Music Notes October 2018

October 29, 2018 at 11:09 pm (Uncategorized)

Pre-Halloween edition

1 Spiritualized – And No one Hurt

Another dreamy psych-gospel pop album from J. Spaceman. Don’t listen while operating heavy machinery.

2. Joe Strummer – Joe Strummer 001

Available in various formats, but the 2-CD edition is a good investment. First CD is a solo retrospective, then a second CD of unreleased goodies. Like all of Joe’s stuff, a subtle charm that creeps up on you.

3 Dream Wife – Dream Wife

UK feminist punk pop. I resisted buying a bad bitches t-shirt when I saw them live last month, but you should hear this album.

4. Moscow Apartment – Moscow apartment EP

Toronto indie-folk duo. I’ll be honest, I preferred the electric version when they opened for Dream Wife, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t support local music.

5 David Bryne – American Utopia

Not a big fan of David Bryne. Early Talking Heads sure, but his solo stuff has never caught my fancy. This however is a pretty good album. Bryne reabsorbs the people who listened to him, then spits it back.

6 Stan Eagan ed. – The Clash on the Clash

Nice collection of interviews throughout the band’s history. If you bought someone the Strummer CD for their birthday, here’s the Christmas gift.

7 Guns and Roses – Appetite for Destruction

I haven’t picked up the remastered set, but did dig out my copy of this. Still shockingly good three decades later

8 David Bowie – Pin ups

I think it was Nick Cave who said, when you cover a song, the aim is to kill it. Bowie kills. They don’t sound like the originals anymore and that’s not a bad thing (not to disparage the originals of course)

9 Can – Can: The Singles

Yeah, I love the long jams on Can’s albums, but this singles collection shows they could be just as effective in short, sharp bursts. Excellent. Indispensable.

10 Christian D and the Sinners – The Perversion of Something Good

The tag line reads “sounds like Joe Strummer and Nick Cave in a knife fight at Johnny Cash’s house.” Give this a listen and disagree. I dare you! 


Happy trick or treating.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Echoes from the Past – A Split in the IBT

October 29, 2018 at 10:47 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s no secret I  used to be a Trotskyist. Several Trotskyists in fact. I was the first member of  the Militant tendency to be recruited in Canada. I was a member of the Alliance for Socialist Action (later Socialist Challenge, then, er, Socialist Action…), but for the longest time I was a member of the Bolshevik Tendency, later International Bolshevik Tendency. Now just Bolshevik Tendency again (or is it?).

A few days ago, I received an email with a long document from the Toronto members explaining they had left the IBT, or as they put it, dissolving the 28-year-old fusion between the BT and the new Zealand based Permanent Revolution Group after a decade long dispute over whether or not Russia is now imperialist (The IBT says yes,; the BT no). A quick look at the IBT website confirms the split, but leaves some questions unanswered:

  1. Will there now be a Bolshevik Tendency (Toronto and German) and an International Bolshevik Tendency (New Zealand and others) both claiming to be the real IBT/BT while either ignoring or sniping about the other? (The IBT have already started arguing that the BT’s actions represent “a farcical maneuver that will only invite derision of our shared revolutionary tradition, which they claim to defend.”)
  2. Who will publish 1917?
  3. What will the milieu make of it, and will there be a move to try to scoop up the fallout ? (On a much larger scale this happened during the mid-80’s Healyite collapse)
  4. How long before mountains of documents on each side appear proving they alone embody the Trotskyist tradition appear?

For those who are interested, you can find the IBT’s statement on their website while the BT’s is on a Facebook page 

Permalink Leave a Comment

The Last Trump Post for a While

October 24, 2018 at 5:06 pm (Uncategorized)

Every time I think I’m out, he pulls me back in again.

It’s a familiar cycle: Trump tweets or says something which was once beyond the pale, and outrage ensues. In my head, the post forms slowly. Too slowly, because by the time I sit down to write, that outrage has dimmed, and a fresh hell has emerged. I think to include the new sore, btu again I’ve moved too slowly. And so it goes.

But really, what do you expect?

Trump is a racist, narcissistic, bully devoid of empathy who delights in cruelty. Why should it be a surprise anyone when he displays his racism, his narcissism, his bullying tendencies, his lack or empathy or his cruelty?

When he proclaims himself a proud nationalist, its not an accident. He’s not unaware of its history (OK, maybe its origins – c’mon Don, tell us what you know about 19th century Europe) or its current associations. It’s what he does. It’s who he is.

A few days back, I decided I’d start to ignore it. For my own mental health if nothing else. This probably won’t be the last time I post about Trump, but onto more interesting and important things.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Mitski at the Danforth Music Hall

October 24, 2018 at 5:06 pm (Uncategorized)

Saw Mitski two years back at the Mod Club. Great sweaty show in a packed club. But two years is a long time. Mitski has a new album out, Be the Cowboy, and a new stage presence.

First thing to note, the venue. The Mod Club holds about 500, the Music Hall over 1100. The show was sold out. Consistently good reviews and nods beyond indie-news outlets and college radio have meant that Mitski has upped her game: Less of a gig that a performance.

The Mod Club show was stripped down. A three-piece band with Mitski playing bass. This time out, the band had expanded to a five piece including keyboards, and Mitski herself no longer playing an instrument (except for the last number of the set where she stood along on stage playing guitar). Throughout the set, she said little, btu danced in a coordinated fashion, stalked the stage and seemingly bared her soul in souls of a melancholy nature. All as films played behind her and the band.

It might sound like hyperbola to state this was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Despite the increased attendance at this show, it still felt as if it were a more intimate affair; gonig beyond the indie-rock of the past record into broader sounds from pop to country to indie-rock and back again.

A 70-minute set and a two-song encore. Simply wonderful.



Permalink Leave a Comment

Municipal Round Up

October 24, 2018 at 5:06 pm (Uncategorized)

More of the same then.

At least in my corner of Ontario, Monday’s municipal election produced few surprises. Mayor John Tory was reelected as were most other usual suspects, Patrick Brown, the former Conservative leader who was dumped shortly before the election (which shows just how much people wanted rid of that Liberals that they would accept a boorish bully like Doug Ford in order to do so) became Mayor of Brampton – I would have bet against that, but there you are.

As to the races I addressed, much more accurate than usual in these thing (although some of the numbers were wider than I imagined – I thought Keesmaat would do better. Apparently, she did well in the old city of Toronto, but not in the suburbs.

The big surprise for me was Faith Goldie. She received 27,000 votes. 27,000 votes. OK, something like 120,000 separate her from second place, btu still, that’s a lot. Sure, sure, name recognition. She’s young, photogenic, media-savvy, and apparently from the signs and legal cases she pursued has money behind her (the current bet is Conrad Black – really?), but still 27,000 people thought this would be a good idea. You appear on a Neo-Nazi pod cast and recite the 14 Words, you’re not “fine people.” You’re also a Nazi. Choose whatever label you like, the core content is still there.  She has done what Don Andrews and his grumpy band of old fascists couldn’t, what Wolfgang Droege and the Heritage Front tried and failed to do: brought those politics, if not to centre stage, then at least away from the margins. We shall see.

But yeah. The rest is likely business as usual. Bland red tory competency. You didn’t read it here first.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Municipal Election Thrills 2018

October 20, 2018 at 9:18 pm (Uncategorized)

They say all politics is local, and so what could be more local than a municipal election? While Federal government looks after the big P political questions (trade, army, borders), and provincial government has the more essential stuff like education and healthcare, municipal government looks after the boring nuts and bolts of garbage collection, potholes on your street and so forth. Maybe that’s why municipal elections have the lowest turnout: they’re boring.

Ontario’s municipal election is Monday. It’s already been made marginally more exciting because of Premier Doug Ford’s decision to shrink the size of city council in Toronto during the campaign either to save money and make council more efficient (his words) or to get back and John Tory and the people who didn’t like him or his brother (everyone else). So let’s see if it has any effect on voter turnout (I’m thinking yes, but not by as much as people expect)

The Mayoralty. 

Toronto seems to vary between bland competence (David Miller, John Tory) and bizarre wackiness (Mel Lastman and whatever the hell Rob Ford was). This time it appears that Toronto is going to opt for bland competence, as John Tory, currently leading the polls with marks in the low 60s, seems certain of victory. His nearest challenger, former city planner Jennifer Keesmaat, who waged a scrappy campaign which never seriously challenged Tory in the polls, is currently in the low 30s Then comes a motley crew of 30-something perennial candidates and oddballs, including several neo-Nazis (For those of you who disagree, if you appear on neo-Nazi web site sites sand recite the 14 Words, you’re a Nazi. Seriously!), but with little hope of being anything other than a vague memory after Monday.  Bland competence it is.

And just a few races I’ll be watching, if only because of the candidates.

Ward 1 – Michael Ford owes his political career to family. He’s the nephew of both Rob and Doug Ford, and was elected a school board trustee on the basis of his name. He’s running for re-election, but due to the collapsing of the size of council by his uncle he’s running against a Ford ally, Vincent Crisanti. Crisanti has sniffed that Ford doesn’t have the experience, so it’ll be interesting to see if the name carries him. (I’m betting it will despite his generally more liberal and cooperative approach than either of his uncles)

Ward 7 – Geogio Mammolit is running for re-election too. He’s been a member of all three major political parties, but in his current political incarnation is a right-wing, homophobe with a penchant for outrageous statement (he referred to members of his ward as “cockroaches”, and one of the worse attendance records on council. On twitter,he urged voters to quiz candidates on their religion and vote for the most religious once because the task was to get the devil out of Toronto. Seriously. Anthony Perzuzza is the front runnig, btu a trustee Tiffany Ford (o relation) may draw votes.

Ward 13 – If only because 19 people are running.  (18 in Ward 18, and 16 in Ward 19)

Ward 16 – Because Denzil Minnoa-Wong, a former Rob Ford supporter who broke with the Mayor well past the time to do so, will be re-elected even though he’s refers to himself in the third person on twitter.

Ward 17. This one has a couple of interesting people in it. Ken Lister is a current school board trustee who has decided to try to make the jump to council. I’ve seen Lister give the same high school graduation speech at least three times. Literally the same speech. He also secured an endorsement from former Ontario Premier Mike Harris. You know, the man who tried to cripple Toronto and public education two decades back. Lister responded to critics that it just proved he could work with both sides. Uh huh. Shelley Carroll is also running for council. She was the councillor for the ward, quit to run provincially, but when she lost decided she would like her old job back. Interestingly on her signs it reads “Re-elect” (Erm, technically, you’re not the councillor, so I expect a lawsuit if anyone loses to her)

And a special shout out to

a) all of those candidates who put up their signs in the wrong ward because they didn’t know where the boundaries were. Excellent!

b) Candidates running in wards where two people have “re-elect” on their signs. Now you’ll now who they liked better.

I’m going to go to see Mitski instead.


Permalink Leave a Comment

Dream Wife – Hard Luck Bar

October 20, 2018 at 9:18 pm (Uncategorized)

Ah, this one’s a bit old. Went to see Dream Wife at the Hard Luck Bar a few weeks back (er…a month?).

I arrived near the start of support band Moscow Apartment’s set and was pleasantly surprised. Good punky rhythms and good vocal harmonies. The interesting thing was that after their set the band had to leave the venue as they were too young yo remain in the club. I bought a copy of their CD, and was a little disappointed to discover it was mostly acoustic stuff. Still good songs, but the live version with more electric guitar sounded better.

The venue was a lot fuller than I expected, but I think that made for a more enjoyable set. It’s always nice when you’re not crowed, but it tends to mean the atmosphere is sometimes a bit flat. No danger this time: The crowd was excited and Dream Wife did not disappoint. Fifty minute set drawing from the debut record, but as is often the case these days, no encore. (What’s with that?) Still, good mix of poppy punk sounds and feminist rhetoric. Very enjoyable despite that missing encore. the CD sounded great in the car too.


Permalink Leave a Comment