Archive for September, 2008

27
Sep
08

Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and…Well, Friday I’m in Love: Weekly Mix #36

Because it’s been a rather sickly, bedridden week, and also because this theme was received so well the first time I posted a mix for it, I’ve opted to do a sequel to the synthpop mix from over a month back. Who needs antibiotics when you have music composed on a Fairlight?

Once again, you’ll find a mix of old and new, popular and more obscure. And in the cases of Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys, Visage and Figures on a Beach, you’ll be getting your second dose of them this time round. I also want to note that the track by Bazooka Joe is not by the Bazooka Joe that Adam Ant was in; instead, it’s from an equally short-lived band from the UK that produced one album and included Paul Dillon, an ex-founding member of The Cassandra Complex. And you’ll be getting a bonus track from Flight of the Conchords, their take on West End Girls, which is called Inner City Pressure. (Completely useless digression: every time I hear West End Girls now I think of Phil Jupitus in a gold lamé shirt yelling “buh-ba-buh-BA!” at Jonathan Ross on an early episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks.) This mix is called A Way to Keep My Troubles Distant.

Planet Earth (Night Version) – Duran Duran

In Camera Obscura (12″ Dance Mix) – Figures on a Beach

Kelly (Album Version) – Van She

Lights & Music – Cut Copy

The Promise (O.N. Mix) – When in Rome

West End Girls (Dance Mix) – Pet Shop Boys

Nothing Comes to Mind – Cause & Effect

You Spin Me Round (Murder Mix) – Dead or Alive

Get Seduced – The Faint

I Wish – Real Life

The Promise – Visage

Dancing With Tears in My Eyes – Ultravox

In the House – Images in Vogue

Breaking the Boundary – Fiat Lux

Don’t You Want Me (Extended Mix) – The Human League

Radio Heart – Radio Heart featuring Gary Numan

Sweet Dreams – Eurythmics

Listening – Pseudo Echo

Billy’s Fever – Bazooka Joe

Feel the Silence – Elegant Machinery

Courtship Dating – Crystal Castles

Blue Years – Little Nemo

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye – Soft Cell

Bonus Track:

Inner City Pressure – Flight of the Conchords

Weekly Mix #36 (Megaupload)

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26
Sep
08

Erudite English Eccentricity: Wild Beasts and Simon Bookish

I’m back (after a rather pathetic bout of sinus infection – I’m of the firm belief that I do not have an immune system and should just be confined to a wicker wheelchair with consumption), and this post is about one of the reasons I love English music: English eccentricity. It seems English musicians, and I suppose English artists in general, have the knack for the arcane, the offbeat and the witty. It’s why I love Stephen Fry. And why I’m enjoying reading Tristram Shandy right now. It would be perfectly all right to collect both theremins and butterflies in England. The very idea of having something called a folly makes the English seem particuarly eccentric. So, this post will be a bit of a long, double-barrelled one to make up for any wrongs felt by those of you who expected more this week. You get album reviews for both Wild Birds’ Limbo Panto and Simon Bookish’s Everything/Everything. That should set everything right again.

Wild Beasts, a band from the Cumbrian market town of Kendal, has been around for the past six years, but has more recently set up base in Leeds and released three demo EPs before ultimately signing a deal with Domino Records. Their debut album, Limbo Panto, was released in June of this year in the UK, but is yet to be officially released in North America. With their extravagant falsetto vocals and style shifts, they fall somewhere between Klaus Nomi, Sparks and Scritti Politti with occasional flashes of the offbeat feel of Orange Juice. Vocalist Hayden Thorpe’s voice can pitch between helium-inflected operatics and raspy howls and growls akin to Julian Casablancas, giving the record a schizophrenic atmosphere that somehow works. And I’ve got to love a band whose lead singer, when asked if he’s ever been starstruck, answers no, but adds, ““Although The Horrors came down to one show in London, you could see their hair in the crowd. But that was less a star-struck moment than a ‘wanting-to-strike-a-star’ moment.”

Album opener Vigil for a Fuddy Duddy is driven by a tom tom drumbeat with a laidback soulfulness that feels retro and permeates the entire record. The lyrics describe a sexual encounter in all its sweaty, clumsy detail. The Club of Fathomless Love rocks like a more violent operetta with dramatic shifts between airy waltz and cabaret as Thorpe desperately sings “I’m not a soft touch and I won’t be seen as such, so full with fierce fathomless love.” I’m a sucker for apt alliteration, and Wild Beasts use it often. One of my favourite tracks is The Devil’s Crayon, which features a tropical beat that verges on tribal in places and which uses clinking guitar and the lower register of Thorpe’s vocals, reminding me more of Orange Juice – the tune ends up sounding like an art rock Copa Cabana. Woebegone Wanderers is yet another track that shifts between time signatures and styles, alternating between lazy psychedelic and 3/4 merry-go-round. The Old Dog gives me a feeling of 70’s airport lounge music while Thorpe’s vocal quavers even more than usual on lines like “We are liberal and we are civil and life is futile.” Please Sir is a hilarious tune with 50’s style arpeggios akin to Chainless Melody in which the student narrator begs forgiveness from his headmaster:

Please, Sir let me return, if only for a term (how I yearn)
It’s glee, Sir, with your hot breath upon me (gob gurning in fury)
But…I only winded that lad before he bolted
And…I only fumbled that lass, besides, I was revolted
…and eventually offering, “Take these chips with cheese as an offering of peace.” His Grinning Skull feels like a surreal twist on speaking to Yorick’s skull with brilliant lines like “his skull wears cuckold’s horns” (that are pushing through the soil) and “I’ll eat this young whelp’s heart, I will.” It features a punchier rhythm, but a more ominous tone as it seems the corpse will be exhumed in a raid on the grave. She Purred While I Grrrd is a Hawaiian-tinged, yet slinky melody with truly honest words about what the narrator wants his girl for.
Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants, while being fantastically alliterative once again, was their first single released under a deal with Bad Sneakers Records and has a catchy bassline that supports the rapid changes between an inflated preening and a dirty underbelly. It is an atypical youth anthem praising carpe diem in an erudite manner: “Swig the bottle, bottle/Slap the face of Aristotle/Race me, Race me, Race me, Race me/In yer fourth hand jalopy.” The album ends with Cheerio Chaps, Cheerio Goodbye, which sounds like a bizarre public school song and suits the posh but cheeky atmosphere of the record as a whole. The clear love of words and language stays strong right until the end with lyrics like “Be blasted or be lambasted instead/don’t render me the sorriest parody.”


Simon Bookish (real name: Leo Chadburn) is a classically trained musician, who also works in sound installations and theatre, and who, as his nom de plume suggests, is well-read and equally as erudite as Wild Beasts. His music began with very experimental electronically-based songs, but he then progressed through further experimentalism with Trainwreck/Raincheck, an album which was described as a “surreal electronic radio play” and which has spoken word elements that remind me of Jarvis Cocker’s deadpan delivery minus the Yorkshire accent. Simon Bookish’s new album, Everything/Everything, isn’t due out until October 21 in Canada (according to amazon.ca), but I must impress upon you all that it is worth pre-ordering and waiting for. Though Bookish has released two previous albums and several other EPs/remixes/singles over the past few years, this is his first album for German label Tomlab and it is a multi-instrumental score to accompany humanity’s obsession with science and empircal information and the impending overload and self-induced lunacy. There is a definite similarity between Simon Bookish and Patrick Wolf (who has worked with Bookish in the past), especially in terms of experimentalism and English eccentricities, but where Wolf has a rather glam, whimsical persona like Kate Bush or David Bowie, Bookish reminds me more of Talking Heads.

Opening track The Flood, which apparently David Byrne has been promoting, begins with a royal flourish of trumpets which somehow meld perfectly with futuristic chants as persistent as binary code. Bookish’s deep, rich voice complements the frenetic music backing him as he sings about humanity’s inevitable drowning in the technology it has built. Dumb Terminal, which has been provided for download by Pitchfork, ambles along, but then enters a quicker movement in which clarinet squeaks and squawks in a chaotic cacophony. Portrait of the Artist as a Fountain is a quirky tune about an artist riding off into the sunset with lyrics of an Edward Lear-like nature. The chorus of woodwinds that explode from its core is more evidence of Bookish’s classical training and composition abilities. Carbon is a frantic, apocalyptic paean to an element capable of so many uses, and Bookish’s smooth, self-assured vocals swoop up and over the choppy music. Victorinox, which is named after a knife manufacturer, begins as a more stately, sure-footed track with muted brass and tinkling glockenspiel accents before veering into yet another unexpected direction with Bookish spitting out brilliantly poetic lyrics about mind control with clinical precision: “better beware the groundswell/better beware the hard sell/what did you hear/a death knell/step on up/kiss farewell/to poverty/for enmity/your sophistry/of your fallacy.”

In a dramatic change in both style and tempo, Il Trionfo Del Tempo…(Ridley Road) is a medieval-sounding track with plucked strings and choir-like vocals, but it has discordant moments that interrupt the steady flow of predicted tones. Synchrotron, named for a type of particle accelerator, is a funky, sax-led melody on which Bookish sounds like a Willy Wonka trapped in an astrophysicist’s laboratory. Technology is the culprit here, too, as Bookish outlines what it can do to atoms, but also what it cannot do – namely, feed the starving people of the world. The track cycles around itself so quickly that it feels like it’s flying apart by the end, breaking into its own neutrinos. A Crack in Larsen C pulls back the insanity into a calmer, contemplative piano piece as Bookish gently muses on how far a person can improve him/herself and compares it to the current man-made disasters, including the melting of the Larsen C iceshelf.

Alsatian Dog takes us back to the funky symphony of Synchrotron (with hints of Sufjan Stevens) and pokes fun at the intellectual arrogance of humanity as Bookish sings, “a juggernaut crashes into the lexicon,” which taunts people by saying “you can’t define me.” The compulsive human need for defining, classifying and labelling that the Enlightenment brought to its apex is mirrored in Bookish’s urgent, scattershot vocals that interrogate a specimen until language itself ceases to mean anything. A New Sense of Humour begins as a sleazier, slower track that initially sounds a bit JAMC, but then speeds up and struts as Bookish satirizes the all-consuming effect of the television on people. The narrator of the track doesn’t even know him/herself anymore and which category he/she fits into, and the track eventually peters out like the waning attention of an ADHD world. The last track of the album is appropriately titled Colophon and injects the last bit of existential crisis into the record, hoping to re-write the history of humankind, especially its last testament. As Bookish’s final analogy plays out, he states that it’s “not too late to save ourselves.”

Wild Beasts and Simon Bookish push and pull at the possibilities of musical style and structure while equally stretching the limits of thought and imagination. They manage to use Stephen Fry’s love of language in all its variety and possibility with musical digression and whimsy on par with Tristram Shandy. Very English indeed.

The Devil’s Crayon – Wild Beasts

Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants – Wild Beasts

Synchrotron – Simon Bookish

A New Sense of Humour – Simon Bookish

22
Sep
08

They’re Killing Me: The Killers’ New Single

I’ve just gotten a hold of The Killers’ new single Human off of their forthcoming third LP Day and Age. After their sophomore effort of Sam’s Town, I was hugely disappointed, but like an abused lover, I keep coming back to Brandon Flowers and Co. Maybe it’s because their first album meant so much to me at the time of its release and reminds me of relatively good times. Maybe I can’t forget the excitement of seeing and hearing The Killers for the first time on British television in the spring of 2004 and the subsequent excitement when I saw them in a ridiculously tiny venue in Winnipeg that fall. Maybe I’m waiting for another flash of brilliance like All These Things That I’ve Done. Maybe I’m just a masochist.

Despite the rather expansive nature and catchiness of When You Were Young, Sam’s Town was The Killers doing Bruce Springsteen and consciously shifting from anglophilia to Americana, Colonel Sanders ties and all. This move may have lost them some of their old fans and it may very well have gained them new ones and further visibility. They lost me – not only do I obviously prefer British sensibilities in music, but I also felt the inevitable shift in attitude because of fame. No, I do not want to pay a ridiculous amount of money to become a Victim (what those in The Killers’ fan club are called – appropriate in so many ways). No, I don’t want to purchase a b-sides album when I was already ripped off for a few of those b-sides when I bought the special edition of Hot Fuss after I already had the original release – that duet with Lou Reed and lukewarm cover of Shadowplay (though at least the cover brought them back to a British sound) didn’t entice me. All of it smelled rather strongly of record label interference and money-grabbing. I became so disenchanted that I just began ignoring the band and unsubscribed to their e-newsletter. Then I heard that they would be releasing a new album this year. So, I began hoping again that maybe, just maybe, things would be different this time because they promised.

I downloaded Human as quick as, well, humanly possible and took a listen. Granted this is just my humble first impression. And granted, this single may not reflect the entire album as a whole. But I don’t get Human. It feels like a relatively decent electropop track that is spoiled by Flowers’ vocals – they’re slightly folky/country and limply out of step with the pumping synthesizers. It’s like putting Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash on the mic while Cut Copy or Pet Shop Boys plays the background. When I later looked the song up on Wikipedia, it seems that the band was gunning for exactly that effect – in fact Flowers makes the analogy of Johnny Cash meets the Pet Shop Boys, so at least I know my music compass isn’t off. And now I also know that The Killers are doing this on purpose, which makes me feel less hopeful about the forthcoming album release. The inexplicable refrain of “Are we human, or are we dancer?” doesn’t seem particularly clever even though the song’s concept had potential as commentary on the fragility of the human condition.
I’m trying to figure out just what could improve the song and make it more palatable – maybe a different singing style more in line with the staccato style of songs off Hot Fuss; maybe more vocoder; or maybe no vocal at all. The clash of musical styles may have been experimental, so I give The Killers kudos for trying, but the results don’t work for me. While the attempt is made for some spiritual searching like that in All These Things That I’ve Done, it just doesn’t edify me in remotely the same way. It’s like the band is trying to mash up their first two albums into one style to have the best of both worlds or to have their eyeliner and their moustaches too. That’s Freddie Mercury and that’s just presumptuousness. Or maybe they’re just confused as I am at this moment.
Time will tell whether this song will ever grow on me or whether the next album will actually be better than this song suggests. You can judge Human for yourself by downloading it below. Knowing me, I’ll drag my broken body back to them again for more abuse before I completely give up. Maybe The Killers will be kind enough to finish me off this time.

21
Sep
08

Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and…Well, Friday I’m in Love: Weekly Mix # 35

This weekly mix was inspired by a comment left by PlasticSmile on my post about Bella Koshka. He mentioned the fact the album cover art reminded him of classic 4AD stuff, and while I’m definitely no expert on the label (which was pretty obvious in the way I made no reference to the similarity myself), I was prompted to do a little more research on 4AD and discovered that I already had quite of few of the 4AD artists in my collection. I also managed to discover other artists that I wasn’t so familiar with, including His Name is Alive, which PlasticSmile mentioned. 4AD has produced a tight body of work from a rather incestuous scene, or perhaps a network of satellite scenes (many of the bands on the roster had their side or solo projects released on the label as well). Supposedly, the “classic” period of 4AD ended with the final 4AD Cocteau Twins album in 1990 (debate amongst yourselves), and while 4AD was originally an independent record label funded by Beggars Banquet, it is now part of the larger group that includes Matador Records, Rough Trade and XL Recordings.

Besides the distinct graphic style of 4AD album covers, which was pioneered by 23 Envelope, 4AD has been traditionally associated with acts that can be called ethereal, gothic, post-punk, shoegaze or experimental – of course over the years, 4AD continually moved farther into the American underground, and with more recently signed bands, there have been some shifts to artists that wouldn’t be as immediately identified with the “classic” 4AD sound, including folkier artists. Nonetheless, they have still produced a pretty formidable roster past and present, and their artists are consistently critically acclaimed.


Hopefully, this mix is varied enough between more obscure tracks and popular ones and between the “classic” period of 4AD and the present period of the label. From the old school you have Tones on Tail, Pale Saints, Cocteau Twins, The Birthday Party, The Wolfgang Press, The The, Xmal Deutschland, His Name is Alive, Dead Can Dance, Modern English, This Mortal Coil, Pixies, and Bauhaus (in cases like The The and Modern English, you get their debut sounds, which are considerably different from later incarnations – no I Melt With You here); from the newer school, you have Stereolab (more in terms of being recently signed to 4AD rather than new as a band), Blonde Redhead, Beirut, Department of Eagles, TV on the Radio, The Mountain Goats, It Hugs Back and Minotaur Shock. Because I love Cocteau Twins so much, I included two tracks by them, one from their debut album, Garlands, and one that appeared several years later on a 4AD showcase compilation called Lonely Is An Eyesore, and what’s beautiful is you can hear the progression from moody and brooding to angelic and dreamy. I’ll call this one Forward March.

4AD Web site: http://www.4ad.com/

Go! – Tones on Tail

Small Bones, Small Bodies – Future of the Left

Babymaker – Pale Saints

Working Day – It Hugs Back

The Plague – The Mountain Goats

Muesli – Minotaur Shock

Neon Beanbag – Stereolab

Nantes – Beirut

En Particulier – Blonde Redhead

Crushed – Cocteau Twins

Hours – TV on the Radio

Noam Chomsky Spring Break 2002 – Department of Eagles

Nick the Stripper – The Birthday Party

Controversial Subject – The The

Black Houses – Modern English

Nachtschatten – Xmal Deutschland

Crowds – Bauhaus

Ruddy and Wretched – This Mortal Coil

Ecstasy – The Wolfgang Press

Fond Affections – Rema Rema

Where is My Mind – Pixies

Wax and Wane – Cocteau Twins

How Ghosts Affect Relationships – His Name is Alive

The Song of the Sibyl – Dead Can Dance

20
Sep
08

Rolling Off the Chaise Longue: Beangrowers’ Not in a Million Lovers

Orignally from Malta but now Berlin-based, the trio Beangrowers, who have a continental European following, are releasing their fourth album, Not in a Million Lovers, in the UK soon; however, it is already available via the link to a German retailer on their Web site. I haven’t heard their previous albums, so I’ll be taking this album at face value and out of context; nonetheless, I highly enjoyed this record with its poppy bits and lounge feel – at its best points, it’s like a rich amber that ensnares you in some viscous warmth. Vocalist Alison Galea has one of those sultry but sweet voices akin to Sarah Cracknell or Laetitia Sadier (some of my favourite tracks on this record remind me of Saint Etienne and Stereolab), so I prefer those tracks on the record that feature the softer, buoyant side of Galea’s voice. Her vocals work most effectively on those tracks that allow for her voice to lounge about on a chaise longue rather than compete with the rhythm and pace – a natural unfolding rather than forced expression. There is a pervasive feeling of the illicit in both the lyrics and the music, where you can imagined heavy-lidded eyes and languorous limbs beckoning you to bohemian inclinations on a balmy morning.

Opening track Quaint Affair uses electronic elements to pulse beneath the surface of Galea’s creamy vocals like a quickened heartbeat in a tilted neck. Untitled Forever is more urgent and choppy, but somehow the chorus still brings me back to the soaring beauty of Galea’s voice without too much distraction. The title track is a stand-out track on the album with its insistent bassline and airy synths, combining with Galea’s honeyed vocals to create a breezy come-hither atmosphere. Its video is also one of the more creative efforts I’ve seen in the world of music videos these days. One of my other favourite tracks on the record is Ours is a Small Flat, which takes string sounds and pairs them with Galea’s voice as it lazily slides over the notes like a droplet bouncing and rolling from leaf to leaf. Captain Darling is a similarly lovely blend of tinkling keys and lackadaisical guitars while Galea appropriately sings “caress my soul when you go” in a sleepy sibilance. While others may have found the later track Like Ken a more throwaway album filler, I think it’s quite a beautiful gem in line with Ours is a Small Flat and Captain Darling, but with a poppier rhythm and bubbly momentum, where Galea’s voice coasts effortlessly over the waves of melody.
There are faster, rockier tunes like Love Can Do You No Harm, Available, Depths of Bavaria, and Good Band, Bad Name, which showcase jangly guitars and driving rhythms, but which tend to overshadow and compress Galea’s vocal performance. Another track called Machine begins with promise of a rather heavy, dark mood and more of that rock feel, but when the vocals kick into higher registers, the song takes an ethereal turn into golden registers. The record ends with Life’s a Bitch and Then She Sings in Your Band, which bears more than a passing resemblance to Waiting for the Man, but with a different vocal melody that actually works out in some strange counterpoint that softens the chunky feel of the original. It’s a cheeky move in line with the title, and I actually quite like it.

I’m sufficiently intrigued to check out Beangrowers’ back catalogue of three albums (I guess I’ve been out of some loop in the past), and I hope to hear more of the sound I loved on this record – the songs where music and voice fit together in some slowly unfurling wantonness.

Beangrowers MySpace: www.myspace.com/beangrowers

Not in a Million Lovers – Beangrowers

Captain Darling – Beangrowers

18
Sep
08

If a Gallagher Falls in the Forest, and No One is There to Film It…

By now the entire world has likely seen this clip of Noel Gallagher being pushed into his own monitors at the Virgin Festival in Toronto (I myself have viewed it at least six times – usually just the bit where Noel goes down like a tree and then Liam postures like a hard man once his adversary is fully restrained). Besides being a lovely little piece of schadenfreude, especially for all of us who despise the Gallaghers and their brand of working class stereotype confirmation, this clip demonstrates several different things about music and media.

Firstly, isn’t this exactly what Oasis ostensibly thrives on? They paint themselves as hardened working class Mancunians, who fight each other just to prove their testosterone is in good working order and who, as rock stars, live dangerously on the edge. It appears Noel doesn’t like falling off the edge, though. And it appears that Liam’s first reaction when confronted with danger is running away and shielding himself. Oasis has continued to have some preposterous mythical status, especially in the UK (where they are currently all over NME and its Web site and where, almost without fail, they would grace the cover of Q magazine every spring – I know because I was in the UK for several different springs and every time I looked at the newsstand the Gallaghers were on the cover). Even Oasis fans admit that they haven’t had anything worth listening to since What’s the Story Morning Glory, so why the constant attention when so many of their peers never get press anymore? Because they never stop slagging off everyone else, especially those with higher intelligence? Because they constantly give grandiose promises without ever fulfilling them? Because they wrote a few feel-good anthems for the yob? Because the music press has turned into strictly tabloid press? In which case, the more outrageous the Gallaghers’ behaviour or performance venue is, the more press they get.

To me, Oasis represent bloated stadium rock taken to its logical conclusion – they are U2 without the social conscience. That “legendary” performance at Knebworth (that gets rehashed and reminisced over every so many years) blew out any notion of quality over quantity or connection with your audience. I suppose that in many ways Oasis appeals to so many people because they are supposed to be the quintessential rockers – living an extravagant lifestyle with sex, drugs, and violence, posturing like the Stones, but without the history of solid music to back it up. They do and have things as big as they can to compensate for a back catalogue that isn’t so impressive. If you separate yourself so far from the audience, you can maintain some sort of charade that you, as the artist, are special by virtue of spatial relations. Had someone attacked Noel in a pub setting, it would have been taken as par for the course; the fan-artist divide wouldn’t have been accentuated by tons of security and a massive canyon between the front row of punters and the stage. Fame and physical distance changes the situation into a media circus and a viral video.

Thus far, it seems the only source that claims that the attacker was a “blog commenter” is Stereogum, which implies that the attack was provoked because Noel Gallagher had previously insulted Radiohead. There’s no back-up for this assertion as far as I can tell, but I would assume a lot of people wouldn’t need a specific reason to attack the Gallaghers. While the idea of an angry blogger taking Gallagher down in the name of Thom Yorke is hugely funny, the fact anyone would posit that it could be an irate blogger implies a certain opinionated and subversive milieu for bloggers, which I suppose is correct to an extent. The attacker’s subversive involvement on stage points to not only a breach in security, but also a breach in the established artist/fan division. It also points out that fans or anti-fans are becoming just as visible as the artists themselves.

The fact someone was there filming the concert, so that there could be a viral clip circulating, is of interest in this capacity. It’s become increasingly easier to film live concerts, whether with a crappy function on a mobile phone or with an actual digital video camera, and this has become both useful and frustrating. It can be useful if something rather unexpected or momentous happens (as shown with Noel Gallagher) and if you were at that concert and just wanted a souvenir; however, at the same time, having that souvenir can almost cheapen the experience by altering the bits you actually remember and the way you remember experiencing them firsthand (I’ve had this happen to me a couple of times). I wonder about what kind of experience the people filming are having of the show – isn’t it a bit of a secondhand one? In which case, are they there for the actual music and the experience of the show, or for some bizarre mediated version through which they can prove that they were there? To get a bit Baudrillard, the simulacrum is more important than the reality.

I also think filming concerts in a venue that doesn’t allow for decent acoustics or a remotely clear picture is an exercise in futility – YouTube is cluttered with these types of videos. Why would I want to watch ten seconds of a gig tipped horizontally? I suppose this type of video clip just reasserts the increasingly solipsistic online society that assumes that others will want to experience another’s life, including which shows he/she attended, in all its grainy, distorted glory. Or these videos become proof of your own activities and your own attempt at popularity and fame. The person who posts a video bootleg can become just as popular as the artist featured on the bootleg. So the recorder/poster of the Noel Gallagher clip has their week of fame while gifting the Gallaghers with some free publicity in some skewed universe of media symbiosis.

And I’m really no better than the attacker or the video clip poster by writing this piece, drawing more unnecessary attention to the Gallaghers. However, I will say the attacker’s strategy was all wrong. He should have gone for Liam first.

Falling and Laughing – Orange Juice

All Fall Down – The Sound

The Fallen – Franz Ferdinand

16
Sep
08

I ♥ Mother Mother: Mother Mother’s O My Heart

Oddly enough, the first time I heard of the Vancouver band, Mother Mother, was late last year when one of my professors, who was teaching us media studies, mentioned them (well, actually gushed about them). I didn’t check them out at the time (I hadn’t been in the habit of taking musical recommendations from my professors), and then sort of forgot about them. Then I heard they were playing Winnipeg during the Jazz Festival, and I ignored them again without any real reason for doing so, opting not to see them live. I really had no idea what they sounded like, and so had no basis for any attitude, indifferent or otherwise. Now that their sophomore album, O My Heart, is being released today, I realize the error of my ways, and will attempt to rectify it a bit through this post. In an attempt to put O My Heart into some sort of context, I listened to their first album, Touch Up, and I discovered there’s a sweet schizophrenia to their style, which spins between folk and soul and pop and indie rock like a child full of new ideas, playing make believe outdoors, pairing airy, innocent-sounding male and female voices with lyrics that are archly witty. They’re like a less theatrical Bodies of Water with some slight hints of New Pornographers, Pop Levi and Sarah Slean, and this new album delivers more of their gentle, melodic brand of wryness.

The title track opens the record and falls less on the folk side of the fence, but more on the powerpop side with its driving rhythms and hiccuping melody, utilizing as many metaphors for a heart as they could fit into one song. Burning Pile builds upon an oscillating guitar for a catchy pendulum-like tune, which gallops along to a vaudeville melody in unexpected places. Their voices meld and soar while still maintaining a sort of earthiness and frankness. The album takes yet another turn as Body of Years begins like a more straightforward rock song with synthy elements as vocalist Ryan Guldemond uses his idiosyncratic unhinged style to quirk out lyrical lines into little curliques. Try to Change tones the mood down into a moodier acoustic number with beautfiul brass accompaniment, burnishing the mournfulness into something much warmer and soulful. Wisdom continues this more mellow, muted brass sound, but kicks it up with drums as it seems to revel in the blissful ignorance of youth and the avoidance of advice. Body slides and wiggles all over the strings of violins in a folkier version of Sparks while the tempo fluctuates with a mind of its own, or perhaps with the narrator’s mind which seems prone to change and might be the last piece of his/her body surrendered in the song.
I was so impressed with the song Ghosting that I included it in my autumn weekly mix this week; with its plucked guitars, it definitely evokes a hazy, mellow autumn day for me and had me singing the chorus after only one listen. The mood shifts back to urgent as Hay Loft kicks into a speedy gear with almost a hip hop aesthetic for the verses – rather than gangstas with guns it’s just Papa creeping through the hay loft in his longjohns, toting a gun. Wrecking Ball takes gentle banjo to a Deconstructionist/Dada approach to art while Arms Tonite stomps about in a glam posture, putting a new offbeat spin on the classic “dying in your arms” theme. Miles drifts along to piano and acoustic guitar in a pure dream of escapism, lulling you in a hammock of . The album concludes with Sleep Awake, a subtle song of childlike vocals, which has a lullaby feel at odds with the lyrics which convey the epitome of the expression “sleeping with one eye open.”

So, we’ve all learned a little something from this post. Don’t ignore a band without even having listened to them at all. And professors sometimes actually have decent taste in music.

Body of Years – Mother Mother

Arms Tonite – Mother Mother




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Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

Bloc Party w/ Hot Hot Heat (2009)

Buzzcocks w/ The Dollyrots (2010)

Damo Suzuki (2012)

David Bowie w/ The Polyphonic Spree (2004)

Diamond Rings w/ PS I Love You + The Cannon Bros. (2011)

Diamond Rings w/ Gold & Youth (2012)

Dragonette w/ Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees (2009)

Frank Turner w/ The Cavaliers (2010)

Frank Turner w/ Into It Over It + Andrew Jackson Jihad (2011)

Franz Ferdinand w/ Think About Life (2009)

Gang of Four w/ Hollerado (2011)

Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

Hot Hot Heat w/ The Futureheads + Louis XIV (2005)

IAMX w/ closethuman (2007)

IAMX w/ Coma Soft + The Hourly Radio (2007)

Interpol (2007)

Janelle Monae w/ Roman GianArthur (2012)

Joel Plaskett Emergency w/ Frank Turner (2012)

Jonathan Richman (2011)

Keane w/ Lights (2009)

Lou Reed w/ Buke and Gass (2011)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Fear of Music (2007)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Bear Hands (2009)

Manic Street Preachers at Wanaja Festival (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Old Folks Home (2009)

Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

Prince (2011)

Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

Snow Patrol w/ Embrace (2005)

Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

Stars w/ Thurston Revival (2006)

Stars w/ The Details (2008)

Stars (2010)

Steven Severin (2010)

Stroszek (2007)

The Antlers w/ Haunter (2012)

The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (2010)

The Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Nightbox (2012)

The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

Tokyo Police Club w/ Smoosh + Attack in Black (2008)

TV on the Radio w/ The Dirty Projectors (2009)

Yann Tiersen w/ Breathe Owl Breathe (2011)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave

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So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun

Photobucket

Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head

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Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away

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Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners

Photobucket

Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away

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You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender

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I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding

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You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black

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Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side

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Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb

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Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape

Photobucket

Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

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And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning

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My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it

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Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love

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We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

Photobucket

Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south

Empty

Running on

Bravado

As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different

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LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell

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Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are

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You must let her go

She's not crying

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Baiting

Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times

Valentines

Hating

Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone

Whipcrack

Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't

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So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need

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The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest

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Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know

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No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more

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All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids

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Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome