Zoilus by Carl Wilson

Archive for August, 2009

Two Last-Minute Alerts

August 31st, 2009

I have a review up on the Globe & Mail site of Elvis Costello’s show with his passel of Nashville cats, the Sugarcanes, at Massey Hall on Friday. *

And tonight I’m co-hosting the end-of-summer edition of Murder Folk Night at the Board of Directors gallery on 1082 Queen W. I’ve invited Andre Ethier (ex-Deadly Snakes etc), Julie Faught (of The Pining and many other local musical concerns) and Michael McManus (man of mystery - go ahead and Google). As founder and co-host Ryan Kamstra (Tomboyfriend) puts it, “A night of desperate, violent folk music in an art gallery where we make the band. … Song-sheets, murderous weapons, noise makers will be on hand.” Come on out between 7 and 10 pm and get your kumbayayas on.

* Postscript: Sharp Globe readers have already pointed out an error in the review, in saying that Costello became a “first-time” father with the twins he had with third wife Diana Krall. I can’t believe that in my decades as a pretty dedicated Declan McManus devotee, I’d never known that he had a son, Matthew, in his first marriage. (That must have been quite a childhood.) I should have checked that fact. Mea culpa.

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‘And the poor and unemployed/
of Bhopal were overjoyed’

August 20th, 2009

Bob Wiseman posted this video to YouTube from his party at the Gladstone a couple of weeks ago to mark the vinyl re-release of his classic 1989 album In Her Dream. This is Michelle McAdorey performing Wiseman’s musical indictment of Union Carbide, “Bhopal (Driftnet Plan)” with local musicians Martin Arnold, Blake Howard and Myk Freeman. The sound’s not ideal and the arrangement takes a minute or so to hit high gear, but it’s a perfect tune for McAdorey (ex-Crash Vegas, but perhaps more familiar to some Zoilus readers from her past collaborations with Eric Chenaux), who turns Wiseman’s sprechstimme-hector-narration into incantation, as if this were the way generations of victims’ families not only passed down the memory of the disaster, but also ritually renewed the curse on Union Carbide and Dow Chemicals’ names. This - and much else we heard that night at the Gladstone, once we could get in to the packed-beyond-capacity room - makes me wish Blocks RC would follow up the In Her Dream re-release with a full-fledged tribute album.

of Bhopal were overjoyed’">1 Comment

Art Brut: Splash it all over

August 14th, 2009

Sometimes it’s a mistake to see a band live.

Before going to Art Brut’s show at Lee’s Palace this week (their first Toronto appearance in two-and-a-half years), I had somehow managed not to see photos, and had assembled a mental image of gangly, wild-eyed kids in either tight suits or ripped T-shirts, yelling their hysterical, absurd patter-lyrics over punk rock with a manic abandon. I was fond of this mental image.

Turns out Art Brut are more like the cast of the Cambridge Footlights Revue playing rock’n'roll, with Stephen Fry as the frontman, only a touch thinner and not quite as brilliant (though still very smart). I really should have known, but I did not know.

That said, they were pretty great live except for the moments - such as the song about “how I used to be crap at sex,” for instance - when they threatened to turn into the Barenaked Ladies. This is a band at risk of goofballing out, and should decidedly avoid all temptations such as the moment when they all turned into human statues and held the freeze for an eight-count on the turnaround before a big chorus. Art Brut should not be too comprehensible or too comfortable. When Eddie Argos is on his big tirades about popular culture (”there are no records in the record shops!” “popular culture no longer applies to me!” “we hate the music-buying public!” “slapdash for no cash - those are the records I like”) his music-hall personality acquires enough of an edge to fend off the squishy embrace of whimsy. Otherwise the band might as well go get a singer who can sing.

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