Music Notes April 2009

April 26, 2009 at 9:10 pm (Uncategorized)

1 The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz

The snazzy new record with a snazzy new sound. The first two records and EPs had a crunchy art-punk sound. Lots of guitars and lots of shouting from Karen O. The new one, hmm, well, it’s different. More keyboards for a start. The songs aren’t quite so immediate, but they sure grow on you.  

POST SCRIPT – Huh? Didn’t notice, I already mentioned this one last month. Oh well. Good record though.

 2. Metric – Fantasies.

OK, OK, so they sound like a smarter version of Martha and the Muffins, but so what? Like the web site says, ‘I love Metric.’ Instantly lovable. Check out the video for ‘Gimmie Shelter’ and download an acoustic version of ‘I’m Alive.’

3. The Dead Weather – Hang you from the Heavens

Ooh, Jack White’s newest side project, along with Alison  from the Kills. A fine garagey debut, with a cover of the old Tubeway Army song  ‘Are Friends Electric?’  on the b-side.

4. Billy Bob Thorton vs. , er Canada

Perhaps, Billy Bob was right about the play this got, but boy was it odd for a couple of days. As most everyone knows, Thorton’s band, (or is it, the band of which Thorton is a member?) appeared on CBC’s Q to be interviewed by ex-Moxy Fruvious member and International Socialists sympathizer Jian Ghomeshi. Various accounts of what was agreed to as fit interview subjects are available, but it seems Billy Bob was unhappy when Ghomeshi mentioned his movie career. Pretty much from the start, Thorton was petulant and childish, while his band mates attempted to conduct the interview, all the way wincing at his performance. Big star pulls temper tantrum: is this news? Unfortunately, Thorton made remarks about Canadian audiences, and then the nationalism took over.  Lots of silly remarks about Americans ensued.

A friend of mine , who plays in a local blues band, and who was at the Massey Hall show where the Boxmasters opened for Willie Nelson, wrote:

Yes, Billie Bob was in fine form on Wed. night. After, virtually

ignoring Jian Ghomeshi for mere mention of his acting career, he took time out from his set on Wed. night for a shout-out to some film Cronie he recognized sitting in the front row. After introducing him to the audience, he proceeded to brag about the number of movies they’d worked on together. Is he insane? You can’t have it both ways buddy!

As we played to little or no audiences this Easter weekend, my musician friends and I analyzed his behaviour, agreeing that after trading in his lucrative film career, the grim reality of being a no-name musician has finally set in.

Anyway, Willie was great to see. He is definitely one of a kind, and there aren’t many of his caliber of songwriter left. He’s also an incredibly original guitarist.

Nuff said?

5. MP3? CD? Vinyl?

My nephew laughs at me sometimes. In a respectful way of course. ‘I never buy CDs’  he says. Like many, he downloads all the music he likes. Fair enough. I can’t quite let go for the physical for the virtual though. (Not to mention, sound quality)

I still have stacks of vinyl in boxes in the basement, but alas, no turntable at the moment. I volunteered in my son’s kindergarten class last week, and was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a turntable on it. Lots of kids stared at the shirt, so I asked those who did, if they knew what it was. Lots of blank looks. I tried to explain it to one kid. ‘Is that where you put the CD?’ she asked. ‘Er, no. Ask your parents,’ I said.

 Then the Globe and Mail ran this story last week. (I’m going to post it later, as Globe stories disappear quite quickly from the site)

6. Phil Ochs – There But for Fortune

Last week at work, a few songs sounded over the PA in honour of Earth Day. The first was Amy Grant’s vastly inferior version of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi.’ Ho hum, I continued what i was doing. Then came Joan Baez’s version of Phil Ochs’ ‘There but for Fortune.’  I couldn’t continue. I just stopped what I was doing and listened. I hadn’t heard the song in a while, and it just froze me. Baez is a better singer than Ochs, but it’s the words which grab you. When I spoke to person, responsible for the selection, I discovered she didn’t know who Phil Ochs was. Now, that’s a shame. Ochs was one of the great singer-songwriters from the 60s folk movement. A contemporary of Dylan who was never as successful, but the writer of brilliant, witty and poignant songs. Dead by his own hand more than 30 years, Ochs deserves to be remembered.

7. Rock Star Commercials

I can respect a person who sells their name on a commercial on two grounds: just starting out and washed up. You have bills to pay. Yeah, yeah, I can be a purist; no one is going to ask me to sell out. Gotta love these two cereal ads though:

Rolling Stones and Rice Crispies

John Cooper Clarke and Sugar Puffs

8. Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts

It’s a lazy cliche to say that Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts is the great lost punk album, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I’ll go one step further, and say that the Adverts are the great lost punk band, and that wouldn’t be too far from the truth either. Aside from the punk-shock horror of Gary Gilmore’s Eyes in the summer of 1977, the Adverts never truly made an impression, but a quick listen to their back catalogue will convince most unbiased listeners that theirs was not to be missed.

The Adverts formed in 1976 by Tim, later TV, Smith and Gaye Black (nee Advert). Their first single appeared on Stiff, and for a tour featuring the Adverts and the Damned, the wags there had it, ‘the Adverts know one chord, the Damned know three. Come and see all four at…’

The debut album (with a title suggested by the legendary Jane Suck,) came out too late. By 1978, things had cooled, and the album’s brilliance was overlooked. All the themes are there: alienation, youth identity, anger. Mixed with driving catchy music and you’re set. The album has been re-issued several times, each adding B-sides, and now a great live set. Well worth tracking down.

9. The Decemberists

Taking time out from their ‘feud’ with Stephen Colbert, the Decemberists make great music. While their last album, The Crane Wife was described by one as the best Jethro Tull album since Heavy Horses, it’s still a keeper. Quietly crafted intelligent pop. Worth getting is the I-tunes session. The only disappointment is it’s too short.

They might have over-reached themselves on the new album, but I’m still tempted to get tickets for the Toronto show with the Heartless Bastards.

10. The Kills  – May 7 at the Phoenix in Toronto. Can’t wait.

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