Music Notes: April 2018

April 30, 2018 at 5:42 pm (Uncategorized)

Couple of things then

1 The Breeders – All Nerve

How long has it been since the last Breeders record? Too long. “Nervous Mary” and “Get in the Car” punch hard at the start, btu on repeated plays, the subtlety of the rest hold onto you.

2. The Strypes – US Tour 2018: Radio Sessions Bootleg

Five song E.P. on sale at shows on the recent tour. Nice run through “Mystery Train.”

3. The Clash – London Calling 

Had this on in the car the other day. It’s such a great record, that you sometimes forget just how good it really is. I bought this on vinyl the date it came out way back in 1979.

4. v/a – Big Sensations

A maximum R & B sampler that came free with the latest Mojo. 50 years old and still amazing. Seek it out.

5.  Slade – “Cum on feel the Noize”

Nuff said.


6. v/a- The Fatboy Slim Norman Cook Collection

Collection of Cook remixes. Not to everyone’s taste (not entirely sure if it’s mine), but worth a listen  – spot the samples!

7. David Bowie – Scary Monsters 

A Bowie record that somehow fell through the cracks for me. Not part of the “Berlin” trilogy and before I completely lost interest with Let’s Dance. Still pretty cool. (Love Robert Fripp)

8.  That bit on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Aimee Mann says, “Man, I hate playing vampire towns.”

9. Lydia Lunch – “Diddy Wah Diddy”

Going to see Lydia Lunch next month. Wonder if she’ll do this Bo Diddley cover she recorded with 8 Eyed Spy?


10.  Record Store Day was last week and I missed it, btu it’s great that such places still exist. It seems to be getting harder and harder to actually buy music. (I know it’s uncool, btu musicians gotta eat, and I’m happy to help some of them do that) It’s all streaming or at a gig now, but to be able to walk into a store and purchase is surely a good thing.

Till next time then.







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Waxahatchee at the Opera House

April 25, 2018 at 2:06 am (Uncategorized)

Waxahatchee’s 2015 album Ivy Tripp is one of my most common listens in the car these days. Great tunes, a great voice, and words that make it seem as if you’re privy to the private thoughts of a great romantic.  So, the chance to see the band again was one I didn’t want to miss.

I arrived at Queen Street’s Opera House near the start of Bedouine’s set. Bedouine is s Syrian-American of Armenian ancestry who performs as a solo artist. I’d listened to a few of her songs before the show and decided that I would probably skip her set. Fortunately, I arrived earlier than expected and caught most of it. Intimate and personal songs throughout the set. Certainly an artist to keep an eye on.

Next up were Hurray for the Riff Raff. I’d wanted to see Alynda Segarra’s band last year when they played Toronto after I  discovered her marvellous album The Navigator, but unfortunately was out of town.  The band played an energetic, political set appreciated by the near capacity crowd.

Finally Waxatatchee. Did I mention earlier how much I like this band? As such, my opinion may not be entirely objective, but  any band where people listen as intently to the quiet ones as to the rock numbers is worth following. The set drew heavily from Ivy Tripp and the current album Out in the Storm, but there were songs I didn’t recognize, so they may be from earlier recordings. For the encore Kate Crutchfield came back sol and played tow unaccompanied number. A beautiful end to the evening.

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April 25, 2018 at 2:06 am (Uncategorized)

What are the ingredients s the recipe for Trumpocracy?

  • Hypocrisy – check
  • Autocracy – check
  • Bureaucracy – check
  • Democracy – Even by bourgeois standards, not so much
  • Erm, racism, lies, paranoia, tantrums, the list goes on.

It’s also the title of a book I’m reading by David Frum’ a catalogue of sins.

Two things surprised me about this book.

  1. To begin with, that I’m actually reading David Frum. Frum is the son of the late Canadian Broadcasting Corporation icon Barbara Frum (and bother of dubious Canadian Senator Linda Frum) . A long time conservative writer, Frum’s position used to be that government really had no business regulating anything except for the social conservatism he favoured. Frum went on to become a speechwriter for George W. Bush coining the phrase “Axis of Evil.” Hard to say just how much Frum’s political views have actually shifted or simply been made better by a rightward shifting political spectrum, but in all fairness he accepted he was wrong in his opposition to same-sex marriage and is now a writer for the (generally) liberal Atlantic Magazine.
  2. I was really reminded of Robyn Dolittle’s Crazy Town, an account of Toronto’s crack-smoking train wreck of a Mayor Rob Ford, whose even less likable brother Doug is posed to become premier of Ontario. (BTW, Crazy Town’s story is about to be filmed starring Damian Lewis   (?)  Ford, and the character based upon Dolittle by…  Ben Platt. Yup, they recast the female role as a man for no apparent reason other than the usual one.) Still, The thing about Doolittle’s book was that I had forgotten all the shit Ford pulled, even before he was mayor. Ditto Trump. I frequently  found myself muttering aloud, “Oh, yeah, I forgot he did that.”

It won’t advance the class struggle, as Frum’s position is simply a defence of bourgeoisie democracy, but it’s a pretty funny book. If only it weren’t so sad. 325 million people and the choice for leader were those two. And that was the one they chose?



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April 25, 2018 at 2:05 am (Uncategorized)

I’ve lived in Toronto off and on (mostly on) since 1987. Done most of my political work here, met my wife here, and raised two children here. It’s a great city. The sickening attack yesterday left me with a deep sadness, but in the world in which we live, I suppose we should never think it can never happen here. But of course, it felt different because it was closer to home.

No doubt like many others, I tried to piece together what was happening through the local media as well as social media reaction. The last was probably a mistake, watching as people tried to frame the story through their own particular narrative, with a chorus of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant bias as the loudest voice. As the accused’s name and picture were revealed, it was almost comical as people tried desperately to cast his apparently Armenian name as possibly Syrian, possibly one of those Russians who might have been radicalized. Anything. Eventually, the realization that he was likely of a white Christian background meant that the previous narrative could no longer be maintained, and many just dropped the matter altogether – contrast Rebel media flurry of tweets before the suspect’s name was revealed and after. Or for that matter, Trump’s astonishing silence on the matter given that there is seldom a situation he is not prepared to jump into prematurely.

Today, the narrative has shifted again, as a Facebook post has surfaced which indicates the so-called Incel (Involuntarily Celibate) adherents might be to blame for the murderous rampage. On the face of it, linking internet boards of unhappy dateless misogynists to a seemingly random act of mass violence (women were not overly represented as targets, and the areas where the attacks has large concentrations of Iranian and Asian shops) seems a stretch, but this too is trying to imagine a picture based on a small number of puzzle pieces.

It was also interesting to note how few Canadians offered “prayers” (the standard US response to any act of this nature), and how many people were surprised that the Toronto police didn’t shoot the suspect, even when he told them he had a gun and told them to shoot him in the head.

And so it goes.


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The Strypes: Live at the Mod Club 2018

April 9, 2018 at 10:51 pm (Uncategorized)

What was it John Lennon said, he preferred records to live shows?

Certainly, with  few exceptions, a studio album is better than a live album, but live shows are something magical. And let’s face it, no matter how good some bands are in the studio, on stage is where they are meant to me.

Case in point, the Strypes. I’ve seen the band three times, and own two of their three albums. Their debut is a furious blast of R ‘n’ B: Dr. Feelgood, Eddie & the Hot Robs and Nine Below Zero all rolled into one powerful blast. The second album faltered a bit, and while what I’ve heard of the third is good, it’s a bit poppy for my taste. But live? I’m not sure who can touch them at the moment.

The band’s show at the Mod Club was an early one, so I missed the opening act. The venue was still empty, so I was able to move right up to the stage and stood a few rows back for the show. Closer than I had been when they played Lee’s a few years back and also the previous time I’d seen them at the Mod Club.

The band came out around eight, and from that moment the audience was their’s. There’s a kind of symbiosis between a band and an audience when things are going well. The band plays its set, the audience responds positively, and because the audience is enjoying itself, the band plays better too. Reflection and reflection.  That was the Strypes: Sixty minutes of ferocious punk-blues drawing from all three albums, and songs which had sounded poppy on record, did so no longer.

But eventually, like all good things, it came to an end. Still, I had the EP they were selling to listen to on the way home including a pretty cool “Mystery Train.” Oh what a shame they didn’t play that.

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