Archive for the ‘CBC Radio 3’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MICHIE MEE & L.A. LUV-“Jamaican Funk, Canadian Style” (1991).

I only know about Michie Mee because she has written pieces for the West End Phoenix.  I knew she was a rapper, but I had no idea she has been rapping since the 1980s!

I watched this profile about her and found out her first album came out in 1991.  The video for the title track “Jamaican Funk, Canadian Style” is so perfectly 1991–the backgrounds, the dance moves, the little kids, the kinda story.  It’s a perfect time capsule.

I like that Michie raps part of the song in her Jamaican patois and the rest of the song sounds pretty straight up feminist (she found it tough to break into the biz being A) Canadian B) female and C) very young.  I’m not sure what was the biggest impediment.  But she was the first Canadian rapper to get a U.S. record deal.

So good on her.  And she’s still going strong.

[READ: July 1, 2019] “That Summer, This City”

The Summer 2019 issue of The West End Phoenix was a special all comics issue with illustrations by Simone Heath.  Each story either has one central illustration or is broken up with many pictures (or even done like a comic strip).

Each story is headed by the year that the story takes place–a story from that particular summer.

Michie is a rapper who has written pieces in a number of the WEP issues.  This is a story about her 2007 summer (and if you read the blurb above, you’ll see she has been rapping for over fifteen years by then). (more…)

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Gord Downie [1964-2017]

Gord Downie died yesterday after suffering from brain cancer.

Downie was the lead singer of The Tragically Hip a band I had wanted to see live but never did.

I first learned about The Hip in 1994. I was living in Boston and had access to Much Music, Canada’s music video channel.  I saw a video for “Nautical Disaster” and was blown away.  I loved everything about it.  This was from their fifth album, the one after the album that everyone cites as their best, Fully Completely.  But for me, Day for Night will always be my favorite.

Downie was an interesting and enigmatic guy–at least for a fan who didn’t know the band super well, but liked all their music.  Downie wrote interesting, thoughtful lyrics and he really brought people together.  As the CBC puts it: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Reverb, Toronto, ON (August 29, 1997).

This is the final show Rheostatics show from the 1990s that I haven’t mentioned thus far.

I’m not sure what the band had been doing before this show (aside from making he Nightlines show), but they’ve apparently not played live for a while.  This return to performance seems to have brought out the wildness in them.  This show has all kinds of jamming moments with eight songs lasting over 7 minutes.  There’s also some slower moments or songs played differently.  It’s a cool, unique show–very different from their other shows.

There’s even an “opening jam” with a guitar riff explored around some bass notes.  Then a new guitar comes in with some rums.  The whole jam is about 3 minutes but it doesn’t really turn into anything, it’s just a like a warm up jam–I even wondered if it was just the guys messing around until all four of them were on stage.

They play the opening riff to “Fat” but he only plays a clip of it and then stops (allowing Tim to do some bass fills).  During the “bye bye” section they stop the music a few times unexpectedly as well.  It’s an interesting jamming opportunity and runs a pretty long time.

After the song Dave says, “we haven’t played togetehr in a long time well, we haven’t played live in front of people.  We played together at the CBC.”  (the Nightlines show mentioned later).  “So now we got one under our belt.  We forgot our songs had so many parts.”

Dave continues, “There’s a lot of people from Michigan here tonight for some strange reason.  They think the Stanley Cups is here.  But it’s not.  We’ll send this next song out to them.”  It’s “Aliens” At the end, Martin takes off on a wild solo as the band really rocks out.  There’s also an extended jam with someone singing a “dit dit dit” part while Martin plays along on guitar.

“All the Same Eyes” is pretty straightforward except that there’s some real wailing from Martin throughout.

Someone shouts “Are you looking for some fun?” and Martin says “We’ve got a new version of that song we’re gonna play.”  Then Tim says, “Just write your requests on a plate.  Dave: “There’s a private party upstairs and there’s lots of plates outside the door.”  Martin: “There’s a private party for um the three little boys with sandy blonde hair… hamsum?  handsome?”

Then they play the first known occurrence of “Junction Foil Ball.”  Martin introduces it: “we’ll do a kind of a new song”  Don: “its new and we’re kind of going to do it.”  I’m impressed with the interesting sound effects that Martin gets while playing this song.  During the “acoustic tile” section he even distorts his voice like it has slowed down–is that effect of Martin’s singing.

“Four Little Songs” sounds totally different.  It’s got a kind of swinging opening.  The first part is really heavy.   Dave’s part is interesting because while still in the trippy intro section, he begins singing the lyrics to Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.”  When he finally gets to the song, people sing along to his first lines!  Martin has crazy fun with the riff at the end–lots of squeaking solo noises.

Dave asks: “How are those chamois working out, martin?” “They’re remarkably absorbent for large quantities of liquid.”  When I saw them Martin was very sweaty.  I wonder if he always was.  There’s a solid, slow version of “Bad Time to Be Poor,” which Dave says was written awhile ago…but it’s still a bad time to be poor.

Before “Sweet Rich” Martin says, so I’m going to do this solo, okay Tim.  Just the first bit.”  It’s a great version.

“Joey II” has a long rollicking jam in the intro with Martin chanting “I’m about to fuck up, I’m going to fuck up.”   During the middle of the song he asks if any musicians in the audience have played at the Royal Albert Hall in Winnipeg–well that’s what this song is about.

They play an early version of “Easy to Be with You” which goes to “California” instead of “Harmelodia.”

Dave introduces “Stolen Car” by saying “We’d like to do another new one for you.  We played this at our last concert but we’re going to play it a little differently.  This is Tim Mech one of North America’s greatest unsigned artists.   Seriously, he won a contest in Musicians magazine and was named one of the ten best unsigned artists.   We recorded this for the last Nightlines program.  We recorded about 32 minutes of music.  Old stuff, new stuff and a version of this song.  Dave’s last show is tomorrow night.  Thats 104.1 FM CICZ-FM in the local area!”

As the song starts he says (I assume referring to Mech’s guitar) “this is a Hawaiian guitar that’s autographed by Ben Harper.”  ( I had no idea Ben Harper was noteworthy back in 1997).  There’s a weird electronic drumbeat through the song, and the music is primarily guitars–gentle and smooth.

Martin shouts, “Its’ been great playing in our home town–Toronto!”  They play a long version of “My First Rock Show” with a lengthy introductory instrumental section.  Near the final verse, he whispers the “many years later” section and someone shouts “bird in a cage” at the right time.  As the song ends they play the chorus of Trooper’s “We’re Here For A Good Time (Not A Long Time).”

“California Dreamline” is quite extended as well.  After the first verse there’s a dance jam before the second verse begins.  The middle has a kind of vocal jam with a light bass and guitar motif and everyone singing different parts in a fugue state.  It’s a weirdly unique version.  At the end Martin says, “That was ‘California Dreamline,’ we’re going to do ‘Record Horse Count’ next.  They do neither and in fact play a really slow almost country-feeling version of “Claire.”  It’s so different sounding that they kind of mess it up here and there.

Things get quiet and then people start clapping along and you can barely hear them playing an acoustic un-mic’d version of “Bread Meat Peas and Rice.”  Dave says the name of the song “for those of you who could hear it.  You kind of understand why you use microphones.”  Tim starts talking about the band Farm Fresh. “They had a similar kind of thing with their Peanuts and Corn record [what?] and apparently they’re supposed to be releasing a new record, is that right?  They’ve made two cassettes and they are both for sale and are both really good.”  Dave: “Whats with that T-shirt, Tim?”  “Free with every cassette sold.”

Someone shouts again, “We’re looking for some fun.”  Dave: “Are you?”  And they launch into “Fishtailin'” which opens with that lyric.

After the song Dave asks “What is the time, late or early or what?  What time do bars say open til  4?  5?  [Shouts of four and Five] Tim: According to the new mega city law they close at 1 [boooos], so we’ve got half a song left.

They surprise ever one with “Bees,” a short quiet song with Martin making bee-like sounds on his guitar.  It leads to a long, quiet intro for “Michael Jackson” with Martin still doing some cool guitar sounds.  The whole beginning is slow and a little odd, with Dave singing “but an auto-bon would be better.”  And later, “Elvis is king because he’s dead.”  In the middle of the song Dave starts “rapping” and he says “I’d like to call Pip Skid (I assume) to the stage.  Pip Skid from Manitoba does a rap that’s kind of hard to hear.  Then there’s some soaring guitars from Martin.  The whole song is 11 minutes long and ends in a vocal jam that grows ever quieter.  Martin sings “It feels good to be alive” (hitting great falsettos) while the others are singing snippets and oh yeas.

They play an 11 minute “Dope Fiends” which has a bass and drum solo in the middle as well as just a drum solo later.  After 8 and a half minutes the band keeps going with some simple rocking.  At the end Martin says, “Thanks guys for giving me a second chance.” [?].

They leave the stage for the encore with a drum machine blipping away.  They come back with the drum machine still playing and someone plays a slow meandering guitar line. Another instrumental jam for 3 or so minutes before Dave says, “We’ll play one more.”  He also says that they’ll have their live album out by Christmas (stocking stuffers!).  And they end the show with a great non-nonsense version of “A Midwinter Night’s Dream.”

This is a wonderfully atypical show for the band.  A real treat for fans and an interesting entry point for fans of jamming shows.

The next Rheostatics show that I’ll mention will be in 2001!

[READ: March 16, 2017]  “The Pickle Index”

This story is written in a fascinating way.  There are newspaper articles from The Daily Scrutinizer (written by Mark Hamper) and with them, there is the Pickle Index, a series of recipes.  In fact, it’s a recipe-exchange network “for citizens by citizens.”   Daily participation is mandatory (though surely that’s unnecessary since the treats within are so tasty).

From the Scrutinizer we learn that the official strike team has captured Zloty Kornblatt,the instigator, conspirator and fomenter. He brought a troupe of “performers” into the village to mock, destabilize and cause anarchy.

The Pickle Index begins with Fisherman’s Dills (by Sarafina Loop)–brine-ing cucumbers in the ocean.  And then comes Hollow Gherkins by Flora Bialy.  Although midway through the recipe, it shifts directions and talks about Zloty.  How he left them last night and the writer, Flora Bialy wonders why–was it their incompetence or was it her?  She says that once, years ago Zloty’s team was a real circus with clowns, a trapeze and roasted nuts, but now they were reduced to an extended residency in Burford. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, ON (December 11 1996).

This is the final show on Rheostatics Live in which the band is opening for The Tragically Hip.

For this show, the intro music is also from The Wizard of Oz, but this time it’s Judy singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  It’s just one verse before fading out and then guitars fading in for Martin to play “A Mid Winter Night’s Dream.”

Turns out that this setlist is similar to the one from Buffalo with a lot of new songs.  Although there are a few older/more popular songs in places.

The new songs include “Fat” which sounds great of course.  I gather they are maybe sharing a microphone because at the end Dave says “See you in the next song, Martin.”  “Okay, Dave.”  This leads into a perfect version of “All the Same Eyes.”

Martin says “We are the Rheostatics.”  Dave says “We are the Rheostatics, not to be confused with The Howell Brothers (?).  They couldn’t make it but we got their jackets.  It’s nice of you to come out early.  We’re playing selections from our new record. Get it before it’s reduced to clear.”  (You can hear someone laugh on tape).

This is a segue into the single “Bad Time to Be Poor.”  It’s followed by another Tim song, “Claire” with the acoustic guitar opening in place.  There’s another lengthy guitar solo, although it’s not quiet as exciting as some of the other ones.  But Martin was saving up for a spirited version of “California Dreamline.”

They end their set with a rough rocking “Feed Yourself.”  During the spoken part, they slow things down to just a bass and washes of guitar.  It’s a pretty intense ending and a good preparation for The Tragically Hip.

[READ: June 25, 2017] The Story of Canada in 150 Objects

In celebration of Canada’s 150th year, Canadian Geographic and The Walrus created this special issue–a fun way to describe many elements of Canadian culture through “objects.”

The objects are grouped in vague categories.  Some have just a few words written about them while others get a few pages.  Some are humorous, some are more serious.  Most are happy or amusing, some not so much.  And all of it together paints a diverse and complex portrait of the country–as well as teaching this person from South of the border a number of things I did not know.

It’s with comic pride and humility that the first object is politeness (which is not an object at all, of course).  The amusing thing about this article about “politeness” is that while the author of it is very pleased to be so polite, he also can’t wait for his fellow Canucks to forget to be polite so he can rub it in with a extra smarmy “You’re Welcome.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS: Bathurst Street Theatre, Toronto ON (October 7, 1994).

This is the full 36 song version audience recording of the CBC Hot Ticket Show.  The radio version was truncated (and sounds great).  But this version sounds quite good as well.  Notes:

“Song Of Flight” has been duplicated in 2 channels so doesn’t sound particularly good but the rest of the show sounds fine. A bit of chatter from time to time from people near the recorder. The 11 minute “Dope Fiends” in particular is pretty awesome.

This is the show they mentioned they’d be playing after their return from England (no recordings from England).  This show is also nearly 3 hours and 36 songs.

There’s also a video of the show (below) which has a different audio.  It is so interesting to finally see them playing these songs–I had many visual revelations watching this after seeing and imagining these shows for so long).

“Song of Flight” does sound crazy echoey.   The video version’s audio is clean.  I love watching Martin playing the great soaring notes and Dave playing the chords.  The sound cleans up nicely for “California Dreamline.”  I never knew Dave played the high notes during the verse or the wild notes during “disillusioned porpoise.”  It’s also amazing how bouncy and animated Dave is.

“Soul Glue” sounds good.  In the introduction to “Michael Jackson,” after Martin plays the “Sweet Child O’ Mine” riff, Dave says “Thank you Saul.”  On the audio version, you can hear someone in the crowd ask, What did he say?  A guy explains the premise of the song but misses the Slash joke.  The end of the song (just the voices) is really long and sounds great.  I see it’s just Tim and Martin.

Tim apologies for the show starting half an hour late, but they suggest it was a bonus half hour for “conversations and such.”

Then Dave says, “people talk about us having three record out but no we have 4.”  He mentions Greatest Hits and someone shouts Wendell Clark.  He hears it as “Do you miss Wendell?  Sure.”  Then Martin says, “he’s fishtailin.  That’s a segue.”  “Me and Stupid” is fast and rocking.

Dave introduces “Tim Mech our road manager who did the “Legal Age Life” guitar solo.  He says Tim drove 16 hours consecutive from Thunder Bay to Toronto to get us back to our families and our pets and our loved ones.  Then he drove to Washington DC for Danny Gatton’s funeral (a musician I don’t know).

Clark makes a segue that a van is like a car, you scratch your arm and you go like this….  Cough cough.  You go like this….  (supposed to be a segue for Martin to start “Torque Torque.”  He missed it.  For this song Bidini is on bass, Tim is on acoustic guitar, Martin on a big old-fashioned guitar.  After the song, he says, “Say goodbye to that guitar,” and switches back to his Steinberger.

Dave asks, “You remember the knob who played air drums at our last concert…here he is.”  This is an introduction to “Mike” who is not seen.

It’s the same instrument configuration for “Introducing Happiness.”

Then there’s a discussion of Martin getting athlete’s foot in Cork—it was the highlight of our trip to Cork.

Martin has some trouble with his acoustic guitar and his shirt.  He tells about Oprah Winfrey interviewing a guy who gaff taped everything in his house.  His wife was so embarrassed.  Clark, in watching Martin’s shirt get fixed with tape says, “For those of you who want to know the secret of life by a roll of gaff tape–it’ll fix your car, your clothes, your guitar.

I was intrigued to see that the fun parts of “In This Town” were played by Dave, while Martin plays acoustic.

For “Take Me In Your Hand,” Tim goes to the drums and Clark comes up front.  He dances a little jig and sings harmony.  Bidini plays bass.

When you see what the gaff tape has done to his shirt Bidini says, “Martin has affected an exclamation mark on his thing.  “The first time Rheostatics played at The Edge in 1980, I went to Albion Mall and got them to press on an exclamation mark on a red shirt and my dad bought me blue velvety pants.  I looked like a clown, but an excited clown!”  He thanks Martin for recalling that evening.  He says “Everything old is new wave again…except Canadian folk rock.”

Martin makes up a song  “Everything old is new wave again.”  They play around it a few times and then he says, “Okay, it’s not that funny.”

For “King of the Past,” Dave is on acoustic guitar while Tim plays the opening high notes on his bass.  Martin plays the great opening effects.

When they play “Queer,” there’s no ending section because it segues right into “Full Moon Over Russia,” which has Dave and Martin talking to each other with their guitars (vocals and guitar playing the same note) “You seem very confused!”  “What?!”

Tim grabs the accordion, Dave is on bass for “What’s Going On.”  Martin has a little lyric problem, but when Clark asks if he’s starting again, he just presses on.  Towards the end, there’s a cool jam with Dave on bass an Martin on guitar facing each other and challenging each other to play better.  It’s pretty great.

After the song, Martin says, “A nightmare of mine has come true, my shirt’s falling off.”

This is probably my favorite version of “Row.”  As the song heads to the end, there’s a lengthy drum part that builds and builds.  It nearly takes over the song.  Martin starts playing louder and louder and the whole time, Tim maintains his consistent playing.  It hits an amazing climax.  It’s a bit too loud in the recording but must have been very cool live.

I never realized that Tim played acoustic guitar and Dave played bass on “Claire.”  The band jams with Martin making interesting sounds.  They play Monstrous Hummingbirds which segues into “One More Colour” and then, half a dozen songs later, they finish up “Queer.”  So cool.

“Dope Fiends” runs nearly 11 minutes long and is pretty fantastic.  In the middle there’s even a didgeridoo (the video confirms that it is!).  They thank the didgeridoo player but I can’t hear his name.  Martin is making whale sounds on the guitar, there’s a lengthy drum solo and more of Martin’s guitar solo.  And even after a quick return to the song before the ending, Tim starts funking it up and Martin gets a little more wailing in.  It’s one of the most unusual jams the band has done.

When that ends, one of them says “We scheduled 20 songs and figured we’d be done by 12: 30 and we’re now an hour and a half ahead of schedule.  [How?] So we’ll play one more, take a 5 minute break so people can stretch their feet and have a smoke and then we’ll play a second set.   But they waste no time getting to that smoke with a blistering “R.D.A.”

They come back from the break and “Digital Beach” opens slowly (Martin has a new shirt and an acoustic guitar).  It segues into a rocking “Self Serve Gas Station.”

After some banter about the game Risk and people who play it on a board versus people who play it on the computer, they play “Headless One,” a song I haven’t heard them play in a long time.  For “Legal Age Life,” it’s like a fun folk party.  Dave Clark comes up to sing and do a whistle solo.  Bidini is on acoustic guitar.  And near the end Tim gets to rhyme the line “We ain’t got nothing funny to say no more.”  Then he’s back up front with the acoustic guitar for “Palomar.”

They play a lovely “Northern Wish” and then comes the wonderfully weird “Artenings Made of Gold.”  The middle section is sung more and more like a children’s song–almost baby voices.  I think they even sing “Davy is one, Timmy is two.”

The “digging a hole” section once again sounds like Frank Zappa.  And when they get to the Uncle Henry section about the Maple Leafs, they pause and Dave says “could you please rise” and then they sing it like a barbershop quartet.  It is such a shame that the video cuts off during this song.  The very end has the band do another vocal harmony sans microphone?  Bidini says, “A little tribute to Moxy Fruvous.”

Digging  a hole sound like Zappa again.. maple leafs   could you please rise?     Then they “do it again” guitars off for the audience to sing the ned end

They play a boppy “Alomar” which segues somewhat surprisingly into “Onilley’s Strange Dream.”

People start shouting out requests and then someone shouts “play whatever you want!”  A person shouts “Saskatchewan” and Dave says “Carte Blanche? we stopped playing that years ago.”  When another person requests “Saskatchewan,” Dave says “That was Sakstachewan…part 2.”  Dave says they’re going to play two more songs (they actually play 7 more).

Dave talks about the Green Sprouts Music Club and how people have joined from all over the world: Pakistan Australia, Thailand, Africa, Eurasia and Foxtrap, Newfoundland (he says people from Foxtrap are there tonight).

There’s some raging rocking during the middle of “When Winter Comes” but overall the main part is kind of slow.  The “blue Canadian winter” is practically whispered.

There are more and more shouts for “Horses,” but they play a great “Shaved Head” instead.  And then they play a very folkie “Bread Meat Peas and Rice.”  There’s some crazy falsetto singing and they even get the audience to sing in the falsetto.

And then they kind of fly through the end: “A quick no-nonsense” Record Body Count,” then a fast and hectic “Green Sprouts Theme” where Dave shouts “skip the bridge” and then… silence until Bridge and they rock on!

There’s a few notes of “You Are Very Star” and Martin says “This is sort of an anthem, this one,”  but they play a crazy fast “P.R.O.D.”  They play a verse and then segue back to the “Green Sprouts Theme” and then they play it slower and Dave says “I’m sleepy guys” and they start playing slower and slower saying “1 2 3 and 4” and it slowly segues into the lullaby “You Are Very Star.” People are still shouting requests and yes the guy who is still shouting for “Horses” should know better.  For Martin is playing a lovely acoustic guitar outro.

This is another great set and is, as far as I can tell the final show (at least on the website) with Dave Clark on drums.

[READ: June 20, 2017] “The Hardworking Immigrant Who Made Good”

This issue has a section of essays called “On the Job,” written by several different authors.

Sharma was going to Harvard law school, so he did what many of his fellow students did–he applied at banks for jobs. (more…)

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cbcIn honor of Alice Munro’s Nobel Prize, CBC radio has a playlist of “Literary Music.” Now, I have made many literary playlists over they years myself (including “My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors” by Moxy Fruvous which is not included here), but this one consists of a few bands that I don’t know (and two that I do).

  • Library Voices–“Generation Handclap”
  • The Darcys–“Pretty Girls”
  • Kathryn Calder–“Right Book”
  • AroarA–“#6”
  • Arkells–“Book Club”
  • Dan Mangan–“Road Regrets”
  • John K. Samson–“When I Write My Master’s Thesis”

Samson is the only artist I know well, although I know Dan Mangan a little.  It’s a good listen and I’m sure if you scrutinize the lyrics you’ll find their literary worth.

Listen here.

[READ: January 18, 2014] “Her Big Break”

I’ve been a fan of Alice Munro for a while, and I’m always happy to see her in the New Yorker.  Strangely, I have never read any of her collected short stories.  Maybe some day….

When Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature, I imagined she’d get a lot more press.  And then I realized that it’s a literature prize.  And she’s Canadian.  So, perhaps a few columns in Canada’s The Walrus is all she’ll get.

But this article, which is really entirely this below letter and a brief introduction, explains that on November 18, 1976, Charles McGrath, a fiction editor at The New Yorker, sent Alice Munro her first acceptance letter from the magazine for her story “Royal Beatings.”  Soon after this, she signed a first-reading agreement with the magazine, which I gather means that they will see any of her short stories before she can send them anywhere else.

I am including this letter in its entirety because I assume that most people, like me, have never actually seen an acceptance letter from a magazine for a piece of fiction (I have several rejections).  But even if you have seen an acceptance letter, I can’t imagine that it will every be as thoughtful and considerate as this one.  i also love that as recent as 1976 The NEw Yorker was kind of prudish about their fiction.  I mean, now, the cursing is rampant, but back then the fiction was a more genteel breed.

I have not read “Royal Beatings,” but you can bet I’ve added it to my short list. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SILVERSUN PICKUPS-Live on KEXP, May 11, 2012 (2012).

Following the other day’s review of Silversun Pickups, I have this more recent show.  In this one, only two members of the band are here–singer/guitarist Brian Aubert and bassist Nikki Monninger for a stripped down acoustic show.

This set is much more enjoyable than the older set.  The songs are certainly stronger, especially “Bloody Mary” and “The Pit.”  But there’s also something refreshing about hearing this band who is usually so fuzzed out sounding clean and simple.  I wouldn’t want an entire acoustic album from these guys, but it’s so dynamic in this version.  You can really hear the construction of the songs in this simple setting.

And the rapport between Brian and DJ Cheryl Waters is relaxed (they are very funny) and engaging–I really want to like these guys.

It’s interesting that in the five years from the previous set the Billy Corganisms have not gone away at all, but I guess one can’t help what one’s voice sounds like.  It’s kind of hard to get past that, but it’s not impossible, and the songs are so good, you can overlook it.  This makes me want to check out their latest album.  You can hear it here.

And for  those who watch TV, Silversun Pickups were on Up All Night this week (in a very weird mash up of pop culture).  Is that how lesser known bands get publicity, or was that meant to be a draw for the show (I don’t know how popular they are–Sarah had never heard of them).

[READ: October 18, 2012] Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!

I had not heard of this book until I saw it in my local library.  I wasn’t prepared to read another biography of Marshall McLuhan, and indeed, this isn’t one.  This is the American edition of Extraordinary Canadians: Marshall McLuhan with a spiffy new title.  And it is virtually identical.

There are several things that were in the Canadian edition that were left out of the American edition (although they did leave in all of the “u”s in words like “colour”).

The things that were left out are: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CBC Radio 3’s Sloan 20 Anniversary Podcast (2011).

2011 sees the 20th anniversary of Halifax’s Sloan.  I’ve liked Sloan since their first single, “Underwhelmed” broke through American radio (more like MTV’s 120 Minutes, I suppose) eighteen years ago.  The band’s profile faded in the US since then, but they have been producing steadily great albums over all of these years.

CDC Radio 3 has created a twenty year best of Sloan Podcast.  (And the band has all of their songs streaming online as well).

The Podcast has brief shoutouts from a bunch of fans (famous and non-) and a favorite selection from each of their nine albums (“Underwhelmed” is not included).  There were even a couple of tracks that I wasn’t familiar with (some seriously buried tracks from those early records).

Perhaps the funniest moment for me comes when the DJ admits that he didn’t know “Delivering Maybes” from Between the Bridges.  I was listening to that album just yesterday, and that’s one of my favorite tracks on the disc.  But really, they have so many great songs, it’s hard to choose.

Twenty years.  Good on ya, Sloan.  Looking forward to the new record The Double Cross.

[READ: June 2, 2011] “Noisemakers”

This story has a suprise appearance by a foley artist.  I love foley artists and am totally fascinated by them and would secretly love to be one.  So, even though the foley artist is almost drowned, I liked this story quite a bit.

It opens with Peter and his wife, Sarah, riding a boat in a lake. There’s some tension between them, but everything changes when she has to quickly turn the boat to avoid hitting something in the water.  It turns out to be a body.

The body happens to be of Lucy (the foley artist) who was Peter’s ex girlfriend.  Sarah hates Lucy (there is some background given about them and how Lucy seems to have been involved with Peter since he got married–but I feel like the given details are too vague to justify his current wife’s hatred of Lucy).  Sarah believes that Lucy being here is some kind of connection to Peter, but realilstically, they are quite far from their cabin, and she is floating in a lake…. (more…)

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I first heard Shad on CBC Radio 3 online.  The track was “Yaa I Get It” and I really enjoyed it.  I haven’t listened to a lot of rap in the last few years; I’ve more or less grown bored by the genre, especially all the violence.  So, I was happy to hear this track, which was boastful but funny.

I decided to get the whole disc, and I wasn’t disappointed.  “Rose Garden” features a sample of “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” which sets some of the tone of the disc.  But it’s on the next song “Keep Shining” that Shad’s uniqueness shines through.  This song is about women.  But not in any way that I’ve heard in rap before: “I can’t speak for women.  We need more women for that.”  And the inspiring final verse:

My mom taught me where to keep my heart.
My aunt taught me how to sing two parts.
My sis taught me how to parallel park,
and tried to teach me math but she way to too smart.
My grandma in the 80’s is still sharp.
My girl’s cousin is in activism in art.
They taught there’s no curls to tight, no mind too bright, no skin too dark to keep shining.

Later on the disc is “We Are the Ones” an oddball jam that sounds like one of those bizarre Atlanta rap tracks (funky vocals and all) and an amusing line about being Lost like Matthew Fox.  But his name checks aren’t all pop culture (Moredcai Richler gets a mention as does Glenn Beck (he “better duck like foie gras”).

And of course, there’s the wonderful “Yaa I Get It.”  With great horn blast samples and all kinds of noise competing for our attention.  Yet, throughout the lyrics stand out: “Maybe I’m not big cus I don’t blog or twitter…Dawg, I’m bitter.”  And there’s this wonderful couplet: The precision of my flows in terms of tone and diction/Is akin to that of the old masters of prose and fiction.”  Or take this lyrics from “Call Waiting,” “But what they say is hard for a pimp is harder for a man of faith.”

“Listen” has some great scratching on a heavy rocking track.  It’s followed by “At the Same Time.”  This is a mellow, sad song, which I don’t really like, yet which I find very affecting.  And lyrically, it’s great: “I never laughed and cried at the same time… Until, I heard a church pray for the death of Obama.  And wondered if they knew they share that prayer with Osama.”

The disc ends with “We, Myself and I” another noisy rocker and the one minute “Outro” an acapella rant.

Shad is a great rapper, doing interesting things and trying to make a difference.  He’s worth checking out.

[READ: November 1, 2010] “Marshall McLuhan”

I learned about this book because I’m a fan of Douglas Coupland.  And, as it turns out I’ve always had a vague interest in Marshall McLuhan, so it seemed like a sure thing. The problem was that the book was not readily available in the U.S.  So, I had to order it from Amazon.ca.  And, since you can’t get free shipping to a U.S. address from amazon.ca, I thought it would make sense to order 6 titles in the series, all of which I’ll post about this week.

So, here’s a shameless plug to the folks at Penguin Canada–I will absolutely post about all of the books in this series if you want to send me the rest of them.  I don’t know how much attention these titles will get outside of Canada, but I am quite interested in a number of the subjects, and will happily read all of the books if you want to send them to me.  Just contact me here!

Each book in the series has an introduction by John Ralston Saul, in which he explains the purpose of the series and states globally why these individuals were selected (“they produce a grand sweep of the creation of modern Canada, from our first steps as a democracy in 1848 to our questioning of modernity late in the twentieth century”).  It also mentions that a documentary is being filmed about each subject.

Perhaps the most compelling sentence in the intro is: “each of these stories is a revelation of the tough choices unusual people must make to find their way.”  And that’s what got me to read thee books.

This volume was probably a bad place to start in the Extraordinary Canadians series if only because it appears that Coupland’s volume is markedly different from the others.  Coupland being Coupland, he has all manner of textual fun wit the book.  The other authors seem to write pretty straightforward books, but you know something is up right away when you open the book and the first six pages comprise a list of anagrams of “Marshall McLuhan.”

On to Marshall McLuhan.  The Medium is the Message.  That’s about all anyone who has heard of McLuhan knows about him (and that he has a hilarious cameo in Annie Hall).

When I was a freshman in college, I took a class in Communications which focused an awful lot on Marshall McLuhan.  I didn’t like the teacher very much, but the message stayed with me all these years.   And so even though I’m not a student of McLuhan or anything, I was happy to relearn what I should have known about the man and his ideas.


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I don’t know The Guthries, but I’m a huge Sloan fan.  This cover of “Coax Me” comes from a Sloan tribute album that I didn’t know existed called Take It In: A Tribute To Sloan. It turns out The Guthries released two albums in 1999/2000 and then broke up.  They reunited for this tribute.

It’s tough when a band that you’ve never heard of releases a cover of a song you particularly like.  Now, I love cover versions of songs, but I like a band to add something interesting to the cover.  I haven’t listened to any other Guthries songs, but this cover sounds enough like the original that I wouldn’t have really known it was a cover but for a few slight differences   Browsing through The Guthries CBC Radio 3 playlist, lets me know that they are a very country band.  It’s surprising how untwangy their cover is, then.  Even though I don’t like real country, I might have enjoyed the cover more if it had some more twang to it (just to make it interesting).

After listening to samples of other songs, I won’t bother with anything else by The Guthries.  The tribute album is made up of a bunch of up and coming bands so I don’t think I’ll bother with that one either.

[READ: June 25, 2010] “Meltdown”

Before I even begin this review, I have to say that Outdoor Magazine has one of the worst websites for reading articles.  Each “page” is a few inches long, which is fine. However, there is no “view all” page, so you can’t see the whole thing in one long swoop.  Okay that’s not the end of the world, but when you click their printer friendly version, not only does it not print the entire article, it prints the one page–the text is very small and the page includes all the other website ephemera with it.  Then when you click the next page, it opens up the previous main window, where you then have to reclick the Print icon to get it to print just that page.  If you return to the same print window that you already have open, even if it says it has moved to page three, you’re still printing page two. Dreadful!

Hot on the heels of “Own Goal” someone had recommended this Wells Tower piece as a better nonfiction essay.  And I have to agree.  I assume it is because the subject is a) personal to him and b) interesting to me. (more…)

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