Archive for the ‘Marshall McLuhan’ Category

shoppingSOUNDTRACK: MATT MAYS-Live at Massey Hall (May 4, 2018).

I had never heard of Matt Mays.  He was once a part of the Canadian country band The Guthries (who I also don’t know).  Perhaps the most surprising (and disappointing) thing to me about this show is when I saw an ad for this concert and saw that Kathleen Edwards was opening for him (!).  And that so far they haven’t released the Kathleen Edwards show.

Before the show he says he wants all feelings present–happy, sad–he praises the expression “all the feels” because that’s what he wants to happen tonight.  He wants the night to be “like a Nova Scotia kitchen party.”  You laugh you cry you dance and you fight all in one kitchen.

He starts with “Indio.”  Like most of these songs, it is a rocking guitar song with a definite country-rock feel.  It’s also interesting that a Nova Scotia guy is singing about “old fashioned California sin.”  There’s a ton of lead guitar work from Adam Baldwin.  Mays also plays guitar and there’s an acoustic guitar as well from Aaron Goldstein  The song breaks midway through to a piano melody from Leith Fleming-Smith.  Mays asks “You feel like singing Toronto? It’s real easy.”  And it is: “Run run run you are free now.  run run run you are free.”

For “Station Out of Range,” he invites his dear friend Kate Dyke from St Johns, Newfoundland.  She sings backing vocals.  It opens with some big crushing drums from Loel Campbell.  It has a slower tempo, but it grows really big with some really massive drum fills.

“Building a Boat” opens with a repeating keyboard pattern before a real rocking riff kicks in.  Ryan Stanley also plays guitars.  The song rocks on with a lot of little guitar solos.  Mays takes one and then Baldwin follows.  They jam this pretty long.

“Take It on Faith” starts with a simple piano before the guitars come roaring in with two searing solos.  The melody is really catchy, too.

“Terminal Romance” is a slower number.  Mays puts his guitar down and its mostly piano and bass
(Serge Samson).  Eventually a guitar with a slide is added.  It builds as more guitars come in.  They jam this song for about 8 minutes.

He ends the show with “Cocaine Cowgirl,” an oldie that still means a lot to him.   He says he’s been playing Toronto since he was 19 years-old in font of tow people.  He’s thrilled to be at Massey Hall.  His band is his best buds from Nova Scotia.   It’s an absolutely wailing set ender with Mays throwing in some wicked solos.  The song seems like its over but Mays plays some really fast guitar chords and aftee a few bars everyone joins in and rips the place part with intensity.  It runs to nearly ten minutes and it’s a  really satisfying ending.

[READ: August 3, 2019] “Shopping in Jail”

When an author releases a lot of books and essays in various formats, it’s pretty inevitable that you’ll wind up re-reading one or two.  Especially if some of those essays are reprinted in other books.

So it turns out that I read this small book five years ago (it’s understandable that I didn’t remember that after five years).  Here’s what I said about it five years ago:

Just when I thought I had caught up with everything that Douglas Coupland had published, I came across this book, a collection of his recent essays.  I enjoy the very unartistic cover that Sternberg Press has put on this.  It looks extremely slapdash–look at the size of the print and that the contents are on the inside front cover.  But the essays contained within are pure Coupland and are really enjoyable.

I have read a number of his older essays in recent years.  And here’s the thing: reading old Coupland essays just makes you think, ho hum, he knew some things.  But you don’t really think that he was on the forefront of whatever he was thinking.  So to read these essays almost concurrently is really fascinating.

His thoughts are science fiction, but just on the cusp of being very possible, even probable.  He also looks at things in ways that the average person does not–he notices that on 9/11 people didn’t have picture phones–imagine how more highly documented it would have been.  These essays are largely about technology, but they’re also about the maturation and development of people and how they relate to things.  Coupland can often seem very ponderous, and yet with these essays he seems prescient without actually trying to predict anything.  I enjoyed this collection very much.

I’m going to include what I said last time (in italics), but I felt the need to add some five-years later thoughts on each essay. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SILVERSUN PICKUPS-Live on KEXP, May 11, 2012 (2012).

Following the other day’s review of Silversun Pickups, I have this more recent show.  In this one, only two members of the band are here–singer/guitarist Brian Aubert and bassist Nikki Monninger for a stripped down acoustic show.

This set is much more enjoyable than the older set.  The songs are certainly stronger, especially “Bloody Mary” and “The Pit.”  But there’s also something refreshing about hearing this band who is usually so fuzzed out sounding clean and simple.  I wouldn’t want an entire acoustic album from these guys, but it’s so dynamic in this version.  You can really hear the construction of the songs in this simple setting.

And the rapport between Brian and DJ Cheryl Waters is relaxed (they are very funny) and engaging–I really want to like these guys.

It’s interesting that in the five years from the previous set the Billy Corganisms have not gone away at all, but I guess one can’t help what one’s voice sounds like.  It’s kind of hard to get past that, but it’s not impossible, and the songs are so good, you can overlook it.  This makes me want to check out their latest album.  You can hear it here.

And for  those who watch TV, Silversun Pickups were on Up All Night this week (in a very weird mash up of pop culture).  Is that how lesser known bands get publicity, or was that meant to be a draw for the show (I don’t know how popular they are–Sarah had never heard of them).

[READ: October 18, 2012] Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!

I had not heard of this book until I saw it in my local library.  I wasn’t prepared to read another biography of Marshall McLuhan, and indeed, this isn’t one.  This is the American edition of Extraordinary Canadians: Marshall McLuhan with a spiffy new title.  And it is virtually identical.

There are several things that were in the Canadian edition that were left out of the American edition (although they did leave in all of the “u”s in words like “colour”).

The things that were left out are: (more…)

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I first heard Shad on CBC Radio 3 online.  The track was “Yaa I Get It” and I really enjoyed it.  I haven’t listened to a lot of rap in the last few years; I’ve more or less grown bored by the genre, especially all the violence.  So, I was happy to hear this track, which was boastful but funny.

I decided to get the whole disc, and I wasn’t disappointed.  “Rose Garden” features a sample of “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” which sets some of the tone of the disc.  But it’s on the next song “Keep Shining” that Shad’s uniqueness shines through.  This song is about women.  But not in any way that I’ve heard in rap before: “I can’t speak for women.  We need more women for that.”  And the inspiring final verse:

My mom taught me where to keep my heart.
My aunt taught me how to sing two parts.
My sis taught me how to parallel park,
and tried to teach me math but she way to too smart.
My grandma in the 80’s is still sharp.
My girl’s cousin is in activism in art.
They taught there’s no curls to tight, no mind too bright, no skin too dark to keep shining.

Later on the disc is “We Are the Ones” an oddball jam that sounds like one of those bizarre Atlanta rap tracks (funky vocals and all) and an amusing line about being Lost like Matthew Fox.  But his name checks aren’t all pop culture (Moredcai Richler gets a mention as does Glenn Beck (he “better duck like foie gras”).

And of course, there’s the wonderful “Yaa I Get It.”  With great horn blast samples and all kinds of noise competing for our attention.  Yet, throughout the lyrics stand out: “Maybe I’m not big cus I don’t blog or twitter…Dawg, I’m bitter.”  And there’s this wonderful couplet: The precision of my flows in terms of tone and diction/Is akin to that of the old masters of prose and fiction.”  Or take this lyrics from “Call Waiting,” “But what they say is hard for a pimp is harder for a man of faith.”

“Listen” has some great scratching on a heavy rocking track.  It’s followed by “At the Same Time.”  This is a mellow, sad song, which I don’t really like, yet which I find very affecting.  And lyrically, it’s great: “I never laughed and cried at the same time… Until, I heard a church pray for the death of Obama.  And wondered if they knew they share that prayer with Osama.”

The disc ends with “We, Myself and I” another noisy rocker and the one minute “Outro” an acapella rant.

Shad is a great rapper, doing interesting things and trying to make a difference.  He’s worth checking out.

[READ: November 1, 2010] “Marshall McLuhan”

I learned about this book because I’m a fan of Douglas Coupland.  And, as it turns out I’ve always had a vague interest in Marshall McLuhan, so it seemed like a sure thing. The problem was that the book was not readily available in the U.S.  So, I had to order it from Amazon.ca.  And, since you can’t get free shipping to a U.S. address from amazon.ca, I thought it would make sense to order 6 titles in the series, all of which I’ll post about this week.

So, here’s a shameless plug to the folks at Penguin Canada–I will absolutely post about all of the books in this series if you want to send me the rest of them.  I don’t know how much attention these titles will get outside of Canada, but I am quite interested in a number of the subjects, and will happily read all of the books if you want to send them to me.  Just contact me here!

Each book in the series has an introduction by John Ralston Saul, in which he explains the purpose of the series and states globally why these individuals were selected (“they produce a grand sweep of the creation of modern Canada, from our first steps as a democracy in 1848 to our questioning of modernity late in the twentieth century”).  It also mentions that a documentary is being filmed about each subject.

Perhaps the most compelling sentence in the intro is: “each of these stories is a revelation of the tough choices unusual people must make to find their way.”  And that’s what got me to read thee books.

This volume was probably a bad place to start in the Extraordinary Canadians series if only because it appears that Coupland’s volume is markedly different from the others.  Coupland being Coupland, he has all manner of textual fun wit the book.  The other authors seem to write pretty straightforward books, but you know something is up right away when you open the book and the first six pages comprise a list of anagrams of “Marshall McLuhan.”

On to Marshall McLuhan.  The Medium is the Message.  That’s about all anyone who has heard of McLuhan knows about him (and that he has a hilarious cameo in Annie Hall).

When I was a freshman in college, I took a class in Communications which focused an awful lot on Marshall McLuhan.  I didn’t like the teacher very much, but the message stayed with me all these years.   And so even though I’m not a student of McLuhan or anything, I was happy to relearn what I should have known about the man and his ideas.


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