Well I Wonder ...

All men have secrets and here is mine so let it be known...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Back in the day....

The day that U2's Zoopropa album came out is kind of a landmark for me. Not because it was such an amazing album - which even most fans agree it wasn't. Not because some amazing cultural or personal or even musical thing happened on that day - which it didn't as far as I can remember. The only reason I find that day as a landmark is because I taped a cassette that day - well two cassettes. These cassettes I taped off the radio and entitled them Zooropa - Interference. To me they serve as a roadsign of what the lush musical terrain was like back then and leave me shaking my head as to where the music industry stopped signing talented artists and began feeding us carbon copy heavy crap.

I woke up that morning and heard the radio announcers on the CFNY morning show (likely Humble and Fred) saying that the station would be playing one track from the new U2 album every hour that day. Being young and irresponsible I thought it would be cool to skip work and just tape stuff all day - not just the new U2 material but everything I liked in between too. I'm not sure all of the titles are right because it was a long time ago and I was just learning about a lot of these bands but here's most of the playlist that I taped that day:

Tape I

side A

Payolas - Eyes of A Stranger
U2 - Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car
Waterboys - Return of Pan
the Violent Femmes - Gone Daddy Gone
Bare Naked Ladies - McDonalds Girl (extremely rare song not found on any album)
Sun 60 - Mary X-Mas
Morrissey - We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful
Peter Gabriel - Secret Life
Tears For Fears - Break It Down Again
Big Audio Dynamite II - the Globe
U2 - Zooropa

side B

Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way
U2 - Baby Face
All Good Children - Ammunition
U2 - Dirty Day
the Cult - the Witch
National Velvet - 68 Hours
Siouxsie and the Banshees - Monitor
U2 feat. Johnny Cash - the Wanderer
Japan - Adolescent Sex
Bauhaus - Kick In The Eye
The Assembly - Never Never
The Motors - Airport

Tape II

Side A

Billy Bragg - Great Leap Forward
Adorable - Sunshine Smile (first time I'd ever heard them)
Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Relax, You Will Think You Are A Chicken
U2 - Stay( Faraway So Close)
Slowdive - Allison (first time I'd heard them too)
New Order - Ruined in a Day
U2 - The First Time
Radiohead - You
Radiohead - Prove Yourself ( come to think of it - it's quite possible Radiohead's first album was released on this date as well cuz I'm pretty sure this was a mini sampler of the album)
Sunscream - Love U More
Bjork - Human Behavior
U2 - Some Days Are Better Than Others
the Wild Strawberries - The Way It Goes

side B

Gary Numan - Cars
Grapes of Wrath - What Was Going Thru My Head
the Waltons - Sunshine?
13 Engines - More
New Fast Automatic Daffodils - It's Not What You Know
U2 - Lemon
Rheostatics - Soul Glue
Cranberries - Dreams (I swear it's still the only Cranberries song worth listening to)
Alice In Chains - Cradlesnatch
and a bunch of really cool unknown shoegaze stuff tagged on the end

So what's the big deal? It was all on the radio on the same day.
I guarantee with the state that the radio and music industry has been in that you could never assemble so many good bands or tunes in one day on the radio. It would probably take at least a week of constant listening to amount to anything near that quality of tunes not to mention the diversity of styles. Even the whole retro and post punk sound that's out now doesn't provide the diversity of sound we once had. The musical terrain is loads better now than it was a few years back I'll give it that much but it will be a long while before it becomes as rich and vibrant as it was then....

Friday, March 17, 2006

Is She Weird?

Hello hello,
just to let you know...
I'm still alive -
Still alive inside
but nothing is really clear...
is it ever?

Not trying to be clever its just the strange state I'm in
To find just the right words to say
To all of you after so long a leave of absence.

The world has spun a few times around,
And it's quite a bit colder,
I'm truly feeling older,
and like the songsmith from the Trashcan once said-
Not wise just worried...

Picking up pieces is hard to do
Whether its love, livelihood, or life in general
Here's to hoping the parts all fit -
And when it's over,
Making sense of it is easier
Than wondering where it all went wrong
And the shattered dreams of yesterday
Yeild to the challenges of today
and the triumphs of tomorrow...

Feck that's cheesy but I mean every word...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The High Dials win over Brantford

Listening to: Our Time Is Coming Soon - The High Dials

On this Friday past, I had the privalege to go to The Ford Plant's presentation of the Stills with openers The High Dials. Seeing as I'm not totally familiar with where all the streets are in Brantford I finally found the place after about twenty minutes of aimless driving thinking the show would have already started. What is this Ford Plant you might ask? (www.thefordplant.ca) Well on the corner of King and Coulbourn is this former store front that now serves as a stage interestingly making the featured bands also viewable from the outside. The whole place is about as big as a fair sized livingroom making for one of the most intimate venues I've been to yet. With capacity set at or around one hundred bodies even the bands were astonished at its cozy confines.

The show got off to a late start seeing as the Dials were heading to Manchester to play in a music festival the next day and still hadn't made flight arrangements. After a few brief apologies they set to work and kicked off thier show with a couple of decent tunes from thier 60s inspired first album A New Devotion. Mind you, it was thier soaring vocal harmonies led by a haggled looking Trevor Anderson and lush guitarlines compliments of Robbie MacArthur that we're soon winning the crowd over once thier brilliant new material came out though.

War of The Wakening Phantoms is easily one of my favourite albums this year; musically rich and undeniably well written, it features a diverse range of influences - and live, it did not disappoint. As the night went on they got stronger and stronger - they knocked off excellent versions of The Holy Ground, and Sick of the Old Fire before wowing the crowd with an energetic rendition of Our Time Is Coming Soon - nailing the mesmerizing buildup and furious climax found on the album version. To top that off bassist Rishi Dhir relinquished his duties to MacArthur only to play the most inspired Sitar accompaniment I've ever seen; taking the crowd on a wild ride of a version of the instrumental Things Are Getting Better from thier first album, clocking in at almost ten minutes. With echoes of more hook filled bands bands such as the Stone Roses, Ride and the Boo Radleys not to mention the bits and pieces of the whole 60's generation found throughout thier set, the finale was definitely the funnest, and most groove laden piece played by either band, inciting the crowd into clapping, stomping and bobbing along throughout the whole thing.

The band seemingly satisfied with thier effort afterward signed cds and openly engaged in conversation with freshly minted fans. A reasonable ending to thier tour of Ontario before heading across the pond for ten days, and, upon thier return, recording the first video for the new album likely to be The Holy Ground. The possibility exists that they may return again later this year in another short tour upon the video's completion. It would be well worth it to see them again should this come to fruition. Untill then, here's to hoping that people everywhere get turned on to the Dials infectious sound of melody driven music.

Top 31 condensed version plus deleted scenes....

Listening to: Memorize the City - The Organ

So.... I figured to make this a true fave list I would post it in simplified, unadulterated form and add just a few (hehe) of the honourable mentions at the end.

1. How Soon Is Now - The Smiths
2. Slide Away - The Verve
3. Over the Wall - Echo and the Bunnymen
4. Me and Guiliani Down By the Schoolyard - !!!
5. Svefn G Englar - Sigur Ros
6. Just Like Honey - the Jesus and Mary Chain
7. Best Man's Fall - the Trashcan Sinatras
8. Something I can Never Have - Nine Inch Nails
9. Second Skin - the Chameleons
10. A Day In The Life - The Beatles
11. Standing Here - The Stone Roses
12. Orpheus - David Sylvian
13. Little L - Jamiroquai
14. A Fast Driving Rave-Up With the Dandy Warhols Sixteen Minutes - The Dandy Warhols
15. Voodoo Ray - A Guy Called Gerald
16. There She Goes - The La's
17. William It Was Really Nothing - The Smiths
18. Fragrant - Paul Oakley
19. The Promise - When In Rome
20. Pounding - The Doves
21. Higher than the Sun - Primal Scream
22. Toast - Streetband
23. Stop - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
24. Sunshine Smile - Adorable
25. Sensoria - Cabaret Voltaire
26. All My Friends Who Play Guitar - Starflyer 59
27. Teeth - The Prosaics
28. Walkman On - SSQ
29. Summer - Mogwai
30. Let It Flow - Spiritualized
31. A Forest / Forever (live) - The Cure

and the honourable mentions go to....

Joy Division - She's Lost Control, Hooverphonic - 2 Wickey, Slowdive - Alison or Blue Skied and Clear, Love and Rockets - Motorcycle and Yin Yang and the Flowerpot Man, Doves - There Goes the Fear, New Order - Vanishing Point, Paul Oakley - Be Lifted Up, Sianspheric - Nothing Stands, Depeche Mode - Clean or Halo, Dandy Warhols - Every Day Should Be a Holiday, Pulp - Pink Glove, Stone Roses - This Is The One, the Zombies - Time of the Season, Duran Duran - Freinds of Mine or Waiting for the Night Boat, Suede - To The Birds, Manic Street Preachers - La Tristesse Durera, Belle and Sebastien - Dirty Dream #2 and Seymour Stein, Massive Attack - Inertia Creeps, Antonio Carlos Jobim - Girl From Ipanema, Orbital - Halcyon, KLF - What Time Is Love?, Killing Joke - Love Like Blood, Japan - Adolescent Sex and Quiet Life, the Timelords - Doctorin The Tardis, Interpol - Say Hello To The Angels and Not Even Jail, Magazine - The Light Pours Out Of Me, Gang Of 4 - To Hell With Poverty, Flesh For Lulu - I Go Crazy, Ride - Twisterella, Velvet Underground - Sunday Morning, Sonic Youth - Kool Thing and Superstar (breathtaking Carpenters Cover),The Clash - White Man In Hammersmith Palais, English Beat - Mirror In The Bathroom, XTC - Makin Plans For Nigel, Psychadelic Furs - President Gas, and just about anything from the rest of the Smiths catalogue.

I know theres a lot, but any one of the honourables could have snuck in, and I really had to fight to get it down to 30....er 31. At any given time this will be different seeing as theres always some new band to discover, or an older one to recapture a warm place my heart. Perhaps I'll tell you about them along the way...

Friday, September 30, 2005

Keep yer Fingers Crossed

listening to Inner Flight - Primal Scream

Okay this is the third time I'm writing some of these. The First time I lost everything I was checking the spelling on a name on Allmusic and came back and had lost everything. Last night the whole thing was done and I hit publish and it said error. I found out later that the system went down for maintainance during the very time I tried to publish it. So I'll try my best to make it as good as the last time...

21. Higher Than the Sun - Primal Scream A buddy of mine first mentioned thier name to me around 1990 in the hall at school. He had thier picture in his locker and I asked what they sounded like. He said he didn't know but they looked cool and liked the name. So with a name like Primal Scream I was thinking that they would dovetail nicely with all the neo-goth and 80's alternative that was frequentuing my stereo. To my utter disappointment, a while later I finally started hearing Movin' On Up on the radio, and sadly passed them off as a burnout wannabe band trying to rip off old 70's style Stones tunes - a fair assessment if you've ever heard the song. About a year later I heard Loaded on a Sire compilation cd and although it was more interesting, it still did little to capture my imagination. Well shortly after that I bought another Sire compilation called Just Say Anything and the more I played it the more this song stuck out, even up against good tunes by Ride and My Bloody Valentine. It demanded to be listened to and would not let up. It had this pulsating beat, and trippy electronics, and when the good part kicked in it was like an adrenalin rush hitting you.... or was that E kicking in, and the whole while there was this breathing sound every so often that seemed to pump new life into my body through my ears. It was with this song that I began to get what all the fuss was about Screamadelica. They were the perfect blend of everything. Taking blissed-out dance beats and just enough electronic sounds from the acid house and rave scenes, they fused it seamlessly with the ongoing renaissance of new guitar bands that were sweeping the UK. They took the best of what both had to offer as well as the tuneful psychedelia of legends from eras gone by and boldly invited everyone to Come Together in one praiseworthy package. This was right about the same time I was devouring bands like the Stone Roses and Charlatans and Blur en masse, and Higher Than the Sun pushed those boundaries even further - it marked the beginning of accepting electronic based music again.

22. Toast - Streetband One of the very first songs I fell in love with on the old CFNY was this happy little late 70s tune that kinda sounded like a blend of Enjoy Yerself by the Specials and Sex and Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll by Ian Drury and the Blockheads with a touch of Cool For Cats by Squeeze thrown in, except this one is all about Toast! .... just Toast! Although I never did manage to tape it off the radio back then I did nab it off a file sharing site a while back and I've been running out of bread ever since. The song features the band talking about all the different types of bread you can use to make toast and eventually they're actually making toast, and buttering it, and eating it, and theres this kettle whistle and... oh yeah, I like Toast! .... just Toast!

23. Stop - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Begins album #2 like a freight train grinding past the station under the momentum from album #1 and barely lets up till its done. Stop starts out with one of Rob Turner's signature bass rumblings and is soon met up by Pete Hayes' walls of fiery guitars coming crashing down around you like a tonne of sonic bricks, setting the tone for another adrenalized album by the three piece. These songs are even meatier live where Hayes is a master at getting the most noise possible out of his guitar loops. Sadly it must be said that they hold true to thier own song lyrics which state "We don't know when to stop" because they stopped way too soon with the buzzy guitars and ominous bass-lines after album #2 was done and mellowed out with accoustic guitars and harmonicas for album #3. Here's to hoping they start it back up again for the next album.

24. Sunshine Smile - Adorable For years after these guys broke up I would be talking bands with people outside of shows and Adorable came up probably more than any other. I first heard Adorable on the radio a few times when this (thier first single) got a little airplay. I remember thinking it was alright I spose, but there was so much new stuff coming out it kinda got lost in the shuffle for me. A year or two later I managed to tape it off the radio. It was the day that the new U2 album Zooropa was released - CFNY was playing one song from the album every hour so I skipped work and taped music all day. They played so much good stuff that day it ended up filling two cassettes; Siouxsie and the Banshees, Curve, Bjork, Dissarm by Smashing Pumpkins, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, the ever elusive McDonalds Girl by Bare Naked Ladies and of course the whole U2 album. Despite so much good music, after a few listens thru, Sunshine Smile was the one song that really surprised me. The more I listened to it the more I kept wanting to play it just for that one song over and over. With a slight Chameleons feel to it, they throw in memorable and delicate guitar lines and borrow the power and boldness of fellow shoegazers such as Catherine Wheel or early era Boo Radleys. The song just hums along with lovely guitarwork till it reaches a lull in which Piotre finally asks "How does it feel to feel" The music slowly builds faster after that rising to an angst-ridden climax and just fades out.

25. Sensoria - Cabaret Voltaire There was no radio show cooler back in the day than Chris Sheppard's Club 102 on Saturday nights. When I recorded that first cassette with the Smiths on it (remember back at #1) I realized later that this was the show that I had taped all that stuff off of. Well, for a brief period for about a year or so they managed to make it a televised simulcast, that was until they realized that Chris Sheppard was so far gone most nights that he was in no condition to be putting on television. At that time Chris was really into anything remotely industrial, so in addition to the usual alternative fare like the Cure and New Order he was playing a lot of Ministry and this kind of stuff. The first time I heard this song he played a double shot of Cabaret Voltaire and I loved all the samples and a very cool synthetic feel to it. It really pissed me off that they cancelled the simulcast...

26. All My Friends Who Play Guitar - Starflyer 59 Everything that I had hoped this album would sound like was not only verified but totally exceeded as soon as i heard it. Starflyer isn't the easiest band to find cd's for and the local Christian bookstore charges obscene prices for anything so I ended up borrowing a burned copy from Jezzy until I could find one at a more reasonable price. I had read that Jason Martin had deliberately sought out 60's style equipment for recording the album, including old style tape loop delays, as well as painstakingly recording and mixing the whole think in mono. The result was a fantastic blend of his usual neo-shoegaze sound with an authentic sounding 60's aesthetic to it. The whole album is a dreamy flowing soundscape from start to finish with echoes of Brian Wilson's Beach Boys masterpiece Pet Sounds scattered throughout it. And seeing as this is probably the best song of the bunch on this brilliant album it gets my vote as his best piece of work period.

27. Teeth - The Prosiacs Brash, intense and full of throbbing energy, New Yorks the Prosiacs represent the future of where my taste is headed. These bad boys don't even have a proper full length album yet, but are poised on the brink of something huge in my opinion. As one writer put it they answer the question of what it would sound like to have a band comprised of three Carlos D's. I've been excitedly awaiting a full album since spring and if it sounds anywhere near thier teaser Ep it will easily be the best album this year.

28. Walkman On - SSQ OK earlier in this list I mentioned that I listened to top 40 type music back before I started listening to 80s alternative; well let me clarify that, it was AM top 40. Sorry to dissapoint you all, beleive me I sense your horror and feel shame. But on with the story. I was on a long trip home about six months ago and was listening to the amazing Ongoing History Of New Music hosted by Alan Cross and he played this synthy retro sounding song on his show about how technology has changed. I totally loved it. I had never heard it before and figured it was just another rare new wave band with cutesy vocals in the vein of Viscious Pink and downloaded it the day after I got home. I grew up loving synth based artists like Howard Jones and Human League and Soft Cell on those AM stations, so this seemed like it was just another band i missed from back then. Well it turns out that SSQ was the anme of an earlier band for none other than Stacey Q - the same Stacy Q responsible for the AM dance-pop hit Two of Hearts (shhh don't tell anyone I secretly have always loved this song too) and made those cameo's on Facts Of Life. Sorry but I can't help liking what I like.

29. Summer - Mogwai For the last eight years or so, The Wedge on Much Music has played an important part in developing my my music tastes. One of my favourite episodes was when Sookyin Lee went to Scotland and hung out with Glasgow's post rock band Mogwai. They just hung around eating deep fried Mars bars and talking about loose bowels and intersplicing that with a great lineup of music videos ranging from classic bands like The Cocteau Twins and Jesus and Mary Chain to modern bands like Belle and Sebastien. Eventually they played Summer by Mogwai and it almost literally blew me away. Basically it just featured the band in a parking lot playing thier instruments, but the camaras were all shot as a reflection of them in this puddle. It was yer typical soft/loud/soft/loud/louder/louder/fade out type piece but done totally right. The cool thing about the video was that during the loud parts the puddle would go all blurry from the impact of the soundwaves creating ripples on the water. It was brilliant - basically they were saying - be warned! - we are very very loud. Any one who has seen them live can attest to this. When we finally saw them, we were at the very front of the legendary Horseshoe Tavern practically sitting on stage. On the final number the guitarist in front of us ran out of juice for one of his pedals so he went backstage to get another battery. Seeing as Mogwai tunes tend to drift for ages they were still going by the time he was ready to play but just as he was getting back into it the others were leaving stage. Well I guess he was a little pissed so he proceeded to turn up every knob on every amp, processor and pedal and created a massive wall of snarling volume and feedback. I turned around for a second and it was so loud that virtually everyone had thier hands over thier ears and a few people were even crouching. I guess we didn't notice just how loud it had gotten- we were wearing earplugs....

30. Let it Flow - Spiritualized To fully understand the Spiritualized experience you have to see them live. I inadvertantly bought tickets when it was originally announced that BRMC was going to be the opener but the latter had VISA issues and weren't allowed into Canada. We decided that we would check out the show anyways and the visual and instrumental assault was totally amazing; everything the fans said was true - you just can't explain it. I could never get into them before but after that I was a true beleiver in the Spiritualized experience. That being said this particular song is the exact opposite. To appreciate this you need a top quality stereo and a copy of Pure Phase and just jack it up. The rush you get in the middle of the song is like no other. It starts with the gentle whoah whoah whoah of female voices, drifts along and slowly fades out till theres just a single guitar buzzing on one note. It just hangs there for a few moments till it explodes with the richness of kettle drums and ecstatic vocals and that sweet whoah whoah whoah. Its the musical equivalent of spiking a vein. It has the buildup to the deed, the wait and then the rush filled with all its sonic bliss and elation. A lot less messy but just as addictive...

OK I'm going to have to do 31 seeing as some idiot put the Smiths in there twice.

31. A Forest w/ Forever - the Cure I wasn't goingto put them in at all, but then I remembered this gem and had to include it. One of the cassettes that sent me headlong into my Cure days haze was a rare cassette called Cocert and Curiosity. Now Curiosity was only on the cassette version and was a series of mostly rare live versions from the Seventeen Seconds and Faith albums. The very last song was so intriguing though because there was no studio version for it and it didn't show up in any of thier lyric collections. It started like a slow dirge and gradually built up to a frenzy of Roberts vocals and and effects laden guitars all held in check by Simons solid bass playing as it built faster and faster and faster until it trails off in a mysterious haze. The songs on the Curiosity side were billed as Anomolies and this was exactly that in every way. Upon listening to it hundreds of times I realized that it had to have followed a live performance of A Forest and when I finally got to seeing them in 93 I secretly hoped they would play it. They didn't, but hey did play the most amazing version of A Forest I have ever heard; lasting over 16 minutes and filled with all kinds of extra goodies. A similar version can be seen on the live video called simply called "Show" which was taped at the next stop on that tour in Detroit. I simply filed this treasured song away along with my cassette collection. As I replaced them with cd's it eventually lay dormant as a pleasant memory of my "Cure days". Last year we saw them at Curiosa. They played it. I didn't even realize it untill well after the show. I thought they were playing Three from thier second album. Even though I was there I feel like I missed it. But you can read about that in the blog I wrote about it last year....

So that's it. Thirty-one stories about thirty-one songs. Thanks to everyone who gave me encouragement whether it was on here or not I really appreciated it. I'll try to put out an unadulterated list without all my jibberish tomorrow. Now let's hope when I press that publish button.....

And on the fourth day ....

I had this entire post done and I lost it. It is now almost 6 AM and I'm gonna lose it if I don't get some sleep. I'm a little pissed seeing as I already had to redo it once before when I was about halfway though. Sorry to dissappoint.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

30 Tunes part 2...

listening to Something's Burning - Stone Roses

So I gotta do this while it's fresh otherwise I'll never get to the next scheduled top 30 - Movies. But for now I'm still working on the songs. Seeing as Wire has gotten me on a Roses kick might as well start with them....

Again, in addition to yesterday's 10 and in no particular order....

11. Standing Here - The Stone Roses (produced by John Leckie) Sadly these guys were shite live when we saw them in 95, but they left a huge legacy both personally and in the music world 5 years earlier. They first helped create the whole Madchester scene in the late 80's which went on to inspire the baggy and Britpop scenes, and individually inspired bands such as Oasis and the Verve as well as newer outfits like Kasabian. In the early 90's I had had enuff of all the Cure and friends and really needed a break from all that; a fresh start to go with getting married and moving out and beginning a new life with new hopes for the future. The bands I enjoyed before wrote great tunes, they just weren't uplifting in that sort of way - the Cure, New Order, Bauhaus, Joy Division, DM and all that kind of stuff. Along came the Roses, and they made life feel good and positive, with freshness and hope, and I guess what they did to the music industry was the same as what they did to my head. They wrote lovely jangly guitar based tunes filled with sunshine and swagger - acid house beats, funky bass rythms and hushed vocals. This wasn't thier most popular tune but it is my personal fave. They somehow managed to fuse a bit of Jimi Hendrix guitars with happy 60's era pop and tacked on a delicate little Byrds-esque sounding bit at the tail-end of it.

12. Orpheus - David Sylvian This is a fabulous piece of music by an artist who deserves to be farmore recognized than just as the former frontman for the glam-punk turned artsy new-wave band Japan in the early 80's. His solo portfolio is astounding, collaborating with industry legends such as Robert Fripp (guitarist from King Crimson), Eno and Ingrid Chavez as well as Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and Krautrock legend Holger Czukay from Can. I wasn't supposed to buy this album (Secrets of the Beehive) because I was really short on cash and Whirligirl (at that time my girlfriend) was getting angry because I was spending so much time and money at the cd store. (I guess some things never did change.) I told her I bought this album and she quickly changed her tune. One listen and I knew why; song after song was organic bliss; classical guitar, orchestra, grand piano, string ensembles, and odd rythm arrangements making it seem like it was more suitable for being played at a wholistic healing centre but with Sylvian's familiar rich melancholy vocals keeping it grounded in my rock realm. Orpheus is particularly beautiful the way the song just seems to trail off in a warm orchestral fade and return a moment later with a sweet lazy trumpet solo over top.

13. Little L - Jamiroquai Another recent fave. I started playing this a few weeks ago and can't stop playing anything Jamiroquai. I guess this provides a bit of a pick up since my life is a little low right now, but that's not quite what this Little "L" is all about. I downloaded the new album and it has some real sweetass tunes from the rippin' Kravitz inspired Feels Just Like It Should to the usual killer disco, acid jazz and funky bass standards found in abundance on thier previous albums. But this Little L tune got me hooked. I just checked my iTunes and its my most played tune since i started on this computer 2 1/2 months ago. I hum it everywhere. Dang!! Wish I could afford to see them live at the end of October.

14. It's a Fast Driving Rave-Up With the Dandy Warhols Sixteen Minutes - The Dandy Warhols Speaking of bands I will be seeing soon... It was either this or Every Day Should Be a Holiday. I also saw them back when they had just put out this album (Dandy's Rule OK?). They opened for Pulp and I really liked it. It was totally different than the Brit-Pop stuff I was feeding on at the time. I couldn't really appreciate them as much as I should have though due to the fact that we brought my sister and her friend along. This friend kept complaining and wanting to go home (over an hour away) seeing as she told her parents she wouldn't be longer than 11 o'clock. Yeah... Right... I'm gonna leave a show in Toronto because some kid who obviously hadn't been to a show before had to get home for bed when I had clearly explained the details beforehand. Sorry, you made the mistake, you deal with it. I went to Station to Station the next day and tried to get the cd. I still remember how he said the name when i asked for it. "Oh, the 'Dandy' Warhols, right.... clever little name. It just came out. I definitely noticed it but I didn't order it because I hadn't heard anyone ask for it yet." So I guess I was the first person in St.Catharines... Anyways this song is a blissed-out jam that matches its title in length and worth every mesmerizing moment. They even set an alarm clock at the end so they know when to stop. Like the song title implies, it is very good for driving to and even raving to I suppose, although I have no experience with the latter. Would be trippy though...

15. Voodoo Ray - A Guy Called Gerald Speaking of raves... ok I'll stop doing that. Back in the late 80's of course being obsessed with mostly gothy guitar bands, I went through a period where I scorned almost everything electronic. Even though initially bands like Depeche Mode and New Order were huge influences on me, I left them behind for awhile especially during the House and Techno era of CFNY where every other song was Technotronic and Soul2Soul. Any band remotely electronic based seemed to be copying the trends. I tried hating New Order's Technique and the Mode's Violater which were highly influenced by that scene but now, ironically, those are my favourite albums by both. But that whole time I secretly loved this song. I don't know why but just the way they twisted those nobs at just the right times hooked me. There's not much to the tune really - simple but catchy, fun to dance to, and when I heard it as the tune they had on for the menu of the 24 Hour Party People movie, I hadn't heard it in ages and it totally brought me back to secretly taping it off the radio between the Sugarcubes and Janes Addiction. All those bands like the Orb and Saint Etienne and Beats International and KLF, I really hated back then, and now ....

16. There She Goes - The La's (rumoured to be originally produced by John Leckie) The far superior original version of this song written and sung by Lee Mavers, not the mediocre version done by Sixpence None the Richer and sung by Leigh Nash. Lee Mavers was probably the best pure 60s pop song writer of any generation including the 60s themselves. OK you can make an arguement for Dylan, but quite frankly Mavers sounds much nicer in the delivery. His song writing was remarkably simple and sounded simply remarkable. Clever little sun-soaked tunes carved out on a six string, and accompanied by tambourine and a sincere heart. It's a shame he had a run in so deep with the industry that he swore he would never release another song for any record company ever again. And to my knowledge still hasn't.

17. William It Was Really Nothing - The Smiths OK, OK, OK, I know I said I would try to not repeat any bands, but its the Smiths. C'mon! I really don't think you can appreciate the musical genius of Smiths tunes until you actually try to play one. Most just leave you shaking yer head in amazement. I don't think anyone can play this particular tune anywhere close to how Marr plays it. I put on the song for my guitar teacher, who could reasonably rip off just about any other band I would place before him, and he just shook his head and said those are some messed up chord changes. He poked around with the chords a bit and didn't even attempt to try the finger picking technique. I really don't think its possible. It was sad when I saw Johnny with his new band and that style he was known for was totally absent from his new songs. It was as if he was trying to out-Oasis Oasis, and although Oasis has written some decent tunes over the years they simply pale in comparison to the complexity of a Jonny Marr classic. Johnny just make up with Morrissey and then hell can freeze over and we can all be happy paying thousands for scalped Smiths reunion tickets.

18. Fragrant - Paul Oakley Most of the worship music I've ever heard all sounds the same. You could probably get almost anyone to play almost any modern worship tune by almost any of the multitudes of writers out there and you would barely be able to tell who wrote what. The scene has basically become one large well meaning throng of worship writers weilding a relatively homogenized batch of nice sounding songs. I am not knocking thier desire to serve God by writing for the masses (hehe sorry); it would just be nice to add a little creative twist now and then. Enter Paul Oakley who personally told me he was inspired by none other than the Stereophonics and Verve among other more creative secular influences for some of his cds. This song comes off his amazing Unafraid album for which he peeled back the layers of production and let the songs fight for themselves and find new breath with just accoustic guitars, a piano and a cello in a live setting. Lovely lush instrumentation with his rich vocals and you can totally hear that he is genuinely pouring his soul out before God - nothing for show. This song is not only beautiful - it's beautiful for all the right reasons and may just be my favourite song of all time.

19. The Promise - When In Rome There were a lot of one hit wonder bands in the alternative scene back in the 80's. I guess there were a lot in the 80's in general... Each had that "je ne sais quoi" for a song or two but could never manage to find the magic again to write another gem. But those gems were so good. Bands like Flesh For Lulu, Real Life, B-Movie, Endgames, Fiction Factory, Voice of America..... the list goes on. A lot of them I taped off the radio, loved the song, but didn't find out for years later who they were. And since they had so few hits, thier music was almost impossible to find later in music stores once i did find out. Most of them I did manage to track down on 80's rarities compilations over the years. This one I had to wait until the wonders of file sharing became available. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear it as the closing song on Napoleon Dynamite when they're playing tetherball, which coincidentally will likely be in my list of top 30 movies of all time.... if I ever get to it.

20. Pounding - Doves I was driving some friends home, one late summer night about 3 years ago and they were all asleep and I had this amazing almost surreal experience. I had finally succumbed to Jez's pressure, and had just bought The Last Broadcast album a few days earlier. It quickly replaced BRMC as a permanent fixture in my car cd player. That night, the clouds were all silvery as the moon was exceptionally bright, and the whole way there the sky was being lit up even more by one of those late summer heat electrical storms with really cool fork lighning and the whole bit. The sky that night mixed with the album so perfectly I will never forget it. The whole album is a collection of individual aural masterpieces that form one stellar soundscape from one end to the other using a range of musical styles, all flowing perfectly into one another and totally enhanced by some of the best production I have ever heard this side of Nine Inch Nails. Words can't describe how good this album is. It's totally uplifting and refreshing to listen to. On this track, borrowing the synth line from Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart and the drum beat from The Stone Roses' I Am The Resurrection proves to be an amazing combination when added to that stellar production and crisp guitarwork. It truly is pounding and exhilerating along with the rest of the album.

Stay tuned for part 3....

Monday, September 26, 2005

Do You Remember Me?

Listening to How Soon Is Now - The Smiths, Slide Away - the Verve ....

Well I wonder why it took so long, but for some strange reason (he he) I've finally been inspired to do my top 30 songs of all time and to figure out how to get back to blogland. I initially wrote out a 'short' list consisting of exactly twice the amount of songs so this may end up a top 50 if I have trouble getting rid of some. I'll try to keep it one entry per band only, not to mention I will be listening to each band as I comment about them. So in no particular order...

Let's Go!

1. How Soon Is Now -The Smiths Has to start here because for me it did start here. I remember sitting in my room in around 1987 taping songs off this new radio station I had found that played stuff that was totally different from the top 40 pop that I was accustomed to. The music totally intrigued me and connected with me on a level I could understand both musically and lyrically. That night was the first time I had ever heard this song as I taped it along with Depeche Mode - Never Let Me Down Again, The Cure's Let's Go To Bed, New Order - Blue Monday, Love and Rockets - Ball of Confusion, Renegade Soundwave, INXS, Midnight Oil, Ministry, the Clash... the list goes on and on. That night set the stage for the rest of my life, musically speaking. At that time I found the vocals strange and hard to get used to, but the music was so fresh and really really cool. Over the years I have probably played this song more than any other. Between Johnny Marr's guitar wizardry and Morrissey's gift to put the anguish of adolescence into words, almost every Smiths song could end up in this list, and this one is the perfect representative of thier work.

2. Slide Away - The Verve (produced by John Leckie) Station to Station in St. Catharines to this day, is my favourite music store cuz they were the ones to have all the rare singles and bootlegs that no-one else could find; very helpful to a Cure completist as I was when I started going there. The lady in there was in her 60's at the time and knew more about music than anyone else I knew. She loved David Bowie and the Chameleons and Peter Murphy and David Sylvian and introduced me to so many cool bands at that time. It was the early 90's and i remember just starting to slowly get out of my "Cure and Cure only" phase and discovering fresh new bands like The Stone Roses, Blur, Suede and Slowdive. That day I picked up a Stone Roses single (I Want To Be Adored) and a used copy of Just For a Day by Slowdive. She looked at what I had and said I might also want to get the used copy of the Verve's Storm In Heaven that she had just put out minutes earlier. I hadn't heard of them yet and didn't have time to sample it, so I just left it there. Oops. A few days later I heard them on CFNY and from the first few bars of Slide Away I was hooked to its swelling mass of spacious sound. I went back a few days later but of course it was gone and never showed up used again.

3. Over The Wall - Echo and the Bunnymen It was 1997 and I couldn't beleive that I was going to see one of my favourite bands from high school that had been broken up for ten years. They sounded so good playing all the old stuff from Songs to Learn and Sing and thier self-titled album (which were the only two cassettes I had of thiers) along with thier passable new material. The show was totally thrilling; Ian had such a cool stage presence, the tunes were perfect and full of energy and I knew every one - that is 'till the very last song. I had never heard it before and my jaw literally dropped it was so fecking amazing. Powerful, haunting and hypnotic, Over The Wall singlehandedly solidified thier place as my favourite band of the 80's not named the Smiths.

4. Me And Giuliani Down By The Schoolyard - !!! (pronounced chk chk chk) This would be a recent favourite. Totally funky and sporting the coolest transitions and sweeping guitarlines, this 10 minute long masterpiece is by far one of the coolest things I've ever heard. I've been listening to it like every day for the last few months and still sounds sweet.Yes they do use more profanity than I like, but the music is undeniably tight and the basswork is stellar. Besides nothing is 'funner' than cruising around with the windows open and everyone singing along to the doo doo doo doot doot doo part.

5. Svefn G Englar - Sigur Ros Anyone who's seen the video for this lovely song has witnessed a visually stunning and gripping masterpiece. This haunting, lush and beautiful piece of sonic art is brilliantly complemented by an Icelandic drama troup made up entirely of people with downs syndrome. Dressed as angels, thier natural aura of innocence and the fact that it is all shot in slow motion make it the perfect complement to the music. Also I might add that they are the only band that I've seen live that have actually brought tears to my eyes due to how powerfully beautiful the music was. I wasn't bawling, it was just so emotionally powerful that tears started falling down my face during Vidrar Vel Til Loftarasa.

6. Just Like Honey - Jesus and Mary Chain When I heard the first few bars start playing at the end of Lost In Translation just as Bill Murray's character Bob Harris starts looking for Charlotte (played by the lovely Scarlet Johansson) on the busy Tokyo streets, it was so amazing I almost cried. I thought to myself, it's as if all along the song was written specifically for the movie, but they wouldn't have known till over 15 years later. Psychocandy is still my favourite album of thiers to this day.

7. Best Man's Fall - The Trashcan Sinatras (produced by John Leckie) Until I dicovered thier clever and whitty lyrics (as well as a greater appreciation for the rich sounds of a 12 string Rickenbacker) I just passed them off as a bland Scottish outfit that sounded like they wanted do be another cheap Smiths knock off. I found this tune on an HMV comp and slowly fell in love with the lyrics. Bought the album a few years later and fell in love with it and it's one of my absolute faves now. This particular tune features gem lines such as "she came into my life like a brick thru a window and I cracked a smile", "penny up but if you have no money your attention will do, and if you don't give a damn your welcome to keep it" and "scars of the night before have turned into scabs and still I'm seeing double and , I'm looking twice my age, its getting to the stage where, I'm old not wise just worried." Every song is laced with clever lines such as these. Just heard another line I love in the song that comes after it (Circling the Circumference) "that's my story and I'm stuck with it..."

8. Something I Can Never Have - Nine Inch Nails There was this show on CFNY every week called Friday Night High where they would go into schools and set up a dance. However, the kids were able to have an active part in choosing some of the songs - like a top ten list or something like that so you would end up hearing stuff they normally wouldn't play. Well I remember one night they were palying some awesome stuff and they played Violent Femmes - Kiss Off and The Smiths - Please, Please, Please... and then they played this song which I had never heard before and it totally grabbed me. I was already a bit of a fan of NIN before but didn't have the cassette yet. That week I went out and bought Pretty Hate Machine and played it endlessly for months. That song still remains eerily true for my life even now as much or moreso than it did then...

9. Second Skin - The Chameleons A very underrated 80's band that very few people knew of until bands like Interpol and more recently the Departure and Editors started ripping off thier signature pulsating guitar riffs. I first heard the song Swamp Thing on a Hardest Hits compilation and totally loved it and started buying anything I could find of thiers which proved quite a task. For ages all I could find was a few Radio sessions and a compilation album. Eventually I found a copy of Script of the Bridge at the old Sam the Record Man in Toronto and was instantly thrilled upon listening to it. Certain songs kept growing on me such as Paper Tigers and Don't Fall but Second Skin has grown to be my absolute favourite Chameleons tune. There's a really cool transition in the middle where the rest of the music fades out and while it keeps the same beat it slowly comes back in but changes over the melody to something quite different. It's like getting two really sweet tunes in one clean package.

10. A Day In The Life - The Beatles As a kid I never really got along with my dad so not liking the Beatles was just a part of not liking him. We were just different people and I liked 80's pop and eventually 80's alternative which bears little resemblance to the Fab 4. He passed away 15 years ago and over those years I really learned to appreciate a lot of the things I didn't like about him. I love the 60's pop he used to like now: The Beatles, The Zombies, Buddy Holly, Donovan, Dylan some Guess Who and on and on.... There are many times when I wish I could invite him over and sit down and listen to my Beatles records with him and ask him about all those bands that I missed out on. As far as this track goes I think its the best they ever did; features both John and Paul at thier creative best, the transitional orchestra swells are fantastic and I think this song more than any other they created really introduced the masses to a new era of musical experimentation.

ok this will be the last one till later cuz I've got stuff to do....

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Listening to - A Northern Chorus

Most of what has been actually happening to my life has been adequately summed up in Whirligirls blog - a few visits with A & J, the temporary dispersal of children and a fabulous Sianspheric/A Northern Chorus concert, to these you can add waiting for what seemed like forever to get the last bits of jam from band mates and the job search hitting panic levels.

In my head it's a different scene altogether. I'm very depressed. I've basically drifted from crisis to crisis and have let life dictate its own way over me for far too long. After 10 years of good employment I have very little to show for it. Finances are just one side of the coin but I've earned nearly half a million dollars in that time and am swimming in the deep end on the negative side of broke. Things have to change soon, otherwise I fear I'm gonna lose it. My mind. Literally.

I'm sorry I'm very sour on life again but please no"everything is peachy and you don't even know it" - head buried in the sand comments please - they'll only add to my frustration...