Zoilus by Carl Wilson

Archive for June, 2004

“Lookie Lookie” is the new “In My Considered Opinion”

June 30th, 2004

Tin Tin Tin tonight tonight tonight! Doors at nine-o-lio.

Merle Haggard, for one, welcomes our new alien overlords (Willie Nelson is still waiting to hear about their tax policy)

Portents that country and hip-hop are totally on the merge (like you never heard that before)

Vic Chesnutt’s best albums being reissued

How Richard Buckner’s doing (”overcame what he calls a ‘huge fucking block’ that lasted nearly two years, making the new album sounds like a cinch)

How Franklin Bruno’s thinking (very, very deftly)

Much more tomorrow.

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The Wilco Contest: The One No One Can Win

June 29th, 2004

All right, that does it. Nothing against The Toronto Star’s Vit Wagner, whom I’ve never met but seems somehow in print like he must be a certifiably charming guy. But Wilco… the … best… band… in… the… world? Nuh-uh.

Now, before we begin debating, hereby know that I have not heard a single note of A Ghost Is Born, Jeff Tweedy’s latest mash-note to himse… No. Wait.

The fact is that Wilco has become a media monster, a band that is discussed in relation to a mythos whose ways and bends are mapped on a scale much larger than anything remotely contained in its music. Wilco is one of hundreds of perfectly pleasant bands whose music can come and go and make no difference whatsoever to me or - on any level I’ve yet heard anyone articulate - anybody else. Yet there are now movies, books and more articles and blog entries on this band out in the universe than there are starving, sick and hunted people in Darfur. I suspect even Wilco recognizes the absurdity of this.

My pledge then is to add no more to the madness. Not only have I not heard A Ghost Is Born, I actively intend not to. I also intend not to have any opinion about it whatsoever. Nor will I participate in any discussion of it. This pledge good at least until January 2005.

I think that in rock-critic terms this is a near-exact equivalent of the Seinfeld contest. Any takers? Do I have what it takes to be master of my muso domain? King of my critical castle? Not sure, but let’s all pop some prescription medication, swallow hard and try to prove that we are not helpless puppets fated to jerk the Tweedy-hot-or-not stick till it snaps.

Gentlemen, start your engines. Comrades, lay down your pens.


Tin TiN TIN-fo?

June 27th, 2004

Since I’ve just emailed 400 people inviting them to check this site for Tin TiN TIN information, and the heading on the sidebar is broken, I should politely say: Thank you for coming. The show info is to your left, at the top of the stairs. Click on the long-windedest title, and it’ll get you there.

(Edited to add: The heading on the sidebar is no longer broken. Thank you, Bill.)

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What came out of the horn were not balloons but a bouquet of milkweed, sourgrass, dandelions and such

June 27th, 2004

I’ve been putting it off, but before the Toronto Downtown Jazz fest is over (a week from today - it began a few days ago) I thought I’d post some picks. Click “Read More” below to see ‘em.

In other festival news: There’s a useful rundown of upcoming local events - the Distillery District Globe Cafe fest, Afrofest, the Bluesfest, and the Youssou N’Dour show at Harbourfront - by new World Music writer John Goddard in today’s Toronto Star.

And in yesterday’s Globe & Mail, a fine piece by Greg Buium about the Vancouver Jazz Festival which, like the upcoming Montreal fest (without even mentioning the Victoriaville, Popolo, Guelph and the new local Distillery Jazz [formerly Fringe] festivals) always makes Toronto’s annual event look like an exhausted workhorse. Even this year’s near-death and sponsorship switch didn’t kick much more life into the old dray. What will it take, O lord?

(And Question 2: Must they really all take place at exactly the same time? I realize we’re creating a circuit, but surely it would be improved if they were sequential rather than concurrent or overlapping?)

Carping aside, here’s the good news: [...]


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Small Orchids Like Snakes’ Tongues

June 27th, 2004

After six months, it was about time there be some kind of action on the damned links page. So ta-dah. Barely a start, but if you’re curious what I read and whom I know - or more likely just about whether I’ve linked you yet - go spelunk, young surfer.

It’s a Shame about (Both) Rays

June 26th, 2004

A wonderful, unusual cover by Eric Palma on The New Yorker this week puts Ray Charles in his rightful place - on a $10 bill, as the father of a country yet to be dreamt outside the fantastically democratic republic of sound in his country-gospel-soul-jazz-rockin’ music. The NY’er seldom does topical covers: The last time I can recall, it was for the fall of the twin towers. How sensitive to make an exception for the fall of this pop titan. As well, it’s a nicely restrained Noo Yawkah-style fuck-you to the necro-Reagan-philia and any notion of putting that bastard’s face in the same location. (Oh, and it turns out to be a meme.)

Meanwhile, Canada’s own late Ray Condo is remembered and celebrated tomorrow (Sun. June 27, $7) at a tribute concert at the Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen St. West). In fact it starts at the Cameron House, where the Countrypolitans have their own set from 6 to 8 pm, and then Big Rude Jake will lead a “jazz processional” parade over to the ‘Shoe. (That also marks the close of the Condo picture exhibition ìI Wish That It Had Been A Dream,î by shooter Gayle Hurmuses.)

Most of the bill for the tribute is predictable (as much it should be) — Jake, the Bebop Cowboys, Steve Ketchen, John Borra, Tom Parker, Scott B., Brian Connolly, Scotty Campbell, etc. etc. - but one highlight is that Gerard Van Herk of the late, cheeze-grated 1980s-Montreal scene kingpins Deja Voodoo (and Og Records) will be on hand. Van Herk has been out of the music game for a long time, a linguistics prof in Ottawa; for him to make an appearance makes this evening all the more special. (Along with the promised pie-baking and honky-tonk fashion contests!)

(You can read my obituary for Condo here.)

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Scary Monsters, Super Creeps and, oh yes, Unreconstructed Nazis

June 25th, 2004

Here’s your backstage pass into the wakky woild of joinalism for the day… I’ve been meaning to post this letter-to-the-editor (which, guess what, was never printed) for awhile. Aside from the letter I once got in Montreal by someone who’d clipped out an article, circled my byline and scrawled beside it “AT LAST! A W.A.S.P. JOURNALIST!!!” (for the record: uh-uh, mongrel Catholic), this one takes the proverbial fruitcake:

Sent: Friday, April 23, 2004 4:41 PM
To: Letters
Subject: Article

Dear Madam/Sir,

This is in response to your article “German bands bring on the machines” by
Carl Wilson, April 22, 2004

I have just read the whole article and must admit up front that I know
nothing, and am not even interested, in the present-day rock-, pop-, and
punk culture, whether European or North American. However, I want to voice
my objections to just two of Mr. Wilson’s comments.

In the first paragraph, he asks “… but how do you hum a problem like
being German?” Why is ‘being German’ a problem? Can he explain this? I am
German (alright, German-Canadian, at least on paper) and very proud of who
I am; I’m a very patriotic German. I have never seen myself, my
country-women- and men, or my beloved homeland as ‘a problem’, and I refuse
to accept any Germany-bashing by the media!

Further down, the article reads “… to wipe clean the mess of history
their fathers had left them with”. I’m not aware of any ‘mess’ that German
fathers left us, the next generations, with. The making of the ‘mess’, if
Mr. Wilson means WWII, was mainly created by the Allied nations, though I
won’t go into that here. I’m very proud of my father’s sacrifice during
that war. He, like millions of his camerades, had risked his life for three
years to fight in Russia against communism, to keep Russian Bolshevism out
of Europe.

There you see, Mr. Wilson, not everyone agrees with such comments as yours;
in fact, I’m certain that a great number, perhaps millions, of Germans
(here and in Europe) would disagree with you.

Thanks for listening.

[name withheld out of misplaced compassion]

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I Noticed that My Opponent is Always on the Go

June 25th, 2004

Meanwhile, over at Aaron’s place, he’s scored a copy of the suppressed Fiona Apple song whose Jon Brion-isms might have spooked Sony but render it a career best to my ears (staking her own claim on cabaret-queen status along the way). If you’d like to issue some pleas guaranteed to fall on demonstrably deaf ears, hie thee to this nunnery. Fiona72.jpg
And if you want to follow developments keep an ear cocked to this forum.

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(Nellie McKay) Is She Tough or Not Tough Enough, Really?

June 24th, 2004

Today’s column is fairly harsh on Nellie McKay, so I want to talk a bit about the one song that especially convinces me she does have a possible future as more than a very agile prancing pony.

Generally I’ve been annoyed by all the comparisons drawn between McKay and Randy Newman, one of my most cherished songwriting heroes. There are some obvious convergences in their allegiance to the history of American song and especially American piano music, and their common political outspokenness and wry senses of humour. But if that’s all there is to it you might as well be comparing McKay to Van Dyke Parks. Or hell, Dick Van Dyke.

Where Randy and Nellie part company is in McKay’s solipsism. Her inability to get out of the way of her songs goes beyond being a tic, turning her into a one-ingenue debating society in which, surprise, she almost always wins. [...]


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How has the human spirit ever survived the terrific literature with which it has had to contend?

June 24th, 2004

Here’s the program for the next Tin TiN TIN, my monthly “live mash-up” music series at the Drake. (Where, incidentally, I had a smashingly smashed time at Damian Rogers’ “live magazine” series Pontiac Quarterly last night.)

What is Tin TiN TIN? A lark, a bagatelle, a canapÈ; a man, a plan, a canal: I take musicians from different backgrounds who don’t normally play together and make them play together. Genres are smashed. Avant-fun is promulgated. Death takes a holiday.

This month:

The Barmitzvah Barcelona All-Bass All-Boss Band
(Featuring Jenny from the Barmitzvah Brothers, Steve of the Barcelona Pavilion, Kat of the BP and Republic of Safety, Jonny of Republic of Safety and Wavelength, and others TBA - all playing bass, all playing spazzed-out Springsteen covers)

Aidan Baker, QuasiMojo, 11t1 and Don Cash
(three laptops and a hip-hop-new-wave freestyle singer, baby)

COBRA-TRON! the improvised music video game
(Joe Sorbara and Misha Glouberman and friends take the mystery out of John Zorn’s Cobra by playing it with a wall-sized interactive visual display - genius plus love equals Cobra-Tron!)

Wed June 30 (Canada Eve)
$5-$10 or PWYC
Drake Underground
1150 Queen W.
Doors 9 pm Show 10 pm SHARP

presented by carl wilson
visuals by tyler clark burke
between-set selectors: the global pop conspiracy

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