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Pollard, Pier, Paul, Oasis, Flatt, Mark, Hotness, iPod, Tributes, Cross and K’NAAN

So yah, it’s been a while. Good to see you.

Robert Pollard – Elephant Jokes

You’d think we’d get tired of this guy’s constant output. After all, how much can one person create and not have it all sound the same? If you said ‘not much,’ then you’ve never really listened to Robert Pollard. This is intelligent jangly weirdo power pop that always hits the sweet spot. It’s varied and creative and fun. This is reason to celebrate! I hope he makes a million more. He probably will.

Ford Pier – Adventurism

Perfect freak-out session of musical insouciance from Mr. Pier. Subtitled “Torture Is The New Anal,” this record offers up so much time signature-twisting awesomeness that first listen doesn’t come close to giving it all to you. Even the cover is upside down (or is it just my copy?). Along for the ride this time are Jason Tait, Michael Philip Wojewoda and Ryan Granville-Martin. And I’d really like to know why Martin Tielli is the man to see about schedules… Well, whatever. Folks, this record is another slice of unabashed, unapologetic brilliance. A snapshot of a rare talent, indeed. Loved it.

Les Paul

R.I.P. Les Paul.

Oasis

Yeah well, down the hatch. Good riddance.

Busted Flatt

First heard Rascal Flatt’s atrocious cover of Tom Cochrane’s ‘Life Is A Highway’ on country radio on my neighbour’s crappy stereo in his garage. I couldn’t believe my ears. So, of course, I went home and looked it up on YouTube. I was blown away by the absolute horror of this version. The life has been sucked right out of it. The vocals are slow, and the twangy good-ol’-boy schtick does not work at all. The backing track is perfunctory New Country to the point of making it faceless and unrecognizable from any of a million other songs on CMT. Holy shit, that was BAD. Bad bad bad bad bad!

Trivia! Carolyn Mark ‘Slithers’

Bet you didn’t know that Carolyn Mark and The New Best Friends are on the soundtrack for the movie Slither. Yep, there they are, doing ‘2 Days Smug And Sober’ from the brilliant Pros And Cons Of Collaboration record. Neat!

Still gotta try making a Bourbon Decay one of these days…

The New Hotness

Part of what’s been keeping me busy around here arrived the other day, in the form of a 40″ television and a surround sound system to go with it. The TV’s alright (as far as TVs go, I’m no expert), but the promise of a big sub with surround speakers sets my skin to tingling. Haven’t got it hooked up yet, but just imagining Metallica cranked in there makes me really happy indeed. Oh baby.

Apple and iPod

So I announced a month ago that I’d awesomely got an iPod for my birthday. To this day, I still don’t have any music on it! I know! The issue seems to be that iTunes only wants me to pull things from my laptop’s hd, when all of my music is stored on my wireless external hd. So it means another step to move it all back to the lappy’s hd and, frankly, there’s not much room there, so it’d require several moves/deletions to get it all on the iPod… and even then that’s only if I can figure out a way to be allowed to add things in chunks. Also, iTunes keeps wanting me to make libraries and playlists and all this other proprietary horseshit I care nothing about – man, I just want to drag folders onto the iPod and be done with it.

James has been a big help, but not having a Mac he’s a bit out of depth in getting workarounds on that OS figured out. I’m thisclose to calling Mac themselves and having them hold my hand through the process. I’m also considering downloading some external freeware that seems to promise it’ll let me do what I want. As it stands right now, iTunes is nothing but a humungous pain in the ass.

Tributes To The Vines and Godsmack

I got these at the dollar store, so you know they’re high quality. And not really remembering any of the actual songs by either band will surely hinder these reviews completely. Released on Tributized Records (haha, that’s classy), both records are fine, I suppose. Glowing, right? Right!

The Vines Tribute has eight cover tunes by bands you’ll surely never hear again and, while they’re passable, well, whatever. The disc improves when you get to Iggy Pop (live), Flamin’ Groovies and Johnny Thunders tracks as the ‘roots of the Vines,’ and then the dude from Cinderella’s new band’s bonus original track. Yes, they went all out on this collection. At least it was only a buck.

As for the Godsmack disc, the Pagan Rock Allstars (oh baby) give us the “essence of Godsmack,” which amounts to an exercise in nu-metal imitation. A couple of other bands whose names you’ll never utter chip in too before we get the ‘roots of Godsmack,’ one track of which kinda rules. It’s a cover of Metallica’s ‘Battery’ by Eric A.K. (of Flotsam and Jetsam, which was Jason Newstead’s band before joining Metallica), Robert Trujillo (haha he plays with them now), Dave Lombardo (SLAYER!!!) and Mike Clark (the producer?). Truly shows you how much that track needs Hetfield’s vocals but the song is so awesome that your Grandma could rock it. Now there’s an image. Anyway, There’s also Venom and Paul Di’Anno and yet another track from the Cinderella dude’s new band yada yada yada. Once through this thing was enough.

Hilarious, and not bad for two bucks. Will I play them again? Probably not.

Black Cross – Art Offensive

I also got this one at the dollar store, and actually it’s pretty awesome. It’s like old school punk, only better produced. Lots of aggression, searing guitars and a driving bottom end. Of course, like all good hardcore-sounding albums – by the end you’re sure you’ve heard the same song 12 times in a row but who the hell cares? At high enough volume, even a couple of these tracks in a row can get your blood pumping and make you indignant as hell without knowing why. Fun.

K’NAAN – Troubadour

I bought this ‘cos it was cheap, and I’d heard good things about it somewhere once, I think. Also, somehow I connected K-OS and K’NAAN in my brain. Maybe it was all the upper case letters. And if ever there was a good reason to buy a record, upper case letters is definitely it. Well, it has a duet with Kirk Hammett on it so I’d want to hear that, at any rate. And Mos Def and Damien Marley too, so why not?

And the disc? The music has great moments, with lots of world and soul influences and cool beats. The vocals, however, leave a lot to be desired. He’s got flow at times but, seriously, he only every raps on one note. Fine, but after two or three tracks it’s incredibly boring. Add to that an Eminem-sounding nasal sarcasm tone in places and it’s, well, derivative. When he hits the more melodic tracks and sings, it’s soft-pedalled and lovey-dovey. Not nearly as vocally interesting as K-OS. Should I even be comparing these two? Um, I dunno. This record has a whole lotta songs that’d make great mix-tape tracks. Don’t think I could listen to the whole thing all the way through again, though. Chacun son gout.

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Ford Pier – Pier-ic Victory

This CD marks 2007 Birfday Awesomeness item #3.

Thanks, James!

Ford Pier is a hard man to pin down. His sound is all over the map, and never in a bad way. I appreciate that very much. So many bands put out record after record that sound just like everything else that they’ve done before. I know that sounds like a generalization, but admit it, you know that formula all too well. When it happens, it sucks.

We are fortunate that Ford Pier makes the record he wants to make when he wants to make it, all while apparently not giving a toss whether or not it’ll ship crates to Bora Bora. For this alone, I commend the man and say Thank You.

This is not a record you can just play as background noise. Oh no, this one forces you to pay attention. With all its twists and turns from acoustic subtlety to country to punk workout (and everything in between), you’re never sure which way it’s gonna go next. He’s also got so much to say that you’ve just got to give every note and word your full attention.

There’s a real intelligence at work here. Sure, it’s a little weird, but you’ll be all the better for an extended session with this disc. You’ll be lifted above the pap of rock/pop radio and it’ll be shown to you as the shite it is, all while these far superior songs sink into your consciousness and raise the stakes for all concerned.

This is the stuff of life, as told during an awesome, extended freak-out. History, psychology, the fundamentals of interpersonal communication and living in the global village as we do. This record questions your beliefs, it makes you think about and question yourself, it shakes up your rigidity and boredom. It shares everything, beautiful and ugly, with a wide-eyed clarity that is totally refreshing. The Big Questions unabashedly get asked, and it’s great fun, too. Yes!

I was so happy to buy this record so I can send my love and support to Mr. Pier. I hope my meager contributions (I buy everything of his I can find) give him the dose of monies he needs to make another brilliant record soon. I hope he keeps making music in whatever direction pleases him, forever and ever amen.

I know I’ll be out here listening. Right on.
 

Track Listing:
01 Legionnaire’s Song
02 Scarlet Thread
03 Charmed, I’m Sure
04 Diaphanous Hairshirt
05 Caesar’s Wife
06 Estrus
07 I Don’t Know Nothin’ About Nothing
08 Horrible
09 Why On Earth
10 The Unseen World
11 The Song In My Heart
12 Confession Is Good For A Laugh
13 All Fall Together

Ford Pier – Organ Farming

This disc is the golden needle I found in the haystack that is Toronto on our trip there yesterday. When I saw it sitting there on the rack, my pulse quickened and my hand zoomed out to grab it of its own accord, seemingly one instant before my brain could send the command to do so. It was gut reflex.

Ford Pier kicks ass. Organ Farming is a short, sharp shock of rawk, one of the coolest EPs I’ve heard in a long time. The music is quirky, energetic and beautiful. The lyrics range from recipes to weirdness to no-holds-barred passages of telling us exactly what he thinks. Better yet, never is there a syllable out of place, a note that doesn’t fit.

In other words, it’s a Ford Pier release.

And the best news out of all this? Inside the little booklet in the packaging, it says this:

PART ONE OF TWO; FURTHER ADVENTURES IN THE FALL OF 2007

Wahooo! I am so ready for more of this type of awesomeness! Thank you, Ford, for making these wonderful songs. I am already beside myself waiting for the next installment.
 

Track Listing:
01 Angels On Horseback
02 Employed
03 You Don’t Want To Know What I’m Into
04 Maybe It Came At The Wrong Time
05 Farmer Prince
06 You Need A Place

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