Music Notes October 2012

October 31, 2012 at 9:51 pm (Uncategorized)

Torn from the headlines, it’s this month’s music notes!

1. Metz- Metz

Pow! Toronto power trio recall Jesus Lizard and Killing Joke to furious effect!

2. The Waco Brothers with Paul Burch – Great Chicago Fire

Rolling Stones make good record shock!- Not really

3. The Rolling Stones – “Doom and Gloom”

Rolling Stones make good record shock – No really!

4. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Meat + Bone

A return to the blues with Mr. Spencer!

5. 2:54 – S/T

Windswept shoegazers rock out!

6  Kate Bush – The Whole St0ry

Ms. Bush sings her heart out!

7  Tatinta Tikaram – Ancient Heart

Leonnard Chen is alive and well and writing great tunes in England!

8. Sleater Kinney – One Beat

Post riot-grrls rock out!

9. Desire – II

Dreamy Canadian electro-beaters strike gold with Drive soundtrack!

10.The Jam – Sound Affects

Weller and co. morph into psychedelic Gang of four /Wire tribute band. Outstanding!

Hmm. When I started it this way, I thought it was fun. Not so sure if it was successful. Ignore my prose. Letter to the music.

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A Brief Comment on the Jimmy Saville Affair

October 30, 2012 at 10:53 pm (Uncategorized)

OK, I’ll say it here, “Rock & Roll (Part 2) by Gary Glitter is still a great song. Amazing drum sound (later copped by Adam Ant for his Kings of the Wild frontier phase). A lot of his other songs hold up pretty well too.

That said… I can’t see myself ever owning one of them or having them in my house. Glitter’s outside, erm, predilections just make listening to his work too difficult. I know we’re supposed to be able to separate the art from the artist (Woody Allen, Roman Polanski etc.), but something about the former Paul Gadd makes that impossible.

So this week, when I heard he had been arrested in connection with the Jimmy Saville scandal, all those queasy feelings came back to the surface. And of course, Saville’s crimes, which had already more or less been admitted, seemed so much more real.

I remember watching and listening to Jimmy Saville when I was a kid in the 70s. Saville was never one of my favourite DJs or Top of the Pops presenters. Something about him I just didn’t like. and as I got more into music, it was people like John Peel or Radio Luxembourg’s Johnny Walker I thought were cool.

Then of course came Jim’ll Fix It, where every week Jimmy made a dream come true. But behind that show lay a vile reality.

I’d still like to believe that Jimmy Saville’s crimes aren’t true. But that doesn’t seem very likely. And of course, as many have asked, who else knew?


Post Script


Came across this on the ICC site on the same matter – Children, the Jimmy Saville Experience and the BBC

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October 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

October in Toronto is a funny, unpredictable thing.  It rarely snows this early, but it’s possible. Sometimes it’s brilliant summer-like weather (it was 20 degrees C on Thursday). Today, when I walked the dog, it felt as if I’d gone on holiday in England: cold, damp, rainy. The longer I walked the more miserable the weather seemed to become as the cold seeped into my bones.

Yeah, I know: Frankenstorm. I’ll admit it, it’s a great name linking the various weather systems to Halloween. And of course, the horror, the horror. When I was watching the news yesterday, a commentator listed as “conservative” estimates of 50 to 100 MM of rain on Monday. So really, we’re in for another round of weather porn.

Bigger! Longer! Harder! More extreme! Storm reports round the clock, complete with state-of-the-art graphics. Hmm. And likely a big letdown.

Of course, given the numbers already killed by this storm in the Caribbean, there might actually be some truth in this one, but I won’t be surprised if the actually weather system that hits us turns out to be little more than a few days of heavy rain. The point about this becomes the spectacle, the hype, the media, rather than the actual event.

Anything to distract us from the real issues I suppose.

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2:54 in Toronto

October 27, 2012 at 9:29 pm (Uncategorized)

My feelings of coolness at being one of the 40 or so people who came out to see 2:54 at the Horseshoe was increased by the fact that all three members of the XX were there too. OK, the more significant fact that I didn’t recognize them might cut into my coolness just a tad, but there you go.

Missed the first opening band, but caught the last few numbers by Bravestation. However, their brand of eighties style electro-pop didn’t really move me.

2:54 came on stage around 11:00. Fronted by sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow, the band played an hour of shimmering shoegazer influenced pop. It’s easy to see why the XX were there. Although the bands have toured together, the real thing they have in common is a dreamy wash of sound. But while the XX roots its sound in a keyboard dance vein, 2:54 is guitar based.

I stood at the front of the club a few feet from the band and just experienced the effect. It would be lazy just to level the criticism that all their songs sound the same because, well, there is a sameness in throughout their material, but it’s that very sameness, that sound, that makes them so enthralling.

If you were one of the small crowd that basked in the band’s glory, despite the awful lighting and a fairly minimal stage presence and interaction with the audience (a few thank you’s along the way was it) , you were a part of, well, something. Watch for big things.



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You Don’t Fuck with the Blues: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at the Horseshoe Tavern

October 23, 2012 at 10:12 pm (Uncategorized)

When I heard the Jon Spencer blues Explosion were playing the Horseshoe Tavern, I rushed out to get my ticket because:

a) it was Jon Spencer

b) it was at the Horseshoe, so I knew it would sell out.
Anyway, last Thursday, I was thumbing through the new edition of Now Magazine when I came across the Hot Tickets feature. Sure enough Spencer was mentioned: Thursday October 18th. No, I thought that can’t be right. Sure enough on my calender it was listed for Friday night. A quick look at the ticket revealed otherwise. It was that evening. Change my shirt, and I was out the door.

I reached the Shoe in time to catch the last few songs by Crushed Out a two piece r & b surf band from Brooklyn. It was a bit too short to accurate judge them, but the crowd seemed to be enjoying it.

I’ve seen Jon Spencer six times. Twice in Pussy Galore, once in Boss Hogg and three times (including this show) with the Blues explosion. Still, considered opinion was that the last couple of Blues explosion records had kid of lost the pace. Not that they were terrible, but they just didn’t match the frenzy of earlier releases. Last year’s show at Lee’s Palace betrayed none of that though. It was vintage Spencer, so the news they were touring with a new album, Meat and Bone was pretty exciting.

The Blues Explosion hit the stage at 1030 and for the next sixty minutes played a tight blues-garage rock set that made you remember that before The White Stripes, the Black Keys, the Jim Jones Revue and all the rest, there was the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Authenticity? C’mon, aren’t we beyond that? The band played ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

New material and old, and even a cover of the Beastie Boys’ “She’s on it” thrown in. Requests for “Brenda” (from Orange), were greeted with the explanation that the explanation, Brenda was in an old folks home; not ones to look back, the Blues Explosion sounded a lot more like their early selves (check out Controversial Negro for a taste of them live), and we were all the better for it.

A great sweat soaked rock and roll evening at a sold out Horseshoe Tavern.

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Frightened Rabbit In Toronto: A (Brief) Review

October 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm (Uncategorized)

A funny turn of events brought me to the (Virgin Mobile) Mod Club last week. A co-worker of my wife’s got really excited when he heard about Scottish indie-pop bandFrightened Rabbit’s trip to Toronto. He was definitely going to go and suggested we come as well. Hell! He would even buy tickets. My wife agreed, but said we would get our own tickets, which we did. And before we knew it the show was sold out. Needless to say, the colleague didn’t get tickets. So there we were going to a show we knew almost nothing about on a school night too!

Still, the Mod Club had great sound and sight lines, and my thought was if it’s sold out, it might be a good show.

Local boy Rob Moir opened the show playing acoustic tunes to polite applause.

Frightened Rabbit took the stage soon after, and immediately created a sense of intimacy with the audience it was hard to believe they weren’t a beloved local band we’d all seen dozens of times. Songs? couldn’t tell you the names of any of them, but there were rockers, there were slow ones, . and they were all delivered with a passion that was intoxicating. After the main set, singer Scott Hutchinson returned to the stage to deliver a couple of songs, and then out came the rest of the band for a few more.

A great evening with a band I knew next to nothing about. Sometimes this stuff works out.



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Interview with Paul Mattick sr.

October 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm (Uncategorized)

Was  sent this by some Italian comrades. Not in English as far as I can tell, but pretty interesting video


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The Return of Wente

October 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm (Uncategorized)

Ever since Margaret Wente was “suspended” from her position at The Globe and Mail after allegation of plagiarism surfaced (suspended in quotation marks because the Globe refused to reveal what disciplinary measured were taken), the paper has been running little tags stating “Margaret Wente will return.”

Promise or warning?

The Wente affair began when Carol Weinio in her Media Culpa blog pointed out the, ahem, similarity between a piece by Wente and another by an Ottawa Citizen journalist, Dan Gardiner.  Margaret Wente’s initial response was to suggest that the criticism was motivated by political disagreements, but also to claim that she was not a serial plagiarist.

Weinio’s piece was not the first to raise criticism of Wente’s copy checking, but this time it grew legs. Considering that a regular target for Wente is “falling education standards” and of course teachers, her previous comments that plagiarism should be rewarded with a zero could hardly have provoked a different result. And it showed, in the on-line comment columns, hundreds of people posted gleeful comments about Wente’s apparent hypocricy.

In her first post-exposure column after her return, Wente tried again; this time admitting mistakes and taking responsibility, but again failing to state what those mistakes were. And so chastised, but with little evidence so far of humility, she’s back.

All in all though, Margaret Wente’s transgressions seem pretty small. After all, we live in a culture of dishonesty. Leaving aside the various media scandals, look at the Republican and Democratic contenders for president: Joe Biden cribbed speeches from Neil Kinnock. Paul Ryan has lied about his time in marathons and criticized government programs he has used; Mitt Romney appears to be able to say anything to anyone  in order to get elected. Help me out with an Obama story here.

Are these the best that bourgeois democracy has to offer or are these merely a representative sample? Either way, as much as I dislike her politics, her smugness and her plagiarism, the crimes of Ms. Wente do seem minor in comparison.

As Shakespeare might not have said, o crappy world that has such people in it.

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Alabama Shakes in Toronto – A Review

October 10, 2012 at 2:02 am (Uncategorized) ()

I’d been excited about this one for a while. The Alabama Shakes are this year’s buzz band on the basis of a great blues-rock debut and an apparently electrifying live show. Oh yeah and the fact their last show was at Lee’s Palace and this one is sold out at the Kool Haus says people are hyped too.

I arrived at about 8:45, and the venue was already full – so no chance of a seat tonight. At 9 catl. took the stage. I’ve seen catl. a couple of times, but this was the first with their new drummer. catl. are a Toronto three-piece who play a greasy punk-blues – they’re terrific. I was supposed to do an interview with them for them for this blog once upon a time, but somehow it never came together. catl. did not disappoint. They played a rocking set to an appreciative crowd – Pick up their third album, Soon All This will be Gone  –  hell, pick up all their albums; you will be glad.

The Alabama Shakes hit the stage at 10:15, and for the next 55 minutes, we were treated to tight musical selections from their debut album, Boys and Girls. As great as the album is, the songs seemed more, er, intense live. Front person Brittany Howard commanded the stage alternately growling and crooning the songs. And yet, I couldn’t help but be a little bit disappointed. Maybe it was the hype, but it wasn’t quite as transcendental as I’d imagined it would be. Of course, it might also have been the sound at the Kool Haus, muddy at the best of times, a lot of the Shakes’ sound seemed lost in the mix.

But whatever my minor quibbles, it was a great evening and everyone went home happy.

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Taylor’s Break-up Song

October 9, 2012 at 12:05 am (Uncategorized)

Not a fan of Taylor Swift. By any stretch of the imagination. Still, when you have kids in the house, you hear a lot of things. “We are never ever getting back together”, supposedly about Jake Gyllenhaal (or not) contains these lines

I’m really gonna miss you picking fights
And me falling for it, screaming that I’m right
And you, hide away and find your peace of mind
With some indie record that’s much cooler than mine
I liked that.

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