Jello Biafra & The Melvins – Sieg Howdy!

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 19: Sonic Boom #5: Jello Biafra & The Melvins – Sieg Howdy!

Without a doubt, this is the sleeper-hit of the batch I bought. WHAT A RECORD! Set the scene: I went for my nightly prowl through my local streets, good headphones and my iPod and BAM! the fucking Melvins blew my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I do love listen to Jello go off on his rants in his inimitable voice, but there were so many times I wished this record was just instrumental. The music here was absolutely killer. By the end of the thing, I had come around to liking it with the vocals too, though for me the music will always come first here. Critically, I knew this for the total prize that it is. I knew I had been pummelled, and I knew I would happily come back for more again, and again…

Hit It Or Quit It? Absolute HIT!

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Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Trouble Is

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 18: Sonic Boom #4: Kenny Wayne Shepherd  – Trouble Is

Here’s another one I rescued from the Sonic Boom clearance bin. Shepherd is another who, like Jonny Lang, started out in his career young (he was 20 when this, his second album, was released. He was 18 for his first album). The hit here was Blue On Black. Others were Slow Ride, Somehow, Somewhere, Someway, and Everything Is Broken, a cover of Bob Dylan. He also covers Jimi Hendrix with I Don’t Live Today. Interestingly, this album went gold and platinum by 1999…

… which is interesting, to me, because I struggled a bit with this album. It was recorded like a wall of sound. I had some good headphones on, and I struggled to seperate the instruments sometimes – and usually I can distinguish things easily. This is a production issue, though, no comment on Shepherd’s blues attack. It still sounds good, don’t get me wrong. Lots of strong songs here, I just wish it was simpler, and balanced differently.

Donovan Frankenreiter – Recycled Recipes

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 17: Sonic Boom #3: Donovan Frankenreiter – Recycled Recipes

I rescued this from the clearance bin. I know.

Strummy surfer dude’s six-track ep of acoustic covers. Well-chosen, perfectly-executed tunes… part of me thought it was an EP of perfect length, fresh and new and succinct. The other part of me wished it would go on and on, with an unending parade of well-selected songs… Ah well. Recommended!

Hit It Or Quit It? Hit!

 

Tracks:

Wondering Where The Lions Are (Bruce Cockburn)
Theologians (Wilco)
Such A Night (Dr. John)
Fortunate Son (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
It Makes No Difference (The Band)
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright (Bob Dylan)

Bob Log III – Log Bomb

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 16: Sonic Boom #2: Bob Log III – Log Bomb

I was absolutely thrilled to find this one in the bins, I just love Bob Log III. He’s a wild-man, a one-man-band (seriously), a helmet-wearing, hyphenation-inspiring madman who is unrepentently infused with the blues. He’s equal parts angry R.L. Burnside and soul-shouting Jon Spencer, and yet fully his own Boob Scotch beast too. If you know Fat Possum at all, you know this sound. If you don’t have this, GET YOU SOME!

DAMN! Get me a Boob Scotch! This thing was brilliant.

Hit It Or Quit It? Hahahaha HIT!

 

Need more introduction? Here’s Bob’s way of letting you know who he is. Seriously, listen to this whole thing. So. Awesome.

Sleep – The Sciences

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 15: Sonic Boom #1: Sleep – The Sciences

\m/ YES!! \m/

 

 

Great at the start and somehow continues to get better as it goes along, this one is a massive sludgy beast absolutely worthy of your collection.

Holy hell. That was awesome.

Hit It Or Quit It? \m/  HIT!  \m/

Jonny Lang – Lie To Me

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 14: BMV #14, 3-For-$10 Deal #9 – Jonny Lang – Lie To Me

I owned this way back in the day, loved it then. Hadn’t heard it in years, so I thought I’d take a plunk on it as part of the 3-for-$10 deal. And yup, this is the one that was his major label debut, released one day before his 16th birthday. I mean seriously, what was I doing for my 16th birthday? Definitely not releasing a smoking hot major label blues album that sounds well beyond my years, that’s for damn sure.

From the track list, it seems he only (co-) wrote two tracks of the 12, the rest are covers, of Sonny Boy Williamson, Ike Turner, Tinsley Ellis, among others. No matter, they’re all solid tracks. There’s an almost Robert Cray-style safety to what he does, a very manicured sound to his blues, but this is in no way a complaint. I could listen to a slow burner like Darker Side (below) all friggin’ day long. As a matter of fact, I did!

Hit It Or Quit It? Hit!

Joe Strummer – The Future Is Unwritten OMPS

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 13: BMV #13, 3-For-$10 Deal #8 – Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten OMPS

Here we have the soundtrack for the Julien Temple film about Joe Strummer. The CAST is awesome. But we’re not here for that, we’re here for the accompanying music. 

“The official soundtrack was produced by Ian Neil, Julien Temple, and Alan Moloney. It is a mix of spoken word clips from interviews with Strummer and others, tracks from his various bands (including several rare or unreleased tracks by The Clash), and eclectic selections from other musicians that Strummer played on his BBC World radio show London Calling from 1999-2002 (some of which include his spoken introduction).” (Wiki)

Walking around on a hot summer night with this in my headphones was AWESOME. There are too many brilliant moments and songs to list them all. Check out the track listing!

Hit It Or Quit It? You had to ask? Bloody HIT!

Brand New Heavies – Get Used To It

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 12: BMV #12, 3-For-$10 Deal #7 – Brand New Heavies – Get Used To It

If Shelter was their danceable radio-friendly (per J.) album with a different singer, then GUTI is their 70s soul revue album. Yeah, there’s a couple of twinges that lean on dancy-isco but they’re quickly replaced by a helluva groove thoughout. I mean, straight outta James Brown-land, folks. I had Roberta Flack moments on this one, too, the whole gamut of that sweet, sweet soul sound…

Check out Right On. Hit up 1:15-2:18 for glorious TRUMPET! I mean, GodDAMN! Then perk up again at 2:35 to the end for a saxy groovy good time with the trumpets joining in again. Oh my goodness. 

Hit It Or Quit It? Definite Hit.

D. Randall Blythe – Dark Days: A Memoir

As you know, Brother Craig and went to Toronto on May 29th to see the \m/  SLAYER!!  \m/ farewell show, and lamb of god was the penultimate act on that 5-band bill. I was supremely impressed by their intensity, energy, and prowess. The crowd was right into it, singing along. What a gig!

I knew only a bit about the story of lead singer/screamer Randy Blythe*, his 2012 arrest and trial on manslaughter charges in Prague following an incident there in 2010. So I got this book – what a story!

He was incarcerated in, from the sounds of it, a completely deplorable prison, and though his time there was short in comparison to many, he writes about the details of it so well that it’s like you’re in there with him. His treatment by the prosecuting attorney (including a doubled bail!), his subsequent trial, the whole thing… just an incredible story.

What really struck me most is the man’s integrity. Despite his fear and worry, he did not back down, or really let his conditions get him down. His morals stood tall, and he did the right thing. He even returned to Prague for the trial after posting bail and returning to America, even though many told him not to go. He saw it out to the end, and I respect that fully.

This is one of the best, most interesting rock books I’ve read, bar none. It’s strong, harrowing, and intelligently written, and he keeps it real. 

Yes, you need to read this (if you haven’t already)!

 

* From this book, I learned that his last name is pronounced Bly, (the ‘the’ ending is silent). 

sandbox. – Bionic

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 11: BMV #11, 3-For-$10 Deal #6 – sandbox. – Bionic

Welcome to the debut album from sandbox., released in 1995. For those of you paying attention to Canuck Rawk back then, you may remember the single, Curious. Or maybe Collide, or Here And There…

I played (and enjoyed) their second effort, A Murder In The Glee Club, for the strong concept album that it was. This first one, though, is just a rawkin’ good time. It’s fun hearing it now, the 90s alternative thing had a sound, and it’s all here. But it isn’t just retreads, this is a collection of smart songs. Nothing over the top, just solid playing.

What you wanna do, honestly, is head on over to Mike’s and read his review of this one. He has more details and such. I just enjoyed rocking out to sandbox. on my walk one night, tripping out on the blast down memory lane, and that’s good enough for me!

Bon Jovi

This isn’t my work, but it made my Thursday afternoon.

Neil Finn & Friends – 7 Worlds Collide: Live At The St. James

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 10: BMV #10, 3-For-$10 Deal #5 – Neil Finn & Friends – 7 Worlds Collide*

I used to own this, way back in the day. I don’t know why I dealt it, probably one move across Canada or another. But when I saw another copy, yoink! It was mine (again)!

Of course you know these shows, for which this disc culls from 5 shows in Auckland, NZ in 2001, were done in support of charity. This disc features a ton of ‘Friends,” including (amongst members of Finn’s own band): Eddie Vedder (the reason I owned it years ago), Johnny Marr, Ed O’Brien, Tim Finn, Sebastian Steinberg, Phil Selway, Lisa Germano, and Betchadupa (featuring Neil’s son Liam Finn). 

You know I’m gonna say this is awesome BECAUSE IT IS! So much greatness. But I think the moment the hairs on my arms stood up was when he invited his brother Tim to the stage and they sang harmony through a gorgeous rendition of Angels Heap. Fuck yes, that’s the good stuff right there.

So many great versions of career-spanning songs, a truly stupendous disc. There’s a DVD too, get yours today!

 

* “The title of this album, as well as the 7 Worlds Collide project, is derived from the line “Seven worlds will collide / whenever I am by your side” from Crowded House’s 1993 single Distant Sun.” (Wiki)

Buckshot Lefonque – Buckshot Lefonque

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 9: BMV #9, 3-For-$10 Deal #4 – Buckshot Lefonque – Buckshot Lefonque

This 1994 debut album from Branford Marsalis’ jazzy hip-hoppy soul r&b reggae rock project is an absolute keeper. The groove is complete, the mix of jazz, world music, hip hop, hell, all the ones I already listed, is perfect. Have a look at the personnel list (below), too. 

Throw this on, groove the night away. Add in vocals from Maya Angelou on I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, and a cover of Elton John’s Mona Lisas (And Mad Hatters), and… you know all you need to know.

I swear. SO GOOD.

Hit It Or Quit It? Hahahahahahahahaha HIT.

 

Personnel List. Just keep reading…

Branford Marsalis – Saxophones
Roy Hargrove – Trumpet
David Barry – Guitar
DJ Premier – Drum Programming
Matt Finders – Trombone
Mino Cinelu – Percussion
Delfeayo Marsalis – Trombone, Piano
Kenny Kirkland – Piano
Robert Hurst – Bass
Vicki Randle – Percussion
Maya Angelou – Vocal
Kevin Eubanks – Guitar
Ray Fuller – Guitar
Nils Lofgren – Guitar
Frank McComb – Vocal
Greg Phillinganes – Keyboards, Moog Bass
Jeff “Tain” Watts – Drums
Blackheart– Vocal
Darryl Jones – Bass
Tammy Townsend – Vocal
Larry Kimpel – Bass
Chuck Morris – Drums
Albert Collins – Guitar
Victor Wooten – Bass

My point!

Peter Gabriel – Us

This ain’t part of my Taranna scores, I just wanted to rave… I got this at work for cheap, and it’s the best damn CD I’ve played in a while. The music is just so beautiful, and uplifting… even though Wiki says “On this album Gabriel explored the pain of recent personal problems; his failed first marriage, his relationship with actress Rosanna Arquette, and the growing distance between him and his first daughter.” Well alright, but the music is so good, so many world music influences and sounds, all these epic swells… And there can be beauty in tough lyrics, too, if it leads to healing (which I think this stuff ultimately does). And I mean, how do you argue with Come Talk To Me, and right off the top of the album? You don’t! What a track!

Other singles were Digging In The Dirt, Steam, Blood Of Eden (f. Sinéad O’Connor), Kiss That Frog, and Secret World (promo single, as was Come Talk To Me). And: Just look at the personnel on here! I mean… Tony Levin, Daniel Lanois, John Paul Jones, Brian Eno, sooo many more! Wild.

Brilliant.

Hit It Or Quit It? Hit!

SLCR #314: The Flaming Lips (June 22, 2018)

It’s now been over two weeks since I saw the Flaming Lips and over two hours since I opened the blank text file and pasted in the list of upcoming concerts. It’s not that I don’t want to write this – it was a really fun show that I feel like talking about – I just don’t want to put in the effort, you know?

Really, this is not dissimilar to how I felt on the morning of the concert. I was excited when the show was announced – I love it when a band comes to town (or at least a semi-nearby town) and I never thought they’d play here. But when I was supposed to pack up and head out, I had to fight the little voice telling me “you know, we could just… not do this.” I mean, Saskatoon’s far, the weather wasn’t looking great, I didn’t know the opener, and I’m really not even super familiar with the Flaming Lips if we’re being honest. But! I persevered, for you. Mostly for me. But a little bit for you.

So let’s talk about what I do know about the Flaming Lips, or what I think I know. I first became aware of them through the song She Don’t Use Jelly, which I had on an MTV Buzz Bin CD that came out in 1997. To stoke your 90s nostalgia and give you a frame of reference, some of the other artists on that CD were Counting Crows, The Cardigans, and Primitive Radio Gods. (The song by Primitive Radio Gods is called Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in my Hand. And it IS on iTunes.)

If She Don’t Use Jelly sounds like a novelty song, that’s because it is, and I assumed these folks were doomed to one-hit wonder status. But over time, I started hearing that they were still making records and they were really good and not what you’d expect for a joke band. And then they weren’t a joke band, they were indie hipster darlings and everyone had their album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Wikipedia says that’s their tenth album and that was in 2002 and okay they put out way more music than I ever knew about. Maybe don’t look to me for the history lesson.

The drive up to Saskatoon was uneventful. A little rain but nothing serious – that was saved for when I got there. I got to Josy’s house mid-afternoon and within 10 minutes, the skies opened up. Massive downpour and lightning with the loudest, most immediate thunder. Something got hit and it was right near us. The power went out, probably not unrelated. I was starting to doubt whether this outdoor concert was going to be happening. A storm that big won’t last, but what condition would the grounds be in? I had further doubts when the storm passed and Josy and I went in search of food. We went down 8th Street and hit several patches where there was so much water left on the road that only one lane was usable. You’ll be relieved to know we were able to successfully obtain pizza.

Josy: “When did you stop caring about chicken in your concerts?”
me: “Most places I go to for concerts now don’t serve food. I still mention it when I can.”
Josy: “And what did you have on your pizza?”
me: “Chicken.”
Josy: “There you go.”

Indeed. Official concert status: conferred.

Pizza then Pokémon then back to Josy’s house and I was off to the show. The rain was long gone and the grounds were fine. I got there with five minutes to spare and without a ticket – I’d realized that morning that I’d never printed one out. Luckily, it’s the future and they can just scan your phone.

Now, if you remember last year’s trip to the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival to see Amanda Marshall, you may recall that we brought lawn chairs and wound up sitting way at the back, unable to really see the openers and eventually standing for Marshall. You may also recall that we were lucky to have anywhere at all to park our chairs ‘CUZ THERE’S NO PLACE TO PUT THEM but maybe only Deserée and I remember that. Point being, I was flying solo this year and didn’t want to fight with a chair and so I didn’t bring one. I… needn’t have worried. I walked in mere minutes before the opener was set to start – ran into Carver immediately upon arrival because of course I did – and the place was pretty bare. At this point, if I estimated there was 25% of the crowd that was there for Amanda Marshall, I’d be being generous. I could have set a chair anywhere. Instead I just walked right down to the very front because why not? On stage, the mayor cut a ribbon to open the Jazz Festival and we were underway.

The opener was Wand, from LA. When introduced, they were described as “breaking all barriers” and I don’t know if I’d go that far, though I don’t really know how to describe them. iTunes says “psych-rock” and sure, let’s go for that as long as you promise not to make me define it. There were long instrumental sections. I heard 90s rock influences in there. Some electronic music too. And Crimson & Clover. This was all pretty good in that way that I kind of immediately forgot about. I’m listening to some now, and again, hard to describe, but I’m digging it.

So. Okay. I’d never seen the Flaming Lips before and didn’t really know what to expect. After Wand’s set, stagehands (and singer Wayne Coyne) set up the stage with confetti cannons. Also, while Wand was playing, I could see Coyne walking around backstage with a big rainbow… thing. It later turned out to be wings. Had I known what I was getting myself into, this wouldn’t have been surprising.

The band came out and played the song from 2001: A Space Odyssey or Ric Flair, depending on your personal point of reference. Normally, I would check setlist.fm for reminders of the show, but I know it’s not entirely accurate, so instead I’ll go to the pictures on my phone. One song in and we were blasted with the aforementioned confetti cannons and giant balloons were launched into the crowd. As people threw the balloons around, Coyne left and came back with an eight-foot tall custom-made silver balloon reading FUCK YEAH SASKATOON. He threw it into the crowd who tore it apart like a pack of dogs. Though I did later see people leaving with individual letters they’d managed to save.

The first song I recognized – since I only ever had that one album – was Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1. We had to karate chop along with the song. There was an 18-foot tall inflatable pink robot on stage. Then came the Yeah Yeah Yeah Song where we all had to sing along (“yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah”). I was standing near a security guard and I was very curious as to his opinion of the evening. For the song There Should Be Unicorns, Coyne left again and returned astride a giant unicorn (and wearing the rainbow wings from earlier) (which went well with his suit and eyepatch that I forgot to mention). This did not reduce my curiosity re: the security guard.

Then came the smoke cannons, followed by the spotlights focused on Coyne’s face. Then the stagehands (who, I forgot to mention, were all wearing superhero costumes) started inflating a big ball. The more knowledgeable fans knew what was coming. I did not. Coyne, inside the ball, singing Space Oddity, rolled out off the stage onto the heads and outstretched arms of the crowd.

More smoke from the stage. The security guard looked unimpressed. There was also a sizable amount of smoke coming from the crowd, which should surprise nobody. Guys in giant eyeball costumes came out and danced. More confetti. A little girl behind me, riding her dad’s shoulders, caught one of the giant balloons after trying all night. We all cheered. Coyne wore giant hands that shot lasers into the crowd. Then the band left. A guy behind me in a Teletubby costume hollered for Do You Realize?? The band came back out. Played another song. Played The Star-Spangled Banner, as one does at the end of a rock concert in Canada. Left again. I thought the Teletubby was going to go apoplectic. Band back out. Do You Realize?? under a big inflatable rainbow. Everyone went bonkers. The end.

There was a lot to keep track of. I’m sure I’m missing stuff. I didn’t know all the songs. It certainly wasn’t necessary. You could have gone in blind and this would have been worth it for the spectacle alone. It could be different if you’ve seen it before, but there seemed to be lots of people who’d seen them multiple times and were loving it. Even if you lose the element of surprise (or just aren’t into, like, confetti and big hands), the songs are enough to carry a show on their own.

I went back to Josy’s once the show was done, but a friend from high school was also at the concert. I didn’t see him there but it’s 2018 so we had a nice brief chat via Instagram comments. He went to Amigo’s after the show to see another set by Wand and as they were playing, the Flaming Lips showed up, just looking to hang out. He got a picture with Coyne. I caught my first Alolan Rattata in Pokémon Go on the walk back to the car. So I think we had equally successful evenings.

UPCOMING CONCERTS:
• Gateway Festival feat. Kathleen Edwards, Steven Page, John K. Samson, Elliott BROOD, more (July 28)
• Arkells (August 2)
• Regina Folk Festival feat. Neko Case, Tanya Tagaq, more (August 11)
• Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls with Bad Cop/Bad Cop and Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs (September 12)
• The Fred Eaglesmith Show Starring Tif Ginn (September 23)
• Cadence Weapon with Fat Tony and Hua Li (October 2)
• Jonathan Richman (October 6)
• Crash Test Dummies (October 11)
• They Might Be Giants (October 20)
• Hawksley Workman & the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (April 13)

Crooked Fingers – Crooked Fingers

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 8: BMV #8, 3-For-$10 Deal #3 – Crooked Fingers – Crooked Fingers

This is a project from Eric Bachmann, following the end of Archers Of Loaf. It’s a collection of brilliant, singer/songwriter-y late-night tunes that go for the thoughful and the introspective. I hear Wilco (or at least Jeff Tweedy), Pavement, maybe a bit of Tom Waits, some Wrens…  but also his own thing too. And it’s all good. It twangs, it swirls, it has passion and intelligence and care, it holds your ear. I especially liked that there were strings all over this – they elevate the songs. I really enjoyed this. 

Hit It Or Quit It? Big-time Hit.

Groove Armada – Greatest Hits

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 7: BMV #7, 3-For-$10 Deal #2 – Groove Armada – Greatest Hits

I grabbed this on spec… aaaaand it’s pretty dance-y. Like, techno Ibiza dance. So I get it, these are rave anthems, get your soother, E, and your fuzzy pajama pants and go fling yourself around until you’re dehydrated. Seriously, rave kids. Drink more water. I can appreciate this stuff, but it’s not really my cuppa on a regular basis. 

Anyway, this collection apparently spans 10 years of their career, with old favourites and few (at the time, in 2007) new hits too. Some of you might know Get Down, I See You Baby, If Everybody Looked The Same, or Love Sweet Sound. Hell, there’s even a track named Purple Haze, which ain’t a cover of Hendrix, but it’s heavier (and has raps from Nappy Roots), and is therefore one of the better tracks here.

I dunno, it’s good? I’m not versed in this sort of stuff at all. I’ll need more spins to see if I connect with it.

Hit It Or Quit It? Tentative Hit for now, potential future Quit.

Brand New Heavies – Shelter

And now we move to the 3-For-$10 Deals at BMV…

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 6: BMV #6, 3-For-$10 Deal #1 – Brand New Heavies – Shelter

I like the BNH, it’s damn funky music. Built for parties. The bass end is thick and poppin’, the soulful music punches all the happy buttons, and the vocals, provided here by Siedah Garrett (her only album with the band) are sweet and smooth and bring a real connection to the music. Some people were upset when N’Dea Davenport left, but I think Siedah did a smashing job here. I like them both!

Call it acid jazz, new soul, neo-funk, jazzy R&B, whatever you like. This music has soul, it’s fun, and most importantly it has the groove. The groove is everything. 

Hit It Or Quit It? This total party jam is a Hit!

Tortoise – Standards

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 5: BMV #5 – Tortoise – Standards

Tortoise’s fourth album is one I’ve eyed but never bought, for 17 years.. ever since I saw a dude on a metro station platform in Montreal in 2001, pawing his new, shrink-wrapped purchase and raving excitedly to his ever-patient girlfriend* about how he couldn’t wait to get the record home so he could hear it. That couple’s image has stuck in my mind, and it made me want the record. Funny how the mind works.

And the music? Holy shit, this is some interesting, excellent instrumental work, and how. I’ve never heard a band make electronic music that sounds quite like this. I sat here transfixed, unsure of where each track was going to go next, but riveted and excited to find out, all the same. And it paid off big, too.     

Back in 2001, we probably heard this in some restaurant on St-Denis and didn’t even realize who or what it was**. That dude in the metro was right, it’s worth it to be excited about this album. 

Hit It Or Quit It? Going in, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was worth the wait: I came away from this in awe. Hit!

 

* Many of us are fortunate to have such beautiful, understanding, patient partners in our lives. I am married to the most patient of them all (for she puts up with me).

** If it was played as background music in a restaurant, that’s unfair to the music. It deserves full attention.

Mike Ness – Cheating At Solitaire

I seem to have forgotten the brevity part of the deal. Let’s see if I can tighten things down some:

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 4: BMV #4 – Mike Ness – Cheating At Solitaire

This first solo album from Social Distortion’s Mike Ness is a brilliant listen. Instead of the punk of SD, it rocks straight up with a western twist, a swing, and a bluesy bent. Add Ness’ raspy voice and this project has a whole lotta style and class. With covers of Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice and Hank Williams’ You Win Again, as well as Dill/Wilkin’s Long Black Veil mixed in around a bunch of Ness originals (two of which were written for a SD album but wound up here), it’s a ton of fun. And with special guests* like Bruce Springsteen, Brian Setzer, Billy Zoom (of X), and Royal Crown Revue’s Daniel Glass, Veikko Lepisto and Mando Dorame along for the ride, you know it’s a damn good time. Oh, and Josh Freese is on drums when Glass isn’t. Oh man. Right freaking on.

Hit It Or Quit It? Absolute Hit.

 

* Apparently, Johnny Cash had been invited to perform on Ballad Of A Lonely Man, but was too ill to particpate in the recording. 

David Gray – A Century Ends

Alright we’re back to covering the stuff I got in Taranna on Pride weekend. You’ll have noticed that I got sidetracked with all sorts of other awesomeness that resulted in 9 posts unrelated to this series… So it goes.

So to recap, we’re only two parts into the series, with Billie Joe + Norah’s Foreverly and The Very Best Of Dokken already done. On to today’s!

***

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 3: BMV #3 – David Gray – A Century Ends

I’m gonna sound all hipper-than-thou by saying this, but it is merely truth – I liked David Gray before he got huge (at least, huge here in North America, I dunno when he got big in UK). I loved Flesh, Sell Sell Sell and Lost Songs (which was later but collects other older stuff). But I haven’t gotten to his later stuff as much. I should try again! Anyway.

A Century Ends is actually his first album, from 1993. It only saw wider release after his fourth album (White Ladder, with that Babylon song on it) drew interest to his back catalogue. 

This is 10 songs of early Gray awesomeness. It had three singles (Birds Without Wings, Shine, and Wisdom), but they’re all great. Here he sings more with the fire he had on Flesh, more strummy acoustic Dylan than pop radio troubadour. He’s got some great lines that just jump out at you, like beat poetry, like in Let The Truth Sting:

The hour is out of joint
Black sun has risen
And the river of words
Is flowing on through
The cages of tradition

And they’re handing out emptiness
We’ll take it ’cause it’s given
Free with this plastic innocence
And these standards of living

Questions lighted questions
Burnin’ holes into my head
Hanging like shadows o’er the sun
Staring out like the eyes of the dead
And sometimes my soul flickers
When the wind of change blows cold
Over the mire of repetition
Down the corridors of rigmarole

Anyway, I could go on, but suffice it to say that the whole record is brilliant, a solid listen top to bottom. I love that I have this here now, wish I had had it all along. There was nothing stopping me getting it, really… I have been remiss! Time to make up for lost time!

Hit It Or Quit It? Definite Hit.

Bruce Dickinson – Accident Of Birth

It’s time to pay homage to the mighty Deke at Superdekes! Seriously, if you don’t read his blog you’re missing out on so much. Go there now and Follow his excellent site!

And what is the occasion? I received musics in the mail from Deke! THANK YOU, BROTHER!!!

In the parcel with the Big Drill Car live album (covered in yesterday’s post) was this solo effort by Bruce Dickinson. Sadly, I already had a copy of it (I mentioned this one in a post on October 16, 2017, that I’d found it in the sale bins in Toronto). However, it was AWESOME that Deke thought to send this on to me – he knows that, compared to him and several others in the Community, I am a (relative) noob when it comes to the powers of the Air Raid Siren, but I am definitely making up for lost time.

Looking back at that post, though, I didn’t actually say anything about my thoughts on this 1997 record, just that I had got it, so now that it has come back into my life again, I’m gonna take a stab at it now.

Bruce Bruce’s second solo outing, this time with help from Maiden cohort Adrian Smith, this is 13 tracks of awesome. Freak starts us out just pounding away with huge guitars and heavy everything, with Bruce’s vocals soaring over top. Follow that, inexplicaly, with 0:38 of oddness as a, what, an interlude track? Sure OK!  Starchildren cranks things back up and that wee track is forgotten. Taking The Queen and Omega follow the Maiden template somewhat, gentle intro eventually becomes heavier banger, without taking full gallop, though. The album continues on like this, tons of big heavy rockers meet up with ballad-like tracks like Man Of Sorrows and Arc Of Space (with its gorgeous Spanish guitar), while Welcome To The Pit reminds (a bit) of Sabbath, and so on.

This album rocks. It has everything, and does it all well. It’s obvious Bruce took his solo work seriously! I found one review online that said that (in that reviewer’s opinion, anyway), this was better than anything Maiden had released post-Seventh Son. Haha whut. Alright, so some fans have a knack for overstating their excitement when their hero releases new tunes, but still, this is a damn solid effort that rocks heavy and hard, but also mixes things up nicely. Fully recommended.

Thanks again, Brother Deke!

Arigatō, Nihon

From Japan-Senegal. This photo exemplifies the spirit.

[you can click all photos to enlarge]

This isn’t a music post, per se, but it’s about something that, I believe, really rocks.

In yesterday’s World Cup match, Japan blew a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to Belgium. Now, I haven’t been able to watch every game, but I saw some of Japan’s match against Senegal when my Dad and I were in a pub in Toronto recently, and I’ve been watching all the highlights, and I have to say that I think the Japanese side has played brilliant, straight-up football. They kept their composure and they played damn well.

I try to teach my son about sportsmanship in his own soccer (football) dealings, to always play clean and fair, to always be the one working hard and listening and doing the right thing. And he does it, he’s well-respected in his league. To further this effort, I’ve told him what happened after Japan’s loss, as an exemplary show of sportsmanship. He thought this was awesome. As did I.

 

The Japanese fans came prepared and, despite the loss, cleaned up garbage from the stands. If I’m not mistaken they did this after every game.

 

 

 

 

 

The players all respectfully bowed before leaving the field.

 

 

 

 

The Japanese locker room was left spotless by the team, tidied and mopped and squared away. The team also left a simple note, in Russian, on the counter in the locker room. It said THANK YOU.

 

 

 

Total class. 

Thank YOU, Japan. You are an example of dignity for us all.

Big Drill Car – Toured (A Live Album)

It’s time to pay homage to the mighty Deke at Superdekes! Seriously, if you don’t read his blog you’re missing out on so much. Go there now and Follow his excellent site!

And what is the occasion? I received musics in the mail from Deke! THANK YOU, BROTHER!!!

 

Big Drill Car – Toured (A Live Album)

I knew of Big Drill Car, back in the day, but I’m shamed to admit I don’t recall owning any of their stuff. Doesn’t mean I didn’t, just means I don’t remember owning it. Anyway. This is pure 90s bliss, I’m so glad they recorded this time capsule of a record. Recorded live at CBGB’s in New York on 1991-09-03, the sound is really good, and it’s clear the band was riding high and executing their tunes at peak performance.

For this performance, they rip through ten original tunes, and end on a rockin’ cover of Billy Joel’s 1978 tune Big Shot, which totally suits the sound. Honestly, it’s perfect. All of it. 

And how would I describe their sound? Melodic punk rock? 90s alternative (to what?) rock? Sure, yes to those. Not metal, not pop. Happily in the middle, 90s-style! There’s massive stadium-level bass rumblings, bitchin’ guitar solos, solid and driving drumming with lots of cymbals and fills, and vocals that sail over top clearly, intelligibly, all while telling fun stories. The songs have great breakdowns in well-chosen spots, the riffs are big, and oh my goodness did I mention the huge bass? Awesome.

At the top of the album, you can tell they’re feeling cheeky as singer Frank Daly says “Well, you people are all in attendance for a momentous occasion. As you can see, we borrowed the Rolling Stones’ mobile unit, it’s out front of the club… we’re recording, you’re all on tape. We have evidence…” and then they’re off and running… Fun!

In the liner notes, they also note: “This is just a quick note from an involved individual to the concerned. Our main motivation for recording this was money! It was cheap. $215.00 to be exact. So please keep that in mind, no overdubs, no extra guitar tracks, just plain LIVE” The note goes on with some news about the band and their label, then ends with: “We would also like to extend our most sincere apologies to anyone who bought this album thinking it was out new studio album. We hope you saved the receipt.” I love humour like that, and I love albums recorded straight from the stage to the tape. As Rollins said (and named a killer live album the same), it’s the Only Way To Know For Sure. When you hear how it went down with no fixes, you know if the band has the chops to cut it. Big Drill Car has them, big time.

In Sum:

Deke! THANK YOU! This rules. I love getting tunes in the mail, and you’ve definitely hooked me up with a superb live record I’ll have in rotation for a good long while! RAWK! Thank you, Deke!

 

Track List (Total Time 30:32):

16 Lines / Ick / Brody / In A Hole / Let Me Walk / No Need / Annie’s Needle / Reform Before / Restless Habs / If It’s Poison / Big Shot

John Coltrane – Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album

“…STARTING A SENTENCE IN THE MIDDLE, AND THEN GOING TO THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF IT AT THE SAME TIME…

                                                       BOTH DIRECTIONS AT ONCE.”

OMG. You need this. Now. This is the single greatest thing I’ve heard in ages. Two whole discs of unheard mid-60s Classic Quartet (John Coltrane, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner)?? YES PLEASE!

Here is the info on it, as I am too busy listening to it to re-type any of that.

For unreleased tracks, some of them with the engineer intro still tagged onto them, the sound here is superb. The band is on fire, swinging away with so much beauty and class that this is already one of my Best Of 2018 albums! If you’ll pardon my French, this thing is fucking phenomenal.

I got the 2CD deluxe edition. There’s a 1 disc edition too, though why anyone would buy that I have no clue.

Open up the gatefold packaging and there’s a pull-quote where Sonny Rollins, still with us at a young 87 years of age, says it best:

“THIS IS LIKE FINDING A NEW ROOM IN THE GREAT PYRAMID.”

Amen, brother.

Happy Canada Day 2018!

My lovely wife brought me a gift to wear today (Canada Day). She knows me so well.

Happy Canada Day, everybody!

Timmys cupface. Stones shirt. Livin’ the dream!

Sloan – 12

HAPPY CANADA DAY, EVERYONE!

 

It seemed appropriate to drop this blurb on Canada Day. Superb CanCon!

This is probably the longest I’ve ever gone without yelling WAHOO! about a new Sloan record. This one dropped back in early April, and I was a first-day buyer. So why didn’t I review it then? Well, I had so much from multiple Toronto trips to cover, for starters…

But I have been listening to the record all this time, in and around all my other listening because Sloan. The title of this album is 12 because this is their 12th album. Original, sure, and basically notice that if you don’t know Sloan’s sound by now this album may be a revelation to you. If you know their sound already, guess what! It’s Sloan! YAY!

These are all strong songs, in that inimitable and cohesive Sloan sound and style. Big jangly guitars, awesome vocal harmonies, whip-smart and clever wordplay lyrics… For me, at this point having been a fan since seeing them in concert on the Twice Removed tour in the fall of 1993, and a first-day buyer ever since, every new Sloan album (this one included) feels just like coming home. The world is aligned correctly on its axis when I hear new Sloan songs. I love that they are still out there, doing their thing, and that they have remained true to their sound and ideals and only ever release quality.

I’ve been through this one countless times and I can’t find any fault with it. In fact, there are so many moments to love that I would be surprised if they didn’t end up with about half of the album as singles. A radio DJ could just hit Play on this thing and walk away for 40 minutes and their switchboard would light up with calls from folks wanting more info on all those great tunes!

It rocks, it’s beautiful, it seems simple but only because the intricacies are so adroitly handled that all we can do is appreciate the genius that is Sloan.

SLOOOOO-OOOOOOANNNNNNN!!!!

 

***

Bonus Sloan Geek Information Section:

As we all know by now: Not only does everyone in the band play all the instruments and sing (this is so cool), at varying points, but Sloan has also perfected the art of band democracy when it comes to songwriting. Each of the four main members get three songs they’ve wrote on the album, therefore a 12 song album. 12 songs on their 12th album. Brilliant. I’m at the point now where I can pretty much correclty identify who wrote what, just based on sound and approach, but for those who like this sort of information, here’s how this one balances out (with track numbers):

Chris Murphy wrote Spin Our Wheels (1), Don’t Stop (If It Feels Good Do It) (7), and Wish Upon A Satellite (11).

Patrick Pentland wrote All Of The Voices (2), The Day Will Be Mine (5), and Have Faith (9).

Jay Ferguson wrote Right To Roam (3), Essential Services (6), and The Lion’s Share (10).

Andrew Scott wrote Gone For Good (4), Year Zero (8), and 44 Teenagers (12).

The GOATS

Are you are heavy metal goat? Do you seek to embody the evil and power of the darkness? Do your loins ache for the release which that power brings? And do you also seek the chill of 4:20?

Yes.

 

Then look no farther. The darkest heavy metal goats are never caught without…

Manipulant – What Good Are The Stars?

Heads up, folks, Manipulant is back with new music, dropping July 4, 2018! 

I am honoured to receive the tracks of this single in advance of release, and I am here today to tell you about it. All the details you need for this release will be below the following thoughts…

There are four tracks here, all titled What Good Are The Stars, though one features a special guest, and two are remixes. Check it out…

01 What Good Are The Stars swings along on a sweet urban groove, open and breezy and big-sounding. The electronics wash in and out as he posits his questions, and the piano catches your ear in a haunting way. This is a feel good track, I love the bass line. It’s thought-provoking and beautiful at the same time.

02 What Good Are The Stars (with Beltism)(Beltism Burnt Umber Mix) brings the drums to the fore with cool snare rumbles to boot, and brings back the brilliant piano stabs of the original track. The feel here is perfectly matched to the contemplative nature of the tune.

03 What Good Are The Stars (featuring Jennifer Doll) is next. Here we have the original track with Doll’s harmony vocals added to the mix. Damn, that extra layer makes a strong track even better! Manipulant’s deeper vocals contrast nicely with Doll’s, and I love the inflections she adds. This one really, really draws the ear! 

04 The Anisotropic Mix turns the bass fuzzy, adds different wonky electronics, a filtered-sounding cowbell-like percussion for texture (while removing the piano parts), and adds broad echoes to the vocals. It’s the soundtrack of a dream sequence in an avant-garde film. Awesome!

In Sum:

You know, a lot of remixes seem superfluous to me, but these are four very different looks at the same track, a creative and artistic feat that shows intent and willingness to boldly play with the recipe. I highly recommend all four! This is truly superb work.

The pre-order is available RIGHT HERE!!!

 

***

Manipulant – What Good Are The Stars?

Newbury, 06/07/18-Lancaster, PA based artist Manipulant (David Speakman) releases the single “What Good are the Stars?” – catalog number SBCE008 on Submarine Broadcasting Company. The single features four versions, including a guest vocal from Jennifer Doll, two remixes. The original utilizes swirling keys over a melodic bass and percussion that surround melancholy vocals. 

I also received this message from David, about the release date: 

“Heads up… it is hitting on July 4th… The version featuring Jennifer Doll is being played on In the Moog on Wednesday and New Music Saturday on, well, Saturday.”

***

Here are the lyrics of the track:

What  Good  are  the  Stars?
What  good  is  the  sky?
What  good  is  the  moon?
What  use  are  these  eyes if they  can’t  see  you?  

What  good  are  the  clouds?
What  good  is  the  rain
If  it’s  not  allowed
To  wash  away  pain?  

What  good  are  the  stars
when  they  don’t  know  where  you  are?
What  good  are  the  clouds?
What  good  is  the  rain
If  it’s  not  allowed
To  wash  away  pain?  

What  good  are  the  stars?
What  good  are  the  stars?
What  good  are  the  stars? 

w. Pubes

I don’t have a post ready for today, so here’s a snapshot of a CD I saw in Toronto, an original cover of the Black Crowes’ Amorica album. I loved that someone felt it needed labelling.

Dokken – The Very Best Of Dokken

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 2, BMV #2: Dokken – The Very Best Of Dokken

Several of you guys talk about Dokken frequently, and I always say “sounds great, I need to get to them,” so when I saw this CD for $5 I knew it was my chance.

No kidding, this is some straight up awesome rockin’. Sure, some of it is cheesy and predictable, some of it would make great 80s fighter jet action movie soundtrack music. They’d fit right in with Poison and Mötley Crüe and the like, but they have something else, something different. There’s a charm to it all, a great mix of metal and the blues, an intelligence too, like a lover in a barroom brawl. Does that even make sense? Anyway. Make no mistake, these fellows could play! I really liked Tooth And Nail, because that was 100 mph and let’s go go GO! I also liked the slinky blues pummeling of Mr. Scary. The guitars there are stellar.

I jammed through these 16 tracks with ease. I dunno if I’d need any of the albums, but this collection of tracks served me very well. Now that’s what I’m Dokken about!

Hit It Or Quit It? Hit!

Billie Joe + Norah – Foreverly

I’m really original here, so because it was Pride weekend in Taranna, I’m gonna call this series on my finds…

Pride Of Taranna Series Pt. 1: BMV #1 – Billie Joe + Norah – Foreverly

Knowing this existed, and always meaning to get it, didn’t help me get it ’til now. But here it is! And it’s really quite freaking awesome. These are two people I never would have put together in my mind, but it totally works. I like their voices together. I like how they approached the songs, I liked the sound they achieved. It’s true to the style, feel, and intention of the original… with enough of a twist (with Jones’ vocals) to it that it stands on its own as a cool unique thing too. It swings and sways, waltzes and twangs, and it sweetly holds your attention throughout.

I wish I’d snagged this when it came out instead of (inexplicably) waiting this long, it’ll be in rotation a good long while. Damn, that was super-cool.

Hit It Or Quit It? Hit!

***

Here’s what this is:

“Foreverly is a collection of traditional songs, and is a reinterpretation of the 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us by The Everly Brothers. It is promoted by the lead single “Long Time Gone”” (Wiki)

Here’s how it happened, according to Armstrong:

“In an interview with Stereogum, Armstrong said: “It all started with Stevie Wonder. [laughter] We sang together with Stevie Wonder and his band and a whole bunch of people, that’s how Norah and I first met. Then … well, I got into the Everly Brothers’ record a couple years ago and I thought it was just beautiful. I was listening to it every morning for a while off and on. I thought it would be cool to remake the record because I thought it was sort of an obscure thing and more people should know about it, but I really wanted to do it with a woman singing because I thought it would take on a different meaning — maybe broaden the meaning a little bit — as compared to hearing the songs being sung by the two brothers. And so my wife said, ‘Why don’t you get Norah Jones to do it?’ and I was like, ‘Well, I kinda know her.’ Well, I mean, we had Stevie Wonder in common. And so I called her and she said yes. So it was kinda like a … well, I keep saying it was kinda like a blind date.” (Wiki)

The KMA Today Is On Point… Form

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psssst. Hey you!

Hey Dear Readers, lots to cover. Let’s go point form ‘cos your time is valuable:

SUNDAY

– My Dad and I went to Toronto yesterday. Of course I bought records. Of course I’ll tell you about them as I hear them. NEW SERIES! 

– It rained super-hard during our trip, so we did not go all the way over to the Pride Parade. Haha I said super-hard. But we did see some of the summer street fest in Kensington Market. The hip hop dance-off was fun. Some neat moves and one great afro.

– We found a slick driving work-around for the construction-addled usual route we take, so note to future self: go this new way for the foreseeable future.

– Last trip, Dad and I tried Superburger in Shelburne. It was a 5/10. Across the street is Champ Burger, which we tried this time. It was a 7/10 burger, but it was waaaay too expensive so it drops to a 6/10 overall.

SITE

– You’ll notice a lack of postings here, over the past week. That’s ‘cos I was trying to get caught up on the tsunami of awesome posts of yours. I didn’t have time for Reading and Writing, so I chose Reading! COMMUNITY! So far, I feel like I’ve made a dent, so I’ll try to come back to writing here on occasion. (see above: NEW SERIES!).

– Out of necessity, I am going back to keeping things brief, to save time. I still have lots to read of yours, and life hasn’t slowed down at all. Be ready for short sharp shock posts. Not 200 or 80 word counts (that requires time to organize). Nope, just whatever blurts out, there ya go. It’ll be fun!

– I am bringing back the Hit It Or Quit It idea, but for now I won’t be keeping track of stats. Again, time.

– I am bringing back the On Spec idea, but only as a mention. Again, no stats.

NB: I know there were Hit It Or Quit It and On Spec albums a while ago, but I’m not gonna go back and look all that up. Forge ahead and deal one at a time!

So, In Sum: 

I’m still trying to get caught up on your posts, I will be dropping quick blurb posts on what I’m hearing here, and starting… well, probably tomorrow or the next day… but soon, anyway, I will be telling you about what I found in Taranna yesterday. 

Cool? 

Cool.

Results: The 2018 KMA Pink Floyd Top 18 (Not 20)!

Alright folks, here’s the finalized KMA Pink Floyd Top 20 (er, 18… read on…)! Thank You For All Your Votes! For the record, I threw my 20 votes into the mix too, to help boost numbers!

Looking at the finalized results, based on votes received, it’s actually a Top 18 when I cut off at all songs that received 3 votes or more. 11 songs received 2 votes, and 27 tracks received 1 vote, so if you want to choose from them to round out your Top 20, I highly recommend you do!

So, I’ve organized this according to number of votes total per song, with songs receiving the most votes (in parentheses) making it onto the final list. This ended up meaning all tracks receiving between 3-6 total votes.

The KMA Pink Floyd Top 18 (not 20)!

Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun* (22)(or 3)
Echoes (6)
Shine On You Crazy Diamond** (6)
Wish You Were Here (5)
Us And Them (4)
One Of These Days (4)
The Great Gig In The Sky (4)
Astronomy Domine (4)
Run Like Hell (4)
Pigs (Three Different Ones) (4)
Time (4)
Comfortably Numb (3)
Bike (3)
Sheep (3)
See Emily Play (3)
Brain Damage (3) / Eclipse (2)**
Learning To Fly (3)
Money (3)

Whew! That’s an awesome mix! Don’t see songs you would have wanted on there, though? Stay tuned, because here are all the tracks that received 2 or even 1 overall vote:

2 Votes

Dogs / Summer ’68 / Mother / Careful With That Axe Eugene / What Do You Want From Me / Keep Talking / Breathe / High Hopes / Another Brick In The Wall Pt.2 / Hey You / The Fletcher Memorial Home

1 Vote 

Careful With That Axe Eugene (live) / Fearless / Mud Men / Not Now John / Point Me At The Sky / Scream Thy Last Scream / One Of My Turns / Welcome To The Machine / Interstellar Overdrive / The Final Cut / On The Turning Away / Poles Apart / Take It Back / Sorrow / Breathe (Reprise) / Fat Old Sun / Free Four / Cirrus Minor / Cymbaline / Green Is The Color / Remember A Day / Julia Dream / The Nile Song / When The Tigers Broke Free / Have A Cigar / It’s What We Do / The Gold It’s In The…

In Sum:

This was an excellent mental exercise and a fun project overall. Thanks again to everyone who cast their votes. For those of you who admit not knowing too much about Floyd yet, your fellow KMA Readers have spoken and given you a pretty damn fine list of tracks to check out when you’re ready to immerse yourself!

Cheers everybody!

 

* It’s really 2 votes plus Mr. 1537’s 20 votes for the one song repeated, so… 3 actual votes haha.
** I counted these as one track.

The 2018 KMA Pink Floyd Extravaganza

Recently I covered The Best Of Pink Floyd: A Foot In The Door. In comparing it to Echoes, a 2cd Hits set of the band, there were differences in the track listings (obviously, as Echoes is a 2cd whereas AFitD is 1cd… but anyway). Some noticed AFitD had nothing from Animals on it… fair point!

Such a simple thing got me thinking. Then it got me plotting, and realizing it’s been a while since we’ve done something like this… So then it got me hatching a plan…

Right. So, because we can and because we should, let’s make a KMA Readers’ Greatest Hits Of Pink Floyd. For the sake of brevity, let’s keep it to 20 tracks… Choose any 20 songs you love and that you know should be there. Don’t just pick the hits to remake AFitD or Echoes if there are songs you love more. We want those 20 of your absolute favourites!

Just drop a comment below with your Top 20 Floyd tracks. Let’s say… one week from today is a deadline (Saturday, June 23). After that, I’ll compile the results and post ‘em up for all to see! I’ll share my personal choices at that point, too.

We’ll probably get a lot of duplication, but I’ll take each inclusion as one vote for that track. Top 20 tracks with the most votes are our mix!

You in? Of course you are!

GIVE ‘ER!

 

2pac + Outlawz – Still I Rise

Right. So it makes total sense that I post Slayer, Yaz, and then 2Pac f. Outlawz in a row, right? Sure! Can’t say my listening isn’t varied, lately…

Every time I listen to 2pac, I wonder how I’m gonna write it up. I’m no expert on the man, his work, or his legacy. But then I find a copy, like this one, real cheap. The internet says it’s awesome, so I go for it and here we are. 

Here’s a blurb: “Still I Rise, the third posthumous release of “new” material by Tupac Shakur, is not surprisingly a mixed bag. Recorded in 1996 with the Outlawz, the disc at its best does showcase the power of ‘Pac. More politically acute (and complexly anti-Clinton) than most gangsta rap even attempts to be, “Letter to the President” and “The Good Die Young” find the star turning in some of his most focused lyrics and performances. Elsewhere, he often cedes the mic to other voices; the collaborations that result–“Secretz of War”, “Tattoo Tears”, the title cut–are the equivalent of campfire songs for the latter-day black cowboy. Dominated by phat beats and familiar imagery, they entertain but hardly illuminate.” (Amazon)

I agree with all of that except the bit about failing to illuminate. I’ve always said that there were 2pacs… one was a gangbanger and a roughrider. The other talked about equality and hope and peace. I always like the latter, and have no time for the bullshit former (rapper posturing make me so tired). When 2pac gets it right, he really gets it really right. 

That blurb mentions Letter To The President… It was written to Bill Clinton, but it could be applicable to any term, even this current shitshow. The Good Die Young is the same. Nothing ever changes and we’re doomed to repeat history if we don’t learn from it. Heard that before? Yup.

Musically, 2pac always had a soulful, funky, sweet backing sound and, as usual, I love that side of it. The rapping is laid back, almost lulling, but the words keep you with it, always moving, always thinking.

Apparently, “Baby Don’t Cry (Keep Ya’ Head Up II),” featuring vocals from Heavynn, Erica and Tiana of H.E.A.T., a female pop group, as well as E.D.I. Mean and Young Noble, was the only single from the album. 

In Sum:

Though I’m no expert, I’d say this is a solid release. It held my attention, and it had a lot to say, which I would expect from 2pac, who I always considered one of the better conscious rappers (when he wasn’t posturing, see above). And though a lot of what they had to say here was sad, depressing, bleak, I came away with a sense of hope, that if folks would just wake the hell up, things could improve. Hence the album title, Still I Rise, eh?

Yaz – Upstairs At Eric’s

A Kinda Sorta Pronto Toronto Follow-Up Addition: Yaz – Upstairs At Eric’s

NB: In my digging around I learned that in the UK this group was called Yazoo, but here in North America it was shortened to Yaz. I did not discover why they did this, but I’m sure it was important. Also, I hadn’t known that this duo included Alison Moyet, whom I knew from some of her (excellent) solo work. The other half of the duo is Vince Clarke, formerly of Depeche Mode. So there ya go.

So why the hell is Aaron listening to this? Well, this isn’t offically part of the Pronto Toronto series, as it wasn’t for my own collection, but it’s still from that day so I’ll include it here as a side entry. You see…

I have a co-worker who asked me ages ago to keep an eye out for this album during my digs through all the donations at work. A copy has never appeared. But then, in the New Arrivals bin at Sonic Boom during my Pronto Toronto dash through the place with Brother Craig, there sat a beautiful copy, all set to go! I bought it, passed it along, and my co-worker was thrilled. She LOVES this one. So, of course, I have to give it a spin, to find out why! 

***

Whoa. After Slayer, this was a hard left and there was zero coming back… It was like shifting gears without using the clutch… Now, I’m no expert on synthpop or, well, I guess this is new wave… Look, it was 1982, and so many bands sounded like this. The hair, the outfits, the crappy videos full of laser lights. Synths everywhere, drum machines, wee blips and bleeps and doink noises… 

Wiki says this record had three singles: Only You, Don’t Go, and Situation. I have to say, as I didn’t listen to a lot of this stuff back then, I did not know any of these three songs. Rather than being a hinderance, I found this freed me to just listen to the damned thing and form my own thoughts. Haha Yaz(oo) in a vacuum!

And what did I think of the album? It’s a wee bit too electronic-80s for my taste, though I found Winter Kills to be a refreshing (and artful) respite. There’s no denying the singing talent on display here. In fact, these are waaaay better than a lot of the pop twaddle that got foisted on us back then, and yes this may be my bias towards Alison Moyet’s vocal prowess. I can live with that.

There’s a real art to doing this stuff well, and whatever it is that it takes to get there, these people have it. I also love that they entitled a song I Before E Except After C (even if it is just a weird bunch of talking voices jarring your brain), and they had the clarity of vision to call another track Goodbye 70s. It’s the 80s, bitch! Haha. 

I didn’t listen to the lyrics at all, really, but it did seem like they asked me if I could hear them, quite often. I kept thinking yes, I can. I am listening. Are you breaking the fourth wall here? No, probably just being deep in that 80s way of differentiating between listening and hearing… oh so profound. Anyway, it seemed a lot.

I’m sure there are those of you out there who know way more about this record than I do, and I’ll happily accept all of your insights in the Comments section, below. Educate me! 

In Sum: 

Not really my bag of synthesizers, but I can respect that this record surely must be considered one of the best examples of its kind. Definitely the vocals were the highlights, for me.

Slayer – Haunting The Chapel

This is the last item from my super-fast run-through of Sonic Boom with Brother Craig, the day after the Slayer concert. Fittingly, it’s…

Pronto Toronto Series Pt. 8: Slayer – Haunting The Chapel

I start this with a confession: did you know that I own every Slayer studio album except Show No Mercy and Hell Awaits? True story! I really need to rectify this oversiiiiight…

Fortunately, I found this EP, which falls in between those two albums (as does the live album, Live Undead). A cool story I read is that Dave Lombardo met Death (and tons of other bands) drummer Gene Hoglan at this time, and it was because of Hoglan that Lombardo added a double bass to his kit. The rest is metal drumming history.  

Folks seem to think this EP was a transitional release, moving Slayer from their earlier rock-based song structures to their soon-to-be signature thrash metal sound. As I do not own the album before this, I’ll leave that to the experts to argue and just talk about what I heard here. 

Chemical Warfare is still a tour staple to this day, we all know it well, and we’re all the better for hearing it every single time it spins. Never tire of it! What a great track! Captor Of Sin blasts out of the gates at full tilt, as Slayer must, and it’s another fantastic ripper of a tune. It relentlessly drives you into the ground, what a wall of noise… Haunting The Chapel, which was apparently inspired by Venom, and carries anti-Christian lyrics, is pure Slayer as we know them now, too. Head-on and full-speed, go go GO! Honestly, either of these songs could be in their setlists on their current tour and absolutely destroy next to the hits (including Chemical Warfare). Wow!   

BONUS! This edition I have here also contains a bonus track, Aggressive Perfector, which previously had only been available on a compilation called Metal Massacre Vol.3, and on some vinyl and cassette copies of Show No Mercy. This one takes a while to get going, but when it does, it’s Slayer’s metal thrash filtered through a great punk sound and energy (well, ok, except for the guitar solo sections – punks wouldn’t necessarily have those in there…). That Araya scream at the end, holy hell! Hardcore, hell yeah!

In Sum:

A superb, short blast of Slayer mayhem and madness. I loved it. I will say that the production is lacking compared to later stuff, but that’s to be expected, and it isn’t even a criticism. In fact, I’d say it adds that touch of a DIY old school feel to the affair, which has its own charm (for me, anyway). 

\m/  SLAYER!!!  \m/

 

Thanks so much for Reading this Pronto Toronto series. I only found a few gems to bring home, but I was pretty chuffed with everything I got. In fact, I have to say, given how little time there was to go through the bins in Sonic Boom that day, I think I did pretty damn well! 

So. I suppose, after this post, it’ll be back to regular ol’ postings! How weird will that be, just some random album from the collection I’ve heard lately, instead of recounting what I got in the big shitty… I mean, I’ve been immersed in series for so long… there were the 42 items from the I Wanna Taranna series, and now these from Pronto Toronto… and now it’s just normal ol’ crap posts? Cool! Though, I will advise, the On Spec will be returning, picking up where it left off. I have a pile of stuff here to get through, er, on spec… but I’ll just make a wee note of them as I go along, not make a fancy-pants series out of it or anything…

Anyway, here’s the list of my Pronto Toronto finds!

$2.99 DEALZ

1. Volbeat – Live From Beyond Hell/Above Heaven
2. Morcheeba – Who Can You Trust?
3. Cuff The Duke – Life Stories For Minimum Wage

PAID MORE BUT WHO CAREZ

4. Cynic – Re-Traced
5. Cynic – Carbon-Based Anatomy
6. Fugazi – Instrument
7. Jurassic 5 – J5 Deluxe Re-issue (2cd/1dvd)
8. Slayer – Haunting The Chapel

\m/  \m/

SLCR #313 – “Weird Al” Yankovic – June 1, 2018

The thing about a Weird Al show is that the format is always the same. Lots of costume changes. Lots of video clips between songs to accommodate the costume changes. A bunch of songs off the newest album and lots of his classics – hey, he paid for that fat suit, may as well get as much use out of it as he can. And it ends with Yoda. There’s a chant in Yoda. It gets longer with every tour.

Understand, I’m not complaining. Just making an observation. There were eleven years between my first and second Al concerts, and even with that gap, that second show felt pretty familiar. You get some new songs, costumes, sets, and videos every time out, but still.

If this was a little samey for me, one wonders what it would be like for Al and his band. The theatrics and the choreography, while fun, mean that his show is heavily scripted and there isn’t room for improvisation or mixing things up. There’s no opportunity to say “screw it, let’s play Running With Scissors front-to-back tonight.” It’s pretty much set in stone.

A while back, I read an interview where Al talked of doing a different kind of tour, one geared toward hardcore fans. Smaller venues, no costumes or videos, and – the biggest change – he’d forego his famous parodies in favour of playing his lesser-known original songs. A different setlist every night, even. This was extremely my thing. I didn’t think it would actually happen, but sure enough, last fall, Al announced the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour. While I was definitely prepared to travel for this, instead, he was coming here. What a groovy guy! Now I just had to wait the eight months for the tour to get here.

Having experienced the VIP… uh… experience the last time out, Mika and I got normal seats this time like god damned commoners. We went to the show with Jason (from my work) and his wife Melissa – you may remember them from at least one previous concert (Corb Lund) that we went to (translation: I totally invited myself along to their night out). Lots of parenthetical asides in this paragraph but they’re all very important to give you the full story.

Before the show, Jason said he was hoping for Trigger Happy and The Night Santa Went Crazy (the extra-gory version) (obviously). My picks were The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota, Stop Forwarding that Crap to Me, and Skipper Dan. Looking at setlists from other cities, I knew at least some of these were in play. I wasn’t about to get my hopes up, though.

We got to the show and I took a quick look at the stuff table. Nothing too exciting. The usual shirts and stuff. There were some enamel pins that were nice but expensive and I’d never wear them anyway. I also saw something that indicated that all of the concerts from this tour were going to be made available on Stitcher Premium, a for-pay podcast service. Took a peek and didn’t see anything yet. If this does come to pass, I’d give it a shot.

Long ago, Al used to have local comedians opening for him. I only ever saw this once, at my first Al show in 1996. I don’t remember much about the comedian. He worked clean, albeit with a lot of poop jokes. And hockey jokes. And he combined them to make Darren Puppa jokes. Again, it was 1996. Shortly thereafter – and probably having nothing to do with the guy who opened at my show – Al quit having opening acts. He found it hard to vet the comedians, so sometimes the opener would wind up using material that was inappropriate for the audience. Plus, as Al’s show became more elaborate, it also became longer, making an opener feel less necessary. But for this tour, he was bringing an opener with him – Emo Philips. Philips is best known to Al fans as the shop teacher who accidentally saws his fingers off in the movie UHF. Or at least best known to me for that – I hadn’t heard any of his actual stand-up before this. Turns out his delivery is actually quite similar to that of his UHF character, soft-spoken and stilted. I can see some people not being into that, though I thought he was pretty funny. He worked clean and mostly told one-liners – “I like to play chess with old men in the park, but where do you ever find 32 of them?” – with a few physical bits thrown in too. The crowd seemed to really like him, though there was one pun that didn’t get nearly enough love and one aside I loved that went completely unrecognized. So it goes.

Following a brief break, Al’s band entered and played the instrumental tune Fun Zone before Al entered and launched right into Close but no Cigar (with Al playing what I can only call the rattly percussion thing). We wound up with a 19-song set spanning Al’s entire career. There were classics (You Don’t Love Me Anymore), songs I’d entirely forgotten (I Remember Larry), and songs that would maybe be best forgotten (Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung). Buy Me A Condo stood out as particularly dated, both because I’m pretty sure a white guy trying to sound Jamaican wouldn’t fly today and, more so, it suggests that “wall-to-wall carpeting” is a status symbol instead of something to rip out.

There were also some of Al’s soundalike style parodies, like the Dylanesque all-palindrome song Bob and the I-didn’t-realize-it-was-supposed-to-sound-like-the-B-52s-but-in-my-defence-I-was-very-young-when-I-first-heard-it Mr. Popeil. And, what with it being June and all, they played Al’s entire catalogue of Christmas songs – both of them. And yes, it was the extra-gory version of The Night Santa Went Crazy, so I’ve now heard a theatre full of nerds cheer at the announcement that Santa Claus has been caught and compromised to a permanent end.

During the more energetic songs, there was one guy who’d jump out of his seat, run up to the front at the far edge of the stage, and, indeed, dance like no one was watching. I don’t know how one cultivates the attitude of “yes, I will be the only person at this whole concert dancing wildly to Party at the Leper Colony.” Maybe you have to be born with it? I don’t know. But I feel like maybe it’s something to aspire to. Not that particular song – even Al said he wasn’t proud of it – but the general idea. I think that dude probably had more fun at this show than the rest of us. And he was even considerate enough to not block anyone’s view.

For the encore, Al asked for requests and everyone went nuts. He finally decided that he’d choose one person and play whatever they wanted – so of course, he picked his guitarist, who wanted to hear some Black Crowes, so that’s what they played. Every night on this tour, they’ve been playing a different cover song. Not a parody – just a straight cover. Ours was Hard to Handle. Looking at some others they’ve played recently (including Rebel Rebel, Magic Carpet Ride, Summer Nights, All Right Now, Aqualung, Foxey Lady, and Good Lovin’), I’m very pleased with the one we got – it would have been my pick out of all of those. I suspect Al had a cheat sheet for the lyrics – he seemed to spend a lot of time looking at something that wasn’t the crowd – but maybe I was just seeing things that weren’t there. Either way, it didn’t hurt things any if he did.

People who really wanted the parodies weren’t entirely out of luck. For the last song before the encore, the band started into the unplugged version of Layla, but Al sang Eat It instead. This kicked off a medley of some of his most famous parodies, all with new incongruous arrangements. And after Hard to Handle, they finished with his American Pie parody, The Saga Begins. Always gotta end with Star Wars – though as different as this whole show was, not ending with Yoda and the chant still stuck out.

Here’s the whole setlist, taken from setlist.fm in a rare case where I don’t have to complain about how wrong it is:

Fun Zone
Close But No Cigar
Bob
Buy Me a Condo
Christmas at Ground Zero
Good Enough for Now
I Remember Larry
If That Isn’t Love
Airline Amy
You Don’t Love Me Anymore
I Was Only Kidding
The Night Santa Went Crazy (extra-gory version)
Party at the Leper Colony
Mr. Popeil
Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung
Jackson Park Express
medley: Eat It / I Lost on Jeopardy / Amish Paradise / Smells Like Nirvana / White & Nerdy / I Love Rocky Road / Like a Surgeon
–encore–
Hard to Handle (Black Crowes cover)
The Saga Begins

As we left, Mika asked if I got to hear all the songs I wanted. Honestly, I didn’t – I went 0-for-3 with my wishlist. So I definitely would have changed the songs up if given the chance, but I still was glad with what we got and happy just to see a show on this tour at all. I got a new appreciation for some songs I’d overlooked or forgotten, and do I even need to mention that Al and his band were great? (I pretend that these are “reviews,” so I guess, yeah.) They’re all super talented and complete professionals, switching seemingly effortlessly between musical genres from song to song. I suppose you don’t have a celebrated 40-year career without working hard and being good at your job. Good thing I’m fine with an uncelebrated one.

UPCOMING CONCERTS:
• BA Johnston w/Johnny 2 Fingers & The Deformities (June 15)
• The Flaming Lips w/Wand (June 22)
• Gateway Festival feat. Kathleen Edwards, Steven Page, John K. Samson, Elliott BROOD, more (July 28)
• Arkells (August 2)
• Regina Folk Festival feat. Neko Case, Tanya Tagaq, more (August 11)
• Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls (September 12)
• The Fred Eaglesmith Show Starring Tif Ginn (September 23)
• Cadence Weapon w/Fat Tony and Hua Li (October 2)
• Crash Test Dummies (October 11)
• They Might Be Giants (October 20)
• Hawksley Workman & the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (April 13)

Jurassic 5 – J5 Deluxe Re-issue (2cd/1dvd)

Pronto Toronto Series Pt.7: Jurassic 5 – J5 Deluxe Re-Issue (2cd/1dvd)

Y’all know I love Jurassic 5. And this deluxe re-issue of J5 was a no-brainer for me. Look at all the glory (from the back cover):

“This deluxe re-issue features Jurassic 5’s breakthrough album, a bonus CD with 15 tracks of hard to find and unreleased material plus the first ever Jurassic 5 DVD. The DVD features “The Jurassic Period” documentary capturing this seminal group at the beginning of an era in an experimental, music driven time piece. Also included on the DVD is a 25 minute performance by Jurassic 5 at the Brixton Academy as well as the “Concrete Schoolyard” video.”

Here are the tracklists and then a few wee comments from me on each…

CD1: In The Flesh / Quality Control Pt. II / Jayou / Lesson 6: The Lecture / Concrete Schoolyard / Setup / Action Satisfaction / Sausage Gut / Improvise / Blacktop Beat / Without A Doubt / Lesson 6 (Reprise) / Action Satisfaction (Dub)

An unquestionable classic. It has the great beats and music, and the vocals are stellar to match, and here’s it’s all remastered. You get Concrete Schoolyard, Improvise, a ton of others. Man, just… you need this album.

CD2: Ignition Sequence / Ducky Boy / Verbal Gunfight / Rubber Tires / Long Road To Glory (recorded on JLSC tour bus during the Vans Warped Tour) / Ghetto Diplomat / Lesson Four: The Radio / Jayou Remix / The Rhythm / (Who’s Gonna Be The) Next Victim / The Joint Freestyle (recorded in 1994 for “The Joint” hosted by King Emz and Mike Nardone) / The Joint Promo / Wake Up Show Promo / Power 106 Promo / Unified Rebelution

This is worth the price of admission, right here. Lots of cool stuff in the unreleased tracks, and there’s even a remix of Jayou. I was pretty tempted to skip through the radio spot recordings, but whatever. They’re short, and I am glad, in a way, that they’re here – for completeness. That’s how you do it, folks. Put it all on there! The unreleased stuff here is all worth it, all of it!

DVD: “The Jurassic Period” Movie / The Brixton Academy Concert / “Concrete Schoolyard” Music Video

The DVD could have had more music videos than just the one, but you do get the Brixton Academy show, and a short ‘documentary’ which is cool but is really just cam footage. Still a worthwhile addition to the set.

In Sum:

Yes. In fact, hell yes! That’s what I would say if you ever asked me if you should grab this up. You simply cannot go wrong with Jurassic 5, and this set gives you a ton of goodies. A great deluxe edition done up right!

Fugazi – Instrument

Pronto Toronto Series Pt.6: Fugazi – Instrument

I do love me some Fugazi. Check it:

“It is a mainly instrumental soundtrack for the documentary (Instrument) about the band produced by the band and filmmaker Jem Cohen. The soundtrack mostly consists of previously unreleased songs and studio outtakes culled from Fugazi’s history to that point, as well as seven demo versions of songs from their proper albums (six from 1998’s End Hits and one from 1993’s In on the Kill Taker). Of particular note is the song “I’m So Tired”, a piano ballad played and sung by Ian MacKaye, which is a significant departure from Fugazi’s usual post-hardcore sound.

“Shaken All Over” features the bassline of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates’ “Shakin’ All Over”, as well as MacKaye briefly singing the chorus line with heavy dub echo. The riff from “Lusty Scripps” was played in Fugazi’s final live show, in the break between the main set and the encore.” (Wiki)

With that out of the way, just know going into this that it’s not your typical listening experience. It sounds like Fugazi by way of some ’90s Matador Records band’s 4-track experimentations. Some of it is wacky, wonky instrumental oddity, or weirded out vocals over weirder music…  but to be honest, that sort of thing is right up my street anyway. You’d be forgiven for thinking the band was just messing around with this stuff, maybe even wonder why some of it was recorded at all, but I think it was serious and, while I haven’t ever seen the film for which this is the soundtrack, I can totally see this stuff working perfectly as background music to whatever went on in the film. 

Not recommended as a way to get yourself introduced to the music of Fugazi, but if you’re a fan and looking for some fun new stuff you maybe haven’t heard, this soundtrack is just odd enough to be a total diamond in the rough.

All Apologies

Taking a break from the Pronto Toronto series this Sunday morning to offer apologies all around for being such a terrible Reader. You guys keep coming here and Reading our posts and we thank you so much for it. Was a time I would read every post, comment, Like, the works. Then things started to drift into other uses for my time, until now you must be wondering what the hell gives! He’s the one that’s always shouting Community! Why isn’t he even Reading? Well, somehow, life has stepped in and made sure that by the time I get to the computer it’s all I can do to slap up drivel of my own before I forget about that album I’d been listening to in the car, and then I’m heading to something else, or sleep. But I mean to get caught up, I really do!

Funny, the more I resolve to get caught up, the less time I seem to have these days. Summer has brought us a myriad of activities for the kids. For example, between practice, regular game and a tournament, my boy played soccer 5 times this week. I’ve even been asked to step in as interim coach for his soccer (football) (fitba) team as his coach’s 2-year-old grandson is in Toronto fighting cancer in his brain. Imagine putting a two-year-old through chemo. Fuck cancer. My girl has a few irons in the fire too (dance, horseback riding), plus there’s kung fu and the fit kids times at the Y, and they both swim… yeah. We just follow their interests and let them do things (swim was non-negotiable. They have to know how to swim), but it does start to add up after a while! Plus all the usual things like maintaining an entire household against young child hurricanes, work, etc. Plus building projects – shelves and furniture for our boy’s room, and more shelving in the Man Cave… Honestly, by the time I get time to myself at the end of a day it’s time to go lie down to rest up for the next day. I ignore that and post up crap here, but that’s about it. Sometimes I sit and watch silly videos on Youtube and think ‘I should be Reading blogs!’ but honestly the brain capacity ain’t there by then. It’d be a disservice to us all!

So. I will get to you all. I know it. I cannot schedule it, though, it’ll just happen. I may go one site at a time, read every missed post, so if you see a deluge of Likes and comments from me, that’s what’s happened. Or I could just go through the Reader and hit each one in the order given until I’m caught up. I dunno.

Just so you know I still care and I haven’t forgotten any of you. I want to Read your blogs, it’s a highlight of each day.

Thanks, A

 

For now, here’s a couple of funny pics I thought might tide us all over…

 

This one’s not music-related but I laughed.

 

Cynic – Carbon-Based Anatomy

Pronto Toronto Series Pt.5: Cynic – Carbon-Based Anatomy  

Still in a Cynic zone! Let’s zap forward to 2011 and this 6-song EP. I’m not lazy but, let’s be honest, this has already been typed up:

Carbon-Based Anatomy EP is composed of six previously unheard tracks. However, the song “Carbon-Based Anatomy” is a reinterpretation of an older unreleased Æon Spoke single, “Homosapien”. This was also done on Cynic’s last LP, Traced In Air, as the track “Integral Birth” was an interpretation of Æon Spoke’s “When Sunrise Skirts the Moor.” The artwork was done by Robert Venosa, the artist who was responsible for all previous Cynic artworks. Venosa died shortly before the release of Carbon-Based Anatomy.

Three of six tracks are short, ambient-oriented pieces (“Amidst the Coals”, “Bija!”, and “Hieroglyph”), and represent an unprecedented musical direction for Cynic. Since the two previous hired musicians, Tymon Kruidenier and Robin Zielhorst, were let go by Masvidal and Reinert, all guitar parts for this EP were recorded by Paul Masvidal. Bass parts were composed and recorded by Sean Malone, who had recorded on every Cynic release, with the exception of 2010’s Re-Traced.” (Wiki)

The secret for listening to this one, I’ve discovered, is to crank it with the good headphones on. The louder you have it, the more transportative it is. Seriously, this is pretty wild stuff! Amy Correia’s vocals off the start of Amidst The Coals are just awesome. This collection of tracks alternates between gorgeous gentle parts and achieving prog metal lift-off throughout, all with intricate and fascinating melodies and parts. Throw in world music tangents and atmospheric mood pieces, and skittering beats paired with whispering voices, and you can maybe begin to get an idea of all the everything that’s contained within.

I’m no expert, but I’d wager these tracks are somewhat of an extension of Traced In Air and Re-Traced, the band following their muse and ideas down avenues other bands would shun. The more I hear of their music, the more I realize Cynic are fearless, constantly pushing, and technically brilliant musicians. 

This is superb. I loved it!

NOFX – The Idiots Are Taking Over

I try to keep politics out of this blog, we’re here for the music. However, there was an election here in Ontario yesterday. For some reason, after I read the results this morning, I had this song in my head all day…

 

it’s not the right time to be sober
now the idiots have taken over
spreading like a social cancer, is there an answer?

Mensa membership conceding
tell me why and how are all the stupid people breeding
Watson, it’s really elementary
the industrial revolution
has flipped the bitch on evolution
the benevolent and wise are being thwarted, ostracized, what a bummer
the world keeps getting dumber
insensitivity is standard and faith is being fancied over reason

darwin’s rollin over in his coffin
the fittest are surviving much less often
now everything seems to be reversing, and it’s worsening
someone flopped a steamer in the gene pool
now angry mob mentality’s no longer the exception, it’s the rule
and I’m startin to feel a lot like charlton heston
stranded on a primate planet
apes and orangutans that ran it to the ground
with generals and the armies that obeyed them
followers following fables
philosophies that enable them to rule without regard

there’s no point for democracy when ignorance is celebrated
political scientists get the same one vote as some Arkansas inbred
majority rule don’t work in mental institutions
sometimes the smallest softest voice carries the grand biggest solutions

what are we left with?
a nation of god-fearing pregnant nationalists
who feel it’s their duty to populate the homeland
pass on traditions
how to get ahead religions
And prosperity via simpleton culture

the idiots are taking over [x8]

Cynic – Re-Traced

Pronto Toronto Series Pt.4: Cynic – Re-Traced

Yesterday I covered Cynic’s Traced In Air, just to tell you about it before telling you about this EP of re-imagined vision!

Here we have four re-interpretations of Traced In Air (hereafter ‘TiA’) songs: The Space For This becomes Space, Evolutionary Sleeper becomes Evolutionary, King Of Those Who Know becomes King, and Integral Birth becomes Integral. 

Here’s what the band said: “As most of you already know we’re working on an EP. We’re reinterpreting 4 songs from Traced In Air: Space, King, Evolutionary and Integral, and we will record a brand new song. There’s [sic] several reasons we’re doing this. We’re not done yet with TiA, the album has only been out for a little over a year and we feel the songs are still fresh. Besides that we want to try different production techniques and incorporate influences from different genres we all love, but which never had a place in Cynic. So I saw someone asked how ‘surprising’ this EP could be? I would say: very surprising.” (Wiki)

Overall, the songs are lighter, gentler, though still recognizeable from the TiA versions. Gone are the cookie monster growly vocals. Instead, it’s practically Marillion-esque in its swells and waves. It’s very atmospheric, and pretty much solidifies the band in my mind as brilliant technical musicians first, willing to try new things and doing a damn fine job of it. 

There’s also one previously unreleased track tacked onto the end. Wheels Within Wheels was recorded for TiA but not included on that album. It’s more in keeping with the progressive metal sound of TiA, though oddly it fits here too because it isn’t the heaviest thing they ever did, either. This track, for me, proves that Cynic can blur the lines and combine their interests while still being intricate and fascinating.

If this was all you ever heard from them, you’d file it with Marillion and love it. If you came to this from the earlier stuff, well, it depends on the listener. You’d either hate it for being too light and not metal enough, or love it for being adventurous and brilliantly done. Me, I’m most definitely in the latter camp.

Videos! 2018-05-29 Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON

Yup, here are some videos from the Testament/Behemoth/Anthrax/Lamb Of God/Slayer show we saw in Toronto. All are fan-shot, of varying quality. But it’s cool to see some of these and re-live it!

Testament

 

Behemoth

 

Anthrax

 

Lamb Of God

GREAT QUALITY Omerta:

 

Slayer

Jihad and Angel Of Death left out:

RIGHT DOWN FRONT:

War Ensemble SIDE OF STAGE:

Cynic – Traced In Air

Putting the Pronto Toronto series on hold for one day so I can cover this disc, because I bought its follow-up whilst in Taranna with Brother Craig. It didn’t seem right to cover Pt.2 without covering Pt.1…

I loved Cynic’s 2004 album called Focus, when I covered it back in 2014. That one is so huge, so busy, just brilliant. 

Four years after Focus, Cynic dropped this album called Traced In Air. In many ways it’s different from Focus, but it’s still an excellent effort, still a Cynic project. The gorgeous passages are tempered with heavy progressive passages that are so intricately played, and played so well, that you stand in awe of the prowess of these players. At first I could do without the cookie monster vocal sections, but the high, clean vocals marry them perfectly, and often outweigh them, so I can accept them as part of the whole. If the whole album was growled like that, though, I’d wish it was instrumental just so I could hear the brilliant playing!

This album is atmospheric, massive, and so tightly constructed, there are sections where the playing just boggles. The heavy rocking parts are balanced with purely beautiful sections that envelope and embrace you. Based on the two records I’ve heard so far, I’m beginning to understand that this band is one of the best progressive metal/rock bands I’ve ever heard. 

Cuff The Duke – Life Stories For Minimum Wage

Pronto Toronto Series Pt.3: $2.99 Finds Pt.3: Cuff The Duke – Life Stories For Minimum Wage

No way am I gonna pass by this 2002 effort from Cuff The Duke, not after getting their (excellent) Sidelines Of The City on my last foray into Taranna (the I Wanna Taranna series), and definitely not when I was able to get it for $3! As I noted last time, this was the band James and I saw open for Sloan in Saskatoon in 2003… 

I can cover this one quickly: This one is great, top to bottom. It’s got an indie and yet totally professional feel to its country, folk, rock and pop sound. The playing is so tight, the songs are interesting and brilliantly put together. My only complaint about this whole record is that it’s only 10 tracks… I got to the end and wanted it to just keep going and going, I wasn’t finished with it yet! 

I will play this many, many more times.

Morcheeba – Who Can You Trust?

Pronto Toronto Series Pt.2: $2.99 Finds Pt.2: Morcheeba – Who Can You Trust?

I got into the whole trip hop thing when we lived in Montreal many years ago, and Morcheeba was a big part of the sound in my ears. I came to them via their classic second album, Big Calm. This record, their debut, shows the promise that appeared on later efforts. It’s so laid-back, so groovy, so simply beautiful that you cannot help but be pulled into its atmospheres. 

Skye Edwards’ vocals are smooth and pretty, you just want the record to go on forever so you can keep listening to her sing. And all of this is wrapped in the bluesy, world-music, dj-scratching dub grooving of brothers Ross and Paul Godfrey. Brilliant stuff, tastefully done.

You may have heard Tape Loop, maybe Trigger Hippie, but the whole thing is so slowly stylishly glorious and funky that when it’s over, all you want is to play it all again. Score!

Volbeat – Live From Beyond Hell/Above Heaven

Brace yourselves, it’s another new series! I call it Pronto Toronto! Here’s why…

The day following the Slayer show, Brother Craig and I hit up Sonic Boom. Because music! Now, Brother Craig knows what he wants. He walked in, pulled out 4 LPs he wanted and was off to pay within 10 minutes. He waited for me in the coffee shop next door while I dug in the bins. I mean, ten minutes and I ain’t even done the New Arrivals bins! It’s all good, I knew this going in, we didn’t have much time (the highway home awaited us). Probably the fastest dig I’ve ever done in that place!

So, as you can surmise, this wee series covers the treasures I found in the time I had. Folks, I found goodness. Of course.

Gonna start off with my $2.99 finds…

Pronto Toronto Series Pt.1: $2.99 Finds Pt.1: Volbeat – Live From Beyond Hell/Above Heaven

Yes, I got this full live album by the mighty Volbeat for $3. That’s… crazy. I am so sure that someone at Sonic Boom priced this one incorrectly, but it’s too late now suckas, this one’s mine! Hahaha! Now, this also exists as a CD/DVD set, so maybe just the CD edition wasn’t worth pricing high. Who knows. I don’t care! I win! 

Tracks 1-15 were recorded at the Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark on November 19th, 2010. Now, Brother Wilf has seen Volbeat in concert a few times, loves them. He’s even got a picture of his (then 4-year-old) daughter on stage with them. Anyway, he’s the one who got me into them, and I thank him for it. This live set is stellar. 

This is fist-pumping, straight-up, balls-out rock ’n fuckin’ roll, folks. If you know Volbeat at all, you know their sound. It’s a great amalgam of metal, melodic pop-punk (think Green Day), even country… I know. It shouldn’t work, but it does. Every damn song they do is so anthemic and huge, they’re built for stadiums. The crowd sing-alongs were great, and it’s obvious the crowd was totally into the show throughout.

Have a look at the track listing below, especially the wee little additions they threw into a couple of the songs. That must’ve been one helluva great night, because this set fuckin’ rocks!

Track List: Intro – Dance Of The Knights* / The Mirror And The Ripper / Maybelline I Hofteholder / 16 Dollars / Heaven Nor Hell / Who They Are / Evelyn / Sad Man’s Tongue^ / 7 Shots / Pool Of Booze, Booze. Booza/Boa / A Warrior’s Call / The Garden’s Tale / Fallen / Thanks / The Human Instrument^^

* from Sergej Prokofjew’s Romeo Und Julia. Ballet in 4 acts… op.64 performed by Chicago Symphony Orchestra (cond. Solti)
^ contains excerpts from ‘Holy Diver,’ originally performed by Dio
^^ contains excerpts from ‘Reign In Blood,’ originally performed by Slayer

And if that wasn’t enough… 

Tracks 16-18 were recorded at the House Of Blues in Anaheim, California, USA on April 9th, 2010.

Yup, three more tracks from a different night earlier in the tour, two covers and one including a member from Anthrax on rhythm guitar. Does it get any better?

Track List: Angelfuck~ / Still Counting / I Only Wanna Be With You~~%

~ originally performed by The Misfits
~~ originally performed by Dusty Springfield
% rhythm guitar by Scott Ian (Anthrax)

In Sum: 

\m/ VOLBEAT! \m/  For cheap! Wahoo!

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