Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hey, Hockey is Back

In celebration of the imminent hockey season, a few hockey-related artists and songs. Okay, the pre-season just ended, but my son's been playing hockey all year round, I've been in more arenas than U2, AC/DC, and Kings of Leon in 2008-2009. Plus there's a few odd NHL stories going on on this year. Theoren Fleury, a 41-year-old I played against as a kid, tried to make a comeback. Wildman Ray Emery is attempting to reclaim a spot on top of the heap, after banishment to Russia, scraps with trainers, smiling maniacally when fighting other goaltenders, and missing practices et cetera (busy retouching the Mike Tyson image on his mask?). I feel like Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, who once told, "I don't know how to express it to you. I'm as into hockey as a man can be and still be considered a man and not a boy."

Actually, I really just wanted to get you to listen to Hockey, a fine band from Portland. Song Away is one of the catchiest I've heard all year. Lyric samples - "I wanna write a truthful song over an eighties groove"..."This is on the rise music, this is novelty music, this is who-can-blame-me music."

Hockey - Song Away (Official Music Video)

Here's a few more.

Pansy Division - Hockey Hair -mp3 (download)

The Zambonis featuring James Kochalka Superstar - mp3 Hockey Monkey (download)

Hockey Night - mp3 For Guys' Eyes Only (download)

Richard Schiller - mp3 Hockey Rink Sad Song (Download)

Five Hole Band - Thinking Bout Your 5-Hole Mp3 (download)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

JP Hoe, Telepathic Butterflies, & more: Live at the West End

I haven't written about JP Hoe since was my main thing, but he's only gotten better with time, like fine wine. If are in Manitoba, you may be able to get a view of him on MTS tv (Video on demand) starting October 1st. Bonus appearance by agile stringbender Rob "Satch" Pachol.

JP Hoe: Live at the West End from Absurd Machine Films on Vimeo.

Of course, you'll also be able to see other Manitobans like Telepathic Butterflies (with Satch again!), Bryce Pallister, Cat Jahnke, Daniel Roa, and Dr. Rage & the Uppercuts. MTS video on demand will also be making available the aforementioned doc on the Albert (see previous post). I am overjoyed - no sarcasm.

Live at the West End from Absurd Machine Films on Vimeo.

Here's an extra, 'cause I love them Butterflies.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Free New Watchmen Tunes

The Watchmen have made good on their promise to offer brand-spankin'-new tunes, which you can download here. The two original tracks (a digital 7"?) have appeared on their MySpace page and their official site, (you can also fill your ears below). Here's an excerpt from guitarist/songwriter Joey Serlin's explanation about how and why the freshly-baked aural treats were crafted:

"The response from the fans and industry after last years Horseshoe shows was overwhelming. Offers came in to play more and more shows and before we knew it, what was supposed to be a one time thing became something else entirely. The band was in agreement that something was missing from the experience. We needed the buzz and satisfaction of creating new songs together. We made a decision to make new music for the first time in years. Ken had some songs and I had some songs and we decided to track a few at Vapor studios. With the help of engineer/mixer Julian Rudd, we set up, looked at each, took a deep breath and went for it. Sammy counted in the first track and within a few bars, years disappeared. I listened back and realized for the first time, how special our chemistry is."

Okay, Miss Monday Morning is well-produced rock, offering distorto-vox from D. Greaves, maybe the most straightforward riffs Serlin's ever released, a short teaser of a beautiful aggro-skronk screamer gee-tar solo, and a little harmonica flavouring. At just over 2 minutes running time, it's short and sweet, but like the solo, it's teasing and leaving us looking for more. Trampoline is a pretty little ballad featuring some country-flavoured guitar and a shuffle-y beat, but the focus is on Greaves' smooth, yearning vocals. "So I set myself on fire" may remind fans of a couple of older Watchmen tunes, but that's about all that really connects it with the band's older stuff; in fact, neither of these tunes sound like they could have appeared on any of their previous albums. Drummer Sammy Kohn sent me a little note awhile back when I wondered out loud whether the guys could or would drop some original sounds on us (see original post), saying he didn't know whether he should be "flattered or offended". Sammy, clearly you guys can do whatever you want. Wanna make a full album now? Yeah, I'm a greedy fan.

Miss Monday Morning


So aside from the two gifts for fans, what have we got here? Serlin's blurb above doesn't come out and say if there are plans afoot for the boys to continue making music or hit the road. Two shows at the Horseshoe in TO September 25 and 26 tells me they're into playing at the moment. Who knows if these are the (real) last shows?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Royal Albert - The Movie

I was sent the trailer for a new doc on the Albert, the place that has welcomed Husker Du, Green Day, Black Flag, The Weakerthans, The Watchmen, Comeback Kid, Propagandhi, Melvins, Stretch Marks, Personality Crisis, Sloan, New Duncan Imperials, Urge Overkill, Breath Grenades, Sons of Freedom, Kittens, UK Subs, Biohazard, Jesus Lizard, Nine Pound Hammer, The Vibrators, Cannibal Corpse, Telepathic Butterflies, The Wind-ups - the list goes on forever. Decades of rock, many flavours, blood, sweat and beers, long live the Albert.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Name Game Vol. 4: Friendly Foes vs. Friendly Fires

Photo by bobster 855 from here.

Has every possible band name based on the English language been used already? Probably not yet, but the tipping point may be coming soon. This series of posts is being created to ensure you can tell the which from the what when that catastrophe finally occurs.

Friendly Foes are a trio who call home "just outside of Detroit", according to their bio. And I believe the bio. Know why? The rest of the bio nails down their sound as well as could be done - it speaks the truth. Band members are "Inspired as equally by 70s punk-songwriters like Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello as they are the glory days of 90s indie rock (Superchunk, Guided By Voices, Chisel) — with a healthy dose of Husker Du and Replacements-style bash 'n pop thrown in for good measure — Friendly Foes craft rag-tag, rough around the edges rock songs that do away with pretense". Yeah. That's about right. Add a reference to power-pop's Pleasure Island, and I'm just going to stand back and let you listen. Comment below if you think the writer got it right or wrong, here's Get Yr Shit Together.

The above track is available as a free download from here, or you could simply hit the arrow pointing down in the embedded songplayer above.

Here's another, Couch Surfing.

Another thing I like about this band is that a sense of humour is in evidence. Check out the live acoustic cover of the mighty Danzig's Mother.

You can listen to the whole album here by using the name-brand electronic device at the right side o' the page.

Friendly Fires are a UK band that were just recently nominated for a Mercury Award, and they've previously shown up on Best-of lists for NME, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork. The band is an earnest bunch of guys who create big beats, sharp pop hooks, and danceable grooves. Smoothly-produced singles have ensued, but in an live, stripped-down setting, the group's songcraft is evident - check out this version of On Board from Sterogum.

Friendly Fires make me think of bands like Coldplay and Keane (the aforementioned earnestness) but with less restraint, less adoration of mid-period U2, and more desire to hit listeners on a physical level - whatever makes a human shake his or her rump.

If that didn't appeal to your discoball, get a load of this finely-tuned concoction of non-stop funkified slap bass, twitchy guitar, desperate vocals, and tasty percussion (more cowbell, anyone? tambourine? hand-claps?). It's my favourite new tune, download here.

Here's a version of Paris without the production trickery.

If you wanna see Paris on Jools Holland featuring crazy dancing and ecstatic singing, go here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Free tune: The Clean

Merge Records' The Clean have got a song, Tensile, which they want you to gently place on your iPod, or Walkman, or commit to memory and pass on to your grandchildren in your own fine oral tradition.

Listen/download Tensile mp3 here.

You can also grab In the Dreamlife You Need a Rubber Soul mp3 here.

Pretty different songs, huh? In the Dreamlife sounds like classic Clean song to me, but Tensile is something else. Merge calls it an "Autobahn-referential instro moment", but only the vocodered-vox heads off in that direction; I wanna create a television show just so I can use it as the theme music. It's a propulsive rock tune with a cooling-down effect brought on by that 70's robot warbling.

Both of the above songs are taken from their new album, Mister Pop, which will be out September 8. If you pre-order Mister Pop before that date or the new Polvo album or book Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records (holy cats, that looks amazing!), you get a chance to win a complete Score! subscription. That's fine and dandy, 'cuz you cannot buy it anymore.

Is it really possible that The Clean have been making music since 1978? The single for Tally Ho was released in 1981.