by carl wilson

'To Find a Form that Accommodates the Mess...' (Sam B.)

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Just a note to let you know that posting is likely to be light the rest of this week, while the Code Sherpa and I finish up the reupholstering of ye olde site. Funky fall colours and more will greet you early next week. If I have anything urgent to say in the interim, I'll pop in, and the Toronto Gig Guide will be kept up to date. Meanwhile the rest of the internet will be happy to serve you. I hear there's a special on Britney baby photos in Aisle 3.

News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, November 01 at 10:28 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (3)

 

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 2:06 PM | Linking Posts

 

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 5:24 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (11)

 

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)

 

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 3:16 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (3)

 

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 4:25 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (6)

 

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 4:29 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (5)

 

Get Yer Hot Links!


Best of the week:

The Van Morrison improvised contractual obligation album of 1967, featuring such anti-hits as Ring Worm, Blowin' Your Nose, Nose in Your Blow and You Say France, and I'll Whistle.

The Shining recut as the trailer to a family-friendly romantic comedy.

Scariest version of Love Will Tear Us Apart evah, performed by a Tuvan throatsinger. (RealAudio - more good badness courtesy WFMU's blog).

This New Orleans audioblog. Tom Waits said at a benefit last week, "There's so much music in New Orleans, you can hold a trumpet above your head and it will play itself."

Update: All right, a little more, just because I've just found the best low-budget DIY video concept of the year: Ex-Toronto homeboy Mocky's video constructed wholly out of Google Image Search. (Makin' the process the object, yo.)

And the best Stillepost post maybe ever: Bill Cosby Explains The Arcade Fire.

(And now I am going on an Internet diet.)

News | Posted by zoilus on Friday, September 30 at 1:57 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

Deancast???

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Sorry for the multi-multi-posts, but am I the last one to find out that Robert Christgau has a podcast?! Sadly it's on the dullish subject of what's on in New York this week, but. Still.

I've listened to half and, so far, no disquieting glimpses of vulva.

News | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, September 29 at 11:07 PM | Linking Posts

 

Thursday Reading: R.I.P.?

You don't care if I do any more of those Thursday Reading roundups, do you? They're labour intensive, and rather listy as posts go. The upcoming redesign will feature a fresh-links sidebar that should fulfill some of the same urges. Unless you just adore Thursday Reading. Let me know.

Meanwhile: Warren Kinsella, read this. I spotted it in Harper's Readings but Eppy pointed the way to the complete document. Ah, sweet vindication - it never tasted so much like boiled socks.

I listed some favourite Toronto-and-environs blogs for this on-line sidebar in Toronto Life. I can only offer my regrets that it is related to a Robert Fulford article.

And now some silly love songs: Sasha on Kanye in The New Yorker, awhile back, has now been annotated and updated with some bloggendums. Dave Morris on high-school-band-geek chic in Eye, which also has a tear-dowsing interview with Bettye Lavette and an intriguing one with South Africa's Tumi & the Volume. NOW thinks Architecture in Helsinki are wannabe Canadians (and they do at least seem to wish they'd gone to Degrassi High). And, hey!, four shiny NNNN's for the Foggy Hogtown Boys.

I imagine people like Alex will have things to say about this Nation piece on classical music's perpetual crisis. Is this the best stereo component ever? The trouble with cracking down on "kiddie porn" is of course the usual crackdown problem - they just go after anybody "weird" instead, such as the Suicide Girls. (I think there's a coherent critique to be made of SGs, but not this one!) Harvey Danger joins the free-album-download revolution - so is this the brilliant music marketing coup it dresses up as, or the felo de se of the business? And what is pop surrealism? (Those last four all via Boing Boing.)

This is old but Matthew Fluxblog's P-fork interview with Carl Newman of the New Pornographers is a truly enjoyable, intelligent conversation.

K-Punk says: "Jessica Rylan is the future of noise, in the way that men are the past of machines." Look back in dismay: Tom Ewing revisits his best of the 1990s. And this just in: The Clap Your Hands Say Yeah conspiracy.

The Ben Marcus versus Jonathan Franzen lit-war that is kicked off in Harper's this month is a Big 'Un, that rare worthwhile bookish bunfight, but it's also a deadlock since neither side really even recognizes the legitimacy of the other. It's a literary Gaza Strip. If you've read any commentary that gets us to Camp David - or escalates the confrontation entertainingly - I'd love to hear about it. (PS: I heart Ben Marcus, but he doesn't quite nail it here.)

ILM jumps the shark again, and this time, it may not make it back.

News | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, September 29 at 9:52 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (3)

 

Word on the Me

Just a reminder to locals of this bloggerati panel this afternoon at Word on the Street at 4:15. ... In less self-centred news remember that the exciting Interface improv series with Achim Kauffman, Michael Moore, Dylan van der Schyff, and Wolter Wierbos begins today. Wish I'd known sooner about Martin Arnold's noon lecture - I may harass him for notes that I can share with you. Speaking of sharing, a refreshed late-September and October calendar will pop up on the site later today.

Edited to add: Pictures and reports on the blog panel at Daily Dose of Imagery, I Am Chris Nolan and this Flickr page. Addenda to their remarks: 1. The time shortage was really severe due to screen-set-up delay and a tendency on some parts (such as yours truly's) to exposition too much at the top. 2. The dog stank.

News | Posted by zoilus on Sunday, September 25 at 12:35 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

BOB's My Uncle (Plus: Final Fantasy Video!)

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Video capture swiped from Michael.

Some kind soul has nominated Zoilus for a "BOB", the Best of Blogs awards run by Deutsche Welle International in Germany. I don't think you have to vote or anything; no Idol-style competition will ensue. But it's nice.

On a related tangent: Have you checked out this new Google blog-search function? So useful. For instance, it just led me, step by step, to the new, sweet & hott Final Fantasy video for This is the Dream of Win & Regine by Sara (link in bottom right corner of the page). (Torontopians - watch for the Greg Collins cameo!)

News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, September 20 at 4:48 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (5)

 

These Just In: Mr. Moody/SNFU, Too Old to Rock;
Ms. Mars/Mr. Migone, Not

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Salon gives Veronica Mars its second-annual "Buffy" anti-Emmy for underappreciated TV. Hopefully some Canadian network will hustle to pick up the VM second season when one of their stupider new shows stiffs. The Buffy comparison may not be quite right, though - I like Salon's alternate description of a Phillip Marlowe who "sometimes favours pigtails." (And if anybody can direct me to online video of Kristen Bell singing on last night's awards, I will be ... embarrassed, but grateful.)

UbuWeb is back, hurrah - and with a new Christof Migone section. Check out one of Canada's pointiest (expat) audio provocateurs and welcome the avant-garde hub of the Internet back to active duty. (Thanx to Robert for the heads-up.)

RIP SNFU.

As for me, still recuperating from post-fire exhaustion, but slowly remounting the usual hobbyhorses and kicking in my spurs. Should be back to fighting trim by week's end, I figger.

And author and all-too-frequent rambler-on-about-music Rick Moody says he might have outgrown rock'n'roll (and "the next thing, which... is not hip hop"). I think I speak for rock'n'roll when I say, Thank god almighty, free at last. Hip-hop, you never had it so good.

News | Posted by zoilus on Monday, September 19 at 3:08 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

Kicked to the Ground

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Sleater-Kinney, not coming soon to a CNE-grounds music festival near you (or at least not near me).

So for the second year in a row, a well-programmed summer-season music festival at the CNE grounds in Toronto has been deep-sixed. Yeah, I'm talkin' about Ear to the Ground, which was to have featured everyone from Sleater-Kinney to the Hidden Cameras (see crossed-out entries in the gig guide), is no more. Brief flailing attempts to schedule compensatory club shows have gone nowhere. There looks to still be an okay show Thurs at the Gladstone and I think also Friday at the Phoenix (the latter put together by Dan Burke rather than by the festival organizers, w/ Ninja High School, RJD2, Kid Koala, Zoobombs). Too bad - the festival had a good blend of acts (i.e. it was not all rock, which is a shock in this town's music-festival biz - there were good electronics and hip-hop/r&b; components) and a high quality average. Mixing with the CNE does not look to be a good bet for festival promoters. But neither does getting in over your head financially. Bads on both sides? Seems like it.

Speaking of festivals: Can anyone make a convincing argument about why anyone from Toronto would drive up for Pop Montreal this year (aside from just to hang out)? I don't see much on the schedule that persuades me I'll miss out on musical essentials if I don't go. What do you think?

Meanwhile the benefitingest of New Orleans benefits is on tonight at the Comfort Zone, again organized by the inimitable Dan Burke and featuring the aforementioned High School of the Ninjas along with Don Matsuo of the Zoobombs, Anagram, Camouflage Nights, Lenin i Shumov, Clydesdale, Passionate Man and DJ Selective Sergery. 8 pm, $10 (or more if you like). Do it! (And if that's a bit too high-volume for you - Zoilus pal Ryan Kamstra is opening for the New Kings tonight at the Cameron House at 9 pm sharp.)

Sorry for the exclusively local-functional content. Post-fire-brain needs to evolve back up to the intellectual state of humanity after the invention of the written word before I can actually write about ideas again.

News | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, September 14 at 3:57 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (6)

 

Woooo wooooo woooooo ...

I'm afraid the planned Guelph wrapup report was pre-empted by the little matter of the Zoilus house catching fire. It's okay - no one was hurt, but we are displaced persons for the next x number of weeks while contractors and smokefighters tromp through our digs. It's a massive drag, but it doesn't seem so bad when we think of New Orleans, and it could have - just as fires go - been so much worse. It won't derail Zoilusian activity for long. Talk to you within a day, two tops.

News | Posted by zoilus on Monday, September 12 at 8:19 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

Overtones, R.I.P.

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My announcement really isn't that dramatic to anybody but myself - it's that I am retiring my column from The Globe and Mail. I've been writing a weekly music column for the Toronto-based paper, first as "Scene" on Thursdays and then as "Overtones" on the weekends, since November of 1999. It's been a huge part of my life in all that time, connecting me to musicians and readers and other writers, and in many ways giving rise to this website. Few writers are fortunate enough to be given carte blanche with a choice amount of newspaper real estate on the regular.

It was difficult to decide to put it to rest - I like to think the past year has been its strongest period yet, and it still had a lot of life in it (witness the recent Warren Kinsella flap, f'rinstance). But my father's death and other personal developments have reminded me of my mortality, and of all the other things I'd like to do. I've been getting more and more offers to write for other publications, and to consider larger projects, and none of that is possible while I'm chained to a weekly column on top of my editing day (and some nights) job at the Globe. I'll still be contributing to the paper's arts coverage, and Zoilus will keep on keepin' on, but this will give me space to think and write more broadly and in other venues.

Zoilus readers should benefit by my liberation from the punishing early-Wednesday-morning deadlines too. This is my first week (aside from vacations) not having to pull an all-nighter to deliver a column for a nine a.m. deadline, and I can't believe the difference. I feel about 30 pounds lighter and 5 years younger, more alert and energetic. I suspect you'll see the results on the blog in the next few months. Meanwhile, you needn't look for me on Saturdays in The Globe anymore. I'll let you know when and where I do have pieces.

Thanks to my editors for their support over the past five-plus years; to my friends and, most of all, Mrs. Zoilus for putting up with the crazy schedule; and to everybody who read and responded to the column. xo xo xo.

News | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, September 08 at 6:00 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (15)

 

Democratic Ticket '08:
Wynton Marsalis/Roscoe Mitchell?

The campaign has begun.

Anybody who can point me to a transcript or video of Marsalis's Charlie Rose appearance, please do. It sounds galvanizing. And I'm all worn out with hating on him - a reason to (re-)admire the guy would be welcome, and anybody who speaks truth to the current "don't play the blame game" bull out of Washington deserves it. And Roscoe would make such a perfect running mate. (Subliminal plug: AACM this weekend at the Guelph Jazz Festival; Zoilus live blogging from Guelph...)

Come to think of it: A NOLA-born candidate, at least for VP, would be a real coup for the Dems in '08, wouldn't it?

(FYI: Today's NY Times discussed the prospects for music-cultural recovery there.)

News | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, September 07 at 7:14 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

Waterblogged Musicians, Redux

Alex Chilton is apparently okay, at least insofar as he ever was.

[Update: For more hurricane-meets-music info, see here.]

News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, September 06 at 2:25 PM | Linking Posts

 

Praise You

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And thank you, too, John Darnielle.

News | Posted by zoilus on Monday, September 05 at 8:43 PM | Linking Posts

 

In My Absence

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This site will get back to normal activity levels, including the belated September calendar, come Monday. This weekend is a bit of a sad occasion, as we're interring my father's ashes in a small ceremony, so it will be quiet in Zoilusville. Meanwhile, I note that Michael and Brian have had no such bouts of late-summer neglect. Get yer T-dot musicbloggin' goodness there. (Note particularly the link to Jason McBride's Toronto Life profile of Metric mistress Emily Haines.) And happy blogday, Frank. Meanwhile, Popsheep posts the song that's been most on my mind.

As well, the Village Voice blog Riff Raff talks to the man I've most wanted to hear from on the cultural side of the disaster, Ned Sublette: ""Everything from documents to recordings to things that are in private hands [are lost]. Many of the more serious archives are on higher floors--presumably many of them have survived the flood waters. But what condition are they in? How quickly will cultural workers be able to get in and rescue the patrimony which is very important in understanding where American music came from?" Also check out this impassioned post by Mark Sinker.

(Note to those who think there's something wrong with bringing up that concern while people are suffering: Disasters happen, and of course what people are undergoing is awful, but culture still matters, and it is a trust to be preserved, including in emergencies. Music is important in New Orleans the way archaeological sites are important in Iraq. I'm not an aid worker. It's this site's job to care about this stuff.)

Meanwhile in the weeklies: Eye has a moving Ninjalicious obit, takes you to heavy-metal grad school, gives high smart praise to Kanye and Boozoo Bajou (plus some K.West gossip), remembers Bran Van, and writes rather ambivalently about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. (NOW does likewise, though with more enthusiasm.) NOW also wins the battle of the Jaguar Wright profiles and gives major props to the new Fembots album, about which you'll hear more here soon. (They also dig the new Wayne Shorter and Waco Bros. discs.) Peace out.

News | Posted by zoilus on Friday, September 02 at 1:09 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

Crossing Things Like Hearts & Fingers

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Fats Domino and Irma Thomas are both still missing in New Orleans. I hope they've either left town or climbed up high on Blueberry Hill. Obviously famous musicians matter no more than everyone else, but envisioning these familiar, beloved and now elderly figures lost in the flood brings the thing home in a horrifying way.

High water risin', six inches 'bove my head
Coffins droppin' in the street
Like balloons made out of lead
Water pourin' into Vicksburg, don't know what I'm going to do
"Don't reach out for me," she said
"Can't you see I'm drownin' too?"
It's rough out there
High water everywhere

- Bob Dylan, High Water (for Charley Patton)

Update: Fats found. [10:15 pm]

Friday update: Irma Thomas has been located too. Thank goodness. Here is an email she reportedly sent, which is making the rounds: "Hello Jef, I am doing as well as expected under the conditions. I am in Gonzales, LA with my husband's Aunt. You may send some money to help my daughter who lost everything. She is out here with my sister-in-law untill she can get fare to go to California, until we can get back into New Orleans. I am doing okay for now but I don't know how long it will be before I can get help from FEMA. Thanks for being concerned. You may send help to: P.O. Box 1274, Gonzales, LA 70707-1274. Tell all of my Fans I thank them. Love, Irma."

On the other hand, as mentioned in the Comments, the condition of Alex Chilton is still uncertain.

News | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, September 01 at 6:16 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (10)

 

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

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

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

News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, August 23 at 3:51 PM | Linking Posts

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

News | Posted by zoilus on Monday, August 22 at 6:18 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

Remember When?

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

News | Posted by zoilus on Saturday, August 20 at 8:33 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

Go To Sleep, Little Babies

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

The Trampoline Hall 'Sleep and Sleeplessness' Show

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

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

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

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

News | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, August 18 at 2:02 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

Leonard Cohen Has Gone Broke!

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

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

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

News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, August 16 at 6:42 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

Gurkophones, Apple Dumplings, Ornette Coleman Stoves

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, tonight: Party on the subway, woo!

News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, August 16 at 3:46 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

Ode to Billy Joe

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

News | Posted by zoilus on Saturday, August 13 at 2:28 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)

 

Zen & The Art of Zoilus Repair

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

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

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

News | Posted by zoilus on Friday, August 12 at 1:58 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (10)

 

Through the Roof & Underground

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

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

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

News | Posted by zoilus on Monday, August 08 at 2:41 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

The Blues Got the Blues

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

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

News | Posted by zoilus on Friday, August 05 at 3:29 PM | Linking Posts

 

Get Well Ron G.

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

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

News | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, August 04 at 6:34 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (5)

 

Hey Asshole, or, Final Fantasy Rumour Quashing

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

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

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

News | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, August 03 at 8:01 PM | Linking Posts

 

Stalking Owen Pallett, Episode 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ILLUSION SONG

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

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


IF I WAS A CARP

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

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

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

Read More | News | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, August 02 at 2:29 PM | Linking Posts

 

Fearful Rock

After the non-talk talk about "indie music" this week, I've been thinking about what people mean most of the time today when they use the term, converting it from economic category into genre, this new loose genre that encompasses the likes of Arcade Fire, Death Cab, the Shins, Iron & Wine, etc. Often what unites them is a fearfulness, a sense of vulnerability, preciousness, fragility - but also a kind of open, eager curiosity, at their best (and emo suckiness at their worst). And then I suppose there's the escapist indie-kids-dancing complement to that, along with the internal art-noise opposition. It's all very different than the skeptical anger of the last alternative-goes-mainstream crop a decade ago, aka grunge, and I do think you can use these things as cultural mood rings - their shading can indicate something about what the population that's listening to the music (educated white kids) is feeling, what they generally hear as an accurate self portrait. I can't actually think of any time in rock history where fearfulness was so part of the music - paranoia channelled into aggression, sure, but not this shrinking-violet affect, with its isolationist overtones and so on. (For instance there's a claim that the generation coming of age right now is super-confident and assertive, so self-deprecation and a sense of encroaching doom may serve as the usual kind of peer-group dissent/outlet. And of course there's the new-millennial terror/losing-side-of-the-culture-war element.) I'm not eager to praise or condemn it tonight, just chalking its outlines on the board, wondering where it intersects the rest of the diagram.

But man, what a terrible, terrible baseball team the Arcade Fire would be.

News | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, July 27 at 11:58 PM | Linking Posts

 

Proposition Retracted

Nah. You're right, I'm wrong - the list of prime targets does show that hip-hop's not under any special scrutiny here - and Clear Channel is. I think the campaign may have resonance with the current anti-entertainment-industry waves in Washington, but mainly Spitzer seems like an A-1 consumer-advocate type.

It was just the kind of lazy thought that wobbles across the mind in late afternoon.

News | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, July 27 at 11:15 PM | Linking Posts

 

Proposition

Just speculating, here, and I don't know if it will lead anywhere. But given that the famous 50s-60s payola scandal was, as much as anything else, a political attack on rock'n'roll - is it possible that the current one is in some part an attack on hip-hop?

The rhetoric of it doesn't lead me to think so, necessarily, but it seems a question worth raising.

News | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, July 27 at 6:07 PM | Linking Posts

 

Crispin Glover Love

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As we ponder what to make of the payola scandal, as in whether payola possibly actually makes radio less boring than it would otherwise be (I will either back this up later or not, if it proves an unsustainable burst of contrarianism; unrelated favourite detail, beyond the trips and laptops and plasma-screen TVs handed out like lollipops for being good little drones: when Sony via Epic Promotions was having staff call in to make fake requests to radio stations, the promoter complained that radio guys were telling him, "[The girls] are not inspired enough to be put on the air. They've got to be excited. They need to be going out, or getting drunk, or going in the hot tub, or going clubbing... You get the idea" - the idea being, HIRE MORE PORN STARS), this exciting bit of non-musical news provides a welcome distraction:

Crispin Glover film and slide show, Bloor Cinema, Aug. 28: "Crispin Glover will conduct a Q&A; following the screening of his film and Big Slide Show ... as an official guest with Rue Morgue's Festival of Fear. ... What Is It? is the first in a trilogy of surreal, inter-connected features directed, edited and financed by the eccentric character actor Crispin Hellion Glover. This August 28th 2005 at 9pm, sees the long-awaited Canadian premiere of the completed film in a blown-up 35mm print. Told almost entirely with a cast of Down's Syndrome actors and including the voice of Faruza Balk. What Is It? is about the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are salt, snails, a pipe, and how to get home, as tormented by an hubristic inner psyche. Crispin Hellion Glover's 'Big Slide Show' is a multimedia presentation/performance Crispin mounts using images from his beautifully bound hardcover art-books, audio sampling from his album The Big Problem and text read aloud. Victorian precedents are recalled with the creepy, sinewy etchings and, expository titles (What It Is and How It Is Done; Concrete Inspection and A Family Story Where a Mother Is Looking for Something & Finds It), but all modified through Crispin's own highly developed aesthetic."

Zoilus has been a nervous admirer of Crispin Glover ever since The River's Edge, ever since the Letterman-show "I - I - I can kick!" extravagonzo, ever since he gave the best silent-film performance of the age in the middle of the Charlie's Angels movie (how did that happen?). Sometimes I suspect he is going too California cutesy-weirdo, but I'll keep the faith and check this out. It's better than a Las Vegas "flyaway" for which you have to pay with your soul, i.e. by playing Celine Dion.

PLUS - nearly forgot - there's a musical appendix: An After-Party with Mr. Glover himself as well as, Jaymz Bee, DJ Shannon, DJ Video Dave and (what an appropriate matchup) Mr. Wax Mannequin, at the Drake that night (again, Aug. 28), 11 pm, 10 bucks.

News | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, July 27 at 4:13 PM | Linking Posts

 

Rhapsody in Hamilton

I'm working when I'd rather just be reading Harry Potter, but for why would you care about my summer bummer? You don't. You may, however, care for this Junior Boys news that I haven't spotted making the rounds very much in blogsville (which goes to show how blogsville has changed) but did spot, belatedly, in Billboard. News from Jeremy Greenspan: 1. New album, early '06. 2. "We're trying to strip things down a bit. I'm trying to shed any part of our sound that is too highly edited, as I think that approach will become dated quickly." 3. "The pervasive influence of classic Tin Pan Alley/Gershwin-esque songwriting." See previous Zoilage on the JBs.

News | Posted by zoilus on Monday, July 18 at 7:25 PM | Linking Posts

 

One Liners

poole.jpg

I have a brief review of the excellent recent box set on early country-music pioneer Charlie Poole in today's Globe and Mail. (See below.)

Daphne settles the fiction-writer-as-critic debate (sparked b