KMA2958 BMV#10 Paley & Francis

I love me all things Frank Black/Catholics/Black Francis/Pixies/Etc, so this was a no-brainer. I didn’t know Reid Paley by name, but turns out I’d heard his work through his other collaborations on Black projects. Chock full of great songs/songwriting.

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KMA2957 BMV#9 Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs – Medicine County

Trying new formats to see what’s sustainable. Larger, centered picture with caption text. Lemme know what you think…

 

Of course, we all love Holly from her time around Mr. Childish, and for her garage sound. Sometimes she goes country, and this album has both. A sure-fire, can’t-miss, all-the-hyphenates artist. Brilliant record.

KMA2956 BMV#8 Pixies – Head Carrier

I love Pixies, full-stop. They have a wonky rocking glorious sound all their own, they rarely miss, and it’s always worth hearing. Get Head Carrier in yer ears!

KMA2955 So Far Behind I’m Ahead

Hey folks! So, I’ve been slowly recounting my awesome Taranna finds from our trip there last month. I still have the rest of my BMV scores to tell you about, and ALL of the Sonic Boom finds too! So much to do.

Well, as a sign of how far behind I actually am, we were in Taranna again yesterday. And I have more music scores! So… um, I’ll tell you about all of them. Eventually. I am at the point where I’m gonna just have to post the album art and a one-liner and call it a day. Good grief.

Anyway, the city was awesome yesterday. Perfect weather, about 15C with a breeze off the lake. People had coats on, but us northerners were in t-shirts. Traffic was a bit rough on the way down, backed up at the 400 and the 427, but that happens often, and we made great time getting out of the city so that’s a win. The stores were way less busy as it wasn’t Record Store Day anymore.

Speaking of stores, Kops Records on Bloor was gone. No sign in the window that they’d moved, so I dunno. Maybe it’s all in the Queen St. location now? And She Said Boom! on College was gone too, but my panic was short-lived as they’d only moved a few doors further west down the street. Whew!

Also: I had a list of four albums I knew I definitely wanted to find, and I found two! Cool beans. I did not find any Grail List items. Speaking of which, have a look at the Grail List link (above) and if there are any updates for your lists, let me know!

Alright, stay tuned. I have awesome musics to hear/tell you about. And all the previous stuff too. Let’s see if I can find a way to get this done before we go again next month…

KMA2954 SLCR #339: The Tea Party (April 25, 2019)

As we were getting ready to head out for the show, Mika asked if I was excited to see Snake River. I was not, largely because I didn’t know what Snake River was, if something other than a river of snakes. It turns out that the Tea Party was on the Black River tour, named after their latest single, and Snake River is a local band that plays here fairly regularly. Simple enough to get mixed up.

I mention this because it led me to check and see who our actual openers were – The Proud Sons. The name is a little too close to The Proud Boys for my liking, but what the hell, they’re opening for the Tea Party, it fits really well. At least name-wise. I listened to a few songs from their EP and found they were a country band, which seemed like a very odd pairing with the Tea Party, who were all about being dark and brooding and mysterious, or at least they were when I was in university and they were at their commercial peak. When they came back through town on a reunion tour in 2011, I was surprised at how down-to-earth they seemed – but still not the kind of band that would have a country act opening for them. I assumed I’d found the wrong band on Apple Music.

We got to the casino and checked out the stuff table. Yep, it’s the same Proud Sons. Weird. But whatever, into the concert hall we went for people watching and a thematically appropriate playlist of 90s Canadian rock until the show began. This included a Tea Party song that was hastily skipped.

The Proud Sons are not quite as country in person as they were on their EP – still country, but leaning towards the rockier side of things. Mika checked, and none of them appear to be related to anyone in the Tea Party, and nobody from the Tea Party produced their EP, so this pairing will remain a mystery. Their set was fine, nice harmonies, nothing wrong with the show (well, maybe a touch too loud for the venue – and I maintain that if nobody knows your band, don’t tell the crowd to sing along or “put your hands in the air” because they won’t) – just such an odd fit.

And that’s about all I wrote before letting this sit for two weeks. I think I’m just not fit to review the Tea Party, who I was about as excited for as I had been for Snake River. I saw them – by which I mean the Tea Party, not Snake River, who this review is not actually about, not that you’d know – once in 1996 during the height of their popularity when a friend had a spare ticket. I knew very little about them and said friend was disgusted by that, given that it was a high-demand ticket to a sold-out show and basically wasted on me. I liked them well enough then – and in 2011, and again in 2017 – but they’re really just not my thing. They’re like I Mother Earth in that based on my age and tastes, I should like them, but they just never fully clicked with me. I go because Mika likes them and because I can be talked into any concert for any reason.

This was pretty similar to the show we saw back in 2017. And not just their own songs; they also played the same covers (or short segments thereof) as last time – With or Without You, Heroes, Paint It Black – though I think Bobcaygeon was a new addition. Ever since Gord Downie died, every Canadian band of a certain vintage has to incorporate a Hip song into their setlist by federal law; usually Bobcaygeon, but the Headstones got a special dispensation to play Blow at High Dough and New Orleans is Sinking instead. Crash Test Dummies didn’t play a Hip song at all when they were here last year and they’re all in jail now.

The new not-Snake-River single was fun. They tried out some other new stuff and asked us not to record it in case it sucked, but it was good, and they knew that. Really, the most noticeable difference was in their demeanor. Like I said, in 2011 they seemed appreciative and almost surprised that people would still come out to see them. Since then, they’ve had a few successful tours and the new single has been a big hit on rock radio (for whatever that means in 2019) and that really seems to have boosted their confidence. Lead singer Jeff Martin had a lot more swagger and was back to coming across more like a rock star, and the crowd responded accordingly, so maybe listen to them and not me.

I always worry about the “it was fine” reviews because I fear they come across as “I hated it.” And talking to the four people who read these things can sometimes back that up. So I’ll just say it was a Tea Party concert for Tea Party fans. It was enjoyable and met my expectations but didn’t convert me. After four shows, I’m sensing a pattern.

UPCOMING CONCERTS:
• Foxwarren w/Hannah Cohen (May 29)
• Regina Folk Festival w/Bahamas, A Tribe Called Red, The Dead South, Weaves, Emilie Kahn, more (August 9)
• “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 21)
• Elton John (October 1)
• Thrush Hermit (October 4)

KMA2953 BMV#7 Tinariwen – Imidiwan: Companions

I still thank Mr. 1537 for pointing me towards this incredible unit.

If, like me, you dig their groovin’ desert blues, then this album will please you as greatly as any of their other work pleases you. Brilliant stuff!

My copy came with a DVD containing a 30 minute documentary about the band.

KMA2952 BMV#6 Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Freedom Tower” No Wave Dance Party 2015

It’s cleaner-sounding, but he’s still shouting and they’re still rocking. They’re still in control, and the blues is still #1!

KMA2951 Every Picture…

…Tells A Story…

KMA2950 BMV#5 Ani DiFranco – Allergic To Water

This is her 18th album, and I’ve been on the Ani bus for a lot of awesome listening years. She’s always on point, and she’s always brilliant. This one’s another fine example that sounds great.  

KMA2949 BMV#4 Kelly Hogan – I Like To Keep Myself In Pain

This lady can sing. Without a doubt, she does it with control, power, and soul. Here she interprets songs others wrote for her (including M. Ward, Vic Chesnutt, Stephen Merritt, John Wesley Harding, Robyn Hitchcock, and Andrew Bird, to name a few), and is joined by Booker T. Jones and others to make it all sound stellar. Glorious.

KMA2948 So Many Questions

So I bought this Neil Young book.

Nothing amiss there, oughta be a good read.

Then, when I got it home, I looked inside at the first page and saw this:

Yup, that’s in pen.

Alright. I have questions.

  1. Is this thing signed by Neil Young?
  2. Is he known to simply autograph with his initials?
  3. Further down the rabbit hole, could this have been signed to Rik Emmett? Am I thinking too hard about this?

Of course, surely there are other people named Rik, but there you go.

So what do you think?

KMA2947 BMV#3 Kelly Hogan – Because It Feel Good

Grammatically painful title aside, this is one hot CD. I knew of Kelly Hogan through Carolyn Mark. And Neko Case. Turns out she’s collaborated with a ton of others too, like Mavis Staples, Decembrists, Mekons, Tortoise, Jakob Dylan… the list is long and awesome.

You’ll know why she’d be a popular guest when you hear her creative, fun, beautiful record. What a voice! Hot damn. This is straight-up kick-ass gotta-hear it stuff.

KMA2946 BMV#2 Ballin’ The Jack: The Birth Of The Nu-Blues

I f*ckin’ love comps like this. The write-up on the back cover says it all:

Balling The Jack: 1) Gambler speak for risking everything on one throw of the dice. 2) A railroads man’s term for going full speed on a train. 3) Afro American argot for a dance characterized by sexually explicit pelvic movements. 4) Black slang for generally having a goooood time.

The Nu Blues: The Old Skool Blues feel, given a techno turbo-charge and pepped with hip-hop thrills, punk power, indie angst, art-rock experimentalism and an extra helping of 21st century soul to go. The Devil’s Music Deconstructed. You know it ain’t a sin…

Tracks:

Reid Paley – Lucky’ Tune
Asie Payton/Go Gittas Camp – Oooh Baby
Tom Waits – Big In Japan
Jimpson & Group – Road Song
Chris Thomas King – Mississippi Kkkrossroads
North Mississippi Allstars – Someday Baby
Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – Electricity
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Stagger Lee
Olu Dara – Strange Things Happen Everyday
Pig In A Can – Slow Down Train
Gary Lucas w. Mary Margaret O’Hara – Poison Tree
Soft Boys – Give It To The Soft Boys
Billy Childish & His Famous Headcoats – The Wond’rous Day
Petit Vodo – Border Line
Moby – Findy My Baby
Penny Lang – Lost And Found
R.L. Burnside – Let My Baby Ride
Cowboy Junkies – Postcard Blues
Johnny Dowd – A Picture From Life’s Other Side
Bob Log III –  Stirring Round A Stick
Diamanda Galas – See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

KMA2945 BMV#1: Eva Cassidy – American Tune

The only disc I found in the 3-for-$10 bin that needed to come home.

This bluesy beautiful set contains covers of Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, Paul Simon, Duke Ellington, Lennon-McCartney and Cyndi Lauper (among others). The sound is clear and roomy, and the band is on point. This one’s just more proof of her brilliance. She died far too young (at 33, in 1996). May she RIP.

 

KMA2944 Taranna Trip: Preface

TARANNA: As I mentioned in an earlier post, my Dad and I made were in Taranna recently. I bought musics, and will tell you about all of it. I plan to keep the posts super short, and to try to hone my Briefly Telling You Something Informatively skills.

(ARGUABLY UNNECESSARY) RESCUE MISSIONS: I keep a .txt list of all my music (artists and titles) on my phone. Apparently it needs an overhaul because on this last trip I bought a few items I already own. They were:

BMV:

Rheostatics – Greatest Hits. I will forever love the Rheos, and not only because they called their first album their Greatest Hits. Turns out I already had this CD. And the LP.

Atoms For Peace – Amok (Deluxe Edition). I already own the CD. And the LP. But this was a shiny lovely deluxe fold-out CD edition for cheap, which I did not have. Unnecessary? Yes but also no.

SONIC BOOM:

Rollins Band – Nice (Advance CD). This is just the album (which I already own), with some promotional content added to the CD (which I also already own). This was a rescue mission (and my third copy). Because ROLLINS.

Mounties – Thrash Rock Legacy. I already own this CD, but it’s Hawksley (et al.) and it was in the clearance for $2.99 so I could not leave it to languish. I will find it a good home.

OK. First CD from BMV posts tomorrow.

KMA2943 SLCR #338: Hawksley Workman & the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (April 13, 2019)

In Calgary again, visiting my grandma again, timed it to coincide with a show again. Baked her some bread again, sharpened her knives again, got my suitcase inspected again (for packing an electric knife sharpener again). You know the drill. I’m pretty sure I’ve done this exact opening before.

I could add “seeing Hawksley again” (third time since January) and “symphony show again” (following Steven Page, with Weird Al still to come this summer). Got some themes going on this year.

I met Colin for an early dinner at a downtown BBQ joint where he also goes to punk concerts. Some things about that sentence are odd and that’s okay. It was a bad day to eat early; lunch had come late because I hit up Record Store Day first and also had to stop at London Drugs and buy my grandma some printer ink. Calgary priorities. That said, though I wasn’t really hungry, dinner was pretty good, with the side of bourbon apples a particular standout.

After dinner, we walked over to Arts Commons for the show, which was in the Jack Singer Concert Hall. It was rush seating and I had a goal of getting there “earlyish, but not stupidly so” and I feel like we succeeded.

Rather than rushing to claim seats, we got drinks first. I’m not much of a drinker, nor a line-stander-inner, but they had a concoction called The Workman – how could I not? Besides, Colin handled the lining up and the buying all by himself. The drink, while tasty, demonstrated the effectiveness of branding. Fun theme drink I can talk about in a review? Sure! But call it what it is – namely, just Maker’s Mark and Coke – and I’d have passed. (Or maybe not; I’d already had those apples and Bourbon Day is always an option since I like themes so much).

Out of the lobby and into the hall itself, and we spent way too much time looping around trying to decide on seats. Paralyzed by choice, we were. With no ideal options, we wound up sitting centre-right, a little better than halfway to the back. I think that somewhere in this paragraph is a metaphor for the Alberta provincial election if I bothered to suss it out.

In an unusual move, Hawksley posted the full setlist on his Instagram before the concert began. Since I saw it before the show, you may as well get it before the review:

Goodbye to Radio (with orchestra)
A House or Maybe a Boat (with orchestra)
No Sissies
Autumn’s Here (with orchestra)
Safe and Sound
Oh You Delicate Heart (with orchestra)
Your Beauty Must be Rubbing Off
No More Named Johnny (with orchestra)
-intermission-
1983 (with orchestra)
Song for Sarah Jane (with orchestra)
Jealous of Your Cigarette
Paper Shoes
Warhol’s Portrait of Gretzky (with orchestra)
Snowmobile
Smoke Baby
Battlefords (with orchestra)
-encore-
No Beginning, No End (with orchestra)

That’s a nice, career-spanning mix. As you can see, about half the songs were accompanied by the orchestra, and half were just Hawksley and Mr. Lonely. Honestly, I was initially a little disappointed in the number of songs that didn’t feature the symphony, since that was the big draw for me. I mean, I love Hawksley and was going to enjoy this either way, but this was the 24th time I’ve seen Hawksley in concert and the symphony songs promised to be something new and different.

Having said that, as seems to be the norm with these symphony shows, there weren’t a ton of surprises in the arrangements. The orchestra usually seems to be used to accompany the original song, rather than drastically change it. The new songs, 1983 and Battlefords, had arrangements by Sarah Slean, and both were nicely done. Hearing Warhol’s Portrait of Gretzky – a song that I love but is also kind of ridiculous? – with the symphony was great, just because it made a weird song that much stranger. That said, Song for Sarah Jane was the surprise standout. On record, I’ve always found it kind of unsubstantial. Pretty, but not much to it. With the orchestra, though, the music swelled as the song went on and it became almost anthemic.

Hawksley is normally pretty emotive when he sings, and this was no exception. If anything, he was hamming it up more than usual. I’m sure part of it was having the symphony backing him up, and part of it was the size of the venue; apart from some folk festival shows (and those are outdoors, which have an entirely different vibe), this is easily the biggest place I’ve seen him play. He was also his usual chatty self, at least before the less-structured songs with just him and Lonely. He joked about his unseasonable song picks with Autumn’s Here and the Christmas tune A House or Maybe a Boat, and had introductions for other songs, including the same story about Snowmobile as he told last time in Regina.

Hawksley can be a bit of an oddball and I’m sure the symphony brought out some people who wouldn’t normally go to his concerts – like when we saw him with the Vinyl Cafe years ago. You can always spot those people because they’re the ones laughing at lyrics, hearing them for the first time. The older lady sitting to my right took incredible delight in some of the more risqué lines in songs like Jealous of Your Cigarette and especially Paper Shoes. We were also sitting near some diehards who knew all the words and sung along at every opportunity, most often during fan favourites like Smoke Baby, Your Beauty Must Be Rubbing Off, and Safe and Sound. They were also really good singers, which added nicely to the atmosphere in those parts.

All told, this was really great, with a new twist on a bunch of songs, a great performance, and a crowd that was super into everything. Not that it matters, because you likely saw Hawksley in the title, figured my feelings on the show were a foregone conclusion, and skipped this. And for those of you who didn’t, should have gone with your gut, I guess. Could have saved yourself a few minutes.

KMA2942 Formative Birthday

Recently our son turned ten years old. Not sure where the time went, but our beautiful bundle of joy has grown to be a thoughtful, intelligent, strong young man. 

He got a ton of gifts, of course (LEGO is still his favourite, now in the Technic form) but he got a couple of other gifts for which I think he’ll always remember this year’s birthday:

Up until now, he’s been listening to classic rock on his clock alarm radio. A rite of passage (I did the same). This year, my parents got him his first stereo. It’s a little CD/MP3 bookshelf unit with its own remote. I’ve been hooking him up with tunes (at his request – so far it’s been Gowan, Led Zeppelin, and Iron Maiden). I don’t know about you, but I’ve always remembered my first stereo, that light switch turning on and opening up the whole world to music and possibility. I can already see it’ll be the same for him.

 

And this year, I got him his first acoustic guitar. A real one, as he called it. An Art & Lutherie, just like mine. Actually, his is more capable as it has a pickup in it, but he liked the connection. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always remembered my first guitar, a Yamaha acoustic that endured my first plunking twangs. I was 18 or so when I got my first guitar, and I can’t help but think that if I’d gotten one at 10 years old, I’d have been so much further ahead. He hasn’t said anything about lessons yet, but we let him know it’s an option. I can show him basic chords to get him started.

 

There’s a different look in his eyes. I see that he sees the world opening up. Now he can listen to music (and control it), and he can begin to make his own.

Parenting comes with a lot of cool moments, too many to count. But some bigger ones you have to wait for, and I’ve been waiting a long time for these. I can confirm that when you get there, it’s so worth the wait.

KMA2941 The Future, Considered

It’s easy to trundle along thinking life will always be like it is now.

My lovely wife’s father has been ill for over a decade. He lived at home as long as he could. But eventually he wound up in the hospital and now, for the past couple of months, in a nursing home. It’s the best situation, with care on hand.

We visited him for Easter, and he’s in a room with an occupancy of four. He has a closet for a few clothes, a bulletin board above his bed, and a wee rolling shelf box beside the bed. Simple living.

Naturally, after visiting, my thoughts eventually roll to our own future. What if we end up in a similar situation? You want to live in your own home for as long as you can, of course, but as he discovered, health conditions can easily dictate otherwise despite your wishes.

And, being a collector, my brain takes the next logical step and asks: what about the records? Sure, they’d be at home. But, as an example, he’s unlikely to ever return home. And there’s no space in a place like that for anything like a turntable and even a few records. And, even if there was, the other three roommates might not like the tunes, so it’d be all headphones… I suppose an iPod would do, as a vehicle for getting the music to your ears.

And after we pass, what then? I don’t suppose I care what happens to any of it after I’m gone – I can’t play them anymore, after all – but the thought nags and, after our visit, I look at the collection in a different way. All my readings of Zen, Tao, and Walden flood back. I think minimalist. I calculate my current age and start guessing when I’ll be unable to maintain a private residence. It may never happen. Could be in 30 years. And so on. Isn’t my brain FUN?

The other side of this whole thing is to just not think about it, for now, and just enjoy the hell out of the music while I can. But that thought of the future will always be in there, and seeing his set-up which, admittedly, is comfortable and clean and enough, preemptively undoes all of my collecting efforts and life-hours. Eyes open.

 

KMA2940 Two More Updates

One:

Got my first free day with good weather (after winter), so Dad and I headed for Taranna.

It was Record Store Day. BMV wasn’t any busier than usual. Sonic Boom, however, was jammed with people so you could barely turn around. Great for sales, of course! But also hard to actually shop. They had live music on a stage at the back. I heard two acts (* photo credits to Sonic Boom’s Instagram):

Yves Jarvis. I liked his minimalist, trippy and quieter tunes.

Luge. Atonal wonky stop-starts. I was happy when they stopped.

 

I didn’t get any RSD 2019 scores. I could have bought the Mastodon Stairway To Heaven EP, but it was $27 for two songs and that’s too rich for me. I did get a ton of other scores in both shoppes, and I will report back here on all of them. Which leads me to…

Two:

As noted recently, I’ve got minimal time to blog/Read. Gah! I still want to tell you about stuff I hear, so I’m going to have to go shorter, though it must still tell you something about my thoughts about the thing, not just ‘hey this is what I heard/saw/etc.’

I’ll bet I could do it in one or two concise sentences.

KMA2939 The Good Ol’ Hockey Game

Here’s one I’ve had in Dennis (my post hopper) for some time now. I’ve updated it to current and here it is:

I love hockey. I really do.

I grew up playing it, and wasn’t too bad as a center/left wing. But I got out at 14 years old, when everyone else had grown and I hadn’t, as with body contact allowed I was getting crushed. Turns out I don’t have or enjoy the mean tough hockey thing. I prefer the finesse have-fun hockey thing. Anyway.

As a kid, it made sense I should’ve been a Leafs fan. My Dad is a lifelong Leafs fan. Heck, they were the city closest to us, and they were the team we watched most on Saturday night Hockey Night in Canada. Yet I was an Oilers fan. Gretzky and Messier are still my top two hockey gods. Hard to fault a kid for cheering for those 80s Oilers. I even got to go to an Oilers/Leafs game at the old Gardens, ages ago, to see my heroes… And the Leafs… well, they’ve had a long, difficult slog since… the 60s.

Then I lived 20 years without a TV, so I didn’t see a whole lot of hockey. What I did see, I struggled to watch. I hated the zone trap, it actually made the game boring. And all the lazy hooking from behind on the backcheck (which is now a penalty, thank goodness) made the game unwatchable. I even hated when Fox tried to put that stupid streak behind the puck so everyone could follow along. Dumb. Honestly, who can’t follow the puck?

And now, over the years of having internet I began to follow the NHL again, just highlights and stuff. I’m not a Oilers fan, per se, anymore. I’ve tended to just hope that the team that deserves to win actually wins. And this season, I found a channel on Youtube that condenses every 60 minute game into an 8-10 minute highlight reel. I watched many of them here and there, while I was cooking supper, or while the kids were in kung fu, or whenever my attention wasn’t immediately required elsewhere. Over time I got re-acquainted with what has always been in my blood, and we even go to our local OHL games now and again, and I love those. I just grew to love watching hockey again.

And I found myself rooting for the Leafs.

I can’t quite articulate why. There are so many good teams in the league, now. Honestly, the speed and the skill these days is off the charts from what this old dog is used to seeing. And still, for all the great players the Leafs have, somehow they often manage to be a hot mess. But when they get it right, goddamn it, it’s superb.

So I’m learning what beginning to identify as a Leaf fan means. It’s an annual tough row to hoe, it’s a lot of bitter disappointments and crushed hopes… and yet somehow hope always springs eternal. I mean, even the Cubs won a World Series eventually.

And last night, at my folks’ place, I watched Game 7 of the Bruins/Leafs first round series, held in Boston. I found myself actually nervous for the buds. And they lost, in big fashion, 5-1. Despite out-playing, out-shooting (by a wide margin) and out-hitting the Bruins. Really it was 3-1, but they stupidly pulled Andersen with about 3:00 left, allowing those last two coffin-nail goals. And so their season ends.

Honestly, now with Toronto, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Calgary (and maybe Washington, tonight) out of the playoffs [all major teams!], I don’t really care much who wins anymore. I’m happy Nashville’s out, though. I have watched (off and on) all season, and I’ll still watch to the end and see who wins the Cup, but with the Leafs out it just doesn’t feel exciting in the same way. That’s a huge new first for me.

And I hope for next season already. I hope they trade Kadri* and Nylander**, promote Ennis and Moore, and put super-speedy Kapanen back where he belongs. I hope they get another defenseman. I hope they work out the top guns lines and stick with what works. Hell, I cross my fingers Marleau sticks around forever. I hope they give Marner whatever he wants – they need him and that kid’s amazing. I hope they treat Tavares and Matthews like kings. If I was a kid now, they’d be my heroes. I hope they find Andersen a solid back-up (is Sparks it? Who knows). So much to handle in the off-season.

And here I sit, newly-minted and full of opinions, probably talking outta my ass. Haha shut up, noob! Yeesh.

In Sum:

Apparently, I’m now a Leafs fan. I wouldn’t ever have guessed it, and yet here it is. I know what it means. And I’m OK with that.

 

PS:

In a beautiful bit of life’s full circle, our son is an Oilers fan. He loves McDavid, and Draisaitl, and all the rest. Good on him. I support him in that, too!

 

* He’s let them down when they need him too often. Time to go, bud, thanks for everything good.

** I said at the time of all that trade holdout crap that they didn’t need him (not that he’s not a good player, just that They Did Not Need Another Expensive Forward), and I was proven right. Waaaay too many millions, and for waaaaay too little output (called it). Meh.

 

KMA2938 Teas, Pt.1

What? Tea? Am I ripping off Sarca (Juan Valdez Follows her, you should too!) and her coffee posts?

Nope. I mentioned a while back about managing to shed about 25 pounds. I don’t say I ‘lost’ weight because that sounds like something that could be found again and I have no interest in finding it again. Anyway.

I’m fairly certain a significant part of this accomplishment was the ingestion of healthy quantities of green tea. I know lots of folks think it tastes like grass, and who’d wanna drink the lawn? But me, I love it. Just plain, straight up, nothing in it. No lemon, no ginger, no extra anything. Keep it coming.

So I started a survey of green teas, out of my own interest, and thought I’d share the results (thus far, hence the Pt.1 in the title) in case any of y’all were interested.

I used a scale from 0 (hairy grossness) to 10 (rainbow unicorn panacea). Here’s what I’ve got so far:

1 – Lipton Green Tea – basic, cheap, not terrible. RATING: 5

2 – Tim Hortons Green Tea – lemon furniture cleaning spray nose, OK flavour. Would probably make a fairly good iced tea. RATING: 6-1 for the nose = 5

3 – Twinnings Green Tea – smooth, simple, solid go-to. RATING: 7

4 – Tian Hu Shan Dragon Well Green Tea – Chinatown Taranna find. Basic, not offensive. RATING: 5

5 – Lipton Magnificent Matcha Green Tea – expensive, in comparison, but so far above and beyond the others it’s not even fair. RATING: 10

***

And that’s the first 5. When I get through a few more, I’ll report back. Enjoy a cuppa!

KMA2937 Going Forward

I’ve posted crap like this a lot over these (now) 13 years, but this is a new general state.

All apologies, dear KMA Readers. Post counts are down. Worse, I haven’t read your posts, or commented. Where did Aaron go?

I’ve just lost the mojo. And the further it goes along, the harder it is to get back. I thought I could get caught up and then stay on top daily, but then it slid too long. Apologies all around.

I do still listen to music. In this current state, I’ve now heard more than I’ve posted (natch).

I need a sustainable plan. I probably need to let go of the idea of staying on top. I probably need to stop worrying about it. Not gonna lie, the reflex is dying hard, but it is what it is.

KMA2936 En Spectacle: Examined

 

 

So, a few days ago, I barfed in a post about some of the pros and cons of going to concerts. And then we went to a concert (SADIES FTW!). So I thought I’d go back through my post and see how this show matched up. Thoughts are in italics in the (bolded) original text (because I am lazy)…:

Cons:

You know, in a way, concerts are rather silly. This one wasn’t! It was awesome.

You spend extra money Truly not a problem, for seeing this band.

and set aside an entire evening to go out of your house not gonna lie, we needed to get out so bad.

and be amongst the masses who’ll mostly likely talk through the whole damn thing, check their cellphones non-stop, chew with their mouths open and probably get drunk and sloppy OK so this happened, in fact one drunk guy kept coming close to elbowing my lovely wife in the head several times and looked at us like we were the jerks when we calmly asked him to move, meanwhile he and his buddies stood right over us and had a shouted conversation throughout several songs but then stopped talking when the band stopped playing ASSHOLES… though eventually they got the hint and moved off, so um, yay?,

just to hear a band reproduce songs that you could reproduce yourself from their album anytime you choose – in your house, in your car, from your phone or iPod. I’ve seen several bands who did this, and I came away wondering why I didn’t just play the CD… Except, as J. correctly pointed out, the Sadies are on another level performing live. Their CDs are great, and their live show is just that much greater, so this was definitely not a re-tread experience.

Very often (for me) concerts are too loud to the point where the sound isn’t even pleasurable to listen to, breaking up and distorted. Admittedly, for certain types of concerts like punk or metal shows, that makes sense and can be fun (with earplugs), but more often, I find it would be better if it was slightly, reasonably quieter. At least, not crush-your-chest and head loud. Loud for the sake of being loud. This show was at a reasonable volume that suited the room and the music, so it was fine (even without earplugs).

Also, for me, most decent shows require at least two hours of travel to a larger city, so it’s not just the expense of the ticket itself, it is the expense of time, gas money, food money and, depending on where and at what time the show is, possibly hotel money as well. It is a planned event beyond just stopping by to check it out. Not to mention we’d need to arrange childcare, and make sure that it isn’t a work night. This one was right here in our town, ten minutes from our home! 

So you commit to going somewhere, usually at expense, and being jostled by other people, to hear songs you’ve already heard at a volume that hurts. The mild introvert in me finds all of this very tiring. The mild introvert in me was fine with most of the evening, except for the drunken louts. They really could have tried harder. They’re also harder to take when you’re not drinking yourself. It’s been four years since I had a drink, and I suppose after a couple it might’ve been easier going, but through sober eyes they were just sad and annoying.

***

Pros:

On the other side of the coin, concerts are special because very often bands don’t merely reproduce the songs as you hear them on the album. The best bands make the song recognizable, yet they will add solos, or change the words, or make the song shorter or longer, or even blend songs together that you hadn’t previously considered putting together. They will also play cover tunes, and talk to the crowd and tell jokes and stories, making it a worthwhile experience because it’s stuff you wouldn’t otherwise get. This was absolutely the case at this Sadies show.

If you enjoy merchandise, you can get T-shirts, hats, pins, CDs and whatever else. There was a stuff table. CDs were $15, LPs were $20. Pretty sure the t-shirts were $30 or $35. I didn’t buy anything but the prices seemed reasonable. There didn’t seem to be more than a few albums on display, so I don’t know if there were more in a box, available on request, or if that was all they brought with them.

If you enjoy meeting the people who make the music, sometimes you can get lucky and hang around after the show and meet them, although myself I’m more often tend to not do that than the times that I do. We did not stick around after the show ended, as it was nearing midnight and we had to get back and let our babysitter off the hook. There’s a very good chance, though, that if we’d hung around we might’ve met one or all of the band. They didn’t seem too inclined to be rushing out of the building.

Plus it is simply a night out and doing something, just different than the usual routine and sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered. OMG this, for sure. We don’t often go out, just the two of us, and usually that’s fine. But it sure was nice, on this occasion!

*** 

In Sum:

Looks like, in this case, the Sadies win the Pros column easily, and easily disarm the Cons side as well. This was a show well worth it in (just about) every way. Thank you, Sadies. Come back again soon! And go to Glasgow – J. demands it! 🙂

KMA2935 The Sadies (2019-04-11)

On 1998-11-04, my lovely wife and I had our first date. So, hopeless romantic geeks that we are, every year we acknowledge that date in some small way. Of course, last November (2018-11-04) was 20 years since our first date. Accordingly, we said ‘hey, we oughta do something, like actually go out on a date and enjoy.’ Great idea!

Fast forward to this past Thursday night, our first real opportunity to get out just the two of us. Now, as the parents of two small children, a delay of 5 months is normal, right?

Anyway. This all came about because, one day, I noticed the concert poster bill (below) and I said to my lovely wife, ‘Hey look, the SADIES!’ and she said ‘We’re going!’ and so we got tickets that day. The gig became our plan to get out for the night!

So, first we went out for dinner, and then hit up the Heartwood Hall for the sold out Sadies concert. Life is grand!

***

Sharp-eyed KMA Readers will recall that the Heartwood is the same venue in which we saw Danny Michel perform last year. It’s an event space above the store (of the same name) on our main street. The acoustics are great and, even when full, it mustn’t hold that many people, maybe 200? I dunno, not many. This time around, a good amount of floor space in front of the stage was left empty for dancing.

So.

At some point in the evening, I texted myself key words so I could write this review of the gig when I got home. That I am finishing this a couple of days later makes me even more glad I sent this. I kind of like it as it is, so here’s the text, verbatim:

Sadies raucous rocking swinging country punk jamming shifting time signatures tones moods tempos glorious sway fearless abandon infectious energy bare kuckles roadhouse barroom brawl gorgeous twang musical prowess varied Canadiana masterpiece with dancers and so goddamn tight yet relaxed about it all hot damn this fucking rules

There’s an easy swagger to what the Sadies do, but it belies the absolute control and energy that these four players possess. They are locked tight in the pocket at all times, yet there’s still that feeling of room to move, create, push the music forward. It’s easy to focus on the guitar pyrotechnics and the vocal differences between the Good brothers (Dallas and Travis), but to watch Mike Belitsky on the drums was, for me, a dream, and Sean Dean on the upright bass was unassuming but playing with style, panache, and holding the whole damn thing together like a boss. It’s a battery team par excellence.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better gig this year. These guys are amazing.

I noticed Dallas had two Telecasters, a red one which seemed to be his main instrument, and a blonde Tele with his name right on the fretboard under the strings, which he only played for a couple of songs. Travis had what looked like a Gibson 335 or maybe a Gretsch, I didn’t get close enough to see for sure. 

You could tell the band was having a blast and, several times, Dallas made sure to mention that they really loved the room at the Heartwood (they’ve played here before), and they surely didn’t take for granted how welcomed they felt and how much they were enjoying the whole thing. He also took a wild stab at what people from this town call themselves, and he got it right first guess: Owen Sounders. He loved that, and stayed with it until blurting, “that’s, like, the best band name ever!” He’s not wrong.

Most Sadies songs are short, tight manifestos of awesome (and as my text to myself shows, they’re varied and amazing). As such, they blasted through a ton of brilliant songs, over the course of the evening. No one has posted the setlist on setlist.fm as of this writing, so the actual list will have to wait until some kind soul tells us for sure (I’ll post it if it ever does appear). I’m gonna guess we heard over 30 songs though, because the show was well over two hours long, and their intermission was short. I know!

As they neared the end, Dallas said they were gonna play four more songs and then wrap it up. They blasted through those four songs (including It’s Nothing To Me, which I was waiting to hear ‘cos I love it), set down their instruments and made to leave. Not long after, it was decided they’d play two more songs and then end the gig. After those two songs were done, same deal and a decision to play one more song, which they did, and then that was, finally, the end of the gig. You could just tell they were loving every minute, soaking up the fun and the love and they, like us, didn’t want it to be over.

Folks, if the Sadies play anywhere near your town, at any time, GO. Don’t even hesitate. They are so good, it’s a guaranteed great set. Just GO.

Happy date-iversary, indeed!

***

NB: Sorry, J., we didn’t get a chance to talk to the band after the show, as we had to go relieve our babysitter of duties (it was nearing midnight), so I didn’t get a chance to tell them about your hope for the band to come and perform in Glasgow. Who knows, maybe they’ll read this post and book a flight!

***

I snapped a couple of quick pics during the gig, with my phone, but I’m not gonna lie, I was having too much fun soaking in the music and the performance, so I didn’t take many. All apologies for the quality, it was an older iPhone in a darkened room:

KMA2934 Dusty Springfield – Dusty In Memphis

Read details about this record, often considered among the best albums of all time, RIGHT HERE.

For this brief barf, I’m just gonna say I absolutely love this whole thing. It does have Son Of A Preacher Man on it, a song that was covered so many times after this, but every damn song here is so sweet and sexy and soulful and sophisticated. It just has an easy class that draws you in and holds you close.

This deluxe Rhino edition I have here contains the original 11 tracks, followed by 14 bonus tracks! Just amazing. 

I need this on vinyl. Oh man.

 

KMA2933 Paul Myers – Kid In The Hall: One Dumb Guy

My lovely wife got me this book as a gift, knowing I love the Kids In The Hall. It’s a great read.

A lot of the information in here is stuff that I already knew, but there was more than enough about their past and their relationships (and the depths of it all) that I did not know, and for this I am exceedingly grateful to have read it. It’s like getting to peek behind the curtains at the humans who make magic.

Also, this is indeed a music post because of Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet. And because Craig Northey. And because Kids In The Hall are rock stars in their profession and I hope they remain forever popular.

 

 

KMA2932 The HU – Wolf Totem

I’m falling in love with The HU.

Mongolian metal for cranking in the good headphones. Get ready to charge over a hill into battle! HELL YEAH!

\m/  \m/

 

KMA2931 En Spectacle

So I have been thinking about concerts. I haven’t hit any final answers, but it’s just where my brain is.

In a few days, we will be going to see the Sadies at the Heartwood and it’s going to be a fantastic time. However, in thinking about the experience of seeing a show, I’ve come up with a few pros and cons.

You know, in a way, concerts are rather silly. You spend extra money and set aside an entire evening to go out of your house and be amongst the masses who’ll mostly likely talk through the whole damn thing, check their cellphones non-stop, chew with their mouths open and probably get drunk and sloppy, just to hear a band reproduce songs that you could reproduce yourself from their album anytime you choose – in your house, in your car, from your phone or iPod. I’ve seen several bands who did this, and I came away wondering why I didn’t just play the CD…

Very often (for me) concerts are too loud to the point where the sound isn’t even pleasurable to listen to, breaking up and distorted. Admittedly, for certain types of concerts like punk or metal shows, that makes sense and can be fun (with earplugs), but more often, I find it would be better if it was slightly, reasonably quieter. At least, not crush-your-chest and head loud. Loud for the sake of being loud.

Also, for me, most decent shows require at least two hours of travel to a larger city, so it’s not just the expense of the ticket itself, it is the expense of time, gas money, food money and, depending on where and at what time the show is, possibly hotel money as well. It is a planned event beyond just stopping by to check it out. Not to mention we’d need to arrange childcare, and make sure that it isn’t a work night. 

So you commit to going somewhere, usually at expense, and being jostled by other people, to hear songs you’ve already heard at a volume that hurts. The mild introvert in me finds all of this very tiring. 

***

On the other side of the coin, concerts are special because very often bands don’t merely reproduce the songs as you hear them on the album. The best bands make the song recognizable, yet they will add solos, or change the words, or make the song shorter or longer, or even blend songs together that you hadn’t previously considered putting together. They will also play cover tunes, and talk to the crowd and tell jokes and stories, making it a worthwhile experience because it’s stuff you wouldn’t otherwise get. 

If you enjoy merchandise, you can get T-shirts, hats, pins, CDs and whatever else. If you enjoy meeting the people who make the music, sometimes you can get lucky and hang around after the show and meet them, although myself I’m more often tend to not do that than the times that I do. 

Plus it is simply a night out and doing something, just different than the usual routine and sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered.

*** 

So, there, I don’t seem to have come to any sort of resolution on these thoughts. I’ve been to shows that I loved, and ones that I was ready to leave before they were over. The good and the bad, we’ve all been there. This is just a brain barf and I’m putting it out there. I’m assuming most of you will say that concerts are a positive and that the negative parts of the concert are outweighed by the better parts of the concert… Feel free to correct, add, argue, whatever in the comments. This was just what was on my mind today.

KMA2930 Inukshuk – Home Sweet Home

 

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE OF NOWHERE AND EVERYWHERE
BY: RUGGER RUGGEDSON

For the longest time I thought perhaps the G-ds hate me. You see…

I’ve been sent to find Inukshuk. 

Unsure what short straw I drew, or what bad karma I am working off to have been given this assignment, for the record I began executing my command against my better judgment. Now, even after I gave up on the paper’s agenda and this became solely a personal mission, I’ve carried on. Despite the fact that I’d likely have better luck finding Bigfoot.

***

MEMO TO ANYONE WHO FINDS MY BODY BEFORE I CAN ACCOMPLISH THIS MISSION:

Having long ago sold my laptop and phone for food and survival gear money, I’m writing these notes with a golf pencil in a crappy journal book I got at a dollar store. If my body is found, I will be clutching this journal and its pages should be enshrined in whatever journalism hall of fame you choose.

***

Inukshuk.

Yes, the notoriously absent and/or in hiding Canadian rockers have led me on a merry chase. After their unsuccessful attempt to cross the US/Canadian border, and after releasing two albums to small acclaim to only a very few, Inukshuk have long gone to ground. Again. And they’ve apparently created another album. Again. So this publication needs a story, and I’m the schmuck who got delegated. Was it Karen from HR who wanted me out of the office? Probably. 

In the beginning, it was fairly easy going. Sightings and rumours were to be had, and company-paid supplies were full. But time has passed and I am wearying of the game. The per diem from the offices ended long ago, I am out here on my own fumes. Hotel rooms have given way to a tatty sleeping bag on park benches. I have passed through depression, anxiety, disorientation, and even a brief period where I believed my own name to be Gord, a flute-playing sixth member of the band. None of it helpful.

6 months I’ve been on the trail, following leads, lies, rumours and recent sightings. I’ve ridden every mechanical contrivance Canada can offer, paid fare or hitchhiking my way to the next surefire fabrication, descending from initial (naive) hope through to utter despair, rising again through ambivalence to my current state of calm. I’ve been from Dildo, Newfoundland to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta. From Climax, Saskatchewan to Swastika, Ontario. From Sober Island, Nova Scotia to Mayo, Quebec. From Stoner, British Columbia to Cardigan, Prince Edward Island, and from Crotch Lake, Ontario to Vulcan, Alberta. Band sightings are many, but I grew to despair of ever actually meeting up with one or (imagine the luck) all of the members of Inukshuk.

I am currently in Ball’s Falls, Ontario after having been outright lied to by a pair of enthusiastic underdressed teenagers in Punkydoodles Corners. Initially, there was no sign of Inukshuk here either, though they swore on their iPhones’ battery life that it was true. Exhausted and shambling, I had just reached a point of quitting on life in general when I happened to catch my own reflection in a Tim Horton’s window. My wild beard and hair, to match my wild eyes, are only outdone by my last outfit of clothing smelling little better than the sulpher mines near Temagami, Ontario. 

My eyes gradually focussed past my reflection to the people at the window seat, staring back at me (and what a vision I present!). And there they were. After Spread Eagle Bay, Newfoundland, Eyebrow, Saskatchewan, and Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Quebec, I’ve found them. 

Inukshuk.

At first, none of us moves. I don’t wave, but they know they’ve been recognized. So I produce a tattered journalist lanyard I’d thought long-lost, and they look resigned and nod. I head in to meet the Gords. Based on my appearance and probable odour, though, they meet me at the door and we head down the street for a walk.

I am in the presence of the Gords and Gordons. Drummer Gord Tremblay. Bassist Gordon Murphy. Singer and guitarist Gord Brown. Singer and Guitarist Gordon Gagnon. Singer Gord Smith. All of them looking at me. They know what comes next.

So they start talking, without my even asking a question. I’m not even able to write any of this down, it all happens so quickly. I am going from memory, from this point, but I swear it’s as verbatim as possible despite my addled faculties.

Gordon Murphy starts, as though we were picking up on a conversation we’d had interrupted by a maitre d’. “So there we were in Conception Bay, Newfoundland and Gord (Smith) got the idea that maybe we oughta record a new album. We all laughed, of course, because we had no money and no ideas.” They all mumble agreement. “But Gord persisted. And when he persists, well, the rest of us don’t truly care and just go along, usually.” They all mumble agreement again.

Gord Brown took over. “So we set about finding a way to get to Cocagne, New Brunswick because we knew a guy there named Gordie Desjardins, and he could help us record. He has a wee studio and all the gear we’d need… Of course, when we got to Cocagne, Gordie was gone off with some new woman and no one knew where.” They all sigh. “But,” Gord brightened, “As long as we’ve known him, Gordie never locked his doors, so we let ourselves into his place and used his recording equipment and instruments.” They all nod. 

Left unsupervised with decent recording equipment and instruments, it seems, turned Inukshuk into a songwriting juggernaught. “We wrote 157 songs in a week,” claims Gordon Gagnon. “Of course, only about six of them were any good, and of those I like two.” But they knew they had to flesh out the album, and, by democratic election, settled on twelve new songs. The other 145 songs are lost to the mists of time, though. “We don’t remember them anymore,” laments Gordon Gagnon. 

At last I have the ability to speak. “Do you have a copy of the album with you? I’d love to hear it.” They all glance sidelong at each other, unsure of whether they can trust this dishevelled hobo who may or may not be beginning to lose teeth due to lack of care, especially with something so personal to them. It’s Gordon Murphy who shrugs and says “sure, why not, eh?” and produces a Maxell casette (complete with cover art) from his jacket pocket.

We retire to their campsite, in a ditch beside the highway. Gord Smith lights a fire. Gordon Gagnon smokes a cigarette. Gordon Murphy digs out a battered 80s boom box from an army surplus backpack and loads it with 6 D-cell batteries. Pressing play, he transports me to Cocagne, and as the first heavy rock guitar notes wash over me, I realize I have actually achieved culmination. Not only did I find Inukshuk, I am probably the only person outside of the Gords and Gordons to have heard Inukshuk’s new album. 

The songs seem to blur past me, as they were all only about two minutes long each. Side A starts of with the heavy pulse of ‘King Tut Was My Bitch’, and the glam metal of ‘Insuring The Chrysler,’ before slowing down for the slow dance of ‘Dumpster Dive.’ The side is rounded out by the poppy ‘Happy Hookers,’ the complicated ‘Glue On The Fretboard,’ and the almost post-punk ‘Mayday Mayday Mayday (I’m Goin’ Down).’ Side B opens with another metal cruncher in ‘I Have To Go To The Bathroom,’ only to seque into three straight slower power rockers, with ‘Toothbrush Holder,’ ‘Lobster Boy,’ and ‘Maple Syrup Neti Pot.’ Inukshuk brings the goods for the last two side B closers too, going death metal on ‘Skeletal Sunday’ and black metal on ‘Shoplifter Satan.’  

Home Sweet Home, indeed.

I ask if they plan to release this obvious masterpiece. “Nah,” says Gordon Murphy, as he puts away the boom box and the cassette. “We voted and it was decided that this one is just for us.” I press my case, arguing that the world needs more Inukshuk, and (withholding my opinion that it sounded like it was recorded with a potato, despite having been done, reportedly, in a studio) this album could really change the fortunes of the band, bring them notoriety and fame. Money, even. Gord Tremblay scoffed. “We’d only spend it.”

With the album played, and the boys of the band apparently done talking, it grew obvious that it was time for me to move along. I’d somehow overstayed my time with them, but they were too polite to say so. Gordon Tremblay even gave me the cover art from the cassette (reproduced above).  “Will I see you guys again?” I ask, rising to trek on down the highway. “Never know, dude,” said Gord Smith. “We’re always out here somewhere.” I nod. “Well, if you change your mind, will you contact me in Toronto so I can help you get a record deal and get heard?” They all nod but I know they never will. 

From down the road, I look back at Inukshuk around their campfire, not saying anything, not even watching as I go, already moved on in their lives to whatever happens next, wherever that may happen. And I know more clearly than I’ve ever known anything that they should never come to Toronto, never get a record deal, never become famous. It would ruin the magic of Inukshuk, which is something the band themselves intuitively know without having to say it.

***

UPDATE:

I never went back to Toronto. Karen from HR can bite me. I’ve stayed out on the road, travelling from place to place across this huge, beautiful country of ours. I work odd jobs and meet people as diverse as any found anywhere. During my trials, I transcended the suffering of the search, and found peace in the movement, in the lack of routine, in the freedom of going with the wind. But mostly, I’ve stayed out here in case I ever run into Inukshuk again. Someday, somwhere, I hope I do.  

 

SUBMITTED BY MAIL FROM FORGET, SASKATCHEWAN.
RUGGER RUGGEDSON NO LONGER WORKS FOR THIS PUBLICATION.

KMA2929 Deep Concentration

This is a sweet mix of hip hop beats, samples and scratches. It’s where creative musicianship enter into hip hop, the backbone of the works. It’s a helluva listen. You could throw it on in the background, especially at a party, but for me it needed to be in the good headphones, front and center so I could soak it all in.

This edition is part one of a series, and if I ever see others I’ll be grabbing them up for sure.  Recommended!

Tracks:

Cut Chemist – Lesson 6 – The Lecture
Prince Paul – DJ Prince Vs. The World
RadaR – RadaR Frees Tibet (Gasho Mix)
The Angel – Strange Times (Version)
Ingrid De Lambre f. Eddie Def – Poeisies, Scene 1 Le Blues
DJ Swingsett & DJ Wally – Centaurus Spece Bass (Cloak & Destroy Mix)
X-Men – A Turntable Experience
Lyrics Born f. Lateef – Say That
Peanut Butter Wolf f. Babu & J-Rocc of Beat Junkies – They Don’t fall Down
Beyond There – On Wax
Mumbles – At The Mountains Of Madness
Q-Burn’s Abstract Message – Book Of Changes

KMA2928 Shady Records Presents The Evil Genius DJ Green Lantern Mixtape CD

When it comes to rap, I know what I like when I hear it, but it’s all gut instinct without much knowledge to back it up.

Eminem is one of those artists I intend to cover in-depth (eventually), but for now this Australasian promotional 2003 Shady mixtape is what was spinning recently. I don’t know if any of these tracks are rare, or even if some of these people are still performing (Joe Beast? Brooklyn? Shaunta? see lack of knowledge, above), but it was a fun listen.

Of course, Eminem is all over this. As a label sampler, these 14 tracks are hot and bangin’. Right on.

Tracks:

CD1

The Evil Genius DJ Green Lantern – International Invasion – Intro
Eminem, 50 Cent, Tony Yayo & Lloyd Banks – Bump Heads
Eminem, D12 & Obie Trice – Doe Ray Me
Tony Yayo – Freestyle
Eminem & D12 – Keep Talkin’
Obie Trice – Synopsis
50 Cent & Eminem – Patiently Waiting (live from State Theater, Detroit)
50 Cent & Eminem – In Da Club (live from State Theater, Detroit)

CD2

Obie Trice – Rap Name
Eminem – Stimulate
50 Cent – ‘Til I Collapse Freestyle
Joe Beast – Gangsta
Brooklyn – The Weekend
Shaunta – California

KMA2927 SLCR #337: Shakey Graves (March 25, 2019)

We were running behind. Not late, but behind. Monday is a school night, so Mika had to wrap up around 7:00, drive home, and eat a thing so we could make it to the show for 8:00. As we made the last turn towards the Conexus Arts Centre, I wondered how many people would be there. “Judging by the number of Facebook ads for the show I’ve seen,” I said, “it might just be us.”

It wasn’t just us. But even that close to showtime, the parking lot was pretty bare. There was no line to enter, no line for the coat check, and when we ran into Rob, we learned he’d been evicted from his seat and moved to a much closer vantage point on the main floor because the call was made to close off most of the balconies. His group’s upgraded seats wound up actually being a lot better than the ones we’d chosen, though that was largely because we’d taken our customary spots at the end of Row L For Legroom; often so appreciated but on this night, overkill. There weren’t that many folks sitting in any of the rows behind us, apart from a few people at the very back. I can only assume they had plans involving drugs and/or handies.

The lowest of the balconies remained open, and while we waited for the show to start, a security guard wandered out in front of us to holler up at a balcony-dweller who had done the unthinkable and rested his drink on the ledge. I thought that maybe going up and talking to the guy would have been a more appropriate way to handle things; way less funny, though.

The opener was Cameron Neal, who played a 40-minute set of country tunes, just him and a guitar. Pleasant, hopeful, earnest. The kind of thing where you hear it and go “that was nice,” and then you try to write about it, and you come up with two sentences, stare at them for a while, check all your social media to see if anything life-changing has happened in the last ten minutes, and repeat.

We’d seen Shakey Graves a few years back opening for City and Colour and really enjoyed him; I actually liked him better than the headliner and was looking forward to seeing a full set in a smaller venue. Not that this was that small; the Arts Centre felt kind of cavernous. Maybe one-third full for the start of Neal’s set, closer to half-full by the end of the night. Split the difference and call it… five-twelfths, I suppose. It looks like he sold out every other Western Canadian stop on this tour, so maybe the venue was just too big? Shakey (Mr. Graves?) did comment repeatedly on the size of the stage itself and the amount of running around he’d have to do all night. To that end, at one point, he ran a lap just because.

He was immediately captivating, playing the first half-hour or so by himself with guitar and kick drum. The first song was Word of Mouth, a song full of advice that sounds like good advice but is actually bad advice, like all advice. He explained this mid-song. He explained many things. Eventually, he was joined by a full band, and I started to recognize a few songs off his newest album, Can’t Wake Up, from when Mika was playing it. I didn’t know that some of these songs made up a trilogy about someone named Garth Nazarth, a very interesting fact that may have been made up on the spot as he was telling us. He also played covers by Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt, who he insisted was a famous rapper.

At one point, someone asked where he got his name, and he joked “a cereal box” before telling the real story. Or what I assume was the real story, I don’t know, I wasn’t there. I also don’t know what a Shakey Graves cereal would entail. Crunchy corn caskets and crosses with marshmallow urns, with enough added sugar to give you the shakes? And when Neal returned to join Shakey in a song they’d co-written, Shakey told us to meet up with Neal in the lobby after to buy his stuff. “Where will you be?” hollered someone. A fair question. And he was going to be outside in a bear costume, apparently. I didn’t see him when we were walking to the car but we did get out of the building in good time.

It looked like everything was wrapping up and everyone stood to applaud, but Shakey was just sending the band away. He stuck around, did one last song by himself, and that was it. No encore, except it kind of was one, except he never left the stage. This seemed like a good way of avoiding the artificial feeling of an encore but also not leaving people feeling like they missed out on something.

This whole thing was a delight. Great tunes and a fun sense of humour. It deserved a bigger turnout, but the folks who were there were really into it. One dude in particular was as invested in this show as I’ve ever seen. So much standing, so much waving, so much yelling, so much insisting to the usher that she was going to love the show and become a new fan. She did give him two semi-enthusiastic thumbs up at one point but I don’t think she really enjoyed her night; at one point she walked over with her flashlight to help ensure someone made it to the bar safely and wiped the heck out in the process. The ushers need ushers. I suppose it was only a matter of time, given the numbers of people getting up and returning with drinks; a lot more of that than at most shows here. But I suppose it made them more enthusiastic, and at least they were polite; one drinker said “excuse me” so many times and so loudly while exiting her row that I initially thought she was trying to get Shakey’s attention. Maybe she needed more clarification on the bear costume situation.

UPCOMING CONCERTS:
• Hawksley Workman & the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (April 13)
• Morrissey (April 20)
• The Tea Party (April 25)
• BA Johnston (April 26)
• Foxwarren w/Hannah Cohen (May 29)
• “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 21)
• Elton John (October 1)
• Thrush Hermit (October 4)

KMA2926 Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways

I saw the DVD of this (thanks heaps, James!), and I remember liking the show part of it, the concept was cool. But I vaguely recall thinking the final songs were OK but that, after all the work they did, maybe they coulda been stronger. Or something like that. Like I said, my memory of it has faded pretty well.

So. I grabbed this CD at work for cheap because why not, it’ll complete the set with the DVDs! And you know something, with this much separation from watching the show, these songs are strong and my vague memory of my impression of it is just silly. This is a varied work, from full-on rockin’ to beautiful acoustic parts, to solid middle pop like the Foos do it so well… Loved it.

Crank it!

KMA2925 k-os – Collected

First off, he missed a real opportunity, here, to call it k-os: kollected. Alas.

This is mostly a compilation of singles (some remixed) from this excellent Canadian rapper’s first three albums. There are a couple of new tracks here (leftovers from Atlantis: Hymns For Disco), too.

Kool beans.

KMA2924 Elvis Costello & The Brodsky Quartet – The Juliet Letters

And then there’s Elvis Costello, for whom there’s no such thing as predictable. Given the day, I like him or not, depending on variables… if it’s an off day, maybe it’s just not what I want that day, or perhaps it’s whatever weird angle he took at the time didn’t hit me right, or maybe his voice grates on my nerves (it often does)… But there are other times it’s all great and I’m riveted. This is (mostly) one of the latter occasions.

Inspired by an Italian professor’s letters to Shakespeare’s Juliet, Costello goes way out into the field yet again, and returns with gold. Along for the ride is the Brodsky Quartet, and it’s a moody, atmospheric, romantic excursion. It’s contemporary classical music, chamber music, even. It has pop sensibilities, though. It plays like a stage performance. It’s not trying to be perfect, and it is never boring.

I still cringe at his voice, at spots, but the playing is stellar, the arrangements are engaging, and the overall vision is worth it.

Being adventurous pays off, this time.

 

KMA2923 Private Investigations: The Best Of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler

Did I need to buy this? No.

Is it ridiculous to think this has covered the best of Dire Straits AND Mark Knopfler on one measly CD? Yes.

Is it likely just a label money-grab? Probable.

Does this still contain much goodness and feel satisfying upon listen? Of course.

Is it essential? Not really. But it was cheap and I see Dire Straits/Mark Knopfler and I just buy it.

Tracks (to show you what they thought was all of the best). These are listed in play order, showing how the disc is divided into two sections:

Dire Straits: Sultans Of Swing / Love Over Gold / Romeo And Juliet / Tunnel Of Love / Private Investigations / Money For Nothing / Brothers In Arms / Walk Of Life / On Every Street

Mark Knopfler: Going Home: Theme Of The Local Hero / Why Aye Man / Boom, Like That / What It Is / All The Road Running (w. Emmylou Harris)

KMA2922 The Wagner Collection

This is totally one of those cheap-ass classical CDs you find in bins everywhere, but don’t be fooled. It’s beautiful. 

Main themes performed by different orchestras, like Alfred Scholz and the Philharmonia, or the Orquesta Y Coros De Varsovia, this is a riveting listen. I like Wagner a lot – it’s two worlds, powerful and delicate, elegant and rough.. you get the idea.

 

Tracks:

Tannhauser – Overture
Lohengrin – Act 1: Prelude
Rienzi – Overture
Overture “Das Lebesverbot” (Forbidden Love)
Overture “Faust”
Adam: Giselle – Adagio, Waltz

KMA2921 Jethro Tull – M.U.: The Best Of Jethro Tull

I’m no Jethro Tull expert, but this seems to be a fairly representative collection of the tunes noobs like me would want to hear of their better-known songs. I dunno, I got it off Amazon for $4 to get free shipping. Pleasant surprise: I really enjoyed it! I liked how complex the songs were. They were pretty fearless (I dig the inclusion of the flute), capable of showcasing many different styles, and just different enough to stand out from a lot of the other stuff cluttering that era. Right on, I’ll be spinning this again.

KMA2920 Parliament – Get Funked: The Very Best Of Parliament

Remastered awesomeness. Time to make the Mothership Connection and get funked!

Tracks: Up For The Down Stroke / All Your Goodies Are Gone / Ride On / Chocolate City / Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker) / P. Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up) / Mothership Connection (Star Child) / Do That Stuff / Dr. Funkenstein / Let’s Take It To The Stage (live) / Fantasy Is Reality / Bop Gun (Endangered Species) / Flash Light / Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop) / Theme From The Black Hole / Agony Of Defeet

 

KMA2919 SLCR #336: Steven Page and the Regina Symphony Orchestra (March 3, 2019)

This was a real last-minute call for me. Steven Page announced a big ol’ spring Canadian tour, and he wasn’t coming here. Disappointing, but months later, the symphony booked this show, taking place before said tour. It sounded like very much my thing, but I didn’t really know what it would entail. Remembering Tanya Tagaq’s appearance with the symphony, where she was a highlight of the evening but not the focus, I was pretty sure that it wasn’t going to just be a whole night of Steven Page playing Steven Page songs with the orchestra. Instead of rushing out to buy tickets, I decided to wait on it and find out more. Then I promptly forgot about it.

Jump ahead to the afternoon of the concert, and there’s a picture on Instagram of Page, guitarist Craig Northey (of Odds), and cellist Kevin Fox eating lunch at a Regina pizza chain. I felt like they should be made aware of some better dining options, but that’s just my preferences. Possibly more importantly, I realized that the concert – whatever it was – was that evening. Tickets were cheap, so I decided to go.

I thought it a bit odd that there was no option to pick up a ticket at the box office, only to realize (well after I bought the ticket, but thankfully, before I left the house) that there was no box office. Instead of the usual concert hall, Page and the orchestra were at the Mâmawêyatitân Centre, a community centre in Regina’s North Central neighbourhood. For those unfamiliar, this neighbourhood doesn’t have a sparkling reputation, which is a nice way of tiptoeing around the fact that a certain national news magazine once named it the worst neighbourhood in Canada. That this neighbourhood currently seems to be doing better than said magazine is a little funny to me. The centre itself is relatively new and very nice. The name means “let’s all be together,” and the complex is home to a high school, public library, daycare, recreational facilities, and numerous community groups.

The email and the ticket PDF all told me to print my ticket, but nothing in our house is connected to our 15-year-old printer and I wasn’t about to sort that out. I showed up, flashed my phone, and was let inside. I’m pretty sure they saw the Gmail app on my phone and just called it good. Inside, the orchestra was setting up in a large open area, with chairs on the floor facing them and extra seating available up some stairs off to the side. This was nice and sparsely occupied so that’s where I went, though it did leave me facing Page’s back while he played piano.

The concert was scheduled as part of the Forward Currents Festival, an annual (twice counts as annual) series of concerts aiming to spark conversation about topics of societal importance. This year’s theme was “music and mental health.” There had also been a talk on the subject before the concert, though I didn’t attend that part.

The music director opened the show and briefly outlined that there would be two musical pieces in the first half, followed by Steven Page after the intermission. The first piece was Tchaikovsky’s “Mozartina” orchestral suite, while the second was called My Name is Amanda Todd, composed by Jocelyn Morlock and written about a BC teen who died by suicide after being bullied and assaulted. I generally don’t comment on performances of classical music because what the heck do I know, really, but I will say that it was all very lovely and nobody applauded in the breaks between the four miniatures that make up the orchestral suite and certain people I know would be very pleased by that. From where I was sitting, I was mostly watching the percussionists; one in particular was all over the place, moving from instrument to instrument, hitting things and quickly silencing them and hitting other things. This is probably not the deep appreciation that I should have for this music but it was fun to watch. Also, re-reading this paragraph, you can easily tell which words came from the program (“orchestral suite”) and which came from me (“hitting things and other things”).

Between sets which I know isn’t the right word, people near me were meeting internet-only friends in person for the first time and making other new friends and this all seemed nice.

After the break, we got, well, Steven Page playing Steven Page songs with the orchestra, along with Northey and Fox. They played six songs, alternating between Page’s solo tunes (There’s a Melody, No Song Left to Save Me, and Looking for the Light) and ones he wrote while with Barenaked Ladies (Call & Answer, War on Drugs, and Brian Wilson). Mental illness is a recurring theme in these songs, though it’s more obvious in some cases than others (before explaining the connection to one song, Page joked “let me ruin this one for you too”). He also talked a lot about his own challenges with mental illness, and the importance of being there for people who are struggling, going into detail about a time whenfriends were there for him during a challenging period in his life. Or as he put it, “if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I was arrested on drug charges ten years ago. Google it,” before jokingly adding “the charges were dismissed – that means I didn’t do it, right?”

The songs were all very nicely done. The ones from the BNL days were more famous, but it was nice to get a mix of the old and the new. And though Brian Wilson might be his most famous song and Call & Answer has that one yelly part I really like, I think War on Drugs was my favourite. It wasn’t a single, but I remember liking it back when it came out (despite my BNL fandom waning at that time), and it fit the evening well and the new arrangement (done by Page’s son) was quite good. I think I preferred it to the original.

All told, it was a delightful and thought-provoking evening that I could easily have missed out on if not for Page’s habit of taking pictures of soup. If you’ve ever seen some asshole in a restaurant who has to Instagram his lunch before he can eat it, be kind; he might be accidentally doing someone a favour.

KMA2918 SLCR #335: Belle Plaine (February 16, 2019)

I ran into Other James during the afternoon on the day of this show. We briefly exchanged pleasantries, and we were both excited for that evening’s show. We didn’t talk long, though; he was in a hurry to return to his fancy art-making and I was in a rush to resume making a nuisance of myself in public catching imaginary creatures in a stupid phone game (reminder: I am 42) (in years). But no matter, we’d catch up later in the evening.

We would not. Belle Plaine really wanted to sell this show out in advance and she did so with hours to spare. “Shite,” Other James said on social media, as he will do. Last time he didn’t buy advance tickets, I was able to get him in for free. This time, I left him in the cold. By which I mean at his home or, more likely, with out with some of his zillions of other friends. I’d say we need to stage an intervention and convince him that buying tickets ahead of time is a worthwhile activity, but he’s probably doing better than me in all aspects of life apart from seeing this show.

So yes, this was a sold-out hometown (or close enough to it) album release party at the Artesian for Belle Plaine and her new record, Malice, Mercy, Grief & Wrath. The place was packed – lots of family and friends from what we could overhear – but there was room for us in our usual spots. The entire back wall of the stage was covered with big pink and white balloons for the occasion and it all looked suitably festive. Apparently blowing them all up was quite the chore that barely got done before the doors opened.

There was no opener. The evening’s host was another local country singer, Blake Berglund, who surely earned the role on merit alone and not because he and Plaine are newly married; something he alluded to when introducing himself as Blake Plaine at the start of the show.

As befitting an album launch, Belle and her band played everything off the new record. I’d heard plenty of them before when I saw her open for Colter Wall some months ago, and even a few when she was at Winterruption last year. You know they’re good because I actually remember them from one show to the next, which I don’t always do with artists I’m not super familiar with. Is it Cheating was again a standout and should be a hit. Maybe it is. Are there hit songs anymore?

She also told lots of stories, talking about her mom, her grandma, her neighbour, Blake, and her guitarist who broke his whammy bar so his dad made him a new one by cutting off a piece of the truck. I realize that the “and” in that sentence kind of makes it sound like they all broke the guitarist’s whammy bar, and I’m not saying that didn’t not happen.

The show was split in two by an intermission, and each half was noteworthy for Plaine having a different custom jumpsuit (one denim, one black and shiny). As the new record only has nine tracks, it would have been a short evening, but she threw in a few extra songs, including some covers. She sang Sunday Morning Coming Down and Raised on Robbery and I’m 99% sure Long Black Veil but this was a month ago now so really don’t trust any of this. My favourite was one that Belle and Blake sang both here and at their own wedding, Islands in the Stream. (I guess when you’re a musician marrying another musician and a bunch of your friends are musicians, you don’t hire a wedding band so much as you all just take turns.)

The night was great fun and I recommend the new album. Plaine is currently on tour opening for Colter Wall (who also appears on this record) in Europe, and it sounds like there are some great crowds. She’s probably already too big for the Artesian, and things are just looking up. It’s always a delight to see local musicians doing well, even if it means they outgrow us.

KMA2917 Emerson, Lake & Powell – Emerson, Lake & Powell

I bought this for two reasons: 1) because it has Cozy Powell on it. And 2), because the track listing told me they would attempt Holst’s Mars, The Bringer Of War. 

Apparently this was the only album Powell recorded with Emerson and Lake, after Palmer left to join Asia. The result is prog rock Floyd-spacey grandeur meets 80s synth-filled fun times. Love Blind is closest to a radio single (to me), their synth blast cover of The Locomotion is throw-away hilarious, and Step Aside is jazzy left field wtf. 

As for Mars? As a fan of Holst, this was an interesting, powerful take that somehow made me imagine the original Bladerunner. Worth the risk. 

It’s dated, but the playing here is superlative, and with an understanding that this album was made in 1986, I think it holds up remarkably well in 2019. Use the good headphones.

KMA2916 GASCD

GASCD is an acronym for Governments Accountable to Society & Citizens = Democracy. So, wouldn’t that be GATS&C=D? Anyway.

Bourbon Tabernacle Choir’s Chris Brown put this together, inspired by the protests as the Quebec City Summit of the Americas in 2002. Profits went to progressive media and social justice groups.  

I bought this not for its political protest rally origins, but because of all the awesome artists playing their political songs. I’m all about the music. It’s a long listen, but it’s chock-full of goodness. Here’s the tracks list, from which you ought to be able to gather its awesomeness:

CD1:

1 Sylvain Lamoureux – The Geese
2 Ani DiFranco – Your Next Bold Move
3 Rheostatics – Bad Time to Be Poor
4 Olu Dara – Red Ant (Nature)
5 Gordon Downie – Trick Rider
6 Jello Biafra – Spoken word excerpt from Mohawk College April 25, 2001
7 Sex Mob – Black and Tan Fantasy
8 Bruce Cockburn – Call it Democracy
9 Scotty Hard – Diurnal – 5:24
10 Propagandhi – Today’s Empire, Tomorrow’s Ashes
11 Maude Barlow – Spoken word excerpt from People’s Summit – Quebec City, 2001
12 Chris Brown and Kate Fenner – How You Gonna Bring Your Children to God
13 Tony Scherr – Food for News
14 Michael Franti – Oh My God
15 Interférence Sardines – Un Nescalier

CD2:

1 Gil Scott-Heron – Work For Peace
2 Nikki Giovanni – Nothing Makes Sense
3 Clark Gayton – Glad I Found My Religion
4 David Suzuki – Phone interview excerpt, May 2001
5 The Tragically Hip – Putting Down
6 Sarah Harmer – 1st Lady
7 Christian Doscher – Straight Lines
8 DJ Serious – Trap Doors
9 Barenaked Ladies – Sell, Sell, Sell
10 Andrew Whiteman – Thot Provoker
11 Bionic – A Political Song for Danko Jones to Sing
12 The Dinner Is Ruined – Funk Asylum
13 Free Radicals – Bombs Burst Brightly on the Lawn
14 Jason Collett – Bitter Beauty
15 Chris Brown – The Shot Across the Bow
16 David Suzuki – Phone interview excerpt    May 2001
17 Bill Frisell – What’s Going On

KMA2915 Electro Quarterstaff – Gretzky

Now this is something of which I’ve always thought there isn’t enough: instrumental metal music. I know there’s lots out there, I’m just greedy.

Anyway, Electro Quarterstaff are from Winterpeg, and they offer up awesome Slayer-like heavy metal with no vocals. And you know something? It’s not needed – these kick serious ass, as is. I mean, they have three lead guitarists. I know.

There was an EP called Swayze in 2004, and this full-length from 2006 does have some re-worked versions of earlier tracks. 

This kicks serious ass. It’s melodic, moody, and metal as fuck. CRANK IT. 

\m/   \m/

Tracks: Neckwrecker / Twisted Squid / Charmony / The Right To Arm Bears / Get Sick / Titanium Overlords / Eyepatch Romance / Something’s Awry In The Hetfield Of Dreams

KMA2914 Gompie – Alice, Who The X Is Alice? (Living Next Door To Alice)

I’d forgotten all about this track, but then I found the CD and laughed aloud. Of course I bought it. 

There’s a whole story about it (found below)*, but just know this single version contains the Radio Bleep Version, the Radio Laugh version, and the Original XXXX version. By their titles, all are fairly self-explanatory.

Hahaha oh man, this was awesome all over again.

 

*Here’s all the Wiki stuff, for those who wanna know more…

Gompie is a Dutch band from Nijmegen, which in 1995 edited the Smokie hit “Living Next Door to Alice”, adding the words “Alice, who the fuck is Alice!?”. The song reached number 1 in the Netherlands and number 17 in the UK. Who the X Is Gompie! is the name of the album they released in 1995.

The song “Living Next Door to Alice” was listened to on a regular basis in café Gompie in Nijmegen. When the name “Alice” had passed, it was common for disk jockey Onno Pelser to turn the volume down, and the entire café would scream “Alice, who the fuck is Alice?”. Rob Peters, director of a record company, happened to visit café Gompie one evening and witnessed this show. He approached his friend, singer Peter Koelewijn, and one day later the song was recorded. “Gompie” was chosen as the artist name.

The single became a hit in the Benelux and 80 other countries. In the United Kingdom and the United States, a censored version was released with the name “Alice, who the bleep is Alice?”. This charted in Britain (though was less popular than Smokie’s own re-recording of the track with Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown) but made no impact in the US.

KMA2913 Sheryl Crow – The Very Best Of Sheryl Crow

Tuesday Night Music Club holds a weird nostalgic place for me as it was everywhere during my first year at university. It grew on me, like a fungus and, though I probably haven’t played it in years, I still own it. I remember I bought the eponymous second album too (it got less play), but I drifted off after that. It happens.

Listening to this, though, tells me I recognize a helluva lot more Sheryl Crow songs than I thought I did. All I Wanna Do’s jiving Stuck In The Middle With You vibe retains its fun. Then it’s hit after hit after hit, some good, some not so much. My Favorite Mistake cribs Keef so hard it hurts. Picture (w. Kid Rock) was always hilariously bad, and her drag through First Cut isn’t anywhere near my favourite take on the old Cat Stevens tune, though it improves a bit on the included country version. A run through this tells me I prefer her sunnier tracks, like Steve McQueen, A Change Would Do You Good, or Soak Up The Sun. 

Overall, a hit-filled mix that points out just how many huge songs this lady has shoved into in-store retail playlists, over the years.

 

Tracks: All I Wanna Do / Soak Up The Sun / My Favorite Mistake / The First Cut Is The Deepest / Every Day Is A Winding Road / Leaving Las Vegas / Strong Enough / Light In Your Eyes / If It Makes You Happy / The Difficult Kind / Picture (w. Kid Rock) / Steve McQueen / A Change Would Do You Good / Home / There Goes The Neighborhood / I Shall Believe / First Cut is The Deepest (Country Version)

KMA2912 Slik Toxik – Dive

2-song promo single, Dive b/w I Wanna Gun, both from the 1994 album, Irrevelant.

Dive is a bluesy slow jam heavy banger with a definite Soundgarden feel. I Wanna Gun drops a bunch of f-bombs and crashes through a truly punishing riff/sound. They attempted anger and nailed it.

Great stuff.

 

 

KMA2911 Christopher Ward – Is This Live?: Inside The Wild Early Years Of Much Music: The Nation’s Music Station

NB: I would say this post ties nicely with brother Lebrain’s current, ongoing VHS Archives upload series.

“Greetings, Limitoids.”*

This is a fascinating tale about a bunch of folks fearlessly figuring out how to do things on the fly, operating on gut instinct and little money, trusting in themselves and each other and, ultimately, piecing together a national treasure. The early days of Much Music were fun times, indeed. 

Found in these pages is an oral history, as told by many of the players in the tale, and containing so many bands and stars too, and it’s a damn good read. There’s even a forward by Mike Myers. Ah, nostalgia for the good old days.

I learned a helluva lot, reading this, and you will too. In fact, this is essential reading. Thank you, Mr. Ward!

 

*  “These were my first words out of the opening that Michael had cut to Eddy Grant’s ‘Electric Avenue…’ My first interview was with Kim Mitchell, legendary lead singer from Max Webster, who was embarking on a solo career. As the countdown reached five… four… three… Kim shoved his finger about two inches up my nose…” (C. Ward, pg. 6)

KMA2910 SLCR #334: Danny Michel (February 10, 2019)

I’ve been slacking on this one and letting the reviews pile up again. I always enjoy Danny Michel shows, but there never seems to be that much to say about them, unless we have some awkward interaction after the show. It happens more often than you’d think. I mean, I’m socially inept in general, but I can usually fake it long enough to get a CD signed or something. Not so much where Danny is involved. And as much as I’d love to pass the buck, it’s not his fault; he’s a good guy who legitimately saved me from catching fire once. After I stole his setlist.

His shows, though, I pretty much know what I’m in for. He doesn’t usually play with a band when on tour, so it’s him with a guitar and looping pedals (and maybe a piano, depending on where he’s playing). And he has a Hawksleyesque quality about him where he’s written hundreds of songs but always seems to draw from the same 20 or so when deciding what to play. None of this is a complaint, I should add. I know what I’m getting but I like what I’m getting.

We showed up at the Artesian and took what is becoming our usual spot at the end of the lowest pew on the left side. Same place we sat the last time we saw Danny there. There were fewer chairs on the floor than usual, with some small round tables available. Even with less seating available, the show still wasn’t sold out, which is a shame. Not that the attendance was terrible, but lower than it should have been. I don’t know what you can do to get more people out to shows here. The brutal cold deserves some of the blame, but every time attendance is soft, there are more Calgary-Edmonton-Saskatoon-day-off-Winnipeg tours. Musicians have to go where they’ll get paid.

Along those lines, Danny had a Facebook post go viral a few months back where he broke down some of the economic realities of being an independent musician. It’s one thing to know that streaming services have an effect on what artists make, but he was open about the scope of it, mentioning a 95% drop in album sales over the course of a year. That loss is counteracted, as such, by streaming royalties, though he also mentioned that a recent single (Purgatory Cove) spent 10 weeks in the CBC Radio 2 and Radio 3 charts but earned less than $50 in royalties. His post made it pretty clear that indie musicians are struggling and reconsidering their careers and futures. It was a sobering read.

Now that I’ve been nice and depressing, let’s get into the show! We started right at 8:00 with no openers. Like I said, I thought I knew what we were getting, so I was pretty surprised when he busted out Toledo for his second song. Apparently, a fan requested it the previous night in Swift Current, but Michel had to admit he didn’t remember how to play it, so he spent the afternoon before our show re-learning it. I don’t think this was hyperbole; when I entered the night’s setlist into setlist.fm, there wasn’t even an option to add Toledo. This is one of my favourite Danny Michel songs and as far as I can tell, it’s been over a decade since I’ve seen him play it live.

Similarly, he played Perfect later in the second set. That was another old one that doesn’t get much play. I say “old one” as though I didn’t just realize that Feather, Fur & Fin has now been out for over a decade, though I still consider it among his “new stuff.” I’m bad for that. Every Tragically Hip album after Phantom Power is “new stuff” and it came out in 1998 and only got added to “old stuff” last year.

As for the rest of the show, it was a really fun time. Few surprises, but he cracked jokes, told stories, and played a lot of old favourites with some new stuff from his latest album, White & Gold:

Born in the Wild
Toledo
Wish Willy
Khlebnikov
Whale of a Tale
Samantha in the Sky with Diamonds
Feather, Fur & Fin
Tennessee Tobacco
(intermission)
A Cold Road
Purgatory Cove
24,000 Horses
Perfect
What Colour are You?
Click Click
Who’s Gonna Miss You?
encore: Nobody Rules You

But we weren’t quite done. Michel explained that he was going to play one last song and consider the show over, but that he had something extra planned just for us, if we wanted. His birthday had been the week before, and his friend Rob Carli, who was recording with the Toronto Symphony, got them to play Happy Birthday for him. So Danny wanted to return the favour, but with a different song, a Regina-centric song, one that Carli had introduced to him. So he had the sound tech hit the music and led us all in a singalong of Experience Regina, which by now has to be the most mentioned song in any of these reviews. It was a fun time. He walked through the crowd recording everyone and later posted the video. You can see Mika and me singing in the background (by which I mean, I can point out which blurred smudges are us, but you’d never know without help). A fan sent in additional video, so it’s a two-camera shoot; in that footage, you can get a real nice look at the back of our heads.

I stopped by the stuff table to pick up White & Gold. Not only do I dig his music, but it was also a super value pack (LP, CD, and download code, all for one low price). A deal! We stuck around long enough so I could get it signed and… nothing awkward happened. No theft, no fire, no immediately regrettable topics, nothing to add to the list. Just a brief chat and a nice souvenir that I’ll add to the record shelf once we buy more shelves. Or thin out the cookbooks.

KMA2909 The Lord Of The Rings Epic Weekend Blowout Extravaganza

Yep. Over the past couple of days, I watched all three Lord Of The Rings movies. Extended versions. And I still got teary-eyed at the end of Return Of The King, when King Aragorn tells the hobbits that they bow to no one, and then he (and everyone else) kneels to them. So good.

Anyway, this is a music site, so I wanted to give a huge nod to the epic soundtrack work of Howard Shore. That haunting main melody, the rousing battle music, the gentle tunes for quieter moments, the themes for each character and place…

You know, those films are already masterpieces to many degrees: of acting, of cinematography, of adaptation from books to screen, of costuming and sets. Amazing. And the music score portions on all three is impeccable, making them masterpieces to some even higher nth degree.

Let’s face it, sometimes music in a film is just fine, whatever, and then sometimes it’s spot on, fitting each scene to a tee. These soundtracks, folks, are perfect. I’ve got all three on CD and they rule.

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