Zoilus by Carl Wilson

Archive for July, 2006

History Question

July 28th, 2006

Has there ever in pop music, or any other music, been such a thing as an all-woman band fronted by a male singer?

If not, history is about to be made. Details to come in future weeks.

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There’ll Be Talk! There’ll Be Action!
Zoilus Demanding Satisfaction!

July 28th, 2006

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Final Fantasy at the Boat last night, photo by Bramptonboi.

Last night: Cancer benefit, at der Boat, featuring Pyramid Culture, Final Fantasy and the I-love-world narcotic that is Ninja High School. Excellent sets from all three (new PyCult song topic: lab-grown meat; their complaint? “artificial, not sacrificial,” ie. the band is pro-animal-sacrifice, like any good pyramid culture). But mainly I am forced to post to say that, at the end of a set that incorporated Owen’s newest strategy in which looped keyboards join the looped violin, Final Fantasy covered Destroyer! Specifically An Actor’s Revenge from Your Blues. (An album I already knew Owen admired very much.) As I was watching, perched atop a chair in the middle of the crowded club, and the understanding of what was transpiring dawned upon me, it felt a little bit as though this website had collapsed in on itself and created a cosmic sinkhole of exponentially expanding mass. Regular readers will understand why anything further I could say about this development would be redundant, like a series of infinitely regressing images in a mirror…. Definitely made my week.

Tonight, at the Boat, there’s another highly Zoilusian event taking place - a “live mashup” of Ninja High School and the Afrobeat band Ultra Magnus. Which of course feels very much in the spirit of the live mashup series I used to run, Tin Tin Tin. (Members of both of these bands participated in Tin Tin Tin shows more than once.) Rumour has it that another T.T.T. alumnus, the very fine M1 Academy MC, Masia One, might bumrush the show, too, so she can show up Matt Collins’ wack flow.

Oh Toronto, I’m awfully fond of you.

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Pyramid Culture at the Boat last night, photo by Bramptonboi.

Zoilus Demanding Satisfaction!">5 Comments

Live and Shave

July 27th, 2006

This seemed worth hoisting off Stillepost:

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With Polmo Polpo, Gastric Female Reflex, Dollarama, Sneaky Dee’s (431 College Street), 8 pm, $10 Adv at Rotate This & Soundscapes on sale now. Though they’re essentially an obscure noise band, the W.K. brand name will no doubt pack the place. (For those who don’t know, noise is actually where Andrew W.K. started - he also was associated with Wolf Eyes and produced a noise zine. Which puts his schtick in a different light, maybe.) For more info, seek ye here.

Burma Shave

July 27th, 2006


Roger Miller, photo snagged from Flickr.

Since you asked: Mission of Burma were great last night, just like last time around, though the Horseshoe was a bit too narrow a space compared to the more capacious confines of Lee’s, their previous Toronto stop. (Lee’s is an unpleasant club much of the time, but good for loud and crowded shows.) They played all the “hits,” with a few dips into their two new albums since reuniting. I had the fortune to be standing nearby the sound board and get to watch the subtle magicks worked by Bob Weston - or at least, I assume it was Bob Weston - as he layered in the tape loops and also really actively mixed the live sound. (Taking over the role played by Martin Swope in the original, 1970s edition of the band.) His contributions are so subtle, but crucial, and there was something almost meditative in the way he executed them. I think much of the audience never even knew he was there, and am tempted to suggest that the “invisible member” accounts for part of the special charge of Burma’s performances, that there is a dynamic field that striates the room, whose poles are obscure to the listeners. There needs to be a trick to art, a surplus quality that one does not quite understand. And in Burma’s case, the transparency and accessibility of the trio on stage almost demands this balance, so that the music can become something larger than they are. That said, they’re a very charming trio - they really make it seem sensible that rock now be the province of older men: Let them have it. They’re better at it. It belongs to them. What is the point of young people re-enacting these gestures? Find something that is yours the way this sound is theirs. That’s how you’ll escape your certain fate.

Now, I don’t necessarily believe those propositions, but last night they all seemed like straight-up common sense. Mind you, this is the reverse of what one often feels when seeing bands who have been slogging for 20, 30 years straight and seem haggard and worn with it. MoB might be the world’s best argument for taking long naps. (Although I wasn’t sure whether to be happy or concerned that Roger Miller was playing without his prominent ear-protection gear.) Also fantastic was seeing Jonny Dovercourt of Republic of Safety fan-boy out during their opening set. It’s great when legends are preceded by disciples (or apostates, I suppose).

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Don’t Call Me Tardy, Blogger

July 26th, 2006

Hi. We’re back in service. So, to avoid doing laundry tonight, I was making up a list of got-’em/need-’em albums and singles of 2006-to-this-juncture. I’ll share the pick hits in a moment, but what I noticed was that even on the very, very, very lengthy “to be heard” list (nearly 150 records!), I don’t have that extensive a sampling of 1. noise; 2. jazz; and 3. hip-hop/electronics. So I’d love to hear your suggestions for essentials in those categories for the year so far. I do have a good set of notes on country albums on which I’ve been remiss (Julie Roberts, the new Allison Moorer, etc.), but go on and throw in more. No need to mention indie-rock albums. I know what’s out there.

Topping my roster of favourites as of July are as follows. (Yes, I realize most of the bloggerati have already been through this exercise. Whatevs.) It’s rather a mongrel list, as indicative of what I have had time to catch up with as it is of any larger spectrum. Beyond the first three, these are in no particular order:

Destroyer - Destroyerís Rubies
Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
Ghostface - Fishscale
Anthony Braxton/Wolf Eyes - Black Vomit
Scott Walker - The Drift
Matmos - The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast
Prince - 3121
Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
Various Artists - Bad Bands Revolution

Of course, there are several records to come that I already know will rival most of those: Xiu Xiu, Junior Boys, Mountain Goats, Pere Ubu, Eric Chenaux, TV on the Radio, for instance. And there’s a lot more ice underneath the berg. I’m sure I’m forgetting others. I haven’t completed a singles list, perhaps out of fear that I will have to put Ne-Yo’s So Sick at the top. I love the melodrama of that song like crazy. More than Crazy, for instance. Feel free to psychoanalyze. Likely also to be found on that list would be Nelly Furtado, Prince, Christina Aguilera, Lily Allen, the Pipettes, Cansei De Ser Sexy - round up the usual suspects, in other words, but that’s the nice thing about singles lists, isn’t it? It’s where we do the meet & greet. Probably the Arctic Monkeys too. One song from them does me fine. Oh, and I’d nominate Islands’ Rough Gem - I don’t love the album as much as some of the principles’ other work, but that song’s irresistible. (The same disc’s Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby is the title of the year; the song doesn’t live up to it, but how could it?)

The new Mission of Burma album, The Obliterati, would be not too far down my list either. I don’t think their show at the Horseshoe in Toronto tomorrow (Wed) night, with huge MoB fans Republic of Safety opening, is sold out yet - see you there?

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Summer Vacation

July 18th, 2006

I’ll be absent for the rest of the week, as I’m headed out to places non-wired (but wooded and laked) for a few days. Keep well.

Later: So now it’s Monday and I’m back, but the lake - or more accurately the cranberry bog - gave me a cold, so I’m not quite back-in-commission as yet. (And y’all are on vacation yourselves, anyway, aren’t you? Regular schedule resuming sometime this week, but for sure b4 August.)

Meanwhile go watch the new, zoetrope-tastic Final Fantasy video.

Get Reviewed, Get Remembered, Get Lonely

July 15th, 2006

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As mentioned, I have several reviews in today’s Globe and Mail summer CD roundup: Camera Obscura, the Not Alone compilation for Doctors Without Borders, Harris Newman’s Triple Burner (Newman is in Toronto on Tuesday with Japanese guitarist Tetuzi Akiyama and local hero Eric Chenaux, at the Tranzac), the Black Ox Orkestar, and a terrific double live jazz disc by Quebec’s Francois Carrier.

I have to hunker down and get some work done tonight, but I wish I could attend the Jamaica to Toronto reunion concert at Harbourfront at 9:30 pm, which along with the compilation of the same name unearths vital local lost history, or rather history savagely trashed by the racism of Canada in that era (as opposed to the somewhat differently arranged racism we’ve got now). The coverage, in today’s Globe by my colleague Guy Dixon, as well as on the CBC Arts site and from Now’s Tim Perlich, is all well worth reading.

I’d also like to mention that Trampoline Hall’s Misha Glouberman is hosting the Dresden Dolls’ variety show at the Bloor Cinema this evening, featuring “dada-surrealist” videos from their fans and some scaled-down version of their, well, goth-emo-camembert-cabaret-picture-show music.

The really tough part about working tonight, though, will be to tear myself away from my advance copy of The Mountain Goats’ Get Lonely . Or else perhaps it will be easier to shut it off than to listen to it. An exquisite but extraordinarily intense album. Few upbeat moments. I think it should be the album finally to reconcile fans of the cassette-era Mountain Goats to John Darnielle’s current period, as these seem much more a polished version of the early style: They are predominantly lost-love songs, elliptical tales but not just chapters in a continuous narrative. In fact, it could almost be called a mature rewrite of or sequel to the officially-unreleased Hail and Farewell Gothenburg (copies of which circulate privately with John’s blessing, but not on the web). It’s not so much a breakup album as an in-the-void-of-separation album, threaded with an image of monstrousness, of having been rendered radically alien by loneliness - but, in the manner of The Sunset Tree, with a tone of calm remembrance, perhaps years after the fact, rather than reeking of trapped-in-the-moment panic or claustrophobia. Despite that, it’s a particularly difficult album to grapple with at this point in my life: I either can lock the doors, kill the lights, and sit in a corner listening to it on repeat for a week, or I can ration and discipline and treat it like radioactive material to be scrutinized only through layers of leaded glass. Neither of which, honestly, is a very keen critical-listening mode. Further reflections will follow. Meanwhile, here is the track list:

1. Wild Sage
2. New Monster Avenue
3. Half Dead
4. Get Lonely
5. Maybe Sprout Wings
6. Moon Over Goldsboro
7. In The Hidden Places
8. Song For Lonely Giants
9. Woke Up New
10. If You See Light
11. Cobra Tattoo
12. In Corolla

It officially emerges blinking into the light on Aug. 22.

Meanwhile back over at Said the Gramophone, Dan’s invented a whole new form of music-blogging: The MP3-plus-homemade-video-blog. Note for the perplexed: Play the files in Quicktime.

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Friday Night Fights

July 14th, 2006

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I have a review of the new Greg Graffin (Bad Religion) stab-at-old-time-folk album, featuring the Weakerthans, today in The Globe and Mail. The record, she is not so great. Tomorrow, there will be more reviews from me, in an early-summer Globe roundup. (Link to come.)

Why didn’t anyone tell me when I made my songs-about-art list that Brazil’s CSS have a hilarious tune out called Art Bitch? (With the already-infamous hook, “Suck suck suck my art hole, lick lick lick my art tit!”) Here’s a video of them performing it, in which the music is unintelligible, so read the lyrics. And if you’re in Toronto, consider going to see them at the Mod Club tonight with Diplo et al. There’s actually something a little Torontopia-like about this band, I might venture to say…

At last, someone has said exactly what I’ve always thought about Sufjan Stevens, but never got around to formulating. We can go back to the indie-rock self-infantilization-repression discussion out of the reaction to this, perhaps. I particularly appreciate the comparison to Conor Oberst - whether people love or hate Bright Eyes, their reactions always makes sense to me. (I’m quite fond of about half his stuff, impatient with the other half.) But to love or hate Sufjan Stevens just does not seem worth the effort. Yes, Chicago is undeniably a well-crafted song, and so are a few others. Who cares? I feel equally strongly about, oh, a well-made office chair. And actually, the well-made office chair is likely to have a stronger longterm impact on my life, with its benefit to posture and muscle strain. I’m sure he’s a nice man, but Sufjan Stevens is the worst possible musical role model. (I have vaguely similar feelings about Radiohead, but I recognize that there’s a much stronger counter-case to be made there.)

Jody, meanwhile, presents the even more thankless argument in favour of Paris Hilton. Go boy go.

Two significant corrections to things I said on Said the Gramophone recently: One, Veda Hille is not actually the filtered voice on her song about the cats at Brecht’s grave. As Veda told me, “Talk about alienation effects!” Blush. Two, it’s blatantly acknowledged on the Vancouver Nights record that Dan (Destroyer) Bejar wrote All the Right Moves. My theory was only a “discovery” for people who have MP3s and not the album. Resolution: Read liner notes gooder.

The Bagel at Spadina & College has joined the long list of great, shortlived Toronto venues. It saw the debuts of Pyramid Culture, Laura Barrett and Garbage!Violence!Enthusiasm! (or at least I think so) among others. It’s a shame.

Finally, an interesting response to my StG Pere Ubu post from Anthony Rue (who also sent me yet another mix of We Have the Technology, the single with the synth removed almost entirely - which also will not do):

“Your article was very much in tune with something I’ve been thinking about recently. If Lipstick Traces came about ten years after the Pistols burst onto the scene, how could the ‘lost years’ of 1987-1996 be contextualized and recuperated now? I’m not buying into the depoliticized personal narratives found in Our Band Could Be Your Life

“How do you account for the churn of edge culture? The constant rising and sinking of styles and players that tap into the ephemera of a moment, exert a brief influence, then vanish? Although I don’t have a great affinity for any of their records as a whole, I’ll take an aggregated ten minutes of Mark Moorland’s guitar work with Wall of Voodoo over all of the Pavement records ever produced. Can a sound be more important than a song?

“Here’s my sympathy for the Technology article. By the summer of 1987 I’d seen, in the course of a few months, Einsterzende Neubauten, Peter Brotzman, Steve Lacey, Steve Reich, Evan Parker, Fred Frith, John Zorn (with and without Naked City), Kronos Quartet, Psychic TV, Laurie Anderson, and Anthony Braxton. All those record crates seemed like anchors, so I sold all but a handful of records. Looking back now, I understand the shock of the guy behind the counter at Vinyl Fever. ‘Are you sure you want to sell this?’ came to sound like a Knee Play from Einstein on the Beach. Pretty much every thing released on Stiff and Slash. All of the imports from England, circa 1979-82, that I could have found in the midwest. Metal Box and the first Misfits album.

“All these years later, and I still obsess about tracks I remember by bands whose names I have long forgotten. In 2000 I drove myself crazy trying to find a particular Wreckless Eric song that I remembered to be the perfect pop moment. But it isn’t really about the song. It’s not the albums but rather the sideways glances that I regret having lost.”

Said the Carlophone, 5th & Final

July 13th, 2006

My last guest-post of the season at MP3 blog Said the Gramophone offers a fruit-basket of Final Fantasy, Destroyer and (related) Vancouver Nights rarities. I may not have much time for more than Gig Guide updates here the rest of the week so check out the whole series there - definitely the most substantive blogging I’ve done this summer. As one must, given their high standards.

Said the Carlophone IV: Kathleen Yearwood, Tagaq
(Plus: UbuTube)

July 11th, 2006

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I know I’ve been neglectful. It’s because I’m still cheating on you with that other blog, and it leaves me spent. Today’s entry is about two of the most unclassifiable, undomesticatable women in Canadian music.

Meanwhile as a follow up to last week’s Pere Ubu post - check out this footage from YouTube: One a Tenement Year reunion tour (1987) rendition of the band’s best-known song, Final Solution - with one of the best representations of David Thomas’s stage magnetism that I’ve seen on video. And, for kicks, a performance from June of the same song by Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), TV on the Radio and Bauhaus’s Peter Murphy (whose cover version of Final Solution helped popularize it in the 1980s).

(Plus: UbuTube)">2 Comments

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