by carl wilson

October 31, 2005

The Ornette Report

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Ornette Coleman and Tony Falanga, not this weekend at Massey Hall, but last year at Newport.

I've been searching for reviews of Saturday's show online or in the press, but aside from my colleague Mark Miller's piece in today's Globe, it's all chirping crickets out there. So in a few words: The Ornette concert was not quite as transporting as one might have hoped (as Mark says, the old dog had no new tricks), but it was no let-down, either. Ornette played clearly and with great resonance, so much so that he was actually too loud compared to the rest of the ensemble, diminishing the harmolodic effect of an interplay of equals. He stayed fairly 'inside' as a soloist, never pushing dissonances and seldom even straying from the home keys of his themes and melodies, creating a generally meditative, folklorish and quite bluesy effect. The mood was often elegaic, as is often the case with older musicians, but never nostalgic - especially thanks to the counterpoint from Tony Falanga's bowed bass, whose timbre was often easy to mistake for a second saxophone, as he played high up on his instrument and let lanky Greg Cohen (whose work I first encountered on Tom Waits' Small Change album) handle the stormier bottom end, as he did with gusto: Cohen's spotlit solo late in the set was a high point. Indeed, the twin-bass setup proved itself a perfect vehicle. I only wished Ornette had played his violin for more than the few minutes he did, and more melodically, so the string-trio potential of the group could be explored. (The shaky trumpet interlude, on the other hand, was quite long enough.) I can't speak quite so glowingly of Denardo Coleman's drumming, which was more laboured, less inspired, but it was never intrusive to my experience, and his feel for what the music was asking of him was touching, as an expression of filial duty.

I think everyone who was present would agree that the encore of Lonely Woman was a particular pleasure. Not only did the ensemble play it with assurance for its classic status, I think you could feel in it Ornette's own appreciation for an audience that had just given him a long standing ovation, which felt as much for his lifework in general as for anything that had transpired on stage that evening, and he stretched out a bit more on it than in the rest of the show. It was sad, as Mark notes in his review, that the hall wasn't full, but it's more important that the audience was so respectful and excited to see this pioneer in the flesh, so I think Toronto can hold its head up.

A final thought: One thing I didn't know before seeing him is how introverted and self-contained Ornette seems as a person and as a musician. There's very little testosterone in his persona, indeed an elusive but palpable kind of androgyny - yet with neither flamboyance (except in his flashy suit) nor self-effacingness. I felt that I gained an insight into his music from his physical presence. It made sense to me that this not-so-sociable seeming man would have created a new form of jazz in which the tussel and brawl of the players was downplayed and the individuality of each voice was central, none submitting or playing support to the others. If you ask what harmolodics is, it's a kind of music in which nobody has to shout or compete to get heard but each person's idiosyncrasies provide the form. It requires the listener to open up to the separation of the parts, which form a whole not by adding up but by being suspended in air, like streaks of paint on a canvas, suggesting many directions and never closing doors behind them. Ornette has been a great innovator, but watching him I felt like he had only done what he had to do, because of who he is, not because he meant to be king of the modernist mountain. There's a lot to mull over on the character of artistic advancement there. I don't know what anyone who's seen Ornette before would have made of this concert, but for these insights especially, I am very grateful to have seen it.

Live Notes | Posted by zoilus on Monday, October 31 at 05:05 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (11)

 

October 28, 2005

Now We Are 2
(Plus: Ornette!!!)

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The day's almost over and nobody has wished Zoilus a Happy Blogday. Oh well. No cake for you then. No, seriously, gratitude to all the readers who've made Zoilus such a pleasure to do.

Gotta say how sick with excitement I am to be seeing Ornette Coleman tomorrow night at Massey Hall. Torontonians, there are still tickets available. I know they're pricey, but it would be a gross collective error to let that surplus stand. The man is 75, and he helped revolutionize jazz music. These figures don't come along often. That's why I was a little disappointed with my colleague Mark Miller's interview with Ornette in the paper yesterday - why would an experienced jazz journalist be so thrown off by a jazzer's jive? Still, there was one significant quote that has people talking:

But his performing and recording activities have been intermittent - especially of late and evidently not as a matter of choice. "In music, you're only hired when someone activates the phone or writes you a letter," he observes .... "Only my son and my cousin have given me help to get jobs."

It's scandalous, the idea that Ornette Coleman is sitting around by the phone hoping to be invited to perform somewhere. On the local "jazztalk" discussion list, guitarist Tim Posgate related the story of asking Steve Lacy, "not long before he died, if he had any plans to come to Toronto, and he replied, 'If someone invites me I would love to come'. How many great artists, that have the ability to enhance, inspire and maybe even change our world are sitting at home because no one is calling?"

A good question that I'm afraid will go sadly begging for an answer more often than not. (Whatever became of last year's Toronto Progressive Jazz series, which was such a good step in this direction?) It's great that Massey Hall's programmers asked Ornette here, and a sold-out hall is what's needed to convince them to bring in such artists more often instead of Jack Johnson or some other asshole.

(Yeah, yeah, I'm sure he's very nice.)

Via Toronto | Posted by zoilus on Friday, October 28 at 06:14 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (6)

 

Ace!ofspades!ace!ofspades!
ace!ofspades!ace!ofspades!
ace!ofspades!ace!ofspades!
ace!ofspades!ace!ofspades!
ace!ofspades!ace!of...

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Zoilus' Toronto Gig Guide has been exhaustively & exhaustingly updated this evening, so if you're in the hereabouts, look into the link that will predict your future.

Among the additions is the November 9 Just Ace of Spades show at The Boat in Kensington Market, the perfect charity event for rockers too hungover to do a walkathon on a given weekend morning and too kool to sell raffle tickets: What you do is get people to pledge donations based on how many hours you can spend listening to Ace of Spades (yeah, the Motorhead song). The Boat will play Ace of Spades for six hours straight that night. Are you Lemmy enough to handle it? If so, go download a pledge form. (Yeah, it's a week-plus away, but you need time to get your doners signed up, right?)

But first, this weekend comes Sunday's annual Canzine festival of alt-culture, held where I lay my head each night, the Gladstone Hotel. I don't really buy the organizers' claims that zine culture is as hale as ever and hasn't been supplanted by blogville and environs. My informants tell me the gang at zine gatherings is creeping steadily up in age. To be a zine producer isn't quite yet like being a collector of 78s, but it's on its way. (Not that there's anything wrong with being a collector of 78s, or even of Edison cylinders!) But state-of-zines-debate aside, the great thing about Canzine is that somehow in recent years it has developed into its own genre - that is, if you have an art idea that doesn't seem to fit anywhere, or even be worth developing too far, for instance a bunch of people pretending to be pirates or a half-dozen bands recording CDs of songs they make up on the spot on the hour every hour, one of your options is to turn it into "A Room At Canzine." This year's Rooms include Jim Munroe's No Media Kings 5th Anniversary Party; Misha Glouberman's Game Emporium; Amy Lam and Zeesy Powers's Arcadia; Darren O'Donnell's Diplomatic Immunities; Project 3 Media's Digital Grassroots; The Best of Art Metropole's Multiples. I know what some of these things are (Misha's Game Emporium involves a score of people taking commands from a talking robotic stick), but I'm also eager to be surprised.

Plus, Zoilus and Mrs. Zoilus's romance sorta-began at a Canzine five years ago, so it will always occupy a pedestal in my poetic inventory.

ALSO I hope many of you are going tonight to the secret location.

Live Notes | Posted by zoilus on Friday, October 28 at 06:06 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

October 27, 2005

Alt-Weekly Wig-Out (Thursday Reading)

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It's a big day in the Toronto alt-weekly market: NOW has its annual "Best of Toronto" issue - which has finally disposed of the inane reader's-choice listings that always named, you know, Chapters as the best book store and Blockbuster as best video store, and so forth. It makes the section a much better read. The paper's unbylined choices for the best in Toronto music make a fine mini-primer. They lean to the conservative side but not as much as in past years - sure, choosing Oscar Peterson as best pianist is more than a bit stodgy, but Maggie MacDonald's choice as "best arts revolutionary," Blocks as best label and Amy Millan as best female singer is close to the pulse of the moment. I also appreciate the shout-out to my current home, the Gladstone Hotel, as "best art hotel vision ever." And fists were thrust in air over the choice of our pal Margaux Williamson, named "Best Painter." For damn sure. Tune in, world, you're missing out.

Meanwhile, eye weekly launches its long awaited redesign, masterminded by Tyler Clark Burke. (Whom competitor NOW kinda-amusingly included in its best-ofs. Oops!) The cover feature on Jon Rae and the River (at the Music Gallery tomorrow night) was a great choice to launch the new look, with an arresting image up front; I'm still getting used to the interiors, which I find a bit hard to navigate but very clean and easy to read once I'm there. Still, I'm a bit disappointed that it doesn't look like this. (Did Tyler also do the website redesign, by the way?)

Also in NOW, interviews with RA the Rugged Man and the perpetrators of the Do They Know It's Halloween benefit spoof single (making some fine points about charidee), and a nice TO Music Note on Jennifer Castle, who's opening for Jon Rae tomorrow.

And also in eye, an interview with Craig Finn of the Hold Steady on his secret hip-hop masterplan (2nd review) and a continuation of the essential cussing-out of CTV on its idiocy for not renewing Veronica Mars. We'll wear 'em down.

An examination of the review sections also reveals this: People who don't like the Fiery Furnaces like their new Grandma album, and vice-versa.

It's also a big week in the American alt-weekly scene. On one hand, the grandpappy of the form, The Village Voice, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an issue packed with bohemian history. For rock-crit fans, Robert Christgau's and Greg Tate's contributions are natural must-reads, though Xgau's isn't as good as I'd have hoped - not on par with this previous take, for instance. But browse through the chronologi-scope for more bits of music crit and culture. (Also in the same issue there's a good balanced look at Liz Phair's new album by Georgia Christgau, for those who can stand more Phair discourse.)

Yet just as it toasts itself, its toast may actually be on fire. Um, by which I mean that the Voice-as-we-knew-it, already a pale reflection of its old self, was OPD'd this week with its takeover by the New Times chain. New Times is not reputed to be friendly to the challenging possibilities of this medium remnant from the underground-newspaper days of the 1960s and 1970s counterculture, chillun. It's got a cutter and it likes itself some cookies. Matos is pithy. Howard Kurtz expands. Read the corporate memo. And weep.

Meanwhile, outside the weekly-world news, and on a happier note: Read this interview with Gilberto Gil, not only a brilliant Brazilian musician, godfather of tropicalia etc., etc., but a political figure who, if there were an artistic-expression-activist equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize, would deserve it this year.

There's also a very open and interesting interview with Dave Newfeld of Broken Social Scene on the Toronto Life web site now, an exclusive annex to Jason McBride's feature on the band in the current magazine.

And this is old, but in honour of next week's Constantines show in Toronto (a tour also bringing them to you Americans and yon Europeans) it seems like a good time to put up this link to Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe audio appreciation of the late, lamented Three Gut Records. McLean is often too cardigan-and-golf-cap for me as a radio host, but I was touched by his generous tribute to the young folk (whom he probably only heard about through Vinyl Cafe music programmers such as Owen Pallett and Julie Penner, but still).

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, October 27 at 05:12 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

Life Outraces Satire, Again

Constricting vision slowly .... I feel guilty that this (via Alex) reminds me so much of this.

News | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, October 27 at 02:06 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)

 

October 26, 2005

October, November, Novemberer
(Gig Guide!)

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Left to right, top to bottom: Oct. 28, Nov. 8, Nov. 5, Nov. 11-12, Nov. 13-15.

The Halloween(ish)-to-American-Thanksgiving(ish) live Toronto show calendar is up now! Additions and corrections always welcome.

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.


FRI NOV. 4
* Leftover Daylight w/ COLIN FISHER, ELLEN WATERMAN, EVAN SHAW, ERIC CHENAUX, GEORDIE HALEY, RONDA RINDONE, SCOTT THOMSON, MICHAEL KEITH, ROB CLUTTON, NILAN PERERA, KEN ALDCROFT, JOE SORBARA, various groupings, three sets => Arraymusic Studio, 60 Atlantic Ave., ste. 218, 9 pm, $6-$10
* WE ARE WOLVES, PEOPLE FOR AUDIO => Drake Hotel, $10
* That Crazy American Music w/ ART OF TIME ENSEMBLE => Harbourfront Centre Theatre (231 Queens Quay West), $25-$35 (Nov 4-5)
* HABANA SAX => Lula Lounge, $25-30 (NOV. 2-6)
DEE KAYE IBOMEKA => Hugh's Room, $20
THE ROYAL CROWNS, THE RIDE THEORY => Horseshoe, $10
SHELDON ROURKE & THE LOADED TOY GUN => The Vatican, $5
THE GARDENS FAITHFUL (farewell show), FIFTH BUSINESS, guests => Rancho Relaxo
THE MARK INSIDE, ACTION MAKES, 100% WoOL => The Boat, $5
PALETTE (live turntablist improv) w/ VISION, DJ STEPTONE, NV, THE VINYL KILLER, DJ VETERAN => Trane Studio, $10
MARK EISENMAN TRIO => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St. (Nov 3-4)
Mark de Clive-Lowe's Free Soul Sessions w/ BEMBÉ SEGUÉ => Supermarket, $10
SUE FOLEY => Healey's, $12/$15
CANARY MINE cd release, DJ SCOOTZ, VANESSA JOHN AND THE BACHELORS => Rivoli, $10
ROB CAMPBELL QUARTET => Rex Hotel
DRAGONLORD, ECLIPSE ETERNAL, TRITON, VALKERIES CRY => Reverb, $20
AVENGED SEVENFOLD, SAOSIN, DEATH BY STEREO, OPIATE FOR THE MASSES => Kool Haus, 5 pm, $22.50
AMICI CHAMBER ENSEMBLE, LESLIE KINTON => Glenn Gould Studio, 8 pm, $10-$40
Carmina Burana w/ TORONTO MENDELSSOHN CHOIR => Yorkminster Park Baptist Church (1585 Yonge), $35-$65
GENE DINOVI/DAVE YOUNG => Montreal Bistro (Nov. 3-5)
BELVEDERE, THE FULL BLAST, NIGHTS OF VIOLENCE => Kathedral, $12.50

SAT NOV. 5
** THE REVERIES (Rat Drifting improv trio) w/ JEAN MARTIN play the music of SADE (!) => Tranzac, 10 pm
** JENS LEKMAN, THE PHONEMES, STEVE SHIFFMAN & THE LAND OF NO, art by SHARY BOYLE => The Music Gallery, $8/$10
** QUINTRON & MISS PUSSY CAT, NO DYNAMICS => Silver Dollar, $10.50
* A Midautumn Night's Dream w/ RYAN BISHOPS, NATHAN LAWR, KATE MAKI, RUTH MINNIKIN, DALE MURRAY => Gladstone
* THE HOLMES BROTHERS => Horseshoe, $16.50
* That Crazy American Music w/ ART OF TIME ENSEMBLE => Harbourfront Centre Theatre (231 Queens Quay West), $25-$35 (Nov 4-5)
* HABANA SAX => Lula Lounge, $25-30 (NOV. 2-6)
* TAAFI's BONER party w/ PEACHES, MC TEXASS, BIG PRIMPIN', SCOTT McEWAN/JOHN CAFFREY => Drake, 10 pm, $25
DARK RAVE v.69 w/ DJs B7, PHINK & LAZARUS, FRACTURED, MARA'S TORMENT => Funhaus, $5 b4 11 pm, $10 after
WOODPIGEON (w/ SANDRO PERRI, AARON BOOTH), JAMES ANDERSON (of Singing Saws), more => 78 Crawford St., potluck 6 pm, show 8 pm, free
RICHARD UNDERHILL QUARTET => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
Bright Lights Festival w/ ELBOW, THE DUKE SPIRIT, ISLANDS (ex-Unicorns), THE CALL UP (members of Dears, Stills), THE MELIGROVE BAND, STIRLING, THE COAST, more => Stone Distillery Fermenting Cellar, Distillery District, 55 Mill Street, 3 pm- 1 am, $25
BROTHER'S PAST => El Mocambo, $10
BIF NAKED => Phoenix, 6 pm, $20
BLACK DAHLIA MURDER => Reverb, $16
LINDI ORTEGA, TANISHA TAITT, KELLY GOODLAD => Victory Café, $8
THE TREVOR FINLAY BAND => Healey's
Songs of Hope & Inspiration w/ TORONTO CHILDREN'S CHORUS => Metropolitan United Church (56 Queen East), 3 pm, $25-$40
LINDA ORTEGA, TANISHA TAITT, KELLY GOODLAD => Victory Café, $8
TORONTO SINFONIETTA FEAT. MATTHEW JASKIEWIÇZ => Calvin Presbyterian Church (26 Delisle), 7:30 pm, $30-$50
We Dance w/ DJ SNEAK's Birthday Beats, MARK FARINA, JUNIOR SANCHEZ, TEELOO'S KITCHEN, JASON HODGES, MISCHIEF AND FRANKIE, MARIO J & DOM G => 270 Spadina Ave., 10 pm-8 am, $30+
GENE DINOVI/DAVE YOUNG => Montreal Bistro (Nov. 3-5)
KUSH, NICK BROWNMAN ALI => Gypsy Co-op, $10
BIRDS OF WALES => Lee's Palace, $10
CATCH 22, SUICIDE MACHINES, FLATLINERS => Kathedral, $17
JANINE STOLL cd release w/ MR SOMETHING SOMETHING, LISA WINN, BRIAN MacMILLAN, ANGIE NUSSEY => NOW Lounge, 189 Church, $12-$20 (w/cd)
DJ Starting From Scratch's 15th Anniversary Gala w/ GLENN LEWIS, DIVINE BROWN, JACKSOUL, RAY ROBINSON, KARDINAL OFFISHALL, BLESSED => York Event Theatre (101 Eglinton East), $30
BUBBA & THE AGENTS OF GROOVE, MICHELINE CARONE => Dominion on Queen, $5
Dub & Beyond w/ UNDADOGG, NICK HOLDER, VERSION XCURSION => Andy Poolhall, free before 10 pm, $5 after
CAMERON FAMILY SINGERS => Cameron House
THE GUTTER DEMONS => Cadillac Lounge

SUN NOV. 6
* TAAFI panel on DEEJAYING URBAN INDUSTRIAL ROOTS FROM DETROIT TO DUSSELDORF => Drake, 4 pm, $6
* BROADCAST, GRAVENHURST => Lee's Palace, $15
* FEAR FACTORY, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, ARCANE => Opera House, 7 pm, $25
* PETULA CLARK => Hummingbird Centre, $39.50-$69.50
* HABANA SAX => Lula Lounge, $25-30 (NOV. 2-6)
* SISTERS OF SHEYNVILLE ("yiddish swing chick band"), SHAKSHUKA (Mediterranean groove fusion) => Gladstone, 7:30 pm, $10
* Wavelength 288: Ladyfest Ottawa Tour w/ COUGAR PARTY, THE MAYNARDS, LES ALUMETTES, DJ BANJORDIAN => Sneaky Dee's, pwyc
* COUNTRYPOLITANS, KEVIN QUAIN & THE MAD BASTARDS => Cameron House
ELLEN McILWAINE => Tranzac, 7:30
MODEY LEMON, THE APES => Horseshoe, $8
CONTINUUM presents "In The Asylum" => Music Gallery, 8 pm, $5-$20
Solo Piano Sundays w/ JOE SEALY => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
TORONTO ALL-STAR BIG BAND => Lakeside Terrace, Harbourfront, 2-5 pm
AKADEMISKA SåNGFäRENINGEN => Hart House, 3 pm
BEN LEE => El Mocambo, $13.50
HOOTIE & THE BLOWFISH => Phoenix, 7 pm, $30
BEVERLY TAFT QUARTET => the Rex, 3:30 pm, $5
Christos Hatzis's Sepulcher Of Life , Karl Jenkins's The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace w/ ORPHEUS CHOIR OF TORONTO => Metropolitan United Church (56 Queen E), 3 pm. $10-$30

MON NOV. 7
* OKKERVILL RIVER, MINUS STORY => Lee's Palace, $10
* THE SHOUT OUT LOUDS, ESSEX GREEN => Mod Club, $13.50
* HILARIO DURÁN LATIN JAZZ ORCHESTRA => Mod Club, $20
* The See-Saw Sing-Songer Showcase w/ JON RAE FLETCHER, STU STOUT, GEOFF OLSON, WOODY JAMES => Supermarket, $4
OK GO! => Horseshoe, $13.50
SING THAT YELL THAT SPELL, VOLTAGE => The Bagel
ELANA McMURTRY, DAN FOURIER, ADAM WARNER => Cameron House
SERENA RYDER, JEEN O'BRIEN, JACK BREAKFAST => Mitzi's Sister
RUBEN ESGUERRA, CHIVA => Trane Studio
BIG SMOKE BAND => Dominion on Queen

TUES NOV. 8
** THE NO-NECK BLUES BAND, CCMC, THE DISGUISES => Music Gallery, $10-$12
** ROB CLUTTON => Tranzac, 8 pm
** CHIP TAYLOR & CARRIE RODRIGUEZ => Hugh's Room, $20
** SHOOTER JENNINGS (Waylon's kid), THE HIGH DIALS => Horseshoe, free
* CHRIS COOLE & ERYNN MARSHALL => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
* ROCK PLAZA CENTRAL => Tranzac, 10 pm
TOM WILSON/BOB LANOIS => Drake, 8 pm, $15
RIVER CITY TANLINES (Memphis, ex-Lost Sounds), more => Silver Dollar
RUN WITH THE KITTENS, LICKPENNY LOAFER => Cameron
SECRET ARCADE Tuesdays => The Bagel, 9 pm
The Ambient Ping w/ DREAMsTATE, LYNN HARRIGAN => Hacienda, 9 pm, pwyc
JANN ARDEN => Massey Hall, $49.50 (NOV. 8-12)
STEVE SINGH & HIS HOT SHIT BAND, guests => Cadillac Lounge, 10 pm (every Tues. in November)

WED NOV. 9
** KANYE WEST, FANTASIA, COMMON, KEYSHIA COLE => Air Canada Centre, $45.50-$69.50
** "JUST ACE OF SPADES" Red Cross Benefit w/ six hours of Motorhead's Ace of Spades marathon => The Boat, 8 pm-2 am, minimum pledge $5, downloadable pledge form @ http://www.indiepolitic.org
** THE UNDERHOLDE (Mia Sheard/Leah Salomaa/Chris Gartner/Ryan Granville-Martin/Tania Gill) presents a night of obscure covers w/ JILL BARBER, TORY CASSIS, DAVE CLARK, LORI CULLEN, LILY FROST, JOEL GIBB (The Hidden Cameras), DAN GOLDMAN, KURT SWINGHAMMER, ROYAL WOOD => The Rivoli, 8:30 pm, $10
* THE DINNER IS RUINED, guests => Tranzac, 10 pm, pwyc
* COHEED & CAMBRIA, BLOOD BROTHERS, DREDG, ME WITHOUT YOU => The Docks, $23.50
* High Lonesome Wednesdays w/ CRAZY STRINGS (bluegrass) => Silver Dollar (every Wed.)
* COL. TOM'S SWINGING DOORS, FRIENDLY RICH, more => Cameron
HUNTER VALENTINE, FLIPSIDE COLLECTIVE, J'S BASEMENT, WREN CITY CHURCHES, FOREVER COMES CRASHING => Reverb
KIRK MacDONALD-LORNE LOFSKY DUET => Dominion on Queen
JUNIOR MANCE/ARCHIE ALLEYNE/DON THOMPSON => Montreal Bistro (Nov. 9-12)
NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALL-STARS => Lee's Palace, $17.50
JANN ARDEN => Massey Hall, $49.50 (NOV. 8-12)
EAST VILLAGE OPERA COMPANY => Mod Club, $13.50
CHRISTINE BOUGIE TRIO => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, HELLA, BETWEEN THE BURIED & ME, HORSE THE BAND => Opera House, $20

THURS NOV. 10
** FINAL FANTASY/ NINJA HIGH SCHOOL/ HENRI FABERGE AND THE ADORABLES/ LAURA BARRETT => The Boat, $8
** TIGER LILIES, THE LOLLIPOP PEOPLE => Innis Town Hall U of T, $12 (all ages)
** 416 Improv Festival w/ OPEN HOUSE, QUORUM, THE EVERYTIME BAND, I HAVE EATEN THE CITY, hosted by David Dacks (CIUT/Exclaim) => Tranzac, 8 pm, $5
* KATHLEEN EDWARDS, JOEL PLASKETT => Phoenix, $18.50
* TOM VEK=> Drake Hotel, $15
* New Orleans fundraiser w/ C'MON => Bovine Sex Club
* ARRAYMUSIC cd launch, incl. pieces by JAMES TENNEY, CHRISTIAN WOLFF, JO KONDO, more => Lula Lounge, 9:30 p.m., $5-$20
* DAVID BUCHBINDER cd release, Shurum Burum Jazz Circus => Rex Hotel, 9:30 pm, $12 (Nov 10-11)
* Trumpet Is Jazz w/ LINA ALLEMANO, ADREAN FARRUGIA => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
IMMACULATE MACHINE, SPITFIRES & MAYFLOWERS, THE GUEST BEDROOM => Speakeasy
NINE INCH NAILS, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979 => Air Canada Centre (sold out)
Ciao Edie Roxx w/ CRACKPUPPY, DJ MARTA => Ciao Edie, 9 pm, band @ 11:45 pm, free
Open Door Music Festival w/ JILL BARBER, LADYBIRD SIDESHOW, D'BI YOUNG, KEVIN FOX, MIKE EVIN, AVRIL BENOIT => Mod Club, 7 pm, $15-$25
JUNIOR MANCE/ARCHIE ALLEYNE/DON THOMPSON => Montreal Bistro (Nov. 9-12)
HANSON => Kool Haus, $34.50
ADAM FRANKLIN of Swervedriver (solo) => The Old York,167 Niagara, $5
New Orleans Benefit w/ LES SIX, ARIEL, EDEN ANTS => El Mocambo, $5
JANN ARDEN => Massey Hall, $49.50 (NOV. 8-12)
BOHEMOTH, NECRONOMICOM, EXHUMED, WETWORK => Lee's Palace, $15
GRAND THEFT BUS => Rivoli, $10
THE CHARIOT, EVERGREEN TERRACE, STILL REMAINS, UNDERMINDED, TO CHERISH => Opera House, $12.50
THE KILLAZ, MINDBENDER => Supermarket, $5

FRI NOV. 11
** SHARON JONES & THE DAP KINGS => Horseshoe, $15
** 416 Improv Festival w/ WOODCHOPPERS ASSOCIATION, THE MIROBOLUS TRIO, ODRADEK, hosted by Mike Hansen (CKLN) => Tranzac, 10 pm, $5
* ANDREW BIRD => Revival, 783 College, $12.50
* DAVID BUCHBINDER cd release => Rex Hotel, 9:30 pm, $12 (Nov 10-11)
* Three-Hour Tour w/ DOC PICKLES, BEETHOVEN FRIEZE playing nautical songs => The Boat, $5
* MASTA ACE => Reverb, 9 pm
* LAILA BIALI TRIO => Royal Conservatory of Music, 273 Bloor St. W., $15
* Trumpet Is Jazz w/ KEVIN TURCOTTE TRIO => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
* BELL ORCHESTRE (cd release), KEPLER => Music Gallery
AGNOSTIC FRONT, BRASS KNUCKLE THERAPY, more => Kathedral, $13.50
Pitter Patter Nights w/ IMMACULATE MACHINE, The Postage Stamps => Cameron House
CHILDREN OF BODOM, TRIVIUM, AMON AMARTH => Opera House, $25.50
SOULIVE => El Mocambo, $16.50 (also Nov. 12)
ANDREA HENRY, THE CRYSTAL SOUL BAND => Trane Studio, $10/$15
JUNIOR MANCE/ARCHIE ALLEYNE/DON THOMPSON => Montreal Bistro (Nov. 9-12)
JANN ARDEN => Massey Hall, $49.50 (Nov. 8-12)
CHRIS DE BURGH => Roy Thomson Hall, $59-$75
We Dance w/ DAVID MORALES, NEVIO, CARLO LIO & VINYL JUNKIES => 270 Spadina Ave., 1 am, $30
MATINEE SLIM & THE ULTRALIGHT ORCHESTRA, PETER KATZ => Mod Club, 8 pm, $12
Orbit Room 11th anniversary w/ALEX LIFESON, JACK SEMPLE, DAVE MURPHY BAND, THE DEXTERS => Orbit Room, $15
BEAT SOCIETY w/ MR. ATTIC, MOSS, AGILE, MARCO POLO, SUPASTITION, KING REIGN, ZAKI => Reverb, 9 pm, $15-$20
THE LIVING THINGS, THE ROPES => Drake, 11 pm

SAT NOV. 12
** 416 Improv Festival w/ CCMC + SCOTT THOMSON, NICK FRASER AND JUSTIN HAYNES ARE FAKING IT, KEN ALDCROFT’S CONVERGENCE ENSEMBLE, RYAN DRIVER’S FAKE NEW AGE MUSIC BAND, hosted by ZOILUS => Tranzac, 9 pm, $5
** SHARON JONES & THE DAP KINGS => Horseshoe, $15
* THE CRIBS, LONGWAVE, GIANT DRAG => Lee's Palace, $13.50
* Milk party w/ LADYTRON => Gypsy Co-op
* STEPHEN PARKINSON, ALLISON CAMERON compositions performed by MARTIN ARNOLD, ALLISON CAMERON, ERIC CHENAUX, EMILY PARKINSON, STEPHEN PARKINSON, MARCUS QUIN => Arraymusic, 60 Atlantic, $5
* MICHAEL FRANTI => Bloor Cinema, $24.50
* Trumpet Is Jazz w/ DAVID BUCHBINDER QUARTET => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
* RON DAVIS QUARTET w/ THE SHIMMERING RHYTHM ENSEMBLE => Isabel Bader Theatre (91 Charles West), 7:30 pm
JANN ARDEN => Massey Hall, $49.50 (NOV. 8-12)
New Music Concerts: A Scelsi Centenary w/ LOUISE BESSETTE, piano => Music Gallery (197 John), $5-$25
CHILDREN OF BODOM, TRIVIUM, AMON AMARTH => Opera House
SOULIVE => El Mocambo, $16.50 (also Nov. 11)
JUNIOR MANCE/ARCHIE ALLEYNE/DON THOMPSON => Montreal Bistro (Nov. 9-12)
Celebration of Long John Baldry w/ DANNY BROOKS, PAPA JOHN KING, MR RICK & THE BISCUITS, ROY YOUNG, GREG GODOVITZ, JOHN DICKIE & THE MISSISSIPPI HIPPIES, more => Hugh's Room, 8:30 pm, $20-$25
MATT MAYS & EL TORPEDO, THE NOVAKS => Opera House, $15
FIRE HYDRANT => Lot 16 (1136 Queen St. West), free
SIANSPHERIC, TOSHACK HIGHWAY => Drake Hotel
BUTCH WALKER, DAMONE => Mod Club, doors 7 pm, $13.50
SALSA SATURDAY w/ DIEGO MARULANDA + PACANDE => Lula Lounge, $10
Embryon Just 1 Fixx w/ ANALOG PUSSY, LOU CYPHER PROJECT, DEZTRO, EXT, DHARMA LAB => Funhaus, $10-$15

SUN NOV. 13
** JOHN CALE, PRIYA THOMAS => Lula Lounge, 6:30 pm doors, $25 (Nov. 13-15)
** Wavelength 289 w/ BRIAN BORCHERDT, MINSK MENSK, OHBIJOU, DJ SELECTIVE SERGERY => Sneaky Dee's, pwyc
* ART BRUT, THE DIABLEROS => Lee's Palace $12
AMERICAN ANALOG SET => Horseshoe, $12
HIM, FINCH, SKINDRED => Kool Haus, $23.50
OAR, MICHAEL TOLCHER => Opera House, $22.50
BACKWOOD JUSTICE, BARN OWL, RICHARD LAVIOLETTE, MEN WOMEN KIDS & BUFFALO, CHRIS YANG, FIN => Rancho Relaxo, 8:30 pm, $7
Solo Piano Sundays w/ GARY WILLIAMSON => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
KEN PERLMAN & ALAN JABBOUR => Tranzac, 7:30 pm

MON NOV. 14
** JOHN CALE, PRIYA THOMAS => Lula Lounge, doors 6:30 pm, $25 (Nov. 13-15)
* Open Mic w/ ALEX LUKASHEVSKY => Tranzac, 9:30 pm
ARCTIC MONKEYS => Lee's Palace, $10
GOGOGOAIRHEART, THE JOGGERS, DDMMYYYY => Sneaky Dee's, $8

TUES NOV. 15
** JOHN CALE, PRIYA THOMAS => Lula Lounge, doors 6:30 pm, $25 (Nov. 13-15)
* VIDEO GAMES LIVE (Orchestral Arrangements of Game Music, inc. Halo, Frogger, Everquest, Mario, Zelda, Tomb Raider, more) => Massey Hall, doors 7 pm, $39.50-$59.50
* BAD RELIGION, ANTI-FLAG, PROTEST THE HERO => Kool Haus, doors 7 pm, $34.50
* ILLUMINATI, MARK INSIDE, PRIESTESS, more => Horseshoe
GEORDIE HALEY TRIO => Tranzac, 10 pm
RICHARD UNDERHILL cd release => Montreal Bistro
The Ambient Ping w/ SOFTWARE, TOASTYBIRD VISUALS => Hacienda, 9 pm, pwyc
PHILOSOPHER KINGS => Mod Club, 8 pm, $21.50
THE CHOIRGIRLZ => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St., 8:30 pm, $10
STEVE SINGH & HIS HOT SHIT BAND, guests => Cadillac Lounge, 10 pm (every Tues. in November)

WED NOV. 16
* LOLLIPOP PEOPLE, JOHN OSWALD/SCOTT THOMSON, JOHN KAMEEL FARRAH  => Cameron House, $6
* BAUHAUS => Kool Haus, $42.50
* High Lonesome Wednesdays w/ CRAZY STRINGS (bluegrass) => Silver Dollar (every Wed.)
* TERRY KING => Rex Hotel
* THE DINNER IS RUINED, more => Tranzac, 8:30 pm
SUNDAR VISWANATHAN/DAVID BRAID => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
THE IMMORTAL LEE COUNTY KILLERS => Horseshoe, doors 9 pm, $8
Secret Arcade Tuesdays => The Bagel, 9 pm
ROSANNE AGASEE QUARTET => Montreal Bistro
Orthopedic Foundation jazz benefit w/ NORM AMADIO, TOMMY AMBROSE => Lula Lounge, 7 pm, $20
THE SILENT => The Horseshoe Tavern
The Venatio de Spero Fall Tour w/ GREELEY ESTATES, MY AMERICAN HEART, A CHANGE OF PACE, AGENT SPARKS, THE CONFESSION => El Mocambo, all ages, doors 7 pm, $15
THE MARIGOLDS w/ GWEN SWICK, CAITLIN HANFORD, SUZIE VINNICK => Hugh's Room, $14-$16

THUR NOV. 17
** LYLE LOVETT, JOHN HIATT, JOE ELY, GUY CLARK => Massey Hall, $49.50-$69.50
** PHOSOPHORESCENT, CASTANETS => Sneaky Dee's
** SOUR KEYS, VERMICIOUS KNID, BURDOCKS, GERMANS => Rancho Relaxo, 9 pm, $6
* RAINER MARIA, FIVE BLANK PAGES => Lee's Palace, $10
* Club Filth w/ DJS ARE NOT ROCKSTARS (w/PRINCESS SUPERSTAR, ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE) (NYC), MISS B-HAVE & WANNABEASTAR (NL), JOOST VAN BELLEN (NL), FRITZ HELDER & THE PHANTOMS, more => State Theatre, 69 Bathurst, 9 pm, $12.50 adv.
* NICK 'BROWNMAN' ALI TRIO => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St. (Nov 17-18)
IVAN BANFORD & COLIN ANTHONY => Tranzac, 10 pm
BORODIN QUARTET => George Westin Recital Hall (5040 Yonge), $35-$65
DAN MCVEIGH cd release => Hugh's Room, $10-$12
AMANDA MARTINEZ & EVARISTO MACHADO => Lula Lounge, 9 pm
JULIE MICHELS QUARTET => Montreal Bistro (Nov. 17-19)
JIM HILLMAN’S MERLIN FACTOR w/ TUKU => Rex Hotel (Nov 17-18)
EUGENE RIPPER'S FAST FOLK UNDERGROUND => Drake Hotel, 9 pm, $10

FRI NOV. 18
** DRUMHELLER => Tranzac, 10 pm
* THE FLESHTONES => Opera House, $10
* SARAH HARMER, THE WEAKERTHANS => Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front W, $30
* Rendezvous with Madness film festival presents THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON (documentary) => Workman Theatre, 1001 Queen St. W., $8
* LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, THE JUAN MACLEAN, ARTHUR BAKER, SHIT ROBOT, KENNY GLASGOW, WILL MUNRO, A.D/D => Kool Haus, $25
* NICK ALI TRIO => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St. (Nov 17-18)
FRONT 242, GRAY AREA => Guvernment, doors 7 pm, $25
Mini-Shoegazer Fest 3 w/ AIDAN BAKER, OFF THE INTERNATIONAL RADAR, DIAGRAM & THE SLEEPING KINGS OF IONA => Sneaky Dee's, $5
MEMBERS OF THE PRESS , BLUESCREEN => El Mocambo  $5
ANDREA HENRY, THE CRYSTAL SOUL BAND => Trane Studio, $10/$15
THE RIZDALES, ATOMIC 7 => Cadillac Lounge
JIM HILLMAN’S MERLIN FACTOR w/ TUKU => Rex Hotel (Nov 17-18)
APRIL WINE => Club 279, $20-$25
DROPKICK MURPHYS => Docks, doors 7:30 pm, $20.50. 416-870-7000.
AEROSMITH, LENNY KRAVITZ Air Canada Centre, doors 6:30 pm, $59.50-$119.50
ALL AMERICAN REJECTS, ROONEY, ACADEMY IS => Phoenix, doors 5 pm, $21
FOZZY, REASON DISAPPEARS => Opera House, $20
JULIE MICHELS QUARTET => Montreal Bistro (Nov. 17-19)
Cuban Fridays w/ CAFE CUBANO => Lula Lounge, $10
DARLENE, SWEETWATER WOMEN => The Kitchen (983 Victoria Park Ave)

SAT NOV. 19
* Small World Music presents THE DHOAD GYPSIES OF RAJASTHAN => Jane Mallet Theatre, 27 Front Street, 8 pm, $30
* Acoustic Harvest Folk Club w/ THE FOGGY HOGTOWN BOYS => Birchcliff Bluffs United Church, 33 East Rd., 8 pm, $15
* RYAN DRIVER QUARTET => Tranzac, 10 pm
RIZDALES, ATOMIC 7 => Cadillac Lounge
BLACK KEYS => Opera House, $15
JENG YI (Korean drums) => Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles West), $15-$20
MASTA ACE, WORDSWORTH, DJ A VEE => Reverb, 9 pm, $22.50
KAMELOT, SEVEN WITCHES, PENETRATOR => Lee's Palace, $24.25
THE PLANET SMASHERS => Horseshoe, $10.50
Toronto Music Expo w/ JEFF HEALEY & THE JAZZ WIZARDS, KITTIE, ROSES IN THE SNOW => Metro Toronto Convention Centre (255 Front West), 11 am-6 pm, $10 (Nov 19-20)
JULIE MICHELS QUARTET => Montreal Bistro (Nov. 17-19)
VICTOR BATEMAN QUINTET => Rex Hotel
Salsa Saturday w/ CACHE => Lula Lounge, $10
DARREN SIGESMUND QUINTET => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.

SUN NOV. 20
** COACH HOUSE BOOKS launches uTOpia: Towards a New Toronto w/ REPUBLIC OF SAFETY, FREE SCHOOL, more => Gladstone, 2-5 pm panels & activities, 8 pm-midnight music, $5
* Solo Piano Sundays w/ HILARIO DURAN => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
DR. DRAW => Hugh’s Room (Nov. 20-21)
Wavelength 290 w/ RAISE THEM & EAT THEM, THE VERTICAL STRUTS, DJ CHICKEN LEGS => Sneaky Dee's, pwyc
Toronto Music Expo w/ JEFF HEALEY & THE JAZZ WIZARDS, KITTIE, ROSES IN THE SNOW => Metro Toronto Convention Centre (255 Front West), 11 am-6 pm, $10 (Nov 19-20)
BOBBY WATT => Tranzac
BARRY ROMBERG cd release => Rex Hotel
REEL BIG FISH, THE TOSSERS => Phoenix, $19.50

MON NOV. 21
* Grand Festival of Autumnal Happiness w/ "N" (Rob Clutton/Ryan Driver/Lina Allemano); A PEOPLE'S FAME (John Millard/Tania Gill/Jay Burr), SHUFFLE DEMON DUO (Rich Underhill/Stitch Wynston) => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St., 9 pm, $6-$10 (see also Nov. 27)
THE EFFECTS (Tulsa) => Silver Dollar
DR. DRAW => Hugh’s Room (Nov. 20-21)
NICK CUDA => Lula Lounge
Open Mic w/ BEN SURES => Tranzac, 9:30 pm

TUES NOV. 22
** In The Boneyard w/ THE HIDDEN CAMERAS & TORONTO DANCE THEATRE => Harbourfront, $17-$38 (adv. purchase recommended) (Nov 22-26)
** SHALABI EFFECT (Mtl), FEUEURMUSIC => Drake, 10:30 pm, $10
* EDGAR BREAU (ex-Simply Saucer) & TIM BUTLER (ex-Tim McB, Garble Rays) => Cameron House, $6
* BILL MAYS/TERRY CLARKE/NEIL SWAINSON => Montreal Bistro (Nov. 22- 26)
The Ambient Ping w/ SYLKEN, URM, ANOMALOUS DISTURBANCES & GENERAL CHAOS VISUALS => Hacienda, 9 pm, pwyc
GREG HOBBS => Tranzac, 10 pm
KELLY PERRAS => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
STEVE SINGH & HIS HOT SHIT BAND, guests => Cadillac Lounge, 10 pm (every Tues. in November)

WED NOV. 23
** In The Boneyard w/ THE HIDDEN CAMERAS & TORONTO DANCE THEATRE => Harbourfront, $17-$38 (adv. purchase recommended) (Nov 22-26)
* LOLLIPOP PEOPLE, JAMIE WAYNE, SLY JUHAS DUO => Cameron House, $6
* High Lonesome Wednesdays w/ CRAZY STRINGS (bluegrass) => Silver Dollar (every Wed.)
* THE DINNER IS RUINED, more => Tranzac, 9 pm
* BILL MAYS/TERRY CLARKE/NEIL SWAINSON => Montreal Bistro (Nov. 22- 26)
* ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN => Carlu, $27.50-$30
* ERIC BOGLE => Hugh's Room, $25-$27.50 (Nov 23-24)
* MATT BRUBECK/DAVID MOTT => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
OTTMAR LIEBERT, LUNA NEGRA => Winter Garden Theatre, $49.50-$57.50
THE SMASH UP, YOUTHINASIA, WHEELS ON THE BUS => Drake, $10
JAMES BLUNT => Mod Club, 8 pm, $16.50

THUR NOV. 24
** In The Boneyard w/ THE HIDDEN CAMERAS & TORONTO DANCE THEATRE => Harbourfront, $17-$38 (adv. purchase recommended) (Nov 22-26)
* ERIC BOGLE => Hugh's Room, $25-$27.50 (Nov 23-24)
* BILL MAYS/TERRY CLARKE/NEIL SWAINSON => Montreal Bistro (Nov. 22-26)
* MARILYN LERNER'S MAD SATIE TRIO => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St. (Nov 24-25)
* THE MIGHTY GILL => Tranzac, 10 pm
* EAGLE & HAW, JAY BURNSTICK, NADJIWAN, WOLF PACK, TAGAQ => Silver Dollar, 9 pm
THE SHOW BIZ INDIANS, MARC NADJIWAN, host LORNE CARDINAL => Tranzac main hall, 8 pm
LES SIX => Reverb
BARENAKED LADIES, BUCK 65 => Massey Hall, doors 7:30 pm, $42.50-$69.50 (Nov 24-25)
DOXAS BROTHERS QUARTET => Rex Hotel (Nov 24-25)

FRI NOV. 25
** In The Boneyard w/ THE HIDDEN CAMERAS & TORONTO DANCE THEATRE => Harbourfront, $17-$38 (adv. purchase recommended) (Nov 22-26)
* BILL MAYS/TERRY CLARKE/NEIL SWAINSON => Montreal Bistro (Nov. 22-26)
* MARILYN LERNER'S MAD SATIE TRIO => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St. (Nov 24-25)
* DEEP DARK UNITED => Tranzac, 10 pm
DIONNE TAYLOR, PAT LaBARBRA => Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts, 5040 Yonge, $40
The Bass Game w/ IDUBNEWYORK feat. RAS KUSH, DUB STYLIST, GNOSTIC ROCKET => Club Trinport, 249 Ossington, $10
FELIX DA HOUSECAT, KENNY GLASGOW => Mod Club
CONTROLLER.CONTROLLER => Spin Gallery, $10
LOWEST OF THE LOW => Horseshoe, $10.50 (Nov 25-26)
LES SIX => The Edge, free
RUSSELL WATSON => Roy Thomson Hall, 8 pm (doors 7 pm), $49.50-$69.50
TOBAGO SIGNAL HILL ALUMNI CHOIR => St Andrews Presbyterian Church (73 Simcoe), 7:30 pm, $30-$40 (Nov 25-26)
DOXAS BROTHERS QUARTET => Rex Hotel (Nov 24-25)
Salsa Friday w/ CACHE => Lula Lounge, $10
BARENAKED LADIES, BUCK 65 => Massey Hall, doors 7:30 pm, $42.50-$69.50 (Nov 24-25)

SAT NOV. 26
** In The Boneyard w/ THE HIDDEN CAMERAS & TORONTO DANCE THEATRE => Harbourfront, $17-$38 (adv. purchase recommended) (Nov 22-26)
** CONTINUOUS DICK (aka POLMO POLPO), TINKERTOY, ADAM MARSHALL => The Boat
** MARTIN ARNOLD & ERIC CHENAUX => Tranzac, 10 pm
** TORNGAT, HYLOZOISTS => The Boat
* ASHLEY MACISAAC cd release => Hugh's Room, $28-$30
* STYROFOAM, ALIAS, ESTHER DRANG => Rivoli
* BILL MAYS/TERRY CLARKE/NEIL SWAINSON => Montreal Bistro (Nov. 22-26)
Edge Electric Xmas w/ THEORY OF A DEADMAN, HURST => Opera House, $18.50
WOMEN’S BLUES REVUE w/ SUZIE McNEIL, LEE AARON, SALOME BEY, ROXANNE POTVIN, SHAKURA S'AIDA, DIONE TAYLOR, host SHELAGH ROGERS => Massey Hall, 8 p.m., $35–$45
ECCODEK, DJ MEDICINEMAN => Drake, 9 pm, $15
HOUSE OF DOC => The Speakeasy, 120 Church St., 9 pm
TOBAGO SIGNAL HILL ALUMNI CHOIR => St Andrews Presbyterian Church (73 Simcoe), 7:30 pm, $30-$40 (Nov 25-26)
The Box Salon (readings/film/music/etc) w/ JASON CAMLOT, LINDA GRIFFITHS, KAREN HINES, IZABELLA PRUSKA, DAVID HYDE, DAVID MCGIMPSEY, MICHAEL TURNER, “mystery rock band” => Rivoli
Salsa Saturday w/ CAFE CUBANO => Lula Lounge, $10
THE LAWS => The Kitchen (983 Victoria Park Ave)
JAMES COTTON => Healey's, $20
MOST SERENE REPUBLIC, DEBASER => Lee's Palace, $10A Baroque Christmas w/ THE MUSICIANS IN ORDINARY =>Heliconian Hall (35 Hazelton), $15-$20
JOSH RAGER SEXTET => Rex Hotel
LOWEST OF THE LOW => Horseshoe, $10.50 (Nov 25-26)
SCOTT MARSHALL TRIO => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
THE WEBER BROTHERS => Stone's Place, $10
THE DIABLEROS, UNCUT, LIPSTICK MACHINE => Sneaky Dee's, $10 (incl. CD)
ANDREW MACPHERSON, DJ MEDICINEMAN => Drake, $15
Toronto Wildlife Centre benefit w/ CARBONAS, DIABOLLOCKS, PANTYCHRIST, PSYCHOPATHOS, THE FALLOUT => Vatikan, 9 pm, $5

SUN NOV. 27
* Grand Festival of Autumnal Happiness w/ SELINA MARTIN, BOB FENTON, DON FRANCKS & THE TIM POSGATE HORNBAND => St. Andrew by-the-Lake, Toronto Island Church, 2 pm, $6-$10
* ROGUE WAVE => Lee's Palace, 9 pm, $10
* Solo Piano Sundays w/ DAVID BRAID => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
KONOVETS QUARTET (Russian male a capella ensemble) => Eglinton St. George's United Church (35 Lytton), 2:30 pm, $18
Wavelength 291 w/ LUNCHMEAT, FIVE BLANK PAGES, THE ACORN, DJ RYAN => Sneaky Dee's, pwyc
JOHN LEGEND => Massey Hall, $38.50-$57.50
LYNN MILES => Hugh's Room, $17-$19
BOB SEELEY/BOB BALDORI => Rex Hotel

MON NOV. 28
** BETTYE LAVETTE => Lee’s Palace, 8 pm, $15
* DAMIAN MARLEY => Guvernment, $32
RUNCIBLE SPOON cd release => Montreal Bistro, 9 pm, $10
SERAFIN w/ THE ROYAL JELLY ORCHESTRA, guests => Mod Club
Open Mic w/MIKE OVERTON => Tranzac, 9:30 pm

TUE NOV. 29
* DOUG TIELLI => Tranzac, 10 pm
The Ambient Ping w/ INSIDEAMIND, PHOLDE => Hacienda, 9 pm, pwyc
Fado Blues w/ CATARINA CARDEAL, MIKE SIRACUSA => Lula Lounge, 8:30 pm, $15
PIRATE JENNY => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.
STEVE SINGH & HIS HOT SHIT BAND, guests => Cadillac Lounge, 10 pm (every Tues. in November)

WED NOV. 30
** LOLLIPOP PEOPLE, BOB WISEMAN, HANK COLLECTIVE  => Cameron House, $6
* High Lonesome Wednesdays w/ CRAZY STRINGS (bluegrass) => Silver Dollar (every Wed.)
* SARAH HARMER => Harbourfront, $31 (also Dec 1)
* THE DINNER IS RUINED, more => Tranzac, 10 pm
HAWTHORNE HEIGHTS, SILVERSTEIN, BAYSIDE, AIDEN => Phoenix, $21.50
GARY BENSON/DUNCAN HOPKINS => The Red Guitar, 603 Markham St.

Read More | Live Notes | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, October 26 at 07:41 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

One-Tune Tomes, Continued

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Plenty of interesting contributions to the single-song book discussion in the Comments. Among books that collect one-song studies, I'd add last year's anthology The Rose & the Briar: Death, Love & Liberty in the American Ballad, edited by Greil Marcus & Sean Wilentz. And yes, I have and admire the Friedwald book, too, Jody - and the Douglas Wolk book on Live at the Apollo is one of my favourites in the 33 1/3 series. You should absolutely read it, though I'm not sure it's got the definitive take on Papa's Got a Brand-New Bag.

Still, it's clear there are lots & lots & lots of essays on single songs. (In audio form, I'd refer you to the NPR 100 Songs project too - it's got Papa's but not John's nominee, Caravan.) You find it in quicker form in many "list" books as well, such as Dave Marsh's greatest-rock-singles book and David Cantwell and Bill Frikiscs-Warren's Heartaches by the Number, for instance. It's an excellently elegant form, and certainly not yet overdone or even enough-done; I really want to take a crack at some point. But the single-song book is a virtuoso test-piece, really stretching the limits. It risks seeming like an overextended article, I agree (I suspect the Louis Louis book is like that), but if done right it also dares to try to use that song as a way to illuminate a whole period or a whole historical thread - and history in turn to illuminate the song.

(The idea of Tagg's 400-page musicological analysis of the Kojak theme, however, makes me gag a bit. Though I'm also helplessly curious. I do like the dry self-awareness - I think? -of its title: 50 Seconds of Television Music.)

But what do I know? I'm also intrigued by those books that use Salt or Sugar or Coffee or the Pencil or the year 1910 as a hub for a historical exploration. It's a very creative and often revelatory approach, as long as the author isn't dumb enough to believe his publisher's hype that, y'know, Codfish Explains Everything and/or Saved the World. That particular part of the trend has gotten way out of hand - it used to be that such books were called "the cultural history of fish" - now it's "the fishy history of culture," which is way dumber.

Keep the bookworthy-songs nominations (and bibliographical notes) coming. I'll compile the list when all ideas are in. Hell, maybe I'll approach a publisher and give 33 1/3 a run for its tiny-music-book money: Now with even more miniscule subject matter and packaging! (They would be the size of Hanuman books [and I think that example is even a little bigger than actual size].)

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, October 26 at 12:21 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (15)

 

October 25, 2005

Ich Bin Ein Irving Berliner
(Plus: Single-Song Studies!?)

IrvingBerlin.jpg

While your proprieter has been busy back-and-forthing with his web sherpa on details of the forthcoming Zoilus redesign, as well as beavering away on the final version of this month's Toronto gig guide, some of this site's smartest readers have been making magic in this here Comments section with a Battle of the Patriotic American Songs, a welcome tangent from this site's slight over-preoccupation with Liz Phair this week. Especially not to be missed is Jody Rosen's extensive recontextualization of God Bless America and the remarkable MP3 he posts of Irving Berlin's own heart-rending rendition of it. Jody is too modest to mention that he's something of an expert on Berlin, as the author of a fine book about Berlin's (and arguably America's) greatest hit, White Christmas. If you note the URL on that link, you'll see you're getting a preview of Jody's own a-birthin' blog The Anachronist, which is slated to go live any moment now. On the subject of America the Beautiful, I'd also mention Lynn Sherr's lefty book about the song as well as my own related piece on the reference to the tune within Chicago jazz trio Sticks and Stones' album Shed Grace last year. (Scroll down to the second article.)

Jody and Sherr seem to be among a small handful of writers who have done whole books about single songs. The book-on-one-album genre is now well-established, arguably even oversaturated, with the 33 1/3 and the apparently abortive Vinyl Frontiers series, as well as Kingsley Abbot on Pet Sounds (bringing the total of Pet Sounds books to three if you've been following along), or the "Making of" books on Kind of Blue and A Love Supreme. But single-song books? There's also Greil Marcus's recent tome on Like a Rolling Stone, David Margolick's on Strange Fruit, naturally several on The Star-Spangled Banner (of which this is probably the best) and a lot of songs-turned-into-picture-books. (Know any others?) It's a thrilling challenge, well worth it when the writer digs into history for unexpected twists as Jody does, but a risky one, as Marcus's mixed reviews indicate. (I haven't cared to read it, and I'm usually a GM fan.) After all, how many songs can carry the freight? St. Louis Blues occurs to me as a rich possibility. But a book on the most-recorded song, Yesterday, would be a guaranteed snoozer. What would your nominee be?

Also: Our pal in campus-radioland, Helen Spitzer, seems to be taking up blogging duties in earnest this month, and now she's adding her own Spitzcast. Spitzer's an indie loyalist (and, to tie the bow neatly, a frequent cameo in the Comments box hereabouts) but one of particular discernment, and I'm eager to cozy up to her hitlist.

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, October 25 at 12:35 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (13)

 

October 24, 2005

Republic of Melody

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RoS: From left, Jonny Dovercourt (gtr-vox), Maggie MacDonald (vox), Kate McGee (bass), Katarina Gligorijevic-Collins (bass), Evan Davies (drums-mayhem). Photo by whom-else-but Aperture Enzyme.

Caught the Republic of Safety set at kool teen-feminist mag Shameless's party at the Gladstone yesterday afternoon. (Not a difficult catch, since I currently live at the Gladstone.) Besides Evan's ever-expanding capacities as between-song raconteur (his Hallowe'en "scary stories" about Olestra, tinted contact lenses and chicken fingers were fantastic), the great development is that frontlady Maggie has begun to sing actual tunes through entire songs, rather than just doing her riot-grrrl-rap-yelling (which is beloved but risks a queasy combination of sexiness and monotony over a whole set). And it turns out she can carry them. It's a great leap in self-assurance from her musical start with the Hidden Cameras to her Barcelona Pavilion days to now. (See the Shameless interview w/her this month, or my profile from the spring.) You're Only Lonely is a superb new song, with its stop-yer-sobbin' sentiments arrestingly conveyed.

Weekend Review Column
OVERTONES

Our first indie-rock prime minister?

CARL WILSON
1,104 words
19 March 2005
The Globe and Mail, R9

‘You know who's having the best sex? The people who pay the highest taxes!”

In some looser-hipped Canadian future, it might become a campaign slogan. For now it's rock 'n' roll stage patter, part of a stream of shouted provocations from the lips of Maggie MacDonald, lead vocalist of the Republic of Safety, a woman who never needs to resort to “How ya doin', Toronto?” to command attention.

Republic of Safety, which launches its debut Passport EP tonight, is a kind of political punk band the world hasn't heard before — one that agitates not for revolutionary utopias, but for a very Canadian moderation.

Then again, the typical punk singer isn't a former NDP candidate for the provincial legislature, as MacDonald was in 1999 in her hometown of Cornwall, Ont. She was just out of her teens, in a Fugazi T-shirt and Doc Martens, and ran respectably against an Ontario Conservative cabinet minister. She's worked as a party organizer through subsequent campaigns.

Being a musician was one of the few goals the young writer and activist “never dared dream about,” but she gained confidence after being recruited by friends to play crowd animator in successful Toronto indie bands The Hidden Cameras and Barcelona Pavilion. And she knew what she would sing about: “All I ever think about is politics and sex,” she laughs.

That suited Jonathan Bunce, better known locally as Wavelength music-series organizer Jonny Dovercourt, who was happy to give his high-school pen pal free reign as long as he could underscore her thoughts with scuzzy pinball guitar riffs. Add twin basses, drums and the conceit of a fantasy nation that both parodies and celebrates the Canadian identity, and you've got the Republic of Safety.

MacDonald continues to tour with the Cameras, and has also formed an all-female trio called the Dating Service. She is surprised by the music scene's embrace, but shouldn't be. Gregarious but self-effacing socially (I've known her casually for several years), she's a fury in the floodlights — howling, dancing, stage-diving and generally exhorting audiences to drop all cool pretenses and join her in the dizziness of the moment.

What's odd is hearing this rock 'n' roll energy channelled into not-so-rock 'n' roll subjects such as jobs, resources, trade and social democracy. One can only imagine what foreigners would make of it. But in the afterlife of the several deaths of rock, perhaps it's Canada's turn to scream, not for riots in the street but for a renewal of communal values. Laying waste to society's structures? Neo-conservative politicians are on top of it, thanks.

So, unlike past rock rabble-rousers such as DOA or the Clash, this group has for a logo not an anarchy symbol, but a safety belt. Which is both funnier and, frankly, more challenging.

“You can get up on stage and say ‘Smash the state!',” says MacDonald, “but the people in the audience aren't going to go smash the state. What's the state? It's an abstract concept. But if you talk about methods of demanding a more representative government, or concrete problems like keeping Canada out of missile defence — these are possible goals, but urgent possible goals.”

MacDonald comes by her homespun radicalism naturally, having grown up in a U.S. border town as the daughter of a feminist, union-activist school teacher and a soft-spoken bartender father with a bent for Bob Dylan. She saw Cornwall's factories and jobs move south and leave behind PCB-contaminated brownfields and a suspicious cancer cluster. While she studied her share of political theory at the University of Toronto, the stakes for her are gut-level.

And it's the immediacy that makes it rock. “It's important to turn our eyes to the world as it is and as it ought to be tomorrow, and I don't mean 10 years from now. I mean when you wake up in 24 hours.”

In the anti-free-trade Get Your Horses Back, the band proclaims: “North of the nation of fear/ We have a responsibility/ To build a republic of safety.” This corny Canadian image of order and security sounds peculiar rattled around by thorny guitar and drum lines.

“I've always wanted,” says MacDonald, “to communicate these ideas in a way that doesn't just take away mental energy [as politics can], but gives people an excitement.”

Where politics produces platitudes, rock demands sex appeal, and Republic of Safety cries out as brazenly for better orgasms as for the welfare state.

“One thing I like to say is, there can be no lust for a better world without lust! So we need to promote lust.

“People are repressing their feelings and afraid of their desires, so afraid that they don't know what they are. But when they're invited to feel sexual, they're invited to express desire, and then you can say, well, what else do you desire? You also desire, for everyone, something better.”

Toronto music fans like to joke that MacDonald will end up as the first indie-rock prime minister. She doesn't rule out an eventual return to the electoral fray, though she knows her saucy stage history could raise criticism.

“I write lyrics that have swear words in them. And I make jokes at rock shows that I wouldn't say to a general audience of families and voters. . . . But I don't sing vacuous words. Even if I'm sometimes saying things that are contradictory and complicated, I can explain and stand behind what I'm saying. And I think that's something that is lacking in politics. People's mouths are open, but what's coming out?

“When you poll Canadians, the most memorable, most popular prime minister that we've had — and I'm not saying that he was perfect or that he was right — but the one people care about most was Trudeau. He swore, he was weird, people thought he was gay, he had a funny flower, he did pirouettes, he took risks and he was wild. And people liked him for that.

“So if someone that has a rock 'n' roll background comes into politics, having serious concerns, that's a good thing. I would vote for me — and I'm pretty skeptical.”

To which I can only add: Me too.

For outtakes from this interview, see The Maggie Tapes.

Read More | Live Notes | Posted by zoilus on Monday, October 24 at 02:46 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)

 

October 23, 2005

It's Their Party (Gore v. Phair)

Nice catchup with Lesley Gore - feminist, lesbian, Democratic activist and singer of bubblegum hit It's My Party in 1963 - in The New York Times today. Whodathunk? And on that note ...

I sympathize with those who find the current incarnation of Liz Phair unconvincing, but I think the hoax "Liz Phair Week" over at The Mystical Beast is excessively meanspirited - implying not only disrespect for Phair's choices (as is Dana's right) but contempt for anyone who does like the last two albums, with an adopted voice that strongly implies "stupid young girl naif," a repugnant level of snobbery. (Edit: Okay, on second glance I'm not sure what made me think it was meant to be a girl's voice, except that it would be typical-rockist-etc.)

That said, it was a clever move, applying the mock-blog technique (a la Harriet Miers) to music criticism. [... continues, with Liz Phair's take on The Star-Spangled Banner ...]

I haven't really read the Beast much before, so it took me a day to clue in (see my overcredulous comment on the first post linked above). The best element is the running commentary formed by the accompanying MP3's, with the likes of Kicking Giant, Barbara Manning etc. as counterexamples to what Dana obvs considers Phair's crass turn.

S/he makes a more judicious case in an earlier post: "I know that there are any number of 'betrayal' issues relating to the Liz Phair backlash, but what always strikes me is that she seems like a 'small' artist (small voice, small stature, poor live performance, songs about little things) who looks slightly ridiculous trying to play a rock star." There's some truth to that - but there would also be some truth in saying Phair has also always had the magnetism on record of a rock star, and to some degree seemed awkwardly crammed into her own "smallness."

In any case the sourness of the blog prank seems much more the work of someone who does feel personally betrayed, which is a more childish reaction than thinking (as her blog persona is made to) that wearing a CBGBs t-shirt is significant one way or another.

I won't be at Phair's show tonight in Toronto but if you do I bet you'll enjoy it - her live performance skills are so much better than in the old days, and she always plays a spectrum of material to please "the bride's side and the groom's side," as she's described her divided audiences. Anyone got video of her baseball-game God Bless America rendition yesterday? Going by this Believer interview, too bad she wasn't asked instead to perform The Star Spangled Banner. I don't yearn to hear her straining for the high note ("freeeee!") but I like her take:

"I think the National Anthem is a really genius song. It's so radical if you think about it. It's about war; it's truly, authetically about people who are in the midst of a very scary situation. It's really inspiring. It's got an intense melody; it's not structured. Think about it: [Sings] Oh say can you see, by the... They probably lost half of the men they knew yesterday in that battle. What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming. It was beautiful. It's so moving if you think of it as real. If you don't just take it as what you hear at sports games, but rather think about who's involved in singing it. Is that flag still there, and all that it means? And that's that moment. They're not saying, 'What a great flag we have. In battle we follow it.' They're actually bringing you into it. Cut into the middle of the movie after the big-ass battle. Imagine Hollywood doing it: it's their big last brawl and people have lost their brothers and they're weary and in the trenches and it has symbolism and the flag is a symbol for it. It's just such a moving, brilliant song. It kind of awes me because I don't think anything I ever write has that kind of intensity to it. Okay, so I had a bad night with a guy. It's different than fighting for your life next to your brothers for a symbol, for an America that doesn't even exist yet. It's just a dream, and it's embodied in a piece of cloth. It's so intense that you come up after this battle in the morning, just at the crack of dawn, where you're sort of gathering the losses and trying to figure out what really happened and how you feel about that. Is it worth your life, or your brother's life, or these peoples' bloodshed for this thing that's just a symbol? And then the melody goes soaring up to a point you can barely even reach and I appreciate that because I think the song itself should be a struggle to make you realize what you're singing about. It shouldn't be an easy toss-off song, and it does that without seeming to. I think it's a brilliant song.

Not someone to dismiss as a bimbo, even if you dislike her tactics.

Read More | News | Posted by zoilus on Sunday, October 23 at 05:24 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (11)

 

October 21, 2005

'They're Planets, Just Like Us'

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The Elliott Smith memorial wall on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Thoughts today on two contemporaries - one who died, a year younger than me, and one who survived, a year older. Listening to their music you always could have guessed which would be which.

Elliott Smith's apparent suicide took place two years ago today. I shared my reaction and reflections with a music-discussion mailing list that day; a week later (Oct. 28) they became the first post on Zoilus. Unreleased studio recordings have apparently been circulating on the net this week.

A live review of a Liz Phair concert was the first thing written specifically for this site, a couple of weeks later. Today I've got a piece in The Globe and Mail about Phair's new album, Somebody's Miracle, in anticipation of her concert here on Sunday. Readers of both articles might notice that I've grown even more enthusiastic about her last album since then, but overall the thrust of both reviews is similar to what I said then: "the perennial devotee's demand that she reliably serve our needs and not fuck up... is an expectation she's never once encouraged or fulfilled before. The degree to which the Liz Phair album is full of wrong moves ... is the degree to which it is in fact perfectly in character."

Comparing the two of them, who both came out of the box with that wary, mocking gaze that middle-class North Americans our age adopted as a spiky covering to fend off a sense of insignificance (compared to the boomers, compared to the metastasization of media that we grew up with, compared to what looked like a culture without time or space for us), Smith always stayed stubbornly, vulnerably in character while Phair became the chameleon, and ever more so in recent years, willing to adapt, grow gills to breathe the same polluted waters on which Smith seemed to choke. (We're going back to that subject of why Kurt Cobain, who was exactly my age, looked like more than just one dead rock star.) Neither choice is ideal. But we don't get an ideal choice. The whole "problem" is a privileged condition. And more than ever, as much as I empathize with and often admire the martyrs, I side with those who want to stay and fight, even if it sometimes means playing possum, slipping on the disguise. It's moving when Destroyer sings, "Don't become the thing you hated." But all kids hate grownups, and I still want to be one, as messy and discouraging as that can be.

Also in today's Globe, a review of the new Freakwater album, Thinking of You...: O Grrrlfriends, Where Wert Thou? Kentucky-based duo Freakwater drew a line in the mud between country traditionalists and the "alt-country" fans of the 1990s. Setting sharp atheistic irony to old-timey string-band music was bad enough; the off-kilter harmonies were beyond toleration. But Catherine Irwin and Janet Bean were only bending the sound to the warped America they knew. On their first reunion this century, they belt out that painfully smart malcontentment with fresh vigour. Slithering textures by Chicago mutant-roots band Califone (electric guitar, pump organ, baritone ukelele) distance the music even further from any trace of purism. And in Bush country, it sounds like an arriving cavalry. (Freakwater plays the El Mocambo on Saturday.)

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Now here's a little savoir Phair. Blogfight connoisseurs, notice the gratuitous M.I.A. reference.

[... continues ...]



MUSIC
A Phair mix in a muted tone

By CARL WILSON
The Globe and Mail
Friday, October 21, 2005

A rising young songwriter recently told me that non-musicians didn't get it: "They think you're plotting out your whole career when actually you're spending hours searching for a rhyme for 'hat rack.' "

I recalled those words as I combed through a dozen years of clippings about Liz Phair. She's just released her fifth album, Somebody's Miracle -- or, as journalists subtitle it, The Follow-Up to Her Controversial Bid for the Mainstream. Among many fans and critics, 2003's Liz Phair met with the sort of heckling that dogged Bob Dylan's "gone electric" tour: "Judas!" Or rather, "Jezebel!"

Some said the Technicolor production on songs such as minor hit Why Can't I? proved the artist who made 1993 alt-rock landmark Exile in Guyville had mortgaged her soul. Others clucked that the salacious lyrics and risqué cover shot were unseemly for a lady of 36, even though those were the elements most similar to a decade earlier.

This is the special flavour of venom spat at women who set their own courses in male-dominated genres. Witness the current Internet sniping at British rap upstart M.I.A. But it's particularly reserved for Phair, who's never been willing to pick a side, as either vixen or waif, arty recluse or ambitious careerist, raw memoirist or myth-making manipulator.

That refusal may be a privileged one, but so is the cult demand that she remain rigidly faithful. The indie diehards remind me of her son pouting at her suitors in the song Little Digger, "My mother is mine." Except that they're not toddlers. Chronologically.

They forget that 1993's Liz Phair was sneered at for being an upper-class schoolgirl from the Chicago suburbs who couldn't play live and was not from the music scene. (All basically true: Guyville was her attack on that world, particularly an alt-rocker ex-boyfriend.) They also seem to have missed the pop leanings of the albums between her debut and her big-budget rebirth.

Phair always had a slippery sense of humour. By giving her last album her own name, was she identifying it with her "true self," or referring to her public image in the third person, as she often does in interviews? Few noticed that in her scantily dressed cover photo she held her guitar so that it formed a slash: "Liz/Phair," as in "Either/Or."

I thought the album a grand romp, second only to Guyville itself. Why Can't I? brashly swiped the sound of Avril Lavigne's teen hit Complicated to address something genuinely complicated, adultery. (After all, Lavigne's persona came down from Guyville, via Alanis Morissette, in the first place.)

My first reaction to Somebody's Miracle, with its more "organic" adult-rock sound, was that it was a failed triangulation, straining to win over both old and new fans. I blamed the backlash for the wall of cliché that is lead single Everything to Me, her blandest song ever. (The blah band-in-rain video says it all.)

But what if Phair was just searching for rhymes for hat rack?

The muted tone might merely reflect her current state of mind as a divorced Los Angeles mom. And some of Miracle makes me gasp. In the title track, she despairs: It seems I may never know how/ People stay in love for half of their lives./ It's a secret they keep between the husbands and wives:/ There goes somebody's miracle, walking down the street.

Being close to Phair in age, I find her passage from the overly knowing cynicism of Guyville to this unsteady humility all too familiar.

The dirty talk and production styles never really mattered. But neither Phair nor her critics seem to see clearly enough that her songs win or lose on distinct melodic hooks and uniquely telling lyrical details. Period.

Take the perfect Liz Phair twist midway through Leap of Innocence, a thumping ode to lost love: "And my mistake/ Was being already married." Or the acoustic Table for One, which rummages through an alcoholic's bottles, hidden in holes in the walls.

Such moments don't quite rescue Miracle from its weaker half. And Phair is at the end of her famous five-album record deal - what if it's not renewed? She has expressed envy for self-employed artists such as Ani Difranco, an option cut off mainly by her early stage fright, which limited her touring. She has beaten it now, so maybe the straight-A student will risk the entrepreneurial route at last.

Meanwhile, the catchiest chorus on the new album is on Stars and Planets, ananti-celebrity anthem that (sounding like John Lennon's Instant Karma) astronomically observes, "Stars rise and stars fall/ But the ones that shine the brightest aren't stars at all/ They're planets, just like us." That is, they're vast unknown spheres, whose orbits happen to catch the light.

I'll mind that thought before I second-guess Liz Phair again.

Liz Phair plays the Phoenix on Sunday, $20.

Read More | In Depth | Posted by zoilus on Friday, October 21 at 02:32 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (9)

 

Thursday Reading on a Friday Morning
(or, The Wild Kindness)

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Help help help Montreal's The Adam Brown: Benefit next Thurs.!

The only things musically worth reading in Eye or NOW this week are 1. Dave Morris's interview with the Coup about how exactly you recover your career after putting out an album cover showing the World Trade Center being blown up, a few days before the WTC actually was blown up. And 2. Battling conversations with hip-hop record-collecting pioneer Freddy Fresh, who's spinning at Supermarket tomorrow (Fri Oct 21) night. Not that there isn't other good music mentioned in their pages (Ninja High School, Freakwater, the Bellrays) but this week's penmanship is at low ebb. So let's look elsewhere.

Sit right back and my colleague Robert Everett-Green will tell you the tale of a fateful trip in which Dr. Dre and Burt Bacharach somehow end up recording together. It's funny because it's true.

The latest buzz, fuelled by Drag City's release of this joke 7" to accompany the Silver Jews' new Tanglewood Numbers, is that there may finally be some substance given to the long-rumoured Silver Palace project, i.e., a collab' between David Berman and Will Oldham. Presumably as Oldham aka Palace aka Bonnie Prince Billy's way of helping Berman aka DC Berman aka the Silver Jews aka Mr. Jews out of his shyness about live performance and into a viable touring position. Tour schedules have been bandied about, though not in any very reliable way. Where's the reading here, you ask? Check out this week's Berman profile in the New York Times by Wyatt Mason, with whom I was dancing at a wedding last weekend, by pure coincidence. I mean, we weren't set up by David Berman or anything. And okay, he was dancing with my wife and ignoring me completely. It was very romantic. And if you think that was namedropping, you ought to check out this (frankly, pretty compelling) gossipy blog.

Lee Henderson introduces you to the next big Vangroovy thing, They Shoot Horses Don't They?, in PopMatters: "You've driven down the main street of your city with the doors wide open and you shot your guns in the air and cried out to be Free! Free! Free!, all the while listening to underground music from the worst parts of the world, and you wondered what band could ever express this feeling you have, this feeling that life is only worth living if we can somehow find a way to celebrate the worst of humanity. The crimes committed against truth require a soundtrack and They provide it."

I hear that Billy Joe Shaver, who had just broken off an engagement when I interviewed him on-stage in Toronto this summer, has now gotten married to another young woman - Wanda Lynn Canady, who wed the old five'n'dimer on Sept. 26. Not bad for a cowboy of 66 whose previous three marriages were all to the same woman! (Move along, nothing more to read here.)

A song cycle based on Strunk & White's The Elements of Style.

Indie rock's favourite mixed drinks.

When emo songwriting meets the reality-dating show.

Creepiest kiddie act ever.

I'm a bit in love with Sarah Silverman. I know, get in line. Behind this week's New Yorker, for instance.

And my friend Carl A. Zimring (a voracious music fan and former campus-radio DJ, among much else) finally releases the book of urban-environmental history he's been working on since I first met him, which always sounded fascinating to me. But I'm a geek.

And that's all for tonight.

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Friday, October 21 at 12:35 AM | Linking Posts | Comments (3)

 

October 18, 2005

Blind Items! True Lies!

C. What U.S. newspaper of record has assigned an American writer (best known for her account of how teenagers are "branded") to chronicle the Toronto music scene for its Sunday magazine, with research already underway? Does it have anything to do with their shame and embarrassment over this? Let's hope it works out better than last time.

U. What public radio service of a nation known for its unfortunate dental hygiene is devoting a two-part series to the music of its former colony, "The Maple Music Revolution, from Joni Mitchell ... to the Arcade Fire"? (See lower half of first page.) Given this picture (note the dentistry), which side of that range is expected to get more of its due? And what true patriot music label seems to be getting a bit of a boost here?

R. Meanwhile, which of the hardest-working men in Torontopia has so had it with the commercialization of "indie" music that he is considering moving to Vienna and launching a squash magazine (about the racquet sport, not the root vegetable) called Physical Chess?

I. And what Nashville label is crying "BLAME CANADA!" over its own demise?

O. What minimalist composer who is not Philip Glass will be delivering a lecture to supplement his concert in Toronto next week?

U. What area band made our day by finally putting an end to their miserable reign, though their lead singer has yet to guarantee that he won't turn any more local autonomous music events into absurd fiascos? (A reference to what happened here - the documentation of which, tragically, disappeared with the demise of that message board.)

S. What ex-critic from a newspaper mentioned above, and more recently former organizer of a fantastic event at one very shiny boondoggle of a museum in Seattle, has taken advantage of her newfound free time to start a blog, thereby making us a little happier? When will her rock-crit husband, laid off from the same institution, follow suit?

Y. Likewise, which fine local avant-garde jazz radio program has made our lives brighter by launching a podcast?

E. What other radio program that I've previously covered here, this one produced by a national broadcaster closer to home, won a prestigious international award while its staff was locked out, but is now at least getting another airing of its eight episodes (beginning, forgive me, last weekend, but continuing the next two months) on Sundays at 4 pm, 4:30 pm in Newfoundland?

T. What website devotes itself to the memory of Honeymoon Killers, Voice Farm, The Nails and other unlikely objects of veneration circa 1980-1985, with a new pick each week?

?. And finally, which harp-plucking songwriter, invariably described as "elfin" and much admired on this blog, recently told an Australian publication what a "nightmare" it has been to deal with the misinterpretations of herself and her work that are rife: "... I'll read something about unicorns, fairies, princesses, things that're supposedly in my music, but there's not a single line in any song that I've ever written that refers, directly or indirectly, to any of those things," she says. "A lot gets written about the innocence that the songs contain, but innocence most certainly is not an idea that I'm interested in, musically speaking. ... [My songs] are the product of just living on Earth, which make them the exact opposite of innocence." Her next album will consist of 10-minute-plus songs primarily about "longing and death," which ought to rattle a few tin ears.

News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, October 18 at 10:00 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (8)

 

Goats Move Mountains (Live)

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John Darnielle and friend.

Last night's Mountain Goats show was a bit more satisfying if not quite as energetic as their visit in May. The set list seemed more thoughtful, or perhaps it was me, no longer just so excited to be seeing tMG after all these years and so more able to notice details. With the absurd amount of competition in the clubs - from Son Volt, Feist and Wolf Parade - the crowd was smaller, so there was more intimacy between us and John Darnielle (and Peter Hughes, whose use of bass as a lead instrument to JD's rhythm guitar continues to amaze), but also between the devotees, who drew two encores from a visibly weary John. The crowd seemed to be familiar mainly with the 4AD material - I think I was the only one who shouted in approval when songs such as Tollund Man, Twin Human Highway Flares or even Color in Your Cheeks surfaced. The high point, however, came when he was joined on-stage by opening band The Prayers & Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (Darnielle made pointed remarks about the band name - he'd have called it just The Prayers, he said, but the band's Christian humility is satisfied by having people mock and insult their name; I call them PaToADS for short). Lousy name or no, they rawked out, leading JD to do something I couldn't have imagined - he set down his guitar, took the mic in both hands and acted like he was actually the lead singer of a rock band. This happened in the song Against Pollution, which ends with a kind of apocalyptic vision, and John put one foot on the monitor, leaned out over the crowd, extended his arm and howled it out like a preacher. Indelible.

Of equal note, though, on more conventional tMG grounds: It occurred to me during a beautifully hushed rendition of Love Love Love (one of several songs he sang very very quietly last night, which was spine-tingling) that while there are many songs out there referring to Kurt Cobain's suicide, that's the only one I know that mentions him by name. It seems of a piece with Gus Van Sant's Last Days in marking the point at which Cobain's become a historic pop-cultural icon - a James Dean, albeit with a somewhat more complex significance; a reference point. Some critics found the Cobain verse awkward but I think they were actually just projecting their own self-consciousness; it's as fluid as the lines about King Saul or Sonny Liston. (I love the emphasis on his vulnerability and humanity in Darnielle calling him "young Kurt Cobain.") I think Darnielle was pointedly claiming the touchstone, saying that it's as valid as American Pie's reference to James Dean - that you don't have to be clever or sociological or allusive or territorial about it, you can just tell it straight-on. It's bolder than it first sounds, I think: Quietly setting its teeth to assert, "There's nothing cheap about this" - especially in the context of an album about Darnielle's own drug-addicted youth. (It would also be an apt song to sing at any Elliott Smith memorial concert, on this weekend's second anniversary of his death.)

Another small exquisite touch, almost unnoticeable, was in Color In Your Cheeks, a song (in my reading) about the treatment of refugees. The final verse normally goes, They came in by the dozens, walking or crawling/ Some were bright-eyed/ Some were dead on their feet/ And they came from Zimbabwe or from Soviet Georgia,/ East Saint Louis, or from Paris/ Or they lived across the street/ But they came, and when they'd finally made it here/ It was the least that we could do to make our welcome clear:/ Come on in... Without making a point of it or even leaning on the altered words, Darnielle has changed the Paris line to or New Orleans.

Chatting afterwards with the friend who came with me, who'd never seen tMG before. She was shocked at his energy and humour, expecting a more sombre person. That contrast is one of my favourite things about Darnielle. We spoke about sad songs sung in upbeat ways, as in klezmer or the blues. She made a comparison I'd never thought of before, between tMG and the Wedding Present - both Darnielle and David Gedge often singing dark stories (both strongly narrative and usually fairly realistic, excepting Darnielle's myth songs) in fast rock rhythms and major chords, using sophisticated language. Of course, Gedge is English and thus hangdog and sarcastic, and also much more concerned with playing with classic elements of songwriting form - with his rhymes and cadences and pop references. While Darnielle is American, and thus less guarded, but more literary and prosodic, trying to do things songs don't normally attempt but poems and novels do, which gives him a wider subject range, and his songs feature more epiphanies - and more violence.

I also thought: If you picture Darnielle as a skinny 17-year-old Californian with long stringy hair, wearing a band t-shirt and being the jumpy, bookish smartass in a small clique of goth/metal depressives, his personality doesn't seem so incongruous after all.

Live Notes | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, October 18 at 06:40 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

October 17, 2005

Scratch, Blur, Burn

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This weekend left me weakened: It was like some kind of travelling salesmen's convention - no sleep, hotel rooms, endless cocktails, a lot of American strangers and yelling. So I come to the internerd today creeping on wobbly knees. All for good reasons though - a wedding that ranks as pretty much the most joyful nuptials I've ever had the pleasure to witness. Congrats to Bez and Hannah. And they had a great klezmer band, too, with lead vox by Dave Wall (of the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir & much more) - as well as a Russian Vegas-meets-turbo-folk band that was, well, something to remember. The musical highlight was the bride and groom's own duet on a Russian song they wrote together (not that the bride speaks Russian, but she sure can sing) that was kinda thrash-polka, and whose chorus sounds like "Put it in your boots! Put it in your boots!" I suppose you had to be there. Drunken groupsinging in the shuttle bus at 1:30 in the morning, ranging from Till There Was You to hammy Marlene Dietrich parodies to Guns'N'Roses and Meatloaf was - well, I adore drunken groupsinging, and yes, it was a very white crowd.

While I'm being chummy, I should also shout out a hurrah to my pals Doug and Liz on being divebombed by the stork this weekend: And then there's Maud!

Beyond the bonhommie, I had a couple of fine musical experiences: On Saturday night, as part of the Soundplay festival, I saw the French group Cellule d’Intervention Metamkine at the Latvian House on College: It's an ensemble (or, as they so frenchly say, "variable geometric structure gathering different musicians and cineastes") that, at least in this performance, improvised with two projectionists using multiple 8- and 16-mm projectors bounced off mirrors onto a feature-film-sized screen, various supplementary light sources and piles of film stock that they scratch, blur and burn, along with Jérôme Noetinger making electroacoustic music on tape recorders, synthesizers and effects pedals. So far, so 20th-century-avant-garde, I know, but the experience was so immersive and hypnotic, so unpredictable and (to use an overabused term, but it truly applies here) synaesthesic, I felt like my brain was pumping out the myelin, forming new neural connections every second of the 40 mins. or so they "played." (For one thing considering the aura of film as opposed to video, its materiality, the volatility of its chemistry, and how the wonder of its capturing image and light is totally forgotten when you're watching a narrative movie.) As well, as many people have noticed (and pardon my rockism), even though two work with image and one with sound, they're so interlocked that it's a lot like a band. Albeit a band you can't really find because they're all scattered around the room sitting on the floor in heaps of equipment. See them if ever you can.

The same night we hit Maggie MacDonald's benefit show for her upcoming Brechtian-indie-rock-theatre opus The Rat King (website not yet live) (see what Sally McKay had to say when the project made its rough-draft debut in my Tin Tin Tin series last year). Metamkine made me late for Mrs. Zoilus's reading, but I arrived in time to hear the faboolus Phonemes lay down the most rawked-out, bite-yer-ear-off rendition of their sweet quiet bilingual music ever, despite having James from the Singing Saw Shadow Show filling in for Mathias on drums with darting lights of panic in his eyes and bassist Liz's microphone being turned down too low for her harmonies to be heard. When I asked singer Magali after the show why the sudden fierceness, she gave the credit to her stomach infection. Intestinal fiyah! (During the set, she said, "I have just one message for you here tonight: Wash your hands. Often.") Magali is, by the way, the lead actress in The Rat King. They were followed by a stripped down version of the playwright's own band, Republic of Safety - sans their two bassists, with just guitar drums and voice. The trio was in peak form (especially drummer Evan, who at one point made a joke about fruit roll-ups and Maggie's vagina to which I cannot possibly do justice). RoS sounded about twice as punk as usual in this trebly configuration, and they noticed it, too - somewhere late in the set there was a spontaneous Minor Threat Wire cover. Watch for The Rat King at Toronto theatres in January.

News | Posted by zoilus on Monday, October 17 at 03:16 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (3)

 

October 14, 2005

Vindication

Finally, somebody agrees with me about Antony and the Johnsons.

Ben Ratliff today in The New York Times: "an unfortunate mixture of desolate, tortured camp and parched tastefulness."

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Friday, October 14 at 02:08 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

'Once You Don't Know Nothin,
You Can Do Somethin'

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The Sun Ra Arkestra.

In various editions of The Globe & Mail today, you'll find three efforts from me.

1. An essay on the social and musical significance of the late, superlative jazz eccentric Sun Ra - and the latterday Sun Ra Arkestra's struggles in trying to carry on his legacy. The piece includes an interview with Arkestra leader Marshall Allen, who brings the band to Toronto's Lula Lounge (a very cozy venue!) from Tuesday through Friday next week. [... Read it here ...]

2. A review of the new Tangiers album, The Family Myth. Three outta four stars: As Dorothy found out on her trip in the twister, sometimes you need to go away to understand where you're coming from. After their head-turning 2003 debut Hot New Spirits and the internal turbulence that scuttled the potential of last year's Never Bring You Pleasure, Toronto band Tangiers decamped to that latter-day Oz, New York, to record this third album. And while 1960s garage rock and the Clash remain templates, this set also suggests a savvy update of their home town's wide-eyed, jangling Queen Street sound of the 1980s. If Tangiers once seemed like a clique of bright boys declaring their presence in hooky fits and starts (attracting misleading Strokes comparisons), songs such as Dredging the Harbour and Classless and Green now paint broader landscapes in splatters of oil and musk. They're as worthy of note as Metric or Hot Hot Heat, but the risk is whether the tastemakers behind the curtain can be unfickle enough to embrace the second-last "next big thing" over again.

3. And in the Vancouver edition, a short piece on the Interference: Static X Static festival, which brings Quebec musique actuelle luminaries such as Jean Derome and Joane Hétu together with Vancouver improvisors and international figures such as Fred Frith, Janek Schaeffer and Kaffe Matthews. The piece reflects a bit on the two solitudes of improvisational strength in Canada, in Quebec & B.C. I didn't have space to raise a question often on my mind, which is why those scenes seem so much better nourished than the one in Toronto - if not necessarily in terms of talent, in terms of community and audience development, and also perhaps in the sense of a local stylistic exploration that seems more well-defined and distinct from other places. Some Toronto musicians have argued to me that Toronto does have that; as a more-than-casual but less-than-immersed observer, I don't feel that it's quite gelled, though it's emerging more clearly lately, now that there's more crossover for example between the Rat-drifting group of musicians and the more jazz-based improvisers. (See Zoilus entries past on the group Drumheller, for example.) Is such a coherence even desirable? Certainly Toronto's diversity is a plus. Yet there's something undeniably stirring and emotionally compelling about the Vancouver and Montreal scenes' sense of place and moment. I'd love to jaw more with people about these issues.



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Marshall Allen.


Sun Ra's stream of consciousness still flowing into the future

By CARL WILSON
The Globe & Mail
Friday, October 14, 2005


The reality of the "off-the-grid," shunted-aside mass of the African-American underclass rarely breaks through to popular attention. It happened during the Los Angeles riots of 1992, and again after the New Orleans hurricane disaster this fall. Each time, the reaction is as if the media's so-called observers had stumbled on a previously undiscovered planet of want in the western cosmos.

Turn that image on its head, to picture a new world of freedom and plenty for those same people, and you glimpse a strain of astro-Afro-utopianism that runs through 20th-century black movements, such as Garveyism, Rastafarianism, the militantly mystic Nation of Islam, and the music of Herman (Sonny) Blount -- legal name at his death in 1993 Le Sony'r Ra, and more familiar on this astral plane as Sun Ra.

Blount "arrived" on Earth circa 1914, in segregated Birmingham, Ala. -- en route, he maintained, from Saturn. Over his 79 years, dozens of musicians passed through his Sun Ra Arkestra in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and, for six months in 1961, Montreal. They recorded more than 100 albums and untold numbers of singles, with titles such as Heliocentric Worlds, Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy and Space Is the Place (also the name of a recent biography, and a documentary available on DVD).

The Arkestra also garbed itself in colourful robes and ram-horned headgear that seemed to come out of a Hollywood Cleopatra epic. It snaked through audiences chanting: "It's after the end of the world, don't you know that yet?" It played unheard-of chord changes, skronked and squealed, and sang "Rocket No. 9 taking off for the planet Venus, Venus, Venus."

In consequence, Sun Ra is often patronized as some sort of jazz Dr. Seuss by pot-smoking college kids intent on getting off on the far-out. Yet, the "myth science" taught by the former big-band and strip-club pianist went deeper for his musicians. They were the descendents of Africans who'd been brought into bondage by ship; maybe another ship -- a rocket, at least of the mind -- could get them out.

"You want a better world, play better music," says Marshall Allen, the 81-year-old alto saxophonist who now leads the Arkestra, which will hold court for four nights at the Lula Lounge in Toronto this week, still wearing its space gear and chanting its mantras.

The Arkestra sails on, Allen says, at Sun Ra's dying request: It was the last tune he called. And Allen composes new repertoire, despite the band's vast back catalogue, because "you have to stay with the vibrations of the day -- it goes around and it's constantly changing."

While Ra was alive, with his constant cosmic jive patter, even appreciative critics generally considered him an isolated sideshow. The story looks different in retrospect. Besides sketching the contours of free jazz a decade ahead of time, Sun Ra and his groups pioneered modal improvisation and the use of electric pianos and synthesizers. Even when they didn't have electronic instruments, Allen says, "you had to take those saxophones and make them sound like it."

The Arkestra adopted African and "world" elements to jazz before anyone else did, and Ra was an autodidact in Egyptology and other esoterica long before it became fashionable Afrocentrism. As Amiri Baraka wrote after Ra's death: "It was Sun Ra and the Myth Science Arkestra that marched across 125th Street with us . . . announcing the 60s cultural revolution and sparking a Black Arts Movement."

Sun Ra's tenor-sax player, the late John Gilmore, was an acknowledged influence on John Coltrane. Pharoah Sanders is a former Arkestra member. Sun Ra's mark is as visible on the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (including the likes of Anthony Braxton and the Art Ensemble of Chicago) as on the 1970s funk-rock "Mothership" piloted by George Clinton with Parliament-Funkadelic and, by extension, on all jazz-fusion music.

It was no lark to be an Arkestra member. Sun Ra's rehearsals were marathon conditioning sessions that could last days, recalls Allen, who joined in 1958. "You got paid to come to rehearsal -- you might not get paid to play the gig." The edict was that a musician could not play what he knew -- he had to play what he didn't know. Allen puts it in a Socratic aphorism: "Once you don't know nothin', then you can do somethin'."

But the prohibitions went further. Musicians were required to abjure alcohol, drugs and the company of women. From the 1960s on, they were enjoined to live in the group's communal Philadelphia row house. Call it monastic or call it a cult. Sun Ra, who was jailed during the Second World War for his conscientious objection, sometimes described the Arkestra as a non-violent army.

Biographers dispute whether Ra was a traumatized person retreating into fantasy, or a sly satirist fully in command of his metaphors. I suspect it was both, at once escape and assault, just as he was at once an innovator and a traditionalist. Under Allen's more earthbound direction, there's stronger emphasis on the Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson swing standards Sun Ra always loved, plus the "simple melodies" Allen prefers to write, albeit with the Arkestra's "unique attack."

In his 1995 Sun Ra elegy, Baraka called Allen himself "a giant . . . There is no alto saxophonist I know today, or generally, hipper than Marshall." He added: "That this is not common knowledge is depressing."

The living Arkestra's position remains scandalously insecure today, despite wider recognition of its late leader's significance. The economics are punishing when you have to maintain a large band (such as the 14 players Allen hopes to bring to Toronto) as well as the legacy that resides in the communal Philly house where Allen still lives.

"You've got to suffer non-payment of rent in order to buy you an instrument or something you need to play," he says. "The music is for the future -- Sun Ra was saying that then. It was a good thought, that it'd come back around. But what about now?"

The old recordings have been reissued on CD and probably sell better than a lot of jazz does, but Sun Ra's management neglected to ensure any royalties would flow to the band. It's the perennial story of black journeymen abandoned by the music business. New Orleans floods, Sun Ra's roof leaks; the black Atlantis has yet to surface. But Allen will never yield.

"It's the size of your spirit. You can have all the material things, but then you've got to lift your spirit up to the height of the money you've got all stacked up there." He chuckles. "It's a balance thing in this world."

And if this one refuses to provide, you hold that vision of other worlds that will. It's a balance thing, but not, so far, a just one.

The Sun Ra Arkestra plays Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas St. W., Oct. 18 to 21. $30. 416-588-0307.

Read More | In Depth | Posted by zoilus on Friday, October 14 at 01:14 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

October 13, 2005

Thursday Reading: Take Me Out

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They still aren't the new Beatles, but I may have to reconsider my complete apathy towards Franz Ferdinand now that drummer Paul Thomson has proclaimed their love for the Barcelona Pavilion in today's Now Magazine, even wisely singling out (by its opening Fall quotation) the New Materiology single, which was also the drug of choice for the late, great John Peel.

And how's that for a segue: Today's John Peel Day! Sure it's evening, but there's still time to get your teenage kicks: The Guardian has a festschrift's worth of articles. Thinking of Peel raises my objections to this new me-myself-and-iPod era in which we're all supposed to be our own DJs - whether it was Peel or Brent Bambury or fill-in-your-local-hip-radio-personality-here, the warm intimate tones of a trusted disembodied voice remains the most soulful means of being introduced to undreamt-of music, second only to mainlining via friends and lovers. And yeah, I do mean that radio is better than mp3 blogs. Will podcasts be able to fill that void? To some degree, maybe, but the fragmentation that accompanies it as a medium partakes as much of alienation as of communalism. But we'll see what develops - if it can be arranged so that John Sakamoto can play whole tracks without getting special permission from a label, that will be a step. I don't always want to be my own DJ, anymore than I want to grow my own food or be my own garbageman. This means, somewhat to the chagrin of my teenage-anarchist self, that I am essentially pro-civilization. Sometimes the cyberweb seems to have other ideas. (Though not the same other ideas as these folks.)

Also in the weeklies in Toronto today: Wolf Parade don't believe their own hype (no, really!); Adult. questions the guitar=rock equation; Elliott Brood, um, broods; are Les Angles Morts the Arcade Fire's equivalent of Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe (or is that just more A.F. snake oil? see Wolf Parade, above).

Tim Perlich Crank Watch: Yeah, right, people who want to see a Matthew Barney frigging film are going to be "driven away" by Bjork's music. Has Perlich ever seen a Barney film? "Beatless and creepy" is nothin' compared to a giant football field of descending testicles.

And last but far from least, how galactic formation relates to chord changes. That one relates to this weekend's fascinating-sounding Gravitas event at the Music Gallery, an all-too-rare marriage of science and art in which composer-improvisor John Kameel Farah will accompany animated visualizations of "the dynamics of galaxies using supercomputer simulations" created by astronomer John Dubinski. I can't make the gig, dammit, but many people should. (Likewise to Sunday's Damo Suzuki show with members of Broken Social Scene and Do Make Say Think!)

Plus: Everybody's talkin' bout bagism, shaggism, thisism, thatism, and as usual about M.I.A., this time for licensing Galang to Honda, slapping her with her "don't sell out to product pushers" line. I refer you back to Eppy's reading of that song and that line as a self-conscious contradiction in a dialogic soliloquy, and ahead to DJ/Rupture's 10-Step Guide to Selling Out.

Story of the week, though, is probably the great J.T. LeRoy literary hoax. Or "lifestyle," as one possible perp puts it. Whoa. Not that it's entirely unexpected, but its overall success (movie deals, etc.) is on a historic scale. I think the logical next step is for other people autonomously to begin writing "J.T. Leroy" books, converting it into a diffused multiple name a la Karen Eliot/Monty Cantsin/Luther Blissett. Let her/him/them sue, and then we'll have some fun.

Housekeeping: A complete Zoilus Toronto Gig Guide update for late Oct. and early Nov. should roll out in the next 24 hours or so.

Oh! And BIG UPS and congratu-fucking-lations to Harold Pinter for winning the 2005 Nobel Prize!!! They sure got this one right. I love his response too: "I think the world has had enough of my plays."

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, October 13 at 06:15 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

October 12, 2005

It's Listometric

If you're the type to get involuntarily agitated or aroused by lists of records, the music-is-baseball sort who finds it hard to delink sex and statistics, you should be hanging out with Phil and Scott - the former being Phil Dellio, who is giving a guided annotated tour through his entire 3,500-strong record collection, and the latter being Scott Woods, who is doing a battle-of-the-lists rundown through the Rolling Stone and Blender Top 500 Albums. While you're at it you should be following Freakytrigger's truly awesome Popular, in which Tom Ewing (the creator of the I Love Music message board and NYLPM) presents "The UK's 1000+ Number One Hits since 1952, reviewed, in order, irregularly, for as long as I can bear to keep doing it. A history of pop in the shape of a chart."

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, October 12 at 03:31 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

Vavoom! Ray Pettibon

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In passing, however, I must say one thing that has pressed upon me lately: "Choo-Choo!" (1999).

I've just caught up (tardily, I know) with Michael Kimmelman's scorcher of a profile from Sunday's Times Magazine of Los Angeles artist Raymond Pettibon, best known to music geekery as the cover artist for early Black Flag, for Sonic Youth's Goo, etc. - and brother of Black Flag & SST Recs founder Greg Ginn. The mysterious outline traced of their family, especially their father, is fascinating. Apparently Ginn and Pettibon, once very close, don't see one another anymore - Kimmelman speculates that Ginn is jealous of his brother's success, but that seems the reading of an art-world person, from outside the context where Ginn is still a big name at least in a historical way. I've always had the sense that Ginn's withdrawal from view had more to do with SST's messy final years than anything else. (Though he did step briefly from the shadows for the Black Flag reunion two years ago.) Kimmelman's armchair-shrink treatment of Ginn is typical of his condescending treatment of music people thru the piece, unfortunately. Despite the fact that Pettibon's reputation was established directly through the postpunk subbacultcha, MK - and another MK he interviews, artist Mike Kelley - presumes that Pettibon's fans there didn't actually understand RP's work: "The punk audience liked his art because it was illustrational and there were jokes about hippie culture and film noir," says Kelley. "But what I liked about it was that it had this very knowing, winking position vis-à-vis hippie and punk culture." Because a "knowing, winking position" is so very different than "jokes"? Oh, because all non-professional-artists are uninformed, unreflective idiots. Right. Disappointing coming from Kelley, tho hardy unexpected from the Times. But the piece is worth your attention anyhow.

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, October 12 at 12:43 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (9)

 

October 11, 2005

Edwardian Soccer Uniforms Lead to "Honeyed Melody
& Avant-Electronics" aka Orgy (Plus: MEG Montreal)

I almost never post press releases but this sounds fun. Anyone know if he's any good? I am trying not to be scared off by the initials IDM. It's part of RESfest.

Daedelus @ Supermarket - Thurs Oct 27 --> 1970s soccer-themed party

One of LA's most daring new artists this young musical romantic weaves together a true "love-sound" that falls between honeyed melody and avant-electronics. Daedelus chops and splices disparate acoustic sources into incredible works of staggering resonance. Contrasting IDM styled cut-ups with childlike arrangements from the 30's and 40's, he has refined a style that has no imitators. Exactly the kind of music you'd expect from a scarily well-connected hip hop nut who happens to dress in Edwardian clothing and names himself after an Ancient Greek Legend.

While I'm on the festival beat, I've been meaning to mention the seventh annual MEG Montreal, coming up next week, Oct 19-21. Somewhat overshadowed by Pop Montreal, MEG's a more electronic and hip-hop-oriented festival, with a smattering of rock and the quality-control knob dialed up quite high. If I could make it (which sadly I cannot) I'd be eager to hear the contingent of German talent, including Deutsche new-wave stalwarts Der Plan (who thankfully should be appearing in Toronto too), a big contingent from the Cologne electronics scene, etc. They've also got DJ Marlboro from Brasil (Mr. Baile Funk), Peanut Butter Wolf, J-Rocc, Islands (ex-Unicorns), Broken Social Scene, etc.

The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, October 11 at 04:10 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

I Buried Paul

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No, no, not quite. My review of last night's Macca show in today's Globe and Mail is pretty moderate, actually. The most pleasant surprise was that he's still pretty funny, in that early-Beatles-taking-the-piss-at-press-conferences kind of way. But considering this is the first and probably only time I've been in the presence of a live Beatle, I wished that I could have felt my enormous childhood love of their music called forth, but the tunes rolled out in the canned way they must. Not that there was no humanity to the show - I was impressed that he's touring with such a compact band, just two guitarists, keyboards, drums and himself (on guitar, piano and, of course, "my Hoehner Hofner bass"). And bizarrely, the press got fourth-row seats - the only time I've even been on the floor in that stadium, much less right up front. So it was, you know, nice. But his devotion to his own tepidness is kind of extraordinary, and you never felt that all the strange and sad and joyful things that have made up his very unusual life were ever manifest, ever mattered very much to the convivial ritual we were sitting through. The emotional and chronological distance from the nucleus of his significance had about the same effect as physical distance, as if I weren't seeing Paul McCartney at all, but a simulacrum by the goodnatured keeper of his legacy. (In a way a horrible Wings performance would have felt meatier.) The showbiz trappings, effects and overblown stage set, etc., only seemed to foul up that goodnaturedness. Of course, everyone around me was screaming and jumping up and down, which made me feel a way I almost never do - like a jaded journalist. Compared to a lot of rock nostalgia acts, McCartney has to be commended for bringing his full energy (despite occasional stiffness) to a two-and-a-half hour, genuinely live concert.

Hey, maybe it really was the stand-in! ... The "Paul is dead" rumour always had a funny poetic aptness to go along with its factive absurdity. [... on to the review ...]



The affable, unassuming McCartney

By CARL WILSON
The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, October 11, 2005

At 63 years old, he's indisputably still the cute one. Over a few hours at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto last night, Paul McCartney waggled his head when he hit the high "aaaahs," tugged his forelock when he thanked the audience, and warbled about the delights of English Tea and, "peradventure," a spot of morning cricket croquet.

It's down to the perversity of today's rock-nostalgia concert business that such modest charm had to be buttressed by a 12-metre-high movie screen showing literal video illustrations of his song lyrics, and at one point retracting to reveal a tightly disciplined shower of indoor fireworks -- possibly the most unwarranted pyrotechnics in rock history, coming during the distinctly sparkless new song Follow Me.

The excesses began with a pre-show soundtrack of crescendoing strings that made it seem Mr. McCartney was about to descend from the heavens in a chariot of fire. Next came a brief set by DJ Freelance Hellraiser, who mashed up bits of Mr. McCartney's discography into dance tracks as he does on their recent collaboration Twin Freaks, to decent effect -- though for many of the greying boomers in the 16,000-strong sold-out crowd, this element must have seemed like a ploy to make them appreciate Mr. McCartney's eventual appearance all the more, as a respite from music they can't bear. Perhaps it was for their kids, who were also out in force mouthing along with every word of the Beatles tunes and looking a little lost during the Wings ones.

But the most egregious part of the prelude was a lengthy home movie in which Mr. McCartney narrated the story of his life. Does one of the world's most adored pop personalities (an expletive-deleted Beatle!) really require such self-aggrandizement?

In the video, Mr. McCartney said he always thought of the Beatles as nothing more or less than "a great little band," which bespeaks at once his unassuming nature and the disappointing blandness of his ambition. This combination was what he brought to the stage. Nothing in the show would lead one to reflect, except on the passing of time, but you couldn't complain about his affable showmanship and the solid performance of his four-piece backing band.

The set list was calculated only to please, and incidentally to introduce the crowd to Mr. McCartney's latest album, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. True to reviews that are calling it his strongest effort in decades, its songs fit well into the evening's hit parade, which otherwise ranged from opener Magical Mystery Tour all the way back to pre-Beatles tune In Spite of All the Danger, as well as Drive My Car, Jet, Long and Winding Road, I Will, For No One, Fixing a Hole, Eleanor Rigby, and so on.

The songs were bridged by chat and storytelling, including a mini-songwriting workshop showing how he developed Blackbird out of a passage of Bach, and the story of how earlier in the tour he fell into the hole in the stage from which his piano is raised and lowered through the set. (Fans have begun holding up signs reading "Mind the gap.")

A moment of recognition for "departed loved ones -- John, George and Linda" brought an ovation. The Liverpudlian wit was still quick for bits of banter with the audience, though age and wealth have certainly smoothed and rounded the edge.

Audience sing-alongs were always encouraged. "Twenty thousand backing singers," Mr. McCartney commented. "What more can you ask for?"

For him, the answer is nothing: In the end, he knows that fans come sentimentally, to celebrate what his life has brought to theirs. And he precisely shares the feeling.

Read More | Live Notes | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, October 11 at 12:24 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

October 10, 2005

Gobble Gobble

Running out the door to cover the Paul McCartney show tonight (goddam these early evening Toronto shows!) but wanted to pop in and say Happy Thanksgiving a la Canadienne to you. Had a grand time at the New Pornographers/Destroyer show last night (missed all but a moment of the Immaculate Machines, so can't say much about that) - if you like either band, catching this tour is worthwhile because I very much doubt you will ever see them assembled at full eightfold strength again, with both Neko and Dan in tow, except perhaps if you live in Vancouver. The encore performance of Testament to Youth in Verse was the glowing moment - I felt the audience collectively hold its breath during the "the bells ring no no no no no no no no no no no no no ..." coda. Because of the Gorgeousness.

Meanwhile there's renewed action over at Aaron's place, where he is saying things I agree with about Tangiers as a distinctively Torontonian band (although I worry that fashion is going to work against them on this album, as it will be seen as too 2002-2003 in its garage tendencies) and things I am shocked and appalled by about Franz Ferdinand being today's Beatles. (And the Fiery Furnaces being a "very serious band" - er, a very very serious band that writes operettas about pirate ships and does duets with their grandmother!?) And then he goes on to make a list of the world's greatest bands I can't begin to make sense out of, unless "great" means "frequently mentioned". We'll fight more later. Meanwhile, enjoy your turkey - and I'll be at the Macca show enjoying that turkey. (Hey, I think he's today's Beatle!)

News | Posted by zoilus on Monday, October 10 at 04:25 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (6)

 

October 07, 2005

Storytellers, Not Made for VH1

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Today in The Globe & Mail, with a big colourful photo, the following piece on indie rock narrative and its discontents. Along the way, I discovered that thanks to their new album Picaresque I don't totally, completely hate the Decemberists (above) - just 75 per cent of the time - and that it's very, very difficult to put into words the sound of the voice of Eleanor Friedberger of the Fiery Furnaces. I think I half-flubbed it - I wish I'd added to "BBC newsreader" an equal share of PJ Harvey. Plus a dash of a girl of 6 in a school play. And maybe a little eye of newt. Anyone have a more apt, quick, intelligible description? Otherwise, I think this is a worthwhile overview of the paradoxes of layering prosodic ambitions over music - part of the ongoing agonizing over the literary-musical intersection that seems to be the fate of this blog, and I think of anybody who's disproportionately a "lyrics person."

MUSIC
Telling stories with a twist
(Decemberists, Fiery Furnaces, Destroyer)

By CARL WILSON
The Globe & Mail
Friday, Oct 7, 2005


Imagine Mick Jagger babysitting your kids. Can you see him paging through a picture book to lull them to sleep? No, he'd jump up halfway in, jutting his hips around with gasps and shouts, riffing off the words but never saying how the story ends, keeping them up all night long. What did you expect, hiring Mick Jagger?

Our story-obsessed culture is forever finding new media to recycle the four or five basic plots (hero comes of age, stranger arrives, prisoner escapes, girls go wild . . .). But music has been an exception. [ ... continues ... ]



Modern pop lyrics don't need stories - they're a soundtrack, setting a mood, and too much plot would only distract from the wooing, dancing and posing that have set the pop agenda since the invention of adolescence, somewhere around the age of the flappers. Tale-telling is fine for kids and old banjo players, but when rock 'n' roll goes narrative you get heavy-metal concept albums about dwarfs and hobbits.

Now a new generation is foolhardy enough to take that risk. Groups such as the Decemberists, the Fiery Furnaces and Destroyer, all appearing in Toronto this week, beguile their listeners with at least a whiff of the campfire. Perhaps they've been swayed by the more narrative culture of hip-hop, or maybe they're just creative-writing students gone astray.

That description certainly suits Colin Meloy, the grad student turned singer-songwriter who leads a boatload of musicians in Portland, Ore.'s, the Decemberists. Sounding rather like the Smiths without the cool quizzical distance or the Pogues gone grimly on the wagon, the Decemberists spin yarns in archaic modes, about pirates, chimney sweeps, colonials and scullery maids.

They come off too frequently like coy prep-school-pageant theatricals, especially when Meloy lapses into his fake British accent. Yet they've gathered a following who appreciate the band's strengths -- his endearingly broken-nosed vocals; the occasional dirty jokes; unusual instruments such as hurdy-gurdy and the zesty violin of Petra Haden; and occasionally a song such as the horn-drenched Sixteen Military Wives (on this summer's new, third album, Picaresque), in which quill-pen affectations are swapped for a fresher tone and being "rollicking" stops seeming like a poor substitute for being able to rock.

Still, for a shot of piracy and sea shanties, I'd much rather hear the warped revisions of the Fiery Furnaces (New York sibling duo Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger), in which you could be bobbing in a galleon of white-slave traders one moment and the next be pulling up to a TCBY for a frozen yogurt.

Their use of archetypes seems less a cutesy exercise and much more the delirium of dreams, in which the past is never buried, always clattering up against the everyday. They chase curlicues of imagery or melody with an insouciant disregard for narrative consistency. As with the Decemberists, there's some childhood regression involved, but the Friedbergers' version is more naked and freewheeling rather than fetishistic. What's more, they've got Eleanor's crisp charisma (she sounds like a BBC newsreader, but looks like Patti Smith) and Matthew's diamond-edged, perpetually mobile musical arrangements, with slatherings of brothel organ and White Stripes-ish blues guitar.

They started the band only a couple of years ago, in their late 20s, but they have been making up for lost time. Their coming fourth album is a set of duets with their 80-year-old, glee-club-singer grandmother, forging her personal reminiscences into Fiery Furnaces rock.

After all, if your songs are going to tell stories beyond boy meets girl, best make sure they're not predictable ones.

That's the very essence of Destroyer, the ever-changing vehicle for Vancouver's Dan Bejar, also a part-time member of that city's "supergroup," the New Pornographers. (To the delight of fans, he is touring with them for the first time this fall.) Bejar's songs feature the makings of storytelling -- character names fly by amid battleground and bedroom settings -- but only the makings. There's precious little follow-through; each verse, even successive lines, seem harvested from a hodgepodge of unrelated plots.

Such tricks may frustrate anyone in search of a coherent account of what a given song is "about," but to me Bejar's the most successful of this wave of singing storytellers. Over music equally profligate in its influences (a song might sound like Leonard Cohen, the Buzzcocks splinter group Magazine or an outtake from a Sondheim musical), he writes for an audience already overstuffed with story, who require only the barest allusions to start plot points unreeling in our heads.

The process generates comic and disturbing juxtapositions that actually recall the old-time folk ballads, themselves cobbled together from varied sources: An Appalachian tune might jump from the bit about the murdered maiden to the verse about the elusive cuckoo - haphazard leaps that yielded new poetry.

Every piece of music has a beginning, middle and end, after all, taking it from stasis to agitation to resolution. Our ears don't need a second story to interfere - only a lattice of language to tether music's near-alien beauty to the workings of the human mind.

Destroyer with the New Pornographers and Immaculate Machine, Sunday at the Phoenix, $22.50; The Fiery Furnaces with Apostle of Hustle, Monday at Lee's Palace, $16.50; the Decemberists with Cass McCombs, Thursday at the Phoenix, $17.50.

Read More | In Depth | Posted by zoilus on Friday, October 07 at 10:48 AM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

October 06, 2005

'There's No More Distressing Sight Than That/
Of an Englishman in a Baseball Cap'
(Plus, Thursday Reading Revived)

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This Dissensus thread on What Went Wrong With British Music? is one of the more intriguing Internet discussions I've run across in quite awhile - I think it's a question with some serious heft. I ranted about it myself in a long-ago column about the now-defunct Libertines, the singers of the quote (and in the pic) that heads this post. (Actually the same one Warren Kinsella praised in that email.) I'd modify some of those remarks now (since the advent of grime, for one thing) (not to mention the overgenerous characterization of Billy Bragg as an "elder statesman" - uhhh...) but I still find the Brit Thing a headscratcher, especially when confronted with some of the anglophiles in the Toronto music scene, not to mention the Globe offices. I'm going to read the thread more carefully tomorrow and see what I think - join me. Meanwhile, of relevance, Simon Reynolds' Slate piece on the Gang of Four reunion - or, as he describes it, self-tribute - album. I like this piece much better than Simon's postpunk book, overall, just because it's that much more pointed.

Notice that the "Thursday Reading" idea seems to reassert itself no matter how I doubt it. That's because Thursday nights often (tho not always) involve long slow editing-production cycles here in the office, which leads to a lot of Internet cruising. Plus Mrs. Zoilus says she likes it. So I admit it, it's back, with its ugly multiposting tendencies and all. Make sure you scroll down a bit on Fridays, because there will often be piles of fresh fertilizer.

In that spirit also check out the excellent recent pieces on Said the Gramophone, particularly Sean's examination of Mt. Eerie's The Dead of Night, comparing it to Destroyer's Your Blues in terms of its use of artifice, a subject I've gone on at length about here. I'm not quite sure how to parse Sean's point about the differences between them. I'd describe it as Phil Elvrum (who is Mt. Eerie, and formerly the Microphones) having a continued faith in the organic, a category I wouldn't say Dan Bejar (who is Destroyer, and sometimes a New Pornographer) gives any territorial recognition. (See the Supreme Court case, Glam v. Hippie, circa 1974.) So beauty's not fake, for Elvrum, because it cannot be by Nature, and to my ears he uses artifice in the pursuit of Truth, while Bejar uses artifice to lay further waste to the truth/beauty dyad. However, I think Sean's point about Elvrum's "ear for song-texture" is dead-on - I kind of hate Elvrum's songs, but his ability to frame them is so strong that I feel compelled to listen.

To tie this all up... There's something deeply and obviously American about Elvrum's transcendentalist point-of-view (see Walt Whitman et al), while stereotypically the British are the champions of pure artifice. Forced to choose between them I end up siding with the Americans because too often that English artifice seems a merely clever cover for shallowness. You know, as Dylan said in quite another context, in art you gotta serve some body, whether that body's solid or synthetic. ... But then we have Canada, and at the risk of seeming patriotic - or perhaps better put, just confessing that I am of the place I am of - there's Canada's ironic pivot point between them, its ambivalence, its suspicion that something is darting between those layers of artifice but that it is forever something you cannot capture, something hard and crusty and yet evanescent as snow ... that there are plastic birds in the plastic trees that somehow have real organs and feathers and leaves on them. And for me that attitude is the one with claws, digging down into my pale skin.

[... That UK/Libertines column is on the flipside ... ]



A punk-like stab at the English heart

SCENE
CARL WILSON
7 August 2003
The Globe and Mail Review

There is no such thing as punk rock.

There hasn't been for a decade, maybe two. Yes, a lot of pop music capitalizes (or anticapitalizes) on the territory punk cleared, while the hardcore-punk hobbyist network ploughs that same ground over and over again. And then there are myriad arty offshoots from the punk Big Bang — various kinds of experimental music on one hand, and various thoughtful, challenging indie bands and singers on, well, the same hand.

But whatever punk really was, it leached back down into the groundwater long ago. If it meant anything, it was a convulsive denial of being influenced and of having an influence, of past and of future. In this it was a summary of the 20th-Century Modern (and its totalitarian shadow) regurgitated in spit and bile. Naturally the illusion evaporated. The punk books-reunions-and-reissues market has been rubbing in that point for years, though rarely having any fun with the irony.

So when you run across a brotherhood of smart, snotty British lads like the Libertines — who choose to rerun punk so explicitly as to hire Mick Jones of the Clash to produce their debut album, Up the Bracket, and smear a studied sloppiness over the surface of their sturdily built songs — what's in it for them?

You can tell when you hear them (as you can, sort of, at the Opera House in Toronto on Tuesday) that the style is no accident. They haven't bought into punk myth the way some young bands do, as a jacket to wear over the fear that they're not really cool. Like the Strokes in New York, to whom they've been compared ad absurdum, the Libertines are worldly and seductive, their approach highly calculated. But in their case, not cynically so.

Most potentially good rock bands have (or fake) a secret agenda. The Libertines' is their fixation on an England that has vanished, or never was. Punk fits in perfectly.

The album's most-quoted line, in the song Time for Heroes, is “There is no more distressing sight than that/ Of an Englishman in a baseball cap.” In interviews, principals Pete Doherty, 23, and Carl Barat, 24, have gone on about their mutual pact “to sail the good ship Albion to Arcadia,” and their attachments to Oscar Wilde, Disraeli, Joe Orton, Oliver Reed and various creaky BBC personalities. And then they'll turn around on the occasion of the Royal Jubilee and call the Queen an “old slag.”

The pair has stuck together since 1996, haunting the clubs, squats and (in one memorable rooming arrangement) brothels of London. The lyrics of their songs match foppish Edwardian decadence against details from today's drugged-out, hostile streets, fragments of Dickensian reportage from Tony Blair's Britannia.

While the punk riffs cribbed from not only the Clash but the Jam and the Buzzcocks are the main stitching, the musical material goes back to Thin Lizzy, Ian Dury, the Kinks (godfathers of English nostalgia-rock), the Small Faces and the between-the-wars music hall.

But this is no Village Green Preservation Society. “There were no ‘good old days,' ” they're careful to spell out in one song. “These are the good old days.”

Personally, I have an aversion to most English culture since the Second World War, especially post-1970s. The mainstream arts there in recent decades seem like the most aimless mass of mere competence you could locate on any map. Radiohead may be heroes to most, but they never meant shit to me — straight-up wankers, those suckers are, simple and plain.

From Martin Amis to Oasis, most prominent English artists seem adrift, defaulting to ego. Bred for an imperial society that collapsed before their time, they still assume their voices resound, just because they are English and bear the marks of centuries of civilization in ways most North Americans lack. But their accents, whether plummy or slummy, mostly bounce back on the interior walls, the gossip of a society of echoes.

No wonder Blair has been so desperate to get in on the Next Big Global Thing that he's swung from Clinton crony to Bush lackey.

The exceptions tend to be the bitter social critics, from the punks to playwrights and directors such as Orton, Harold Pinter or Mike Leigh. They've at least tried to confront post-imperial decadence.

But the riddle almost no artist or politician has faced is Englishness itself. While the Scots, Irish and Welsh (and their rock bands) have grappled seriously with their post-British identity, the English are at a loss — except in immigrant communities, where there's a different urgency.

The elder statesman of Brit post-punk politics, Billy Bragg, nailed it on his album last year, England, Half-English: “Take down the Union Jack, it clashes with the sunset,” he sang. “And pile all those history books, but don't throw them away/ They just might have some clues about what it really means/ To be an Anglo-hyphen-Saxon in England.co.uk.”

In their half-romantic, half-thuggish manner, the Libertines have taken up that challenge with the bits of English history they feel strike a chord, from punk back. The result is an uneven album, but twice the personality and purpose of most other bands that make the cover of the NME.

The question is whether they will see it through. Perhaps predictably, the band recently split in two, with one singer-guitarist booting out the other — Barat said Doherty was “not well,” and that the band was suspending him till he got better.

Doherty meanwhile said the problem was that he wanted to fire the bassist and drummer. He's started solo work while the Libertines tour — including this week's Toronto date — with a fill-in. The story flipped again on Friday with reports that Doherty was arrested on a break-and-enter charge.

All sides still maintain the separation is temporary. Let's hope so. [Ed. note, 2005: Ha ha ha ha ha ... ]

The Libertines is clearly the dream the pair dreamed together in their own love-hate affair. Their music apart may turn out cleaner and catchier. But it would mean abdicating the playroom kingdom they built in punk's abandoned arena, and the guerilla theatre about their country's unconscious that they were enacting there.

Read More | The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, October 06 at 10:16 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (8)

 

Just What I Feared

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... about Liz Phair's new album, as articulated by Eppy i.e. Mike Barthel - as it could only be said by somebody who, like me, liked her last album. (Though I didn't like it as much as he did, and certainly didn't like it more than, like, Guyville, which makes him a more extreme specimen of something or other.) Catch the provocative list of favourite indie albums that he calls BORING at the end of the post - Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Decemberists.... - I don't agree with alla that, but the man's got a goddam point. Still I think the more salient one has to do with the fallout that festers when fans treat artists as their jesters and slaves, as their aesthetic performing ponies, and basically think like consumers buying tastee-freezes rather than people trying to take in an artwork. (Not that it's un-okay to enjoy music like a frozen treat, but hating it is more complexicated.) The demoralized sequel to the bold stylistic departure seems like the inevitable depressing denouement.

Later: More recommended reading: Douglas's piece on the cellphone-iTunes complex and the coming category killa, "the Next Small Thing" - the first installment of his new column (congrats!) in the Chicago Reader, which is finally putting more content online, albeit only in PDF form. I Heart Music has a nice interview with Matt Hart aka the Russian Futurists. And a country song in the shape of a country press release.

On Record | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, October 06 at 06:47 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (8)

 

Au Revoir, Little Luca
(The Second Floor Will Never Be the Same!)

I've been decked-out with a cold virus the past couple of days - 'sbeen all I could do to meet regular deadlines, so no bloggery. But I wanted to pop in and wish a cheerio and a pip-pip to Luca aka Captain Easychord, who is about to take his grime-lovin' self off to Blighty in order (I'm guessin') to be closer to the action. But the T-dot will miss his reppin' for and spreading the seeds of the new grooves, for serious. Last chance tonight to catch his classic joint Expensive Shit, five bucks at the Boat on Augusta, with possible special guests and so forth. Me, I'll be working, so if you go, high-five the guy, buy him a drink and request some M.I.A. to bug his ass for me, wouldja? And tell him to keep in touch.

Elsewise - the Times plays catchup on the Do They Know It's Halloween story. Today's NOW puts my boys Tangiers on the cover, gets the lowdown on the Fiery Furnaces' grandma project and tells us Dunjen is pronounced Doo-yen, a fact one wishes would be mentioned in Eye's cover story on them. Eye does score, however, in getting the lowdown on the Fugees reunion and the New Pornographers-Broken Social Scene BEEF.

In other local news, a reminder of Saturday's event to help out Mike Hansen, who ran New Works Studio for quite awhile as a venue for experimental soundz in Toronto; he had to close it for personal reasons anyway, but first it got B&E;'d and burgled this summer. The event, at the Oasis from 5 pm till closing time, should be a great noisy-music night, tho it competes with the Hidden Cameras New Orleans benefit the same night - ah, too much charitas to go around. See the gig guide for further edification on all things live and local, all creatures great and small.

Now back to rockin' my pneumonia and boogie-woogyin' my flu.

Via Toronto | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, October 06 at 05:51 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (5)

 

October 03, 2005

Teevee Dinners

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I hear that the new Showtime series Weeds (Mary-Louise Parker as the Desperately Pot-Dealing Housewife) prominently featured The Mountain Goats' Cotton in its latest episode. Given the drug-troubles theme of both the show and the tMG album in question (We Shall All Be Healed), that seems fitting. (In fact, can anyone explain to me what the "stick pins and cotton" in the song would have been used for? I yam naif.) But any music programmer who can find a way to fit the Goats' febrile, not-at-all-backgroundy stylings into their bedtracks has to be congratulated. Indieologists can continue to tally up the "O.C. Effect" tv-soundtrack stats as illusory evidence of either their progress toward world domination or the onset of the apocalypse. Need any more evidence? I heard M.I.A. in a car commercial over the weekend, too.

Also just came across a blog today devoted to the music of Veronica Mars, which provides an excuse to post the above photo. The second-season debut aired in the U.S. last weekend, and I've seen it, but won't despoil any plot out of kindness to my fellow Canuck VM-crushers. Suffice to say there's a lot of complicated "how I spent my summer vacation" VMVO (Veronica Mars Voice-Over) and a slow accumulation of elements for the S2 mystery.

News | Posted by zoilus on Monday, October 03 at 04:29 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (5)

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson