Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Michael Weston King revives the protest song

Between the ongoing wars, various acts of genocide and terrorism, grand-scale corruption and mismanagement within government and major financial institutions apart from the unprecedented man-made environmental disasters, it would appear there's no shortage of songwriting fodder for any  protest singers seeking to rally the masses with an truth-telling broadside or two.
Yet throughout the Katrina disaster, the global economic meltdown, the horrendous BP oil spill and the recent G8/G20 debacle, the most active finger-pointing participants in the topical song tradition of the past few decades have remained strangely silent. 
But then, who really needs a running commentary from the sorely out-of-touch old guard who've found it's much more lucrative to shill for multi-national corporations than to chill with the great unwashed.  As any historically-sussed singer/songwriter will tell you, there's already so many insightful protest tunes composed ages ago – a surprising number still have deep resonance today – that there's no need to wait around for inspiration to have the relevant songs necessary to galvanize the populace. All it takes is a little digging.
That's exactly what  UK songsmith Michael Weston King has done for his fab new album I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier (Valve Records) that presents his timely reactivation of some oddly prescient songs written some 40 years ago alongside a few new brilliant compositions inspired by the  tunes he discovered while researching the project.
Perhaps the best of King's finds is the utterly magnificent Sounds Of Our Time by the late great Jim Ford best known for penning Aretha Franklin's Niki Hoeky, Bobby Womack's I'd Be Ahead (If I Could Quit While I'm Behind) and Harry Hippie and very likely Bobbie Gentry's Ode To Billie Joe for which Ford was never properly credited.

Sounds Of Our Time by Jim Ford

The song Sounds Of Our Time (co-written with Womack who sings backing vocals on Ford's soulful original version) remained unissued and unheard at the time, hidden on a one of many tapes Ford kept in a plastic bag collecting dust in his California home until Germany's Bear Family label put it out in 2007 as part of the Sounds Of Our TIme CD compiling Ford's classic Harlan County album from 1969 along with singles tracks and previously unreleased tracks. King's poignant rendition of Ford's lost anthem, with Jeb Loy Nichols ably substituting for Womack on the backing vocals, is among the album's highlights but he also delivers  rousing takes of Is There Anybody Here? and Cops Of The World by Phil Ochs but his own tunes In Time and Hey Ma, I'm Coming Home and In Spain The Dogs Are Too Tired To Bite You stand up well against updates of better known tunes by Roosevelt Sykes and ex-protest singer turned BMO pitch man Bob Dylan.
Since the releases of Germany's Valve Records aren't well distributed outside of Europe, it may be just as difficult to find a copy of King's I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier as his previous release for the label, Crawling Through The USA but hopefully he'll have a few copies of the new disc with him at the Dakota Tavern where the engaging showman be making a rare Toronto appearance playing an early show Wednesday (September 1) at 7 pm sharp. Who knows, maybe Bruce Cockburn will drop by and take some notes.

Hey Ma, I'm Coming Home by Michael Weston King

I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier

Michael Weston King site http://www.michaelwestonking.com/
myspace http://www.myspace.com/michaelwestonking

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rap Nuggets: Documenting hip-hop history on the down low

Take a quick flip through the discs in the hip-hop compilations section of any used CD store and you'll see that loads of mediocre rap retrospectives and even more horrible ones which no one wants. You'll notice that most are built around either a particular label, scene, producer, subgenre where chart positions weigh heavy. Relatively few are stylistically diverse multi-label sets which include both popular faves and the influential street heat due to the prohibitive costs and legal hassles involved with licensing tracks from various sources. Consequently there has never been a definitive historical overview of the important recordings made during the late 80s and early 90s which many consider to be hip-hop's golden era.
A Toronto-born graffiti artist and hip-hop head who prefers to be known as "The Rap Bandit" (a tip of the Kangol to the notorious Source magazine columnist) grew up listening to the latest rap joints on CKLN 88.1 FM's The Powermove and CIUT 89.5 FM's The Masterplan and noticed that there weren't any comprehensive surveys of the music he loved available on the market.
So taking a tip from Lenny Kaye's groundbreaking 1972 Nuggets compendium of Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era, he decided to do something about it. The result is the ingenious Rap Nuggets package – a professional looking hand-assembled box set "Documenting The Golden Era of 1990-1994."
What's inside of the no-frills cardboard long box is four fat-free discs of the culturally crucial joints by KRS-One, Nas, Diamond D, Main Source, Public Enemy, Gang Starr, Brand Nubian, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang Clan, Black Moon, Notorious B.I.G., Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Big L, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, The Beatnuts, The Roots, De La Soul, Showbiz & AG, Das Efx, Slick Rick, Pharcyde, Tha Alkoholiks, and many others along with a bonus 19-track remix disc along with a photocopied assortment of notes, interview features and reviews lifted from the rap mags of the day neatly condensed into an informative accompanying booklet. 
Some may grouse about the lack of obscure regional "random rap" jams which currently command big dollars and others will quibble about the under-representation of historic Canuck game-changers but The Rap Bandit's ambitious attempt to bring together the essentials of the period in one place makes Rap Nuggets an incredible accomplishment nonetheless – even if some of the copyright holders strongly disagree.

Here's my interview with Toronto's Rap Bandit:

What got you interested in hip-hop?
While growing up I heard rap music being played around my neighborhood, the Birchmount and Finch area of Scarborough. The first record I bought was the Breakdance (K-Tel) LP from 1984 and my first cassette tape was the Colors soundtrack in 1988 which introduced me to Ice-T and Eric B & Rakim.  I really got into the Source magazine and Rap Pages around 1991 along with Rap Sheet. But the biggest influence on me back then was listening to the Powermove show on 88.1 FM and the Masterplan on 89.5 FM. By 1992 I loved all of the DITC, Hit Squad stuff.
That's when I started buying 12" singles. Every Friday my friends and I would TTC downtown to Yonge and College after school to hit up Traxx, New York Connections and Play De Record to buy stuff like Masta Ace's "Jeep Ass Niguh" and Kurious's "Walk Like A Duck". The first concert I ever saw was Black Sheep and Naughty by Nature at the Spectrum in 1992.
We were also going down to College and Bathurst every week to hear what DJ Serious was spinning at Lola's Lounge. As far as I know it was the first weekly event in Toronto that played real underground hip-hop. By 1993 I was also heavily into graffiti and I kept at it for the next 10 years.

How did you arrive at the time frame of 1990 to 1994 to mark the "golden era" of hip-hop for Rap Nuggets?
I wasn't trying to define which years are the official golden era of rap. The recordings released between 1990 and 1994 had the biggest impact on me. Besides, there are a lot of compilations covering mid to late 80s stuff already. 

What was the criteria for deciding which tracks to include and which to leave off?
I spent a lot of time going through my collection and old magazines. Once I had a list of songs that was a few pages long, I got a bunch of friends together at my house and we'd vote on each individual track.

Did you regret any oversights after the set was completed?
I'm constantly thinking of songs that should've been on it. This was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I created a blog (see link below) for the project and along with uploading the entire box set I've also put together mini-comps of songs that could've easily made the cut.

How was the package put together?
The boxes are from a company in Quebec which I used before on another project.
The material for the zine was compiled from all my old Source and Rap Pages magazines. I photocopied and assembled it myself. Every CD was burned individually on personal computers, every box was packaged and assembled by hand with help from some friends.

What difficulties did you encounter in the process of completing the package?
My main problem was maintaining the momentum. The whole thing was done completely in my spare time. I took a number of breaks from the project when I would go on hiatus. Eventually people I knew would start bugging me about it and asking me when the set would be finished. That would get me going again. So from a drunken idea to something I could proudly hold in my hands it was a total of three years. I made a total of 50 copies.

How has Rap Nuggets been distributed?

Word of mouth. By the time I finally finished more than half were already spoken for.
I put the rest in my car and on a couple of sunny Sundays I'd park in front of Sam James Coffee Bar  on Harbord with the trunk popped and Rap Nuggets blasting away. They sold pretty quickly. It was a fun throwback to how these old rappers used to sell their tapes before they were signed.

Apart from Ghetto Concept's EZ On The Motion, Maestro's Fine Tune Da Mic and maybe Main Source's Live at the BBQ, there's a conspicuous lack of homegrown Canuck material represented. Why?
I really wanted to include the Still Caught Up remix by Saukrates. It's his first single but unfortunately it came out in 1995. Other Canadian songs were considered, but vetoed out. There was some amazing music being made in Canada at the time but a lot of it wasn't being released. Saukrates, Choclair and Kardinal begain putting out music after 1994. Dream Warriors and Organized Rhyme didn't really stand a chance up against Da King & I and Gang Starr.

Any plans for an all-Canadian version of Rap Nuggets or perhaps a comprehensive history of underground Toronto hip-hop from 1979 to present?
I'd love to do that. Although, I'd want to do it up officially, all fully legit instead of bootleg style. I'm glad 50 people have Rap Nuggets now but it was a hell of a lot of work.

What sort of feedback have you gotten?
From the people I've spoken to, it's been positive. I get the odd criticism for leaving out a track or including one, but I wouldn't want it any other way. It's a passionate debate for some people, including myself.

Any advice for those planning similar do-it-yourself archival endeavors?

Take your time and do it properly. Half-assed shit sucks.

Rap Nuggets blog http://rapnuggets.blogspot.com/

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kanye makes a Monster with Justin Vernon

A brand new joint from Kanye West has appeared on his site. It's another banger called Monster, this time involving Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj and strangely enough, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon. Evidently the track is slated for commercial release as part of Watch The Throne a five-song Jay-Z collabo EP that will also include the Swizz Beats remix of Power although no date has yet been announced. According to a recent Kanye tweet, the plan is to put out a new song each week until Christmas as part of his ambitious GOOD Music Fridays initiative.

Monster by Kanye West 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

FUBAR II tops TIFF's Midnight Madness slate

That's right, hoser heroes Terry and Deaner are back to give'r again in Michael Dowse's FUBAR II – the follow up to the cult classic 2002 Canuck mockumentary FUBAR – which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival as part of the Midnight Madness program. It's scheduled for two TIFF screenings with the opening night launch at Ryerson on Thursday (September 9) at 12 midnight and a second showing at the Varsity 8 on Saturday (September 11) at 12 noon. If you can't score tickets for either, don't sweat it, FUBAR II will be in first-run theatres on October 1.

FUBAR II Trailer

FUBAR site http://www.fubar-themovie.com/
TIFF http://tiff.net/filmsandschedules/tiff/2010/fubarii

Friday, August 27, 2010

Get the reissue of Iggy Pop's Kill City while it's hot

Attention all Iggy Pop fans. His first post-Stooges album, 1977's Kill City has been slated for reissue on October 18 and the man himself couldn't be more nonplussed.
Never a particularly shrewd self-promoter, Iggy was recently quoted in Rolling Stone saying "Kill City to me was a very good minor work." Then, as if suddenly remembering it was about to be available for sale again in a remastered form, he added "It was an important work. It was my indie record." So much for the hard sell.
Well, even if Iggy isn't overly excited about his rip-snortin' James Williamson collabo – recorded in 1975 and released by Bomp! two years later – there's loads of young Stooges converts eager for more Iggy-style raw power. It's only fitting that Bomp! is the first to make available via mail order (www.bompstore.com  email: mailorder@bomprecords.com) the newly remixed and remastered Kill City in all it's green vinyl glory. And as a bonus, the first 100 orders in both LP and CD formats will receive a poster to boot.

Here's the scoop from Bomp!...

We wont be shipping copies of this one for months, but
they have arrived in our warehouse and we're making them available for
mail order immediately. INCLUDES FREE POSTER WITH FIRST 100 ORDERS.

RESTORED, RE-MIXED & REMASTERED edition, approved for the first time by
both Iggy Pop and James Williamson. GREEN VINYL LTD. EDITION of 1,000 with
with 24 PAGE BOOKLET featuring rare/unpublished photos.

Kill City is Iggy Pop and James Williamson’s often overlooked, yet
ultimately essential album. Originally recorded in 1975 and later released
by Bomp! in '77, critics have long lauded the songs and performances but
have also regarded the overall sound as “sludgy.”

The sound quality of Kill City was compromised from the get-go, as it
originally suffered from a bad pressing (on the infamous green vinyl), and
over the years the quality of the record itself managed to get even worse.
When the original distributor went out of business, the 2-track album
production masters vanished and every subsequent pressing of the album -
on record, cassette and CD - used a copy of that deficient green vinyl as
its master.

Now 33 years later, here is the long overdue restored, re-mixed and
remastered version of this historically important record. Producer James
Williamson remixed the album with engineer Ed Cherney at Capitol Records
in Hollywood, and as the guitarist states, "He just made this record
sound, well, like it should have sounded all along. It has finally reached
its full potential."

"I like what this album has to say.
It is rather high concept, and the music is well thought out.
It adheres to no particular genre.
A lot of people have borrowed its ideas.
It's one of the very first independent LPs I know of.
I hope you like it." 

"Kill City was by all measures a desperate effort, a singularly honest and
heartfelt performance, a genuine progression of our song writing, and
another in a long line of flops that were later resurrected and heralded
as masterpieces.
By the time it was released as a record, both Iggy and I were off doing
other things with our lives, but with this re-release we are not only
reunited in our musical endeavors but in our appreciation of this album,
its remix, and its importance to us as artists." 

Kill City reissue promo clip

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Estonia's next vocal wave rolls into The Trane Studio Thursday

Since stumbling onto the majestically funky 70s recordings of the Estonian vocal ensemble Collage over a decade ago, I've made a point of checking Melodiya label releases from their Riga plant more closely for anything coming out of Tallinn.
Albums by Marju Kuut & Uno Loop,  the Tallinn Jazz Ensemble and many others soon followed but I always returned to the three classic albums  which innovative conductor/arranger Aarne Vahuri made with the students from the Tallinn Conservatory and Tallinn School Of Music and Pedagological Institute with the brilliant rhythmic support of forward looking young jazz musicians including pianist Tõnu Naissoo, bassists Meeme Saareväli and Toivo Unt along with funky drummer Peep Ojavere.
There's something refreshingly unique about the Estonian vocal tradition which Vahuri first tapped into on their stellar self-titled 1971 debut that brought together elements of ancient folklore with modern jazz harmonies in a dazzling new way. Well worth investigating is the two-disc Collage retrospective Parimad Lood released by hyper.records although Wool Recordings well-selected sampler Fifty Four Minutes Twenty Seconds will be much easier to find.
Naturally when I recently noticed a listing for a Toronto appearance by someone calling themselves The Estonian Jazz Sextet at The Trane Studio (964 Bathurst) on Thursday (August 26), I was curious about who might be playing in the the mysterious group.

Regrettably, no one involved has a Collage connection but it's a stellar assembly nonetheless led by Estonia's 2010 Jazz Artist of The Year saxophonist Raivo Tafenau who's joined by gifted pianist Jürmo Eespere, guitar-star Virgo Sillamaa, Estonian Dream Big Band bassist Mihkel Mälgand and in-demand percussion prodigy Eno Kollom who now appears to be Tafenau's drummer of choice. But wait, there's more.

Perhaps most intriguing are the two vocalists for the evening, the promising Kadri Voorand who fronts her own ensemble in Estonia with both Eespere and Mälgand that's been drawing rave reviews on the European jazz festival circuit and, amazingly enough, 21 year-old Laura Põldvere better known to millions of Eurovision fans as simply Laura, Estonia's answer to Lady Gaga.
That's right, believe it or don't, the Eastern European singing sensation who became a star as a 17 year-old member of Estonia's own Spice Girls, Suntribe, Põldvere eventually went solo and reinvented herself as Euro-disco diva Laura with a flair for "futuristic" stagewear and choreography to match as can be seen in the clip of her performance of Destiny as part of Eurovision 2009 below. 
A recent stint at Boston's esteemed Berklee College seems to have turned the classically trained violinist in a jazz direction which actually isn't as shocking as it might seem if you've seen her sweetly sensitive rendition of Antonio Carlos Jobin's Dindi on Estonian television (check out the clip).
She's definitely got the pipes so it should be interesting to see how Põldvere puts them to use in the company of some of Estonia's finest improvisors at the Trane Studio Thursday night. In any case, it'll be a rare opportunity to see Laura up close sans Christmas ornamentation – just don't count on her to bust out any of the club anthems from last year's Ultra album. Tickets are $10 at the door and the first set starts at 8 pm.

The Flame by The Kardri Voorand Group @ Birštonas Jazz Festival 2010

Let's Get Loud by Suntribe w/ Laura Põldvere @ Eurovision 2005

Dindi (Jobim) by Laura Põldvere 2007

Destiny by Laura @ Eurovision 2009

Collage http://www.hyper.ee/eng_collage.html
Kadri Voorand http://www.myspace.com/kadrivoorand
Virgo Sillamaa http://www.myspace.com/virgosillamaamusic
Mihkel Mälgand http://www.myspace.com/mihkelmalgand
The Trane Studio http://www.tranestudio.com/

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Neil Young album in September

It'll take more than a near-fatal motorcycle accident to keep Dan Lanois from completing production on the new Neil Young solo album. Evidently the recording of Neil's new eight song album, reportedly titled Le Noise, is now in the can and set for release on September 28 with Blu-Ray and iPad versions due a month later.

Based on the few tunes which our man has previewed on his recent tour, it will be a return to stellar form rather than one of those loopy detours he's prone to take every few years. Incidentally, Lanois' album with his new band Black Dub is now slated for a November release.
Neil Young - Le Noise

Walk With Me
Sign Of Love
Someone’s Gonna Rescue You
Love And War
Angry World
Peaceful Valley Boulevard

The Rizdales' fave country duets

Writing about Tom and Tara Dunphy's classic-sounding male/female country duets on The Rizdales' fantastic new How The Marriage Ended! album left me wondering what their favourite recordings in the genre might be. So I asked Tom put together a top 10 list which you'll find below in no particular order...

"Here's our list. It's not necessarily a definitive top 10, but they're all songs we get a lot of enjoyment from. We've included some obvious classics – hey, they're classics for a reason – along with few recent duets that get us every time. And yes, I realize that they're not strictly male/female duets."                                                                                                           
Tom Dunphy, The Rizdales
"When that list was being put together, Tom left out one of my favourites – Steve Earle and Iris DeMent's recording of I'm Still In Love With You from the album The Mountain. It's a classic!"
Tara O'Connor Dunphy, The Rizdales                                                                                                                

Holding On To Nothing - Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton

Loose Talk - Buck Owens and Rose Maddox

No One is Gonna Love You Better - Merle Haggard and Heather Myles

Pickin' Wild Mountain Berries - Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty

Sweet Thang - Loretta Lynn and Ernest Tubb

Say it's Not You - George Jones and Keith Richards

In Spite of Ourselves - John Prine and Iris DeMent

My Elusive Dreams - David Houston and Tammy Wynette

Take Me - George Jones and Tammy Wynette

We'll Sweep out the Ashes in the Morning - Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rizdales record release party @ the Dakota tonight

photo by Jack Martin

When you think of great country male/female duets and images of Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood or Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow come to mind, you're reading the wrong blog.
However, if instead you immediately thought of George & Tammy, Johnny & June, Porter & Dolly, Loretta & Conway or maybe even Merle & Bonnie and you haven't yet seen The Rizdales' talented husband and wife tandem of Tom and Tara Dunphy in action, then it's your lucky day.
London, Ontario's finest roots country combo are hosting a swingin' release party for their hot new recording How The Marriage Ended! tonight (Saturday, August 21) over at the Dakota Tavern with friends Luther Wright, Emily Fennell and Brian Connelly's rockin' instrumental rippers Ancient Chinese Secret ensuring a ruckus will be raised.
Even if the Music City brain trust believes the days of dual-gender duets are done, recent headlines suggest that people of every tax bracket are still prone to relationship problems so there may be interest in hearing sweetly harmonizing spouses musically navigating through their own marital minefields like they once did when hair was higher and suits were custom tailored in the colours of tropical fruits.
Unlike the vast majority of your favourite country stars past and present, the self-contained Rizdales unit compose, perform and record their own songs. So rather than simply remake the genre standards as others have done, they decided to try adding a few new pages to the break-up songbook. I'm pleased to report that  they've come up with some corkers for How The Marriage Ended! like The Last Time You Put Me Down and the cleverly cutting It's Not Me, It's You (not the Lily Allen number) which have the feel of jukebox faves which Capitol's Ken Nelson might've cut in Studio B in between sessions by Buck Owens, Faron Young, Wanda Jackson, Tommy Collins and Ferlin Husky.
That's not to say that the Rizdales tunes sound dated, not at all, more like timeless classics that will be sung and spun for years to come. In fact, the video-ready My New Wife's Kids off the new album could be Brad Paisley's next chart smash while Who Knows You is a Lady Antebellum radio staple waiting to happen if only their Nashville A&R reps had ears.
If you decide to head down to the Dakota to see the Rizdales tonight, be sure to bring along a little extra scratch for a copy of their self-released How The Marriage Ended! disc and you might want to grab a copy of their equally exceptional previous album Radio Country while it's still available.

The Rizdales site http://www.rizdales.com/
myspace http://www.myspace.com/rizdales

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fabulous Fleshtones revved up for Horsehoe roof-raiser

As a warm-up for The Fleshtones' showdown with Rob Sweeney's Crummy Stuff featuring Teenage Head's Gord Lewis at the Horseshoe tonight (Thursday), the hexbreaking garage-rock kings of Queens flew to Sweden in February to headline the Super Rock Weekend at Kägelbanan in Stockholm.  Here's a small sampling of the ensuing craziness which culminated with a tribute to the late great Sammy Davis Jr...

Hexbreaker, Speedy Gonzalez

The Dreg

Theme From The Vindicators

I'm Over 25 (But You Can Trust Me), Roman Gods

The Fleshtones site http://www.fleshtones.org/
myspace http://www.myspace.com/fleshtones
Peter Zaremba's Busybuddy blog http://thebusybuddy.blogspot.com/
Zaremblog http://zaremblog.blogspot.com/
Crummy Stuff myspace http://www.myspace.com/robsweeneyscrummystuff

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Goths go to the beach... but prefer graveyards

Beachy Head by Veronica Falls

Found Love In A Graveyard by Veronica Falls

Veronica Falls site http://www.myspace.com/veronicafallshard

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lost Greenhornes album magically appears

Just when you thought you'd heard the last of Cincinnati garage rock rebels The Greenhornes, a copy of what appears to be an unissued album recorded during their mid-2000's peak has found it's way into the hands of Zach B. who posted it on his fine Random Old Records blog.  How do these things happen?
Assuming that the recording of undisclosed origins tagged as "Little Horse" sans tracklisting really is a lost Greenhornes album – the professionally recorded 12-song studio set certainly sounds like their work – then it's plausible that the recording could've been done after 2005's East Grand Blues (V2) EP and before the Greenhornes rhythm section of drummer Patrick Keeler and bassist Jack Lawrence were deputized by Jack White for various projects, notably Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose album and  the Raconteurs. Meanwhile Greenhornes guitar-playing singer/songwriter Craig Fox has been keeping busy in Cincinnati with Oxford Cotton, The Long Gones and Pearlene.
Of course, it's also possible that these tracks could be early versions of songs intended for The Greenhornes forthcoming Four Stars album set for release on Jack White's Third Man Records label in October. We'll likely find out soon enough as the reunited Greenhornes will be kicking off a short tour with a homecoming show at The Comet in Cincinnati on August 20 followed by gigs at Detroit's Magic Stick (Aug. 21), Nashville's The Basement (Sep. 1), New York's Mercury Lounge (Sep. 3) and Maxwell's in Hoboken (Sep. 4) as a warm-up for their Jim Jarmusch-approved appearance at the All Tomorrow's Parties Festival at Kutsher's Country Club in  Monticello, New York on September 5. No word as yet about a Toronto show but The Greenhornes have always done well here so there will likely be announcement soon. You'll probably read about it here first. 

Greenhornes site http://www.myspace.com/thegreenhornes
Random Old Records http://randomoldrecords.blogspot.com
All Tomorrow's Parties Festival http://www.atpfestival.com/events/atpnewyork2010.php
Third Man Records http://www.thirdmanrecords.com/

Friday, August 13, 2010

METZ single release party tonight @ The Shop

The third installment of We Are Busy Bodies' series of limited edition 7-inch singles by lobster-lovin' Toronto rippers METZ is finally in stores and selling fast. That should come as no great shock since the previous two flew out the door and the pairing of Negative Space b/w Automat makes for a smashing double-sider – even if the B-side has nothing to do with the Sprockets-esque synth stormer Killerautomat by Neue Deutsche Welle group DEO.
Those who either don't have turntable technology or won't be able to make it to METZ's single release party with Anagram and Induced Labour tonight (Friday, August 13) at The Shop (at Parts and Labour) will be thrilled that We Are Busy Bodies mainman Eric Warner is kindly made both future METZ concert faves available for free download right here.
But make sure to get on that quick because the link will only be active for a week.   

Eric Warner discusses We Are Busy Bodies


METZ site www.myspace.com/metztheband
We Are Busy Bodies http://www.wearebusybodies.com/

The Persuasions... approximately

Like many popular R&B vocal groups from the past still touring, the Persuasions have had some line-up changes. Consequently the version of the group appearing at Harbourfront Centre's Sirius Stage on Friday (August 13) at 9:30 pm as part of the Hot & Spicy Food Festival isn't the same five friends who harmonized together on Bed-Stuy basketball courts in 1962 and went on to record nine memorable a cappella albums through the 70s. Since the passing of Herbert "Toubo" Rhoad in 1988 followed by the departure of lead vocalist, arranger and repertoire filter Jerry Lawson to pursue a solo career in 2003, only two original Persuasions Jesse "Sweet Joe" Russell and Jimmy Hayes remain active. In recent years they've primarily focused on recording tribute albums, saluting the work of The Beatles, Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa and even U2 (yikes!) but they still ain't got no band.
For those who miss the soulful power and invention of the classic Lawson-led line-up, here's a rare Persuasions television  appearance from 1974 reworking the Everly Brothers' hit All I Have To Do Is Dream and the Highway QCs' house-wrecker Somewhere To Lay My Head. The obviously thrilled young host of the program who can't help but clap along would go on to greater daytime television notoriety for nailing baby daddies with paternity tests.     

All I Have To Do Is Dream and Somewhere To Lay My Head by the Persuasions

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A thoughtful gift from Kanye

The release date for the final chapter in Kanye West's college series – tentatively titled Good Ass Job – is now set for November 16 but he must be close to finishing the recording sessions since he's working hard to build the buzz.
Evidently our man Yeezy couldn't bear to be the only person rocking See Me Know in his ride this summer so he thoughtfully decided to share it's epic goodness – prominently featuring Beyoncé and the Gap Band's powerhouse belter Charlie Wilson – which you can momentarily get for free right here. There's a good possibility that a remix of Power featuring Jay-Z may magically appear in the next couple days. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Uncovering Sweden's secret garage punk past

The way the unabashedly twee pop and fresh-scrubbed club confections have been flowing out of Stockholm for the last couple of years, it's easy to forget that Sweden was actually the European capital of raunchy fuzzed-out rock 'n' roll savagery during the 80s garage rock revival.
While the Lyres were battling the Chesterfield Kings over here for the titans of teen trash title, the Nomads, Shoutless, Problem, The Stomachmouths, The Creeps, Crimson Shadows, Backdoor Men, Wylde Mammoths, Wilmer X and others were tearing up clubs across Scandinavia packed with plastered suburban no-counts who would later form bands of their own. The future members of the Hives and Hellacopers were clearly paying attention even if the rest of the world wasn't.

Many of  finest recordings made by Swedish bands of the era remained largely unheard outside of the country until 1985 when the Amigo label released a state-of-the-scene document called A Real Cool Time: Distorted Sounds From The North. News quickly spread that Sweden was producing some brutal bashers – inspired by the obscure 60s punk artifacts collected on the Pebbles and Back From The Grave archival comps – which could compete with the kick-ass combos springing up in Australia, Spain, Italy and in small towns all over North America. 
To mark the 25th anniversary of that head-turning A Real Cool Time anthology, Amigo label A&R dude Ulf Lindqvist has put together A Real Cool Time Revisited: Swedish Punk, Pop and Garage Rock 1982-1989 (RPM) – an expanded two disc anthology with accompanying notes written by Sonic magazine contributor and former Voodoo Dolls frontman L-P Anderson

The first thing that owners of the original set will notice is that Lindqvist didn't simply tack on a bit of bonus material, he completely overhauled the 1985 package. Consequently some great tunes on A Real Cool Time have been replaced with alternate selections by the same act: The Shoutless are now represented by Insane rather than Change My Ways, Dr. Yogami's Plastic Surgeon is substituted for Nightmare Birds, The Wayward Souls' Unknown Journey replaces Inside Your Mind and the Bottle Ups'  Bottle Beat has been axed in favour of Ramblin' Reckless Hobo and Too Much Talk.
Odd yes, but stranger still, Hidden Charms and Occasional Dead Flys who made it onto the first collection were mysteriously jettisoned from the revamped 40-track package. So if you loved the original set, hang on to it as this updated edition appears to be designed as a sort of companion piece with a slightly broader stylistic scope.  

The selection criteria of using one song per artist – except for the aforementioned  Bottle Ups who rate two tracks for some reason – is also a bit puzzling. It may be the most democratic method and would work just fine if the sole purpose was to simply showcase as many bands as possible. However, if the goal was to assemble a fat-free double disc blast of the most exciting music of the period, a weighted selection might've been a better strategy to help ensure fantastic songs by prolific groups wouldn't be left off  to make room for mediocre numbers by one-single wonders.

The fact that the Nomads' lengthy and highly productive career is represented only by their cover of the Third Bardo's I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time just doesn't seem right even if it is a concert staple. And no, including the rip that the Nomads members did on Blue Oyster Cult's This Ain't The Summer Of Love while masquerading as the Screaming Dizbusters won't make up for what was missed.
Why not go with one of the Nomads' own compositions like say, Where The Wolfbane Blooms or Lowdown Shakin' Chills? Heck, use them both – they're better than most of the stuff that made the final cut including The Voodoo Dolls' ill-advised crack at The Apollos' untouchable scorcher That's The Breaks.   

Where The Wolfbane Blooms / Five Years Ahead of My Time by The Nomads @ Debaser, Stockholm March 5, 2010

It's understandable that Lindqvist would want to include a track by Union Carbide Productions since the members went on to form The Soundtrack Of Our Lives. But of all the songs he could've picked, he chose Cartoon Animal, their straight-up cop of the Sonic Rendezvous Band's City Slang with alternate lyrics written and sung by Ebbot Lundberg. I can't imagine Ebbot will be too pleased to have that embarrassing business coming back to haunt him, especially if the legal representatives of Fred "Sonic" Smith's estate notice some intriguing similarities between the two tunes.

City Slang by Sonic's Rendezvous Band

Cartoon Animal by Union Carbide Productions

Unusual and sometimes perplexing song selections aside, anyone interested in tracing the sonic roots of the Hives, Hellacopters, Sahara Hotnights, the (International) Noise Conspiracy and The Soundtrack Of Our Lives will find A Real Cool Time Revisited a great place to start but it might be wise to grab the double disc set while you can. 


A Real Cool Time Revisited
Disc 1
1 Nomads - I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time
2 Shoutless - Insane
3 Wayward Souls - Unknown Journey
4 Backdoor Men - Out Of My Mind
5 Crimson Shadows - Even I Tell Lies
6 Dolkows - Silent Woods
7 Sonic Walthers - No Lies
8 Hijackers - When I Get Home
9 Sinners - When She Lies
10 Voodoo Dolls - That's The Breaks
11 Legendary Lovers - King Of The World
12 Watermelon Men - Your Eyes
13 Wylde Mammoths - Help That Girl
14 Friends Inside - Where Are You Sleeping Tonight?
15 Stomachmouths - Don't Put Me Down
16 Psychotic Youth - Love Machine
17 Wilmer X - Motorbike Drivin'
18 Union Carbide Productions - Cartoon Animal
19 Bottle Ups - Ramblin' Wreckless Hobo
20 Bangsters - Strangers

Disc 2
1 Screaming Dizbüsters - This Ain't The Summer Of Love
2 Problem - Uppskärarjack
3 Slammers - Don't Push Me Around
4 Creeps - She's Gone
5 Maryland Cookies - Don't Lie To Me
6 Dr. Yogami - Plastic Surgeon
7 Highway Slugs - Just Another Loner
8 Public Vein - Carry On
9 Bottle Ups - Too Much Talk
10 Playmates - Days After Tomorrow
11 Pyromaniacs - Lost Revenge
12 Slobster - Sudden Death
13 Preachers - Thirtynine Steps
14 Pushtwangers - She's Blind (But I Don't Mind)
15 Cornflake Zoo - Hey Conductor
16 Highspeed V - Sally
17 Livingstones - Fastest Car Around!
18 Rumblers - Bopalina Bopalina Ow Mow Mow Mow
19 Sator - Pig Valley Beach
20 Leather Nun - Prime Mover

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Boris and Ian Astbury together at last

Even though Ian Astbury has reportedly acceded to overwhelming public demand and sworn off making any more Cult albums after 2007's disappointing Born Into This, that doesn't mean our boy Wolf Child will howl no more in a recording studio. Heavens no.
My fellow Glendale Secondary School alum, who turned 48 in May, has since added his  trademark growl to the song Ghost on Slash's self-titled debut and more recently he flew to Japan in April to collaborate with psycho-delic Tokyo drone delinquents Boris on their forthcoming BXI (Southern Lord) EP due for official release in September. In addition to a cover of The Cult's classic Rain – sung by wispy-voiced Boris guitarist Wata to haunting effect – Astbury demonstrates his demon-summoning bellow is still in fine form on Teeth and Claws and the creepy ballad Magickal Child while the amped-up We Are Witches shows he can still "bring the banshee"when called upon. Oh yes, he's still got it.
Wisely enough, they decided against adding their cover of The Doors' The End – one of Gord Downie's fave show closers from the early days of the Tragically Hip – which they performed live in Australia at the Sydney Opera House on May 29 which you can check out below.
There's no word yet whether Astbury – who enjoys hanging out in Toronto – will drop by Lee's Palace tomorrow (Monday, August 9) for Boris' show with Russian Circles but apparently axe assassin Michio Kurihara (of Ghost and White Heaven infamy) is confirmed as the second guitarist for Boris which should make for an extra heavy wattage wallop. Earplugs recommended.    

The End by Ian Astbury & Boris @ Sydney Opera House May 29, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Will Crum is Swedish for "very sneaky"

Bad boy roots rocker Will Crum hasn't exactly been suffering from over exposure at home in Orange County. You never heard his song A Drink With The Devil playing in the background during  any heavy bar scene on The O.C. and both of his albums – 2005's Workhorse (Jackson Industries) and Will Crum and the Blue Maroons (Jackson Industries) from 2008 – can probably still be found in second-hand shops from Anaheim to Huntington Beach.
Tired of waiting around to be discovered, Will Crum figured that perhaps playing weekday night gigs at wine bars in Newport Beach wasn't the best way to maximize his outreach in ultra-conservative Orange County so he decided to take his music to the people with a bold new strategy: stealth shows!
Enlisting a few pals to carry gear. create distractions and document the operation, Will Crum and company rolled into the IKEA in Costa Mesa last year with shopping carts filled with amps, instruments, microphones and cable, quickly set up their stuff in the bedroom section, plugged in and knocked out two songs for puzzled shoppers before the yellow-shirted staffers realized that management hadn't hired a punk rock band for an in-store. While security checked the employee manual to determine the appropriate action to deal with a guerrilla-style musical performance on the second floor, Will Crum squeezed in a third tune for the appreciative crowd then split on the double (see clip below). It all worked so well (i.e. no jail time) that Crum and crew staged a surprise encore at a Wendy's in Costa Mesa which evidently went down well with Whopper munching crowd.
However entertaining Crum's stealth shows may be, they don't pay the bills so he'll be appearing at some more conventional venues in Toronto, namely the Cameron tonight (Saturday, August 7) at 9 pm followed by another show at Mitzi's Sister at 12 midnight and then tomorrow (Sunday, August 8) at The Press Club (850 Dundas West) at 9 pm. Although if you happen to be up in North York doing some back-to-school shopping at IKEA this weekend, don't be surprised if some dude with a blue Danelectro guitar starts busting out tunes near the modern kitchen showroom.

Will Crum's local appearances:
Sat Aug 14 - Battle Of The Two-Piece Bands III @ The Black Shire Pub (511 Talbot, London), 9 pm
Thu Aug 19 - The Press Club (850 Dundas West), 9 pm
Fri Aug 20 - Lola's (40 Kensington), 9 pm
Sat Aug 21 - Studio BLR day show, 12 noon - 2 pm

The Swedish Job: IKEA Costa Mesa stealth show 

The Swedish Job: The Escape

Encore @ Wendy's

site http://willcrum.com/
myspace http://www.myspace.com/willcrum

Friday, August 6, 2010

Floating Points steps into The Supermarket

Over the past year, the UK music media and the blogosphere has gone gaga for the oozy-woozy post-dubstep tracks which 23 year-old Brit producer Sam Shepherd has issued under his Floating Points monicker when not working on his Ph.D thesis concerning the neuroscience of pain.
I'll restrain myself from any cheap gags about Shepherd starting up the Eglo label with Rinse FM DJ Alexander Nut as part of his research requirements and simply state that I haven't yet been knocked out by any Floating Points Vangelis-like releases any more than his gently thudding remixes but his Floating Points Ensemble shows definite promise.
Yes, like every other Brit producer with effusive accolades and some cello playing pals, the classically-trained Shepherd has more grandiose orchestral aspirations. Fortunately he also managed to squeeze in some classes in jazz composition at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester and it's starting to pay dividends as can be heard in the three songs he performed with the 13-piece group featuring singer Fatima at BBC's Maida Vale Studios last August which can be found here.
If you try to blot out Gilles Peterson's fawning banter towards the end of the clip, you'll notice that he's got playing in the background Moe Koffman's mighty mellow Days Gone By (Egyptology) – off the cut-out bin classic Museum Pieces (Janus) album of 1978 – with some swank keyboard fills from Don Thompson and tasteful guitar runs courtesy Ed Bickert. Nice.

Days Gone By by Moe Koffman

Those wondering what exactly Shepherd might spin in a Floating Points DJ set at the Supermarket this evening might find some clues in his My Plastic People podcast which Shepherd assembled for XLR8R earlier this year.
Evidently the Ph.D studies and part-time beatmaking don't leave much time for crate-digging but the jazz, fusion and soul numbers selected as a personal tribute to London's famed East End nightspot, Plastic People, make for a pleasant mix. 

My Plastic People
01 Flora Purim "Encounters" (Milestone)
02 Deniece Williams "Slip Away" (Columbia)
03 Esther Philips "Home Is Where the Hatred Is" (KUDU)
04 Windy City "(So You Think) Somethin's Missin'" (Chi Sound)
05 James Brown "Mind Power" (Polydor)
06 Gil Scott-Heron "Lady Day and John Coltrane" (Flying Dutchman)
07 Brian Auger & Oblivion Express "Whenever You're Ready" (RCA)
08 Willie Bobo "Sixty-Two Fifty" (Columbia)
09 Chick Corea & Return to Forever "Captain Marvel" (Polydor)
10 Kuniyuki "Precious Hall (Dub)" (Natural Resource)
11 Larry Heard "Missing You" (Track Mode)
12 Herbert "Suddenly" (Studio !K7)
13 Darkstar "Aidy's Girl Is a Computer (Kyle Hall Oats B So Deep Remix)" (Hyperdub)
14 Floating Points "Shark Chase" (Eglo)
15 Pharoah Sanders "Greeting To Saud (Brother McCoy Tyner)" (Impulse)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Max and Mark's Ape-tastic adventure continues Thursday @ Shitty Cheers

On Thursday night, Deadly Snakes keyboardist turned thespian Max McCabe-Lokos and fellow part-time selecta Mark "BBQ" Sultan return to Shitty Cheers aka The Unlovable (1415-B Dundas West) for another chimp-crazy Ape Sodom vinyl throwdown where they will again attempt to confound douchey hipsters by playing nutty-cool records from their collections that sound nothing like lame indie-rock or 80s retro blather. To that I say, right on my primate brothers!    
Because Sultan has a prior performance engagement with DOA (at 1266 Queen West) starting at 10 pm, the opening of the Ape Sodom night will be left in the capable monkey paws of McCabe-Lokos with the slightly sweaty BBQ boy joining the party later in the evening.
At least that's the plan according to Sultan's Facebook posting:
"i recommend coming this time but not if you are douchey, like last week. Still, we will have fun. Max will be spinning solo while I play a show with DOA, but we will reunite to play you a mixed bag of shit: Ornette Coleman, The Fugs, The Seeds, Throbbing Gristle, Heart, Bad Brains, etc x 1000000."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Built To Spill's disco auto-remix

Perhaps disappointed with the lack of throwback synth-pop acts covering classic Built To Spill tunes 80s style, BTS singer dude Doug Martsch and bassist Brett Nelson have taken matters into their own hands and formed the Electronic Anthology Project – a synthetically twerked Built To Spill tribute unit – to demonstrate how it should be done. And really, would you expect anything less from the self-proclaimed Ultimate Alternative Wavers?
In advance of the self-titled CD release, EAP's first three entertainingly retro sounding joints complete with melodramatic vocals and "futuristic" keyboard squelchery punctuated by old-school drum machine hand-claps have recently appeared on their myspace page (see link below) with clever anagram titles, including Eels (a cover of Else from BTS's Keep It Like A Secret album), What If Your Dull (aka I Would Hurt A Fly off of Perfect From Now On) and Age I Felt (aka Get A Life from Ultimate Alternative Wavers). Clearly, Doug and Brett have far too much time on their hands.
The seven-song EAP recording is being sold with a suitably generic sleeve art as a tour disc at upcoming Built To Spill shows with a full release projected for later this year. But if you're not planning to see them at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey this Friday (August 6), MP3 versions of the seven tracks are available from CD Baby right here.     

The Electronic Anthology Project
1 I Dim Our Angst In Agony (Goin’ Against Your Mind)
2 Age I Felt (Get A Life)
3 At The Where (The Weather)
4 Eels (Else)
5 What If Your Dull (I Would Hurt A Fly)
6 A Gloss Siren (Israel’s Song)
7 Far Path Tall Sign (Things Fall Apart)

Electronic Anthology Project http://www.myspace.com/527249283

Zac Efron hearts The Black Keys

If you're wondering why the Black Keys show sold out early, it may actually have less to do with the new found popularity of Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney due to their surprisingly dope Blakroc studio throwdown with Mos Def, Q-Tip, RZA and Raekwon or the Black Keys great new Brothers (Nonesuch) album than the simple fact that Zac Efron is their new biggest fan. Because you know whatever Zac likes, so does a couple million of the High School Musical heartthrob's squealing admirers. Don't be surprised to see a significantly younger and louder crowd than usual checking out the Akron blues-rock duo with you tonight at the Kool Haus.   

Next Girl by The Black Keys on The Late Late Show July 27, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Seu Jorge brings Caribana to a carnaval climax at the Phoenix tonight

Seu Jorge & Almaz North American Tour 2010 Part 1

North American Tour 2010 Part 2

Everybody Loves The Sunshine Live @ Terminal 5 NYC July 30, 2010

Ziggy Stardust 

website www.seujorgealmaz.com
label  http://www.stonesthrow.com/news/2010/07/seu-jorge-and-almaz-on-now-again