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Archive for the ‘The Jayhawks’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: SINGLE MOTHERS-“Marbles” (2014).

Single Mothers has been together in one way or another for years.  In fact their blurb says

Single Mothers broke up in 2009 and have been playing shows ever since.

I had not heard of this London, Ontario band until reading this story from Evan Redsky, so I wanted to find a song that he played on.  Their lineup was everchanging and as far as I can tell this album, Negative Qualities, is the only one he played bass on.

Negative Qualities has a classic punk sound with a twenty-first century production quality.  The songs are short and fast (most are around two minutes).

One of the more important things for a band like this is how the vocalist comes across.  Drew Thompson screams melodically and, more importantly, clearly enough that you can hear most of the words.

I picked this song, the second on the album because it opens with a great rumbling wall from bass from Redsky and this fantastic lyrical verse, bridge and chorus

She’s like
Blah, blah, blah, blah
Something ’bout McSweeney’s
Something ’bout her thesis
Something ’bout it’s meaning
Something ’bout whatever
Something like
“Why do you gotta be so mean?”

‘Cause I don’t care about your first editions
And I don’t care about your typewriter ribbons
I don’t care about your punctuation
Puncture wounds
That you’re trying to inflict me with

‘Cause I’m a hypocrite
And I’m okay with it
And I’m so self-aware
That it’s crippling
At least I don’t pretend my whole life’s held together by bookends

The whole album is really good.  While exploring their bandcamp site, I found their first EP (with longer songs and a slightly different sound) to also be excellent.

[READ: December 2019] “Smack Dab in the Metal”

The December 2019 issue of the West End Phoenix focused on Indigenous People.  Most of the writers were Indigenous and the news stories shone a light on Indigenous issues.  Much of the presence of Indigenous peoples is seen through their art–whether through beads, paint or sculpture, the images are often quite striking.  The issue even included a “colour me” page with a striking image from Taylor Cameron, a 23-year-old Anishinaabe artist from Saugeen First Nation (I can’t find an image online).

To a Polish person, the name Evan Redsky sounds Polish or Russian, but I can clearly see that it is not.

Redsky is a musician.  He has released some solo material, but he is perhaps best known as the bassist for Single Mothers.  That’s how this piece opens anyway.

He says in his later teens and early twenties he traveled the globe with this punk band (that I hadn’t heard of).

There’s nothing too unusual about a teenage boy being in a punk band.  But the fact that Redsky is Ojibway from Mississaugi First Nation in Northern Ontario is pretty unusual–especially in the punk/metal scene. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: STEVE EARLE-Transcendental Blues (2000).

I’ve never really liked Steve Earle’s music.  For some reason I always thought of him as a kind of outlaw country.  But the review of this album from Hornby made me want to check it out.  And while there are certainly country music trappings, this is a solid fun rock record.

Earle’s voice isn’t what I thought it was (or wasn’t was it is now)–it’s much softer and much higher than I imagined.  So what’s going on on this record?

“Transcendental Blues” has a great distorted guitar riff running opposite the throbbing bassline.  Earle’s voice sounds like a cross between Dylan, Petty and (anachronistically) Kevin Devine.  “Everyone’s in Love with You” sounds like a rocking R.E.M. song with a very 90s vocal style and even a reverse guitar solo.

“Another Town” sounds like a song that I’ve heard a million times (but I haven’t).  It’s a simple pop song with a crazy catchy melody and it’s barely 2 minutes long.  “I Can’t Wait” slows things down a bit with a real poppy Matthew Sweet-vibe.

“The Boy Who Never Cried” is a dirgey song, slow and story telling.  It has strings with a slightly Middle Eastern feel.

“Steve’s Last Ramble” is a stompin’ song with full on harmonica introduction (which makes it seem even more Dylan).  “The Galway Girl” is a mandolin-based stomper while “Lonelier Than This” is a quiet, sad song.

“Wherever I Go” is only two minutes ling and has a country feel, even though it’s not that different from the other songs.  The guitar solo is totally early Beatles, but the lyrics are pure country:

I could drink corn whisky ’til my brain goes soft
I could run this highway ’til my wheels come off

The harmonica returns on “When I Fall” the start of a trifecta of country songs.  His drawl really comes out here, possibly because of his duet partner (Steve Earle’s sister, Stacey Earle, a country singer in her own right).  It’s a shame this song is so long as it’s my least favorite.

“I Don’t Want to Lose You Yet” is a simple country pop song (the twang remains).  Although “Halo ‘Round the Moon” is a softer song with a gentle shuffle beat.  “Until the Day I Die” continues with the old school country/bluegrass style with a big ol’ banjo intro, close harmonies, and a fiddle solo.  You can imagine a jug solo, hand clappin’ and a hoedown in a live version.

“All of My Life” rocks out again, with some loud bass and distorted guitar, which I desperately needed after those last few songs.

The disc ends with “Over Yonder (Jonathan’ Song).”  From songfacts:

This song is about the execution-by injection of Jonathan Nobles, which Steve Earle witnessed. The alt-country star told Mojo magazine May 2008 about it: “I don’t recommend it. I befriended Jonathan for several months beforehand. Then I saw the execution and later brought his remains to England for burial according to his wishes. But the execution was incredibly toxic to me. It’s hard. You can’t believe it’s really happening. I remember afterwards I thought, ‘did I black out and miss it? I let Jonathan down.’ Then the blank filled in… it was the shock… I realized exactly what I’d seen. I can’t see myself doing it again. I’ve absorbed enough death. And I still work hard against the death penalty.”

So I’m still on the fence about Earle, but I did enjoy this record much more than I thought I would.  Thanks, Nick.

[READ: June 15, 2019] “Alternative Earle”

I am aware of Steve Earle and I really like his lyrics.  I don’t love his music though–too much country in the alt-country.  Although Hornby describes it as Nashville folk and rock n roll hybrid.  But man, his lyrics are great.  I wish I liked him a bit more especially after reading this review.

Hornby is a passionate music lover and anything he likes sounds great when he describes it.

The album in question is Transcendental Blues (and in the photo Earle’s beard is much shorter than it is now).  As of 2000, Earle has been married and divorced six times (to five women–4 and 6 were the same person). In 1994 he was imprisoned for possessing narcotics.  This sentence ending years of heroin addiction. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 1, 2018] Evan Dando

Back in 2015 I saw that Evan Dando was playing at the New Hope Winery.  I had no idea that there was a concert venue so close to me and that Evan Dando would be there.  For some reason, I was unable to make that show, (Thurston Moore was also playing there around that time and I couldn’t make that either, so we must have been away).

Since then I have monitored the Winery to see what other cool bands would be playing there.  Sadly, pretty much since that day, aside from Dar Williams (who is awesome) everyone playing there is a cover band.  Which sucks.

I have loved The Lemonheads since college and It’s a Shame About Ray is a stellar album.  I’d never seen him play, so when I saw he had announced one show (which has since turned into a small tour) at Monty Hall in Jersey City, I knew I had to go.

Evan came out pretty late by any standard.  But I wasn’t even sure if he was going to show up.  He seemed surprisingly discombobulated (he forgot his capo) and it took a pretty long time or him to get set up.  This was all fairly surprising since he’d been doing this forever.

He had a total artist look: pants that were filthy and a suit jacket that had a giant rip under the armpit (and which seemed too small for him).

He was wearing glittery flip flops!  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-The Carleton, Halifax Nova Scotia (December 7, 2009).

This is the second night at The Carleton.  The previous night they played for two and a half hours; this show is ten minute shy of 3 hours.  There are two recordings of this show, an audience and a soundboard.  The audience one is quite good although occasionally when Linklater plays a loud guitar it drowns out the vocals a bit.

Unlike with the Rheostatics, this band plays pretty much the same setlist (mixed up and with some songs stretched out) both nights.  Even the guests are he same.

The only new songs are “Midnight Ride Of Red Dog Ray,” “Bud the Spud,” “Pornography,” and “Wendell Clark” and they don’t play “Big Men Go Fast on the Water” or “Moncton Hellraisers.”  There’s a lot of chatting during the show: “Man I miss Halifax already.  I feel like we left and then came back all in that last song.”

“Memorial Day” sounds great, a slow expansive epic song with a really intense, wailing guitar solo at the end.  “The Continuing Saga of Canadiana and Canadiandy” and “Paul and Donna” are sweet and boppy, although Paul & Donna sounds like it’s going to start as “Michael Jackson” before locking into “P&D.”

A noisy version of “Fat” (after the ‘I said you were fat’ line, Dave says, “it happens… we were just talking and stuff.”  It runs about 9 minutes and then he says, “sometimes one word titles suffice, like “Fame”  Someone else: “or Sting!”  Dave: “Sting is not a song it’s a lifestyle.”  Paul: “Does anybody here read the National Post? (no reaction).  Dave’s been writing a weekly column for the National Post and none of his friends read it.  Dave: “They are too cool.”  Paul: “He wrote an article about Sting a mock interview. Dave: Sting said he couldn’t do his job if he was a fat kid.  Dave doesn’t understand why and name checks larger people: Billy Joel, Fats Waller, Chubby Checker.  And as they are thinking of them, Dave says it’s time to bring up a guest.

Ruth Minnikin sings a slow, moody “Stolen Car.” And there’s a plug for the Peanuts Christmas album on Zunior: “It’s amazing, Ruth has taken Beethoven and messed with it in an amazing way.

“The Ballad of 1969” is an interesting mellow and folky song segues into the punky, 1 minute “Take a Wild Ride.”   It’s followed by a bluesy version of “This Song Ain’t Any Good.”  Dave has a lot of fun with the “you can play it when you’re drunk” line–he keeps messing up the sing along part.

Doug is friends with Chris Pennell a local pop and slap bass hero.  All of the gear we’re using tonight (and last night) was provided by Chris.  (we never learn why) .  Some of the gear includes pillows, blankets and beds.

Dave then tells a Stompin’ Tom story which says it’s in his contract that if you tour with him he can never be the last to go to bed at night so someone has to stay up and drink with him.   The drummer spent 3 days on hospital with alcohol poisoning.  Speaking of contracts, Al,  is it time?  It was in your contact, must follow a medley.  Al tuck sings a mellow song called possibly “The Rights of His Descendants.”

At Mike’s behest were going to do 2 sets–you can mingle buy merch.  It’s not merch, it’s art.

Leading into “The Land is Wild,” Dave says that Fogarty was a genius hockey player, broke Gretsky’s records at 12.  But he didn’t like hockey, he liked Metallica and Wrestling.

The next song is about the deep winter on the west coast.  Anybody hear from British Columbia?  Anybody here form Alberta?  Anybody her from Alaska? You gotta ask. “Desert Island Poem” has Leo Sayer eat their drummer.  This folky songsegues into a folkie, upbeat version of “The List.”

Dave says, …. if you wanna buy shots for the band, we really really discourage it.  If you want to go to the bar and are satisfied with the performance, we seriously discourage you.  Its’ the last thing the band need (the band plays Tequila)  Don says if you do buy is shots don’t invite us back to your house or I might puke on your ceiling.  A woman from Sydney whose sink don threw up in is there and Dave tells the every funny story about a crummy gig that turned into a debauchery filled night.

“Popcorn” has a lengthy ending section and Dave sings “Walk on the Wild Side.”

Then Dave shouts, “Where the fuck are our shots?”  Don: “Well, do you want shots or popcorn?”

“Michael Jackson” is quite subdued, he even quietly speaks the first “Michael.” It segues into “My First Rock Concert.”  The rest of the band sings the Joe Jackson part, and the song has a cool solo from Paul and then right after the swan dive part it segues into “Yemen.”

Mike O’Neill, will you come up and do a shot and a song with us.   What do you think of Mike’s ‘stache [cheers].  Wait what do you think of Mike without a ‘stache [more cheers].  Don: That ‘stache is freaking me out man.”  Mike: I don’t think my contribution to the Zunior album was that much less than Ruth’s.  Chuckles. They sing “Mr. Carvery,” which   sounds a bit like The Jayhawks

“Midnight Ride Of Red Dog Ray,” is “unamplified, Band moving around the bar. Dave on acoustic, Paul on Al Tuck’s acoustic guitar,Don and Doug on tambourines A 13 db boost was added to make more audible.”  Dave is singing and sings the wrong verse–“fuck!” As he’s getting it back someone starts singing, “My First Rock Concert.”

Dave: “More shots!” Someone: “You guys gut 7:30 flights, right?”  Dave dedicates his shot to Ruth Minikin and Al Tuck.  Don: “It’s always best to leave Mike O’Neill out I fins.  If you can hurt Mike O’Neill with a small gesture its always the best thing.
Dave: Dedicating a shot to him would just piss him off.
Don: Hes going to go home and write a song….  I just want to hurt mike O’Neill just a bit because of that mustache.”

“Last of the Dead Wrong Things” rocks and eventually segues in “Making Plans for Nigel.”

They play “Bud the Spud,” and then “Earth,” which has a nice simple drum solo.  The drums play on and on and then Dave segues into “Horses.”   We’d like t invitee Chris up–it’s your fucking bass.  He says he’s like Mike O’Neill on stage with a tambourine–stereo tambourines with Ruth Minikin.

Doug: Do you guys want to hear something funny?  I have to be at work at 10AM tomorrow, in Toronto.  [groans].
What kind of work do you do?
Doug: I’m a high school teacher.  [laughter].

They play “Pornography” which opens a lot like “Bread Meat Beans and Rice.”

Doug: you guys are great I want to move here to Halifax–I just have to convince my girlfriend.  Someone local says, “Doug and Paul are from Manitoba which is from now on the second most friendly province in Canada coz Nova Scotia has got these guys thinking about moving here.”

Dave seems pretty wasted by this point as he introduces “Wendell Clark” : I don’t care of you dot like the Leafs.  If you don’t like the Leads you can suck my cock. That’s how I feel.  Sometimes you just love stuff because it’s yours doesn’t matter how its judged.

we can all agree on one thing…no players play more virtuously than those from the great province of  Saskatchewan.  All Canadians love Saskatchewan.

When there were rumors that Wendell Clark was gay, I supported it.  “Wendell was the rockingest leather fag on Church Street.  If Wendell was gay then he was the best gay hockey player that there ever was.”

As the show ends, the host says, “You don’t have to go home unless you have to go school tomorrow, which I know most of you don’t.  Generally we hang around and drink tequila with the band.

I think I love the Maritimes, too.

[READ: April 13, 2017] Sweet Tooth: Animal Armies

“Animal Armies” features a series of stories called The Singh Tapes.  But this book is also about Gus–as Dr Singh goes through his notes about Gus.

I love the delivery of this story–Singh’s notes run along the bottom of the page while the story above tells a parallel story without words.  And in it we see that of all of the hybrids that were there, only Gus, Wendy and Bobby are left.  Wendy is educated, but Bobby is very dumb–at least by human standards.  He seems more animal than the others.

By the end Singh is convinced that Gus is somehow the cause of the Sick. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_03_18_13Kalman.indd SOUNDTRACK: THE MILK CARTON KIDS-Tiny Desk Concert #232 (July 16, 2012).

milk-cartonI was unfamiliar with the Milk Carton Kids before seeing them on NPR.  I had always assumed they were a punk band with a name like that. Well, nothing could be further from the truth.  The Milk Carton kids are a delightful folk duo.  And they give the origin of their band name a little later in the Concert.

Joey Ryan sings lead and plays rhythm acoustic guitar.  Kenneth Pattengale plays lead guitar and sings beautiful harmonies.  It’s his guitar work that is so disarming because he plays leads throughout the songs, so rather than having the two guitars doing the same thing, his guitar is all over the place–playing beautiful trills and lines while Ryan is singing.

The first song they play is “Michigan.”  I love how in the middle of the song between the melodies and the harmonies it sounds like about three different bands—there’s a kind of Simon & Garfunkel vibe, a Jayhawks vibe, and maybe even a CS&N vibe–and yet it retains their original sound.  There’s some beautiful melodies in the vocals and the lyrics are really good (but sad).

After the song, Bob asks about the neckerchief on Kenneth’s guitar.  he says, “well it looks good.”

Then he explains that in a technical way, “This guitar is a bit crummy.”  When they play higher chords the strings buzz, so the neckerchief keeps that from happening: “It’s practical and it’s alluring—this is what got Stephen to stop at our concert to listen.”

Kenneth then says that Joey usually talks more than this “I don’t know why he’s so demure today.”  Joey deadpans, “I don’t know what demure means, but I’m, sorry if that’s how I’m behaving.”

Before the next song, Joey deadpans, “This is something we’ve been looking forward to for a long time.  Hence our palpable excitement.”

They’re very happy to be behind this desk so “We’ll play you a love song to the desk.  This song is called ‘To the Desk.'”  The song is actually called “Stealing Romance.”  They sing a duet with Ken taking the high notes.   It’s a slow ballad.  During the song you can hear all kinds of sirens going past the offices.  When it ends, Ken says, “I think Joe Biden drove down the street during that one.”  Joey reacts: “Who’s that?”

Then Joey explains the origins of their band name Milk Carton Kids.  The name comes from one of their songs “Milk Carton Kid.”  The song itself is named after a lyric in the song.  He says it’s an attempt to answer the question that’s one everyone’s mind with a completely unsatisfactory answer.  Then he says they’re not going to play that song.

Rather, they play “their happy song” “I Still Want A Little More”which proves to be really fast and uptempo—a real surprise after the other two songs.  Ken is wailing away on his guitar while they sing in great harmony.  There’s some rollicking guitars and singing.  This is my favorite song of the three.

I don’t love their slower songs. Although as far as slow songs go, their setup is great–the harmonies, the interesting guitar.  But I really like the two of them.  They are great performers and excellent storytellers.

[READ: July 20, 2016] “Checking Out”

This story is bookended with a man planning on marrying woman.

Obinze is African, and he is in London on a work visa.  He is arranging a sham marriage to be able to stay in the country.  The arrangement has been set up by some Angolans. They claim that he is a friend of a friend and they’re doing him a favor, but they are keeping lot of the money that is meant to go to his bride.

When he met Cleotilde, he was surprised to see that she was young and pretty.  And it seemed that she was pleased with him when she saw him as well-0ff.  I guess expectations are pretty low in this situation.  He was kind to her from the start, making sure that she was okay doing this. And she said she was–she really needs the money for her family.

Obinzne and Cleo meet up a few times to get their details straight, and he finds that he is really falling for her–although he knows he can’t really act on it until after the marriage. (more…)

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