Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Andrew Bird

Of all the good releases last week, the one I'm having the most fun with is Andrew Bird's Armchair Apocrypha. LCD and Modest Mouse have been neglected as Armchair gets repeated plays on the ipod, at the house, and in the car.

In the weeks leading up to the album's release I knew absolutely nothing about Mr. Bird. The blogs were pumping out some press and I stumbled upon Heretics, which initially bowled me over. I know a few details about the artist but consciously decided not to seek out more. I know he's no newcomer on the scene, despite being a newcomer on mine.

Does anyone else get fatigued by the glut of new artists and music every day. Too many of them are initially compelling but ultimately lacking depth or simply mediocre or worse from the get go. There is a desire to keep abreast of the music world, but some days it all seems unrewarding and I cradle old records like shepherds So I guess when Andrew Bird came along it was one of those days where I was weary of the new artist. But Heretics kept popping into my consciousness, and I decided long before its release that I would be picking it up.

Whenever I get excited about a new album I tend to engulf whatever information I can about it. I love first listens as much as I love reading what various critics have to say. Lately this seems like a whole lot of white noise that somehow deviates from my own interaction with the record. With this one I did none of the normal routines, fuck I don't even know what the guy looks like. I'm just reveling in the relative anonymity of it all. I'm not concerned with how the rest of the world likes it, just myself. I like the confusing elements, the underwhelming ones, the ones that make you smile. I like the way it sounds.

I like this record. Maybe you will too.

Andrew Bird - Heretics
Andrew Bird - Fiery Crash mp3
Andrew Bird and Nora O'Connor - Oh Sister (Bob Dylan cover) mp3

Armchair Apocrypha on Amazon

Friday, March 23, 2007

Rosewood Thieves, The Clash, Panda Bear, My Morning Jacket

A few loose strands for the wandering Friday mind of yours (evidently mine as well).

I don't think I've mentioned Doctor Mooney's 115th Dream as of yet.A shame that I'm rectifying today. The Doctor runs a great blog (enthusiastic endorsement of the highest) with epic posts. Just in the past few weeks he's put up a great White Stripes B-sides collection, some great live Dylan from the golden era, and yesterday a very comprehensive Clash B-sides post. He's in the blogroll so make sure you stop by and say hello. Our pick of the litter would be 1, 2, Crush on You, the b-side to Give 'em Enough Rope's Tommy Gun. You can grab that one here, hop to the doctor for the rest of the 90 million or so.
The Clash - 1, 2, Crush On You mp3

Driving the point home we have The Rosewood Thieves. The kind doctor tipped us off to the band. He's got a great assortment of tracks over there for you. I like Diamond Ring, so will you.
Rosewood Thieves - Diamond Ring mp3

It was an especially fruitful release week. We had the eagerly anticipated Modest Mouse (crudely mentioned last Friday), Lcd Soundsytem's Sounds of Silver, Andrew Bird's Armchair Apocrypha, as well as Person Pitch from Panda Bear. The 'Fork gave it a 9.4 and Best New Music Recommendation. The city seems to be sold out right now. So I'm going to have to wait a bit longer. To feed the appetite I've been listening to Comfy in Nautica with reckless abandon.
Panda Bear - Comfy in Nautica mp3

Lastly, here's My Morning Jacket doing Oh What A Night at their recent Prom themed gigs at Athen's 40 Watt Club. Have a Great Friday.
My Morning Jacket - Oh What A Night mp3

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Got them higher calling blues

After a few weeks off I'm back with another installment of Got Them Higher Calling Blues.

In the spirit of this week's release of Modest Mouse's We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, I have Jesus Christ was an Only Child off 1997's Lonesome Crowded West, considered by many to be the penultimate MM record. Jesus Christ differs from previous songs posted in the sense it is neither a gospel or celebratory song. Those especially touchy might go so far to describe it as blasphemous, what with lyrics referencing Jesus along the lines of "should have killed that little fucker before he even had him," and Isaac Brock's atheistic views. The song fits into the album's greater themes, touching on the decay of institutions, whether deserved or mourned. Brock makes a point of marking the difference between Christ,a benevolent and loving God and His Father, the seemingly angry, often vengeful God of the Old Testament. The point being that we may all be better off with a little less leash.
Modest Mouse - Jesus Christ was an Only Child mp3

The Brian Jonestown Massacre offer Jesus off Their Satanic Majesties Second Request. Its a sprawling psychedelic burn laced in timely fashion with the refrain of "have mercy please Jesus." The song depicts a man who has lost all money and friends and turns to Jesus for comfort only to find that He is not necessarily willing to offer it.
Brian Jonestown Massacre - Jesus mp3

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Concretes

I was down at the record store the other day and picked up a super cheap used copy of the Concretes self-titled debut. The Octet from Sweden has always been on my horizon since You Can't Hurry Love came into my life a few years back and became the go to guy in all mix tapes made the following two years.

I've spent my free time this weekend quietly distilling the album. It has its hits and misses, but overall, a great mood album if you ever catch it around. Part of the appeal of The Concretes lies with ex-lead singer Victoria Bergsman. You probably hear Victoria this summer singing on Peter, Bjorn and John's Young Folks. She is recording her solo debut under the moniker of taken By trees. If you go to the Taken By Trees website, here, you can here some demo versions (good quality ) of what I imagine will be her impending debut. Go for the music, stay for the umlauts. Lost and Found seems to be the strongest track and definitely worth a listen

The Concretes carry on as a septutlet, with Lisa Milberg steeping up to the mike. Their new album, Hello Trouble should see a release sometime in 2007 on the band's Licking Fingers imprint. For now, assuage yourself with first single, Kids, released last week, which is currently streaming at their myspace, as well as their temporary web home at Licking Fingers.

The Concretes' You Can't Hurry Love shares the same name as the old Supremes hit. The connection continues a few tracks later with Diana Ross, which pays homage to Ross' Love Hangover. The last track is fairly disco-ish but included today for all you folks out there who ever had a desire to wear a leisure suit.

The Concretes - You Can't Hurry Love
The Supremes - You Can't Hurry Love mp3
The Concretes - Diana Ross mp3
Diana Ross - Love Hangover mp3

Buy The Concretes on amazon

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


The Fembots, or Lesbian Robots as some of my friends with less "daring" tastes have taken to calling the band when i speak about them, have been relatively quiet since the release of 2005's The City.

The Fembots core duo of Dave MacKinnon and Brian Poirier have been spending time with junkstrument creator Iner Souster and slowly piecing together a collaborative album. You can check out the progress in picture format on the junkstrument blog. Dave and Brian are also in the process of mixing 12 tracks from their collaboration with Krista Muir aka Lederhosen Lucil (who guested on The City's title track). A few of those efforts are on Krista's myspace, including Drugging The Drain, which I'll put up for your downloading pleasure today. The Fembots joined Krista on a series of dates along the ways to Austin for SXSW this past weekend. The last of her shows is tonight in San Antonio at the Limelight. If that's in your area be sure to check her out.

The Fembots have a few dates in late April for Ontario and New Brunswick fans:
04/19/E-Bar, Guelph, ON
04/20/Music Gallery, Toronto, ON
04/21/The Spill, Peterborough, ON
04/25/Strutt's Gallery, Sackville, NB
04/26/Elwood's, St. John, NB
04/27/Capitol Bar, Frederiction, NB

Krista Muir - Drugging The Drain
Fembots - Mom's Ether Blues mp3 (off 2003's Small Town Murder Scene)
Fembots- So Long mp3 (off The City)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Modest Mouse

So I was viewing this travesty of a cover yesterday and i felt compelled to throw on Good News For People Who Love Bad News to wash that bad taste out. And listening to it, to and from work last night, I got real excited. I'm not sure why. It is a reasonably hyped album, but the hype isn't what is striking at me. Its not the addition of Johnny Marr to the lineup. Its not the Dashboard single, which, although good, could on any other day be just another mp3 off the blogroll.

Maybe it is the 10 plus years of eagerly anticipated ambitious and striking albums. Maybe it is because Float On, for all its overplayed radio joy, is, at the heart, pop perfection. Well, not perfection, but atleast a song you'll fondly light up at when hearing thirty years from now.

I dunno, in lieu of a real blog post today, I just wanted to tell you how excited I am about We Were Dead before The Ship Even Sank. Maybe I shouldn't. If Lonesome Crowded West was MM's Born To Run, and Good News.. their Born in the U.S.A., then wouldn't that make We Were Dead... Tunnel of Love? And Tunnel of Love kinda sucks, doesn't it?

Anyways, the new Modest album is out Tuesday.

Dashboard mp3

Styrofoam Boots/It's All Nice On Ice, Alright mp3 (off Lonesome Crowded West)
Dramamine mp3 (off This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Talk About)
Here It Comes mp3 (off Everywhere and his nasty Parlour Tricks)

Modest Mouse goes to the internet

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Jon Landau

If you're a fan of rock and roll music, Bruce Springsteen, or music criticism, then no doubt you have come across the famed words of Jon Landau. A music critic who became a manager, first to the MC5 and later Springsteen, then onwards to producer for many of Bruce's important records. It is his work as a critic that I've been enamoured with as of late. Anyone with any inclination to write critically about rock music should pick up a copy of It's Too Late To Stop Now - A Rock and Roll Journal. Published in 1972 it collects Jon's early work at Crawdaddy magazine, and later Rolling Stone. His most famous piece, in which he describes Bruce Springsteen as the future of Rock and Roll is not included in the collection. Published as a concert review for The Real Paper, A Boston alternative weekly, in May of '74, the piece, now rock and roll legend, is an exercise in capturing that feeling. Anyone who ever had their lives changed in a rock and roll concert knows this; that feeling when you get home and you feel somehow enriched, if even a little, thanks to what you heard and saw onstage. It is a beautiful feeling that is rare if you are blessed.

The article is short, six paragraphs in total. My reason for including it today is that I would like to give a little context to his famous words, more so than the legend and hyperbole they've taken on.

Tonight there is someone I can write of the way I used to write, without reservations of any kind. Last Thursday, at the Harvard Square Theatre, I saw my rock & roll past flash before my eyes. I saw something else: I saw rock & roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.
When his two-hour set ended I could only think, can anyone really be this good, can anyone say this much to me, can rock & roll still speak with this kind of power and glory? And then I felt the sores on my thighs where I had been pounding my hands in time for the entire concert and knew that the answer was Yes.
Springsteen does it all. He is a rock & roll punk, a Latin street poet, a ballet dancer, an actor, a joker, bar band leader, hot rhythm guitar player, extraordinary singer, and a truly great rock & roll composer. He leads a band like he has been doing it forever. I racked my brains but I simply can't think of a white artist who does so many things superbly. There is no one I would rather watch on a stage today.
Bruce Springsteen is a wonder to look at. Skinny, dressed like a reject from Sha Na Na, he parades in front of his all-star rhythm band like a cross between Chuck Berry, early Bob Dylan and Marlon Brando. Every gesture, every syllable, adds something to his ultimate goal - to liberate our spirit while he liberates his by baring his soul through his music. Many try, few succeed, none more than he today.
It's five o'clock now - I write columns like this as fast as I can for fear I'll chicken out - and I'm listening to 'Kitty's Back'. I do feel old but the record and my memory of the concert has made me feel a little younger. I still feel the spirit and it still moves me.
I bought a new home this week and upstairs in the bedroom is a sleeping beauty who understands only too well what I try to do with my records and typewriter.About rock & roll, the Lovin' Spoonful once sang, 'I'll tell you about the magic that will free your soul/but it's like trying to tell a stranger about rock & roll.' last Thursday I remembered that the magic still exists and that as long as I write about rock, my mission is to tell a stranger about it - just as long as I remember that I'm the stranger I'm writing for.

Bruce Springsteen - Kitty's Back
mp3 from The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
Bruce Springsteen - Devils and Dust mp3 from Devils and Dust

Update: In my rush to share this with you I missed out on an important fact. Though I thought the above six paragraphs were the entire article, my post blogging peripheral research indicates that it is actually the part of a biiger article. Entitled, Growing Young With Rock and Roll, the full piece as it (presumably) appeared in the pages of The Real Paper on May 22, 1974 can be read in its entirety here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Constantines and the Fits & Starts

Back in 1999, a six song EP circulated in limited fashion, as word began to circulate of a band of "desperate men in search of desperate fortune." By 2001, the eponymous debut is released on Three Gut records, the initial pressings containing a single wooden match within. Curiously the proximity of match to compressed music does not cause albums all over the great GTA to catch fire. Incendiary live shows as the young upstarts upstage many a headliner, galvanizes a resurging Toronto music scene. Fast forward to the future and you have a four piece gone five,
three significant recordings in hand, and a fourth on the way.

And it all began with six songs. Six distinct promises of the things to come. "We're just getting started folks, just watch and see."

The Constantines trek across Canada with Jon Rae & The River, bringing Shotgun & Jaybird on the eastern dates and Ladyhawk for the western ones. Following that: a string of opening slots for The Tragically Hip south of the border.

March 16th - Club One, St. John's, NL
March 17th - The GCSU Backlot, Corner Brook, NL
March 20th - Steelworker's Hall, Sydney, NS
March 21st - Hunter's Alehouse, Charlottetown, PEI
March 22nd -George's Roadhouse, Sackville, NB
March 23rd - The Marquee Club, Halifax, NS
March 24th - The Manhattan, Moncton, NB
March 25th – The Capital Bar, Fredericton, NB
March 27th - Chez Dagobert, Quebec City, QC
March 28th – Barrymore’s, Ottawa, ON
March 29th – Club Lambi, Montreal QC
March 30th – Lee’s Palace, Toronto ON Shotgun & Jaybird depart
March 31st - Lee’s Palace, Toronto ON And Ladyhawk climbs aboard
April 3rd – Pyramid Cabaret, Winnipeg, MB
April 4th – The Exchange, Regina, SK
April 5th – Louis Pub, Saskatoon, SK
April 6th – The Starlite Room, Edmonton, AB
April 7th - The Hi Fi Club, Calgary, AB
April 8th - The Hi Fi Club, Calgary, AB
April 9th - Canmore Hotel, Canmore, AB
April 12th – The Plaza Club, Vancouver, BC
April 13th - Sugar Nightclub, Victoria, BC

100% Maple Leaf approved rock for red and blue state alike
04/20/07: Boston: Avalon The Constantines
04/21/07: Hampton Beach: Hampton Beach Casino The Constantines
04/22/07: Lancaster: Chameleon Club The Constantines
04/24/07: New York: Irving Plaza The Constantines
04/25/07: New York: Irving Plaza The Constantines
04/27/07: Atlantic City: House of Blues The Constantines
04/28/07: Philadephia: Theatre of Living Arts The Constantines
04/29/07: Washington: 9:30 Club The Constantines

The original Fits & Starts
1-Baby Teeth (later reworked into No Ecstasy, appears on The Constantines)
2-National Hum (appears on Shine A Light)
3-The Young and The Desparate (demo only)mp3
4-Saint You (appears on The Constantines)mp3 and Saint You (album version)mp3
5-Steal This Sound (appears on The Constantines)
6-Hyacinth Blues (appears on The Constantines)mp3 and Hyacinth Blues (album version)mp3

The Constantines, Shine A Light & Tournament of Hearts on Amazon

Friday, March 09, 2007

Liz Phair Friday

It's Friday, you're all like, hey it's almost the weekend. Then your mom enters the basement and she's all like "hey you lazy fucker, get up and earn enough money to get your own place. You're 35 and ugly and most girls would laugh at your lack of ambition." Something like that, right. And you're reminded why you count on music to distract you from your pitiful existence. You dream about being 20 again and meeting a girl like Liz Phair. So you put on Exile in Guyville and get a quick respite before your day begins.

The above events are fictional and although they are bound to describe someone, somewhere, if they do this coincidence is purely, well, coincidental. More so sad, but I'll settle for coincidental. For the record I am not nearing middle age and love my mother more than imaginable. She bought me a birthday cake shaped like a heart. Cute, right.

Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville came out in 1993 amid a lot of press surrounding her provocative use of sexuality. Like an underground Madonna, Phair described her sexual desire with a frankness that would be considered the norm in today's pop maelstrom. She left Matador in the late 90's for Capitol, moved to L.A., and alienated a large part of her fan base when her self-titled record of 2003 turned towards a more typical pop sound with Liz going so far as enlisting the help of the Matrix songwriting team on a number of the tracks.. All's fair in fandom we say.

Whenever I listen to Exile, I get a big wistful for a girl like Liz. She's kinda sad on Fuck and Run describing a relapse with an ex, knowing she fucked up, and wanting romance ("letters and sodas"), incredibly vulnerable in Divorce Song, and incredibly sexy and take charge in Flower.

Exile in Guyville was said by Phair to be a track for track response to The Stone's Exile on Main Street. I've never met anyone who can really believe this, but I enjoy the audacity of the statement.

Liz Phair - Fuck and Run
Liz Phair - Flower
Liz Phair - Divorce Song

As a little bonus, I'm including a recent cover by Cassettes Won't Listen of Fuck and Run
Cassettes Won't Listen - Fuck and Run

Exile in Guyville on amazon

Exile on Main Street on the same (you know if you wanna compare after you're done syncing up Wizard of Oz and The Wall)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pop Levi, Surplus Sons

I headed down to Call The Office last night for an early show featuring ex-Ladytron alum Pop Levi and his backing band simply called Woman. For an early show I still didn't get out of there until eleven, but alas, let us digress for a moment.

The opening band, Surplus Sons, rocked off my proverbial sock(s). A five piece hailing from Toronto, dual guitar, drums, bass, and some newly added keys/organ greatly fleshing out the sound. These kids were high energy and won over a crowd that had never been privy to them before. If asked to describe their sound I'd say something like "in the spirit of their ancestors they steal with vigor from the golden era, Stones, Spencer Davis, and even more recently Oasis, Kings of Leon, and the Hives." I've always hated that cynical way of demeaning a band because their influences seem to be worn on sleeve, rather than kept in pocket. I'd have to keep it simple with they sound like rock and roll. And that is fine and fair to me. You don't see a lot of non -British bands in this indie era openly credit Oasis as an influence, however, these boys do. I'll leave you a favourite track of mine from their EP. You can download the whole thing gratis over at their website Here.

Surplus Sons - Step Stones
The track is Definitely Maybe era Oasis with a bit of those backup singers Dylan called upon so economically on a few of his gospel b-sides

Pop Levi has been getting some press as of late for his debut release, The Return to Form Black Magick Party (produced by Devandra Banhart), and its effortless glaze through of glam rock. Onstage, the man and the band are enviably tight, the songs rock, and for a moment you're transfixed. Too quickly, the facade crumbles. The songs aren't simply good enough to allow you to get past the immense amounts of preening and posturing occurring. While I'm sure this is part act, the fact remains that it is a tough act to swallow. Music is built on larger than life ego and image, still, unswallowable if the music can't prop it up. The Guardian profiles Pop Levi more concisely than I could ever care to.

Pop Levi - A Style Called (Crying Chic)

Surplus Sons headline a CMW showcase tonight at the Horseshoe. If you're in Toronto, check 'em out around 1:30. Pop Levi plays Friday at Lee's Palace at the otherwise stellar Outside Music CMW showcase.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Birthday post

Hey Everybody. just a short post for y'all today. As indicated above, today is very much my birthday. As I write this I am wearing a party hat. Rung in the opening hours of the birthday in the presence of Apostle of Hustle. Chris from Neile's Life was there too and has a full report and mp3's. I was quite impressed by the show, which saw a good turnout beside the shitty weather (which is continuing as we speak).

Merge gave me a birthday present when my copy of Arcade Fire's Neon Bible arrived a few days earlier (it is out Wednesday). I'm about to head out to work so it will have to wait. Quite excited about the disc and songs as I've resisted every urge to listen to all the tracks and live versions already out there.

Enjoy your Friday, birthday or not. A few tracks...

The Beatles - Birthday (obvious choice, but how many birthday songs are there that rock like this)

Steve Earle - Feel Alright
From Steve's album I Feel Alright (1996). I'm pretty sure the song is about his triumph over addiction(getting clean, new dawn, etc, etc,) but the sentiment remains.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The RIAA took my baby away

Funny thing happened Tuesday, my file hosting service,, was instructed to shut down my account by the RIAA due to copywrite infringement. Ie. illegally offered mp3's,

I'm honoured that this small little blog has managed to catch the attention of the big man, but as such, it causes a slight problem in offering music to you folks out there. You'll notice that most links to songs are now dead. Hopefully I'll get things re-upped as fast as possible. I'm searching for a new service. Mydatabus was a pretty decent free service that offered a 20gb daily bandwidthh that was more than adequate for our humble needs and audience. Their new free version offers only 1gb of daily bandwidth which is far from what I need, even their paid option offers considerably less bandwidth than they once did.

If anyone knows of a decent file hosting service (decent amount of bandwidth, no more than $20/30 month if not free) than feel free to point me in the right direction. Any other bloggers out there who have run into this problem recently/know anyone going through the same?