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Archive for the ‘Canadian Music’ Category

[POSTPONED: May 17, 2020] clipping. / Cartel Madras

indexS. and I saw clipping. open for The Flaming Lips.  It was an unlikely pairing to be sure.  clipping. are a noisy glitch hop band fronted by Daveed Diggs.  Their songs are noisy and violent and more than a little unpleasant.

I won’t say that I enjoyed their set, but I was thoroughly engaged by it.  I’d be very curious to see what they are like as a headliner–more noisy, more abrasive even less pleasant, but a total experience, I’m sure.

clipping.’s new album “absorbs the hyper-violent horror tropes of the Murder Dog era, but re-imagines them in a new light.”  I have to assume the live show for this album is very intense.

Cartel Madras is a Canadian hip hop duo from Calgary, Alberta, consisting of sisters Priya “Contra” Ramesh and Bhagya “Eboshi” Ramesh.  Both sisters emigrated from Chennai, India and identify as queer women of colour.  They classify their music as “Goonda Rap”, a play on a term used in South Asian circles to describe a “thug.”

Their music has an original sound underneath it and I’ll be they are dynamic live.

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SOUNDTRACK: THE TEA PARTY-“Isolation” (2020).

It seems like a number of bands have been covering Joy Divison’s “Isolation” lately. It is appropriate after all.

The Tea Party are a Canadian band known for its sound, which blends classic rock and influences from many countries around the world.  I like that they are referred to as “Moroccan Roll.”

Musically this songs sounds quite a lot like the original. I don’t think of The Tea Party has being especially synthy, but they get the synth sound pretty spot on.  Usually The Tea Party has all kinds of middle eastern instrumentation, but there’s nothing like that here.

Jeff Martin has a deep resonant voice that often sounds like Jim Morrison.  Here he gets the same tone as Ian Curtis, but his voice is much better, much more full than Curtis’.  In fact, the whole song sounds bigger–a sound that befits a band that is often compared to Led Zeppelin rather than an indie British club band.

The original certainly conveys “isolation” better (I mean, it is Ian Curtis after all), but this version sound great too and it really rocks.

[READ: May 11, 2020] “The Resident Poet”

I was surprised to realize that I had never read anything by Katherine Dunn.  Her novel Geek Love is one of those books that I feel is always mentioned as being notable.  I always assumed it was about nerds.  I just found out it is about carnies–circus geeks.  My mind is blown.

If I was wrong about the entire premise of her most famous book, I clearly have no idea what the rest of her output is like.

I didn’t realize she was the author of this story (I saw the author’s name but didn’t connect her to anything).  I doubt that knowing she wrote it would have made me think any differently about the story.  Mostly because I don’t know what to think about the story.

Essentially this story follows a college-aged woman as she deliberately degrades herself for a poet who comes to teach at their school.  But she seems empowered by her degradation, so I’m not sure how to read it. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MICHAEL McDONALD-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #4 (March 26, 2020).

I was never a fan of the Doobie Brothers, although I do like a few of their songs.  To me, especially now, Michael McDonald’s voice has the quintessential mockable tone and style.  If I were to sing in a voice that I thought was funny, it would sound like him.

Now, he sang on the Thundercat album “Drunk” so that gives him some cred for me, but it’s hard for me to listen to this Tiny Desk Home Concert.

Shows what I know, though, since he is hugely popular and is a “five-time Grammy winner and 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

After Michael McDonald finished “Matters Of The Heart,” the opening song in his Tiny Desk (home) concert, there was a brief pause. The bewilderment on his face was unmistakable. It’s a look I believe we all can relate to in this moment of uncertainty. He sat in his home studio, complete with an illustration of the Tiny Desk drawn by Mr. McDonald himself. That pause, usually reserved for the anticipated applause, was replaced by complete silence.

“Matters” is slow and ponderous.  It lasts nearly 6 minutes and sounds like a ballad I would have hated in the 90s.

I hate to be so mean to him, because he seems like a nice enough guy.  But my comments surely won’t affect him too much.

He then proceeded to play two 1978 Doobie Brothers classics that showcase his still-golden voice: “Minute By Minute” and “What A Fool Believes.”

He jokes: “If you know the words, sing along with me at home,” he said. “I won’t know if you’re singing well or not because I can’t hear you here.”

I enjoy these two Doobie Brothers songs, although  don’t really know the words–I had no idea that the song was called “What a Fool Believes” until about twenty years after I first heard it.  I much prefer the full band to these rather stripped down versions.

[READ: March 10, 2020] The Kids in the Hall: One Dumb Guy

It’s amusing to me that this book by Paul Myers, has an introduction by Seth Meyers and mentions Mike Myers.

Seth says that he was interning at Comedy Central and was doing a great job.  Then he found The Kids in The Hall (which he had never seen before). He became so obsessed with it that he started slacking off.  His boss at Comedy Central said that initially he was planing on offering Seth a job but after all the slacking off he wouldn’t do it.  When Seth told his boss he had been side-tracked by The Kids in the Hall, his boss sais, “There are worse things to throw an opportunity away for.”

So this is an authorized biography of the five Kids in the Hall.  Myers tells the story in a really compelling way. One where, as you read it, you think, gosh I hope everything works out for these guys.  Even though you know they did because well, this book wouldn’t be written about them if it didn’t and because you’re a huge fan of the Kids and you know it all worked out. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: CANCELLED: April 11, 2020] Basia Bulat / Samantha Crain

indexI saw Basia Bulat on a Tiny Desk Concert many years ago. She played the pianoette and sounded amazing.

That Concert is from 2011 and she has changed a bit since then.  She is more poppy and less folky.  I’m not entirely sure I like her new stuff as much as her old stuff, but I was pretty sure she’d play some old stuff and maybe bring out the pianoette as well.

Samantha Crain is a Choctaw-American songwriter and has been performing since 2004.  I’m surprised I haven’t heard of her before as she is quite well regarded.  Well I look forward to seeing her in person some day.

UPDATE: On June 15, I received a refund, officially cancelling this show.

 

 

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516ZKjM2CqL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_ (1) SOUNDTRACK: ELISAPIE-Tiny Desk Concert #948 (February 20, 2020).

downloadElisapie (I have no idea how to pronounce that) is a First Nations singer from Salluit, on the Northern tip of Quebec.

She sings in Inuktitut (as well as in English and French).  And her voice is absolutely intense.

Her songs are very personal–she sings of

her life as an adopted child and of meeting her biological mother. Now, as a mother herself, she sings about what it must have meant to her own mother to give up her child.

Elisapie left her birth-village, Salluit, as a teenager and headed to Montreal, leaving her community and her sick mom. The songs she sings, here all come from her album, The Ballad of the Runaway Girl and deal with the consequences of her leaving.

These songs are definitely rock, but with a different overall sound.  Jason Sharp’s bass saxophone is fantastic–creating deep low rumbles and otherworldly squawks.

“Arnaq” opens with some chugging guitar riffs (I can’t tell if the guitar is acoustic or electric) from Joe Grass and after a verse or so, some great noisy electric guitars from Josh Toal, who punctuates the song with little solos.  There’s no bass guitar because the bass saxophone covers all of the low ends.

The song, even though it is in Inuktitut is rally catchy with a chorus of “ahhhhhh, I, yi, I” (or something).

The middle section is full of great noises as both guitars and the sax all play some wild solos.

All of this is held together by “the tasteful drumming of Evan Tighe.”

She says the second song, “Una” is the most painful yet the most freeing song.  It is  written to her biological mother.  In Inuktitut the word for mother means “our little bag” because they carried us.

It opens with slow staccato guitar chords and a near a capella vocal before the quiet electric guitar from Josh Toal joins in.  The spareness of the beginning of this song is a great counterpoint to the end of the song when everyone joins in–vocals, guitars, sax and some complex drumming.

Before the final song, she looks around and smiles and says Lizzo was here!  My daughter is very excited.

The final song “Darkness Bring The Light” opens with some great weird sounds from everyone.  Tighe makes scraping metallic sounds as he slides his drum sticks around the cymbals.  Toal plays a synth intro as Grass bows his guitar and Sharp makes waves of gentle sounds to underpin the melody

This one is in English.  She sings a melody that rides over the sounds.  After 2 minutes the drums kick in and after a run through of the chorus, the guitarists join in

Bob Boilen concludes

This is an extraordinary Tiny Desk from an artist with something meaningful to say.

He is absolutely correct.  This set is fantastic.

[READ: March 10, 2020] Gunnerkrigg Court 4 [32-41]

I really enjoyed the first three books of this series and then promptly forgot about it.  I happened to see this book at the library and was excited to see that I hadn’t read it.  Can it really have been three years since I last read about these characters?

Being away for so long made some of this a little confusing.  I will have to read the whole story again some time.

Chapter 32 shows Antimony returning from the forest and there is a warm welcome with Renard. But Katarina’s welcome is cool–“you kinda make it hard to be your friend.” Antimony tries very hard to make Kat like her again…too hard.  She creates scary situations in which she can “save” Kat,  It doesn’t exactly work, although Kat isn’t really mad anymore, just annoyed.  But then a gigantic creepy monster thing comes out of the water.  Kat is impressed by Annie’s conjuring until Annie says she didn’t do it.  They run out.

Only to learn that this is Lindsey–the creature who helped design most of everything at the court–a giant crablike creature.

All this time Kat has been working on the idea of growing a robot.  Well, not exactly, but kind of.  She imagines using a muscular frame to build a robot body around.  Or something.  She is able to use the smarts of one of the existing robots to give her a hand.  The code they provide is actually a small white cube with no writing on it.  Amazingly Kat is able to read parts of it. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 27, 2020] Sarah Harmer

I don’t remember when I first heard Sarah Harmer.

I think it was back in 2000 with her first album You Were Here.  (She has an album that she recorded before it but it wasn’t officially released until later).

You Were Here had the song “Basement Apt.” which was a reasonably big hit.  I also checked out her previous band Weeping Tile who are unjustly overlooked.

Harmer put out consistently great records, including I’m a Mountain, a bluegrass album that is totally awesome.  It took her five years to release the next album, Oh Little Fire, because she became an environmental activist and performed music mostly in guest roles.

Now it’s been ten years since Fire and she is back with a new album called Are You Gone.

She told us that this was the second night of her tour–a warm up for the big times in Canada.  Sarah had a four piece band with her.  She introduced them twice and I couldn’t make out a single name in the bunch.  But I was able to look them up. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 20, 2020] Sloan

This is my fourth time seeing Sloan (and S’s second time).  This is the second time I’ve seen them tour an album in its entirety.  (If only I’d gone to see the Twice Removed tour!).  These album tours are just fantastic.

The shows never feel like a nostalgia show.  The band was rocking and totally into it.  Plus, you get to hear songs that they never play live (“Chester the Molester”?).  What makes it even better is that set two (the non-album set) often has some deep cuts (because they’re not playing the songs from the album they just played).

So in total I heard 16 songs that I haven’t heard them play live before.  Sweet.

We arrived on time, but since it was sold out and there was no opening act, it meant we were pretty far back.  Fortunately, we managed to move past the mountain man in front of us.  The band came in and Chris Murphy literally had to squeeze past me to get to the stage (I love Boot & Saddle).  Less cool were the fans who followed the band to the stage and pushed their way in front of us,

Recent shows at B&S have had poor lighting, but I believe the band brings their own lighting crew (and a giant 4 like on the 4 Nights at the Palais Royale album), so the lighting was excellent all night.  As was the sound! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KACY & CLAYTON-“How to Fight Loneliness” (from WILCOvered, UNCUT Magazine November 2019).

The November 2019 issue of UNCUT magazine had a cover story about Wilco.  It included a 17 track CD of bands covering Wilco (called WILcovered or WILCOvered).  I really enjoyed this collection and knew most of the artists on it already, so I’m going through the songs one at a time.

I was not familiar with Kacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum (a Canadian folk duo).

This song has a bit of menace in the delivery.  I’m not sure if it’s the way Kacy sings a bit like Aimee Mann or in the bass/organ combination.  The original is a bit more spare (although still minor key).

The guitar work (from Clayton) is very pretty, both the initial acoustic and then the sharper electric. There’s a great guitar solo mid-song.

I really like this version and will definitely check out more from this duo.

[READ: February 19, 2020] Princeless: Book One

After heaving read book three in this series, I figured I should go back and see how it all started.  This book collected issues 1-4.

This book opens with a cartoony drawing of a fairy tale.  A princess in a tower is saved by a handsome knight and they get married and live happily ever after.

On the next page, the little girl hearing the story says it is complete hogwash.

Then the girl, who is our heroine, Adrienne, lists the plot holes:

What kind of dragon dies from one blow?
How does the prince get the princess from the tower.  He climbed?  And then climbed down with her?  Because she sure didn’t with those toothpick arms.
And who would put a princess in a tower, what kind of grudge would you need against her to do that?
Plus, the cost of a tower would be more than her dowry!
You’re gonna put a dragon, a wild animal, in charge of your daughter.  What if it wanders off?  What if it kills her?

All she knows is when she turns 16 her parents better not put her in a….

cut to next page tower.  We see poor 16 year-old Adrienne locked in a tower guarded by a (very pink) dragon. The dragon is named Sparky and this dragon is not too scary.  Well, she is since she is a dragon, but she’s not as scary as some dragons.  I mean, she does manage to eat all of the knights who try to rescue the princess. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: January 24, 2020] Art d’Ecco [rescheduled from November 10, 2019, replaced Mattiel]

2020-01-24 20.43.21_previewArt d’Ecco is a band from Vancouver.  Well, technically, Art d’Ecco is the singer and it is his band.  Either way it is a fantastic name which perfectly encapsulates the look of he and style of dandies from the Pacific Northwest playing excellent garage glam.

I didn’t realize that there were going to be two opening acts.  So when The Retinas finished I assumed that Temples were coming out next.  (I also assumed I’d be getting home really early if the headliners were going on at 9:15).

I was surprised when Art d’Ecco came out because, while I didn’t exactly know what Temples looked like, I was fairly certain they weren’t a glammy band.  Plus, what happened to the singer’s big curly hair?

I was happy to discover that this wasn’t Temples because I didn’t think I could have been that off in my expectations.  But I was even happier to discover this new (to me) band who were fantastic. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NEIL PEART-September 12, 1952-January 7, 2020.

When I was in high school, Rush was my favorite band, hands down.  I listened to them all the time.  I made tapes of all of their songs in alphabetical order and would listen to them straight through.

I still loved them in college, but a little less so as my tastes broadened.  But every new release was something special.

It’s frankly astonishing that I didn’t seem them live until 1990.  There were shows somewhat nearby when I was in college, but I never wanted to travel too far on a school night (nerd!).

For a band I loved so much, it’s also odd that I’ve only seen them live 5 times.  However, their live shows are pretty consistent.  They play the same set every night of a tour (as I found out when I saw them two nights apart), and there wasn’t much that set each show apart–although They did start making their shows more and more fun as the years went on, though).

One constant was always Neil Peart’s drum solo. It too was similar every night.  Although I suspect that there was a lot more going on than I was a ware of.  It was also easy to forget just how incredible these solos were.  Sure it was fun when he started adding synth pads and playing music instead of just drums, but even before that his drumming was, of course, amazing.

It was easy to lose sight of that because I had always taken it for granted.

I am happy to have seen Rush on their final tour.  I am sad to hear of Neil’s passing.  I would have been devastated had it happened twenty years ago, but now I am more devastated for his family.

So here’s two (of dozens) memorials.  The first one is from the CBC.  They included a mashup of some of Neil’s best drum solos:

But what better way to remember the drum master than with a supercut of his drum solos? From a 2004 performance of “Der Trommler” in Frankfurt, Germany, to a 2011 performance on The Late Show With David Letterman, to his first-ever recorded drum solo (in 1974 in Cleveland, Ohio), dive into nearly five minutes of Peart’s epic drum solos, below.

The best Neil Peart drum solos of all time.

I was only going to include this link, because it was a good summary, then I saw that Pitchfork ranked five of Neil’s best drum solos (an impossible task, really).  But it is nice to have them all in one place.

You can find that link here.

Starting in the 1980s Neil’s solos were given a name (which shows that they were pretty much the same every night).  Although as I understand it, the framework was the same but the actual hits were improvised each night.

Even after all of these years and hearing these drum solos hundreds of times, watching them still blows my mind.

  • “The Rhythm Method”
  • “O Baterista”
  • “Der Trommler”
  • “De Slagwerker,”
  • “Moto Perpetuo”
  • “Here It Is!”, “Drumbastica,” “The Percussor – (I) Binary Love Theme / (II) Steambanger’s Ball”

[READ: January 2020] Canada 1867-2017

In this book, Paul Taillefer looks at the most historically significant event from each tear of Canadian history.  And he tries to convey that event in about a page.  Can you imagine learning the history of your country and trying to condense every year into three paragraphs?

And then do it again in French?  For this book is also bilingual.

I can’t read French, but i can tell that the French is not a direct translation of the English (or vice versa).

For instance in 1869, the final sentence is:

This, in turn, signaled the start of the Red River Rebellion which would not end until the Battle of Batoche in 1885.

Neither Batoche nor 1885 appears in the entire French write up.  So that’s interesting, I suppose.  I wonder if the content is very different for French-reading audiences. (more…)

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