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Archive for the ‘Heather O’Neill’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: K’NAAN-“Wavin’ Flag” (2009).

Like most people in America I don’t know much about K’naan.  This is despite the fact that this song (in a modified form) was the anthem for Coca-Cola and the 2010 World Cup and was HUGE (except in America where we like one and ignore the other).  There’s an article about K’naan in the July/August issue of The Walrus.  He is a Somali-born Canadian rapper and he is looking to break into the US market.

And that’s as much as I knew of him.  So imagine my surprise upon listening to this song to realize that it is an acoustic-pop song not unlike Coldplay (lots of Whoa-ohs) set to a martial beat.

It’s a catchy anthem indeed–made perfect for an event with lots of waving flags like the World Cup.  However, the original lyrics are impressive (and talk obliquely about his life in Somalia).

Out of the darkness, I came the farthest Among the hardest survival
Learn from these streets, it can be bleak Accept no defeat, surrender, retreat

So many wars, settling scores Bringing us promises, leaving us poor
I heard them say ‘love is the way’ ‘Love is the answer,’ that’s what they say

And yet the chorus is pretty uplifting:
When I get older I will be stronger They’ll call me freedom just like a wavin’ flag And then it goes back, and then it goes back And then it goes back, oh
Chorus aside, these lyrics aren’t exactly going to sell product, so it’s not surprising that the Coca Cola Celebration Remix has changed some lyrics:
Saying forever young Singing songs underneath the sun Let’s rejoice in the beautiful game
And together at the end of the day, we all say
Although this lyric could have been in either version
In the streets our heads are liftin’ As we lose our inhibition
Celebration, it surrounds us Every nation, all around us
And the chorus remains the same.
The remix is a bit more interesting musically.  The original is just him on an acoustic guitar with some drums.  It reminds me of Bob Marley (and references “Buffalo Soldier”).  The remix has a really cool drum intro.  It’s beefed up throughout as well.  I guess it’s easy to say it’s a sell out (but well, duh), but it’s still as catchy as the original without being too obnoxiously overproduced.  And heck, maybe people learned a bit about Somalia from it.  Stranger things have happened.

[READ: July 4, 2012] “And They Danced by the Light of the Moon”

Some stories are one thing at heart.  No matter how much you gussy them up and make them look all fancy, they’re always going to have heavy metal T-shirts under their formal wear (I should know).

And so it with this story set in the 70s in the Quebec town of Val de Loups (the fact that it is set here changes enough of the story that although the story is not atypical, it is at least in an unfamiliar setting (to me)).  Jules knows that he is in love with Manon.  Manon doesn’t know anything about love.  Jules is an only child, living in a trailer park, trying not to get beaten by his father. Manon is the youngest of 11 children (her mother kept trying until she had a girl).  She is beautiful with golden ringlets and a magical laugh and she is under the constant supervision and protection of her ten massive brothers (one is a wrestler, three work in the mines).

Jules is an intelligent boy who always gets in trouble.  He’s a class clown because he likes it when people pay attention to him, although he doesn’t really have any friends per se (when he gets in trouble, they aren’t there with him).  His last prank was an invitation to the aliens–spray painted in the school parking lot.  This gets him kicked out of the upcoming dance (even though he did a lot of the getting it setup).  He’s really bummed because Manon said she’d go with him.  Manon likes him because of the way he can roller skate.

Despite not being allowed into the dance, they meet up outside the building and go to a house in town where Jules is plant-sitting.  With the right music, the right lighting, the right setting, this would be a joyous romp of explored sexuality and post-dance bliss.  But this is Val de Loups, where no one leaves, where everyone is trapped. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE SLEW “100%” (2009).

The Slew is the latest band created by DJ Kid Koala. Koala is a fantastic turntablist, and this group uses his scratching and sampling to excellent effect.  The lineup includes drums, bass, keyboards and six turntables!

It’s an insane hodge-podge of music.  And it’s very fun.  I’ve no idea how many samples are in here (James Brown seems to be all over the song) or even if any of the “riffs” in the song are original or from other records, but I enjoyed this very much.

I’ve enjoyed just about everything Kid Koala has done, and this is no exception.  I’m glad to see he’s still being so creative.

There are three five tracks available on CBC Radio 3.  And they’re all fun.

[READ: June 14, 2010] “Riff-Raff”

The protagonist of this story is a nineteen year old girl from Montreal.  She is in a horrible relationship with a boy named Leroy.  But near the end of her first year at McGill, she meets an American boy.  They hang out pretty steadily for a few weeks and, when school ends, he invites her to visit him in New Mexico.

There’s so many places this story could have gone.  I guessed a number of them, but I never would have guessed the direction it went. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KING’S X-Ogre Tones (2005).

No one should be made to feel ALONE! And with that Kings X are back.  It’s the most aggressive scream I’ve heard from King’s X (and it comes from Ty, not Doug no less).

After what seemed like something of a hiatus with Black Like Sunday and Live All Over the Place, King’s X seem rejuvenated and excited to be rocking out.  Despite the hardcore opening scream of “Alone,” the song is their catchiest single yet.  Lyrically the song is about tolerance and compassion.  Its also pretty short (just under 3 minutes), as are the next 4 songs.  It’s as if they had these great ideas and just had to get them out.  “Stay”  returns to the style of old King’s X, with a minor change: it’s the vocal harmonies that are dissonant not the guitars.  “Hurricane” also tinkers with the formula where part of the chorus revels in their harmonies of old and the other part plays with a new aspect: gang vocals, bringing power rather than subtlety.  “Fly” is yet another great shoulda-been a single.  And “If”is yet another Stellar ballad, where Doug sings verses and harmonies bring in the chorus.

A controversial song (for fans anyway) is “Bebop.”  This is one of their experimental tracks, and it kind of hearkens back to some of the tracks off of Bulbous with very staccato guitars, unusual bass lines and the nonsense lyrics of “Bebop be alive ya’ll. Awhop boba lo bop a wop bam boom!.”  While it’s not their best work, it’s certainly catchy as anything, and I give them credit for throwing in some experimentation.  And frankly, it’s pretty fun if you loosen up a bit.

The next few tracks play with the basic formula of the album, until you get to “Sooner or Later” which, lets Ty noodle around on the guitar for 5 or 6 minutes, like an extended jam off of Faith Hope Love.  “Mudd” ends the album proper with a really touching, sweet song.  It could easily fit on Gretchen.

The last two songs I don’t really count.  “Goldilox (Reprise)” is, as you might guess a remake of “Goldilox.” I don’t know why they’d remake one of their most beloved songs.  Aside from the fact that they’ve been playing it since 1987, and the band has changed their style somewhat, they could show everyone what it would sound like if they made it now.  Otherwise, why bother.  It does sound good, mind you, but the original sounds better.  The last track, “Bam” is a historical recording of Thomas Edison’s phonograph.  It’s a weird way to end a record.  But nothing can take away from the fact that King’s X are back in form and they still sound great.

[READ: October 24, 2008] “Whyte Avenue Blue,” “Just the Thing,” “Terminal City,” “Red Carpet Caper,” “Beyond the Overpass,” “The End of Pinky”

I had put off reading these stories because I was in the middle of a couple of other things at the time.  When I finally got around to reading them (and they’re all very short…about a page or two each) I had forgotten that the “theme” behind the stories was noir.  When I started reading them, I kept thinking…none of these stories is even remotely believable.  It’s like the authors are trying really hard to craft stories that are transgressive, almost beyond belief in some way.  Well, when I re-read the sub-heading for the stories, I realized: “The Walrus asked Canadian novelists to sketch their cities as grittier, sexier, and darker than you might ever have imagined…”  So that explained it. (more…)

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