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Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: FLOCK OF DIMES-Tiny Desk Concert #246 (August 10, 2021).

Flock of Dimes is a fun band name.  It’s the solo project of Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner (I thought Wye Oak was a solo project as well–no, it’s a duo).  [Gee, why wasn’t Andy Stack invited to this sing along?]

For this Home Concert, the solo project turns huge with nine people sitting around having a big ol’ sing along (I’ll assume they are all vaccinated and that this was filmed before Delta took off).

The setup is pretty simple: three guitars (I love that the guys on the couch are lefty (Michael Libramento, baritone guitar) and righty (Alan Good Parker, tenor guitar) so it looks appealingly symmetrical). some percussion and a lot of voices (the men on the right of the screen seems somewhat less invested).

The friends who are singing along include the three singers from Mountain Man: Amelia Randall Meath, Molly Sarlé and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig.  Meath is also in Sylvan Esso and her bandmate Nick Sanborn is also present (he’s one of the less invested men).  The set is filmed at Sylvan Esso’s new studio in Durham, N.C., called Betty’s.

“Two” is a bouncy number with lots of percussion.  I like the way the backing singers join in from time to time, but not constantly–it introduces new voices throughout.

One of the invested men is percussionist Matthew McCaughan from Bon Iver–he’s got a full complement of instruments at hand.  Joe Westerland (from Megafaun) is the other percussionist, he’s just a bit more subtle in his actions, but you can see him gently tapping through “Two.”

“Price of Blue” is a little slower but it has a wonderful melody.  The harmonies really standout on this song.

I don’t know the originals of these songs, but I have to assume the blurb is correct

These acoustic performances actually shed new light, thanks to radiant and radically different arrangements, while fully capturing the warmth we look for from Tiny Desk concerts.

Whatever the case, the backing vocals are tremendous.  You can really hear Molly Sarlé’s gorgeous harmony vocals.

“Awake For The Sunrise” feels like an old fashioned fire side sing along.  I’ve enjoyed Wye Oak’s music but I don’t know it very well.  I rather like Wassner’s delivery here–but i feel like these songs might not be as good without these harmonies!

[READ: August 12, 2021] New Teeth

I’m guessing that Simon Rich had a baby.

This collection of stories is loaded with stories about little kids.  And that’s all right because he has a very funny take on being a parent.

The other stories tackle the corporate environment and are full of fish-out-of-water stories.

“Learning the Ropes” is about being a new parent.  But it is written from the point of view of two pirates. And hilarity ensues.

What’s odd to me is that in his first books, his stories were really short, but I feel like lately his stories have gotten much longer–sometimes too long.  This one in particular kind of dragged at times, because it’s pretty much a one-note joke: what? pirates raising a little girl?!  One pirate is a concerned parent which means he wants them both to care about the child.  It’s got a few very funny moments, and of course, when the pirates who speak in pirate style (“The only man I trust is me first mate”) say things like “Arr… it be called ‘limit testing.’ She be acting out because she be craving discipline,” well, that’s classic Simon Rich right there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: mafmadmaf“Rapture” (SXSW Online 2021).

I never intend to go to SXSW–I find the whole thing a bit much.  But I also appreciate it for the way it gives unknown bands a place to showcase themselves. NPR featured a half dozen artists online this year with this note:

This year, the South by Southwest music festival that takes over Austin, Texas every spring happened online. Couch By Couchwest, as I like to call it, was an on-screen festival, with 289 acts performing roughly 15-minute pre-recorded sets across five days in March.

This list was curated by Bob Boilen.  He also notes:

 I didn’t enjoy hearing loud, brash music while sitting on a couch the way I would in a club filled with people and volume, so I found myself engaging in more reflective music instead.

I’m going in reverse order, so mafmadmaf is next.

mafmadmaf is a Chinese modular synthesizer artist. I’m not sure I ever saw his face onscreen, but it didn’t matter: This seductive and spellbinding set was perfect in my living room. Seeing his modular synthesizer and its many patch cables set up in a beautiful garden was more entertaining than simply watching some knob-turning on its own. Artfully done.

Anyone who knows Bob knows he loves modular synths.  I really have no sense of how they work, so this is all a mystery to me.  But I agree that the setting is wonderful.  And the music is very cool.

This piece is 13 minutes long and while it is mostly washes of synth sounds, there’s some melodies (synthesized sounds of water drops and chimes).

The song morphs in interesting ways, especially after 4 and a half minutes when the musicians enters the screen and you start to see him do something to his setup.  This adds new sounds and even a pulsing almost-beat.

At around ten minutes things slow way down.

[READ: July 15, 2021] Naturalist

I saw this book in the library and grabbed it because I love Jim Ottaviani’s work.  He has written and illustrated a number of non-fiction graphic novels and they have all been terrific.  I love his drawing style–very clean lines and excellent detail.  I also love his ability to compact big ideas into small digestible chunks.

But I had never heard of Edward O. Wilson, which, after reading this, surprises me. He is not only a Pulitzer prize winning author, an innovator in the field of biology and a writer of a massive book about ants, he is also controversial (as we see later on) and a devoted environmentalist.

The book opens with a young Wilson growing up in Alabama.  From when he was little he was obsessed with ants.  There were lots of fire ants where he grew up and there are few things more fascinating than fire ants (the book is chock full of all of the scientific names for all of these ants).

When he was still young, playing around in nature, he went fishing and when he pulled a fish out of the water its spines poked him in the eye giving him a traumatic cataract–he wound up with full sight in one eye only.   But this seemed to get him to focus more minutely on smaller things–ants.

Staring in fourth grade  his father was shuffled around the country a lot so Edward made his home in many places around the south, eventually settling in Florida.

There he met a friend who was obsessed with butterflies–they were two budding entomologists. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DRY CLEANING-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #232 (July 6, 2021).

I thought I was familiar with Dry Cleaning, but I’m thinking I heard them discussed on an All Song Considered episode and maybe even heard the song they played.  But that was almost nine months ago, and things were quite different then.  So it’s interesting to hear that their music doesn’t typically sound like the way this Tiny Desk (Home) Concert sounds.  [I really like the sound of this].

Up until now, Dry Cleaning’s post-Brexit post-punk relied on a robust dynamism of jagged, thudding lushness and a speak-song voice. It’s music that coos and quizzes at once. How energizing to hear Dry Cleaning recontextualize its established sound for a relatively subdued Tiny Desk performance from World of Echo, a record store in East London beloved to the British band.

Tom Dowse trades his effects pedals and electric guitar for an acoustic; its weird bends and weirder chords surprisingly complement the atmospheric keyboards and minimal beats of Nick Buxton, who’s normally on drums. Lewis Maynard’s bass doesn’t throttle at this volume, but still grooves.

It’s actually Maynard’s bass that you notice right away once “Her Hippo” opens.  After a grooving riff, Florence Shaw starts speaking (not even really speak-singing, just reciting).

The house is just twelve years old
Soft landscaping in the garden
An electrician stuck his finger in the plug hole
And shouted “Yabba”

The acoustic guitars sound great in contrast here–soft and ringing–while Shaw sneers

The last thing I looked at in this hand mirror
Was a human asshole

Between songs they joke around a bit (which belies their more serious sounding music).  Buxton plays some dancey music between songs as they get set up for the next track.

Brash and unusual (for an acoustic guitar anyway) chords open “Unsmart Lady” before the rumbling bass keeps the rhythm.  This time Florence speaks even more quietly

Fat podgy
Non make-up
Unsmart lady

The middle portion is a terrific juxtaposition of unusual chords and rumbling bass.

Florence Shaw’s voice [is] an instrument of resolute deadpan…. Some might call her delivery wry, even disaffected — her lyrics non-sequitur — but here a sly inquisitiveness inclines a smile (“I’d like to run away with you on a plane, but don’t bring those loafers”) and burns a harsh memory (“Never talk about your ex / Never, never, never, never, never slag them off / Because then they know”).

For “Leafy” Dowse puts away his guitar and heads behind the keyboard for washes of synths.  After a verse or so, the slow bass comes in adding rhythm to Shaw’s lyrics:

What are the things that you have to clear out?
Baking powder, big jar of mayonnaise
What about all the uneaten sausages?
Clean the fat out of the grill pan
This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, now
Trying not to think about all the memories
Remember when you had to take these pills

Dowse returns to his guitar for “Viking Hair” (from an earlier EP).  This song has something of a main riff and Shaw actually seems to be humming before the lyrics begin.

Stick up for me, do what you’re told
But sometimes tell me what to do as well
I just want to sexually experiment in a nice, safe pair of hands
Don’t judge me, just hold still

A lot of times, especially with pop bands, I like the way a band sounds in their Tiny Desk and don’t like their recorded output.  But the blub makes me think I’d enjoy their original recordings even more.  So I’ll have to check that out.

[READ: July 10, 2021] “Bravado”

(This story is about reprobates in Ireland.

It begins on Sunderland Avenue, where an Indian shop keeper is concerned about the group of five teens who approached the store.  He is closing up and they give him a hard time. The three boys are nasty but the girls are silent (this is unusual–usually the girls are drunk and terrible).  The shopkeeper pretends to be talking to the cops on the phone.

There were another two boys who had just left a club, they’d seen the band Big City.  And even though the had a mile walk home, they didn’t mind because the show was so good.

The fivesome included Manning and his girlfriend Aisling.  The other two boys, Kilroy and Donovan, were Manning’s mates. Ailsing found them harder and less enjoyable than Manning, but he hung out with them and she was stuck doing so as well. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FROM THE TOP-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #230 (June 30, 2021).

Here’s three young classical performers playing some amazing piece of music.

From the Top is the radio program (distributed by NPR) that spotlights today’s terrific young players.

Teenagers from three locales around the country – Chicago, St. Louis and Palo Alto, Calif. – invite us into their homes for fresh takes on vintage classics, contemporary sounds and sophisticated pop arrangements.

Up first is a cello from Ifetayo Ali-Landing.  The song is by Yebba called  “Evergreen” (arr. Charles Yang).  I don’t know this song, but I really like it.  The cello sounds fantastic and the melody is delightfully complex and yet not unmelodic. I love the way she occasionally bounces the bow off the strings, for a really neat effect–very percussive.

Ifetayo Ali-Landing, an outstanding 18-year-old cellist from Chicago starts us off. She’s already performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and given her own TEDx talk. One of her calling cards is this propulsive performance of “Evergreen,” a pop song by Yebba, arranged for solo cello.

Up next is a guitar duo by Jack and Elle Davisson.  They play Paulo Bellinati’s “Jongo.” This is their favorite duo performance because of the rhythm and the beat.  Jack opens with some wonderful classical fingering and then Elle follows with a similar melody.  Then Jack plays a lead while Elle taps out a rhythm on the strings.  But from there it’s hard to pick out who is doing what–each player has something special and complicated going on.  Elle plays some lovely harmonics and a kind of bass string solo while Jack picks the complicated lead.  And just when you think you get the whole piece, the two of them play a lengthy percussive section tapping and slapping on all parts of their guitars–a drum solo in the middle of this classical piece.

Pairing up in Palo Alto, the Davisson Guitar Duo features Jack, 16, and his sister Elle, 13. Their signature piece is the rhythmically driven Jongo, which offers flavors from composer Paulo Bellinati’s native Brazil. The siblings finish each other’s musical phrases with startling lyrical precision.

The final piece is solo piano by Jerry Chang.  He performs Franz Schubert: “Impromptu Op. 90, No. 3.”  It sounds amazing and his description of the song that it reminds him of being in a garden, is really interesting.

Seventh-grader Jerry Chang, clad in his comfy exercise shorts, closes this cross-country Tiny Desk from home, playing Schubert’s G-flat major Impromptu like someone twice his age. The gentle, rippling effects he gets from his still-growing 13-year-old hands, and the way he makes Schubert’s wistful melody sing, is astonishing.

[READ: May 10, 2021]  “Now We Are Five”

Only Davis Sedaris could find humor in his sister committing suicide.  This piece is very poignant and quite moving but there’s still dark humor in there.

I begins by saying that his parents had six children and people were always startled to hear his.  Six kids!  But now that Tiffany had killed herself, they were only five.

Six months before she killed herself David rented a house on Emerald Isle in North Carolina.  The family had gone there when they were kids and he thought it would be a fun way for the family to get together.

When they were kids David always grabbed the master bedroom until he was kicked out.  Then he often wound up staying in the maid’s room–which was usually outside. The others banded together against him, since he was clearly the weakest at this point. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ART D’ECCO “Angst in My Pants” (2021).

I saw Art D’ecco open a show a few years ago and I’ve become mildly obsessed with hi.  I’m delighted to see that he’s getting some promotion and success.

His new album In Standard Definition is a great synth pop retro dance infusion.  But in addition to that he has released two standalone covers.

Art D’ecco covering Sparks is a pretty natural decision.  as his label puts it.

The glam rocker premiered his cover of Sparks’ ‘Angst In My Pants’ via FLOOD Magazine earlier today. Art recalls, “Before making my last record I jokingly said to my band, if one more person or media outlet says I sound like Sparks I’m gonna cover them”.

This is a really faithful to the original, including the strained an jocular vocals in the verses.   And the great emphases in the chorus.  It’s modernized with new sounds and production but overall this is faithful and fun cover.  If it introduces fans of one band to the other, then it has done its job.

[READ: June 1, 2021] Colony

After reading Rob Grant’s Red Dwarf books, I discovered that he has written a number of novels in addition.

  • Colony (2000), a science fiction story about a colony that has long since lost its way.
  • Incompetence (2003), a wry detective story set in the near future where it is illegal to discriminate for any reason, even incompetence.
  • Fat (2006), a darkly comic novel about how the media portrays obesity and its effects on today’s society.
  • The Quanderhorn Xperimentations (2018) [based on a radio show that Grant wrote].

So Colony was his first.  It’s interesting how much it connects to Red Dwarf without having anything to do with Red Dwarf.  It’s a sci-fi novel, set millions of years in outer space, with the fate of the human race in the balance.

But barring that, it’s really quite different.  In this book the human race is aware that it is on the verge of extinction, and it is planning for it.  They are loading the best people on to a space ship (the Willflower) that will fly them millions of miles away to a habitable planet.  Those people will have offspring on the ship and several generations later the human race will survive on the new planet. 

But the book starts off by following Eddie O’Hare, a man NOT meant to be on this ship.  He is not one of earth’s best and brightest.  In fact, he is one of the unluckiest men around.  A computer glitch has caused him to lose millions of pounds for the company he works for.  The company believes he stole it.  And they have sent a couple of thugs to retrieve it.

In fact, the thugs just came to his room with the intent of throwing him out the window to his death.  But when they mention something that seems incorrect, they realize that they have the wrong man.  Eddie assumes he’s on that list, he’s just not next on the list–that would be the man in the room next door.  The hit men are darkly comic until they become just dark.

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ART D’ECCO-“That’s Entertainment” (2021).

I saw Art D’ecco open a show a few years ago and I’ve become mildly obsessed with hi.  I’m delighted to see that he’s getting some promotion and success.

His new album In Standard Definition is a great synth pop retro dance infusion.  But in addition to that he has released two standalone covers.

This one, a cover of The Jam’s “That’s Entertainment” was a little concerning for me.  This song is one of my all time favorite songs and I’m always nervous when a song like this gets covered.

But Art D’ecco does a great job.  There’s acoustic guitars, a grooving bass line, cool harmony vocals and, best of all, he keeps the way the chorus offers the short “That’s” and the stretched out “en ter tain ment.”  He even does the falsetto note (of course).

But what’s most enlightening about is cover is D’ecco’s voice. He seems to be stretching out of his comfort zone a little and it really shows off how good a singer her really is.

[READ: April 21, 2021] Last Human

I’m not sure what got me on my recent Red Dwarf reading kick (finding out that they had just released a new series was certainly a spark).  I was sure I had read all of these books before and yet none of them were familiar to me at all.

The Grant Naylor team wrote two books and the second one ended on a cliffhanger.

Then for reasons I’m not willing to dig into, both Rob Grant and Doug Naylor each wrote a sequel to that book.  But neither book is like the other and they both go in very different directions.  Naylor’s book was really dark and very violent.  Grant’s was also dark and very violent, but in very different ways.

The previous book ended with an old Lister being sent to a planet where everything goes backwards so that he can de-age to about the same age he was when he was on the series.  They plan to meet him 36 years later at Niagara Falls.

In this book Naylor has the crew place Kochanski’s ashes on the planet Kochanski so she came back to life and she and Lister were able to live their lives backwards together for some thirty years.

But this book opens much further back–to the birth of the first humanoid. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Avening Hall, Creemore, ON (November 16, 2019.

At the moment, the link for the first show of this series downloads this show instead of the 15th).  When the link is updated, I’ll post about November 15th.

It was pretty amazing that Rheostatics were going to do a mini tour.  I wanted to go to these shows so badly, but it was really hard for me to get up to Toronto.  I even bought a ticket for the final night, hoping something would allow me to go.  But, alas.

Second of the 7 Ontario shows for the Here Come The Wolves mini tour. The band were having some sound issues during the first set and I think it threw them off so Clark suggested they take a 10 minute break to regroup. This recording is actually a mix of one of the audience mics and the soundboard. The Soundboard mix, however, was all instruments other than kick drum in the right channel so I had to turn it into a mono file or it would have been unlistenable. I added the audience mix in for some room ambience and added a bit of compression, etc in Garageband for the final mix.

This show did not have Kevin Hearn, but it did have Hugh Marsh.  I’d have liked to see one show with Kevin and one without.

This show opens with a quiet intro and lots of Hugh Marsh playing as “Stolen Car” begins.  There’s some wild soloing in the middle of the song with Martin and Hugh having a “conversation” with bending notes.  Dave B sings the “I don’t need anger” verse.

Up next is “AC/DC On The Stereo (Country Version).”  for whatever reason, they play this as a more folky song (hence the “country version” label).  DB sings the first part; DC sings the middle.  When it ends, Martin jokes “that’s the brand new country version.”

During “Rearview” someone plays a simple acoustic solo (Tim or Dave?) and BD jokes “pretty hot licks.”

They go a little nuts on “Here Come the Wolves” with barking and howling.  When Hugh plays the middle violin riff, martin sings every day is silent and gray (Morrissey).  ‘It’s The Supercontroller!” has a false start but a wonderfully trippy opening from Hugh and DC.  Before the lyrics begin, DB asks for a monitor adjustment: “There’s a squirrel in my monitor.”   Martin: you hate squirrels.  Dave: No, Martin YOU hate squirrels.  MT: It’s not that you hate them, it’s that you don’t think they are worth your time.  Clark gets audience participation on the  “ahhs”

DB says they are playing the new album in order.  We are never out of order.
DC: We are never out of odor.  My wife thinks I  am never out of odor.
MT: I’ve never thought you were smelly–that’s not part of your reputation.

A lovely “Music in the Message.”  Then Dave says that people flew in from Vancouver and asks if anyone is from further.  DC: We’ll still thank you anyway.  Then he jokes about Tyler Stewart and says we’re in the drummer’s union.  It’s okay.

After babbling a bit, “I’m not sure what I’m trying to say. I’m not trying to say anything. I just feel like words belong here and I’m trying to make things flow.”  He says “Vancouver” is a song he wrote when he was around 18 (he says he was born in 1967) and which he rewrote last year.  This gets him to ask everyone’s birth year and hospital of birth.

DB 1963 in Etobicoke, St Michaels (a good Italian will be born in a hospital named after a Saint).
Tim: Etobicoke General (he’s the only real Etobicoke native).
DC 1965
Hugh: Montreal
Martin gives a shout out to Hugh and Nick Buzz: we’ve done 3 albums in 30 years.
“Vancouver” takes a bit of time to get going. The b vox are a little rough on this, but Martin’s echoing rippling guitar blasts at the end are awesome. The solo quotes from Journey’s “Who’s Crying Now.”

“I Wanna Be Your Robot” is rocking fun.  DC encourages the audience to make a new friend tonight.  Turn and introduce yourself.  You’ll make a new friend, for life potentially.  It feels really nice.  You’re all fans, you might as well.

The start of “Beautiful Night” has Hugh making all kinds of cool trippy violin noises.

They take a little break you can hear LP’s “Lost on You” in the background.

They return with “Northern Wish” to some cheers and talking, but there’s lovely crowd singing at the end.

Dave says they’d like to thank their opening band.  They were a little nervous: The Rheospastics.

Up next is one they haven’t done in a while.  “P.I.N.” starts out happy, but “just you wait.”  The final notes (Dave B) are messed up.

DB: IS it going a little better in the second set?  Tim: a little funnier at least.

During “Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne,” Hugh plays a ripping solo and DB says “these are the rotation of chords where we think about what Hugh just played.”  During the ending “Crazy Train” line Martin plays the riff and it fits perfectly.  DB says that song is more of a PSA than anything.

They ask what do you want to hear (Horses of course).  But they play “Legal Age Life” with a wicked wah wah violin solo.  They have a little fun with a guy in the vest in the audience–“he’s not from Vancouver–MT: he lives in a shack in the parking lot.

I love the record version of “Goodbye Sister Butterfly,” but this live version feels a little weird.  However, the disco ending is hot and they throw in some lines from “Good on the Uptake.”  They get really silly making robot and dog sounds.

Martin introduces he next song: This next song is about a robot dog named “Claire.”  He plays a  ripping solo very Neil Youngish.

Then comes an 11 minute Horses -> Crosseyed And Painless -> Another Brick In The Wall -> Horses.  DB sends this out to all the teachers.  Thank you for being teachers.  We love you.  We got your back.  There’s a percussion solo in the middle (glasses and wood blocks).  The speakers crackle at the end.

I want to be in a audience to scream “holy mackinaw, joe.”

After the encore break, DC gives a nice talk about friendship and music.  Then they introduce Hugh who is from Montreal and is “beautifully exotic” and was “born in a violin case.”  Martin talks about Hugh’s first violin lesson.  He plays a scratchy Mary Had a Little Lamb.  How?  on his guitar?  on the violin?  That’s how he got the Bruce Cockburn gig.

Then Martin talks about places where he’s lived. Funny jokes about Flesherton and sex cults.  Finally someone shouts Play a song, then!

DB: Here’s a song, sir.  But not for you.  It’s for everybody else.  Al the patient ones.  They play a brooding “Albatross.”

Dave says this is the first time he’s ever directed anyone to a website in his life.  But Darrin Cappe [the guy who runs the Rheostatics Live site!] who is here tonight has concerts going back to 1981.  MT: Hey Darrin, How you doin?

The end with “Mountains And The Sea.”  They mess up the challenging transition but quickly get it back and Hugh plays another wicked solo.

This show is almost two and a half hours long.  There were some glitches and lots of chatting, but what fun.  And great to have them back.

[READ June 25, 2021] Banned Book Club

I saw the title of this book and was instantly intrigued.  I had no idea that it was about banned books in Korea, though.  It’s immediately apparent that it is set there (the first page says South Korea, 1983), and that’s when I realized I knew nothing about South Korea in the 1980s.

The book opens on a family arguing.  They are in their “Fancy Steak Restaurant” where the main character, Kim Hyun Sook, is planning to go to University.  Her mother argues with her that she should be working in the restaurant not going to school.  But her father wants her to pursue her dream, like he pursued his (which was to open a steak restaurant).

Next we see her arriving at University where protests are underway.  She is irritated by them (her mother had bad things to say about them) and just wants to get to class.

She does well in school and joins a masked dance folk team as an extracurricular activity.  The folk dancing is wonderful, but at their first performance, the protesters arrive.  The drums team tells her that it was planned–they are part of the protests as well.  She is outraged and says she doesn’t want to do anything political. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Sonic Boom, Toronto, ON (September 5 2019).

Back in 2007, when the Rheostatics said farewell, who ever would have guessed that they’d be back in a record store for an album release event.  But here they are, playing in a record store and answering a formal Q&A.

For the release of the Here Come The Wolves album the Rheos did a Q&A at the record store Sonic Boom in Toronto with Laurie Brown.  Her interview is included here but the video can be found here.  The band then did a 45 minute set of new songs which may have been the first time since reforming that Hugh Marsh did not play with them as he was in Europe at the time. Luckily Eric Mac Innis traveled to Toronto from the Maritimes for this event and recorded it for everyone to hear.

After a 40 minute interview (which is quite nice), the four guys are going “to try to play the first five (actually six) songs of the record.”  Which is the first side of the record.

They tune up. Martin jokes “this is the Ravi Shankar portion” and DB says “our record is actually a Doors tribute album.  Every song starts in a minor key.”

They start after two minutes with “Vancouver.” The recording is very spare–like they are holding back for the small space.  The entire middle part is instrumental with maybe Dave noodling away until Martin comes back to sing the rest.  The end rocks a bit more.  Martin throws in a hint of a Journey song in the solo.  Tim: “We still haven’t quite learned that one yet.”   DC: “I did.”

“AC/DC On The Stereo” has big guitar chords and a few false intros (it’s weird without High’s violin).  “Rearview” sounds really nice in this setting.

DB: we used to do these things at the Rivoli–live rehearsals.  I’d like to bring that back.  Super fun.  We worked songs out.  It was entertaining for us.  Maybe not the audience.  I remember them being really full and then that thing turned up on YouTube of us spanking Dave Clark on the ass.  The Rivoli was very dark.  [whisper: people deal guns there?  Don’t go downtown, Dave.]  There’s no one–12 of our friends there.  You can buy gum at the Rivoli.

“Here Come The Wolves” is next.  Martin tunes while Dave gives a big drum intro.  Wanna see my tuner?  Here clip this on the head stock.  [Ha ha ha Now that’s comedy].  How you doin?  The song works well.  Everyone claps at the pause and then Martin does his part.

They thank Michael Phillip Wojewoda, Chris Walla, Gus Van Gogh for working on the album and Martin tells a funny story about MPW’s disgusting dreadlock.  Mike has left Dave has known him since he had that beaver-shaped dread in the middle of his hair it had a gray core–it was oxidizing in the middle.  Never leave a Rheostatics shows or the band will tell stories about you.

DC: I was being nice to the guy and you guys are tearing him a new one  Martin: that’s not a new one that’s something he did.  There’s nothing wrong with dreadlocks.  DC: I’m just stirring the pot.  MT: Stirring a big pot of dreadlock stew–it makes a fine broth.  We were on tour with the Dough Boys (Dreadlock Stu).

Next song is by David Clark.  DC: Martin, pick your favorite chord, don’t look.  Martin plays an insane chord and the song starts.  After the song DB: remember that chord, it’s pure gold.

Sympathetic vibrations.  DC starts talking about sympathetic advice he received from a luthier.  never leave your instrument in a case (they die), have them on stands in the noisiest part of the house they will vibrate and stay in tune.  DB says that’s bullshit.  Martin says it’s largely bullshit, but not totally.  Pick up an acoustic guitar that’s been in a case it will sound like shit; pick up a cheap one that’s been out and it will sound good.

DB: You learned that all from a Lutheran?
DC: Yes he nailed it to me.

Buy the record upstairs on the mezzanine level.  They play a jazzy number: buy the record in the mezzanine. How much does it cost?  $1.79.  No, that’s not even the tax.

They end with another song by Tim: “Music is the Message.”  We’re gonna play it and go.  It’s slow and pretty–sounds good, although the backing ahhs are a little crazy.

[READ: June 15, 2021] Void Trip

I saw this book on the shelf at the library and thought the title sounded promising.  The cover also looked pretty cool, so I brought it home.

As the book opens, we see Ana and Gabe stealing fuel from a tanker in the desert.  Gabe is much older than Ana and they seem to be arguing about their (confusing) plans.  They are quickly interrupted by the owner of the truck–a rather large but cute humanoid creature with a furry face.

Ana tells him that space pirates were trying to steal his fuel and she and Gabe frightened them off.  The trucker is grateful for the help but when he is visited soon after by a white robot, he’ll wish he wasn’t so gullible.

Ana and Gabe are the last humans alive (according to the back of the book, although I’m not sure it says that anywhere in the story).  They are headed to Euphoria, a sort of promised land planet.

They stop off at a rest stop where a humanoid elephant with lots of trunks (Ganesh-like) joins them to indulge in froot (various psychedelic drugs).  Mooreberry gives psychedelic experiences; Gaimangos turn everything into a fairytale.  Busiekhini will taste like the best food you’ve ever had.  (Those names are pretty good).  He eats it and hilarious trippiness ensues. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Jackson Triggs, St.Catharines, ON (August 12, 2017).

I have been catching up on the last few remaining recent (relatively) shows that the Rheostatics played.  These are all shows since the release of Here Comes the Wolves.

Great soundboard show from the beautiful Jackson Triggs Winery stage with Kevin Hearn on Keys/vocals and Hugh Marsh on violin. Very chatty show with one of the longest stretches of banter I can recall at over 8 minutes of straight comedy.

The show begins with the spoken introduction from Group of 7 “A tall white pine stands between me and the tree I’m trying to see … also a tall white pine.”  Then Martin starts a gentle “Northern Wish.”  It’s followed by “Legal Age Life” which has a wild keyboard solo.  Kevin continues to shine on a lengthy intro for Dave Clark’s fun new song “Supecontroller.”  It’s kind of a dopey song but it’s one of my favorites.

Kevin says to the audience, Say hello to Dave Clark.”  Dave says Jackson Triggs has treated us fine and gave us all kinds of good food.  (and plenty of wine).

A delicate “Music is the Message with lots of violin including a solo.  Kevin introduces Tim and Dave tells a joke about the difference between a piece of cheese and a piece of string that I don’t get (something about crickets).  And then someone talks about playing and there were crickets after every song–it was pretty rough.
After a boppy “Easy to Be with You,” Kevin plays keys like at an ice skating rink as a segue into a soaring “Stolen Car” with a lengthy solo form Martin and Hugh.
They thank the opening band  Common Deer and say that High and Kevin will be with them all summer long: Hugh Marsh Kevin Hearn Summer Experience.  Tickets: $5.99 at your local fairground.
They mention CDs and Martin in great, funny form says, we’ve lived through many formats.  The wax cylinder the vinyl disc, the compact disc (Tim: “they said they’d never skip but all mine skip now”). Martin: they skip in the most painful, digital…  the universe conspired to make it more annoying than previously existed.  When a vinyl skipped you’d go hmm, weird did they write that like that?  When a CD skips deh deh deh deh deh–a drill to the center of the mind.  Unless you’re a Squarepusher.  Hugh had many intentional skips on his recording–the king of the skip.
Don’t bug Hugh.  Hugh has no way to defend himself except for his instrument.  Sure he does, he’s the best looking dude in the band.  And he’s like 73.
DB says, from 2067 it’s “PIN.”  I really got my FM radio voce on tonight huh?
Dave you’ve always had a voice that is delightful on the radio as when you hosted Brave New Waves in the early sixties?
DB says Dave Clark influenced my life so much when he said “Do you want to be someone playing the bands on the radio or do you want to be the band?”
Martin: That’s very good advice Dave Clark and also demeaning to people who promote  our music and celebrate it.  My opinion of you has changed.  You told that story and now I hate you.  Dave Clark does not have that fulsome overtone.  DC: But Ii have a better personality.  My teeth would have been straight by now.  How does the teeth work into that? CBC benefits! CBC teeth.
That could have been you on Corner Gas.
Dave Clark says he has a show to pitch to the CBC.
Kevin: I have an idea for this show–play the next song.
Kevin plays in Barenaked Ladies and they talk a lot. Kevin was so excited to play with us here as a band who doesn’t go on talking about nonsensical things.
Kevin: You’re even worse.  Dave B: “way worse.”
Martin: Kevin before BNL you were in a band called The Look People   “5 is the number that makes me want to boogie.”
After “PIN,” there’s some scratching sounds and a Mr. Rogers intro into Michael Jackson.   Nice harmonies at the end.
Soaring keys swell for the intro to “California Dreamline.”  Martin gets a little wild singing in the dolphins part.  Keyboard washes segue into “Claire.”
Big shout to those who came down form St. Catharine’s a city that supports the arts.  When I think of Niagara Falls. i think of Dale Morningstar and his shenanigans.  Ron Sexmith
Can I tell you one of Ron Sexsmith’s original jokes?  Hey, did I just sit in maple syrup?  You bet your sweet ass you did.
Kevin: By the way I was told we’re good for time as long as we don’t do any more fifteen minute intros.  Man they run a tight ship around her.
DB to an audience member: Want to come up and model our new shirt?  No I’m not going to sign it now, I’m working.  It says nothing on the back.  You can write your own inspirational phrase on the back.
Kevin: Are you finished?
DB: Yes but I was selling merch it’s important.
MT: This is from Saskatchewan the Musical (that’s bound to be next).  Martin sings:
I don’t know what I’m doing here
I feel so different from everyone else in this town
Saskatchewan.”
Coming in the fall of 2025.
Then martin gets serious, and sings the song properly but sings the end in a slurry drunken way.
Then introduces: “This is Queer: The Musical.”
A jam in the meddle where Kevin plays nearly two minutes of keyboard fills before they jump to the bouncing ending.  It’s followed by a lively “Dope Fiends featuring a lengthy drum solo.
At the end as they sing “dark side of the moooooon,” Tim starts playing Pink Floyd’s “Money.”
After an encore break, Kevin comes out and starts playing pretty chords.  “Shaved Head” sounds very different with gentle keys.
It’s a great summer set and a very fun show.

[READ: April 21, 2021] Backwards

I’m not sure what got me on my recent Red Dwarf reading kick (finding out that they had just released a new series on DVD was certainly a spark).  I was sure I had read all of these books before and yet none of them were familiar to me at all.

The Grant Naylor team wrote two books and the second one ended on a cliffhanger.

Then for reasons I’m not willing to look into, both Rob Grant and Doug Naylor each wrote a sequel to that book.  But neither book is like the other and they both go in very different directions.  Naylor’s book was really dark and very violent.

Grant’s book is also dark but in very different ways.

The previous book ended with an old Lister being sent to a planet where everything goes backwards so that he can de-age to about the same age he was when he was on the series.  They plan to meet him 36 years later at Niagara Falls.

But this book opens with a prologue about Arnold Rimmer aged 7 and how he continues to fail in school.  His teachers suggest he be held back, but his mother interferes and that lets him move on.

Then the book starts properly with the crew of Red Dwarf: Rimmer, Cat and Kryten landing on Reverse World and trying to locate Lister.  Because everything goes in reverse (which takes some time to wrap your head around) all of your actions are predetermined.  And, essentially, if you do something dangerous, you know that if you’re not already hurt, you won’t get hurt because you would be hurt to start with.  What?  You’ve already jumped off the cliff, now, you’re doing it backwards.  But you already landed, so you’d already be hurt and going backwards would un-hurt you.

It also means that you un-eat food, good to sleep when you are refreshed, wake up when you’re tired.  And you don’t even want to think about going to the bathroom. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BROTHERS OSBORNE-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #215 (May 26, 2021).

If Brothers Osborne were an instrumental band I’d really like them. Lead guitarist John Osborne is an amazing player whose riffs are amazing and even though they sound pretty country, he’s amazing to watch.

But when T.J. Osborne starts singing, you understand why they wear cowboy hats.

For their Tiny Desk (home) concert… Brothers Osborne–a country duo that’s long challenged the conventions of country and still managed to top the charts–scale to fit the setting – John’s wood-panelled Nashville living room furnished with plenty of guitars and a tiny desk featuring a Maryland flag mug – but refuse to dial down the intensity.

They open with “Muskrat Greene,” the instrumental that is so impressive.  T.J.’s guitar licks are flying, Adam Box’s drums keep a tight martial pace (and the drum sound is fantastic) and the song never lets up.  I love the backwards guitar part in the middle along with some cool keyboard soloing from Gabe Dixon.

Opening with the explosive instrumental track “Muskrat Greene,” Brothers Osborne and their collaborators use their set to showcase the very best of Skeletons. As on the record, they transition immediately into “Dead Man’s Curve,” a track that’s the ideal interplay between John’s fiery guitar and T.J.’s singular vocal stylings.

After two and a half minutes they segue into “Dead Man’s Curve” which sounds like a pretty great rockin’ roots song.  The main riff after the chorus is spectacular and T.J.’s solo smokes.  I’d like to hear it with different vocals.

“I’m Not for Everyone” is where the set falters for me.  It is such a standard country song–anthemic and familiar–I’m sure it sounds exactly like some other country song.  I might enjoy it more as a cover because the lyrics are pretty funny (country music self-deprecation).  The addition of “local legend” Matt Heasley on accordion is a nice touch.

“Skeletons” opens with some muted acoustic guitar from T.J. and some nice slide guitar work from Jason Graumlich.  Once again, if this song didn’t feel so “country” I would really like it.  Musically it’s solid (John gets another great solo) and lyrically it’s quite clever.  I just don’t like the vocal style.  When I imagine Richard Thompson singing it, I like it a lot better.

“Hatin’ Somebody” (never got nobody nowhere) ends the set with more clever lyrics.  This time John uses the slide for some more great guitar work.  The song has a fun riff and Pete Sternberg’s bass keeps the low end solid.  But the song is just too country for me.

I do appreciate how much fun they are having though.

[READ: June 1, 2021] Spy School

I read Gibbs’ Charlie Thorne books recently and really enjoyed them, so I thought it would be fun to check out his earlier series Spy School (which C. had read a few years ago and really liked).

This story had the same kind of clever wit as the Charlie Thorne books, which I greatly appreciated.  It was also a pretty exciting story.

It starts in the middle of nowhere.  Well, actually in the middle of Ben Ripley’s house.  Where, out of nowhere, a Federal agent has just told him that he has been accepted into spy school.  They’ve had their eyes on him for a while. He did wonderfully on the STIQ exams.  What are they?  He doesn’t remember taking them.

Standardized Test Inserted Questions.  The CIA places them in every standardized test to asses potential espionage aptitude.  You’ve gotten every one right since third grade.

So that’s pretty wild.  Of course everything about Spy school is secret so he can’t even tell his parents or his best friend. They al think he’s going to a super brainy nerdy math school (Ben is a super brainy math nerd after all).

The agent, Alexander Hale, is so cool, Ben can’t wait to hang out with him.  But when Alexander drops him off at school things are not good.  The whole school is under red alert–there seems to have been a security breach.  And Ben is now a target.  Why? because even the enemy has heard about him. (more…)

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