by carl wilson

August 29, 2005

O Kinsella, Where Is Thy Sting?

I have no desire to get into a nerd-war, but a couple of simple and amusing points about Kinsella's attack. (Again, see his Aug. 27 entry.) J. Kelly Nestruck actually did a nice job of dealing with WK's dismissal of the article. (Thank you.) Which leaves it up to me to parry the personalized part. [... keep reading ...]

He makes like he's never heard of me before, and it's probably sincere. He's probably forgotten that he actually asked me for help with his book, in this email:

-----Original Message-----
From: Warren Kinsella [mailto:warrenkinsella@XXXXXXXXXX]
Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2003 10:34 PM
To: cwilson@globeandmail.ca
Subject: Hey there

Just read your bit in today's Globe. It depressed me because it said so (apparently) effortlessly what the rest of us can't just pen in a day. Or two or three.

For me, this is a problem, 'cause I'm writing a book about punk for Random House. Would therefore like to take you to lunch to pick yer brain. What say you?

W

The lunch never happened. I said okay, he said he'd follow up (in an 8/8/2003 email that reiterated "I really enjoy your stuff"), no doubt he got busy and lost track, and neither of us thought much of it. But it's a funny-sad case study in human nature that the same critical style that one admires at a distance can so easily become the mark of a "poseur ... prissy arsewipe ... Moron-With-A-Thesaurus" and "nancy boy" when it's directed at oneself. I sympathize, but it's unfortunate.

Aside from the fag-bashing tone (very punk, I'm afraid), none of this bugs me much, because it's such familiar schoolyard anti-intellectual stuff. But I'm disappointed, because I thought Kinsella would be more prepared to engage in a serious discussion of punk's political culture. His book's not brilliant, but it's a hell of a lot smarter than his reaction to criticism.

I don't believe Kinsella's without principles - his work against the far right has been admirable (cf. his previous book Web of Hate). I imagine he saw his Liberal work as an extension of that campaign against the right, and thus of his punk past. But Kinsella doesn't want to talk about that. He just wants to claim I'm "jealous."

His source on my jealousy, his "buddy," is, if my guess is right, kind of a richly ironic one - a former fellow Globe editor who has a grudge against me because we're around the same age and I've done okay in the job while he ended up leaving after an ugly conflict with some of our managers. I actually think his buddy was wronged in some ways, but I'm sure he wouldn't believe that. Oh, and the guy also did some music writing. So if jealousy is the issue... well, I'll leave it there.

Finally - am I a token counterculturalist at the Globe? Sure. You can find me on the same page of your Globe lexicon as "Salutin, Rick," our token Marxist. (And a very talented writer.) But I don't think either of us is wrong to play that role. I don't think my column subverts capitalist hegemony or anything, but if I can use a mainstream platform to get some attention for creative work and ideas that might otherwise go unheard - perhaps to expand the dialogue a bit, and have some fun doing it - that's fine. I'm not the one claiming to be punk. So the Globe and I are in a relationship of mutual exploitation, with me as the reluctant cool-hunter, I guess, and the Globe as reluctant sugar daddy. It will do for now, though maybe not for always.

(In case you doubt the "reluctant" part of the Globe's sugar daddydom, it seems worthwhile occasionally, like now, to mention that my job is as an editor in another section of the paper, and the column is something I do as unpaid extra work. Maybe it's attracting all kinds of "edgy" ad revenue, but I sure haven't heard anything to suggest that. Every week that passes without it being unceremoniously axed feels like a bonus to me.)

Read More | In Depth | Posted by zoilus on Monday, August 29 at 03:07 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (23)

 

The Big Punk Rock Lie (and/or Warren Kinsella)

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Warren Kinsella: running scared, on empty.

It figures: I go out of town one weekend, and Zoilus readers carry on the liveliest debate on the site all summer in my absence. I hope to come back to the pop music vs. pop lit conversation soon, but first, there's the matter of Saturday's column.

It deals with something I've wanted to write about for a long while - as somebody whose views owe so much to the post-punk culture scene, I wanted to grant some equal time to the bullshit of punk, the reasons why its influence is as bothersome as it is beneficial. I had a golden opportunity handed to me with the recent publication of Warren Kinsella's Fury's Hour, a book on punk by a former special political adviser to Jean Chretien. While there's a lot of pretty rhetoric in Kinsella's book (including some quite good stuff) he dodges all the contradictions at his own convenience. Just like punk always has. More to say about what's been lost that way, and also about Kinsella's hilariously hysterical (and disappointingly substanceless and homophobic and anti-intellectual) response (check the Aug. 27 entry), but first, the column itself.

The short neocon trip between punk and Karl Rove

OVERTONES
By CARL WILSON
The Globe & Mail
Saturday, Aug. 27, 2005

The most intriguing aspect of Warren Kinsella's new book, Fury's Hour: A (Sort-Of) Punk Manifesto, barely makes an appearance between its covers. Which is both rather punk and very self-serving, if that's not the same thing.

It's a lively goulash of potted music history, analysis, semi-memoir and motivational speech. But the people who buy this book don't really need his mini-bio of the Ramones. They want an account of how this prominent late-1970s Calgary punk, a member of The Hot Nasties and proprietor of Blemish Records, ended up a notorious strategist in the Liberal regime of Jean Chrétien. Does he credit punk for the "attack dog" tactics that made him the Karl Rove of the Canadian middle of the road? [...]

Kinsella isn't dim enough to imagine he can dodge the issue completely. Instead, he flips us off: "Yes, I have become that which I once sought to destroy. . . . Piss off, as a punk might say, if you don't approve."

(All very bold, except that Kinsella later rips ex-Sex Pistol John Lydon a new one for having "become the embodiment of all that punk sought to change or, failing that, hoped to destroy." And all because Lydon wouldn't give him an interview.)

Kinsella needn't be so conflicted. He's now a member of another group that also could be called the Hot Nasties -- the North American power elite.

When Kinsella quotes Lydon barking, "If you get in my way, you're going to have a serious bad time," Canadian readers might recall the author's ex-boss's near-identical statement after manhandling a protester. (The throttling itself was more punk than the rationalization.) Even after leaving office, the Chrétien punks continued to show their middle fingers to the public at the Gomery inquiry.

If that seems a stretch, it's because most people, including Kinsella, tend to think of punk as a progressive youth movement. But really, punk is an ink blot -- you see in it what you want. From drunk racist frat boys to anarcho-feminist straight-edge vegan art geeks, all sorts of characters have claimed the mohawk and leather jacket (or vinyl jacket for the vegans) for their own.

Kinsella's shock over this, as in a well-reported chapter about Canadian punks' entanglements in both neo-Nazism and radical leftist bombings, seems risible coming from someone who's just spent 100 pages extolling punk's basis in generalized adolescent rage.

His own high-school crowd took up the cause after reading about the Pistols' supposed antics -- "throwing up on old ladies in airport waiting rooms . . . sounded pretty good to us." Hmm, how could that life-affirming impulse possibly go awry?

Kinsella misunderstands two things. The first is art. Specifically, punk as a late-late modernist art movement. When he responds to the Sex Pistols slogan "no future" by tut-tutting that there really is a future and punks should try to make it brighter (and vote Liberal?), he displays his tin ear for punk's Dadaist paradoxes.

He sneers at artist Andy Warhol's "hippie" (huh?) influence on the New York scene and on the Pistols' despised manager, Malcolm McLaren. Kinsella reviles the Warholian cynical hyper-boredom of early punk, but that attitude was what made it more than just sloppy heavy metal or folk singing on overdrive - its grand negation, flattening every sign and symbol into an interchangeable flux of disdain.

Deep down, the core of punk is the howl of the Freudian death drive, the gestural suicide of an exhausted youth culture - a thrilling annihilation that's repeated till its very emptiness is emptied. This inherent death wish is why the question "is punk dead?" is perpetual and unanswerable. As songwriter David Berman of the Silver Jews encapsulated it: "Punk rock died when the first punk said/ 'Punk's not dead, punk's not dead.' "

Of course, after that initial liberating shock, converts have to figure out what to do with life-after-punk-death. And that's where the contradictions come in.

Kinsella realizes punk was a purgative convulsion against the perceived decadence of the 1970s, but overlooks how closely that origin binds it to the neoconservative backlash that brought putative punk (and Liberal) foes Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney to power. It's Kinsella's second big blind spot.

He enthuses over punk's do-it-yourself (DIY) ethic, for instance. But call it an entrepreneurial work ethic and you've got a neo-con sacred cow. (Vancouver punk Joey Shithead points this out, but Kinsella shrugs it off.) Punk also partook of Cold War apocalyptic fantasies parallel to those that would soon drive the mass revival of Christian fundamentalism -- "no future" meets the Rapture down on Death Drive.

Neo-cons hated the sixties, and punks hated hippies. In many ways punk anticipated the knee-jerk, know-nothing disdain for collective input and consequence that would become standard-issue conservative politics and culture - extreme individualism and atomized democracy.

How great a leap is it from barfing on old ladies to cutting their pension cheques?

Rush Limbaugh is punk, the Oxycontin-snorting, neo-con version of Henry Rollins. The blithely rude Paris Hilton is punk, kid sister to Courtney Love; much punk music now echoes her entitled, self-involved whine.

Punk-in-chief George W. Bush metaphorically gobs on the dead soldier's mother as he blasts past her in his motorcade. And Chrétien figuratively pelts Mr. Justice John Gomery with golf balls in a Kinsella-conceived bit of punk theatre.

Ashton Kutcher, MTV's idiot king of random cruelty, the pope of "can't you take a joke?", gives it its proper name: Our culture has been royally punked.

I'm not denying punk's salutary effects on many lives, including my own. But it's been too loyal an opposition, too close to emerging dominant values, for its own good.

The DIY model remains useful, but it just restates what countercultures always have done. And today, with far broader information within easier reach, white outsider youth culture is finally superseding punk.

By these fresher standards, Kinsella's "manifesto" is merely the nostalgia trip of a punk dinosaur and, oh yeah, total sellout.

Read More | In Depth | Posted by zoilus on Monday, August 29 at 02:29 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

August 26, 2005

Don't Lose That Feeling

Two from me in today's Globe: A review of the excellent Jon-Rae and the River album Old Songs for the New Town in time for this weekend's launch, and a smattering of "Essential Tracks" (Amy Rigby, North American Hallowe'en Prevention, The Tenement Halls, Bjork w/Will Oldham).

POP
Review
By CARL WILSON
The Globe and Mail
Friday, August 26, 2005 Page R28

Old Songs for the New Town
Jon-Rae and the River
Permafrost

★★★

If you've never seen a country-gospel concert where a mosh pit breaks out, you haven't seen a Jon-Rae show. Jon-Rae Fletcher arrived in Toronto last year a stranger from Vancouver, but fast became the city's drunken-sing-along master. Yet the River is no pub party band: Fletcher pens the sort of dark ballads of love, faith and death you might expect from a preacher's son, but belts them out with breakneck desperation and a seven-piece-plus band and choir, like the Pogues gone Appalachian. The production is slapdash, but the tunes (Prayer to God, Come Back to Me, Goodbye, his cover of Joy Division's Disorder) run deep.
--
Album launch Saturday night at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto with Great Lake Swimmers, Lullabye Arkestra and Akron/Family.

Read More | On Record | Posted by zoilus on Friday, August 26 at 03:09 AM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

August 25, 2005

Flowers of Romance?

John S. at Utopian Turtletop poses a good question: "Pop music critics posit that pop music is as worthy of study as classical or jazz or any other music. Some pin that worthiness on sociological grounds, some on aesthetic. Some say that pop is more worthy of study than music of the past, on grounds of contemporaneity and anti-elitism ... My question is, do the pop partisans (and I'm one) believe the same of literature?"

He specifically asks "why not romance novels?" That's a bit restrictive - it's kind of like saying, "why not novelty songs," which get some critical attention but not much, and more on the sociological end, just like romance writing (a massive subject in feminist criticism, by the way).

Pop lit. gets more respect than you may think - crime and science fiction have cred, and Stephen King gets namechecked by everybody as a good writer now. But John's right that drugstore tomes, the thrillers and family epics and Jackie Collinses, generally go begging when it comes to critical respect. I have a handful of ideas. [ ... yes, yes, go on?...]

1. Listening to a pop song takes three minutes, while an 800-page bestseller takes at least a day - so people disinclined to like them don't give them a chance.

2. Pop albums have obvious visceral qualities that "art" music doesn't, while it's not so obvious to me that John Grisham is that much more exciting story and suspense wise than a lot of more literary writers.

3. Critics are writers, so we’re bigger prigs about literary qualities. We tend to think the question of whether music is good or bad is more subjective than whether a piece of writing is good or bad. If we were musicians, would we think differently? Perhaps. Or perhaps music has a different kind of range.

4. What’s more, quite possibly the artistic standards in technical terms in pop music are more stringent than they are in pop literature. I can’t prove this, at the moment, but I certainly think that if you ask a musician about a pop hit, they’re more likely to say it’s well crafted than a writer will about a bestselling potboiler.

5. Music is better positioned to ravish you against your will. As I always say, you can close your eyes but you can't close your ears. You can accidentally hear Justin Timberlake in your car - you don’t accidentally read The Da Vinci Code.

6. And finally: Literature is a more marginal art in the culture market. Which makes it all the more intensely partisan - when the spoils are scarce, everyone becomes less willing to concede anything to the other party. ("Fine! You've got the money, but you can't have the kudos!") I don’t see any equivalent to the indie artist who is happy not to be in the top echelons of the music biz, so she can pursue her artistic goals with a sustainable mid-sized audience and dodge the potential toll pop stardom can exact. Every author would be happy to have a bestseller - because the benefits are big and the risks minimal.

Not trying to justify the non-love, just sourcing it some. I find the idea of a culture where the hottest critics wrote essays on the latest romance or thriller a, well, romantic thrill, thanks to the pace some pop critics have set. (Hasn't John Leonard done this, once in a while?) But for reasons 1-6, I'm not waiting up.

Read More | The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, August 25 at 11:33 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (9)

 

Thursday Reading (Slight Return)

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Sun Ra Band, as painted by Nancy Ostrovsky.

I'm surprised that neither of the Toronto alt-weeklies' concert announcements today caught wind of the Sun Ra Arkestra (Oct 18-21) and John Cale (Nov 13-15) runs at the Lula Lounge, lipsmacking chances to feast on historic-scale music in a close-quarters context. (Tho' note, dear readers, that Sun Ra himself no longer resides on this planet.) Today also brought the first fall-programming news from the Music Gallery; Zoilusians will probably be most interested in the season's first show in the Pop Avant series, Thurs. Sept. 22, featuring Larval, "an avant/progressive rock ensemble led by composer/guitarist Bill Brovold, a one-time collaborator of Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca." I'm not hep to Brovold, but John Zorn calls 'em "the shit." So there. Ever-lovin' percusso-droney-noisematic Torontopians Awesome open up.

Gravity's Rainbow as a contemporary opera for solo banjo, probably not composed by Laurie Anderson? Make it happen - or else face one mother of a paternity suit, Mr. Pynchon!

Now coverboy this week? Chuck Klosterman. Zoilus has said his piece on Chuck, and to each her own, but hoo-boy, "America's smartest pop journalist"? There are a dozen smarter on the Zoilus links page, and those are just the ones with blogs.

For instance there's Dave Morris, who makes some interesting points in today's eye (the one with his Kardinal Offishal cover, which I haven't had a chance to read yet) about hip-hop bloggers (second item, after the Ricky Gervais fun): Namely, that they are starting to look like a force in the actual hip-hop music industry, in a way that other musicbloggers, for the most part, have yet to be. It's noticeable partly because (for obvious socioeconomic reasons) the hip-hop blogs are relative newcomers to the scene; but it only makes sense, given the genre's dominance in North American pop now, that they'd eventually become the heavy-duty batteries of musicblogging, whose Everready Rabbit ears have been getting floppy for a year or so. (So say some of the veterans, those who haven't already quit - sometimes making me feel like I showed up to a party at 3 a.m. after the smart old guys had already left, the diehards were slumped on the sofas and there was only Thunderbird left to drink.) The hip-hop blogs' success could bring more professionalization in the music blog community the way it's already happened in the political-blog and pictures-of-Lindsay-Lohan-nipple-slips-blog communities - no doubt followed by a creative backlash and reconstituted in-group, resentment and resistance to that, etc. etc. Should be stimulating to watch/listen/read and, I hope, participate in.

Very very sad to hear of the passing of Ninjalicious (whose real first name was Jeff) at only 32. He was the guiding headlamp of Infiltration, the internationally influential Toronto zine/site about "going places you're not supposed to go." An abandoned subway tunnel should be named in his honour. Here's hoping his urban-pioneer spirit lives on forever. Your mourning can begin here and continue through the next locked door, physical or metaphysical, along your own pathway.

Also, RIP Luc Ferrari. Ferrari and Moog, a few days apart; what a gloomy week for musical machines.

Finally, I've heard second-hand about a potentially excellent Toronto gig for a female violinist who can act, or an actress who can fiddle. (She should also be able to pass for Lebanese, but if you think about it, that is a pretty big tent.) If this is you or someone you know, email me and I'll pass along the contact info.

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, August 25 at 06:58 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

August 23, 2005

'Mark Mothersbaugh's Body
Lies A-Moulderin' in the Grave'

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With the mostly welcome news of a potential Devo reunion - they were a band whose overarching "thing" extended beyond punk ephemerality, and Mark Mothersbaugh continues to do the occasional bit of good work, so I think they can do it without humilitating themelves (that is, better than they did in the final years before their breakup) - I give you this terrific Cat and Girl comic on teaching devolution in the schools. (In a similar spirit: Flying Spaghetti Monsterism and "Intelligent Falling.")

And yes, I am geek enough that this looked like fun.

News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, August 23 at 03:51 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)

 

August 22, 2005

I Hate to Say It, but... D'ohh!

So much to talk about. First things first: If you've posted a comment in the past week or so, you might notice it's vanished. Somebody in the Zoilusian Central Nervous System had a Homer Simpsonesque moment and pushed the big red button. He sends his apologies from the pit of hounds! (No, seriously, he does; his name is Bill and he is my web-design guru guy.) We're working to reconstruct them. This was a casualty of Bill's tireless work to delete comment spam on Zoilus; with the new redesign in (mid?) September, we'll have a better security system in place! We really value your comments and contributions.

Please note in the live guide that Wed.'s Percy Sledge gig in Toronto has, damn damn damn, been cancelled. Let's hope it gets re-skedded. True love travels on a gravel road.

Amazing find over on Said the Gramophone (where, by the way, Zoilus will be guestposting next week): Possibly the best charidee single of ever, though that's not saying much of anything: Do They Know It's Hallowe'en, orchestrated by Nicholas Diamonds (ex-Unicorns, now Islands), and featuring corny indie fuxx such as members of the Arcade Fire, Beck, Sonic Youth, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sloan, Peaches, Feist, Devendra Banhart, Wolf Parade, Postal Service, Buck 65, Sparks, Elvira, Gino Washington, Roky Erickson, Tagaq and even David Cross.

Speaking of David Cross, he also appears in the new New Pornographers video for Use It, directed by the NPs' own Blaine Thurier, which I caught previewed on MuchMusic last night. It's at least as good, in the same rough-hewn way, as the All For Swinging You Around clip and the FUBAR-based Your Daddy Don't Know video (a 1982 hit by the band Toronto, by the way). ... Cross is one of several figures who use the NPs as human marionettes throughout the clip, each of them unable to move of their own volition. This motif of menacing black-clad figures physically manipulating band members into performing is something this clip shares with the Mountain Goats' video, which suggests not-so-subtle themes of corny-indie-fuxx ambivalence about being "put into the position" of having to do a video, alienation from inner self as a performer, etc. Thoughts on this theme may be submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a PhD. from Zoilus U. Also note Carl Newman is wearing a Chris Ware WFMU t-shirt.

In the news: Bob Moog dies, of a brain tumour at 71; Steve Earle has married for the sixth or seventh! time (counting is complicated by the fact that he married one ex-wife twice), to the fine singer, songwriter and foxxx Allison Moorer; Mos Def has reportedly also married, and in Toronto!; Kanye West also kickin' up T-dot dust (and his album doesn't suck) (both those last via Del); there will be a Spike (of Buffy fame) TV movie but, sadly, tragically, criminally, no Ripper series; and a breakthrough deal on downloading that might finally bring some sanity to this whole overblown mess... which, frankly, sounds too good to be true. It's no accident this has happened in the U.K., not the U.S., where shit counts.

News | Posted by zoilus on Monday, August 22 at 06:18 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

August 20, 2005

Remember When?

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1. Remember when I was complaining about the term "outsider music"? Further evidence in this week's SF Weekly: "For the uninitiated, outsider music is created by unknown, isolated individuals - often emotionally volatile and/or stridently weird - who exist totally outside of all culture, mainstream and underground."

Take a memo: There is no such thing as "individuals... who exist totally outside of all culture." (With the possible exception of feral children. Even extreme schizophrenics exist within a culture, which is often the source material for their delusions - a family culture at least, if they are sufficiently odd to be cut off from a popular culture.) (For instance: Where did they find out about music?) This is exactly the breed of nonsense that makes me think the term should be trashed and replaced with absolutely nothing except precise case-by-case descriptions such as "music by eccentric amateurs," or "music by the mentally ill." In that first category, by the way, the Shaggs musical is opening next month. I don't know whether to cheer or cringe. No clear news on the long-rumoured Shaggs movie, written and directed by Katherine Dieckmann, based on the Susan Orlean New Yorker article linked above.


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2. Remember when we mourned the death of Kevin Coyne? Last night in Chicago, I find out a little late, Jon Langford (of the Mekons, Waco Bros. and sometimes [Toronto content] the Sadies) hosted a show honouring Coyne that was also the launch of their collaborative album One Day in Chicago. Jon-boy also has plans for more Coyne tributes to come. (Songwriter duo discs seem to be Langford's new hobby, given his recent collaboration with Richard Buckner. Who will be next? I nominate Dizzee Rascal!)


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3. Remember when Jon Caramanica wrote a great piece in the Sunday Times about the sparkly-promising undiscovered-Jewish-archival-music label Reboot Stereophonic? Well, no, you wouldn't, because it doesn't happen till tomorrow morning. But look for it. The label is the project of a bunch of savvy Ashkenazi tuneheadz including critic-academic-blogger Josh Kun and writer Jody Rosen, and what they have coming will make you plotz (I want to the be the first of a thousand writers to make that joke), including the current Bagels and Bongos collection of 1950s Jewish mambo, the upcoming God is a Moog (the Shabbat service as a moog rock opera, circa 1968), a brand new version of Fiddler on the Roof done as Latino music, and other projects on African-American/Jewish crossover music (in more specific form than just "all American pop music post-1929") and the ultimate "Jewface" collection. (I'll let you just wonder what that is.)


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4. Remember when we loved the Mountain Goats? Here's one more reason, the first ever (!?) tMGs music video, for This Year. Simple but killer.


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5. Remember when I missed the Murdered City Music Festival all this week at the fantabulous Ford Plant in my hometown of Brantford? Fill the gap in my life and tell me all about it! If you are in the area and can still make it there, the festival continues till Sunday night. Sunday programming includes a "secret location" (but find out by going to the club) 1 pm show with Jon Rae Fletcher and Neil Haverty, and then in the evening, Silent Film Soundtrack, Magneta Lange, From Fiction, Controller Controller and Wolf Parade, all starting at 7:30 pm.


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6. And remember this afternoon, when we went to the Three Gut Records Anniversary and Farewell show this afternoon at the Tranzac? It was a tearjerkin' but festive occasion with short acoustic sets by various Three Gut alumni (I think Bry Webb of the Constantines' set was my favourite, but I was impressed with the two members of Oneida offshoot Oakley Hall as well, including their acoustic two-part harmony'd Constantines cover!, and of course all the usual suspects), plus full sets by Jim Guthrie and Gentleman Reg, and probably an all-star-jam rouser at the end but I couldn't stay quite that long. And cake! I am also missing the climactic Cons/Oneida blowout tonight, but I'm sure it is at this very moment overstimulating many people's pineal glands.

News | Posted by zoilus on Saturday, August 20 at 08:33 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

August 19, 2005

The Only Pornographers are
the Pornographers of Ice Cream

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First a note that The Wire, the smart CBC radio show on "the effect of electricity on music" that I've pimped to you in the past is, just in time for the CBC labour lockout, being featured on the Third Coast International Audio Festival's cool-radio site. You can listen to excerpts and read a terrific "behind the scenes" interview with host Jowi Taylor.

Our main bizness this morning, though, is my review of the new New Pornographers album, Twin Cinema, today in The Globe and Mail. I've revised my initial impression of the disc, as I suspected I would. At first I thought it sounded rushed - now I think much of it works well, but it still suffers from a muchness, from too many mixed intentions, with the parts out of balance. This has always been an inherent problem with the band but three albums in, you wish it would be resolved, and I'm not sure the way to do it is for the band to get artier - I've got Destroyer albums for that, but Carl Newman's strengths are pop strengths - clever, left-field pop, but pop nonetheless. I'm led back to The Trouble With Indie Rock (insofar as there is an indie rock). It's a subcultural tendency in which pop bands are led (by whatever cultural habitus and category errors you care to name) to consider themselves in a sense above the form, and therefore miss their opportunity to explore and exploit said form fully. (Not that I think this problem is simple.) In the case of the NPs, that's complicated by the disparateness of the band members and particularly Neko Case's limited availability. And still, with all those caveats, I think the album has a great deal to offer (especially, to reiterate a particular peeve of mine, when the arrangements afford the vocals enough space for legibility).

Whether that justifies my extended ice-cream analogy is up for debate. [...]

CD of the Week
Sweet, savoury, fusion confusion

The New Pornographers:
Twin Cinema

(Mint Records)
★ ★ ★

By CARL WILSON
The Globe & Mail
Friday, August 19, 2005

This third album by Vancouver band the New Pornographers may get mixed reactions from fans. Say, for instance, that your favourite ice-cream man started infusing his chocolate mint with curry, or layering his heavenly hash with foie gras. Fine, he wants to stretch his gastronomic skills. But prickly fusion cuisine isn't what brought you across town on a hot night to line up at his stall at the fair.

For the past five years, the New Pornographers have been making, as reviewers like to say, "pop music for people who don't like pop music," sourced mainly in the post-psychedelic glam and bubble gum of the early 1970s and in 1980s New Wave. Of course, New Pornographers fans do like pop music; many merely refuse, for elusive sociological reasons, to admit it. But offer cayenne pepper instead of hot fudge sauce, and they might not bite.

The band features three lead singers (Carl Newman, Dan Bejar and Neko Case), guitars, drums, keyboards and expansive studio ingenuity. On 2001's Mass Romantic and 2003's Electric Version, the approach was to create hyper-pop, songs that sounded like three hit singles happening at once, with almost too many words, too many melodic hooks, too many hot riffs jammed together. They strained the form, testing just how catchy a tune could get before it collapsed, and then doing it again. Most songs exploded from the first note all the way to the final chorus.

Twin Cinema takes the proposition of making non-pop under more serious consideration. Not that it's scant on hooks, choruses and sing-alongs, but they're stirred into a thicker churn. There's a dark complication in even the brightest bonbons here. The album feels more mature, and perhaps more geopolitically aware; several songs teem with threat and conspiracy.

Tunes here tend to build gradually rather than burst into action. A few are subdued all the way through, including two ballads showcasing Case's swooping, sympathetic voice - one the rousing These Are the Fables, and the other The Bones of an Idol, which plods.

With few exceptions, the band discovers new trap doors and stairs within its style without forgetting the route back to surging riffs and bell-ringing harmonies. Newman's Sing Me Spanish Techno and The Bleeding Heart Show and Bejar's Streets of Fire and Jackie Dressed in Cobras are among the Pornographers' best. Edit out the two or three stiffs and you've got a consistently addictive set.

But there are nagging issues. Only one of the three principals, Carl Newman, is fully committed. Neko Case has her alt-country solo career; Bejar's main project, Destroyer, is now signed to thriving Merge Records.

As vocal pinch-hitters, Newman has recruited his niece, Kathryn Calder (of Vancouver's the Immaculate Machines), as well as Nora O'Connor of Chicago group the Blacks. While the variety is diverting, it's no substitute for Case's solar-plexus punch. Meanwhile, Bejar's songs are too few here to lend the disc all the balance they could, yet his writing does show up Newman's flaws - namely, the sense of a centre frequently missing from his songs. (They all perform together on a joint New Pornographers-Destroyer tour this fall.)

Finally, there's the pop perplex: Is it all just too much tinkering around when, with Newman's arrangements and Case's pipes, they could be knocking out hits to leave Kelly Clarkson in the dust? I'm not sure. It's a memorable thing to meet the patent-holder on the curry cone, but the New Pornographers could be the emperors of ice cream.

Read More | On Record | Posted by zoilus on Friday, August 19 at 11:16 AM | Linking Posts | Comments (6)

 

August 18, 2005

Go To Sleep, Little Babies

For Monday's terrific Trampoline Hall special show about sleep and sleep disorders, I made a four-CD soundtrack set of songs about circadian rhythms and their discontents. As host Misha Glouberman said, it turns out all the best songs actually aren't about love, heartbreak, the way rock'n'roll will never die and which rapper is the baddest - they're about sleeping. The tunes on the mix represent about half the ones I found - I emphasized the more familiar and funny choices, since more obscure ones would slip by too easily if you were in the audience of a show, drinking and chatting with friends.

The Trampoline Hall 'Sleep and Sleeplessness' Show

PRESHOW
torontonightair (anonymous field recording found on the 'net)
Crickets & Water (Wilderness River: The Natural Sounds Of The Wilderness)
I'm So Tired (The Beatles)
Enter Sandman (Metallica)
Wake Up Little Susie (Everly Brothers)
Dreaming (Blondie)
I Woke Up In Love This Morning (Partridge Family)
I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night (Electric Prunes)

FIRST INTERMISSION
Good Morning Good Morning (The Beatles)
Wake Up (Cordelia's Dad)
The Lion Sleeps Tonight (The Tokens)
Enter Sandman (Pat Boone)
Sleep On The Left Side (Cornershop)
Go To Work (Revolution Compared To What [The Funky 16 Corners])
Pissed Off 2 A.M. (Alejandro Escovedo)
Sleepwalking (Lyle Lovett)
My Mind's Playing Tricks on Me (Geto Boys)

SECOND INTERMISSION
I'm Only Sleeping (The Beatles)
Wake Me Up Before You Go Go (Wham)
Where Did You Sleep Last Night (Leadbelly)
Up All Night (Slaughter)
Dream A Little Dream Of Me (Jim Jones of My Morning Jacket, on an obscure comp called From Iceland To Kentucky)
No Sleep Blues (Incredible String Band)
I Dreamed I Had to Take a Test… (Laurie Anderson)
Color In Your Cheeks (The Mountain Goats)
Tossin' and Turnin' (Bobby Lewis)
Tired of Waking Up Tired (Diodes)
Go To Sleep Little Baby (Gillian Welch et al, O Brother Where Art Thou?)
Stay Up Late (Talking Heads)

POST-SHOW
Good Night (The Beatles)
Wake Up (The Arcade Fire)
Sleeping Is the Only Love (Silver Jews)
Lullaby (Tom Waits)
Up At Night (SS Cardiacs)
Good Night Sweetheart (Al Bowlly - Ray Nobel)
Asleep and Dreaming (Magnetic Fields)
When I Wake Up To Sleep No More (Ralph Stanley and Friends)
Palmcorder Yajna (The Mountain Goats)
The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Eek-A-Mouse)
2:45 A.M. (Elliott Smith)
4 a.m. (Richard Buckner)
Walking After Midnight (Patsy Cline)
The Big Light (Elvis Costello)
Heaps of Sheeps (Robert Wyatt)
Hyperballad (Bjork)
Insomniac Trance (Brian Eno)
True Patriot Love (Joel Plaskett Emergency )
Rocks Off (Rolling Stones)

News | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, August 18 at 02:02 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

August 16, 2005

Leonard Cohen Has Gone Broke!

Leonard Cohen has gone broke!
I was reading the news and suddenly
everything had gone to shit and shame
and you said it was embezzlement
but embezzlement hits you on the head
hard so it was really fraud and shit
and shame and I was in such a hurry
to tell you but my telephone
was as off the hook as the tax lawyer
and suddenly I see a headline
LEONARD COHEN HAS GONE BROKE!
there is no shame in Hollywood
there is no shit on Mount Baldy
I have been to lots of monasteries
and taken many vows of poverty
but I never actually went broke
oh Leonard Cohen we love you get up

The Canadian government should establish a line item in the budget to give Leonard Cohen $10-million a year for the rest of his life just because. If that requires us to close down the Museum of Civilization or something, fine.

(Apologies to Frank O'Hara. Really sincere ones.)

News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, August 16 at 06:42 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

Gurkophones, Apple Dumplings, Ornette Coleman Stoves

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Meet the Viennese vegetable orchestra or the Gemüseorchester (more, um, gemüsingly), whose arsenal includes the Cucumberophone (in German, the "gurkophone"), the Radish Marimba and the Carrot Recorder: " Ten musicians in black suits play a concert program ... on vegetable-instruments. In doing so, the social structure of a traditional orchestra is reflected, imitated and adjusted to the stylistic necessities of the individual pieces. After the concert, the stage is left to the cooks who then work the instruments into a tasty vegetable soup which the audience and musicians consume together."

I think a theme is developing. Who'll be next onto the edible-music bandwagon?

Don't neglect to listen to the samples. And consider this John Cageian poetic thought from their FAQ page: "If you are really looking for a vegetable orchestra in holland, u.k., usa, mars, alpha centauri etc. go to the next vegetable market and listen very closely. you will hear the delicate sounds all vegetables make. there are millions of vegetable orchestras in the world. and there also bread orchestras, food can orchestras, car orchestras, cell phone orchestras, shoe orchestras etc." (Via Mimi Smartypants.) (Read more here.)

Moving from vegetables to fruit: Fiona Apple has re-recorded Extraordinary Machine without Jon Brion, which to me automatically implies it won't be as good as the web-leaked original. Granted, I'm much more of a Jon Brion fan than I am an Apple fan. (Can't wait for the Jon & Kanye collaboration to be unveiled.) But isn't Jeff Leeds of the Times stretching the truth when he claims the response to the leak on-line was "muted" (I've never heard so much about Fiona Apple in my life!) and that therefore "to many," Fiona and/or Sony were right to send it back to the kitchen? Who is this "many"? Or, to paraphrase Josef Stalin, how many divisions has Jeff Leeds?

And from fruit to nuts: Love has fired Arthur Lee. That just ain't right.

But this is. Ornette Coleman is coming to Toronto. That's right. Ornette Coleman. (I love these PBS Kids' Jazz Greats pages. It's like "See Ornette. See Ornette blow. See audiences run. Run, audience, run!") Saturday, October 29, at 8 pm at Massey Hall. Pricey ($89.50– $39.50) but worth it. See Ornette. See Ornette at 75 with Greg Cohen and Tony Falanga both on bass (!) and Denardo Coleman on drums. Yeah, that's Ornette's son, who's been playing with his dad since he was 10 (on The Empty Foxhole, 1966). I have nothing to add to the "Ornette Coleman Stove" joke in the headline. If you've been reading all this way hoping for more, sorry. Try checking out the (official?) Harmolodics website - the tagline, "For the equal access to the information expression," is worth a chuckle at least.

Meanwhile, tonight: Party on the subway, woo!

News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, August 16 at 03:46 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

August 14, 2005

Payola, ooh la la

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This weekend's Overtones column in The Globe & Mail, titled "Plug It Again, Sam," reflects on the unfolding prosecution of the new payola scandal in U.S. radio, why payola is like the poor ("always with us"), why there's probably no payola in Canada (everybody knows everybody - you don't have to pay your friends off to do you favours), why the FCC inquiry could yet turn into an attack on hip-hop (at least it's not an election year!), and the sweet romanticism of imagining we make our own tastes. Letters of complaint from Canadian radio programmers are rolling in: I do regret the word "hacks," which was too cheap a shot.

By the way, the film alluded to in the first paragraph is the Miranda July movie. And a note on the origins of the term "payola" - articles constantly claim it's a conflation of "pay" and "Victrola," which always seemed weird to me, since Victrolas were outmoded by the time the word was coined. Turns out it's actually a typical example of midcentury slang'uage in Variety magazine. As Kerry Segrave writes: "Variety was quite taken at the time with the ending 'ola.' For example, rather than write 'on the cuff', Variety would style it 'cuffola.' A successful act was a 'boff click' or 'boffola.' " Ah, for the showbizzle of yester-yizzle.

And so, read on ...

Plug it again, Sam
Pay for play is back in the music business

CARL WILSON
OVERTONES
The Globe & Mail
Saturday, August 13, 2005

You and your date come out of the movie house agreeing the flick was bold, buoyant, brave. The next day another couple, people you respect, tell you they both thought it forced. You wonder if you'd admire it so much if you'd seen it with them, or if you'd also be calling it “as aspartame as Amélie.”

Recognize this phenomenon? I call it taste magnetics: People experiencing art together are apt to concur on its merits. When you laugh, I'm more prone to smile. When you flinch, I grimace. We're swayable.

Taste magnetics also helps account for the persistence of payola, or radio “pay for play.” That bogeyman of the music biz is back this week, with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pledging to take New York Attorney-General Eliot Spitzer's investigation national. His first strike already wrested a $10-million (U.S.) settlement from Sony-BMG, with a humiliating dossier of label e-mails begging for “spins” for Celine Dion, Franz Ferdinand and Audioslave, offering plasma-screen TVs, fancy sneakers, plane tickets and more.

Reaction seem split: Camp 1 cries, “Aha! See why the radio is so full of lousy music?” while Camp 2 yawns, “Same as it ever was; you can't buy hits.” Each has a point.

Pay-for-play, according to Kerry Segrave's study Payola in the Music Industry: A History, 1880-1991 and Frederic Dannen's exposé Hit Men, predates not only radio but the record player, too. It goes back at least to the 1880s, when publishers would funnel kickbacks to singers to promote sheet-music sales of certain songs. Soon “song pluggers” were being paid to swagger into saloons and pound out marketable tunes on the piano, whistle them in diners or belt them out in five-and-dimes. In vaudeville audiences, paid-off plants would sing along to specified songs to make them seem popular (just as “viral” agents are hired to phone in requests today).

As influence shifted from singers to band leaders to DJs and station heads, favours and flattery followed. Transitions were marked by crackdowns — the rock 'n' roll-payola hearings of the 1950s, the 1970s FCC drugs-for-play investigation, the mobbed-up promoter trials of the 1980s, and now Spitzer's corporate sting. But payola always comes back in a new form. The latest phase has taken millions out of artists' pockets for “independent promoters” who became the only conduit to U.S. stations.

Yet paid spins guarantee nothing. No one knows what makes a hit. In 2002, Universal spent $2.2-million promoting 18-year-old Carly Hennessy's debut album, but it sold fewer than 500 copies. Payoffs are just a buy-in to the roulette game — and a means of keeping other players out.

Good hardy capitalism, right? Book, grocery and other retailers take payments from wholesalers to give their products special display space. Payola just moves a particular tune to the front shelf in radio's imaginary supermarket of song.

But grocery stores are private. The airwaves are public property, licensed partly to serve the common good. If payola is the American way, it's after the fashion of Halliburton and soft-money contributions.

(The Sony-BMG settlement limited acceptable graft to event tickets, contest giveaways, meals and modest personal gifts — the status quo in Canada. In our small industry, chumminess between label and radio hacks seems enough to stack the deck.)

A promo man's job is to create self-fulfilling prophesies. There are too many decent songs to go around — so if you rig the system so that yours briefly looks like a hit, people may begin to hear it as one.

That process can be bewildering for a fan; imagine being the musician. Ex-Talking Head David Byrne recently recalled that experience on his website diary — the disillusionment when he discovered his band's 1983 hit Burning Down the House was primed with payola. The revelation led him to suspect his own prior tastes, his band's worth and the gullibility of his fans. I think you can hear the resulting sour condescension on some of his subsequent records.

Like Byrne, many of us romantically believe our tastes are original expressions of our souls, but the truth is our fun is fungible, influenced by our friends, background and, yes, fashion. The reason payola keeps resurfacing is taste magnetics: When you consider how easily a cinema companion affects you, how can you claim immunity from million-dollar stealth campaigns? It's remarkable, through it all, that pop music turns out to be as good as it is.

In fact, the anti-payola campaign may make it worse. It lowers costs for major labels, which is good for their artists, but could lead to even less diversity on the radio. Indie record labels rarely can afford to commission promoters, but if they really believed they had a hit, they could ante up — a contributing factor to the recent “rock revival.” Now that option is vanishing. The road is jammed again with well-connected label staff, a resource indies lack.

(Segrave documents a time-honoured pattern: Big labels advocate payola bans to keep costs and competition down. Then they cheat.)

Past payola inquiries have been racially and politically targeted: In the 1950s they shut down upstart, black rock 'n' roll labels; the 1970s hearings targeted Philly soul. While Spitzer has been impeccably unbiased, the tone may change as the FCC brings the case to Washington — and politicians seize the chance to grandstand against hip-hop.

That could dovetail all too neatly with the FCC's planned “decency in broadcasting” campaign, and drown out some Democrats' wishes to discuss how payola is exacerbated by radio deregulation and ownership concentration.

After all, the survival instinct of every large enterprise draws it toward a Mafia state, and the pay-for-play in politics is rich indeed.

Yet this may be the last scandal for radio as we know it. Satellite radio, Internet radio, podcasts and other new audio alternatives are verging on commercial viability — which should come when they invent their own forms of payola, and money again remakes us.

Read More | In Depth | Posted by zoilus on Sunday, August 14 at 03:16 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

August 13, 2005

Ode to Billy Joe

I'll be doing an on-stage interview with outlaw-country legend Billy Joe Shaver tonight at 6:30 at Harbourfront. There's a fine documentary on Billy Joe showing first, at 5:30. C'mon out if you can - he's a wonderful songwriter, and a very moving person.

News | Posted by zoilus on Saturday, August 13 at 02:28 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

August 12, 2005

Zen & The Art of Zoilus Repair

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I'm toiling away on a few design revisions, mostly minor (with the help of site-meister Bill Douglas). If you're a regular visitor to Zoilus, or just an opinionated busybody, I'd be happy to hear comments on what would make the site work better for you. Again, I mean design, not content:

  • Are the sidebar categories useful, do they make sense, are there others that would be more practical? (For instance would it help to have them organized into related music genres as well or instead, and if so what would they be -- maybe jazz/avant, pop, dance/hip-hop, 'indie,' 'trad.'? Pigeonholes are hard to work with, as a lot of what I cover straddles genres. Are there better indices?)
  • Does the links page breakdown and ordering work for you? (And do you use the links page?)
  • Can you read the print okay?
  • Would you like to be notified of new posts by email?
  • Any other bright ideas?

Your input honestly would be useful. Email me or use the comments. Thanks.

News | Posted by zoilus on Friday, August 12 at 01:58 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (10)

 

August 11, 2005

ZBZBXBZBBXBZBXBZ!!! (NOISE)

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Rippin' introduction to the Toronto noise (non-) scene by Kevin Hainey in this week's eye, in honour of the strange proliferation of noise gigs in town this month. (See the tail of the feature.) I'd quibble with some of his taxonomy (I wouldn't tag some of them pseudOntario surrealists who've come and gone, or mostly refused to go away, as noise artists), but I'm glad he discusses how over-segregated from one another the free-jazz, improv, avant-academic and noise people tend to be here. Unsurprisingly, "out" musicians and organizational/promotional skills are not so mixy, but it's too bad for the audiences that never get to know. Noise right now seems to be a place the experimental rock scene and Other music can meet; it's there in the fan press, and seen occasionally at Wavelength and the Music Gallery and the late lamented New Works, but it remains the unfinished project. Not that nobody's trying but p-r-o-g-r-e-s-s i-s s-l-o-w. C'mon folxx get 2gether!

Thanks to Kevin as well for the Zoilusian shoutout in there. I'm amused that the day an article on noize gesticulated my way, visitors were greeted by a post about a folksinger. And now I'm going to have to go look up Brian Ruryk.

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, August 11 at 05:10 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

Alert: David Essig

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I'm irked to discover I omitted this from the live listings earlier: David Essig is making a rare Toronto drop-in tonight at an unknown-to-me club called The Kitchen, out Danforth way. If you haven't run into Essig at any time in his 35 or so years on the Canadian music scene, but you're interested in real folk and blues, intelligent songwriting and virtuoso guitar (especially slide), you should check him out - he's somewhere in the Richard Thompson-John Fahey rank of pickers, and his 1981 experimental album In the Tradition (recorded by Daniel Lanois) was my introduction to avant-garde acoustic guitar playing in general (again, in the Fahey not the Bailey stream). He's also a great, raw wood-rust-and-smokehouse singer of CBGB (country-blues-and-bluegrass) songs, a writer of literate reflective autobiographical pieces, an accomplished player of the Korean kayagum, and a warm-but-tough presence as a live performer. (You can preview some tracks here.) Apparently he recently recorded with the Sacred Steel guitarists the Campbell Bros. - I'd love to hear that collaboration. I'm working and can't make it - if you do, report back.

Via Toronto | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, August 11 at 01:50 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)

 

August 09, 2005

Get Jolie-Laide with Dead Machines

This week's theme is TOKEN POSTINGS! Let's begin with the above ugly-pretty poster for the Aug. 17 gig by a pretty-ugly band, the Wolf Eyes spinoff lovecore duo Dead Machines (listen), as a reminder that while Zoilus naps, the August gig guide continues to be updated. The latest additions include highlights from the Tranzac for the month, including a great every-Thursday-night Drumheller (see Zoiluses passim) & Saint Dirt Elementary School (read an archival column of mine featuring St Dirt, on the jump) double bill, and tomorrow (Wed.) night, song-singing by Ryan Driver (of the Silt [scroll down] and many other bands, and also mentioned in the piece on the jump) and Sandro Perri (the artist formerly known as Polmo Polpo), which should be delicious.

(Thanks to Stillepost.ca board posters for the Dead Machines info.)

For elbow-licking music, look beyond pop

SCENE
By CARL WILSON
Thursday, June 12, 2003
The Globe and Mail

It's a fact: It is physically impossible for you to lick your elbow.

Another fact: After that last statement, it was very funny to watch you all try.

Likewise, it seems nearly impossible to talk about humour in music without turning into a fatuous point-misser. As Andy Falkous, singer-guitarist of the bitterly hilarious and hard-rocking Welsh band McLusky, put it recently, "It's difficult to have humour in music without coming across as comedy hats and nipple references." The history of the "joke band" is not an amusing one, even if that band is not the Barenaked Ladies. (The only thing worse than a joke band is a joke band's love songs.)

Yet if you spend time around musicians, almost all they do besides cadge beer tickets and say "Whadya think of that new White Stripes?" is try to crack each other up. Even Pavarotti no doubt warmed up the other two tenors before a show with a hearty round of dick jokes. Too little of that day-to-day humour transfers into the music.

Especially non-verbal humour. Pop songs are meant to fulfill expectations; a sudden, slapstick key change or banana-peel slip on a wrong note is funny precisely because it up-ends the expected. The performer chances looking silly, even incompetent, to those who didn't get it. In the computer-processed, note-perfect imaginary universe of today's hit music, that would blow the whole scam. A clever turn of phrase is all right, but nothing that risks actual laughter. (Which is why Neil Young and Bob Dylan are treated like special-ed cases, except their most sentimental stuff.)

On aesthetic grounds, this is to get things exactly backward. American composer Charles Ives wrote in his kickass Essays Before a Sonata (1920) that in music, "Comedy has its part, but wit never." Wit, he said, is "a kind of indoor, artificial mental arrangement of things quickly put together and which have been learned and studied -- it is of the material and stays there, while humour is of the emotional and approaching spiritual."

In the gamut of human emotions, knowing winks and giddy cheer are just not as basic and true to life as a convulsing belly laugh. Ives may be a bit hard on poor old wit (ask Elvis Costello), but any song that sounds like the official Whimsy page in the New Yorker is miles behind one that incites listeners to try to lick their own elbows -- or eat their own heads, as that exquisite comedian John Cage's infamous silent piano piece was sort of designed to provoke.

If you have no sense of humour, you're not taking life seriously enough. The entertainment business takes nothing seriously but itself. So for real elbow-licking music you have to escape pop for what we used to call the avant-garde -- but don't, now that most musical experimentalists no longer see any army worth leading or any enemy even showing up to the fight. Too practical and busy for old modernist slogans, they loosen their spines and play around in sound like it's a sandbox, burying the dour reputation of the dead avant-garde in the process.

Toronto band Saint Dirt Elementary School, for instance, named its first album Hangin' Out with the Kid Who'd Eat Anything for a Dollar, summing up an omnivorous spirit that dares to be juvenile. For months it's been playing every Thursday at the Tranzac club on Brunswick Avenue, plus other gigs around the city's bustling improv scene.

With a roster of guests that often threatens to outnumber the eight core members, the band is like a lively house party, where the trumpet player's likely to be hitting on the hostess, the bassist is propounding outlandish theories and the drummer has a lampshade on his head. Mostly in their 20s, the group is led by Myk Freedman on lap-steel guitar, an unconventional instrument for jazz, whose notes slide and wobble about irreverently. It's hard to be too solemn when your main melody line sounds like a drunk trying to find the keyhole in the door.

The style recalls the Sun Ra Arkestra -- at once one of the most innovative groups and biggest practical jokes in jazz history -- with a dash of Henry Mancini's theme from The Pink Panther. A Freedman piece such as Dogs Are People Too sashays in like a burlesque version of a Thelonious Monk tune, but then Tania Gill's organ flips into the heliosphere and Ryan Driver starts blowing on pieces of balloon rubber between his thumbs and we're at the Star Wars cantina debating sock puppets with Liberace.

Saint Dirt shares members with anarchic improv orchestra the WoodChoppers Association and with quick-change jazz-pastiche artists Zebradonk, who appear at 10 p.m. Wednesdays in June and July at Ting, a hush-hush downtown spot. (Ask around.) Ryan Driver, meanwhile, plays in a dozen other ensembles, including seriously funny trio the Silt and the current title-holder of Weirdest Band in Town, The Reveries.

The Reveries, who've released Blasé Kisses on the new Rat-drifting label, play jazz standards. Eric Chenaux and Doug Tielli each play guitar, while Driver has his balloon "thumb-reed"; Chenaux also blows harmonica while Driver plays bass on a sawed-off ruler and Tielli plays the saw. But each member also has a cellphone speaker in his mouth, through which one of the other players' instruments is being amplified -- so you hear the music coming out of their mouths.

At the same time, all three sing the songs together, slowly, stretched to over 10 minutes whether it's Moonlight in Vermont or Rodgers and Hart's My Romance. But their vocals are hampered by the speakers, and by the cords hanging from their lips, making them sound, well, developmentally disabled. To complete the picture, their drool is running down the wires.

The only parallel I can think of is Quebec duo Undo (Alexandre St. Onge and Christof Migone), who at a festival in London, Ont., crammed their mouths with tinned snails and ate them with medical video-cams and microphones down their throats. But while that was a conceptualist freak show, the Reveries' music is really very pretty. In its woozy, Ella-on-Quaaludes way, it reveres and revives the original tunes, but reels them back to the body, amid all its ungainly, embarrassing excesses. The beauty may even be heightened by the impediments, levitated out of the songs into pure, messy abstraction.

Ives wrote: "We like the beautiful and don't like the ugly; therefore, what we like is beautiful and what we don't like is ugly -- and hence we are glad the beautiful is not ugly, for if it were we would like something we don't like."

The Reveries are right in the thick of that sentence, sitting there with poker-straight faces, because they know the punchline: If you can't lick your own elbow, get a friend to lick it for you. With luck, it'll tickle.

Read More | Live Notes | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, August 09 at 04:15 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)

 

August 08, 2005

Through the Roof & Underground

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Sometimes I think that gypsy punk music is a big prank, a conspiracy someone organized just to please me. If I don't write about it more often it is due to this nagging suspicion.

But now that Gogol Bordello's lead singer (and "eternal foe of the American work ethic") Eugene Hutz is appearing as the translator character in the movie of Jonathan Safron Foer's Everything Is Illuminated, as confirmed by the trailer, I may have to accept that he's real. I mean, I don't think Elijah Wood was made up for my benefit... was he?

In other news - updates may be sparse this week, to ease the pains of midsummer burnout. Be patient and I'll be back at full-throttle soon.

News | Posted by zoilus on Monday, August 08 at 02:41 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

August 05, 2005

The Blues Got the Blues

Nathaniel Mayer's gig in Toronto tonight is cancelled because, I am told, he has had a stroke, though reportedly not a severe one. See my colleague Brad Wheeler's interview with Mayer in today's Globe.

And RIP to Little Milton, Chess/Stax R&B; star, who died yesterday at age 71.

News | Posted by zoilus on Friday, August 05 at 03:29 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)

 

Hungry Like The Chuck

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I don't particularly like Chuck Klosterman's work, aside from his first hair-metal memoir Fargo Rock City and occasional highlights like his John Cusack and Britney Spears pieces. He's funny, but he has no particular point of view aside from his red-state beefing/red-beef stating ("coastal rock critics are too critical and want to be cool!") which, despite being true in some ways, gets tired, like, instantly... and ultimately is anti-criticism - anti-intellectual in an unengaging way.

But I almost gave him props this week for being the one to finally spin a full column out of the bizarre "wolf" band-name trend (AIDS Wolf, The Wolf Note, Wolf Parade, Superwolf, Peanut Butter Wolf, Wolf Eyes, Guitar Wolf, We Are Wolves, Wolf Colonel, Woelv, Wolfmother, etc etc - even though Klosterman missed many of them and resorted to Animal Collective instead - well, gee, why not mention Le Tigre, too?). I've considered writing about it pretty often the past few months but always thought, well, either I can't make anything out of it, or I've already made something out of it, or it's an alternative, bigger point about nature-idealization (antihumanism) in youth culture and music right now, which makes it not so suitable as the quicky, no-research, I-have-better-things-to-do summertime topic I was looking for.

But then I read the damn thing and it turns out he has nothing to say about it. Nothing. It's not even funny. All it says is, "People seem to think '---- wolf' is a cool band name because they think 'wolf' is cool. Huh." It's possibly the emptiest Klosterman piece I've ever read. If he keeps up this accelerated rate of decline he'll be a worse hack than (name your favourite hack - well, hell, it's Robert Novak's week isn't it?) within a year. And meanwhile he's spoiled the topic for the rest of us, right? Wait, no, screw that, I'll take the Klosterman challenge. Now I'm determined to do a wolf-band column sometime between now and, say, Halloween. Dammit.

Meanwhile, you want laughs, I encourage you to go to tonight's Weird Al Yankovic tribute instead, tonight at the Bagel in Toronto. Seriously. Or... my gosh, is this where this all was leading? ... check the Zoilus gig guide for other options.

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Friday, August 05 at 02:19 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (9)

 

August 04, 2005

Get Well Ron G.

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Word comes today that Ron Gaskin of Rough Idea, the man responsible for half the free-jazz/improv programming in Toronto for the past decade at least, is in hospital for two transplant operations, after a long struggle with his health on various fronts. If all goes well, he should be out again in a couple of weeks. Please send good harmolodic vibrations his way.

Update, Sunday: I'm told that the double transplant was successful and Ron is recuperating now. Fantastic.

News | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, August 04 at 06:34 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (5)

 

Metric Vs. Pornographers (Which System Will Prevail?)

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Emily Haines of Metric.

The new album by Metric, Live It Out, is due Sept. 27, and according to Emily and Jim it is "a record of questions and struggles as opposed to the answers and observations of Old World Underground Where Are You Now," which precisely identifies what I thought was the flaw in the first album, so I'm intrigued to see what this means in praxis. Frank has more news.

Preliminary finding: The New Pornographers' new album Twin Cinema is, in general, performed way too much in a rush, the hooks not given their appropriate impact, the transitions between sections perfunctory, the vocals too often breathless and half-unintelligible - which produces the curious counter-impression that it's actually kind of plodding. Carl Newman's pop-assembly-line fantasies have become like that damn image in Modern Times of the human being jammed in the relentlessly turning cogs and trying to adjust the screws. Also as per usual there's not enough Neko; though new member Kathryn Calder does just fine, there's no comparison. The cover of very-early Destroyer song Streets of Fire (from We'll Build Them a Golden Bridge), however, is worth the effort all by itself, and it's nicely followed by the fuzzed-out disc closer Stacked Crooked. I also like the occasional moments of avant-garage (notably on the title track), and overall it's possible that with more time (this is a first-listen drive-by) the blurry scrim I'm hearing over the sound will resolve itself into a shimmering morning dew. I do look forward to the double-barrelled live band very much. But my first impulse is if this is supposed to be a song, slow down and let me hear it. I may be being reactionary.

By the way Dan Bejar (of the NPs and Destroyer) has a newish band called Bonaparte, whose only online description is "Bonaparte - featuring Dan Bejar (Destroyer, New Pornographers) and members of The Battles, Bonaparte showcases female vocals a la an eccentric Blondie with touches of 80's new wave." I'll look into this further.

And PS: Douglas, sadly, says the new Big Star suxxx. If only it were coming from someone less trustworthy.

On Record | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, August 04 at 02:28 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)

 

August 03, 2005

Hey Asshole, or, Final Fantasy Rumour Quashing

Hear ye, hear ye: Yes, I got taken in by some idiot on Owen "Final Fantasy" Pallett's fan-message-board who's been posting under Owen's name and spreading false info, which led me to do the same. If you check the comments below, you'll see that rumours of the Final Fantasy's sales being in the tens plus tens plus tens plus tens of thousands are horseshit, as I should have realized (I suspected but was credulous). (Owen hasn't said how much they really are, as is his privilege, but my guess would be about a 10th of that?)

Annoyingly now it is very difficult to use those boards, where Owen does post on the regular, as sources of reliable information. Rely only on the official-like site - and on Zoilus, who will from now on check facts.

The moral here: Dear Internet Fan Psycho, Please do not fucking take advantage of musicians who communicate with their fans on a normal human level and treat them with respect and transparency, exploiting their good will in order to perpetuate your delusions of grandeur or single-white-violinist projective identity-disorders, s'il. vous. plait! You mess up shit for everyone. You are the reason PR flaks and sick papparrazzi and the other revolting symptoms of contemporary celebrity culture exist. Well, you and money, which is likewise sociopathic. Yuck, ech, spit, puke.

News | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, August 03 at 08:01 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)

 

David Byrne's Tide of Self-Doubt

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Read the July 30 entry on payola in David Byrne's online journal. It really makes me wonder whether the new cynicism in the faux-naive songs of Little Creatures, True Stories and Naked was an outgrowth of the souring experience Byrne says he had after finding out that Burning Down the House became a hit partially due to paid spins. His songwriting and vocal affect for several years post-Speaking in Tongues do sound like those of a man who'd come to feel the work was somewhat hollow and his audience (and by extension, Americans in general) were dupes. (An easy enough conclusion in the Reagan years to begin with.) Not that Byrne wasn't always glib and sceptical, but I did detect a change. At the time it semed like the smug smell of success - this entry makes me wonder if it wasn't something sadder. You could even speculate on what effect this had on the Talking Heads' breakup. How easy is it to carry on in camaraderie when you feel, "My entire past was called into question. Who am I? Am I not partly what I like? And if those things I like were not completely of my own choosing, then what am I?" That train of thought could lead directly into a station called, "Does this band really mean all I thought it meant?" It can't all have been Brian Eno's fault, after all.

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, August 03 at 12:06 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)

 

August 02, 2005

Stalking Owen Pallett, Episode 21

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Final Fantasy at Ottawa Bluesfest, photo by Mariel Kelly, with her kind permission (and her email link, by request).

In anticipation of Friday's Final Fantasy set (opening for Wooden Stars with Bell Orchestre) which I suspect will be one of the last live local FF sightings the next few months (except the Ear to the Ground festival?), I realized it had been awhile since the last installment of Stalking Owen Pallett on Zoilus Reality TV.

Previously on Stalking Owen Pallett, as you might recall, I went into totally justified histrionics about the Final Fantasy Music Gallery gig in June. To prove how justified they were, Owen recently has tidied up two tracks from that session and posted them online: Illusion Song and If I Was a Carp. I'll append the lyrics to the end of the post (click the dotdotdots at the end of the entry) for your perusing pleasures.

Unfortunately, if that whets your gluttony for a feast on the full-scale Final Fantasy magic-and-necromancy cycle He Poos Clouds, there's unhappy news: The recording and release of the album have been pushed back by other commitments, so it will not be coming out until sometime in spring of 2006. Shitdamn. I assume it will be on Blocks in Canada but in the rest of the world it will be on Tomlab, the Koln, Germany, label that has recently taken a fancy to the Toronto and Montreal massives (it also has Les Georges Leningrad, Mantler and Ninja High School on its roster [the latter with a new single and upcoming full-length Young Adults Against Suicide], along with non-Canucks such as the Books and Patrick Wolf). Owen is meanwhile on tour with the Arcade Fire (that oh-so-pretty millstone around FF-anatics' necks) and on his own through Europe in October.

However, there are many consolation prizes, he proclaims on his website: "For example! The long-promised 7"s!* Now in the manufacturing stage! A collaborative EP with Animalmonster! Contributions to the Grizzly Bear remix album! Contributions to the Enya tribute album!" ... *The seven-inch vinyl fetish objects to which he refers are: Young Canadian Mothers on Escapegoat Records, featuring This Is The Dream Of Emma & Cam, The Sea, Spell For A Weak Heart and the at-long-last official recording of Owen's unimpeachable (sorry) cover of Joanna Newsom's Peach, Plum, Pear; and The George Cedric Metcalf Foundation 7" on It's A Disaster! Records with What Do You Think Will Happen Next?, Many Lives for 49 Mana Points and Honour The Dead, Or Else...! (all of them stunning, and all parts of He Poos Clouds, unless Owen, as he's wont to do, changes his mind). Not included are Owen's covers of Jann Arden's Good Mother and Mariah Carey's Fantasy, which is why live shows exist.

Most supersad of all is the information that "Les Mouches are finito. The now lifeless corpse was divided between the family and eated. Too bad, too. There were some good songs that we never got around to recording." You can hear fairly easily that the new FF material is more Mouchesesque than Has a Good Home! was, so it's as though Owen is consolidating his songwriting mojo into one stiff wand (er, bow). Still, Les Mouches had a nice clattery (if perhaps too Xiu Xiu-ish) sonic kingdom of their own and it will be missed. Then again, the Final Fantasy record, despite its inevitable-under-bizarre-rocketing-out-of-obscurity-on-Arcade Fire's-comet-trail-circumstances uneven release and distribution, has already sold a remarkable 40 to 50 thousand copies (!). So that seems to be the wand (er, bow) to waggle. No complaints here. [Edit: Damn. Disinformation. Please see this and/or that.]

And that's it for this episode of Stalking Owen Pallett. Stay tuned for a message from those lyrics. [...]

ILLUSION SONG

All the boys I've ever loved have been digital
I've been a guest on a screen, in a book
I move him with my thumbs

He swam! To the edge! Of the wall! Of the world!
Followed my, followed my voice! And he cried!
"Master! Your answer is maybe, maybe not!
Maybe not! Maybe not!
Gotta fulfill the seven prophecies
Gotta be a friend to my grandmother
Gotta rescue my girl from the white witch
Gotta find and kill my shadow self
Gotta dig up every secret seashell
You may have been made for love
But I'm just made"


IF I WAS A CARP

Hey ho! Farewell to the quay! Merry sailors, sailors we
The horizon is our proscenium, and our dead will come to know the sea
Our cook is a wanted man, 1000 thalers for each hand
Our captain lost his good sense listening to Lazarus' words

Have you not been told of Lazarus? He felt the icy grip
And was brought back by a morphine drip, to tell the captain this:

"Tragedy! Tragedy! Death has you fooled!
No throne of bone, subterranean pools, no scythe, no cowl, no skeletons
His greatest trophy is his myth!
Every sailor man and every carp will swim upriver to the source
Only the dead will know its course
And furthermore
Do you really want to know of the afterworld?"

Read More | News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, August 02 at 02:29 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)

 

August 01, 2005

Osby, Statman, Konitz, Shipp...? I've Set the VCR

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A fine piece by my colleague Mark Miller in today's Globe and Mail tips me off to the new season of Daniel Berman's Solos series on Bravo (Tuesdays at 8, not 8:30 as misstated in the paper), featuring artists coming "from one decimal place to the left or right of what we might call jazz." I missed the first series last summer, but from what I gather the concept is to take mostly players who usually appear in group settings, and place them in a solo context to isolate and examine the essence of their music. Considering the calibre of musicians Berman has rounded up, it should be fascinating. Here's the roster: Greg Osby (Aug 2); Andy Statman (Aug. 9); Lee Konitz (Aug. 16); Don Thompson (Aug. 23); Gonzalo Rubalcaba (Aug. 30); Erik Friedlander (Sept. 6); John Abercrombie (Sept. 13); Steven Bernstein (Sept. 20); Mark Turner (Sept. 27); Matthew Shipp (Oct. 4); Kurt Rosenwinkel (Oct. 11); Roscoe Mitchell (Oct. 18); Matt Wilson (Oct. 25).

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Monday, August 01 at 09:44 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)

 

Auuugggghhhhh-ist! (Gig Guide)

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Zoilus' monthly Toronto live calendar is up now. Your additions and comments are welcome. Highlights abound but one stands out: Percy Sledge, Big Bop/Reverb, Aug. 24. I confess I wasn't even sure the singer of When a Man Loves a Woman, Sudden Stop, It Tears Me Up and True Love Travels on a Gravel Road - one of my favourite soul singers ever - was still breathing, much less playing Queen Street dives. Other notables include the Tigerbeat6 show with Kid 606, Knifehandchop and Eats Tapes on Wednesday (when there's also the Iron Maiden/Mastodon show and a rare sighting of the HANK Collective); the Escape Goat Records With Friends Like These series from Wed to Sun, including Friday's Final Fantasy/Bell Orchestre/Wooden Stars showcase (also that night, Caron Wheeler ex-of-Soul II Soul); the Knitters reunion show, featuring ex-members of X on Aug. 7; Smog the next night; the two-night all-star hip-hop blowout with Kanye, Nas, Ludacris, Ciara, Little Jon and much more Aug 12-13; T.O. Twang that same weekend with Billy Joe Shaver on Saturday, including an on-stage interview with yers truly; my favourite brutal noise lovebirds Dead Machines on Aug. 17; the Constantines/Oneida soundclash on Aug. 20 and Joel Plaskett at Harbourfront that night; and lots more, so go check out the list. [...]

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, as the saying goes, you - email or post in the comments with show information and disinformation.

MON. AUG. 22
** Bovine Boat Party w/ KIDS ON TV, VOLLRATH => The Bovine Sex Club, "Dress as Pirates!!!!!", $10
* HOPEFUL MONSTER (w/ members of the Hylozoists, Bodega, Feuermusik, and Lily Frost), GABE MINNIKIN => Supermarket, 9 pm, $6
* JOHN STOWELL AND DON THOMPSON => Montreal Bistro
* ALICE COOPER, CHEAP TRICK => The Docks, $58.50
CLEMENTINE => The Horshoe Tavern, Free

TUES. AUG. 23
* CHRIS BARBER, THE JAZZ WIZARDS => Hugh's Room, $36
The Ambient Ping w/ BENEATH THESE IDLE TIDES, BLEEP => Hacienda Lounge, 9 pm, pwyc
MELISSA STYLIANOU w/ROB & DAVID PILTCH, DAVIDE DIRENZO => Montreal Bistro, 9 pm (two sets), $10
DREDG => El Mocambo, $10
MÖTLEY CRÜE, SUM 41, THE EXIES, SILVERTIDE => Molson Amphitheatre, $22.50-$75
GET WELD (Neil Young Tribute) => Silver Dollar, 8 pm
SASS JORDAN => Drake, 9:30 pm, $5

WED. AUG. 24
** PERCY SLEDGE => Big Bop, $42.50
* The Nightmare Show w/ PONY DA LOOK, DOMAINE D'OR, NIFTY, ETERNAL => Trinport (249 Ossington), $5
* THE SILT => Tranzac, 10 pm, pwyc
* High Lonesome Wednesdays w/ CRAZY STRINGS => Silver Dollar, free
* TIM POSGATE/ROB CLUTTON => Red Guitar
* WOODHANDS (Montreal/Vancouver) => Drake, 9 pm
* JANE BUNNETT, JUMPIN' JOHNNY SANSONE, KEVIN BREIT => Hugh's Room, $25-$27.50
DAVID VIRELLES QUARTET => Trane studio
MAGNETA LANE, MUGSHOT, DEAD LETTER DEPT., GHETTO BOX => Lee's
DIONE TAYLOR => Yonge-Dundas Sq. 12:30pm
R.O.T., GEMINI DOC, RAW B SNATCH, DJ SPINSTER => FunHaus, $10.
THE I SPIES, THE WOODHANDS => The Drake
HUNTER VALENTINE, DANCE YOURSELF TO DEATH, THE GUEST BEDROOM => Drake Underground, $6


THURS. AUG. 25
** FRED EAGLESMITH => Hugh’s Room, $27.50
** PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES, TANGIERS, THE SOUR KEYS => Mod Club, 7 pm, $12.50
** DRUMHELLER (8 pm), ST DIRT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (10 pm) => Tranzac, pwyc
SUBA SANKARAN, ED HANLEY, ERNIE TOLLAR => Toronto Music Garden, 475 Queens Quay W., 7 pm
BRAN VAN RECORDINGS party => Drake Underground, 9 pm, $10
CALLING ALL DANDYS glam party => Drake Lounge, 10 pm, free
CORRY SOBOL TRIO => Red Guitar
ARRIETA and more Pitter Patter Nights => O'Grady's, pwyc
CLAY AIKEN => Molson Amphitheatre, $42.50-$55.50
Buskerfest w/ OKA, MARACATU NUNCA ANTES => St Lawrence Market area (Aug 25-28)
THE FALLOUT, THE SNOT ROCKETS, KING MINUS, GUTS AND GLORY => Sneaky Dee's, $3
Animal Trax w/ COWBOY JUNKIES => Waterside Theatre, Toronto Zoo, 6:30 pm, $30 (zoo admission included; three-concert series, $80)
Bruckbeat Sessions w/ DJ ASER, DJs DIALECT & MURR => Embassy Bar, 223 Augusta, free
MATT YORK => Rivoli

FRI. AUG. 26
** JON-RAE AND THE RIVER (cd release), GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS, LULLABYE ARKESTRA, AKRON/FAMILY => The Horseshoe, $8
** DEEP DARK UNITED => Tranzac, 10 pm
* Kick Up Your Heels w/ KARDINAL OFFISHALL (9:30 pm), BLAZE: URBAN DANCE SHOWCASE (11 pm) => Harbourfront, free
* AFRICAN BLUES (Madagasgar Slim, Donne Robert, Ndidi Onukwulu) => Silver Dollar, 10 pm, $10
* VagueTerrain.net digital-arts site launch w/ TINKERTOY, NAW, AIDAN BAKER => Gladstone Art Bar, 9 pm, $5
* BLUE RODEO => Molson Amphitheatre, $22.50-$65.50
* ANDREW DOWNING QUINTET feat. PHIL DWYER, BRODIE WEST, WILLIAM CARN, NICK FRASER => Rex (Aug. 25, 26)
CHIMICHANGA & THE ORGAN OF XTABAY, PROBLEM, BLOOD CEREMONY, TRADITION => The Bagel
JOHN ALCORN TRIO => Red Guitar
Truth Explosion 'zine second anniversary w/ BOMBS OVER PROVIDENCE, CANCER BATS, RISKY BUSINESS, FOR THE MATHEMATICS => The Reverb, $10
Pitter Patter Nights w/ ARRULLO, THICKHAWK, BAG => O'Grady's, pwyc
Friday Funk w/ KOBAYASHI => Yonge-Dundas Sq., 6 pm
Buskerfest w/ OKA, MARACATU NUNCA ANTES => St Lawrence Market area (Aug 25-28)
Vazaleen w/LIMP WRIST => Lee's Palace
SHOWROOM, Henri Faberge and the Adorables, Reshure @The Cameron House, 5$, 9:30pm
TRACY BONHAM => El Mocambo, $10

SAT. AUG. 27
** Videodrome scratch-video battle w/ SHITMAT, FAMEFAME VS. V-ATAK, DJ WILL MUNRO => MOCCA (952 Queen W.), $5
* Kick Up Your Heels w/ REGGAETON & LATIN URBAN EXPLOSION, THIRD WORLD ENTERTAINMENT (11 pm) => Harbourfront, free
* CAROLYN MARK CD release => Horseshoe
TORI AMOS, THE DITTY BOPS, IMOGEN HEAP (Frou Frou) => Molson Amphitheatre, $29.75-$59.25
THE ROYAL CROWNS => Silver Dollar, 10 pm, $8
Buskerfest w/ OKA, MARACATU NUNCA ANTES => St Lawrence Market area (Aug 25-28)
DON PALMER QUARTET => Red Guitar
Ukranian Festival w/ METELYTSIA, SUZIE VINNICK, OLEH BUNCHA, PID OBLACHKIM, CARPATHIA => Jane and Windermere (Aug 27-28)
PAT COLLINS QUARTET => Rex
DAVE MASON  => Opera House
Salsa Saturday w/ RICKY FRANCO => Lula Lounge, doors 7 pm, dance class 9 pm, show 10 pm, $10 (members free, $45 w/3 course dinner + dance class + show)
THE BAYONETTES, TERMINAL STATE< GUNNAR HANSEN => Adrift
SADOCEANSPACEBEAR, RAY WHIMSEY, more => Mitzie's Sister, pwyc
THE RIZDALES => Cadillac Lounge, 4-7 pm

SUN. AUG. 28
* Bana y'Afrique w/ MOTO ET KAPIA DU CONGO, ADAM SOLOMON, MADAGASCAR SLIM, NDIDI ONUKWULU & DONNE ROBERT, CARIBBEAN FOLK PERFORMERS, BLACK ICE, CHEMAGNE MARTIN, MOSAIC ARABIC, more => Metro Hall Sq, 55 John, noon-11pm
* WHAT IS IT? Crispin Glover movie afterparty w/ WAX MANNEQUIN, JAYMZ BEE, DJ SHANNON, DJ VIDEO DAVE => Drake, 11 pm, $10
Wavelength 278 w/ THE POSTAGE STAMPS, THE GHOST IS DANCING, DJ JEWELS OF OSSINGTON => Sneaky Dee's
Kick Up Your Heels w/ PIERRE SCHRYER BAND (3 pm), SWING SHIFT BIG BAND (4:30 pm), SWAMPERELLA (6 pm) => Harbourfront, free
TOTIMOSHI, NICE CAT => Lee's Palace, $8
WARZONE WOMYN => CIUT, 91 St George
CAMILLE WATTS, PETER PAVLOVSKY, ERIC DONOVAN => Toronto Music Garden, 475 Queens Quay W., 4 pm
Buskerfest w/ OKA, MARACATU NUNCA ANTES => St Lawrence Market area (Aug 25-28)
Ukranian Festival w/ METELYTSIA, SUZIE VINNICK, OLEH BUNCHA, PID OBLACHKIM, CARPATHIA => Jane and Windermere (Aug 27-28)
Solo Piano Sunday w/ IRV KOVEN 9 pm, STEVE KOVEN 10:30 pm => Red Guitar
YARA JAKYMIW, BENEATH THESE IDLE TIDES, PARKADE BIRDSEYEING IT => Holy Joes, $5

MON. AUG. 29
ANOTHER COUNTRY => Cameron House, 9:30 pm
SCARS OF TOMORROW, SWORN ENEMY, THE ACACIA STRAIN, ON BROKEN WINGS, IN THIS DEFIANCE => El Mocambo, $13.75
OUR LADY PEES, i mean PEACE => Mod Club, $12.50

TUES. AUG. 30
* OF MONTREAL, THE MANAGEMENT => Lee’s, 8 pm, $11
BLUESCREEN => Horseshoe, free
BILLY IDOL, BIF NAKED => Molson Amphitheatre, $33.25-$53.25
SASS JORDAN => Drake, 9:30 pm, $5

WED. AUG. 31
* High Lonesome Wednesdays w/ CRAZY STRINGS => Silver Dollar, free
TARA DAVIDSON/DAVID OCCHIPINTI => Red Guitar
The Ambient Ping w/ THE RIDERLESS, MICHAEL KEITH/DAVID SAIT => Hacienda Lounge, 794 Bathurst St., 9 pm, pwyc
HUNTER VALENTINE => Drake Underground, $6
BB KING, KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD => Molson Amphitheatre, $32.50-$69.50
DR. HOOK => Lee's Palace, $25
DEATH BY STEREO => Kathedral

Read More | Live Notes | Posted by zoilus on Monday, August 01 at 01:40 AM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)

 

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