody ready for a long death ballad?  You look like the kind of crowd who would like a long death ballad.”  Someone in the crowd shouts: “kill us, kill us Dave.”

We haven’t performed this song successfully ever life.  “Zeke” sounds better with the guitar sliding up and down and in the middle when there’s a few complex moments  and the band really takes off.  But there’s all kinds of flubs at the end.  Dave says, “you’re too kind.  That was the best first half we’ve done for sure.”

They play “My First Rock Show” at a slower pace.  “A bit of banjo for this, Paul?”  After the swan dive, there’s some crazy feedback and effects manipulation and then Dave starts singing “Happy Jack.”

They finish “Rock Show” and then begin with “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and then Slade’s “Run Run Away.” (did that song have a chorus?).  And then it shifts to Bidini’s “Pornography.”

“Rock Intro?  Is it a rock intro nigh?” “Progtro.”  Someone says something about YouTube.  Dave says “Whats YouTube. They’re an Irish rock band, right?”  There’s great noisy opening to “The Land is Wild.”  It quiets down but sounds great with the full band.  I like the lead guitar line that runs through the song.  During the slow part, the person who mentioned Gordon Lightfoot sings “Ode to Big Blue” as the song gets bigger and noisier.

It segues into a really fast version of Rheostatics’ “Earth.”  Its rocks.  “Don Kerr on the drums everybody.”  And then a romping “Horses.”  Midway through the song he starts reciting the lines to “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads and then some of “Another Brick in the Wall. Pt 2.”  He also throws n the “facts” portion of Talking Heads’ “Cross-eyed and Painless.”

This all segues into a stomping, guitar-light version of “Life During Wartime.”  Dave starts singing lines from “One Thing Leads to Another” (“one gun leads to another”), “Relax Don’t Do It”  then “When Two Tribes go to war, war is something you can’t ignore.”

As the song ends Dave thanks everyone for coming: “a small but mighty crowd for a small but mighty band.”  Then he introduces the band: Douglas Friesen from Manitoba, Paul Linklater from Manitoba, Dave born and raised in Etobicoke, Ontario.  Donald S. Kerr from Mississauga, Ontario.

As they finish, the crowd is screaming screaming for an encore with one guy even telling him not to put their instruments down.  But there is no encore.

[READ: April 15, 2017] Writing Gordon Lightfoot

The title of this book is unusual–it’s hard to even figure out what it means (until you read the book), but it’s also deceptive.

The title means writing to Gordon Lightfoot.  Bidini is basically writing Lightfoot a series of letters. But it is far more than that.  In fact the scope of the book is really the Mariposa musical festival that took place in Toronto in 1972.  Lightfoot appeared (along with many other folk luminaries).  Interspersed with his documentation oft he festival (he was too young to go so it’s all research) are his letters to Lightfoot.

The reason he is writing letters to Lightfoot in a book is because Bidini believes that Lightfoot won’t speak to him.

His band Rheostatics, recorded a cover of his “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”  It was one of their big songs when they were first starting out.  And then, as a brash young kid, Bidini once said that it was actually based on an old Irish melody and that it really wasn’t Lightfoot’s song anyway.  Yipes.

So, assuming that Lightfoot will never talk to him (I wonder if he actually tried), he decides to write letters.  But the letters aren’t “hi how are you” letters, they are a biography of Lightfoot’s life as written by a fellow musician.  He bases most of his notes on things that were in other biographies and he says he makes a lot of it up too.

So it’s an unusual book in many ways. Continue Reading »

[ATTENDED: October 6, 2017] Alvvays

Sarah and I were really excited to see Alvvays.

But holy cow were we surprised that they sold out!  (And good for them).

I had no idea that people even knew that much about them.  But the sold out crowd were huge fans as people were singing along left and right.

I joked with Sarah that between their two albums, they had a total of 60 minutes of music, so their set couldn’t be all that long.   I had imagined that they would play all nineteen of their released songs, but that was not to be (they left out one slow song from the new album and three songs from their debut).

I was also pretty excited that Nap Eyes fans seemed to be quite short.  But by the time Alvvays came on, some of the taller fans pushed forward.  This didn’t hinder us too much, but it was still a little disappointing to have to weave around them. Continue Reading »

[ATTENDED: October 6, 2017] Nap Eyes

Sarah and I were excited to see Alvvays again.  We saw them open for The Decemberists and it is always great to see a band as a headliner–especially when you can get up nice and close.

We hadn’t heard of Nap Eyes but we wanted to make sure we arrived early to get a good spot.  And I’m so glad we did.  Nap Eyes is a four piece from Halifax, Nova Scotia consisting of vocalist Nigel Chapman, guitarist Brad Loughead, bassist Josh Salter and drummer Seamus Dalton.

Between the tone of the band and Chapman’s vocal delivery, there was a distinct Velvet Underground vibe.   But II joked it was like they had given up the heroin.  Because the songs had a faster tempo, a number of time changes, and some rocking guitar solos. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: FIRE IS MOTION-Days 1-7 (2014), Demos (2014), Flowers in Kawameeh Park (2017).

Fire in Motion is more or less the project of Adrian Amador.  But he had a full band when they opened for Public Service Broadcasting.  I got a copy of their CD at the show (which you can stream or download here).

The first 7 songs were done with this template:

I decided to write and record a song every day for an entire month using no pre-written material. Around the third day, I realized just how overly ambitious this idea was

“Day 1” has nice ringing guitars and some great backing vocals.  There’s drums on this song too. (Ambitious first day).
“Day 2” is one of the most exciting songs here.  The riff is fantastic in this slow version (Live they played it faster), but the way the guitar echoes is really lovely. When more guitars get layered on top, it’s really quite something.
“Day 3” is an acoustic ballad.  Simple guitars with a falsetto note in the vocals that keeps it interesting.  It’s just over a minute, but when the clapping comes in around 45 seconds it feels like it could be developed into a really full song.
“Day 4” is a delicate acoustic ballad with some pretty overdubbed guitars and vocals.  This could also be expanded into something lovely.
“Day 5” Again, the overdubbed guitars are lovely and the vocal melody on top shows another interesting start to a song.
“Day 6” In the spirit of “Day 2,” this has a slow guitar melody that unwinds as the vocals sing a slightly different melody.  This song could use an interesting guitar line on top, like in “Day 2” but otherwise its very promising.
“Day 7” has an organ sound for some diversity and the female and male vocals offer nice harmonizing again.

The demos are a bit more complete sounding but still sound like demos, of course.

“How Long to Get Home” is the cleanest sounding song so far.  It has that wonderful echoed main guitar and several different pretty guitar lines.  I love the way this built from a quiet song with some big drums and backing vocals.  This song sounded great live.

“Ringside” sounds more like a demo.  It has plucked guitar sound and deep vocals.  The song is spare at the start but when it gets to a bout a minute in, more instrumentation and percussion is added and the song feels really full.  The harmonics near the end are rally a nice touch and the kind of distantly screamed vocals add a sense of urgency.

“Smile It Makes This Easier” has an upbeat melody on acoustic guitar (with a nice little riff) and the  harmonies (both high and low ) are nice addition.

I’d love to hear any of these songs fleshed out and I wonder what is on their forthcoming CD.

“Flowers in Kawameeh Park” is a single that is not going to on the record and is only available here.  It is the most full-sounding of the bunch with vocals from Avery Salermo and Adrian Amador (who plays everything else but the horns).  The quiet middle section with the great backing vocals leads to a large crashing section.  The horns make the song get bigger and bigger until the dramatic buzzy ending.

It’s really cool to listen to these songs in order and hear the band develop.  They are going to be opening for Pinegrove in late December.  I’m looking forward to that show and the CD.

[READ: August 2, 2016] Amulet: Firelight

Kibuishi has stated that there will be nine books in this series.  This is number seven and it was just released this year, so it will be a pretty long time (I suspect) before books 8 and 9 come out. Which is a real shame because, although the story has been good so far, this book was hugely exciting.

It opens with Emily and her father (!) hiking.  He gives her some advice which I have to wonder if it is true–gently push yourself away from the rock…we’re at enough of an angle that it will give you leverage.  Holding the surface tight is only going to make you slide.  Sounds like it should work.  And it also might be a good theme of the book–push away rather than grabbing tighter for your safety

But Emily realizes it is only a dream (not even a memory and soon it is gone).

She is actually still on the ship with Enzo and they are pulling into a station to hope for refuelling. The station seems empty, although it is full of memories.  As they explore, they discover that they are already on Algos Island –their intended destination (which was not an actual island after all).

But before they can secure the ship, they are boarded and a fight ensues–little Dagno even manages to help out.  It turns out the invader is Galiban–the elf from earlier in the story who stole everyone’s memories.  They secure him and he reveals that he has been saving all of the memories he stole in an underground ship.

And that’s when Galiban lays a tough truth on everyone–the stonekeepers were chosen for their weakness not their strength.  He is quite certain that Emily is being used against her will.  And while he hated the stonekeepers for the horrible things they did to his home, he realizes it was not their fault-they couldn’t control it.

And then we flash to Navin and his friends.  They are trying to get to Valcor but they are still in those giant rumbling robot suits.  They can’t earn enough money to book a ride to Frontera, so they get jobs working on the ship–they are the waitstaff (and they are terrible).  And worse yet they are spotted by Elven solders.

But it turns out that soldiers are in disguise, they were sent by Riva and she tells them that there are bounty hunters here looking for them.  The “soldiers” are Loni and Roni and they are going to fly Navin and friends to safety.

Back on the underwater memory ship, Galivan shows Emily and Trellis where the memories are stored.  This leads them to a memory that Trellis needs to see–the one where he learns that his father has been taken over by the voice.  And that the shadows have really overtaken their people.  That memory was clouded so he would forget it.

Then two exciting thing happen at once. They are detected in their underwater location and the bad guys come to attack them.  And Emily chooses a path (against Trellis’ wishes) which might be an escape but turns out to be actually another memory.

And this memory is of someone who Emily doesn’t recognize.  But he turns out to be someone who is instrumental in the accident that killed her father (it’s an intense sequence to be sure).  But in this memory she uses her power to rescue her family (including her self).  And as the memory concludes, her father is getting Riled up about the guy who caused the accident and the says he’ll make him pay.  Which means that Emily has given up control over the stone.  And that can’t be good for anyone.

While things are going very badly for Emily, things are going pretty well for Navin.  The crew lands on Frontera.  And while the landing area looks pretty run down we soon learn that Frontera has served as an underground base for the resistance–they have another base in the planet’s atmosphere (and they have a very cool-looking ship to take them there).  So while one sibling is taking control, the other one is losing control.

How can  wait a year for book 8?  [Word has it Book 8 will come out in 2018].