Thursday, June 28, 2007

I don't know what i was getting at with the Ramones the other day ...political? i take it back in retrospect.

I did however pick up the new White Stripes album, Icky Thump on the strength of a political verse.

Well, Americans:
What, nothin' better to do?
Why don't you kick yourself out?
You're an immigrant too.

The verdict is still out on the rest of the Album.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Stuart, I think there are a lot of artists out there that are passionately making music about the problems in the world around us, but some of us choose not to not to latch onto it in part because we don't care to hear the message again. We are cynical and feel that there is nothing we can change in the world around us, but i think that's bullshit! If enough people wanted to change the world for the better, stood up for what's right and made some more sacrifices then the world would be a different place over night.

Don't get me wrong, i'm not about to get off my ass to change it, but i sure enjoy sitting poolside, drinking beer and listening to other people sing about how we should.

Three albums with strong political content that were released in the past few years that i "buy into"

Beastie Boys, To the 5 Boroughs
The Ex with Guests & Getatchew Mekuria
Antibalas, Who is this America

...and that's just what i have by my desk at the moment.
I am just back from a few days off and then I am away all next week on vacation so to be brief, I think Derek has it about right....As one gets older, the cynic in you tends to not buy into ANY political argument...I mean I cant take any world wide event without a heavy does of cynacism....(maybe Stephen Lewis is the last guy who I think actually says what he means)....but back to music, I am racking my brains to think of a political song that has been released in the last couple of years that I really buy into , and I cant ( Can you? Just one?)...sure I still love the old political songs you all reference but I was young and naieve when I first heard them as has been said...I never really followed videos so no comment on that....marc glad you experienced that show, its what its all about, too bad I was up north swimming in a pool drinking beer listening to music when you were doing that, ( wait- that doesnt sound so bad....)
Anybody who has ever seen me dance knows that i'll dance to anything as long as the music moves me. If it's good music, you can you can find the motion. That having been said, i know i come off like a wack job at times ...but if you can't let your hair down on the dance floor, where are you going to do it?

When i think of protest songs, two things come to mind. The great sixties and seventies songs of Dylan, Niel Young, etc...folk inspired; and the great afro traditions of Kuti, Marley and their peers and all that followed in their footsteps.

On my list would have to be, For What it's Worth, Fortunate Son, Ohio, Eve of Destruction, Woodstock performance of Freedom by Richie Havens (#1 pick?) , Sky Pilot, Hurricane and the list goes on and on.

When i think about political songs of a slightly more recent era, i start to think of Sinead O'Connor and of course, one of the biggest political bands of our times U2. The list of favourite artists who sing about more than just boy meets girls? ...Springsteen, Beastie Boys one point i was a huge Bruce Cockburn fan but i can't seem to get into him any more. ...Lou Reed, R.E.M., The The (brilliant), Pearl Jam, Ramones, and Michele Shocked.

Somehow i do make a distinction between the protest song that comes out shouting it's message and the political song which can have much more subtle undertones of descent. Brian aptly put it with bands like the Stones and the Who.

I gotta say though, the one thing that gets my back up is when people, proverbially, get together in a hotel room and start chanting for us to "give peace a change"
Derek, amazing synchronicity between your (brilliant of course) blog and the one that I was writing in my head. Similar artists spring to mind as well, though some different songs; for me it was Bragg's Great Leap Forward; Costello's Oliver Army (one of his best songs period); Midnight Oil's Bed are Burning and Dreamworld; REM's Cuyahoga; TPE's Big Decision (one of the best songs from the eighties off of one of the best albums of the eighties); Lou Reed's Last Great American Whale; ...others will come to me.


Have we forgotten that "protest" music was popularized through the American folk music of the sixties (a generation raised in the shadow of World War II) and the Anti-Vietnam music. Given the long-standing eerily similar situation in Iraq surely it still resonates? No need to list too many songs, but Dylan's Master of War, McGuire's Eve of Destruction; The Byrds Turn Turn Turn or Draft Morning; Buffy St. Marie's Universal Soldier (covered by Donovan); Buf Springfield's For What its Worth; Airplane's Volunteers etc etc


what about about the great social commentary music coming out of Britain at the same time - like the Stones 19th Nervous Bkdn; the Kinks (almost every bloody song actually) Well Respected Man (as an aside: isn't it fun to live that every day?! yeah baby!); Who's My Generation; Yardbirds' Mr You're a Better Man Than I.

This sixties' msuic was some of the key music for me in my mid-late teens, and I think to a degeree it is re-discovered by every subsequent generation for the same reasons as you mentioned.

Kyle, still thinking of my favourite videos, and will blog on same......just......need.....more......tiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmmmme

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

If you can dance to it does it still count as a political song? The early songs by That Petrol Emotion worked on both the brain and the dancefloor and for me it was a potent combination.

Most of the songs that worked for me in a political sense did so when I was in my late teens, early twenties when you're beginning to realize how fucked up the world is and there's not a helluva lot you can do about it. It's then invigorating to realize that there are other like minded souls out there that are raging against the machine and encouraging each of us to do something about our predicament.

Unfortunately just like the artists, who also tend to be more "political" in their youth, as we grow older our ideals tend to become compromised and we get tired of kicking the pricks. Can't say either that there are too many out there making music of a political nature but perhaps the baby boomers said the same thing of the music in my heyday.

Fave political songs: (couldn't do just 5)

Peter Gabriel - Biko
Elvis Costello - Oliver's Army
The Specials - Ghost Town
The Clash - The Call Up
Midnight Oil - Best of Both Worlds
Billy Bragg - Help Save the Youth of America
The Jam - That's Entertainment
That Petrol Emotion - Big Decision
Public Enemy - Fight the Power
Boogie Down Productions - Stop the Violence
The Men They Couldn't Hang - Ironmasters
this brings up a perhaps interesting question (at least more interesting than a call for your favourite vids) : do politics and music necessarily work together? for marc, at least in the context of saturday's show, it definitely did. do message-themed songs instead turn you off the message? or are you okay with the message in a song, but not so much as an exhortation in the middle of a set? top five political songs? there's enough questions here for a week so i'll bugger off for a bit.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hey Marc based on your description of the show I'm almost glad that I was too tired to make it out on Saturday night. Too busy trying to make sure that the next generation doesn't fuck it up for the subsequent to listen to guys my age tell me what I probably already know. I get enough of that from reading Open Democracy without having somebody screaming it in my face. Glad you enjoyed the show although I'm not sure enjoyed is the appropriate word.
In know, I know; I can be a bit profane at times, but the jist was that there won't be much left for future generations when it comes to the earth and civility as we know it and we will see an ever increasing gap between the haves and the have nots .

Incidentally, subsequent to the gig on Saturday I have revisited Original Silence that I brought to the CD club and claimed to be unlistenable. Original Silence feature Thurston Moore, Jim O'Rourke, Mats Gustafsson and Terrie Ex amongst others. Having made it through the album at least 3 times today as I work in the office I seem to have proved myself wrong. …you CAN actually listen to it, although some of the dogs in the park apparently disagree!
How was the Ex show on Saturday, Marc?

Oh just....

Couldn't resist. Sounds like it was a conscious-raising as well as rocking time, though I'm not sure I get all the kid fucking references.
It’s a shame that none of you were able to join me at The Ex show at Lee’s on Saturday night. It was without exaggeration (one of) the most mind blowing shows I have been to in my life. I spent the evening gobsmacked, jawdropped, thrusting my fist in the air, hooting and hollering or just standing there dumbstruck with a stupid grin plastered across my intoxicated face.

The Ex showed up as a four piece. Terrie Ex and Andy Ex on Guitars, Katerina on Drums, and GW Sok on vocals. The Ex have been through a morphing line up since their forming in 1979 when they hit the scene with their version of a hard hitting Amsterdam protest punk sound. Over the years the sound has ventured into experimental and jazz but what they showed up with on Saturday night was full-on angry punk.

The talent and passion on stage was astounding. The band was the tightest I have ever seen in such a furious performance and the night was filled with guitar sounds, the likes of which I have never heard. I figure that the Ex must have a combined age of a couple of centuries and in case, must have about a century of combined performance under their belts, and it shows. There was not a hint of complacency in their musical message, but rather, their proficiency as musicians shone through the entire performance.

It was inspiring to see musicians in their 40’s & 50’s putting out music that is still so impassioned and unencumbered by commercialization. On the surface, on might think that the show would have been anachronistic but on the contrary the music, a combination of new and old, came across more relevant and dire than any other I have ever encountered.

…”a rough calculation makes it very clear that within a 100 years we all be x-times as rich and x-times as fucked” shouts Sok through a small megaphone. An eerie reminder that perhaps we are at more than just another gig at Lee’s

The evening was a dreamscape of controlled chaos. A purity of notes and sounds that were clean, crisp, articulate but filled with anger, rage and a deep seated belief that the world is going to hell in a hen basket, half the world is fucking the other half and we are all fucking our kids, their kids and mother earth.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

You're right, bri. Music videos, at least on television, seem to be declining in popularity. Muchmusic and MTV rarely play them, opting instead to air reality shows starring incredibly dull d-grade former celebrities scratching their asses and engaging in contrived arguments with various asshat members of their immediate families. Or boring manga-like cartoon series that don't even attempt a tangential relationship to music. Or the aching-to-be-meta-aware-and-hip video judgement shows, featuring an assortment of obese, unattractive "comics" who spout their unfunny commentary on different videos with an arrogance and self-importance that belies the relative ease of their 'shooting fish in a barrel' assignment. Or...well, you get the picture. One almost pines for reruns of 'The Monkees'.

To be fair to The Arcade Fire, I'm pretty sure this is the work of a fan and not an official video. This is probably the direction of the music, produced by fans or those with time on their hands and the wherewithal to work with the right software tools, with the best spreading virally through our email, websites, and blogposts. Which is probably a good thing. Bands these days don't seem to have the same enthusiasm as they did even a decade ago.

As I sound the death toll for the lavishly produced music video, does anybody want to chime in with their favourites of the past 25 years (don't think there were any real videos before then)?
Worst? Or are you indifferent to this topic entirely? If the latter, please allow a week of silence before beginning another topic, preferably one which references an obscure jazz/classical release.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I always loved Once Upon a Time in the West.

Not sure how I feel about simply showing an old film as your "video". It's either silly or perfect. Or both. Videos are so 1992 anyway. Does anybody still check them out?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

with reference to recent, separate, posts concerning cool videos and the arcade fire, an interesting video of a song from their latest album, with a much older film. hat tip to sarah's brother for fowarding it to me.

Monday, June 18, 2007

by my math we have 4 confirmed for the battles show Derek....myself, yourself, marc and brian.....(in order of importance)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

i'm in. Let me know if i missed the courtesy ticket acquisition programme cut off. I'll pick one up on my own on monday if that's the case.
I'm in for Battles. Maybe we should see if the Braxton kid is playing the same night?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Yeah, derek, what was the name of that band....something about wars....? Have they done any videos?
I am in. Derek, You also played something by Antony Braxtons son I think.....some wild shit....???

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I also played Wilco's "Sky Blue Sky" last Thursday night.

Now that you've had a week to think about it and I haven't had a chance to pick up more tickets who is in and who is out for seeing Battles at Lee's Palace on Monday July 16th. I currently have two tickets and will pick up more this weekend if necessary.

Here's a link to the video for "Atlas" to refresh your memory re their distinctive sound.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

thanks for posting the list, stu. next meeting, we gots to play some more and i gots to host, as i don't think i have done so since moving into the house. as for the narration, recall that all notes for those artists were simply control-c, control v-ed from allmusic and emusic so i can't ethically take any credit there.

do believe that it's 'battles', sans definite article and that marc's assertion that the new arcade fire disc rocks is bang on. as followup to the lost post and our discussion last week, i'll try to come up with a date in july for a cd club dins at kyle's, music out somehwere night soon.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pawa - up 1st
The bycycles-the good the bad...
the comas - spells
peter bjorn & john- Writers block
The ex guests Gebtatchew mekuria
Tatem & Ben Webster -The album (classic 57 sessions)
The battles -mirrored
lavender Diamond -Imagine our love
Egolillys- Feel my member

That was all I wrote and compared to kyle's narrations its pretty painful, (damn him), but I gots no time ....

Friday, June 08, 2007

Very nice get together last night. Curious that no one brought up the new Arcade Fire which I incidentally brought but neglected to play under the assumption that every one owned it, but did want to hear peoples opinion on it. I for one think it rocks. It’s a cohesive thematic album that has enough of a departure to keep the AC sound fresh and has a smattering of cuts with great commercial singles potential. I think it was an admirable follow up and I think it will wear quite well.

The Ex with Getatchew Mekuria & Guests, Moa Anbessa
The Good, The Bad & The Queen
Pawa Up First, Introducing New Details

Incidentally, The Ex is playing on Sat 23 of June at Lee’s if anyone would like to join me. I currently have a ticket available and would pick one up for anyone else that wants one. …and yes I am now cognisant of the fact that the 23 rd is not this Sat nor the next, and the Ex does not open until August!
Very strange re the missing post by Kyle on the blog. On my dashboard Kyle's post shows up right after Stuart's suggestion for getting together on the June 15th weekend. However there is no "View" link next to it and it still shows as a draft. Perhaps only my computer received his post as I might have just signed on at the time of his posting. Thanks again for hosting last night Stuart.

For posterity here is his post:

saturday June 16th would probably work well with my sched...perhaps we could grab some dinner then head to a show....could potentially even host dins at my place...will have to check my entertainment calendar (ie. sarah) to confirm....

as for dino jr., it does indeed rock and i'm not just saying that cause you and the globe and mail think so, bri. one of the few albums i've bought recently that falls into the 'rocking' camp, actually.
Stuart, thanks again for hosting last night. Apologize for having to cut out so early (and take three east-enders with me) and for not bringing any information on the music that I brought.

In an attempt to rectify the latter, here's the skinny, all notes courtesy the good folks at '':

New Ruins - The Sound They Make

Playing dark-hued pop music that strikes a balance between melody-driven pleasure and guitar-fueled malaise, New Ruins started as a two-man recording project featuring Elzie Sexton on vocals, guitars, and keyboards and J. Caleb Means on vocals and guitar. Sexton and Means both grew up in southern Illinois, and became friends in their early teens. Sexton and Means formed a punk rock band together when they were 14, and worked together in a variety of musical projects until they both left town to go to college. Means traveled north and attended film school, while Sexton enrolled in an art college down south; however, the two friends kept in touch, and in addition to getting together to make music during breaks from school, they began sending tapes of works in progress back and forth, collaborating through the mail. After graduating, Sexton and Means both ended up back in Illinois in the Champaign-Urbana area, where Means opened a small recording studio, Boombox Studios. When not busy with clients, Means would work on new music with Sexton, and in 2004 New Ruins were born. After a year in which the duo was strictly a studio project, New Ruins began playing occasional live gigs in the summer of 2005, and before long they added a rhythm section to fill out their sound — bassist Paul Chastain and drummer Roy Ewing. In 2006, New Ruins began recording their first full album, The Sound They Make, which was released by Hidden Agenda Records in the spring of 2007.

The Comas - Spills

The Comas formed in Chapel Hill, NC, in March 1998 as a joke country band, as a sort of counterweight to the hyped No Depression movement. Soon, however, both the "joke" and the "country" parts of the concept were eliminated, and they developed into a quirky alternative rock band. Their respectable 1999 debut effort, Wave to Make Friends, is sleepy but not lethargic indie pop with just-off-kilter male-female vocal harmonies, courtesy of co-founders (and only constant members) Andrew Herod and Nicole Gehweiler, billed by their own label as "stoner pop." Their instrumental canvas is larger and more eclectic than that of the typical indie group, using violin, organ, and creative non-rap samples in addition to the usual guitars and rhythm section. Adam Price of the Mayflies USA plays organ; the disc was engineered and co-mixed by Michael Holland of Jennyanykind. In fall 2000, the Comas issued Def Needle in Tomorrow, and they returned four years later with Conductor. The Comas signed with Vagrant in December 2005, and the band, who at this point consisted of, besides Herod and Gehweiler (both of whom also played guitar), keyboardist Matt Sumrow, bassist Jason Caperton, and drummer Nic Gonzales, released Spells in the spring of 2007.

Radio Citizen - Berlin Serengeti

"Jazzy" is almost as overused a word in club-based music as "downtempo," in part because the former is harder to pin down. Is a record jazzy because it uses horns? Because it sounds like it's sampled classic Blue Note records? Or is it just the hushed, atmospheric production draping it all? Since jazz tends to be about process as much as result, it's a misleading phrase, but sometimes a putatively downtempo act evokes the stuff well enough to make you forgive the pretense, like the Cinematic Orchestra or, more recently, Berlin 10-piece Radio Citizen. Led by multi-instrumentalist (he's credited with alto sax, regular and bass clarinet, percussion, keyboards, flute and more) and producer Niko Schabel, Radio Citizen is less a big band than a fleshed-out version of a rare-groove DJ's dream group. While there are another pair of horn players in addition to Schabel (baritone saxophonist Ian Ensslen and sax and flute player Wolfi Schlick), the low end is where Berlin Serengeti's deepest charms lie. The grooves, led by double bassists Klaus Janek and Marcel Jung, are brawny and sure-footed, especially when drummer Julian Waiblinger gets frisky: check his dynamically accented snare rolls all over "Voices" and "Black Forest," while the album's highlight, "Night II," gets most of its muscle from busy open toms and cymbal work. On six of these 16 tracks, a vocalist named Bajka takes center stage — she's reminiscent of funk-era jazz singers like Marlena Shaw, appealing in a strident, Afro-futurist sort of way. But even when she's on the mic, your attention is drawn to the rich sounds that ground her and send her aloft. (courtesy:

Super weekend all!

Monday, June 04, 2007

forgot that thursday was cd club....yikes! i will be there nonetheless though probably not going to be a late night for me. see you there!
See you Thursday.
I'm there! ...maybe someday i'll find a few moments to make a meaningful (or otherwise) contribution to the blog. Looking forward to getting off the family compound on Thursday!
Just a reminder that this thursday the 7th is the cd club at my house ........I assume that you are all still coming , please let me know if you cannot make it....

Friday, June 01, 2007

though a part of me wants to reach for the standard laissez-faire axioms that imply a sophisticated attitude of economic realism in the face of group sentimentality--they didn't make any attempt to adapt their business to their changing market, they should have seen the writing on the wall, etc.--i must confess: i'm sad to hear of sam's demise.

i used to enjoy their saturday morning door-crasher sales and cursed the fact that i rarely had a chance to do the boxing day sales thing (stupid family holiday commitments). what i remember most about record shopping at sam the record man in the mid to late 1980s was not so much the records that i bought but the records that i longed to buy and couldn't because i was only a teenager with a part-time job and limited disposable cash. i always enjoyed flipping through a band's ouevre, pulling out the occassional japanese import or marvelling at the coloured vinyl records featuring interviews of the band. when i did make a purchase, it was only after an hour of making my way through the entire pop alphabet, and at least another half hour of gut-wrenching decision-making.

as for the future, agree that it's just a matter of time before the hmvs of the world reformat or go away entirely. it's likely that any music buyer interested in physical media will have some option to create customized discs of music available in digital form or even load up memory sticks from a selection of songs from a kiosk (like starbucks began doing a few years ago in select stores in the los angeles area). the days of retailers holding onto large or any quantities of music, on the off-chance that passersby may stroll in to browse or even buy their wares is long gone.

and while searching through an online database of downloadable music is so convenient, there's something to be said for communal inconvenience of standing in a crowded, poorly renovated (in the mid-1990s, sam's must have redesigned their store a half dozen times, to little improvement of traffic flow or navigation) and picking out a treasure to take home.

also with the past, as you may well know, it was 40 years ago today that a certain album was released by a certain band. i recall reading all the articles in 1987 that began with a quote from the first two lines from the opening song on this album and thinking, "in 20 years time, will i look back at any of the albums of 1987 with the same type of nostaglia?" now that 2 decades have passed, i can safely answer, "yes".

1987 is, in fact, one of my favourite years in music. it was the year that the smiths released their last studio album, 'strangeways here we come', as well as 'louder than bombs', a compilation of previously released singles and older tracks. another greatest hits type collection was released by new order in the form of 'substance' a two record (cassettes released months apart in white and blue covers) album that helped me and my friends catch up with all their earlier hits as well as appreciate the new ones, 'true faith' and '1963'.

depeche mode released the single for winningly danceable/singable 'strangelove' in the spring of that year, as well as one of their best songs, imho, 'never let me down again' later that summer in advance of the october release of 'music for the masses', one of their best. the cure's 'kiss me kiss me kiss me', which on initial listen seemed to contain a few gems and a lot of very rough patches, seems more of an accomplishment with each passing year. instant hits like 'just like heaven', and 'why can't i be you' still sound great, quieter tracks like 'catch' and 'one more time' stand out as pretty testaments to robert smiths' lyrical abilities, and the noisy operatics of 'the kiss' and 'like cockatoos' lend a sense of the epic while foreshadowing the broody soundscapes of 1989's 'disintegration'.

possibly my favourite r.e.m. album, 'document', , came out that fall, as did 10,000 maniacs 'in my tribe', which may have been their first and is their best, for me. though they only had two albums, the housemartins figured prominently on my stereo in the 1980s and their second release, 'the people who grinned themselves to death' also came out in 1987 (though several members of the band came out years previously). and another of my favourite bands, echo & the bunnmen released an impressive, eponymously titled album which featured 'lips like sugar', 'lost and found', and 'all my life'.

even bands that were becoming more commercial some great moments--inxs's 'kick', pet shop boys 'actually', the cult 'electric' , prince's 'sign of the times', (though this was definitely not one of his more mainstream albums, it's one of his most varied and interesting).some of the first hip hop that i really listened to--like eric b. and rakim's 'paid in full' and public enemy's 'yo bumb rush the show' also were 1987 albums.

no doubt there are some others i'm missing but you get my long-winded point, which is two-fold: 1) 'it was 20 years ago today' isn't just a nostalgic touchstone for boomers and 2) i love the music of 20 years ago.

vive 1987!