Archive for the ‘The Violet Archers’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 1 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 8, 2005).

This series of ten concerts contains the final Rheostatics live shows that are left to write about–except for their “final shows” and their “reunion shows” (which I really hope to see some day). This was the 1st night of their last 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe. Ford Pier was on keyboards.

These shows seem significantly shorter that the 2004 Fall Nationals.  This show is under 2 hours–practically unheard of in a Fall Nationals.  Unlike the 2004 Fall Nationals, however, they are not promoting an album, so there is a lot more diversity of songs.

This recording is from the audience, so there’s a (shocking) amount of chatter from fans.  You also can’t hear everything that’s said into the mics, so you have to listen close if you want to hear audience interaction.

The show opens with them talking to fans from San Diego (Mike: “that means Saint Diego”).  Dave asks how long they’re here. He says well, we have three chances, then.

“Loving Arms” is a sweet opening from Tim.  Then Martin starts announcing in a smarmy voice “I’m a member.  Hi there.”  It’s a launch into “CCYPA” (Miek: “in an election year, imagine that”).  Tim follows with a quick “Song Of The Garden.”

Then Dave starts playing the opening to “Fat” to much applause.  “That’s Ford Pier on the keyboards.  That’s Tim Vesely on the keyboards.  That’s Martin Tielli on the keyboards.”  During the end jam section, there’s some loud, unusual backing vocals which I assume are from Ford Pier.

Martin: “What’s the first note of the next song, Dave?  I’m feeling a little shaky.  But that’s what this song [‘Fish Tailin”]is about so it should lend itself to this current number.  After this comes “Mumbletypeg” Martin: “That is David Augustino Bidini.  Dave wrote this song.  All by himself!”  It romps along nicely.

Next is the first of a couple new songs.  “Sunshine At Night” is actually a song hat Tim would release on his 2008 Violet Archers disc Sunshine at Night (where it is mostly the same but more fleshed out and better-sounding).

Martin is having fun with the “Hi there” smarmy voice as an intro to “The Tarleks.”  It’s followed by “Marginalized” which has a rather lengthy and dramatic piano solo in the middle.

Martin: “That was by Timothy Warren Vesely.”  Ford: “Stop shouting everyone’s middle names, Jesus.”  Dave:  “Martin is obsessed with middle names, whenever he meets someone new he says ‘What’s your middle name?”  Mike: “Yeah right but whats your middle name.”  Ford continues, “A friend of mine was engaged to a woman from Slovenia.  When she came to visit she was astonished to hear that everyone had a middle name–are you all rich?  It was a difficult thing to explain to her.  She associated middle named with wealth?  Middle names were not a concept that came to her block in Ljubljana.  Tim: “Ford tried to convince her it had something to do with wealth.”

Then came a song, “The Land Is Wild.”  This would eventually be released on Bidiniband’s 2009 album The Land is Wild.  It’s pretty much the same although this earlier version has a few lines that are not in the final.  A line about him being in his own head and listening to Metallica, Ozzy or Queen.  There’s another line about tickling the net and being lost in his head.  Both of these lines are left off in the final.  Interestingly, the final verse about fishing with his old man and his death were added later.

Martin says that for “Here Comes the Image,” Augustine is going to play the drums and Dimitrius is going to play the keyboard.”

As they start, “It’s Easy To Be With You,” Dave says, “My friend this is no time to be talking on your phone, there’s some serious rock n roll happening up here.  Take a picture with your mind.”

It’s followed by a beautiful “Stolen Car.”  Martin’s vocals are just so good.  After the song ends, properly, there’s an extra acoustic strumming section that soon becomes “Nowhere Man” sung by Selina Martin.

Dave notes that it has been 25 years since John Lennon was killed.  The world has gotten a lot shittier.

Ford then says, “You know who was really burned on that score? Darby Crash, lead singer of The Germs.  He committed suicide with an intentional heroin overdose the same day.  Five years earlier David Bowie said they only have five years left.  So he told his band mates hat five years from now he was going to off himself.  They ignored him, but he did.  And then three hours later the Walrus gets blown away.”
Dave’s takeaway: “Never take advice from David Bowie.  He told me to buy a wool suit.  Well actually Springsteen told me, but Bowie told him.”
Tim once ate some hot soup with David Bowie.

We’ll do a couple more for you seeing as how it’s Thursday.  Tim: “Can you do a little pretty intro for me that you sometimes do?”  Dave does and “Making Progress ” sounds big and more rocking than usual (the keys help).  Martin plays  a more rocking guitar solo before settling in to the pretty ending.  When it’s over you can hear Dave says “we can call him Timmy, I’m not sure you can call him…  Well, I guess you just did.  Is this your third straight year?  Fourth?  You’ve earned the right to call him Timmy.”

Thanks to the Creaking Tree String Quartet they were beyond awesome.  I can’t wait to see them again tomorrow night.  The set ends with a lovely version of “Self Serve Gas Station” with some great piano additions.  The song ends in a long jam with trippy keys a fun solo from Martin.  As he walks off Martin says, “I smoke Gaulioses Blue cigarettes, since they can’t advertise.  The flavor!  And so did John Lennon and Bruce Cockburn.”

After the encore, Dave sings and acoustic “Last Good Cigarette.”  When Martin comes back out they play a surprising encore song of “Song Of Flight” which segues into a mellow intro for “In This Town.”  By by the end it picks up steam and rocks to the end.

It was a fairly short first show, of the Fall Nationals, but they played a lot of interesting stuff.

[READ: April 20, 2017] Friends is Friends

This book had a lot going against it.  The title is virtually impossible to find in a catalog (3 words long, 2 words repeat, the other word is “is” and the one main word is incredibly common in children’s books, ugh).  On top of that, no libraries near me carried it.  And then its got that creepy-ass cover.

Reviews of the book weren’t very positive either.  So my hopes weren’t very high.

And even with low hopes, I was still pretty disappointed. (more…)

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shackSOUNDTRACK: THE VIOLET ARCHERS-The Anza Club Vancouver, BC (October 22, 2005).

anzaThis is the final show on RheostaticsLive by The Violet Archers.  Tim says this was their first tour and first album.  Ida Nilsen is playing keys throughout the show (and adding backing vocals).  This is the first time she has played live with them for these online shows.

Tim opens the show by saying “We’re the Violet Archers from more or less Toronto, Canada.” He continues, “We have a new album out and the second song [“Coordinates”] goes exactly like this” (although it has kind of a rough start).  In the previous show, Tim sang “All the Good” solo, but it sounds much better with the full band.  Yawd takes a really blistering solo.  Even the drums sound great–he’s really smacking the heck out of them. Tim says it is a “true story with some muscular guitar from Yawd.” Having all of those voices complete this minor chord masterpiece is great.

We learn that Yawd is also in a band called Wayne Omaha.  And that the Archers drove through Beautyland (which I can’t find out anything about!) on their way from Nelson–before then Beautyland was only a picture on a cheap paper place mat.  By the way, Dave and Michele organized the show and are selling beer–the more beer you buy, the more money we make.

“Time to Kill” sounds great–upbeat and catchy.  After the song Tim says, “it’s about waiting for the next Steve Malkmus album to come out.”

In introducing Ida Nilson he says she is from Great Aunt Ida.  You might remember them from oh 15 minutes ago.  Then another member says (and J.P., Scott and Barry.  Tim says “they put the Great in Aunt Ida”).

“The End of Part One” (the title track of their latest album, Tim jokes) really uses the keyboards.  It has lots of backing vocals, including Ida’s which really fleshes out the song (although it sounds slower here than in other shows).

They dedicate a song to someone because it’s her birthday.  “We take requests, do bar mitvahs, corporate functions (bring us some of your corporate dollars–big dollars!).  We don’t do weddings (we don’t believe in the institution of marriage).  Ah hell, we’ll play at weddings (Ida asks, how much?).  This is the intro to a lovely version of “Simple” which is nearly a duet with Tim and Ida.

We also learn that when they were playing in Nelson, Tim taught Spirit Dancing Lessons (another market they cornered–Tim’s giving lessons after the show).  The next song is “Another one for lovers,” which Yawd says is called “Come the Night” although on record it is actually called “A Rising Tide.”  I love the loud chorus, with kind of darker chords.

Interestingly, they play some new songs (from the next album).  They are looking for a title for this song which is now called “new song.” It will eventually be called “Listening.”  It’s quiet and sweet.  Cam Giroux is playing drums tonight (not quite the newest member of the band).

They play their “most political number” called “First the Wheel.”  Then the band starts clapping slowly for Ida to start “Fools Gold Rope” and she asks them to stop–this is a quiet song–she is the singer. It’s mostly just her on the keyboard.  At the end she says I hope you don’t mind if I miss a few chords now and then.

Another song for the new record is the super catchy “Insecure.”  It’s a great duet with Ida and Tim.  On record there’s a horn solo, but the guitars do just as well here.

Scott Remilla on bass is the newest band member, from the band Raising the Fawn.  And coincidentally “Path of Least Resistance” opens with a bass solo.  He takes a long time to start and Tim asks, you want more of an introduction?”  Then they play the upbeat “Life and Then” (which Tim says is sort of about making maple syrup from the blood of trees).

Last call, last song, it’s all coming together.  “Track Display” is about his car stereo.  After a super long intro, Tim sings flat and coughs and laughs and says I need a minute, we could all use a minute.

For the encore, they play another new one called the “Violet Archers Theme Song” (just Tim on guitar and vocals).  And they end the show with “Here Come the Feelings,” a great rocking song to end the set with (they don’t screw up the 5 count this time).

I wish there were more live shows from them, as they are a fun rocking band.  But at least they did get to record a second album.

[READ: June 3, 2015] Shackleton

One of the cool things about reading all of the First Second graphic novels is that I find stuff that I wouldn’t choose to read because of the subject matter.  This book is about an antarctic expedition.  And while it was very good, I never would have picked it up based on that premise alone.  But I really enjoyed the book and was delighted by what I learned from it.

This is the story of Ernest Shackleton, a real explorer (I’d never heard of him) who was determined to explore Antarctica.

He had made two expeditions before this book is set.  The first, the Discovery Expedition 1901-1904, was meant to discover the South Pole.  They got to 78 degrees (the pole is at 90).  Then he crewed the Second Expedition, the Nimrod Expedition 1907-1909, when they got to 88 degrees (about 97 miles from the pole).  Shackleton was knighted but unsatisfied. Especially when Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole in 1910-1912 and then Robert Falcon Scott completed the Terra Nova Expedition 1910-1913 (Amundsen beat them by a month).  Shackleton was furious about losing out to these men so he determined to cross Antarctica on foot.  He set out in 1914.

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powers SOUNDTRACK: THE VIOLET ARCHERS-Victoria, BC (October 2005).

violetarcI have reviewed this show already, but with some context of other shows, it seemed worth revisiting.  The opening act was Scribbled Out Man (their bio on the CBC Music site says that they are friends of the Rheos).

I suspect this dates from 2004, as Tim says the album is coming out late spring or early summer and might be called The End of Part One (it was released in 2005).

The opening track is a soundcheck.  It sounds fine, although the “real” version later is better.  They play 12 songs at this show (compared to 8 in the previous show).  They cover all of the songs from their debut except “Outrovox” which is a short instrumental and “Fools Gold Rope” which is sung by Ida.

The opening two tracks are just Tim on guitar, singing the lovely simple song, “Simple” and the slightly darker, minor chord “All the Good.”  They sound good, but it’s more fun when the full band comes out.

Yawd on guitar and keyboard, Steve Pitkin on drums and Bass on bass.  “The End of Part One” sounds great, but Tim has some major guitar problems playing “Life and Then” a normally great song.  The rest of the set goes off without a hitch.  It’s true that the band sounds better when Ida sings with them, but in this original incarnation, they’re quite good.

For the final song “Here Comes the Feelings,” Tim asks, should we do the false start?  That’s become part of the song.  Steve counts to 5 and then we go–but we’re gonna get it wrong.  And they do.  But once they get past that, it’s a great set closer.

The band is still looking for a name, Tim suggests “The Gay Apparel.”

[READ: May 27, 2015] Powers Bureau

I hadn’t heard of Powers Bureau before (this book collects issues 7-12).  My initial thought was “do we need yet another superhero book?” But this book is different in a fun way.  Also I love the artwork–it is blocky and bold and reminds me of the Bryan Lee O’Malley style.

So this book is about Federal Agents Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim.  They used to be homicide detectives who worked solely on (super) powers-realted cases.  But there was a disaster of some kind (presumably in book 1) and now all powers-related cases are Federal cases.

The two arrive at a crime scene in which a woman is tied up naked in the bathtub (way to open, huh?).  The boyfriend is the suspect, but he says that the woman (whom he did tie up for sex purposes) suddenly appeared next to herself, killed “herself” then fled.  It sounds preposterous, until they realize that the woman is Matzuii, who can split her self into multiple parts.  So essentially she killed herself. (more…)

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cowlSOUNDTRACK: THE VIOLET ARCHERS-Fall Nationals The Horseshoe Tavern Toronto (November 17, 2003).

veselyThe Violet Archers were (are?) a band formed by Tim Vesely, bassist for Rheostatics.  They released their first album, after the release of Rheostatics’ final album, 2067.  However, given that this show was recorded in 2003 and they talk about an album, it’s clear that Tim was writing stuff all along.

The band released two albums, which I’ve mentioned before: The End of Part One and Sunshine at Night.  They are both poppy and kind of mellow (with some noisy parts). And they are both great.

This show comes not only before the first album was released, it comes before the band even has a name.  It occurs on night 8/13 of the Rheostatics Fall Nationals 2003 at the Horsehoe.  This night was called SoloStatics Night (Martin also does a show).  The band for this set is – Yawd Sylvester (guitar/keyboards), Steve Pitkin (Drums), Bass (Bass).

The show starts with “Coordinates” which “shows of Tim’s hot guitar licks.”  The heavier parts rock pretty loud.  Yawd is playing some wild notes until the song smooths out some.  It also has an ending coda which not on the album.  “Life and Then” is a more upbeat song (with backing vocals).

Tim explains that the name of “The End of Part One” was inspired by his daughter’s speaking part on Harmelodia (she says end of Part 1).  For this song, Yawd plays keyboards.  Then Tim thanks Yawd for wearing pants tonight.  And thanks Bass for having his stomach sewed up before the gig.

“First the Wheel” is a protest song about food and war.  There’s a big guitar sound that sounds a bit more aggressive than the album.

Tim says that we (the band) don’t have a name, but this song does.  “Track Display” is a slow, mellow song with the unfortunate moment that as Tim is singing “things just sound so nice” that he hits a bad chord.  There’s some nice organ sounds and overall the song sound fine.

Some jokey band names shouted out: Marshmallow Room, Jello Enema, Submissions, Beauty Call, Beauty Kong, My Three Bearded Men, The Hairy Beards

“Saved Me” with simulated horns by Tim is quite nice.  Then Tim says the record is almost done, and it’s due out early next year.

The final song is listed as “Come the Night” but later on the record it will be call “A Rising Tide.”  I love the way the chorus turns minor and dramatic (along with Tim’s falsetto vocals).  It’s a good set and a good introduction to this band.

Amazingly, there is also video footage courtesy of Mark Sloggett can be found here.

[READ: May 25, 2015] C.O.W.L.

I saw this book at work and was quite intrigued.  I love a new graphic novel series that seems different.  And one called C.O.W.L. Chicago Organized Workers League sounded promising.

But I have to say that right off the bat I really didn’t like Rod Reis’s artistic style.  The book is set in Chicago 1962 and has a decidedly noir element.  It is translated very well by Reis’ style.  But I just don’t like it–it’s very dark and shadowy and I prefer my comics brighter.  I also found that the book looked like the it was computer designed–like the characters were cut and pasted and sometimes angled by computer–I found it a bit unsettling at times.

But I can get around that if the story is good.  And this one is.  After World War II, a group was assembled to try to bring all of the superheroes together.  It was started by The Grey Raven, Blaze and Sparrow.  They were organized by the titular labor union which also impacts other city workers.  (I love that idea).

And they were very successful.  But now, in 1962, the public is not sure what to do with C.O.W.L.  They have successfully taken down all of the supervillains, so what is their purpose?  This book collects C.O.W.L. issues 1-5. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE VIOLET ARCHERS-Victoria, BC, October 2005 (2005).

This live bootleg comes from the Rheostatics Live website.  If The Violet Archers were to become a huge internationally famous band (which, let’s face it, they’re not), this would be an awesome bootleg to have.  It’s from a show before their first album was released, and, if the stage banter is to be believed, before they’d even thought of a name for the band.  (There’s a joke that they wanted to call themselves The Gay Apparel, which is awesome).

Indeed, I assume that this show was recorded in 2004, not 2005 as listed online.

So, this show seems like it’s recorded in front of about 20 people.  The recording quality isn’t ideal (the drums sound pretty dreadful) but it conveys the spirit of the show very well.

The first two songs are just Tim and his acoustic guitar (“Simple” sounds great in this context although “All the Good” works better as a band number).  Then the band comes on.  Ida Nilsen is not with them yet, but the band sounds great together and the songs are fully formed (the album is said to be coming out in the next spring).

It’s a great show and Tim Vesely sounds a lot more like he did with the Rheostatics than he does on the regular album.  I guess the live setting brings out the old voice from Tim.  And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the guitarist with the great name: Yawd Sylvester.  Outstanding!

[READ: September 28, 2010] “Imperial Bedroom”

This piece is about privacy. It was written 12 years ago, when the fear of the loss of privacy was in its infancy.  And Franzen makes a very convincing case that we were (and I assume still are) overreacting in a big way to fears of privacy loss.

He opens by noting that the panic about privacy is all the rage, excepted that the public doesn’t seem to be genuinely alarmed.   He sets his argument on the backdrop of the Clinton/Lewisnky Starr Report. And what he bemoans is that this most private of information is coming out of the most public of offices (and the most imperial of bedrooms).  [With the valid corollary–who is ever going to run for office if this kind of shit is going to be made public on such a grand scale?]

He gives us a basic history if the “right to privacy” which he says legally is a tough concept.  Because whatever you call the various forms of invasion of privacy, legally they often fall into other areas–trespass, defamation or theft.  What’s left is emotional distress, which is always a nebulous concept. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE VIOLET ARCHERS-Sunshine at Night (2008).

This is the second Violet Archers CD.  It’s a fantastic collection of mellow songs.   “You and I” is a delightful acoustic guitar and vocals song (and Vesely’s voice sounds great: soft and delicate without being whiny).  “Insecure” features the vocals of Ida Nilsen (a great voice which works wonderfully with Vesely’s songs).  It also has a wonderful trumpet solo (!) (which consists of only a few notes repeated but which is totally great).  It sounds a bit too similar to Siberry’s “The Speckless Sky” but it wins out with its own identity by the end.

“Transporter” is an electric track (still mellow though).  Vesely’s delivery is great on this, with unexpected delays making it just off the beat.  Although “Tired” (we can tell by the titles that Vesely is not a “Party On” kind of guy) rocks much harder than you’d expect for the title, it’s still nothing like a hard rock song.  “Sunshine at Night” continues in this louder vein, but again, Vesely’s voice is soft, so even a louder song doesn’t rock hard.  This has some great harmony vocals.

“Suffocates” returns to the upbeat acoustic style while “Truth” is its cool minor chord downbeat companion.  “Themesong” is a cute, more upbeat track that finally mentions a violet archer.  “Don’t Talk” is the only song that builds from a standstill (as opposed to just starting) and the drums and power chords make it feel like it’s a bid for commercial viability.  And the disc ends with “Listening,” a quiet lullaby of a song that showcases’s Vesely’s falsetto.

The Violet Archers still tour and there are some downloadable shows available on the Rheostatics live website.  And, of course, Tim was super nice, so let’s hope for a left field smash hit on their next disc.

[READ: September 29, 2010] “Anti-Climax”

This piece is from The Critic at Large section of the New Yorker and it seems to be a kind of Books redux section.

I enjoyed this piece more than I had a right to enjoy a thirteen year old article about sex books.  Strangely enough it begins with a comment about televisions in airports (which I agree with JF that they are the devil and are unavoidable and make it really hard to read).  And I cannot even imagine that 89% of air travelers believe that the TVs make “time spent in an airport more worthwhile” (although you know that is one of the more nebulous survey questions)

But this topic segues into the matter at hand: sex books.  He notes how he is also at odds with the norm when Men’s Health says that lingerie is the US male’s favorite erotic aid.  And I can’t believe how in tune I am with JF Franzen’s comment:

What I feel when I hear that the mainstream actually buys this stuff is the same garden-variety alienation I feel on learning that Hootie & the Blowfish sold 13 million copies of their first record, or that the American male’s dream date is Cindy Crawford. (more…)

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The Violet Archers are the new(ish) band for Tim Vesely from the Rheostatics.  I’ve conveniently waited until The Rheos completely broke up before really really getting into them.  And it took me some time before deciding that I needed to get The two Violet Arhcers discs.  And then I discovered they were pretty much unavailable.

But the nice folks who used to sell their discs got me in touch with Tim himself, and he very nicely sent me the two CDs (for a most reasonable price).

When a band breaks up it’s always interesting to see what the solo members do…if they try to go very different from the original band or if they stay the same.  Well, the Rheos were a pretty unusual band, and if these two discs are any indication, it seems like Tim may have been the pop song writer.

“End of Part One” starts with a guitar and cool organ opening before the song kicks into a mellow rocker.  “Coordinates” has more interesting keyboard sounds (these sound strange to me because the The Rheos weren’t very keyboardy).  Lyrically, it’s a great collection of rhymed verses that lead to a wonderful na na na chorus.

The middle songs are a nice mixture of slightly fast rockers and almost folky ballads.   Vesely has a great knack for sing along choruses, but he’s also been alt-enough to know when to throw in an unexpected twist, or an interesting sound (the guitar sound in “Saved Me” is great) and the simple melody of “Simple” makes for a beautiful campfire song.

“Time to Kill” is a delightful gentle rock song with a great chorus and instrumentation.  It sounds like an outtake from a fantastic 1960s compilation.  It’s followed by “All that’s Good” which sounds like an awesome long-lost Neil Young song.  The guitar is spot on and the vocals work wonderfully.

“Fools Gold Rope” is a nice ballad with vocals by Ida Nilsen.  And the last four tracks are all shorter pieces.  “Life and Then” features keyboards prominently, while the oddly titled “Track Display” has some nice guitar work.

This is overlooked pop gem. Nothing is overly commercial, and yet it’s all fun and an enjoyable listen.  I’m glad Vesely is still writing great tunes.

[READ: September 28, 2010] “Sifting the Ashes”

This Dept. of Disputation piece is about cigarettes.  I’ve never smoked and I’ve never been much of a fan of cancer sticks.  However, I find myself siding with Franzen on a few points ion this article.

Franzen has evidently quit smoking several times (it’s even unclear from the way this is written if he’s actually smoking now (1996) or not).  But he never blames Philip Morris or RJ Reynolds for his addiction.  He argues correctly that marketing to kids reserves you a place in hell, but that really, parents and pop culture probably got more kids to smoke than Joe Camel ever did.

He makes some funny observations about smoking (getting freaked out about getting lung cancer?  Why not light up to calm down).  But mostly he notes how all of the attempts in the past to curb smoking have resulted in more hegemony for the big players: The ban on TV advertising saved the industry millions of dollars and froze out new competitors.  Even tax increases on smokes in 1982 were a way for the industry to also raise prices (and make more money) all the while blaming the tax.  And what we wind up with is that no plaintiff can realistically claim ignorance of tobacco’s hazards, therefore the companies will never be deemed negligent for selling cigarettes.


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