Archive for the ‘Versus’ Category

[ATTENDED: March 16, 2023] Versus

Back in the 90s, I loved a whole bunch of band that I discovered from a compilation called Ear of the Dragon.  I had known some of the bands already (which is why I bought the compilation).  It featured bands like The Dambuilders, aMiniature, Seam and Versus.

I loved everything about Versus.  Their sound was interesting–catchy and dissonant alternately.  And I loved the vocals of Richard Baluyut and Fontaine Toups (who has the best name in music).  They put out a number of albums and EPs in the 1990s and t hen went dormant.

In 2010 they put out a new album that I missed entirely.  Same with their 2019 release (which is on a label I’ve never heard of).  I basically had assumed that they were broken up for good.

So imagine my surprise to see that they were opening for Unwound on the night that I happened to get a ticket.  (TEKE::TEKE from Montreal opened the first night–I hadn’t heard of them but they are a Japanese psych rock band, hmmm).

The band came out on stage and while I recognized Richard and Fontaine, I didn’t know the other two.  They weren’t introduced, but I think they were  the rest of the Baluyut family: James on guitar and Edward on drums.

They opened with Mummified, a track off their newest album that has a really long instrumental opening.  I didn’t know it, but the band sounded great.  And after two minutes when Richard started singing, he sounded great too.  But it was when Fontaine added her vocals that everything came flooding back why I loved this band so much. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: BILL CALLAHAN-“Santa Maria” from Score! 20 Years of Merge Records: The Covers(2009).

I don’t often listen to songs that are as simple and straightforward as this one.  It’s an acoustic guitar with occasional piano and Callahan’s deep voice.  The melody is enjoyable and the vocals are crystal clear.  (Callahan is from Smog, a band I know of, but whom I don’t really know).

The original of this song is by Versus on their Afterglow EP.  I’ve liked Versus for a long time–their mix of male/female vocals and rockin’ guitars is always exciting.  But I didn’t remember this song at all.  It turns out that it’s kind of a slow, brooding number, something I probably wouldn’t have paid a ton of attention to back when I was rocking out more.

I prefer the Versus version as there’s more interesting tricks afoot, although Callahan does some cool subtleties by the end of the song that really bring out some interesting twists to the song.

[READ: April 16, 2012] “Our Raccoon Year”

I’ve read a few pieces from Paul Theroux, and I’ll say that this piece really surprised me.  While I wouldn’t try to categorize all of Theroux’s writing, I would say that a domestic story about raccoons is one that I would not have expected.

The story opens with the narrator, a young boy, telling us that his Ma decided to go away.  Their Pa explained that she was where she wanted to be “with her friend.”  Given the circumstances, and the fact that Pa was a well-respected citizen (and attorney), Pa was given custody of the narrator and his brother. He was the first man to be given custody of children after a divorce in their region and it only upped people’s opinions of him.

That’s a neat conceit for a story.  So it’s surpising when he says that it also began their “raccoon year” which means it was their year of dealing with raccoons. (more…)

Read Full Post »