Tuesday, December 14, 2004

These Days Will Be The End of Me..

It has been a long time since I posted anything to this blog. Perplexingly, the reason I have not wrote anything for this blog during these past couple weeks has been a complete overdose of the indie rock life and the crippling insomnia, headaches, hangovers and broken fingers that come along with it. But now it is Tuesday, December 14 and a degree of normalcy has returned to my life and routine, allowing me to write about rock and roll fantasies instead of actually embarking upon them.

So what has been going on?

The main source of this shiticane (inside east coast trailer boy humour for y’all) was that the Burdocks arrived in town two weeks ago to begin recording their next album-and first for Black Mountain Music! With most of the bed tracks and vocals recorded, this album is sounding absolutely killer. It has the intricate and complicated that broke so many ankles their first couple of times around, but these aspects are complemented by a more straightforward, dare I say poppy sound, on other tracks that really hit the heart and the hips. I will not even pretend to not be biased, but I can’t help but think this album will become a permanent fixture on indie kids stereos and will be finding it’s way onto top 10 lists across the continent. Speaking of top 10 lists, the Burdocks last album was #1 on the CKDU top 100 list for 2004…congrats!!

While the band was here, they played a pretty packed
Wavelength night that blew away those in attendance and also played at the Ford Plant, a show which managed to reaffirm my belief that DIY culture can and does make a tremendous impact in those places where it is loved, nurtured and then let loose. Brantford is a shitty town. I mean, really, really shitty. The downtown core is totally boarded up and populated almost exclusively by shadow people etched onto the few remaining windows, harkening ominously to Pompeii and the much more violent and sudden end of that city. The only signs of life pulsate from the Ford Plant, an all-ages venue and art space, tucked onto a little corner of this desolate little downtown. Packed inside and spilling out onto the sidewalk were 125 kids, here to see four of the best up and coming bands in Canada. There is vitality, an energy to the Ford Plant which does not exist in the vast number of clubs out there- this is totally because the Ford Plant is for the kids, by the kids. It’s an active statement in creating your own music, your own entertainment, your own superstars, your own movement, your own life. This was one of those nights were everybody felt the exhilaration (not caused by alcohol either), that glorious electricity of rock shows were each and everyone knew that this song, this melody, this moment was what it feels like to be truly alive. The Burdocks opened the night, wearing matching ‘Let’s Just Have Some Fun’ shirts which aptly summed up the night. They were followed by fellow Haligoonians, Wintersleep. This was a band that I felt a little too one dimensional and flat on CD, but upon seeing them live, I now see that I was missing the fundamental power and beauty of their music. Their songs are fairly simple arrangements, but the intensity of the drumming and the passion in the singers voice make this band a very commanding and intriguing live act, with great builds and crescendos that had the audience floating along with every note. Following Wintersleep was the Sour Keys. I have never seen them before and only saw a couple songs this time, but what I did see blew me away. On the face of it, pretty straight up rock and roll, but with more intricate timings and arrangements then most bands out there—kinda like the Burdocks, but leaning towards the heavier end of the musical spectrum. They had one song which was a call and response song that had the audience chanting along with them (if anyone remembers Kitchens and Bathrooms this is the song they totally stole and called ‘We bit into Sourkeys and became alphabet conscious’). After the Sourkeys were the Vermicious Knid, but I didn’t see any of their set. I was in a van getting very, very baked.

And that is more then enough for now. Later this week, I will post a review of the Nein’s new CD and will preview some very exciting stuff from a certain husband and wife combo….adieu!

Wintersleep- Check out a bunch of their stuff here.
The Burdocks-
Pop Cult, live on CKDU
The Sour Keys- I am not a Demon or Deity
The Vermicious Knid- A demo of These Werewolves

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Random Question Record Reviews

Is anybody as bored with traditional record reviews as I am? Apart from a few writers who write original and critical reviews of albums that also carry with them some degree of literary merit, I find that most reviews are corporate (and indie-corporate) wank jobs that do nothing so much as show off the writers fabulously high regard for their own importance as 'tastemakers'. And so, when I was approached by a friend last year to writer reviews for his new magazine, I agreed on the condition that i review them in an original and comedic note. The concept was to get drunk with all my roommates and come up with a huge list of questions and criteria with which to review the CDs; this proceeded rather swimmingly (a little too swimmingly for some) and by the end of the night we had somewhere close to 60 questions. With this list in hand, i gamely say down with the first three CDs (the Rapture, the Unicorns, Hella), randomly drew 5 questions for each for a hat and proceeded to review the CDs according to said questions. Upon presenting them to the friend starting the magazine (on time and everything), he informed me that the Quebec government wasn't going to cough up the money he was counting on and the magazine was dead. Sufficiently dejected, i tucked the reviews into a folder in a distant part of my computer and forgot all about them until i started writing this blog. Once a week, or whenever i get new CDs, i'll post a review written along similar guidelines. For now, here's the first three-yes, they are really old but i spent a whole hungovery day written these, so have some sympathy. I'll probably recycle some of these questions, because I did seem to pull the better questions out for these ones.


Artist:The Rapture
Title: Echoes
Label: DFA/Mercury
DIG? : Erase Errata, Liars, !!!, Out Hud
Sounds: Olio, Open Up Your Heart

1. Will I be singing along with all the wrong words when they come by?

Yes-you will be singing and dancing and contorting in ways thought impossible this far North, but with lyrics this simple even my Albanian neighbour could sing along and he doesn't understand English or French. Their fantastic electro-punk anthem, House of Jealous Lovers, was the song of the summer (my spine still wavers to that bass line) and all they said was: 'house of the jealous lovers',over and over again with a couple of 'one hand ties' the other and 'shakedowns' thrown in for good measure. So you better get these lyrics right or I'll just have to shake on down the street and slap you myself if you don't.

2. Retro, nowtro or futro?

Good question; liberal sprinkles of both the first two abound, which can produce a disjointed futuristic feel in the right hands. But I'm not too sure if the Rapture have the dexterity for the task. It's not that this album has anything wrong with it, but there is such a clear divide between the eighties synth, duran duran and cocaine inspired tracks like 'Sister Saviour', 'Ollio' and 'I need your love' and the more sombre, non-dance orientated tracks like 'Love is all' and 'Infatuation' that I can't help but feel that the Rapture themselves are confused about which way to rock. And while the production by DFA does a great job of providing a gritty lo-fi edge to the album, which helps smudge away most of the gloss often associated with eighties synth rock and brings the album together as a more cohesive whole, it just can't do enough to pull it out of the past and push it to the future. All that being said, this music is very nowtro and deservedly so. The Rapture are one of the bands leading the attack against standing still at rock shows, against contemptuously looking down from ridiculous levels of hipness at those having fun and actually dancing. The Rapture will make you dance right NOW and sometimes, that's all that matters.

3. An indie rocker stole my virginity- will this get it back?

Are you kidding? Of course not. In fact, you were probably listening to the Rapture as he confessed his undying love for you and 'how he would most certainly call next time through town' before settling into the back seat of his van. The Rapture are not about regret, looking back or considering the consequences for that matter. This is hedonistic music- you know the type. Balls out dancing, going mental and going back for more, feeling like your heart just might explode but still pushing further and then watching it all collapse into a hallucinogenic dream in the arms of someone you love. The kind of music, which let's admit, is not for the faint of heart. Or virgins for that matter, because the dance steps are quite tricky and people are liable to get hurt. But isn't that the point? To get hurt? To get your toes stepped on, but keeping on dancing? Or am I just looking too much into this silly question? Next.

4. This years: EMF- no, Primal Scream circa 91 but not nearly as cool or high.

5. Six degrees of separation with Beyonce Knowles.

Too simple: the Rapture are signed to DFA records, who have produced a remix for Beyonce (I believe).

Artist: Hella
Title: Total Bugs Bunny on wild bass
Label: Narnack Records
Dig?: Rockets Red Glare, Death From Above, Don Cab
Sounds: Your DJ Children , Post-Ivy Leagure Depression

1. I loved Korn; will I love this?

If you were into Korn for the droptuned bass and machine gun drums of earlier Korn, then you must may love this guitar and drum headfuck.
If you were into Korn because Jonathan David spoke to your tortured teenage soul, then you should probably stick with Linkin Park and Evanessence.

2. Gut wrenching, nipple tingling or booty shaking?

If you can shake your ass in asymmetrical patterns and not trip over your own feet, you could dance to this. For the rest of us this is pretty gut wrenching, but not of the Jeff Buckley make you weep variety. No, this is music so wonderfully nauseating that most attempts to keep up with the impossible drum rhythms and obtuse time changes will leave you drunkenly rolling around on the floor trying not to puke- sometimes there can be such a thing as too much movement.

3. Should I wait two years and just check the bargain bin?

No. Go and get this CD right now and begin your re-education on just how much racket two men with noisemakers can produce. Hella are on the forefront of the 'broken bone' dance craze that's making everyone shake, rattle and roll like skeletons- surely, you cannot miss out on this trend!

4. Describe the perfect setting for this listening experience:

Used record store over the Christmas break; being baked and blasting this while clueless suburbanites search for the latest Celine Dion CD and cast ever more anxious glances over their shoulders at their fellow shoppers before dropping their would be gifts and sprinting for the doors.

5. What ad campaign is this most likely to be licensed to?

In the brief window between marijuana becoming legal and advertising it illegal, this will be used to promote 'northern lights' bud.

Artist: The Unicorns
Title: Who will cut out hair when we're gone?
Label: Alien8recordings
Dig?: Built to Spill, Microphones, Daniel Johnston
Sounds: Let's Get Known, I Was Born A (Unicorn)

1. Rock and roll is all about getting laid-provide context.

The Unicorns are too cute and self consciously aware to be obvious sex symbols. But then again, there has always been an undeniable appeal to skinny, scruffy white boys blasting out lo-fi experimental pop songs about believing in ghosts, unicorns and other supernatural phenomena. For those of us not in the band, this album will not help you get laid. This is the kind of album you own and love but would never admit to it. You might even love it so much that you stay home on Saturday nights, dancing and singing along to each infectious tune in your bedroom while images of Nick and Aiden course through your filthy mind, but you will never, ever, pick up a girl by displaying affection for unicorns or boys who think they are unicorns.

2. Will this help me stay on top of hip lingo?

Unfortunately not, but it won't hurt either. There is a distinct breakdown on what it is to be a Unicorn, so if for some chance they become cool, it just might help, but otherwise it's pretty standard English.

3. This adds to music, WHAT?

A cheerfulness and sense of mission not often heard round these parts anymore. It also features what must be the first song in history about whether or not someone can qualify as a Unicorn, which will surely settle debates for ages to come. Finally, the song 'Tuff Love' features a melody line played on a penny whistle that is so catchy and hummable that it qualifies as the most annoyingly ingratiating pop songs ever.

4. None of these questions are serious. Is this serious?

I sure as hell hope not or these boys have years and years of serious professional help ahead of them. That being said, there is nothing wrong with a little sugary fun now and again and these rare and beautiful creatures provide a piñata full of it.

5. Safe for children under 3?

In actual fact, this is probably the best CD of the year for someone under 3. They will love the upbeat tempos, the irresistible melodies and crazy talk of unicorns and ghosts. And considering the charmingly lo-fi production on this record, this just may provide them with all the inspiration needed to stave off the next generation of Brittney Spears before they even got out of diapers.

End of the Road.

So, it doesn't look like i'll make it across this country on this trip. Let's just say the van broke down somewhere outside of Canmore and there is no inspiration to re-start it's sputtering engine. Too bad. Let me just say that i don't know any bands in Edmonton and Vancouver has given us Nickelback, Default, and Bif Naked in recent memory. Black Mountain are a good band however.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Into the Sunset (with very few stops)

Ontario is big. Very big. If you drove from the Southern tip (Windsor, Point Pelee to be exact) to where the roads run out it would take over a day. And from that point, there is still hundreds of miles of land with no roads in or out and very few towns scattered here and there- you need to fly into these places (although no one ever does). So you will understand why i feel a little bad about only talking about Toronto before heading out West, across the prairies to where the sun sets and the weed grows free. There are great regional scenes in cities like London, Hamilton, Windsor, and Burlington, but i'm too tired from this trip to get excited about them now. All that is left is the cities with tall enough buildings to tickle god's feet and enough people to have suburbs. That leaves Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver; and 4000 kilometers of pretty empty space.

Winnipeg is Canada's own Windy City and except for the wind and a pretty lively music scene, it is nothing like Chicago. Actually, both cities do share some historical similarities that are pretty interesting: both cities had devastating fires that consumed much of the city, one started by a cow (or so the story goes) and the other by wood skyscrapers, and both cities can claim to be amongst the earliest cities to have steel skyscrapers, Chicago having the actual first and Winnipeg getting some after their earlier attempts in wood proved misguided at best.

G7 Welcoming committee

This is about the only label that i know of in Winnipeg. A very political label (read the article on their site about how their company is run), their music tends to avoid the dreary dogma and ridiculous posturing that aligns so many 'activist' bands with Christian rock bands in my opinion (same coin, different sides). Led by the biggest 'Peg export in a long time, the Weakerthans, G7 puts out music that's all over the map (united by an uncanny ability to lean left), that doesn't sacrifice musical innovation (and listenability) for political impact.

Warsaw Pack- Attention To Deficit.
Sadly this rap-rock-jazz-is that a flute on stage? band has called it a day, citing (ironically enough) the troubles to trying to make a living as a 7 piece ensemble who don't believe in capitalism. Funny that. In all seriousness the 'pack were a live monster, rocking clubs full of drunk people who moved to the music and listened to the insightful rhymes of Lee Rebak. It's a shame these guys didn't get the attention they deserved, but heavy political acts very rarely get heard through all the banter.

Malefaction- Red Industries, I Will Not Serve

Heavy, heavy stuff. Lot's of drop tuning mayhem and dude screaming like he saw Christ in his rear view mirror. I hate this kind of music, but this band actually makes me kung fu dance and question the capitalistic ethos. Oh, wait...

International Noise Conspiracy- Capitalism Stole My Virginity, Airports

They might claim it was stolen, but we all now that Dennis sold it out back of the 7-11 for another shot at fame. He must be kicking himself for holding onto his virtue now that it has come to this. I like this band (not nearly as much as refused), but the endless tirades against western culture from a man so involved with the most garish aspects of it make me a little queasy. If he would just shut up or sing about something other then politics once in a while they could be great.

Propaganhdi- I want to see Oka (everywhere)

One of the greatest Canadian punk bands hands down, it's a shame that this band is no longer with us. This song is taken from 'Where Quality is Job #1' and odds and sods collection that doesn't do this witty, catchy and sometime skidly band enough justice.

Consolidated- Schnitzel Boy

I think Consolidated okay. It's not the band i hate, it's their fans.

thank you,

Weakerthans- Confessions of a Futon-Revolutionist

The Weakerthans succeed where so many of their peers fail for the simple fact that the music comes first and the politics follow. And since John K.Samson is such a great lyricist, the band very rarely alienates with said politics. Instead, what we have is a diverse band whose influences range from punk to country to union songs who always manage to through in a hook or two for those with short attention spans.

and now we will be moving on to Cow Town, otherwise known as Calgary, otherwise known as 'where can i find some oil?'.

The scene in Calgary seems realatively dead these days, but there is one man (literally, one man) doing his best to keep the music alive. His name is Chad Van Gaalen, and those who don't know, he's a bedroom genius. Apparently he spent the better part of the last ten years in his bedroom (with only short breaks for the toilet one assumes) writing quirky pop songs on homemade instruments that truly defy convention. Similar in sound to Built To Spill, Modest Mouse, Beck and Flaming Lips but nothing like them at the same time, Chad is am expert lyricist, songwriter, arranger and producer whose songs are at once bold, triumphal statements of love and life and yet fragile and delicate.

Clinicaly Dead

I must stop and get some sustanance. Jerky for the road. Edmonton's a long, long way away.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Robots need to learn some style.

I would hate to give the impression that Toronto does nothing but feed into the great Hoser myth by presenting some of the skuzziest rockers the city has to offer. At the other end of the musical spectrum, there are some great artist exploring the electronic realm, producing some of the best electro pop from here to Berlin (although I hear that Prague and Sofia have us beat hands down) and some free form post rockers so good that crowds have been known to stand completely still, arms crossed against their chest looking nonchalantly bored for the entire gig (something to do with sensory overload I hear).

Suction Records

You would think that an electronic label that specializes in electro-pop that you don’t dance to would be somewhat irrelevant. Any yet, Suction records treads the fine line between tedium and umm..slight genius so well that you forget how close they are to falling into ‘Dead or Alive’ territory. Formed by Solvent and Lowfish in the late 90’s, they have released steady stream of, what they term, ‘robot music’ ever since. Similar in to Morr Music, Warp Records, and even Replex (in their gentler moments), the music released on Suction shows that there can be warmth and human emotion in the music generated by robots.

Solvent- Radio Goo Goo
Solvent- For You
Solvent- My Radio
Solvent-A Panel Of Experts
Lowfish-Around The Neck
Lowfish- FricFrac
The Mitgang Audio- Minor Causes
The Mitgang Audio- View From Your New Home

Building Castles Out of Matchsticks

Building Castles Out of Matchsticks is the work of Anne Sulikowski, started (apparently) when she got her first computer and so that she would no longer need to mark daily events in her calendar. With such humble beginnings, you would be forgiven for assuming this to be self-indulgent crap. But with great titles like “I Have Made A List Of 374 Reasons Why I Can’t Live Without You And 375 Reasons Why I Can Never See You Again” even the most jaded electro purist would be hard pressed to not give it a listen. Which is a good thing. Because the album of said name is full of skippy beats, punchy melodies and spacy ambience that is every bit as clever as the title. And the song “In Between The Blips And Skips, There’s Love” proves that there is indeed romance to be found in the land of the square wave.

This Could Be The One That Makes It
In Between the Blips and Skips, There’s Love
Tinker Toys and Hearts
It Seems Ridiculous to Care After All This Time

I Am Robot And Proud

The first thing that you read after navigating your way through an entirely unhelpful intro page is: ‘The electricity in your house wants to sing’. This is a nice little encapsulation of what I am Robot And Proud is all about-you have, of course, your electricity, to produce the fundamentals of the music, but there is also a certain coziness, a certain down homey feel that permeates the sound and brings the music back into your bedroom on a rainy day instead of a smoky club on a Wednesday evening. It’s electronic music that sits humans and machines next to each other for a cup of tea and tells them to be friends and they listen.

Robot vs Heidi
Learn From Mistakes
Saturday Afternoon Plans

Now that I’m getting all sleepy and blissed out and I’m in the mood to get dancing, I can’t find any MP3s for any of the bands I had planned on featuring. So I guess I’ll forget about them and drift off to sleep as I contemplate Astroboy and his complex feelings
for his sister..

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Toronto: Shooting heroin in the sky and other misuses of architecture

It's been a few days since my last post in this cross-country trip through the enchanting world of Canadian indie rock, but after a brief layover in everyone's favorite city, I've put my dreams of 'peppers' and poutine to rest and have entered back into the land of Maple Leafs, endless bureaucracy and diminished Buffalo dreams (what,ever,the,fuck,that,means). Coming into Ontario from Quebec, you pass by our national capital Ottawa (well, it's a bit of a detour but close enough). The fact that the highway leading to Ottawa from the main Canadian highway (yes, we do have a single highway that traverse the entire 6000 or so KM) is a two lane country style highway with no streetlights should tell you something about our nations capital. Not matter what anybody tells you, Ottawa is an innately boring city with a strangely upperclass cultural scene that seems to entirely revolve around Government grants. This might be great for the artist themselves, but it does nothing to foster a grassroots, lively arts scene based around popular expression or exclusive participation. It is stuck up, white collar and about as interesting as a librarian after two glasses of wine, which is to say, not very. And while a few good bands have come from Ottawa (Kepler and Wooden Stars come to mind, as well as the Kelp Records collective), they travel down the 401 so infrequently that we often forget they do anything but crunch numbers and waste dollars up in Bytown. Alright, alright- i'm being much to mean to Ottawa. It's a pleasant place with pleasant restaurants and a great skating rink in the winter and that is all i will say about that.

Despite all the vibrant and crucial regional scenes in Ontario, whenever you mention 'music scene' and Ontario in one sentence, everybody thinks of that grand city of culture (how does one express sarcasm on the web?) Toronto. Being from Hamilton, we have something of a brotherly hatred for Torontoians, but truth be told, if it wasn't for our close proximity to Toronto, living in Hamilton would be unbearable.
Toronto itself is not a particularity interesting or beautiful city (in the way that Montreal and Vancouver are), but by way of being the largest city in the country (around 3 million people if you stretch its borders to what you can see from the top of the CN Tower), it does attract most of the artist, musicians and is the home of most of the music industry companies in Canada. Toronto is also experiencing something of a musical renaissance right now and has a good chunk of the worlds hipsters looking its way for the word on what's cool; which, given the already overinflated egos that people assume from simply living west of Roncesvalle is not necessarily a good thing. What is a good thing is the sheer number of bands who do actually make great music in the city and play it in clubs all around town. Everybody knows Broken Social Scene, the Constantines, Royal City , the Hidden Cameras, Death From Above 1978, a Do Make Say Think, but there are also tons of great local bands simmering beneath the surface, growing their facial hair and just waiting for the return on 1975. Bands like C'Mon, the Illuminati and More Plastic play rock and roll so sincere it's as if they've been frozen since 1975 and haven't been told disco happened. Bands like Uncut and Controller Controller, who have heard of disco, are doing there best to tarnish its legacy through their (oh so hip) death disco thing. And then there is always Wavelength, a pay what you can live music night (on Sunday! how fucking rock and roll is that!) that has been causing god grief for over 5 years now and shows no sign of slowing down..


You know that Simpsons episode where Homer gets Snake's hair and it possess him and causes him to kill all those who put Snake on the electric chair? I believe Ian Blurton's beard has similar powers, causing him to make even louder and dirtier Rock and F'ing Roll each time he steps on stage with a new band. For those who thought that Bionic was just about as far as you could take the 'turn it up to 11' mentality, welcome to C'Mon. Musically this is raw rock in a Detroit by way of Melborne kinda way, short songs full of energy and a little boogie for the drunk fans out there. Live, these guys blow windows out across the street and make everyone dance from simply shaking the building so fucking hard that you couldn't stand still if you wanted. For those sick and tired of those bands that claim to be 'real rock and roll' and then proclaim deafness two years later, C'Mon is the real deal.

Rock and Roll Can Break y'r Leg
The Fever (live at the Horseshoe)

The Illuminati

The Illuminati's debut album was produced by Ian Blurton (of C'Mon) and has Danko Jones proclaiming them then best band in Canada- that is the kind of pedigree we're talking about here....Danko? is that even a good thing? Either way, the Illuminaiti more then live up to the considerable hype they've been generating around town with their classic rock boogie sound and their unsane live shows- I generally hate this kind of music, but i'll take every chance i can to see these ridiculously talented (and tattooed) musicians; this is the only band that can compete with C'Mon and Bionic for sheer volume, but when the guitarist does his best Slash impressions, forget about it. Thinking of joining a secret cult this week? Let it be the Illuminati...

On Borrorwed Time
Lay Low


There is not much i can say about the Constantines that hasn't been said before. All i can say, is that i said it before any of you...ha.ha. Seriously, these were the first guys i saw at a legendary club here in Hamilton called the Raven way back in Dec of 2000 (has it really been so long?) and i've been a devotee to the cause since then. Check out everything they've put out and make sure to see them live. No other band plays with such sheer intensity and emotion and simple love for the music.

Here's some tracks from their Suicide Squeeze E.P, Modern Sinner Nervous Man:

Dirty Business
Underneath the Stop Signs
Blind Luck

Listening to all that rock is making me blind (my senses get confused). Also, i'm tired, hungry and want to get baked. I'll continue this later.

In the meantime, here's some tracks from a compilation called (surprisingly enough) Toronto is the Best! it's put out by ☺☺☺ recording club, a really cool little label that has been releasing some pretty interesting stuff locally. More on them later; for now, the music:

AnimalMonster- Electro-Tron- Dirty lo-fi eletro beats that will make you smile instead of wanting to kill that person with the horrible hair blasting it way too loud on the subway.

The Blanket- Hey Ya!- White boys get funky on this hilarious cover of the Outkast tune.

I Can Put My Arm Back On- Alternate/Not Alternate- Not my favorite song by these guys, but their show in Montreal put a friend of mine in such a dizzy that we had to spend the rest of the night burning off that excess energy--thanks!

tomorrow, we will wander down Queen West and poke fun at wannabee hipsters from Sudbury..

Monday, November 15, 2004

Dirt McGirt, We Hardly Knew Ya..

I was very saddened to wake up this morning and hear that one of the most original and vivacious hip-hop artist ever had passed on last night.

It hit me especially hard as I had been doing some stuff that I probably should not have indulged in over the weekend, and just last night made a vow to myself to not touch the stuff again as I don’t want to go out like that. And then to hear one of my favorite hip-hop artist probably died from the drugs, it was certainly a sobering moment.

While most people will probably remember O.B.D for his outlandish behaviour and his prodigiously fertile ways, I’ll always remember him for that day long, long ago, when I bought the ‘protect ya neck/ method man’ 12” and thought: who the fuck are these guys?
After that, I became something of a Wu-Tang fanatic (well, for the first couple albums) and held a special place for O.B.D and his solo work. So many good nights were spent dancing and banging away to his music, which still rings in my head when a certain mood sets in.

Something tells me, however, that Big Baby Jesus and Rick James are probably still rocking the party in funk heaven…rest in peace.

Give It To Ya Raw (link from Cocaine Blunts and Hip Hop)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A large double double, two packs of DuMariers and 6000 km of open road

Seeing as I didn't even make it out of the Maritimes by the end of my last post, I've decided to pick up where I left off and hop in the car head west towards the great (island) metropolis of Montreal.

Montreal is truly a mind fuck of a city. There are always at least two levels of reality and truth at play and trying to navigate your way through them can be a bit tricky, and yet, always exhilarating. No other city in Canada can so successfully be one thing, while being its complete opposite at the exact same time: A French city under British rule. Romantic capital of Canada and more strip clubs then schools. Skyscrapers and cobblestone. Total celebration and total hibernation.

This dichotomous character seeps into the very fertile arts scene in Montreal to produce some stunningly original and beautiful work, especially in regards to music. While it's true that a great deal of the music that comes out of Montreal explores the darker side of life (and utilizes a lot of those oh so uplifting minor chords), there is often an element of celebration within the music, even if it's only hinted at. Montreal experiences some of the harshest winters known to humanity, days so cold and dark that people barely stir from their beds unless absolutely necessary. During this time (between 4 and 5 months), the population retreats into themselves, becoming deeply introspective and philosophical about life and its greater purpose, only to explode in a hedonistic orgy when the first sun starts to melt the snow. This is the Montreal most people know and love- the crowds on Saint Laurent, the cafes on Price Arthur, the shopping along Saint Denis, the utter throngs of people often doing nothing much more then enjoying life. And this is the time that all those songs and ideas that have been simmering in cold bedrooms and unheated jam places get unleashed on a receptive populace looking to smile, dance and enjoy each others company until the sun sets on another summer.

It's almost too easy to write about the Montreal scene right now; you've got the Arcade Fire setting the continent alight, God Speed celebrating their own apocalypse to rapturous acclaim, the Unicorns causing crowds to dance or vomit wherever they decided to showcase their (it must be said) warped musical vision, the Dears dramatic and theatrical Smiths/Blur impression continues unabated and even local scruffy boy Sam Roberts continues to establish himself as someone doing something fairly interesting in a mainstream context. Beyond this, you have the mathematicians masquerading as musicians down at the SAT doing their twitch and glitch electronic thing and you have the hip-hop crowd from Saint Henri doing interesting things with Franco rap and whole world of French music that is too strange and cheesy for my ears.

Poxy is one of the most likely bands to break big out of Montreal right now. Essentially the baby of scenester Xavier Cafeine (of, surprisingly, Cafeine fame) this band is a mix bag of glam, punk, britpop and even hair metal. While this sounds like a total disaster, the sincerity and dedication to the punk rock life of its members ensure that this band doesn't sound totally fake and cheesy. Their self titled first album is a solid trip through the past twenty years of popular music, full of Gallagheresque cockiness and swagger, sharp glammy hooks, riffs that Alice Cooper wouldn't throw away, and a strange sense of cohesion that ultimately stems from front man Xavier's unbelievable self confidence.

Hong Kong Baby
Punk Rock Samurai

Lederhosen Lucil

Lederhosen Lucil wants to make you shake your booty, even if you only have a small booty or no booty at all!
Essentially Lederhosen Lucil is a german clone of one Krista Muir, with blond braids, a bad accent, a quick wit and a taste for dried apricots. Her music is a weird intersection of piano, new wave, punk, and country and is ridiculously catchy. She sings about a range of silly topics from what's in her fridge to temp jobs to biore strips. It's played on two vintage Yamaha keyboards and still rocks. When i went and saw her when she came by these parts, i was expecting to be mildly interested but more interested in the audience who may turn up. As it turns out, things went the complete opposite way. Her music had me grinning from ear to ear, dancing like a fool and her hilarious and witty in between song banter had everyone in the crowd laughing. She even made up a song about Hamilton on the spot, called 'Rocking in the Hammer on a Thursday Night' that had everyone singing along and generated such camaraderie between performer and audience that we all felt
like Ledhosen Lucil was our personal friend at the end of the night.

The Best Dishwasher I Ever Had

One Candle Power

A four piece indie band (featuring the almost ubiquitous violin) centred on lead singer/songwriter and (i believe) guitarist Chrissy Musacchio. It is her beautiful and fragile vocals that carry the bands music, although they do have a nice dynamic sound thanks in part to the melodic, somewhat ethereal guitar lines and the restrained drumming and bass playing of Julien Landry and Andre Guerette respectively. What makes this band stand out from others plying a similar sound is the subtly complex songwriting and the unexpected burst of energy that enliven the songs at the exact right moments.

White Whisper
We Know Nothing of Timelines

Alexis O'Hara

A freestyling, freewheeling poet, Alexis O'Hara has put out one album, Abulia on Grenadine records. It's the kinda record that makes you feel like you know the artist, that she's your friend and confidant, someone you could talk to about anything under the covers, late at night. It's also the kinda album that makes you wish she really was your friend, because she is so cool and intellegent that you know the conversation over coffee would be good. Anyway, the album is a sonic joyride that runs the gamut from sweet electro-madness to abrasive robot poetry, with found sounds, field recordings, scavenged samples and layers of vocals that will have you waiting long into the night for your good friend to return.

Escape Hatch

And so concluds my little trip through the recently freezing underbelly of Montreal. I guess it's time to hit the road again, light up another butt and get another coffee from Horton's, because the beautiful province of Ontario is next and it's a long drive...