by carl wilson

May 31, 2005

G8-Eyed Spy

I feel a bit vindicated, or at least gratified, that the new Not Live Aid project from Sir Bob Geldof and co-sponsored by Bono, as announced this week, heads exactly in the direction I discussed in my column attacking "charidee" earlier this year - focusing on debt and the G8 and global anti-poverty rather than often-retrogressive emergency-aid efforts. There are rumours that besides the locations already announced for the July 2 concerts, a Canadian venue might be in the offing (one within shouting distance of a close personal Canadian friend of Bono's).

News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, May 31 at 04:44 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

May 28, 2005

Victo 2005: R&D; On The Human Strain

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At long last here's my review, from today's Overtones in The Globe & Mail, of last week's Victoriaville festival. In general I think it's not ideal to use the column in a reviewing function (I think it muddles up the voice), but I think the Anthony Braxton-Wolf Eyes meeting was a historic enough occasion to merit it. To see the pic of them together, you'll have to buy the paper. On the other hand, a paragraph toward the end was censored by the editors - it's restored here. (Do you think the word "bugger" is that bad?) And I would never have used the fourth word in this headline:

Jazz theologian goes slumming, and makes a bit of history

CARL WILSON
OVERTONES
The Globe and Mail
May 28, 2005

It may not go down alongside the day Dizzy Gillespie met Chano Pazo (and invented Afro-Cuban bebop), but a real moment in the history of jazz, or something, went down last Saturday at the 22nd annual music festival in Victoriaville, Que., reconfirming it as the best place on the continent to go get your inner ear realigned.

Having wrung out half its audience to the point of post-traumatic stress, noise band Wolf Eyes said there was time for one more: Did we want Leper War or Black Vomit? The poll was inconclusive, so the trio’s hulking, bare-headed mouthpiece John Olson turned to the show’s guest star: “Anthony?” [...]

And at that, the near-sexagenarian, notoriously cerebral jazz composer Anthony Braxton glanced down at his saxophone, pursed his lips in a beatific smile and eagerly answered: “Black Vomit!” (Olson joked Braxton must have been inspired by their previous night in the hotel bar.)

Within seconds came the shuddering solar-plexus drum blows and the jerrybuilt-electronic chaos of the track from Wolf Eyes’ 2004 album Burned Mind. And the man who in 1971 released the first full-length solo saxophone album in jazz history was blowing madly along.

Though Victoriaville’s festival is supposed to be about tearing up the musical rulebook, in fact it’s swarmed by sub-factions — the jazz elitists, the rock yahoos, the Québécois-prog populists. This year was primed for a bit of a showdown.

Unprecedentedly, director Michel Levasseur had handed some programming duties over to Thurston Moore of New York postpunk band Sonic Youth: Moore filled the third of the festival’s five long days of music with the young brutalists of Wolf Eyes, Hair Police, his own mayhem-bound nine-piece Dream Aktion Unit and more.

Meanwhile Sunday was stacked with jazz heavies such as Braxton, German saxophonist Peter Brotzmann’s Chicago Tentet and New York bassist William Parker’s Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra.

(There were also highlights outside either cluster, such as stunning avant-traditionalist Chinese singer and guzheng player Xu Fengxia, the harp and electronics set by Zeena Parkins and Ikue Mori, and Kid Koala and Martin Tétrault’s super-charming turntable duet.)

Officially Braxton was at Victo (as devotees call the festival) to play a duet with guitar improviser Fred Frith, and with his own sextet, but his surprise coup was to sit in on Wolf Eyes’ whole set. People giggled about this in the disconcerted way they do when categories come unglued: Why was the black college professor hanging with the white noise dropouts?

Braxton’s always been a divisive figure. Since his 1968 debut album, the Chicago-born musician’s compositions titled with numbers and diagrams put off listeners and critics who thought he was too “academic,” too enamoured with world music and European composers like Stockhausen to be loyal to jazz’s swing and blues. Braxton rightly calls such criticism both “reverse racist” in its scorn for any contribution by whites, and straight-up “antebellum” racist in its conviction that black musicians should be gutbucket-instinctual rather than brainy and cosmological.

But at Victo, where he’s played many times in the past 22 years, and a few similar European festivals, he’s a heroic warrior against the conservative revivalism that’s dominated jazz since Ronald Reagan became U.S. president. It’s a sign of insider status in these enclaves to grok Braxton’s complex systems.

Such supporters can be as much of a burden as detractors: His music isn’t supposed to be some bonsai-tending hobbyist’s pastime. Braxton constructs his arcane mathematical-alchemical structures by collaging musical elements together in a game of musical 3-D chess. He intends the results to resonate with global sociopolitical dynamics — and even magically to alter or undermine them.

Braxton first saw Wolf Eyes at a festival last year in Sweden. He bought up everything at the merchandise table and even fantasized about moving to Stockholm (“as a cook, if I had to”) to study their “vibrational energies,” until he found out they were actually from Michigan. If it wasn’t my imagination, in Sunday’s dazzling show by Braxton’s sextet, amid a swirling mobile of suites that flirted and scrapped and merged with one another, some of the movements already seemed to carry the unbolted-buzzsaw timbral influence of Wolf Eyes.

If it’s startling that this jazz theoretician would fall for a thuggish group with roots in hardcore punk, consider what they have in common: Just as Braxton declares he’s no longer a “jazz” musician (“I have no desire to extend American hegemony”), Wolf Eyes likely would distance themselves from “rock.” Like Braxton, but at a much higher decibel level, Wolf Eyes interlay found sound, past influences and their own eccentric inventions, adding up to a sensibility dualistically divided between cyber futurism and Unabomber-cabin rustic grit. (Although the departure of member Aaron Dilloway seems to have subtracted a few degrees of seriousness.)

And Braxton’s sextet is half of a new 12-piece group that he wants to make his personal permanent ensemble. The idea seems aimed in part at removing himself from the music business to an autonomous realm — much the way the noise artists have built their own underground circuit.

Brotzmann and Parker’s big bands have vision too, of course, but for some reason this week they felt like ghosts of avant-gardism past. After their Sunday concerts, I had to soften my negative take on the circle-dance primitivism of New York’s No Neck Blues Band, whose meandering set did eventually manage to evoke the kind of feral, present-tense presence the jazz groups never cohered enough to find.

The peak in that sense was scaled Monday by Japanese noise royalty the Boredoms, whose closing post-psychedelic communal-rock ritual had a whole arena trancing out in baffling bliss.

So bugger genre and bugger style. Crucial musicians always propose not just notes and chords but social experiments too hazardous for real life — random racial-reassignment cosmetic surgery, suicide pacts, marathon group sex, giving up on language, returning to the ocean — to be staged instead in sound. It’s research-and-development on the human strain. And as Prof. Braxton knows, it can come along in shredded jeans cursing its head off and with sirens in its suitcase as (un-)easily as in any other outfit.

The weekend’s debates were bracing for all sides. To mark the spot with a bold red X, the festival really must issue a triple live-CD set of the many faces of Anthony Braxton at Victo 2005. And they absolutely must title it Black Vomit. Which is funny, you know, but not merely funny.

Read More | In Depth | Posted by zoilus on Saturday, May 28 at 01:09 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (5)

 

May 27, 2005

If We're In Love, Why Can't We Stay On Topic?

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Roisin Murphy of Moloko. Whew.

This just in from my southwestern-Ontario correspondent (aka Spitzer), on dark dorky doings in Zoilus's motherland, the freestanding homestead of Brantford, Ont. (as previously pictured): "Yes, I know it seems crazy, but sometimes crazy is true. Irwin Chusid, legendary radio host, producer, author & endearing crank is going to be rocking Brantford with the best band in the world, The Republic of Safety! [...] He'll be speaking at the National Campus Radio Conference in Guelph on Tuesday, June 7 at the University of Guelph campus - this is hosted by CFRU, and Irwin's talk is open to non-delegates as well for a measly $5. * and * Chusid is inordinately fond of small, weird towns and will be participating in a crazy rock n talk mashup we like to call Republic of Chusid, Monday, June 6th at the legendary Ford Plant in Brantford. It's an early show - Irwin at 7pm - Republic of Safety rock at 9pm. Again, it's a measly $5!"

Chusid's way of writing about "outsider music" sends me to Qualm City - stressing the wacky, verging on freakshow - but I heart his work as a reissue king (Raymond Scott, Esquivel, Langley Schools). Besides, if anybody can sit him face-down and give him a proper ideological spankathon, RoS's Maggie, Kate and Kat can, with three hands tied up in mic cords and six legs being borne aloft by slavish fans (or at least me).

In other news: Chromewaves today pinched our ears about Cliptip, a relatively new blog that hosts videos instead of mp3s. He was hyping the Metric Dead Disco video - y'know, hear hear, and I note that Cliptip does a lot of CanCon, where's he based? - but I really recommend you get over there to see the loopily luscious video by Roisin Murphy of Moloko, an Oz-tastic orgy of colour backing up a song that's one part Kate Bush, one part Talking Heads, one part Donna Summer and all parts scrumptious.

I haven't seen much on the Cowboy Troy phenom that contextualizes him in the history of black folks in country, but this comp might help.

Incidentally if things seem very ADDled 'round here this week, it's because besides everything else that's been going on around here, I quit smoking - for reals, this time - a few weeks ago, and the blogging concentration has been difficult to muster between running in circles, grinding teeth and drinking glasses of water. I trust this effect is impermanent - in fact, check in this weekend and I might try to cobble together a post on Drone Science to warm us all up for Sunday's 8-Hour Drone Show (which I'm told will include some prom favourites!) - but it may be awhile before lengthy subject-focused postings are once again a regular feature in this space. Betcha can't wait.

Happy weekend! May yours be full of post-death-metal Hammond Organ music I'm not kidding!

News | Posted by zoilus on Friday, May 27 at 05:17 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

May 26, 2005

Or, You Know, A Solar Anus

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I hate to link to VICE for any reason but they've got the new Boredoms album there for you to listen to, and even if the recording cannot remotely compare to the third-eye-squeegeying effects of the live full-body-rub the band gave us at Victo on Monday, I have to capitulate my compunctions and conscientiously hook you up, because if you haven't seen this tour yet you've missed it - it ended in NYC last night. Check Sasha hyperventilating over the 'doms today. (Wonder if they forced him metaphysically to get drunk and lose his notebook, like they did me?) It was also interesting to see Eye pushing a baby stroller down the Victoriaville main drag - apparently in order to bring the band there, the festival had to fly the whole extended-family commune to Quebec. That's just the deal. So remember never to book the Raelians to play your music fest. Also This post tells me that the reason for the circular-drum formation they play in now is that they "view themselves more as a turntable." Huh. I'd figured "post-digital tribal-fire circle." The more fool I.

News | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, May 26 at 08:44 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (3)

 

Thursday Reading's Bedroom Eyes

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Wanda Jackson in her Elvis's-boudoir days.

In today's eye, Joshua Ostroff takes a look at the curious state of contemporary country music, though he loses points with me by talking about his "semi-ironic" visit to the Grand Ole Opry and by looking at the whole phenomenon in strictly left-right terms, which I think is to misunderstand it at least in part: Country is populist by nature, and that can be articulated along many angles of the political spectrum, and that basic populism is both its strength and its original sin. To see "underclass interests" solely in economic terms is the left's blinkeredness (do you think all your interests are economic?). Not that I've worked all this out in a rigorous way myself (though I've made a start), and I appreciate Josh's contribution because I think it's one of the subjects of the year, but articles about it are tending to retread the same ground right now.

Also in eye: A nice chat with Sam Prekop, which I was happy to see because I spent an enjoyable part of my ride back from Victo listening and reading the liner notes to Aum Fidelity's recent, gorgeous Shrimp Boat rarities box. Fans of 90s Chicago indie-whatsit post-hoosis (most of the Thrill Jockey stable and part of the Drag City one) should get themselves schooled on Shrimp Boat, which sailed most of that sound into port before its time. Also Stuart Berman recaps the MIA/LCD Soundsystem show I missed, entertainingly comparing LCD to Guided By Voices (though skipping the point about them both being record-collection bands) (and also ones I don't so much like). And Dave Morris has an arty native music-theatre project and a blog conspiracy theory (final item).

Today in the Globe my colleague Brad Wheeler makes a case for the new Paul Anka album - complete with Nirvana, Van Halen and REM covers - that Wherry was nutty about too. I remain sceptical - the question isn't whether these songs make competent Paul Anka renditions but what the use of competent Paul Anka versions is, as opposed to boo-wah-iciously bad Pat Boone versions for instance - but I ain't heard it.

Meanwhile over at NOW you've got more Prekop, a preview of what sounds like it's gonna be a really sizzling Hangama South Asian street party this weekend and tawdry dating secrets from the world of SS Cardiacs (who also confess to being the Monkees of the Blocks Recording Club universe). Speaking of tawdry secrets, Wanda Jackson tells Tim Perlich about learning guitar from Elvis by playing along to 45s, at which point Perlich asks the ultimate collector-nerd question - what was Elvis listening to? - and Jackson hilariously answers: "Now, Tim, honey, think about it. I'm alone with Elvis in his bedroom. ... Do you really think I was paying any attention at all to those records?"

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, May 26 at 06:20 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

May 24, 2005

Radical Cheerleaders Exposed! (musically speaking)

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The past week's interruption in service was most unplanned. I was at the Victoriaville new-music festival in Quebec and planned in fact to blog from there, but tedious Internet access issues stymied me. (If you've emailed me lately, I haven't seen that either. I'll try to catch up asap.) The festival was fantastique, but I've got to file official copy about same in the A.M. so can't blah blah on about it now. (One little critic-nerd thrill was to meet Byron Coley in person - I was outright shocked how nice he seemed, tho' not surprised he was very funny. A divisive figure, I know, but he's got game you can't shrug off.)

Anyway in the meanwhile my online readers have missed this week's Overtones, and while you might not be all broken up over that, brothers and sisters, frankly I am - it was a pretty good one, on cheerleader music, a genre that you've really really really gotta hear to believe. Our MC for the duration, much to my own surprise, is one Gwen Stefani, whose Hollaback Girl is a single whose cheer-trax-derived pom-pom power just will not be denied. This way to the cheer squad's dressing room. [...]

Gimme a G-W-E-N! Wha'd'ya got?

OVERTONES
By CARL WILSON
The Globe & Mail
Saturday, May 21, 2005

The pop star in prime trim is like the top athlete who moves into position to block the ball before it's even thrown: She has a bead on all the bundles of raw social nerves hurtling through the cultural ether.

Gwen Stefani, the bottle-blond No Doubt singer with the supernova solo career, seems to be in just such a clairvoyant phase. Witness how her firecracker cheerleading-themed single Hollaback Girl (from six-month-old album Love.Angel.Music.Baby) landed atop the charts at the very moment the Texas legislature was attracting ridicule for proposing to censure high-school cheerleading squads who put too much sugar in their shimmy, whose chakalaka has too much boom-boom.

The initiative, instantly dubbed the Cheerleader Booty Bill, was introduced by Representative Al Edwards, a black Democrat who blames lascivious cheer routines for fostering teen pregnancy and AIDS. When the bill passed the first vote, Hollaback Girl was hot, ready and waiting to kick up its high-top boots with an unladylike comeuppance: "This shit is bananas/ B-A-N-A-N-A-S!"

And so a snotty rip on schoolyard gossip was catapulted into the status of culture-war salvo. Sure, the bill never was likely to pass the Texas senate. But the California girl in the blue-state short shorts helped make the Lone Star legislators look all the more like the bouncing butts of this joke.

Pause before running any old standby liberal vs. conservative analysis. Remember, this beef is about cheerleading -- the sacrosanct domain of either apple-cheeked spirit boosters or conformist "Plastics" beeyatches, depending which stereotype you subscribe to. Yet here the moralist politician was scowling at America's sweethearts, while the rock-steady rebel was peppering performances with cheer moves by her ever-present Japanese-schoolgirl retinue, backed by a mini-marching band. Who flipped this script?

Backdrop: While varsity-yell leaders date to the 1880s, the full-bloomed pom-pom girl emerges only in the early 1960s. The hotsy aspect Rep. Edwards decries was groomed in his own state, where the Dallas Cowboys introduced showgirl-style dance-cheerleading in the 1970s - a decade that, not coincidentally, saw porn cheerleader character Debbie "doing" Dallas. So far, so retro.

But on the way to the end of the century, feminism actually infected cheering; young women began to regard themselves as more than boy jocks' helpmeets. Human pyramids climbed higher, flips became more flamboyant and tumbles more tumultuous, and the activity began to aspire to the condition of sport. This new hybrid of dance and acrobatics established its own competitions, broadcast on cable, and was bandied about as a potential Olympic event.

All of this may be familiar territory, especially if you saw 2000's Bring It On, featuring Kirsten Dunst and Gabrielle Union facing off over cheerleading choreography in what must be the most winsome treatise on race-cultural appropriation in America ever. But you might not have noticed the soundtrack, which demonstrated how cheerleading has also spawned its own genre of music -- and one that is utterly B-A-N-A-N-A-S, far more than even Hollaback Girl herself.

Music tends to get weirder when it's made for applications other than plain listening. Dance is the obvious case, but cheerleading's rapid sequences of steps, gymnastics and crowd teases demand special punctuation beyond the power of any single dance track. Cheer music crams into the space of a few minutes a series of teen-pop hits sped up to chipmunk pitch or slowed down and puréed with snatches of film dialogue, handclaps, foot stomps, bomb blasts, squeals, retro eighties samples for the coach (top groaner: Culture Club's I'll Tumble for Ya), metal riffs, supersonic whistles, inspirational platitudes and techno beats, cranked to the max.

Translation: Cheer music is spontaneously generated vernacular "mash-up" gone wild, without all the music-nerd pretensions.

It often samples from Miami booty bass, the early 1990s electro-hip-hop style that was doggedly fixated on rump-shaking and died out after the prosecution on obscenity charges of its one breakthrough act, Two Live Crew. In fact, cheer may be the only American music to rival the similarly booty-bass-based Brazilian favela funk in its chaotic absurdist hyperdrive, though the squads succumb to clichéd sources too much to hit Rio funk's unpredictable heights.

The mixes can be by the sweater girls themselves, by DJ-wannabe classmates and admirers, or purchased from all-cheer studios such as London, Ont.'s Music4U, or Pennsylvania's Cheerleading Music, which did the cuckoo-for-coconuts Bring It On themes (sample at http://www.cheerleadingmusic.com).

Their effects are almost as disorienting as New York avant-garde jazz composer John Zorn's "games pieces," elaborate structures to force musicians to jump from style to style as if in a Bugs Bunny cartoon score. Cheer music reaches the same point by sheer competitive will-to-giddiness: It's that rare underground-music form free of countercultural self-consciousness.

In the southern U.S., it evolved in parallel with the hip-hop style now known as crunk, which is mostly bass, synth and exhortation. (Or maybe crunk draws on cheer?) It has also cross-pollinated with the lesser-known southern tradition of African-American high-school marching-band music, which now trades rhythms with rap (see the not-so-scintillating Drumline) and is supplying flute, horn and drum sounds to hip-hop by acclaimed producer David Banner and the "chopped and screwed" remix scene that's based -- to come full circle -- in Texas.

Drill in to any morality morass in the U.S. today, it seems, and it won't take long to hit hip-hop culture: It's what's for supper, the racial, sexual and generational fact America finds hardest to swallow. For one thing, the girl next door is shaking her tail feather to a willful new beat, and past stereotypes - virgin, bitch or whore - need not apply. The kids catch the bug from TV and propagate it in the gym. But exactly what it is bringing on, no red- or blue-stater yet can know.

That goes for Gwen Stefani, too. (When I first heard the song, I thought she was singing, "I ain't no Harlem black girl!") But she remains a winning figure for running with the instinct that this cultural backflip is something to cheer about. In fact, it makes her wanna holla.

Read More | In Depth | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, May 24 at 11:57 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (5)

 

May 17, 2005

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMay

Please note the many new additions to the May gig guide, including Grandmaster Flash at Roxy Blue on the 27th and Animalmonster's much-anticipated 8-Hour Drone show at Mercer Union on the 29th. (What note will it be!? Zoilus votes for E-flat.)

Via Toronto | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, May 17 at 03:46 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)

 

They Win!

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Centre: The Gligorijevic-Collins sacramental moment, as captured by Amber.

Zoilus extends effusive congratulations on a knot successfully tied! to Katarina Gligorijevic (of Barcelona Pavilion, who by-the-way have a new bitchin' micro-EP, and Toronto-band-of-the-year Republic of Safety) and Matt Collins (of Ninja High School, Manhunt and Jennifer Lopez Knife records and formerly of Currently in These United States). We weren't able to attend the nuptials themselves in bucolic Milton, Ont., as pictured above, but we did go to the most indie-rock wedding reception ever, last night at Sneaky Dee's, featuring a welcoming barrage of silly string for the newlyweds, then Steve Kado and Greg Collins (of Ninja High School, Blocks Recording Club and dozens of other local bands between them) as MANSHIT playing Elvis and Bruce Springsteen covers for slow-dance shoutalongs to start the night, and then the electro-make-out music of Kids on TV and a whole helluva lot of fog-machine, climaxing with a mass half-naked half-drunk audience-on-stage dance frenzy (followed by more dancing courtesy of DJ Jonny Dovercourt). Plus indoors smoking, and cake. Zoilus is so very happy for the new Prince and Princess of Dee's. As Misha said, "Just when I think this whole 'Torontopia' thing is overstated, something like tonight comes along that makes me think Toronto really is the greatest place in the world." Mazel tov, mes amis.

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The "Matterina" getaway car, bearing, though you can't quite see it in this pic, one of the few marital tributes to Captain Beefheart ever made - it says "This is the Best Batch Yet!" Thanks again, Amber.

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Aforementioned fake-fogged dance frenzy. Arm of Zoilus, with striped cuff, seen at right.
Pic by Merckeda on the Stillepost wed-thread.

Also today, Pitchfork's campaign to distance Pitchfork from Pitchfork goes into hyperdrive. (At first I accidentally typed hyperdrivel, which is a pretty great phrase to apply to Pitchfork, tho not to David Cross usually.) A subtributary to the campaign can also be found in their Robbie Fulks review, which goes out of its way to praise mainstream country at the expense of alt-country, although it somewhat gives the game away by characterizing the likes of Roger Miller and Don Williams as having voices with "coarse grain" - Williams being an ol' smoothie and Miller's voice being pretty much as "nasal" as Fulks'. I haven't heard the Fulks disc yet but word is that it's much stronger as a country disc than P'fork would have you believe.

And: Let's think good thoughts, not even the usual dirty ones, for Kylie Minogue, who has breast cancer.

News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, May 17 at 01:50 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (10)

 

May 16, 2005

Grammar Bammer Slammer Time

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Dammit, I know I've been distracted with the grieving and all, but why o why didn't anybody tell me about this, the Frightenstein Con here last weekend? Anybody who did attend, reports here would be appreciated. I think 6:30 a.m. Saturday sightings of Hilarious House of Frightenstein formed my introduction to the proto-punk monster-movie trash-cultcha consciousness that David Thomas addressed in his Pop Conference presentation. (Billy Van as Southern Ontario's Ghoulardi? Perhaps not quite, but in that vicinity. Pere Ubu, incidentally, has been touring occasionally with live "underscores" for B-flicks such as X, The Man With the X-Ray Eyes and It Came From Outer Space: "The genre had an incalculable effect on the third generation of Young Rock Giants who emerged in the 70s. Now it's time to honor our debt.") HHoF also featured a Wolfman Jack imitation (with a literal wolfman) and cameos by Vincent Price.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, proceed here to view a typical Frightenstein episode. Other clips are on the comprehensive Frightenstein fan site. (Question: Is this the geekiest post I've ever made? Quite possibly.)

It also seems an opportune time to note that various other Pop Conference presentations are now available as PDFs from the EMP warehouse. The chatter on whether there will be another conference next year is sounding grim, so enjoy while you can.

PS: RIP Jimmy Martin: The ornery ol' bluegrass king bastard will be missed.

News | Posted by zoilus on Monday, May 16 at 01:44 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (3)

 

May 13, 2005

And thank you

.... to everyone who's written, on and off site, with condolences on my father's passing. Your good wishes are much cherished.

News | Posted by zoilus on Friday, May 13 at 12:06 AM | Linking Posts | Comments (7)

 

Thursday Thursday

Catching up on our Thursday Reading. A late and abbreviated edition today:

The wrap-up of that OTHER 50 Tracks game we were playing, including a coming-full-circle CBC interview with former Mister Brave New Waves, Brent Bambury, in which some Zoilusian picks get played.

If this had been out in time, there might be a few different cuts on that list: Errol Nazareth on the crate-digging essential-CanCon item of the spring, DoRight's Ready or Not: Deep jazz grooves from the CBC Radio Canada Archive 1967-77. From today's Eye. Meanwhile, in Now, Ms. Liss waxes adorable over the next-big-thing buzz about Most Serene Republic, but Zoilus has already got a favourite Republic band for the year. (Not to mention the good old Savage one.) More notable: Andy Kim apparently now listens to Arcade Fire, the Hidden Cameras and Faith No More. Maybe Rock Me Gently was better than I thought? (On the other hand, the guy did write Sugar, Sugar, so, respect.)

Not actually reading, just a fact: Much as I hate to scoop news from Pitchfork, I can't ignore the information that The Believer is releasing a compilation on which the likes of Constantines, Jim Guthrie, Spoon, Wolf Parade, the Shins and the Mountain Goats cover the likes of Richard Buckner, the Silver Jews, Frog Eyes (!) and Joanna Newsom (not respectively). Yeah, it may as well be presented by Whitey McWhiteman and His Blanching Whiteheads, and it needs a "Warning: Devendra Banhart Content" sticker, but still.

Sean O'Hagan takes most of his best material from Simon Reynolds and Paul Morley - but that's probably inevitable - for this retrospective on Joy Division and Love Will Tear Us Apart, now 25 years forever ancient-young. See the now middle-aged JD survivors in New Order play LWTUA on the Jimmy Kimmel show in April. (Thanks to Miss Valerie.)

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Friday, May 13 at 12:03 AM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

May 12, 2005

Sunrise, Sunset

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Bedraggled and belated - after last night's much-too-short but still-firey live show in Toronto - here's my piece on The Mountain Goats' The Sunset Tree from last weekend's Globe and Mail. Eerie symmetries are afloat here, since John Darnielle's latest album is a meditation after the death of his stepfather and my absence from the interweb the past week is due to the death of my father. (The piece was written, unknowingly, the night before.) I don't want to go on much about that, and in most every way, I hasten to add, the two events, the two relationships, have nothing in common. But there is something between older and younger men, fathers and sons, that even in the best cases is a persistent knot to tug on. The Sunset Tree has been in my mind the past week on that level - as well as, of course, making me even more grateful for the gentle and supportive family environment that I had.

More, in all likelihood, on last night's show later today (Chromewaves has a few words, meanwhile). And some Thursday Reading too. But first here's the column, which chews further, I hope productively, on that autobiography-versus-fiction question that was wrassled over here last week. [...]

He's finally confessed, so hold on

Weekend Review
CARL WILSON
OVERTONES
7 May 2005
The Globe and Mail

Long into the night he's been simmering in his own juices. Three or four of us are on an illicit after-curfew stroll in our teenage wilderness of dark residential streets, and it is 1 or 2 a.m. before we circle back to my girlfriend and her brother's house. Their dad waits in the driveway in a kitchen chair, drunk. He means to put the family he tore apart back in order, maybe using the baseball bat in his hands, and his first obstacle seems to be me. But his offspring slip into chillingly well-practised diversionary tactics, enough to ensure nobody gets hurt right then. I get away.

The Sunset Tree, the new album by the Mountain Goats, transports me back to that driveway, and no doubt its stark revelations would stir some of your ghosts up too. There's an irony there: John Darnielle, the freakishly gifted California-born songwriter who records as the Mountain Goats, has always been a vehement crusader against the notion of solo singers with guitars as confessional diarists à la James Taylor.

Adopting his nom de band was one way to distance himself from singer-songwriter clichés. Darnielle also juggles personas in song, ranging from Aztec gods and Roman senators to the Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf-style pair who booze and claw their way across America in a couple of dozen “Alpha Couple” songs.

Darnielle has released literally hundreds of witty, tender, acidic and bizarre songs since 1991, mainly home-taping his hopped-up acoustic guitar and rubbery Jimmy Stewart vocals on a Panasonic boombox. Three years ago the 4AD label finally lured him into the studio and began bringing him to a wider public.

Darnielle's anti-confessional vows were first broken openly on last year's superb We Shall All Be Healed. It drew, elliptically, on a long-ago period of hard drug use and the friends who were lost to it. Sunset Tree goes much further. Dedicated both to Darnielle's late stepfather and to “young men and women anywhere who live with people who abuse them,” it is unnervingly candid.

A few songs refer explicitly to “my stepfather,” elsewhere known just as “you.” He can be found passed out in the car or on the couch, hurling a glass at his wife's head some time during the Watergate hearings, or a decade later with his bare hands smothering the narrator, who only prays his stereo gets through intact: “It's the one thing that I couldn't live without/ And so I think about that, and then I sorta black out.”

At first the abuse scenes seemed so overpowering I felt Darnielle hadn't left enough open air for ambiguities and double meanings. Was this former psychiatric nurse and youth counsellor doing social work with this album, at the expense of his art? Or had Darnielle become the autobiographer he always warned us about?

But with further listening the trauma scenes came to seem balanced out, as seemingly unrelated love songs revealed themselves as celebrations of even the most neurotic teen romance as a hard-found, meaningful kind of shelter — “locking eyes, holding hands/ twin high-maintenance machines.” Other songs are spiked with cryptic magpies or cherry blossoms and layers of allusion: Who but Darnielle could gather boxer Sonny Liston, the biblical King Saul, Crime and Punishment's Raskolnikov and Kurt Cobain's suicide into one tune, and pull it off?

Perhaps best of all, Song for Dennis Brown sketches the day of the death of the great reggae singer and prodigious cocaine addict, with a guitar line echoing Bob Marley's Redemption Song, lyrics steeped in Frank O'Hara ("On the day that Dennis Brown’s lung collapsed.../ School children sang in choirs/ And out behind the chinese restaurants/ Guys were jumping into dumpsters") and a special angle on the album's preoccupation with survival — the question of whether the demons that kill you are also the ones that sustain you, and where that balance lies. (A question that could be posed to the stepfather equally as to his victim.) Earlier on the album, Darnielle sings, “I'm gonna make it through this year if it kills me.” In the region of The Sunset Tree, every hope has that sharpened edge.

Most young songwriters begin with self-expression, confusing the artful with the merely heartfelt. Darnielle held back till he was ripe and ready. He isn't venting inner tantrums, unlike rock-rap groups and emo bands, the true Oprah-age heirs of the confessional singer-songwriters. Instead he sets up recognition scenes, in which dynamics reverse and barriers harden or dissolve, and explores them inside and out.

Most of Darnielle's past charm as a singer came down to unabashed yelling, but he moderates himself here. And producer John Vanderslice has assembled cellos, pianos and other keyboards into by far the best Goats arrangements yet. It's as mature an album sonically as it is thematically.

The record may centre on adolescence, but it begins and ends in the present, with an adult taking stock. In the extraordinary coda, Pale Green Things, Darnielle recounts the moment he learned of his stepfather's death in December of 2003: “My sister called at 3 a.m.,” he sings in a small-hours hush. “She told me how you'd died at last.” Then he repeats, melody rising quizzically - “At last?” - as if to chasten himself for greeting anybody's death this way, even that of his nemesis.

So he summons up one comparatively unblemished memory, of driving together early one morning to the racetrack, his stepfather timing horses as they ran their paces, fragile green shoots poking up through the asphalt.

This is not a song of forgiveness. It's about the larger cycles that make people and things the way they are, cycles indifferent to our judgments, sweeping all before them. So many songs on the album portray the agonizing powerlessness of his youth that this achievement of adult equanimity seems a kind of triumph. But there are no points to be totalled here. Living your life is what matters.

Who knows if this is how Darnielle “really” feels, or how much so? He'd be the first to insist it shouldn't matter where a well-crafted song comes from, only where it goes. But I doubt the unresolved resolution in Pale Green Things would strike so deep if it were just fiction alone.

It may not be aesthetically rigorous, but people do care about the human beings behind the songs — a disc like The Sunset Tree leaves you little choice there, and I wouldn't wish it otherwise. Every human horror and pleasure begins in that craving for attachment, and ends up, perhaps, in the reciprocal necessity of letting go. As Darnielle sings, “Some moments last forever./ But some flare out with love, love, love.”

Read More | In Depth | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, May 12 at 01:39 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (6)

 

May 05, 2005

Away Game

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Family trouble going on. I'll be gone a few days.

News | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, May 05 at 03:51 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

May 04, 2005

Come What MAY (gig guide)

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Sorry, wrong gang of four.

More-or-less compleat Toronto show calendar is jitterbuggin' on the flip. Notice Joe Pernice tonight, Veda Hille tomorrow at Lula Lounge (as well as Roots Manuva and The Books and Mice Parade/Chad Van Gaalen/Boom Bip - all separate shows!), the Interface series with Jean Derome this weekend, the over-the-top Over the Top Fest, Mike Doughty (ex-Soul Coughing) on Tuesday, Mountain Goatses!!! (Zoilus' most-anticipated show-of-the-month/year) next Wed., Gang of 4 on May 14 (or else Dat Politics), Stereo Total the following day, that big wedding you don't know about shhh, Deerhoof on May 18 (because Bright Eyes is at the friggin' Docks), the VTO5 new-music festival, (((MIA))) and LCD Soundsystem double-bill, Wolf Eyes, Gang Gang Dance and the Deep Wireless festival. Oh, and Rebecca Gates (ex-Spinanes) on May 21, while I am away in Victoriaville, goddammmmmit. (Thanks Chromewaves, for letting me know my chance to see one of my Top All-Time Crushed-Upon Indie Femme Fatales is, in its turn, crushed.) Whew. [...]

Corrections & additions welcome. Zoilus-approved shows are marked with a *star. Special picks are **double-starred. If it's not starred, it may mean I don't find it especially thrilling, or just that I don't know or am not sure enough to recommend it. Listings will be updated weekly. All info subject to change - this is a casual effort, please do call the venues. Sources include the Stillepost.ca Toronto board, Eye, Now, Greg Clow, ListMe.ca, Canoe.ca, Soundlist, The Whole Note, Toronto Life and ye olde email.

TUES., MAY 17
** HANK JONES => Top o’ the Senator (May 17-22)
* VTO5 presents XU FENGIA (guzheng) and a film feat. the late PETER KOWALD (bass) => Goethe Institut, 8 pm, $20
* BRITISH SEA POWER, THE MOST SERENE REPUBLIC => Lee's Palace, $15
* THE GOOD LIFE =>The 360, $10
* THE BLUE VAN => Mod Club
SARAH McLACHLAN => Air Canada Centre, $49.50-$69.50
BLACK CROWES =>Kool Haus, $46.25
Rex Jazz Jam w/ BRANDI DISTERHEFT, SLY JUHAS, LAILA BIALI => Rex (every Tues in May)
EXPERIMENTAL OPEN JAM (all gear provided) => The Bagel, 285 College St., 9 pm, free (every Tues.)
KIDD RASTA & THE PEACEMAKERS cd launch, ROCKY SINGH, NATTY POSSE BAND, DJ CHOCOLATE => Reverb, doors 8:30 pm, show 9:30 pm, $10 (w/free CD)
BREAK THE SILENCE, CRANE, FUTURES PAST, MIGHT AS WELL, RUMSFIELD => Kathedral, $10

WED., MAY 18
** BRIGHT EYES, THE FAINT => The Docks, $26
** DEERHOOF, NEDELLE => Lee's Palace, $10
** GORDON LIGHTFOOT => Massey Hall, $30-$55 (May 18-21)
** HANK JONES => Top o’ the Senator (May 17-22)
* JOHN SOUTHWORTH, THE BICYCLES => El Mocambo, $8
* Ambient Ping & Deep Wireless present RADiO iN AMBiENCE 2 w/ ANNA FRIZ *(Montreal), ALLISON CAMERON and STEPHEN PARKINSON (T'o) => Hacienda (794 Bathurst St. @ Bloor), 9 pm, pwyc
* Peace Jam and Fundraiser for Livvette Moore’s orphaned children w/ TASHA T., HARPOON MISSILE, CODE BLUE, DON SKILACHI, MOTION, RISHAARD, MASIA ONE, ANDRE RANXX, SHARON RILEY (Faith Chorale), more => Opera House, 8 pm (doors 7 pm), $10 minimum donation
* AGYU experimental music series w/ QUASiMODAL => Art Gallery of York University, N145 Ross Building, 7 pm, free
* VTO5 presents Sandhills Reunion by JERRY GRANELLI'S SEPTET (w/ FRANCOIS HOULE, JEFF REILLY, DAVID MOTT, CHRISTOPH BOTH, CHRISTIAN KOGEL, J. ANTHONY GRANELLI) w/PAUL KENNEDY reading Rinde Eckert => Gladstone, 10 pm, $20
* THE BLOOD BROTHERS, PLOT TO BLOW UP THE EIFFEL TOWER, BIG BUSINESS =>Mod Club, $13.50
* Songs Of Anatolia w/ MAZA MEZÉ, BRENNA MACCRIMMON, ISMAIL HAKKI => Harbourfront, $20
* LYNN MILES, JENNY WHITELEY, MELWOOD CUTLERY (cd release) => Hugh's Room, $18
* THIEVERY CORPORATION => the Carlu (444 Yonge), $35-$40
* High Lonesome Wednesdays w/CRAZY STRINGS => Silver Dollar, 10 pm, free (every Wed.)
SNOW PATROL, ATHLETE =>Kool Haus, $26.25
NOW YR TAKEN, LAVA WITCH, PROELIIS FERE, GOING NOWHERE => Clinton's, 9 pm, $5
ELIANA CUEVAS => Lula Lounge
KIVA'S TRIO (Wyrd Sisters, harmonic overtone singer), HEATHER DALE => Holy Joe's, 9 pm, $8
DAVID FRENCH, LUIS SIMAO LATIN JAZZ QUINTET => Rex
THE SHANKS cd release, THE POSITIONS => Cameron, 10 pm, $5
THE SECRET HANDSHAKE, THE BEAUTYS => Neutral Lounge, 10 pm, pwyc
THE EXCHANGES => Fez Batik, 10 pm, Free
VICTOR BATEMAN (6 pm) Bartender Daughter Productions Presents MARCO DiFELICE, MICHAEL LADAROUTE, SCOTT MAYNARD, CASSANDRA RUTHERFORD, MARK RUTHERFORD TRIO, guests (8 pm) => Tranzac
THE PERISHERS => Rivoli
DAVID VIERELLES QUARTET => Trane Studio

THUR., MAY 19
** GORDON LIGHTFOOT => Massey Hall, $30-$55 (May 18-21)
** HANK JONES => Top o’ the Senator (May 17-22)
** RILO KILEY, NADA SURF => Opera House, $15
* VTO5 presents STEFANO SCODANIBBIO (contrabass, Italy) w/ JOZEF VAN WISSEM (lute, Amsterdam) => Edward Day Gallery, 952 Queen West, 8 pm, $20
* JOHNNY DOWD => Horseshoe, $8, also Soundscapes @ 5 pm (free)
* AUTORICKSHAW, GEORGE KOLLER, LOTUS => Lula Lounge, $15
* JENNY WHITELEY "Juno Celebration Concert" =>Hugh's Room, 8:30 pm, $17
* ITZHAK PERLMAN => Roy Thomson Hall
* THE BACKSTABBERS COUNTRY STRINGBAND, THE CAMERON FAMILY SINGERS, ROSES IN THE SNOW => Gladstone, 8 pm, $10
RAISED BY SWANS => Rivoli, $6
THE PRIDS, ACTION MAKES, THOMAS & HIS EVIL COMPUTER, LoLo PROJECT => El Mocambo, $5
THE VULCAN DUB SQUAD, DIABLEROS, INFLATION KILLS, FLORIDA EVANS => Rancho Relaxo, $6
HUNTER VALENTINE, RAGS TO BITCHES, KELLY & THE KELLYGIRLS, RANDOM ORDER, more => El Mocambo, $7
DAVE YOUNG w/ SPENCER BAREFIELD QUARTET => Rex (May 19-20)
THE FATALS, BRUTAL KNIGHTS, BAYONETTES => Oasis, $7
AND THE VINYL, THE NETHANIALS, KAT BURNS => Poor Alex, $5
NURAL, AMITY => Vatikan, $5
SAX IN THE CITY w/ Heather Bambrick, Amilie-Claire Barlow, Eliana Cuevas => Design Exchange, 234 Bay, $35
KATE ROGERS BAND (8 pm), BILL NORMAN & TIM HAMMEL (10 pm) => Tranzac

FRI., MAY 20
** GORDON LIGHTFOOT => Massey Hall, $30-$55 (May 18-21)
** VTO5 presents THE NELS CLINE SINGERS => Silver Dollar, 10 pm, $20
** HANK JONES => Top o’ the Senator (May 17-22)
** KANAK, LOLLIPOP PEOPLE, FRIENDLY RICH, BOB WISEMAN w/ films by Guy Maddin, Martha Colburn, Ryan Larkin and more => Innis Town Hall (2 Sussex), $5
* DISTILLERY JAZZ FESTIVAL => Various artists, venues. See http://www.distilleryjazz.com, (May 20-29)
* DJ SERIOUS cd release, w/ D-SISIVE THEOLOGY 3, NOTES TO SELF, MUSIKLEE INSANE, DJ GROUCH => Supermarket, $10
* GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS, WAYNE PETTI, CHET =>Rancho Relaxo
* "Use Your Pocky" w/ TOCA LOCA (contemp. compos.) => Music Gallery, $10-$20
* The Abstract Index live w/ DJs DAVID DACKS, JEREMIAH (SUPERHEAVYREGGAE), MURR (LAL) => Thymeless (College @ Augusta)
Petsounds w/ I AM ROBOT AND PROUD, DJs Bronson Lee, Cab Williamson, Pammm => Stone's Place, $5
PAN/TONE, ADAM MARSHALL, ERIC DOWNER => Footwork, 425 Adelaide St W, 10 pm-?, $5 b4 12, $15 after
KASABIAN, MAD ACTION =>Kool Haus, $20
THE SLACKERS => Lee's Palace, $10.50
DAVE YOUNG w/ SPENCER BAREFIELD QUARTET => Rex (May 19-20)
WINTER EQUINOX, ROBOT => Holy Joe's, free
GORDON LIGHTFOOT @ Massey Hall, $30-$55
CHAMELEON PROJECT, THE VOID, DJ ROLLIN CASH, JAMIE KIDD => Gypsy Co-op
FINE MOTOR CONTROL, PINKO CRONKITE, JEN HALL => Oasis, $5
10
TRASH AND READY cd launch => Gladstone, 9 pm, $5
BEYOND OUR ROOTS latin festival => Drake (May 20-22)
FINCH, Vendetta Red, Walking Concert => Opera House, $20
Pitter Patter w/ TERROR LAKE, THE GREAT AWAKE, THICK HAWK => Poor Alex, $5
SOWATT, Morning After, Shot of Clarity, Junior Vice Presidents => Vatikan, $5
THE FOOLISH THINGS (5 pm), JIMMY DOWLING (10 pm) => Tranzac
RADIO NOMAD => Trane Studio, 9 pm

SAT., MAY 21
** VTO5 presents PETER BROTZMANN TENTET => Rivoli, 6 pm, $20
** M.I.A., LCD SOUNDSYSTEM => Opera House, 8 pm, $20 plus OFFICIAL AFTERPARTY w/ DIPLO, NICK CATCHDUBS, RORY THEMFINEST, WENDY MORGAN, DMT => The Social, 1100 Queen West, $10 b4 midnight
** GORDON LIGHTFOOT => Massey Hall, $30-$55 (May 18-21)
** HANK JONES => Top o’ the Senator (May 17-22)
* THE DECEMBERISTS, REBECCA GATES (ex-Spinanes) =>Phoenix, $15 (two stars for Gates, negative-one for the Decembrists, whom I so far cannot stand)
* DISTILLERY JAZZ FESTIVAL => Various artists, venues. See http://www.distilleryjazz.com, (May 20-29)
* Tangofest w/ SWEATSHOP TANGO ENSEMBLE, FERNANDO OTERO. =>Trinity St Paul's Centre, $20, 6:30 pm (May 21-22)
MICHAEL OCCHIPINTI's SICILIAN JAZZ PROJECT => Rex
SWAMPERELLA => Gladstone, 8 pm, $8
SUNDOWNERS (6 pm), RYAN DRIVER QUINTET (10 pm) => Tranzac
LIVINGSTON TAYLOR =>Hugh's Room, $27.50
CAROLE POPE =>Sneaky Dee's, $12
MICHAUX MACHINE, SHED, NEFARIOUS INFLUENCE, LIFESTORY MONOLOGUE => El Mocambo
DJ RAP => System Soundbar
Pitter Patter w/ LUNCHMEAT, SAILBOATS ARE WHITE, THE PINEY WOLVES => Poor Alex, $5
BEYOND OUR ROOTS latin festival => Drake (May 20-22)
STIRLING => Horseshoe, $7
ANNE LINDSAY & HER WONDERFUL BAND => Victory Cafe, 9 pm, $10

SUN., MAY 22
** WOLF EYES, GASTRIC FEMALE REFLEX, AWESOME =>Horseshoe, $10
** HANK JONES => Top o’ the Senator (May 17-22)
* Wavelength 264 w/ WOOLLEY LEAVES, EVERYBODY GET SICK, DJ JD =>Sneaky Dee's, pwyc
* Tangofest w/ SWEATSHOP TANGO ENSEMBLE, FERNANDO OTERO. =>Trinity St Paul's Centre, $20, 6:30 pm (May 21-22)
* DISTILLERY JAZZ FESTIVAL => Various artists, venues. See http://www.distilleryjazz.com, (May 20-29)
ANCIENT CHINESE SECRET => Cameron House, 6-8 pm, pwyc, may 22
CLAIRE LOVE AND THE SWEETHEARTS => Gladstone, 9 pm, pwyc
BEYOND OUR ROOTS latin festival => Drake (May 20-22)
RYAN LUCHUCK => Drake, 8 pm

MON., MAY 23
* DISTILLERY JAZZ FESTIVAL => Various artists, venues. See http://www.distilleryjazz.com, (May 20-29)
ELVIS MONDAY w/ Tala, Doublenew, Steve Lewin, The Makers, Spiral Beach => Drake

TUES., MAY 24
* DISTILLERY JAZZ FESTIVAL => Various artists, venues. See http://www.distilleryjazz.com, (May 20-29)
* VTO5 presents HUBBUB, QUEEN MAB TRIO => Goethe Institut, 8 pm, $20
* Pages presents NATHANIEL G. MOORE & THE WORST PUPPETEERS IN CANADIAN LITERATURE (Reading/Puppet Show) => Rivoli, doors 7 pm, free
MEWITHOUTYOU =>The 360, $10
PORCUPINE TREE =>Mod Club, $24.50
MICHAEL BUBLÉ =>Hummingbird Centre, $42.50-$74.50 (May 24-26)
Rex Jazz Jam w/ BRANDI DISTERHEFT, SLY JUHAS, LAILA BIALI => Rex (every Tues in May)
EXPERIMENTAL OPEN JAM (all gear provided) => The Bagel, 285 College St., 9 pm, free (every Tues.)
MR. POINTY (8 pm), GLEN HALL (10 pm) => Tranzac

WED., MAY 25
* DISTILLERY JAZZ FESTIVAL => Various artists, venues. See http://www.distilleryjazz.com, (May 20-29)
* High Lonesome Wednesdays w/CRAZY STRINGS => Silver Dollar, 10 pm, free (every Wed.)
* GRASSHOPPER SOUNDCLASH cd release => Bovine Sex Club, 11 pm
* Curiopilot series launch w/ JEFF ELLIOT (comedy), WHIPPOORWILL, AEM-50CC, BLUE DEMONS, MICROBUNNY => Drake
MOOD RUFF cd release w/ LISA BELL, DJs GENERAL ECLECTIC, PUPPYHERTZ, NANA => Revival, $5 before 11 pm
Ambient Ping presents MAHOGANY FROG => Hacienda, 794 Bathurst, pwyc
THE BREAKFAST =>Lee's Palace, $8.50
MICHAEL BUBLÉ =>Hummingbird Centre, $42.50-$74.50 (May 24-26)

THUR., MAY 26
** SS CARDIACS cd release, REPUBLIC OF SAFETY, THE VERMICIOUS KNID => Sneaky Dee's
* SAINT DIRT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL => Tranzac, 10 pm
TIBET FUNDRAISER "Living Songs, Sacred Spaces" w/DAVID MOTT, JESSE STEWART, more => Music Gallery, $20/$25
* DISTILLERY JAZZ FESTIVAL => Various artists, venues. See http://www.distilleryjazz.com, (May 20-29)
* "Underworlds" and "Euridice Variations" presented by RED SKY, TORONTO CONSORT => Glenn Gould Studio, 8 pm, $24-$30 (May 26-27)
* GALITCHA, TANTRA => Lula Lounge, $15
I CAN PUT MY ARM BACK ON YOU CAN'T (7" Release), BEAUMONT HAMIL, PANSERBJORNE, tba => Adrift Skateshop
BILL McBIRNIE w/ MARK EISENMAN TRIO (STEVE WALLACE, JOHN SUMNER) => Montreal Bistro (May 26-28)
BRENDA EARLE => Rex
MICHAEL BUBLÉ =>Hummingbird Centre, $42.50-$74.50 (May 24-26)
THE SUBURBAN POP PROJECT, FIREHYDRANT, BRONCHO CHARLIE => Poor Alex, $5
MILLIONS OF CATS THAT TURNED ON THEIR MASTERS => Silver Dollar
Ketchup Music: Asian Songwriter Showcase w/ JP SUNGA, MOULANN, NELSON TOM, NOELLA CHOI, TINA CHU => Urban Coyote Bar & Grill (8763 Bayview), free
GREATESCAPE, MR GNOME, KEY OF ME, SONGMUZE => Degrassi House, 780 Queen St. East

FRI., MAY 27
** GRANDMASTER FLASH => Roxy Blu (12 Brant St.), 10 pm, $20 adv.
** WANDA JACKSON & THE RIZDALES, ANCIENT CHINESE SECRET => Cadillac Lounge (May 27-28; sold out)
** KHONNOR => Gladstone Art Bar, 9 pm, $8 (come early! tiny room!)
** KID KOALA => Horseshoe, $15
** Hyperactive w/ KID 606 (California), KENNY GLASGOW, LEE OSBORNE => Mod Club, 11 pm-3:30 am, $15
* MYK FREEDMAN QUARTET, DEEP DARK UNITED => Tranzac, 8 and 10 pm
* GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS, WAYNE PETTI, CHET => Rancho Relaxo
* Leftover Daylight Series presents PAUL DUTTON (vox, Toronto)/THOMAS CHARMETANT (cello, from Paris); KYLE BRENDERS TRIO; HALEY/CLUTTON/SHAW/SORBARA => Arraymusic Studio, 60 Atlantic Ave., Ste. 218, $10/$6
* Deep Wireless Weekend radio-sound art fest w/ERIC LEONARDSON, CHRIS BROOKES, ANNA FRIZ, EVALYN PARRY, YVES DAOUST, MILENA DROUMEVA, GEOFF SISKIND, DRAGAN TODOROVIC, GREGORY WHITEHEAD, CHANTAL DUMAS & CHRISTIAN CALON, EMMANUEL MADAN, more => Drake Hotel, see http://deepwireless.ca (May 27-29)
* DISTILLERY JAZZ FESTIVAL => Various artists, venues. See http://www.distilleryjazz.com (May 20-29)
* STEVE FORBERT => Hugh's Room, $22
* NEW MUSIC CONCERTS: WILD, WIRED WEST w/ Keith Hamel, Joseph Petric, Max Christie, Robert Aitken and the New Music Concerts Ensemble => Music Gallery, $5-$25
* "Underworlds" and "Euridice Variations" presented by RED SKY, TORONTO CONSORT => Glenn Gould Studio, 8 pm, $24-$30 (May 26-27)
Fat Albert's benefit concert & cd release w/ BOB SNIDER, BOB WISEMAN, NORM HACKING, ROGER ELLIS, more => Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil, $10
THE PARIAHS, PLASTIC BAG => Bovine Sex Club
BILL McBIRNIE w/ MARK EISENMAN TRIO (STEVE WALLACE, JOHN SUMNER) => Montreal Bistro (May 26-28)
AL KAY TROMBONE OCTET => Rex
AGAINST ME =>Kathedral, $13.50
JEREMY FISHER, NATHAN WILEY => Mod Club, $12
KARRIN ALLYSON => Top O' the Senator, $18 (May 27-29)
THERESA'S SOUND-WORLD => Artists Play Studio Theatre
JEREMY FISHER, NATHAN WILEY => Mod Club, $12
KOBAYASHI, DJ Goldfinger => Gypsy Co-op
LUNCHMEAT, BOYBALLZ => The Boat
IN SUPPORT OF LIVING, AS THE POETS AFFIRM, OFF THE INT'L RADAR => El Mocambo
MICHAEL JOHNSTON, DAVE CLARK, DAVID CELIA => NOW Lounge, 189 Church, $6
SHOWROOM cd release, DAN GORMAN, SAY AH => Rivoli, $7
THE FOOLISH THINGS => Tranzac, 5 pm
MATTHEW BARBER, YAEL WAND, LINDSAY FERGUSON, ROZALIND MACPHAIL => Rectory Cafe, Toronto Island, $5-$10
RAW CITY GRINDER, SOHO KITCHEN, LINK DE BAREFLY, AMANDA KAYE => Neutral Lounge, 349A College

SAT., MAY 28
** ROBYN HITCHCOCK & HIS SADIES => Lee's Palace, $17.50 POSTPONED!
** WANDA JACKSON & THE RIZDALES, ANCIENT CHINESE SECRET => Cadillac Lounge (May 27-28; sold out)
** Deep Wireless Weekend radio-sound art fest w/KHONNOR, ERIC LEONARDSON, CHRIS BROOKES, ANNA FRIZ, EVALYN PARRY, YVES DAOUST, MILENA DROUMEVA, GEOFF SISKIND, DRAGAN TODOROVIC, GREGORY WHITEHEAD, CHANTAL DUMAS & CHRISTIAN CALON, EMMANUEL MADAN, more => Drake Hotel, see http://deepwireless.ca (May 27-29)
* Hangama! South Asian Street Celebration w/ TRICHY'S TRIO w/ DR. TRICHY SANKARAN, BLACKMAHAL w/ LAL, SINGH BHATTI, MOHAMMED ZAHEERUDDIN, SHAHID ALI KHAN, FRIENDS OF RAAGAS, ANWAR KHURSHID w/ RAVI NAIMPALLY, THE WEBER BROTHERS, JOSH, STATE OF BENGAL w/ RENU HUSSAIN, SHANGRILA, DK W/ DAVE SHARMA, SHIVA SOUND SYSTEM w/ VINEET VYAS, SUHANA SOUND SPEKTRUM w/ RICK LAZAR & SAMBA SQUAD, GADJET and more => Dundas Square, 11 am-11 pm, free
* THE DINNER IS RUINED => Tranzac, 10 pm
* SAM PREKOP, JAMES YORKSTON => Horseshoe, $12
* DISTILLERY JAZZ FESTIVAL => Various artists, venues. See http://www.distilleryjazz.com, (May 20-29)
* CHRIS SMITHER => Hugh's Room, $22
HOLY SHIT!, THE KIND OF JAZZ MUSIC THAT KILLS, WEDNESDAY NIGHT HEROES, SAIGON DISTRESS SIGNAL => Ania's, $9
KARRIN ALLYSON => Top O' the Senator, $18 (May 27-29)
BILL McBIRNIE w/ MARK EISENMAN TRIO (STEVE WALLACE, JOHN SUMNER) => Montreal Bistro (May 26-28)
GIPSY KINGS => Molson Amphitheatre, $39.50-$59.50
South Asian Heritage Festival w/ HANGAMA => Dundas Square
KEANE, BRENDAN BENSON => Massey Hall, $29.50-$39.50
SOPHIE MILMAN => Glenn Gould Studio, $32.25
KIKI MISUMI QUARTET => Rex
PASO MINO, BEN GUNNING => Rivoli, $7
HUNTER EVES, JASON CHESWORTH, JORDAN VENN & THE SLIZNEYS, LEN'S HAULAGE => Cameron House, 9 pm, $6
WAKE, CUE HTE CROWD, CELLAR DOOR, SIMPL => The Boat, 158 Augusta, $10

SUN., MAY 29
** EIGHT-HOUR DRONE event organized by Steve Kado and Alex Snukal, benefit for BLOCKS Recording Club, w/ drone performances by JONATHAN ADJEMIAN, AIDAN BAKER, COLIN BERGH, MICHELLE BRESLIN, GREG COLLINS, NICO DANN, HANS FINKELDEY, BREDAN FLANAGAN, MISHA GLOUBERMAN, PAIGE GRATLAND, SCOTT HARRISON, KEVIN HEGGE, JACOB HORWOOD, STEVEN KADO, ELISHA LIM, MARCO LANDINI, SCOTT M2, RYAN MAGUIRE, PAUL MORTIMER, LIZ PETERSON, MATIAS ROZENBERG, EUGENE SLOMIMEROV, MIKE SPEARS, MATT SMITH, MIKE STAFFORD, JAKOB THIESEN, BOB WISEMAN,ALEX WOLFSON => Mercer Union, 12-8 pm, $8 full day, $3 hourly passes, chef on site making "obelisk-shaped" vegan food
** GANG GANG DANCE => Lee's Palace, $10
** Deep Wireless Weekend radio-sound art fest w/ERIC LEONARDSON, CHRIS BROOKES, ANNA FRIZ, EVALYN PARRY, YVES DAOUST, MILENA DROUMEVA, GEOFF SISKIND, DRAGAN TODOROVIC, GREGORY WHITEHEAD, CHANTAL DUMAS & CHRISTIAN CALON, EMMANUEL MADAN, more => Drake Hotel, see http://deepwireless.ca (May 27-29)
* Wavelength 265 w/ PRESSE, ACTION MAKES, THE ROBOT ATE ME, Selector GREG COLLINS => Sneaky Dee's, pwyc
* THE COUNTRYPOLITANS => Cameron House, 6-8 pm, pwyc (most Sundays)
* DISTILLERY JAZZ FESTIVAL => Various artists, venues. See http://www.distilleryjazz.com, (May 20-29)
* FISHBONE, MISHKA, SLIGHTLY STOOPID => Opera House, $20.50
Trade: Queer Things zine presents EROTIC NIGHTS => Gladstone, 7 pm, $10
ARRAYMUSIC: FUTURE LAB => Music Gallery
KAISER CHIEFS, OK GO => Mod Club, $17
KARRIN ALLYSON => Top O' the Senator, $18 (May 27-29)
AGNOSTIC FRONT => Fun Haus, $16.50
SUPERNOVA'S MUSICK SUMMER SERIES w/Breaking Benjamin, Silvertide, The Exies => Docks, $20
ON SWITCH => El Mocambo
Flying Cloud Folk Club presents SEAN TYRELL => Tranzac, 7:30 pm

MON., MAY 30
ELIZABETH SHEPHERD TRIO => Montreal Bistro, 9 pm, $10
MATTHEW BARBER => Hugh's Room
ISUMAH, MODELAND ROAD, LIPSTICK MACHINE => Silver Dollar
A NEFARIOUS INFLUENCE => Horseshoe
LIFEHOUSE, ROCCO DELUCA => Guvernment, $24.50

TUES., MAY 31
* THE KILLERS, TEGAN AND SARA, LOUIS XIV => Molson Amphitheatre, $20-$48.75
* ORPHANS FAN THE FLAMES ("polyvocal multimedia performance by Margaret
Christakos with music by Steph Copeland and Eric Arner, Rachel Zolf (sax) Lindsay McNiff, Jessica Raffoul, Jenny Sampirisi (voice), video by Margaret Christakos, Jessica Sarrazin and a live runner"), PORTIA live music set, plus readings, films => Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 7 pm, $5
PHIL NIMMONS QUARTET => Montreal Bistro (May 31-June 4)
Rex Jazz Jam w/ BRANDI DISTERHEFT, SLY JUHAS, LAILA BIALI => Rex (every Tues in May)
Bluebird North w/ BOB WISEMAN, DON MacLEAN, DAVID LEASK, ERIKA WERRY, ANDREA WASSE, TYLER KYTE, CHRISTOPHER WARD => Rivoli, 8 pm, $10-$12
EXPERIMENTAL OPEN JAM (all gear provided) => The Bagel, 285 College St., 9 pm, free (every Tues.)
BLUESCREEN => Horseshoe
ON SWITCH => 360
LITTLE JIMMY'S CHICKEN PICKERS => Tranzac, 10 pm

Read More | Live Notes | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, May 04 at 02:10 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

What Do You Think the Words 'Foot Fetish' Do for Ye Olde Hit Count?

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Because Zoilus has been locked in a hall of mirrors thinking recombinantly about the "The Sunset Tree problem" problem, and gradually coming to the conclusion that said problem was no problem and primarily in my speaking-too-soon noggin, we yam been mum. (Gentlemen, when all the women disagree, it is officially time to scour the brainpan.) Meanwhile you go look at some rock star feet. (Merci, Mimi Smartypants.)

By the way the exercise of writing simultaneously about John Darnielle and songs that are/are not "true" is making Spandau Ballet run through my head non-stop. Darnielle's classic Spandau piece is no longer up at Last Plane to Jakarta but you can - all the better, all the more mindfuckingly - listen to him perform that piece with the link at the bottom of this page here. (The good-but-not-as-good sequel is here.)

If I were the Wizard of Web, I would now show you Spandau Ballet's feet. Nyet: The picture above is the best I could do.

News | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, May 04 at 12:25 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)

 

May 02, 2005

Monday Morning (er, Mid-Afternoon) Coming Down

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Gig alert: In my colleague Mark Miller's well-balanced review of Quinsin Nachoff's gig in this morning's Globe, he notes that Ernst Reijseger, the Dutch cellist who played with Nachoff on Sat. night, has a solo gig tonight, presented by Rough Idea at New Works Studio, 319 Spadina Ave. (upstairs). Doors are at 7:30 pm. (Rough Idea, aka Sir Ron Gaskin, also presents the VTO5 festival May 15-21.)

WaPo on Patsy Cline's slutty youth. (I'm using "slutty" as a term of approbation here, btw. As in, if Kathleen Hanna can collaborate with Paris Hilton...)

Bright Eyes on Leno tonight, reportedly singing When the President Talks to God. Think they'll let him sing the final words, "bullshit" and all? Let's spend some time together....

Spent some quality time with The Mountain Goats' The Sunset Tree on train rides this weekend. It has incredible moments (This Year, Song for Dennis Brown, the wrenching Pale Green Things... a helluva lot of them in fact) but I am still struggling with the explicitness of the subject matter - childhood abuse, specifically during adolescence, a story John Darnielle's made clear is autobiographical. The facticity of it isn't so crucial, but what made We Shall All Be Healed one of the best TMG discs ever for me was that it was very powerful on its given subject (late-adolescent drug abuse; in a sense this album feels like the prequel to WSABH; effects tracing back to causes) but at the same time it was freely tangential and ambiguous in its imagery and narrative stages; it struck with a direct confidence but still with the feeling of the best earlier TMGs songs of being hit hard in the head by a stone but never knowing what angle or direction it was coming from. On Sunset Tree, I generally know where the stone is coming from and its velocity - and perhaps too often I hear it coming in advance. I wonder if Darnielle wanted to render with a greater transparency in order to make it more confrontational, and more cathartic, and perhaps more a point of identification for those who are or have been in abusive situations? (He dedicates the record both to his late stepfather - a very moving gesture in itself - but also to "any young men and women anywhere who live with people who abuse them, with the following good news: you are going to make it out of there alive; you will live to tell your story; never lose hope.") If that is the intention, point taken, but is it doing social work at the expense of artfulness? These are just listening notes: There are layers of complexity, too, and I haven't resolved the question yet for myself; many people, including Kelefa Sanneh, have argued it's his best record. One thing's sure, it has the best arrangements since Darnielle started doing anything you could call "arrangements," with Erik Friedlander's cello unsurprisingly topping the list, but also with enormously well-honed choices on keyboard from Franklin Bruno. The Mountain Goats, of course, is/are in Toronto on May 11. (See the nearly finished gig guide.)

Speaking of strings: A fine fine interview with Owen (Final Fantasy) Pallett with Owen's trademark concatenation of loose-cannon and sharp-shooter insights on subjects such as Montreal vs. Toronto, the ineluctable feminine x of Joanna Newsom, and making "like, a not-fake, but an entirely genuine attempt at a Damien Rice-style record."

Stereogum has a new New Pornographers' track, Twin Cinema. I had a great cinematic weekend myself. I saw The Ballad of Jack & Rose and Kung Fu Hustle, which make a weird but worthwhile double-bill. The leads in J&R; are very fine, but the standout was Canada's own Ryan McDonald as the gently hulking would-be stepbrother and aspiring hairdresser. His farewell scene with Camilla Belle's Rose hits the perfect pitch of that impossible wild teenage emotional generosity, telling her, in case he never sees her again, that she is "stupendous" - assuring her that he sees her, despite the fact that she's been little else but batshit crazy the whole time. Jena Malone plays fine counterpoint to him as a bleached blond googly-eyed teen runaway. KFH, on the other hand, is just batshit itself, romping over your eyeballs and into your brainstem up on stilts, its ass hanging out and on fire. As well, lying on the rug in Mrs. Zoilus's apartment, I saw Alain Tanner's superbly charming (albeit seventies-politics-muddled) For Jonah, Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000, which I've wanted to see for years and years, and also was (accidentally) a nice foil to Jack & Rose's double-jointed idealization/condemnation/(or what?) of 1970s communal/back-to-the-lander narratives, a really compelling mess to contemplate (see also Lukas Moodysson's Together and even Von Trier's The Idiots). This year Jonah would be 30!

Also saw Sir Richard Bishop of the Sun City Girls playing at the Casa - mostly a recital of guitar pieces from various traditions, including several Django Reinhart pieces, plus improvisations. I am a hard case on such concerts (I bore too easily) and Bishop wasn't quite glittering enough a guitarist to absorb me intp the exercise. It intensified occasionally to give the brain a little Faheyesque trance-liftoff, but too seldom for my ears; I enjoyed his one sung number, a ribald-absurdist talkin' blues, the most. Still, he did semi-quasi-promise a Sun City Girls appearance at the 2006 edition of the Suoni per il Popolo festival, which news was reason enough to have stuck around.

Jody Rosen's "Much Ado About Annie," or, "When Bad Rockisms Happen to Good Pop Singers." Excellent sotto voce expose from Jody, who manages in this piece to be hella sarcastic without ever once being mean.

News | Posted by zoilus on Monday, May 02 at 12:42 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (9)

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson