Archive for October, 2009


Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and…Well, Friday I’m in Love: Weekly Mix #87


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And since you’ve all been such good ghouls and boys, I’m handing out my biggest bag of treats yet. I’ve added to last year’s Halloween mix, and it is now a lurching monster of 66 tracks. You can download the entire mix as a zip file at the bottom of the list.

I will be attending my fair share of Halloweeny events this year (I already went to a book launch dressed as Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas, but that’s a surreal story for another time), including a Neil Gaiman Graveyard Party at McNally Robinson bookstore (call it bad taste…I’m going as the ghost of Richey Edwards – when am I ever in good taste?) and a Halloween wedding social (this time as a 1920s flapper).

So come and see what’s on the slab. It’s better than a thousand brooding vampires. This is Anglopunk’s Bloody Good Halloween Mix 2009.

This is Halloween – Danny Elfman

Ramalama (Bang Bang) – Roisin Murphy

Monster Mash – Bobby Pickett and the Crypt Kickers

Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley

Clap For the Wolfman – The Guess Who

Kandy Korn – Captain Beefheart

Halloween Parade – Lou Reed

Abracadabra – Steve Miller Band

The Time Warp – The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Halloween – Siouxsie and the Banshees

Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus

Release the Bats – The Birthday Party

I Put a Spell On You – Arthur Brown

Halloween – Sonic Youth

Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

Halloween on the Barbary Coast – The Flaming Lips

I Was a Teenage Werewolf – The Cramps

Transylvanian Concubine – Rasputina

Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) – David Bowie

Date With a Vampyre – The Screaming Tribesmen

Do the Hippogriff – The Weird Sisters

Secret Vampires – bis

London Ghost Stories – Shirley Lee

Vampire Racecourse – The Sleepy Jackson

Waiting For the Wolves – Daisy Chainsaw

Faces & Masks – The Cherubs

Vampire Love – Ash

Frankenstein – New York Dolls

Halloween – Dead Kennedys

Feed My Frankenstein – Alice Cooper

Vampires Pt.II – The JeanMarie

Tales From the Crypt Theme

Hells Bells – AC/DC

Nanageddon – The Mighty Boosh

Dracula – Gorillaz

Halloween With Morrissey (Ouija Board) – Cheekyboy

Magic Dance – David Bowie

I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow

My Vampire – Soho Dolls

Vampire – Paul St. Paul and the Apostles

Lust For a Vampyr – I Monster

For Halloween – No Kids

Ghost Town – The Specials

Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.

Ghosts – Comateens

Thriller – Michael Jackson

Every Day is Halloween – Ministry

Batdance – Prince

The Addams Family Theme

Halloween – Japan

All Cats Are Grey – The Cure

Scare Me – Paul Haig

Skeletons – The Sound

Lycanthropy – Patrick Wolf

Dracula – Momus

Please Mr. Gravedigger – David Bowie

Graveyard – Public Image Ltd.

Vampires – Pet Shop Boys

Theme For a Witch – David R. Prangely and The Witches

Ghost – VNV Nation

Waking the Witch – Kate Bush

Bat’s Mouth – Bat For Lashes

They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the Dead!! Ahhhh! – Sufjan Stevens

Hip Deep Family – The Tiger Lillies

Halloween Head – Ryan Adams

If I Only Were a Goth – Thoushaltnot

Weekly Mix #87 (Zip File)


Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and…Well, Friday I’m in Love: Weekly Mix #86

The Rest The Cried Wolf Book

It’s time for another covers mix. I’d like to highlight a couple of the tracks here. Firstly, I want to give some context for The Rest’s cover version of Robyn’s With Every Heartbeat. This cover is the first song off their new EP, which will be accompanied by an illustrated novel, The Cried Wolf Book. This book, along with the accompanying four songs, will “chronicle the life of the boy who cried wolf as an adult.” I’m definitely excited – just as enjoyable as the surreal story that complemented Allegories’ debut record, this one, which starts here, turns fairy tale telling on its head. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t be intrigued by the sentence, “Hans was tossed into a deep, claustrophobic well riddled with scantily clad mermaids, making it a damp, sexually suggestive prison.” Read more about The Rest in my previous review, and you’ll have to wait until November 1 for the next chapter in the book.

Secondly, I want to say how absolutely fantastic vitaminsforyou’s cover of No Cars Go is – just when you think the song couldn’t get any more anthemic, this re-working does it with synthy aplomb.

Next week is time for my Halloween Mega Mix (I might just build on last year’s mix). But this week’s mix is called Take Cover.

Pop Goes the World – Hyperbubble (Original: Men Without Hats)

Together in Electric Dreams – The Voluntary Butler Scheme (Original: Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder)

With Every Heartbeat – The Rest (Original: Robyn)

Dream Attack – Kites With Lights (Original: New Order)

No Cars Go – vitaminsforyou (Original: The Arcade Fire)

Night Vision – The Twelves (Original: Daft Punk)

Primary – The Dandy Warhols (Original: The Cure)

100% – The Raveonettes (Original: Sonic Youth)

Like a Virgin – Teenage Fanclub (Original: Madonna)

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – The Killers (Original: Cyndi Lauper)

Womanizer – Sliimy (Original: Britney Spears)

Whole Lotta Love (Acoustic) – Prince (Original: Led Zeppelin)

Careless Whisper – The Gossip (Original: Wham)

When You Were Young – The Noisettes (Original: The Killers)

Isobel – Xiu Xiu (Original: Bjork)

Transmssion – Hot Chip (Original: Joy Division)

Down In It – Tiga (Original: Nine Inch Nails)

Love Song – The Big Pink (Original: The Cure)

Islands in the Stream – Feist and The Constantines (Original: Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers)

When Doves Cry – Brett Anderson (Original: Prince)


Method in Madness: frYars’ Dark Young Hearts


I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for London-based artist, frYars (real name: Ben Garrett) to release a full proper album. His two EPs, The Ides and The Perfidy (the latter of which I reviewed here), were fantastically dark and odd, and so I waited patiently for the debut album, Dark Young Hearts, which just released a few weeks ago, and like Patrick Wolf’s latest, was financially supported through Bandstocks. Half of the tracks on the record are actually ones I’ve heard before whether as part of EPs, or in the case of Visitors, as a free download earlier this year. Despite this pre-emption, I still really appreciate frYars’ brand of melodramatic and wonky narratives, especially since his voice is a rich, heady mixture of red wine and rohypnol, pleasantly beguiling and dangerous. And often as mad as a bag of obtuse angles. Sure, frYars could be accused of overproduction on this album, giving some of his older material a studio gloss, but I don’t think his music is of the lo-fi sort in the first place; independent should never be equated with lo-fi. His songs have always been on the pop side of the fence (perhaps pop as warped in a baroque funhouse mirror, but pop nonetheless), and the beauty of frYars’ music is where he takes you via the seemingly accessible chamber-electropop. Identities and motives are fluid and sometimes amoral, but the lyrics are captivating, and definitely not something you would find in regular, mainstream pop music. There’s a revelling in the macabre and the strange, which reminds me of the attraction of stories like Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, a place where the rules are nonsensical, but necessary.

The album opens with Jerusalem, a track that features a wobbly, singsong chorus about moving in circles and causing a desert storm. It very well might be about Middle Eastern conflict, but then again, lines like “I say no to hitchhikers, but all the same I’ll love my neighbour” points to a more abstract set of ambivalent moral codes or criticism of moral relativism. The next song, The Ides, is the one that initially got me into frYars; it is an incredibly catchy plinking piano tune full of bizarre betrayals and near murders, sounding like a possessed music box. In fact, perfidy, ambiguous good/evil dynamics, death and militarism permeate the whole album with an inky fog, a darkness that is occasionally broken with the blinding light of maniacal musings. The unsettling surreality continues with Lakehouse, in which heavy, bassy synths bolster a tale of a lakehouse “built by the mighty for the weary and the hungry.” Though frYars sings lightly about a “gold country sun,” it, along with the lakehouse, feel like an enticing mirage as the music sucks you into its icy depths of numb forgetfulness. With lyrics like “You can sleep here with your soft drinks,” it becomes a Hansel and Gretel story for the twenty-first century.

Earlier this year, the following track, Visitors, and its music video were revealed as was the fact that Dave Gahan was involved. It skips along like laser double dutch as frYars’ high, wispy falsetto crashes into the gloom of Gahan’s lower register during the chorus: “I’ve got a sickness/I think I need your help tonight.” Something sinister is still afoot, but never explicit as he sings, “for the price of a human heart/it’s not that bad.” With another nod to The Ides, Of March is a frantic piece with quick, swishing guitars and persistent piano. fryars’ vocals match the frenetic atmosphere with his warbly, vicious tones throughout the verses, and as he belts out the line “I will go down with this ship tonight,” he sounds vindicated in some skewed sense of honour and blood-mist. And the object of his song doesn’t fare much better as he asks him/her to remember him as he/she commits suicide. The album takes an acoustic, Latin turn with A Last Resort, a track that uses the gentler, croony side of his voice to sing a twisted love song. Lyrics like “When your vessel’s going nowhere, it’s time to forget the sea/when the mind is a mushroom, but the words come easily” make the song seem like a psychedelic breakdown. A couple of minutes into it, the overdubbed vocals form a chorus that sounds like a host of delirious cherubim, and in the end, it’s rather soothing.

Then former Perfidy EP track, Novelist’s Wife, slips in with another soft vocal performance that adds to the taunting madness of the song. As I’ve noted in a previous post, this song is about a wife that bakes her husband’s Hungarian mistress in a pie and feeds it to him. Narrating from the point of view of the wife, frYars sounds quite glib as he tells the husband to stay in his k-hole while the wife would rather stick to ethanol. Leaving the drug-addled world of the novelist behind, the sound of falling bombs, funhouse organ, and a grungy bassline signal the beginning of Ananas Trunk Railway. The lyrics’ gleeful expectation of death is eventually extinguished by what sounds like a control panel going bezerk in a shower of beeps and squeals.

There’s another return to the Perfidy EP with Olive Eyes, one of the most unlikely dance tracks ever composed. Its groovy synth line creates a New Wave hit out of a strange story of incest and murder. The mini-drama ostensibly ends with the green-eyed son stabbing his father/uncle with mirth. However, I dare you not to sing along with it. Reaching further back to The Ides EP, Happy features loads of distant rambling vocals, like the babbling of an overloaded mind, as the music neatly matches with an ambling, shambolic mess of drumbeats and banging keys. Some scrambled vocals that sound like burbling, insane Daleks complete the disorientation. Amidst the stream-of-consciousness verses, some of my favourite lyrics about societal moral expectations and arbitrary rules can be found:

We wage wars like Pascal waged wagers,
and its on Pascal’s wager we send sergeant majors to fight,
it would be nice if we took his triangle,
and we could find new angles more violent and wonderful,
I was thinking of saving the animals,
but first we save people (not animals),
just ’cause they’re almost as rare as love through marriage,
do you sometimes wish that your siblings were miscarried?

And people made evil,
we decide what it is and decide what it’s not,
if you do things illegal,
you can be pretty sure that it would be allowed somewhere else,
but we’re happy people,
so there’s nothing wrong with the state of things,
if it’s making you happy,
then there’s nothing wrong with the state you’re in.

Anyone who can combine the mathematical and philosophical work of Blaise Pascal with commentary on moral relativity in a pop song is truly impressive. More betrayal and older material with the next track, Benedict Arnold. The bubbling synths and crisp snare make a rather dreamy ballad of the traitor who was “bad when backs were turned.” The record concludes with the soulful Morning, which surges like stars poking through twilight. Pushing like a delicate lullaby, frYars sings, “This is all we have time for.” From time to time, the song turns into a wailing gospel tune as he groans, “Get mama help/A babe is born,” and all the gloom becomes a spiritual re-birth.

Dark Young Hearts is a potentially bewildering pop record, but the deeper you fall into it, the more it comes to follow its own set of rules, a point about caprcious ethics well-made. The music can be as unpredictable as the lyrics, but also weirdly satisfying in its genre-bending. fryars is one of those artists with a perverse sense of storytelling and the ability to create a shadowy, self-contained world with a cast of odd, but memorable characters so well-defined that they make sense. In a modern world of uncertainty and irrationality, frYars has crafted his own Gormenghast-like island, which is secure in its own methodical madness.

Of March – frYars

Happy – frYars


Fixin’ to Thrill the Non-Masses: Dragonette at the West End Cultural Centre

Dragonette 1

It could be that the Manics show last week blew all of my fuses, or that my whirlwind weekend wedding trip to New Hampshire scrambled the last scraps of mental focus I had left, but I ended up a wee bit blasé at the Dragonette show on Monday night. I couldn’t even blame it on tryptophan-laced turkey because I didn’t make it home in time for Thanksgiving dinner. No doubt Dragonette played well with a ton of energy, but the venue was much less than full and after experiencing the surreal gratitude-fuelled lovefest with the Manics fans, the show just didn’t hit any peak for me. It also didn’t help that I didn’t have time to listen to the advance copy of their new album, which I had received a few weeks ago (it’s always nice coming into a show knowing what the songs might be).

They opened with I Get Around, which is one of my favourite Dragonette tracks, however, some of the really powerful groans of synth got lost in the live mix. Gamine frontwoman, Martina Sorbara, danced, rocked and pouted her way across the stage throughout the gig, making being a tomboy glamourous; as the liveliest member of the band, she translated the sexy playfulness of the lyrics through her breathy, child-like vocals and cheeky grin. Occasionally bassist/keyboardist/producer Dan Kurtz joined her at the front of the stage, playing bass while guitarist, Chris Hugget, stayed utterly expressionless even when playing solos. They also played Take It Like a Man and Competition off their debut album, but the majority of the show came from the latest record, Fixin’ to Thrill, including the title track, Liar, Pick Up the Phone, Gone Too Far, Stupid Grin (during which Sorbara tried to lead the crowd in a call-and-answer), and a rather tender, blue-light-bathed performance of Easy. At some point in the middle of the set, they threw in an unreleased song that didn’t make it onto Fixin’ to Thrill – Sorbara said they kept playing it live because they enjoyed it so much. The keywords in the song were ostensibly “summer” and “sex,” and while I can’t actually recall any melody at this point, I believe it to be a fairly decent track, which will hopefully get a release in the future.

Dragonette 2

It seemed that the band and select members of the audience were having a very good time (Sorbara and Kurtz were smiling their faces off at each other…stupidly grinning, perhaps – even if you hadn’t already known they were married, you’d guess it by the end of the show), but it felt like a relatively short gig without any real definitive moments. The encore was a mere one song “hoedown” (I suppose any band that uses the verb “fixin'” would be up for it). I wish there had been at least one more song (it was probably too much to hope for their cover of Calvin Harris’s The Girls, and perhaps I’m the only one who likes Shock Box so much). Now that I’ve had some time to listen to the latest album both live and on CD, I think it’s a much more even record than Galore was; there’s a strength and vibrancy to it that pulses through each track whereas Galore sometimes dipped and weakened for me.

The opening act, Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees, who came all the way from Halifax, was impressively brilliant (so much so, I bought their album after the show). I marvelled at the frontwoman, Rebekah Higgs’s confidence in the face of a distinterested, rather paltry crowd – looking like a Pre-Raphaelite hurricane in a child’s party dress, she managed to get people participating halfway through their set (as puzzled as people were with her French refrain “Danse Danse Resolution”). There’s a fantastic funky electro thread to their music that just violently thrashes around in your head long after the music stops (they also had a bit of a harder, manic edge akin to Duchess Says, often with unintelligible lyrics), and the screeches and warped reverb on the vocals sound like a brain holocaust. And any band that has a guitarist who wears leather shorts, a leather vest, a thong and a gimp mask is bound to endear themselves to me (I couldn’t help musing whether one of the guitarist’s legs was bigger than the other).

Overall, it was a fun night, and I feel as though there were a lot of external factors weighing in on my less-than-ecstatic reaction (probably unfairly colouring my experience). I would definitely check out both bands again, and both albums just may make it into my year-end countdown. In the face of a small crowd, each band tenaciously entertained.

Fixin’ to Thrill – Dragonette

Pick Up the Phone – Dragonette

Girls You Love – Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees


Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and…Well, Friday I’m in Love: Weekly Mixes #84 and #85

Manic Street Preachers (Horse And Groom - Front)

As promised in my last post about the Manics show in Toronto, one of this week’s mixes will be Manics-themed. It couldn’t just be a bunch of Manics album tracks, nor even a bunch of b-sides (frankly, I do enough of those in other mixes and posts, and that would all be too easy). Since they are one of the most dynamic live bands in the world, this mix is comprised of tracks from various bootlegs of Manics gigs. I have nowhere near the amount of bootlegs other Manics fans have, but I delved into what I did have and came out with a decent assortment. The majority of the bootlegs I have are pre-Richey-disappearance (for obvious reasons I suppose), but there’s also a few tracks at the end from later shows, including the 2006 XFM Winter Wonderland show in Manchester where the first couple of tracks from Send Away the Tigers were revealed. Note the songs Generations Terrorists (which I included in this mix) and Faceless Sense of Void are actually early versions of Stay Beautiful and Love’s Sweet Exile, respectively. I think this mix shows a beautiful evolution and captures different facets of songs I’ve listened to so many times; the nuances and the crowd’s live energy make these bootlegs something to treasure and remind me of the Manics’ dynamic presence.

I want to dedicate this mix to all of those fans I newly met two Sundays back (Dan, Connor and his two brothers, Maria, the couple from Buffalo, the father who attended the Vancouver gig and then brought his son to the Toronto one, the girl who attended one of the JFPL shows at The Roundhouse), to the old friends who were there (Evo), and to all of the ones I didn’t get a chance to meet properly – I saw you and your dedication, and I just may have been the one taking your photo with James (I seemed to become cameragirl for a moment for several people). I regret not getting more contact information from all of you. I came to the show hoping I would meet at least one new friend, and I more than accomplished that. This one’s called This One’s For the Freaks.

Dead Yankee Drawl – Manic Street Preachers (Horse and Groom, London – 20-09-89)

Methadone Pretty – Manic Street Preachers (Hull Adelphi – 17-05-91)

Crucifix Kiss – Manic Street Preachers (Hibernian Rooms, London – 13-08-91)

You Love Us – Manic Street Preachers (London Marquee – 04-09-91)

Democracy Coma – Manic Street Preachers (The Crypt, Middlesbrough – 07-02-92)

Born to End – Manic Street Preachers (Musik Café, Copenhagen – 10-04-92)

Motorcycle Emptiness – Manic Street Preachers (Eurockeenes, Belfort – 03-07-92)

Generation Terrorists – Manic Street Preachers (Oxford Zodiac – 02-02-91)

Little Baby Nothing – Manic Street Preachers (Northampton Roadmenders – 23-02-92)

Yourself – Manic Street Preachers (Southend Cliffs Pavillion – 07-07-93)

Roses in the Hospital – Manic Street Preachers (Milton Keynes – 19-08-93)

Yes – Manic Street Preachers (Paris Bataclan – 22-11-94)

PCP – Manic Street Preachers (Barcelona – 18-11-94)

Love’s Sweet Exile – Manic Street Preachers (Bangkok MBK Hall – 04-94)

From Despair to Where – Manic Street Preachers (The Hague Parkpop Festival, Holland – 21-08-94)

4st 7lbs – Manic Street Preachers (Nancy, France – 26-09-94)

IfWhiteAmericaToldTheTruthForOneDayIt’sWorldWouldFallApart – Manic Street Preachers (Astoria Theatre, London – 21-12-94)

No Surface All Feeling – Manic Street Preachers (Melbourne Big Day Out – 26-01-99)

Masses Against the Classes – Manic Street Preachers (Cardiff Coal Exchange – 08-03-01)

A Design For Life – Manic Street Preachers (XFM Winter Wonderland, Manchester – 11-12-07)

New Hampshire Autumn

I’ve got a slightly different excuse for why these mixes are late this time: I was in New Hampshire over the weekend being the maid of honour for my oldest friend’s wedding. They picked the most beautiful season to get married in (or out, I should say, considering the wedding took place on the beach next to a lake), especially since I think New England probably has the most attractive, quintessential display of autumn leaf colours in the world. In fact, you expect to see the Headless Horseman chasing Ichabod Crane at any time. I had a great time, even more so because it’s been five years since I last saw this friend. She picked a fantastic guy, and together, they’re some of the most entertaining people to be around (one day we will dominate the charts as The Leaf Peepers, a band that uses only steam-powered instruments, wears David Bowie Labyrinth-era wigs and two eyepatches per person, and sings about iPods sprouting consciousnesses and legs, and style will finally triumph over substance). In addition to all of the social aspects of the wedding trip, I also had a fun time taking a walk by myself through the trees in upstate New Hampshire, snapping photos (one of which is above this paragraph). It was a perfectly crisp morning spiced with the scent of pine and fresh wind coming off the lake.

Finally, it’s starting to get autumnal here in Winnipeg (the freak Indian summer is definitely over, so much so, we may just leapfrog directly into winter), and I can look forward to smoky air, vibrant leaves, cool days, warm food, and the best holiday ever – Halloween. So, here’s a little autumn music. This one’s called For C + M.

The Samurai in Autumn – Pet Shop Boys

We’re in a Thunderstorm – Gentleman Reg

Gone Like Summer – Strawberry Story

Theme to the Autumn Leaves – Autumn Leaves

Waiting For a Chance – Northern Portrait

September’s Not So Far Away – Field Mice

By the Light of a Magical Moon – Tyrannosaurus Rex

Climb a Tree – Jim Noir

Nothing Broke – Meursault

Apples and Pairs – Slow Club

Summer’s Gone – Sibrydion

Darwin’s Tree – Martin Carr

We Could Send Letters – Aztec Camera

Further to Fall – Trembling Blue Stars

Forests and Sands – Camera Obscura

No Excuses (The Autumn Cantata) – Air France

Road to Somewhere – Goldfrapp

Under the Folding Branches – The Veils

September – David Sylvian

Autumnal – Arab Strap


Love’s Sweet Exile: Manic Street Preachers at the Phoenix Concert Theatre

Manic Street Preachers - 010 - JPEG

Ten years is a long time to wait for anything. So when the Manic Street Preachers finally returned to Toronto, it was tough to predict quite how it would go down. I, myself, had only waited nearly two and a half years, which felt quite long enough for me. My very first post on this blog was a review of the Manics’ second show at the Cardiff Student Union in 2007 as part of the Send Away the Tigers tour. For many of the fans at the Phoenix on Sunday night, this was their first time witnessing their musical heroes play live. If I hadn’t been fortunate enough to be in Cardiff in May a couple of years ago, I would have been one of them. People travelled from all over the country to come to this gig (some from just south of the border as well), and several had either already seen gigs on this tour or were going to follow the Manics through the next cities. The dedication, passion and community to be found amongst Manics fans always inspires me and bolsters me after spending most of my time being a Manics fan on my own.

I couldn’t help but make a comparison between this gig and the Cardiff Student Union one. What remains quite fascinating to me is how much shorter this gig felt – despite the fact it was one song less than last time (21 instead of 22 songs). I suppose the Manics have such a large back catalogue now that no matter how many songs they play, it’s never enough, especially for their die-hard fans. While this long-suffering group of fans weren’t quite as flamboyantly attired as their UK counterparts generally are, their enthusiasm and utter gratefulness were overwhelming. Yes, people in the crowd called out the usual requests for songs and the occasional “I love you Nicky/James,” but what was so much more touching and indicative of the atmosphere was the fact that so many people kept shouting “Thank you!”

Manic Street Preachers - 036 - JPEG

I sort of pity any band that has to open for the Manics; no matter who you are, we just don’t care. And in this case, I saw the majority of the crowd look alternately bored and impatient as the opener played. But as the lights dimmed and the Manics came on stage, the audience exploded. And I pulled on my hand-painted black tuque with “JAMES” emblazoned on it a la James Dean Bradfield’s balaclava worn during that performance of Faster on TOTP (I was going to wear it even if I died of heat exhaustion). Against a simple backdrop of the Journal For Plague Lovers album cover, they opened with my favourite Manics song, Motorcycle Emptiness. The power of the music crashed into the roar of the crowd like a sonic boom, and James was a joy to watch for his intricate guitarwork, sending out those whining chords of desperate melancholy, and for the beautiful violence of his hits to his own head and face as he sang, “All we want from you are the kicks you’ve given us.” They kept the soaring anthemic feel going with No Surface All Feeling, which I saw as a solo acoustic performance by James last time. Prefacing the next song with an acknowledgement of Mr. Richard Edwards and his brilliant words, the band clattered into the first song to be played off the latest album: Peeled Apples. It was a cathartic performance that brought my singing closer to wild, frenetic shouting – the raw intelligence that the Manics represent simultaneously appeals to my logic and my emotions in a way no other band does.

I also had the privilege of watching a live performance of Your Love Alone Is Not Enough and La Tristessa Durera for the second time in my life (I always get a kick out of the lines that Nicky sings in the former). Then we got a second track from JFPL, Jackie Collins Existential Question Time, which has one of the most memorable melodies in the world and leads into what could be one of the best vocal performances by James with the lyrics “Situationist sisterhood, Jackie and Joan” – I felt my body tense in anticipation of those lines. At this point, they went into Let Robeson Sing, the only song that they would play off Know Your Enemy. Before careening into a blistering rendition of Faster, they pulled out a little bit of Rush’s The Spirit of Radio (the Manics have often stated their unabashed love for the Canadian band, and Nicky also quoted their lyrics before You Love Us in much the same way his brother quoted his own poetry before Love’s Sweet Exile all those years ago: “It’s really just a question of your honesty. Yeah. Your honesty. One likes to believe in the freedom of music. But glittering prizes and endless compromises… Shatter the illusion of integrity.”). During the maelstrom that is Faster, I felt my raised hand clench into a fist as James sang, “I am stronger than Mensa,” and I spat out every word along with him. After the slight reprieve of Tsunami, and in answer to many of our hopes, they then played my favourite track off JFPL: Marlon JD. We were then treated to two regular live standards, From Despair to Where and If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next.

Then as is the pattern, Nicky and Sean left the stage, allowing James to sing a couple of songs acoustically. Last time I saw them, James sang Yes and the aforementioned No Surface All Feeling, but this time he sang This is Yesterday and The Everlasting (according to the setlist, the latter was supposed to be Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky – I’m still hoping I get to hear that live one day). Perhaps what was so astonishing to the band, and even to me for that matter, was the fact pretty much everyone knew all of the words to every single song. This was really apparent during The Everlasting as James turned the song over to the crowd several times. And as one person, who was unfamiliar with the band but attended the show with a friend’s spare ticket, later commented, whenever James was too winded or lost some of his lyrics, the audience completely filled in for him.

Manic Street Preachers - 025 - JPEG

In my opinion, the next performance, Send Away the Tigers, was slightly unexpected, very welcome but unexpected – for some reason, I had assumed we’d get one of the radio-friendly SATT hits, either Autumnsong or Indian Summer. This was followed by You Stole the Sun, a song contemporary with the last time the Manics toured North America. Oddly enough, it continues to be a setlist staple – it’s definitely not among my favourite Manics tracks, but it does tend to get the crowd jumping for that chorus, and I’m more than willing to oblige. The next track, which I firmly believe must get played, Motown Junk, was as punk-rock as ever – I’m fairly certain that I, along with others, couldn’t help but automatically fill in James’s ellided “When Lennon got shot.” Interestingly, the setlist states “A or Motown Junk” – would the Manics actually have considered playing Autumnsong instead? I’m eternally grateful that they picked the classic Motown Junk.

The energy stayed high with Me and Stephen Hawking before two more old stormers were played: Little Baby Nothing and You Love Us. Both of them provided those extraordinary communal moments as all of us chanted and pointed along to the “you are pure, you are snow” refrain and the chorus of You Love Us, which had probably never been so true (the image of all of those arms pumping along almost made me cry). As A Design for Life struck up, it felt bittersweet – as always, it was an anthemic moment with James perched on an amp stack and Nicky up on the drumkit platform, but you always know that quite literally “this is the end.” No arrogant encore. No filler. No regrets.

In addition to scissor jumps and that rolling pacing that he does across the stage, Nicky Wire occasionally leaned over to say something in James’s ear with that maniacal grin of his, and the first time he did it, James playfully batted him away, slightly smooshing Nicky’s face in the process. It was one of those fantastic reminders of how close these guys are. James and Nicky took turns at banter, the former mock-wincing at the sheer loudness of the crowd and telling us how “mega” we were, and the latter making jokes about the size of The Opera House (where they first played in Toronto), asking himself “why the fuck they took so long to come back,” and praising us for holding our own against what he called our “Big Brother” neighbour to the south. All band members wore black, James in a basic military shirt with a few badges and an arm patch and Nicky in a rather subdued Sgt-Pepper-My-Chemical-Romance-type jacket with red details and the usual Urban Decay panda eyes (at one point he slapped on a captain’s hat, but unfortunately no skirt this time).

While I would have liked more songs from The Holy Bible and at least something from Lifeblood (in my opinion, highly underrated and more deserving than Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours), the fact we got four songs from JFPL, which are as close to THB as we’re ever going to get, made up for it. And considering I’ve witnessed Yes and Die in the Summertime live previously, I’m slowly getting a chance to hear THB live.

Manic Street Preachers - 024 - JPEG

As the crowd reluctantly filtered out of the venue, they all just looked so sweaty, ecstatic and gobsmacked that I had to smile. The show had been one of mutual appreciation and gratitude – according to other reviews, we were possibly the largest crowd on this tour. Fans were still reaching out to each other after the show, one asking me if I enjoyed the show and another asking me about my Send Away the Tigers t-shirt. It had been all the sweeter for the long absence, our North American exile from the Manics.

When I wrote that review two years ago, I said, “My only regret is not staying outside after the gig to see if I could meet the band – who knows when I’ll ever, if ever, get to see them again, especially at such a small venue. But I suppose that just raises the bar for more dreams – after all, I never thought I would ever see the Manics live and even if I saw them live, I never thought it would be six feet away from them in the closest thing to a hometown gig.” The dream happened all over again, and this time, I got a photo taken of me with my guitar hero, James. It took a bit of speeding down sidewalks (admittedly, my sheer sense of mission took over any sense of tact, and before I knew what I was doing, I had grabbed James’s arm as he tried to get across the street to the tourbus, before asking for that photo). In the clamour of desperate fans surrounding him, begging for photos, autographs and even a tiny moment of dialogue with him, James was graciously patient (especially since it appears Nicky and Sean left him to fend for himself – next time, I’m coming for you, Wire). Amidst all of the demands and requests, James nearly signed the pieces of my writing about the band that I wanted to give him (who knows if they’ll actually read it, but it was worth a shot). Possibly my favourite moment was when a black man, who was begging for money with cup in hand and was inexplicably moving about on rollerblades, started shouting at James, “You’re the white street preacher, and I’m the dark street preacher!” Quite baffled, James just said, “I don’t have any money.” He should have seen the earlier “street preacher” who had screamed at us to repent as we stood in the queue before the gig.

Before they had launched into Let Robeson Sing, James remarked that most of their songs were pretty negative, but that this one was one of the more positive ones. I, and likely many Manics fans, just don’t see their songs that way; the Manics’ music reminds me of one of my favourite quotes from John Gray’s Straw Dogs: “The aim of life was not to change the world. It was to see it rightly.” The Manics didn’t set out to change the world or pretend that they could – their songs always just made you see the world rightly, and the hope and comfort were in that perspective. As is the tradition, the Manics added a quotation to the bottom of their setlist on Sunday night: “We are all modernisers today. We have no idea what being modern means. But we are sure that it guarantees us a future.” By none other than John Gray.

Little Baby Nothing – Manic Street Preachers

Send Away the Tigers – Manic Street Preachers

**NOTE** an extra special Manics-themed weekly mix is coming up.


A Rush and a Last Push: The Day of 200 Songs Update


It’s the very last call/plea for submissions for my Day of 200 Songs project. After my last call, I received a fair amount of tracks – some from new contributors. And they’ve proven to be quite varied and interesting. I’m still currently 15 shy of my 100 songs from other people goal. I’ll give it another couple of weeks, and then I’ll start the rather daunting work of sorting through the submissions and adding 100 tracks from my own collection. If I’m fairly ambitious, I’ll get the 10 mixes of 200 songs out in November. Stay tuned.

Thank you to the following generous people:

Christina H
Christina K

Thank You Friends – Big Star

Friends – Flight of the Conchords

You Get What You Give – New Radicals

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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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it


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


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


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


Running on


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


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' 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


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


You must let her go

She's not crying



Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times



Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone


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


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


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


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


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


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


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