Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Voice From The Wilderness.....And A Must-Buy Record

While there has been little activity on the old Shotgun these days, I was compelled to provide a quick note about one of the best new albums in the last decade - "Hearts From Above" - the new album by standout Texas band Micky & The Motorcars.

Apart from 2 or 3 tracks, this album is consistently solid and represents the best of the Americana/Alt-Country/Red Dirt genre this side of Jason Isbell.

In short, grab this album.

Knox out.

Posted by Knox Harrington on November 14, 2014 in Music | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Pair of Gems To Get You Through A Cold Prairie Week

Many of us in Western Canada will be hunkered down this week, or at least this weekend, hiding out from winter's angry return.  Sure, I braved the cold yesterday and hit the slopes at Mt. Norquay in Banff to take advantage of a rare good snow day (boot deep powder) up there, but now I've learned my lesson and retreated to my wood burning fire place, my music collection and my wine cellar.  That cowardly run from the cold has compelled me to dive into one of my favourite white wines and one of my favourite musicians, one of whose songs can now be found in the bowels of I-Tunes.  Just who is that? Billy Cowsill, that's who.

Awhile back, I pointed y'all to his work with the Blue Shadows, which is amazing by any standard.  This time however, I have stumbled across a gem on a compilation album from Tom Phillips & The Men of Constant Sorrow that is not the product of Tom and his gang but instead, of Billy Cowsill.  The track is "Vagabond", the lonely tale of a drifter, who has taken to the rails in the wake of a failed relationship.  As always, the song features Cowsill's stellar voice and showcases his ability to capture the human spirit in song.  Download this track and throw it on repeat for the balance of this cold and snowy stint.

While your at it, get yourself a bottle of 2008 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc from the Stellenbosch region of South Africa.  This wine is extraordinarily drinkable and features an off-dry style with subtle citrus flavours, making it downright delicious with a variety of food pairings and particularly, Asian food, especially Thai food.  While Chenin Blanc remains one of the world's most underrated grapes and nearly all of South Africa's Chenin Blanc wines are outstanding values, this one is something special.  At $15-$20 in most wine stores, it will also leave you some money for a nice fresh tin of mint Skoal bandits, a marginal cigar, or a pack of cigarillos, whichever you fancy, to also help in getting you through this grim, grim, weather.

Hope this helps warm your souls as we gut out another fierce blast of Canadian winter.  Excelsior! 

Posted by Knox Harrington on January 30, 2011 in Canadian music, Food and Drink, Music | Permalink | Comments (5)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Knox Harrington Five (KH5): Best Songs of 2010

It seems that I get later and later every year in declaring the best songs of the past year.  Hell, with my prolonged real-life/day job-driven absence from our glorious site, it may have felt like I was never coming back.  Well, here I am. Focused and ready to bring you more of the finer things of life in Western Canada. So, without further ado, here are the best songs that found their way into 'ol Knox's ears in 2010, presented in reverse order to have you on the edge of your seat by the time you hit #1.

5)    "When It Rains" - Born Free - Kid Rock

Yeah, you heard me, Kid Rock.  Gone are the days of palling around with midgets (rest in peace Joe C.) and wowing kids at frat parties.  With his last two albums, Kid Rock  has demonstrated that he can write, he can sing and he can put on one helluva damn show, as evidenced by last year's appearance at the Calgary Stampede.  "When It Rains" showcases Kid's talent and his recent commitment to being "true blue" musically. This track from his most recent, Rick Rubin-produced album, Born Free, is a tale of days gone by and abject loss that while at times sounds like it is close to the razor's edge of cliche, manages to rein things back in to remain more Bob Seger and less New Country cornball.  The fact that he refuses to put his music on I-Tunes shows a rare commitment to integrity and rebellion seldom seen in today's music industry.  I know it sounds crazy, but give this one and "Born Free", the new album's title-track, a whirl.

4)    "Let The Whiskey Take The Reins" - The Grand Theatre - Vol. 1 - Old 97's

I admit it.  I'm a bit of an Old 97's fanatic, so I may be a tad biased.  That said, The Grand Theatre is the 97's finest hour since Too Far To Care.  This track, among other great moments on this album, is a brooding, liquor-soaked track that features Ken Bethea's high, lonesome guitar ramblings and Rhett Miller's near-whisper vocals, both harkening back to many of Knox's longer nights in small town bars and taverns around Canada's west.  This one begs for multiple spins, especially if one does as the song's title instructs. Check out "You Smoke Too Much" too.  Pure Murry Hammond gold.

3) "Greyhound Guitar Man" - Transgression Trail - The Joey Only Outlaw Band

Any band that features a marijuana leaf, an assault rifle and a garlic clove as its logo is ok by 'ol Knox's standards.  That band ascends to something greater when they blast out straight ahead, rip-roaring cowpunk, the way it was intended to be.  The Joey Only Outlaw band does just that on this track about the ravages of life as a Canadian folk-punk-country musician relegated to bus travel.  Great music, great lyrics and a breakneck pace launched this track into this year's KH5.  Make sure you also take in one of Only's live shows - unreal.  I had the pleasure of seeing them on an oddly quiet night at the Palomino in Calgary during the Stampede last summer when they opened for Fred Eaglesmith (whose new song "Shallow" was a KH5 contender too by the way).  I entered the bar having no idea who they were and I left a committed fan.  The fact that the drummer played with a beer can on his head was just a bonus.

2)    "That's How I Don't Love You Anymore" - The Guitar Song - Jamey Johnson

When a guy loses his wife and his recording contract almost simultaneously and then locks himself in a buddy's basement, good things happen musically it seems.   At least that's the way it seems to have worked for Jamey Johnson, who started out as a cookie-cutter Nashville product and became something physically resembling the love child of Canadian music icon Tom Wilson (see Junkhouse, Blackie & The Rodeo Kings), Rob Zombie and the aforementioned Rick Rubin, with the musical chops of Kris Kristoffersen, Steve Earle and George Jones.  With lyrics like "four habits and a carnal sin have left me in a crooked state of mind" and "now I just pour the poison in and act like it's my new best friend", I was pulled in like a bass chomping down on a Rapala Rattlin' Rap.  Throw in a stalker-esque bass line and an off-kilter drum beat with deep, rootsy lyrics and you have one of the best songs this decade, never mind this year.  Check out the whole double-album that spawned this gem.  Rock solid.

1)    "Another Year Again" - Darker Circles - The Sadies

The top of the heap this year is a band that has been around a long time and has been putting out great album after great album, albeit with a dash of inconsistency.  It seems that it took producer Gary Louris of Jayhawks fame to bring the boys to the promised land.  That is where this song resides.  Somewhere between the music from the old school Spiderman cartoons, a Tarantino film and a Sergio Leone film, this song strikes a chord.  The usual brilliant guitar work of the Good brothers, and lyrics about time passing a man by, deliver a clever one-two punch that simply blows your mind each time you here this one.  A classic to be sure.

 

There you have it - 2010's best.  Download them, enjoy them, and tell me the ones I missed.

 

Posted by Knox Harrington on January 23, 2011 in Canadian music, Music | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Knox's Can-Con Gems (That You've Probably Never Heard) - Volume 3 - The Blue Shadows

There's been a great deal of hype lately about the recent re-issue of the deluxe edition of the Blue Shadows' debut album - On The Floor Of Heaven.  While I was delighted to see the Shadows, an "ahead of their time" Canadian alt-country band, get their due, I've been a little disappointed that their best work has remained largely unheralded.  That best work, obviously, was the Blue Shadows' Lucky To Me album. 

Sure there was some degree of critical acclaim back in 1995 and a young Knox Harrington grabbed the album while in his undergraduate university days, but for most critics, Knox included, the gravity of this album went unrecognized.  It was a catchy toe-tapping album at the time and Billy Cowsill (God rest his soul) and Jeffrey Hatcher impressed right off the bat, but I have to admit that while I enjoyed the album, I didn't really, fully get it back then.  That has changed.

While this post is shorter than most of my usual droning rants (a good thing to some I'm sure), I just need to tell you all to get your hands on the album's best tracks - "Let The Cowboys Ride", "Riding Only Down" and "Lucky To Me".  Better yet buy the whole damn thing.  I goddamn guarantee you that it will be some of the best stuff you have ever listened to.  Here's the trick - it's hard to find.  It may even be out of print. From Lucky To Me, branch out to the rest of Cowsill/Hatcher's great harmony vocals, stellar guitar work and downright catchy numbers on On The Floor Of Heaven and the other stuff that's out there.

Enjoy.  Happy hunting.

PS - for more on the Blue Shadows and the amazing Billy Cowsill in particular, start here.

Posted by Knox Harrington on August 20, 2010 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 05, 2010

Album of the Year? The Sadies Latest Effort Is Downright "Witchy"

Most of the time, the drive down 9th Avenue into downtown Calgary is uninteresting.  There's the blight of the West LRT construction and the thoughts of expropriated homeowners left in the project's wake, the never glamorous bus depot and the general commercial/industrial malaise that makes up Calgary's West Village".  Sometimes however, there are bright spots. 

Take, for example, the day in late May that I was taking the 9th Avenue trip into downtown.  That day, while drinking a sub-par coffee in my travel mug and getting through the grind of another typical start to another typical day I saw it - the marquee sign at local Calgary live music venue, Dickens' Pub.  Sure, I'd seen the sign on many, many occasions, but after never seeing a band's name that I recognized, I had become rather ambivalent to what was displayed thereon.  On this day however, the sign shone like a beacon of musical salvation.  The words were simple and plain- "The Sadies - May 29".  An instant double-take shook me to the core.  The Sadies? Wow.  Here was a band whose albums I had always enjoyed but that, despite their rave reviews for their live shows, I had never seen on stage.  I immediately, I bought show tickets for my cronies and I.  I also learned that the band had just released a new album - Darker Circles.

When the 29th rolled around, we hit a nearby spot for some libations to ensure that our minds were sufficiently limber to enjoy the show and headed to Dickens'.  Having never been inside, I was pleasantly surprised by the venue - a cabaret feel reminiscent of some of my old glory days at the Den at the University of Calgary.  The staff were welcoming, efficient and just rough enough around the edges to suit the place to a "T".

The band hit the stage, adorned in their usual vintage Western suits.  Before playing a note, they were a presence in the room.  The undertaker-esque vibe of the Good brothers is hard to miss.  As the music began to flow, the set was mainly new material from Darker Circles (which I had yet to hear before the show), which was a superb set list decision, given the strength of the new material.  Sure, they played "The Trial", one of my favorite tracks from New Seasons, and a host of other favorities, but the show keyed on Darker Circles.  The show was an energetic onslaught of the highest order and featured superb guitar work (the best picking I've seen) and a driving rhythm section that kept the sound tight and the mood "witchy".  Simply put, this was one of the best live shows I've seen and certainly among the Top 5 in Calgary.  The choice of venue certainly didn't hurt.

After the show, I had the pleasure of chatting with co-front man Dallas Good about Darker Circles and what the band's vision for the album was.  Trying to sound more artsy than I really am, I recall asking him about the album's mojo, expecting a surreal and mystical reply given the Sadies penchant for lyrics based squarely in the realm of the spooky, the dreary and the doomed.  Instead, Good told me simply - "we wanted it to be better than the last one".  Fair enough.  Let me say this however, they succeeded.  This is the Sadies strongest album to date.  Songs like the opener "Another Year Again", which features lyrics like "my old friends have lost their way, growing old is always hardest on the outcast, it's a dirty, risky game to play and someone always has to finish last" aren't lyrically uplifting per se, but the accompanying blazing guitars, cymbal shots and pounding baseline serve to make a guy yearn for the mosh pit.  My old hunting buddy called this album "old school Spiderman cartoon music meets Tarantino soundtrack surf music, meets old school Western".  I think that's about right, except I might throw in a witch trial or Blair Witch Project reference for good measure.  The grim "Tell Her What I Said", the driving "Another Day Again" and the brooding "Whispering Circles" are all first rate.  For a change of pace, check out the Lightfoot-esque "Idle Tomorrows" and the closer "Ten More Songs", an instrumental medley that leaves you wanting for more, and for the band to make that song into another album based solely on the ten snippets woven together to create that track.  Oh, I should mention that the album is produced by Gary Louris of Jayhawks fame, who perhaps should get some of the credit for being involved in the Sadies most focused, coherent effort to date.

What you have here is Knox's early pick for Album of the Year.  Let's see what the rest of 2010 brings.

Posted by Knox Harrington on July 5, 2010 in Music | Permalink | Comments (5)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Cozy Confines of the Buffet Hotel

The last few Jimmy Buffett albums have been like that restaurant that you've loved for many years that is sometimes past its prime, yet still beckons you to visit because every time you do, the meal, while far from flawless in its entirety, still has moments of immeasurable joy.  Sure, maybe the entree was awful, but wow, that appetizer was unreal.  Buffett's albums of late have had some real gems - from "Bama Breeze" and "Duke's On Sunday" off of the otherwise dreadful Take The Weather With You, to "Trip Around The Sun", "Boats To Build" (both covers) and "Coast of Carolina" from the otherwise predominantly silly License to Chill - Buffett's albums have satisfied his loyal Parrotheads, but have left even those fanatically loyal fans wanting more (Knox counts himself as one of that group).   So like my returns to The Manor in Edmonton (formerly the Manor Cafe and now the Manor Casual Bistro where I still go for the schnitzel, despite the fact that it isn't what it was when I went to school in Edmonton over a decade ago), I returned to Buffett and checked out, or perhaps more appropriately, checked-in, to his new album - Buffet Hotel.

Yes, "Buffet", not "Buffett" Hotel, named after a hotel Jimmy saw on a recent trip to Africa.  Let me tell you at the outset, this is a decent, and surprising, album.  The opener "Nobody From Nowhere" is one of the best tracks on the album.  An upbeat number with the full Coral Reefer Band, this one, while not written by Buffett, sounds like Buffett.  The old Buffett, who wasn't afraid to be a musician as opposed to a carnival act or cheesy party favour.  Hopefully, it will find its way into the odd set list on Buffett's perennial summer tour, which I've enjoyed in Toronto on several occasions.   More standout tracks include this albums cover of a Bruce Cockburn song (the Canadian seems to be justifiably included at least once on Buffett's recent albums) entitled "Life Short Call Now", "Big Top" (an homage to the Parrotheads and their antics at said summer tours), "We Learned To Be Cool From You"  and "Wings", the latter 3 of which were either written or co-written by Buffett (still got it Bubba).  The balance of the tracks are either a tad morose or a tad cheesy, but for the most part, they are listenable.  "A Lot To Drink About" is an entertaining rant akin to early Buffett ditties like "God's Own Drunk" and "This Hotel Room" with more political overtones ("We've got the price of oil, the war of the spoils, here's your bucket for the big bailout.  Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, we've got a lot to drink about").

Friends, if you need an album to help you slide your way into summer, a Buffett album is usually just the medicine that your doctor ordered.  This one is a stronger dose than most recent Buffett albums and is worth a spin.  Based on my experience this weekend, the album seems to pair nicely with a Miller Chill lime-infused beer, a simultaneous Skoal "Bandit" chewing tobacco pouch and a pair of flip-flops.  Now that's good living.

As you were………. 

Posted by Knox Harrington on May 16, 2010 in Music | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Knox's CanCon Gems - The Greatest Canadian Albums of All-Time (That You've Probably Never Heard) - Volume 2

Here's one of those rare instances (at least in these circles) when your politics and music have the opportunity to fuse as one. Well, maybe not exactly, given that I'm not talking about Stephen Harper playing the piano, or any such similar ear-shattering rubbish.  No folks, this is a more tenuous link to some of your politics that means that the subject music actually has a chance of sounding good.  Who, and maybe what, the hell am I talking about? I'm talking about a little band that quickly burst onto the scene in the 90's and just as quickly disappeared - The Buicks.

Just who were The Buicks? Well, I'm not really that sure.  I saw them open for a mainstay Canadian band or two during the mid-90's while at school in Edmonton - Blue Rodeo, the Waltons, the Watchmen.......somebody like that.  I liked their set and so I picked up their CD - Passage.  Almost every song on the album is solid - "Chipper", "Where's The Doctor", "You'd Better Walk Away" and particularly, the title-track "Passage".  Upbeat, poppy numbers that remind a guy of old school U2, but without the obvious political overtones.  Politics? Oh yeah, the political connection.  Rumour had it that the lead singer.......I think he was the lead singer, who went by the name "Red Locker" on the album cover was none other than Preston Manning's son, whose name I'm unaware of and who really, I know very little about.  What became of him and his band? Are they still playing conservative cocktail parties around the country? Sadly, I suspect not.  I say "sadly" because this little gem of an album (or EP) has stood the test of time and works its way back into my rotation time and time again over the years.

Here's the catch - it's hard to find.  Almost impossible it seems.  Amazon has a couple of used copies for sale, but they're about $60.00.  $60.00 for 7 songs is steep, but in this case, it may be worth it.  Especially if you're a fan of the Mannings.

Posted by Knox Harrington on March 27, 2010 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Knox's CanCon Gems - The Greatest Canadian Albums of All-Time (That You've Probably Never Heard) - Volume 1

A quick glance at the title of this series may have you suddenly thinking of Neil Young, BTO, The Tragically Hip, Nickleback or other Canuck bands that have hit the big time.  Some of those bands have enjoyed critical acclaim as part of their rise to the Top (Young), while others have not (arguably Nickleback).  What this series pre-supposes is that there are many a Canadian band out there who despite perhaps enjoying some degree of commercial success or critical acclaim, have never really received their due.

The subject of the first post in this series will focus on a little band from Kingston, Ontario, who despite enjoying some surging popularity in the mid-90's as part of the Canadian Celtic craze that saw previously unnkown (largely) bands like Great Big Sea rocket to the top, never really did take their proper place high above the ordinary Canadian musical landscape - The Mahones.

The Mahones first real album, Draggin The Days and its flurry of great original songs including "Drunkin' Lazy Bastard" and the title-track, "Draggin' The Days", along with stellar covers like "Raggle Taggle Gypsy" and "Star of the County Down" (the best version of this song ever recorded) was almost the subject matter of this post, and other great Mahones albums like The Hellfire Club Sessions and Here Comes Lucky are worthy of mention, it is their Rise Again album which takes the honour of Knox's inaugural installment in this series focused on CanCon gold.

Rise Again, represented somewhat of a departure or change in direction for the Mahones (if you can have one after only one or two albums) in that it wasn't simply an album of "jump up and down with a beer in your hand" pub anthems but instead, saw the band gain focus and a degree of songwriting and musicianship that was largely unexpected by most listeners and even hardcore fans that had jumped on board after listening to the first album.  Sure, the "jump up and down" songs are still there ("Down The Boozer (The Bricklayers' Song"), "100 Bucks" and "Paint The Town Red") and they are outstanding, but this album also has depth and breadth in that it also includes up-tempo, but thoughtful, numbers like "Streets of New York" (which never lets me down in conjuring up memories of my youth and collegiate years) and "Holloway Jack" ( the tale of doomed men aboard a prison ship bound for Australia) and self-reflective and somewhat sullen songs like "One Star Hotel" in which Mahones frontman/singer-songwriter Finny McConnell looks inward and evaluates whether or not being on a drunken "road to nowhere" is a bad thing.  As seems to be typical of Mahones albums, the title-track "Rise Again" is also a highlight and formed the centerpiece of the first set when Knox's old band took the stage (or garage or.......um.....living room).

Probably not coincidentally, this album also features one of the strongest line-ups that the band would ever have with McConnell and the now departed (sadly) Andrew J. Brown forming its core, along with Owen Warnica on bass, among others.  In my view, while the band is still a great live act, the music has suffered to some degree as their sound has changed from well-written celtic-influenced songs (second only to the Pogues) to a constant barrage of celtic-punk in the vein of the Dropkick Murphys for example.  I suspect that the change has been embraced by many of their fans but to Knox, the Mahones best sounds flow from the past, although there is still hope for a future shift back.

Anyway, if you can find this album, grab it.  I've been listening to it for 13 years now and it is never far from my rotation, quitely begging for a spot in the CD player when it isn't in there.

Posted by Knox Harrington on August 14, 2009 in Music | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Evan Dando To The Rescue - A Solid Album For 2009

Further to my recent rants about the dearth of quality music thus far in 2009 (with the exception of the new Rancid album, which I recently named the summer's best), I have come to the conclusion that the 2009 music crop may not be as sparse and dry as a Consort, Alberta cereal crop afterall.  What has brought about this change in perspective? Fresh sounds from one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" from the early 90's, that's who.  The man, the enigma, the riddle - Evan Dando.

 

After a meteoric rise to fame in the early 90's with some damn fine music via his band, or constantly changing cadre of musicians, the Lemonheads, and the accolades and sex symbol notoriety that followed, Dando, took it upon himself to crash head long into a pile of crack, heroin, LSD and maybe other mind-numbing/altering substances.  While to many, his fall and related stint of mental illness was tragic, to me it served to make Dando more interesting.  I mean let's be clear - the man was already a bit of an odd duck and an eccentric character and the so-called "crash" never seemed to bother him much.  Take for instance this excerpt from an interview in the UK's Guardian:

"I've had a lot of fun and now I'm not worried about much," he smiles. "I had a good time with drugs and I've been to rehab once. I have no regrets. I've learned not to drink and do everything else in moderation. Don't get addicted to anything, that's the key. Now I just want to get better at my craft. I've think I've got a couple of years left in me yet."

 

Dando's unrepentant, Pete Doherty-esque approach to alcohol/drug use is a refreshing change from the Disney crowd and the "I'm so ashamed of myself" response from seemingly every other rehabilitated celebrity alcoholic or drug addict these days.  Sorry, back to the music.

 

After a couple of decent solo albums that are worth a listen (Live At The Brattle Theatre/Griffin Sunset EP and Baby I'm Bored), Dando, armed with a new Lemonheads crew, unleashed a beauty of an album with 2006's self-titled rocket that is one of my favorite albums of the past five years.  After such a coherent and outstanding run, I was expecting very little from the Lemonheads' 2009 effort, Varshons, especially after hearing that it was an album of cover tunes.  However, upon further investigation, I learned that these were not your regular cover tunes and that after a listen, the album was somewhat of a gem. 

 

The album features songs by long-time Dando idol Gram Parsons and Townes Van Zandt (incidentally, Dando's version of "Waiting Around To Die" is better, sadly, than any of the Van Zandt covers on Steve Earle's Townes album that I covered recently), which may not be a stretch for Dando and his "cosmic cowboy/alt-country" leanings, but who expected his covering tracks from wildman/psychotic G.G. Alin, July, Sam Gopal, Leonard Cohen and pop tart Christina Aguillera, whose "Beautiful" is one of the standout tracks on this album? Also, some special guests assist with pushing this album into the stratosphere - supermodel Kate Moss' guest vocals on Arling & Cameron's "Dirty Robot" (strange coincidence that Moss was the longtime girlfriend of the aforementioned Pete Doherty? Knox thinks not), while panned by critics elsewhere, are surprisingly good and rather arousing - and actress Liv Tyler's vocals on Cohen's "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye" are in the same vein.  My personal favorite is Gram Parsons "I Just Can't Take It Anymore", which is worth a download even if you choose not to follow Knox's advice (which is always dangerous and not recommended) in purchasing the whole album.

 

I have always been a fan of Dando's and will continue to be, despite being present to witness a bizarre and surrealistic show in Calgary a few years back when Dando muttered, berated the crowd after breaking a guitar string ("a new string isn't like a new car......it sucks......but you all suck......&@**# you") and brought an arm load of actions figures, comics and album covers to the stage.  That night though, the music was flawless, as is this album.  Over and out.

Posted by Knox Harrington on August 11, 2009 in Music | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

R.I.P. Michael Jackson

Now that the Ontario PC Leadership Race has ended, I figure we can follow the rest of the media by getting on our knees and paying homage to Michael Jackson.

While the coverage of this event has been a little excessive (CTV News Channel seems to have been all Jackson all the time for the past few days), he was certainly an influential figure who many of us grew up listening to. He also exhibited lots of strange behaviour, including changing his skin colour, dangling his child from a balcony, as well as being accused of reprehensible acts of child abuse. Yet, it is likely that he will be remembered for his glory days when he was on top of the world:

What are your thoughts on the media coverage of Jackson's death and the man himself?

Update: The following video has been brought to my attention. I think it's hilarious and raises some good points, but I'm posting it against my better judgment, as it contains strong language and is not safe for work.

Posted by Jesse Kline on June 27, 2009 in Music | Permalink | Comments (19)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Susan Boyle vs. Paul Potts

Politics can make for some cynical exchanges. Nothing like a lovely, real-life surprise to make you happy for a moment. So here are two wonderful and surprising videos for your viewing pleasure. (If you're here for nothing but politics, just ignore this post. Plenty of pro-liberty posts above and below this one).

So, hard-hearted cynics, take your pick: Which of the following two singers, Paul Potts or Susan Boyle, both from the British television program "Britain's Got Talent", do you like better?

Paul Potts:

Susan Boyle:

Stupid YouTube had embedding disabled...

Here's a Maclean's piece on Susan Boyle.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on April 16, 2009 in Music | Permalink | Comments (13)

Monday, April 13, 2009

NLX (Natasha Alexandra): New CD I can't wait for

NLXPromoBW40072dpiChristopherWadsworthHere's a random post about a wonderful musician whose new CD was released last week at live shows in Toronto and New York. Sample tracks from NLX's (that stands for Natasha Alexandra) new, full-length CD entitled "Bitch get Fit" are up on MySpace and NLX's Facebook fan page. Also, they are being played around the clock on my office computer.

My sister introduced me to Natasha's music about three or so years ago, and I had the chance to catch her play live while she was still calling Toronto her home. Her CDs, now released as "In your face" and "Behind your back" (both available on iTunes) made it onto my personal regular rotation. Since then, she's moved to New York to play gigs and work on her music full time.

If the tracks I've heard are any indication, the New York scene has given her music a more complex feel, without losing the edgy, occasionally aggressive and terse, mood and lyrical content (truth be told, that's my favourite kind). She likes to describe herself as "[Nine Inch Nails' frontman] Trent Reznor with t*ts." She might add "and a piano," but that's her call.

Give NLX a listen. But be prepared to wait anxiously for her new CD. That's what I've been doing for the last two weeks. Which should help explain this random post. Sort of cathartic, in a way.

UPDATE: Here's one of my favourites from NLX:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on April 13, 2009 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Billy Bob Thornton vs. Jian Ghomeshi : Showdown at the Q Corral

It's Friday, so what better way to start your weekend than a deeply uncomfortable interview between actor/musician Billy Bob Thornton and Canada's Q TV. Here's the description from Q TV's YouTube page:

Q was visited by country-pop band The Boxmasters. The Boxmasters's biggest claim to fame is that their singer is Oscar-winner Billy Bob Thornton. If you were listening, you heard what could best be described as a 'showdown at the Q corral' when Mr. Thornton took offense to our mention of his cinematic accomplishments. Here is what happened on camera. The performance is not included as we have not yet resolved the rights issues to it. If we do we will post that as well.

Billy Bob Thornton wasn't done with Ghomeshi. Here's The Star reporting on it:

Referring to Jian Ghomeshi, the host of CBC Radio's Q, as an "a--hole," the Oscar-winning actor turned musician interrupted his band's set three songs in to give his side of the story.

After commenting on the beautiful theatre and the legendary performer they were opening for (Willie Nelson), Thornton said, "It seems as if when I say something it's in the news."

When that drew boos, Thornton continued: "Boo all you want, but I want to say something.... We're really happy to be here, but I need to say something. I talked to this a--hole yesterday.

"I sat down and talked with this guy. He and his producers say, `We promise you we won't say that' (meaning references to Thornton's acting career). The very first thing they said was that.

"I don't really like sensationalism," he added. "If you look someone in the eyes and promise them something, and you don't do it, you don't get the interview. That's the way it goes."

The explanation was met by further boos and catcalls of, "Here comes the gravy," a reference to Thornton's description of Canadian audiences as "mashed potatoes with no gravy" during his interview with Ghomeshi.

h/t: National Newswatch

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on April 10, 2009 in Music | Permalink | Comments (4)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Jethro Tull

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull is one of my favorite musicians. Been to two of his concerts in Dubai and Toronto, I have come to know him more and more over the past few years. Just regret why I didn't discover his music earlier. You never get tired of his style either...

I just saw that he has written a pretty long note about his new tours, new ear phones, new band members and for sure his unique sense of humor:

    As you might guess, my old ears have been ringing for most of the 39 years of Tull touring and, although we are far from being the loudest band in town, it has still been pretty punishing over the years. The pleasures of the many quieter shows (on stage that is – still pretty loud for the audience) which I have been doing more recently has meant no more fuzzy hearing and headaches after shows. The difficulty in hearing myself in the midst of relative cacophony has been replaced by a much nicer way of doing business with you. Kept me in better humour too as some have noticed. Not that I’m cranky or anything. Who, me?

Jethro Tull is a great band and will always be one. Hopefully they'll be back in Toronto in October again.

Cross-posted

Posted by Winston on January 20, 2007 in Music | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Night Blues

Pretty quiet around here today, Moosehead on tap at the Broom this Friday.  Someday we will surpass the CBC.

- Insert clenched fist salute here -

Posted by Darcey on October 6, 2006 in Music | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

You Can Call Him "Immy"

Jul24_002 My cousin, David Immergluck, is one of the Counting Crows. So, when the band comes to town, we get a great night out, and an invitation to the after show party. I have to say, rock stars ain't what they used to be. I was expecting bowls of cocaine and hot teenage groupies galore. Instead, there was light beer and vegetarian food. As for the groupies, there were none I could see.  There was, however, another cousin of ours, Dinah Christie, famous as one of the original anchors of This Hour has Seven Days

More on the concert, and the evening in general, at Wonkitties.

Posted by wonkitties on July 25, 2006 in Music | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday Night Blues

I'm out for a week or so taking care of some mitt-free business down south but following the self-whore protocol my weekly blues podcast is up.  Someday I dream to take the CBC out... 

Posted by Darcey on July 14, 2006 in Music | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Monday, May 01, 2006

exposed copyright

Steven Page, of the Barenaked Ladies, writes in the Post for a collection of Canadian musical artists called the "Canadian Music Creators Coalition". For, well, obvious reasons, the Post decided not to put this article behind their gate. The group seems to have been formed to fight the music industry's desire to not allow me to play music from puretracks.com on my iPod.

First, we believe that suing our fans is destructive and hypocritical. We do not want to sue music fans, and we do not want to distort the law to coerce fans into conforming to a rigid digital market artificially constructed by the major labels.

Yep, I'm with the Barenaked Lady.

Second, we believe that the use of digital locks, frequently referred to as technological protection measures, are risky and counterproductive. We do not support using digital locks to increase the labels' control over the distribution, use and enjoyment of music, nor do we support laws that prohibit circumvention of such technological measures, including Canadian accession to the World Intellectual Property Organization's Internet Treaties. These treaties are designed to give control to major labels and take choices away from artists and consumers. Laws should protect artists and consumers, not restrictive technologies.

Again, I'm with you, Steven. Heck, if I had a million dollars for every time I whined about DRM, I'd be rich.

Third, we strongly believe that cultural policy should support actual Canadian artists. We call on the Canadian government to firmly commit to programs that support Canadian music talent. The government should make a long-term commitment to grow support mechanisms such as the Canada Music Fund and FACTOR, invest in music training and education, create limited tax shelters for copyright royalties, protect artists from inequalities in bargaining power and make collecting societies more transparent.

Steven, I was on board. Now, I'm jumping off again. So after two points about consumer and artist freedom, your last point is about government coercion to have others pay for your art. You want the guy standing next to you at Timmie's with two kids to pay for One Week. No, Steven, you owe us money for subjecting us to an overload of CanCon and way too much of that song.

Two out of three ain't bad.

From boonbloggle.com.

Posted by Peter_Jay on May 1, 2006 in Canadian Politics, Music | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Saturday Night Blues

Apologies to all who I left with a down link the other day. My site server blew a hard drive and I spent the last day and a half redoing the databases. To make it up to you, a regular feature at the Broom is the weekend blues fest (well of course). It's all on me.

Posted by Darcey on March 11, 2006 in Music | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Persian Rhapsody

The music of Queen is officially welcome in Iran. (Well, some of it.) The late Freddie Mercury, who was of Iranian descent, and who was so gay, is apparently hugely popular in the country where you can be executed for being gay. Also, according to this article, some of Elton John's songs are officially "acceptable" in Iran. Go figure!
A step in the right direction, I'd say.
Cross-posted at Wonkitties.

Posted by wonkitties on February 21, 2006 in Music | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Friday, January 13, 2006

Getting away from the election for a minute

Finally! A musical I actually want to see!

ADAM DAIFALLAH

Posted by Adam Daifallah on January 13, 2006 in Music | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 22, 2005

My Favourite Christmas Carol

Max I have pretty common tastes when it comes to the Christmas season; turkey, cranberries, sage in the stuffing. As I go through my pop culture checklist that prepares my mood for the holiday, I can tick off as already having absorbed The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (nothing more heartwarming that Max's smile) and A Charlie Brown Christmas (can't get in the mood until I've heard Sally say "All I want is my fair share."). Still waiting to see Alastair Sim in A Christmas Carol, but that's a given (for some odd reason, of all the great moments in that great film, it is the look on the face of the nephew's silent maid who urges Scrooge into the party near the end of the film to the strains of the cruel Barbara Allan, that trips my Christmas switch and I don't know why). One piece of the puzzle I am still missing is the hearing of my favourite carol, Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella. (In second place, Oh Holy Night. btw Maclean's is offering a Christmas station until the end of the month.) I'd be interested in finding out what others rank as their favourite carol or song of the season.

Posted by Kevin Steel on December 22, 2005 in Music | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Friday, July 29, 2005

Who knew?

That a ukelele could sound like this.  As the Steinway sitting in my living room might suggest, I'm no guitarist nor ukelele-ist, but Jake Shimabukuro clearly qualifies as something of a virtuoso on the instrument (HT:  Gideon Strauss).
(Cross-posted from Burkean Canuck).

Posted by Russ Kuykendall on July 29, 2005 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Even if his timing weren't monumentally "off" . . .

A Labourite municipal councillor proposed a ban, reported here, on the playing of Elgar's "Land of Hope and Glory" (audio, here, and words, here) in favour of Rod Stewart's "Sailing" at the English (UK) community's upcoming Remembrance Day ceremonies on November 7th. Following are A. C. Benson's words set to the finale of Elgar's Coronation Ode:

Land of Hope and Glory,
Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee,
Who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider
Shall thy bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty,
Make thee mightier yet.

And Rod Stewart's offering:

I am sailing, I am sailing,
I am sailing, stormy waters,
to be near you, to be free.

I am flying, I am flying,
like a bird 'cross the sky.
I am flying, passing high clouds,
to be with you, to be free.

Can you hear me, can you hear me
thro' the dark night, far away,
I am dying, forever trying,
to be with you, who can say.

Can you hear me, can you hear me,
thro' the dark night far away.
I am dying, forever trying,
to be with you, who can say.

We are sailing, we are sailing,
home again 'cross the sea.
We are sailing stormy waters,
to be near you, to be free.

Oh Lord, to be near you, to be free.
Oh Lord, to be near you, to be free,
Oh Lord.

Compare.  Consider.  Take a deep breath.  Altogether now, shake your heads.

As for the Labourite councillor, he withdrew the proposal for a ban with abject apology.

AFTERTHOUGHT:  Is it possible the hapless councillor confused Rod Stewart's "Sailing" with "Rule Britannia"?
(Cross-posted from Burkean Canuck).

Posted by Russ Kuykendall on July 21, 2005 in International Politics, Music | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Monday, July 04, 2005

Fifi, Peaches and Pixie

Maybe Bob Geldof will go down in history as the man who singlehandedly ended poverty in Africa.

Or maybe not.

Trivialpursuit


Posted by Kate McMillan on July 4, 2005 in Music | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Imagine

Since everyone is in a musical mood this weekend, here is a leftist anthem with more appropriate lyrics:

Imagine there's no Liberals

It's easy if you try,

No bloated government

To regulate and pry,

Imagine all the people

Keeping what they earn.../

Imagine no corruption

It isn’t hard to do,

Imagine no GroupAction

And no Jack Layton too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace.../

Imagine there’s no Charter

I wonder if you can,

No need for legal plunder

And no Adscam

Imagine all the people

Competing to succeed.../

You may say I’m a dreamer,

But I’m not the only one,

I hope some day you'll join us,

And Canada shall overcome

Posted by Michael Dabioch on July 3, 2005 in Music | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Were Ian & Sylvia Not Available?

Once again, Canada has tried to play with the big boys, and once again has proven itself to be the mecca of mediocrity with Live 8.

Bryan Adams. Gordon Lightfoot. Burton Cummings? Everything old is new again. Were Ian and Sylvia Tyson not available? What about Tommy Hunter? Surely Tommy would come out for such a good cause. Him and Ian Tyson could do a duet of The Farmer's Song. Wouldn't the hep young cats love that? It would be neat-o. Swell, even.

The diva herself can't be bothered to show up personally. Celine Dion will perform via satellite from Vegas. You know, Vegas, where middle aged people go to rock out.

These are our best artists.

Therein lies the problem. Canadian content, or Can-con, rules have made it so that Canadian artists do not have to be the best in the world. They do not have to gain international recognition, and if they do, it is often with just one hit. An exception would be someone like Alanis Morissette, who has proven to be an international success, and who is conveniently promoting her new 10th anniversary acoustic Jagged Little Pill. Is the in the line-up for Live 8? Of course not.

Of course, tickets were snapped up in record time - 35,000 tickets in 21 minutes. Wow. People are obviously willing to settle for second best. You can see that in our government, can't you? It helps that Live 8 is being held in Toronto (Toronto, centre of the universe. We have a tower that keeps us still while the rest of the world revolves around us.), where those who support mediocrity in government can show their support for mediocrity in music.

And once again, Canada will be left behind in world news, as other countries are rattling off the list of who held Live 8 concerts on July 2. Once again, we'll try to join in on the making of history, but half-assed attempts are better forgotten.

Posted by RightGirl on June 23, 2005 in Music | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

I'll be there for you

Interesting piece in the New York Post: Osama's N.Y. Beauty about the great and glorious one's niece Wafah Binladin living back in the Big Apple:

"She's this extremely wealthy girl who is used to getting what she wants and having people jump at her every word," the friend said.

"She keeps saying, 'Poor me—I have no family because I left to pursue my dream.' She has no family because her uncle is a terrorist," the pal said.

"And the way she treats people! Now she is trying to make money by giving French lessons. But if people don't want her French lessons, she'll hang up and scream, 'Bitch!' "

Wafah has also been known to scream at "friends" whose connections did not pan out for her: "You are of no use to me!"

Sing with me now the theme to Friends, "So no one told you life was gonna be this way..."

Posted by Kevin Steel on March 15, 2005 in Music | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Friday, November 26, 2004

Irony, profound, blah blah

More stupid stuff from the bully babies in the town that once banned The Barenaked Ladies. From The Globe and Mail: Ontario to intensify tobacco crackdown. "The McGuinty government" (as they like to begin all their press releases in a comical attempt to conjure up a cult of personality around a dork) and its march towards lifestyle tyranny can put this in the victory column beside mandatory bicycle helmets. Here I would like to refer to a column yesterday by Toronto Star whiner Vinay Menon about American censorship: Prudish scolds impose their values on us all. He ends with "It's a shame the crackpot moralists don't see the profound irony in all of this." Why they heck should they see it? Mr. Menon doesn't seem to notice it in his own backyard.

Posted by Kevin Steel on November 26, 2004 in Music | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Monday, June 21, 2004

Vote for Sk8er boy

Join Chantal Kreviazuk, Avril Lavigne, Sum 41, Treble Charger, and other astute political observers and commentators in an attempt to Stop Harper!

(Is Avril Lavigne old enough to vote?)

Posted by Peter Jaworski on June 21, 2004 in Music | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Favourite songs

While Rick and Kathy (and no doubt others) weigh in on their favourite songs, I wonder about one thing: how much of such a list is actual favourite and how much (order, inclusion, etc...) is what someone wants others to think they like. I didn't believe Tony Clement when he told reporters he liked U2, I don't believe Stephen Harper when he says AC/DC's Thunderstruck is his favourite song. When politicians list their favourite songs, claim to be reading a particular book or whatever, I can't help but think their stated lists are political. But bloggers are no less prone to worrying about what others might think.

Posted by Paul Tuns on June 19, 2004 in Music | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Friday, June 18, 2004

"I'll give it a 84, because it has a good beat and it's easy to dance to."

If we can bear to tear ourselves from the election: What are your favourite songs?

Kevin Michael Grace's thoughts on a Globe and Mail story reporting the fave tunes of Canada's national party leaders led him to name his top five popular songs.

Being less ambitious, I picked from a narrow subcategory of music. My post is here.

What songs do you like?

Posted by Rick Hiebert on June 18, 2004 in Music | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Home of the boss jocks, eh!

One site that I like to look at posts all the CHUM "top 40" charts from 1957 to 1986. It's interesting to see the sorts of songs that Toronto radio listeners liked, and there are lots of surprises here.

[Rick's Miscellany]

Posted by Rick Hiebert on May 13, 2004 in Music | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Friday, April 09, 2004

Is this thing on... (tap tap tap)?

Hi...I *still* wonder if Ezra Levant calls this blog The Shotgun because he is a big Junior Walker and the All Stars fan.

In the meantime, I have discovered on this British website with photos and diagrams of dancers doing wacky Sixties dances that there once was a *dance* called The Shotgun. No further information though.

More serious post later...

Rick's Miscellany


Posted by Rick Hiebert on April 9, 2004 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack