Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween hangover mixtape 09

Photo from emergencyfan 2000

Ah, Halloween. So many songs, so little time. Technical difficulties prevented this post from getting out on time (I had to do it twice!), so here's a halloween hangover mix. Kudos to Condemned to Rock 'N' Roll, snuhthing/anything, and Some Velvet Blog for adding to my arsenal.

White Stripes do Tegan and Sara and it sounds pretty much the same. Spooky?

White Stripes - Walking With a Ghost (download mp3 here)

I wonder what Halloween is like in the UK, can someone leave a comment and edify me? Do they celebrate it in Japan?

Japan - Halloween (download mp3 here)

We've all had spooky girlfriends, haven't we? Luckily I've never had one on Halloween, but we also know someone who has, right?

Elvis Costello - Spooky Girlfriend (download mp3 here)

Mr. Carroll is now one of those people who died, but his ghost may be watching you right now. Look behind you.

Jim Carroll - People Who Died (download mp3 here)

Dream Syndicate and head dreamer Steve Wynn deserve your attention. Though DS is long gone, Wynn still consistently puts out quality.

Dream Syndicate - Halloween (download mp3 here)

Ultra-catchy in an 80's style, this should have been a huge hit, and I can see M83 becoming the next big thing from France.

M83 - Graveyard Girl (download mp3 here)

Don't know a thing about That Ghost, but they sure got the Velvets/Dream Syndicate drone and jangle thing going on.

That Ghost - Never Have Fun (download mp3 here)

Screaming Tribesmen had a fine tune called She's a Living Vampire, but this girl vampire track is some kinda all right too. I'm a sucker for garage-pop from Oz with goofy band names, how about you?

Screaming Tribesmen - Date With a Vampyre (download mp3 here)

Not a very scary song unless you fear profanity, but wouldn't this have been a vampire weekend? Just another song I don't mind recommending again.

Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma (download mp3 here)

I almost forgot some Can-con, didn't I? For shame.

The Tragically Hip - I'm a Werewolf, Baby

Friday, October 30, 2009

Watchin' You

The Winnipeg Free Press has seen fit to name Scruffy the Yak a blog to watch. Weird, huh? Still, cause for celebration, as well as good reason to offer up a song by one of my favourite bands of all time, Hardship Post. The band only released one album, Somebody Spoke, on Sub Pop in 1995. The Post was scooped up by Sub Pop after a couple of singles and an ep, with the vital music coming out of Canada's East coast at the time (Sloan, Eric's Trip, Thrush Hermit). None of them really fit the grunge mold, and HP maybe least, with sharp pop hooks, a sly sense of humour, and not a lot of evident ambition to be rock stars. Somebody Spoke is a great little record, but after a subsequent tour the band all but dissolved, and a follow-up never materialized. I'm still waiting, Sebastian Lippa.

Hardship Post - Watchin' You (download mp3 here)

I don't know if Sub Pop still really sells this disc, but it's still listed, including the LP for $7.00. If I was rich I'd buy 50 of 'em and try to start the Bring Back Hardship Post movement. Well, I'm trying anyway, you'll hear about these guys again on this blog. Here's a few more "Watching" tunes.

Dayliner - What are You Watching (download mp3 here)

thenewno2 - Choose What You're Watching (download mp3 here)

The Rascals - People Watching (download mp3 here)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

SubCity Turn it Up

Winnipeg's own Subcity (formerly SubCity Dwellers) recently held a raucous release party for their new album Where's the Noise, as well as completing a thorough tour of Western Canada.

The album's almost like a cool mix tape, the tunes fit well together but contain too many styles and genres to name. And that's just how I like my mixes, varied extensively, each song cool in its own way. Opener Too Loud for the City is a rollicking rock song that might be kissin' cousins to a few Rancid tunes. Drag Me down sounds like sped-up Tom Waits with extra desperation (never thought it possible, didja?) Elsewhere we get Tin Pan Alley-meets-overdriven riffs in a smoky alley, then get hammered with gritty post-punk agitation (Silence), skatown ballads with rocksteady chorus vocals (Sweet Misery), reggae-rock that could turn into a wicked dub mix (Temper), menacing guitar, organ and distorto-vox that add up to the sounds of a house burning down (Gasoline), and more Waitsian vocals on top of funky blues throwdowns (The Hounds pt II). Some songs make me think the "Sub" in SubCity refers to a labyrinthian set of dark, forgotten tunnels deep under Winnipeg, while others cause me to wonder if it refers to Winnipeg's inferiority complex and the band's ability to blow it away. Give it a listen, whaddaya think?

SubCity - Too Loud For This City (download mp3 here)

SubCity play the West End Cultural Centre on Friday October 30, check it out. Buy the disc here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Halloween Mixtape 09

Halloween. I remember being dressed as the devil at the first, last, and only performance of a band I was in one Halloween; we went down like a lead balloon. We enjoyed ourselves anyhow, and thankfully no one recorded it. Remember when you could do goofy things without fear of someone pulling out their phone and uploading to YouTube? I don't think every mistake you make in public should be immortalized, but we are voyeurs, aren't we? Anyhow, I tripped across one of Steve Chasmar's Halloween photo series, and these pics deserve to be looked at.

Band of Horses - Is There a Ghost (download mp3 here)

Dead Kennedys - Halloween (download mp3 here)

I don't know what a Halloweenhead is - maybe that's them pictured above?

Ryan Adams - Halloweenhead (download mp3 here)

The Ghost of You Lingers - Spoon

This song by WWP is my favourite tune this month, pretty melody and harmonies, restrained chiming guitar, solid drums, funny lyrics. Dress up as a pirate or a wolf, either way is good.

We Were Pirates - The Wolf (download here)

Logan Lynn - Feed Me to the Wolves (download here)

Hoodoo Gurus - Dig it Up (download here)

The verses of this song always seemed spooky to me, as if paranoia, claustrophobia, and naked fear bubbled and percolated in the studio when the track was created. I'm not necessarily in love with the chorus, but I've always loved when Mr. Hine intones "Halloween...without a pumpkin, Halloween" and later "Trick or treat..or lies".

Rupert Hine - Surface Tension (download here)

This tune is not scary or spooky at all, but maybe Ryan Adams collectors will be able to tell us why it is subtitled Sad Dracula demo and why it cuts out after 1 minute 20 secs. But maybe many songs in this world would be better if they cut out at that point, cut out the filler and the fat. Huh?

Ryan Adams - Lost and Found (Sad Dracula demo) (download mp3 here)

Robert Pollard - Supernatural Car Lover (download mp3 here)

Blitzen Trapper - Black River Killer (download mp3 here)

Haunted - by the amazing Forbidden Dimension

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Free Sloan, Vote Sloan

Starting out with some pretty Warren Zevon-like keyboards, Sloan's new tune is 2 1/2 minutes of pop bliss. Chris Murphy has always been capable of writing ultra-catchy tunes, and this one's up there. Sublime harmonies, straightforward chunky guitar, tambourine, handclaps, walking bassline in the chorus, and an uplifting feel throughout = the perfect little antidote to rainy fall doledrums. Listen below.

If you haven't been paying attention, Sloan have been making great music for longer than most in Canada. Outside of the Hip and Blue Rodeo, there ain't a whole lotta bands that have kept the same line-up and continued to put out new material on a regular basis since the 80s. If you think the boys have just been writing Futureshop ad soundtracks, guess again, there's been a pretty wide range of styles covered. Check out Witch's Wand from Sloan's last full-length, Parallel Play.

Sloan - Witch's Wand from Scott Cudmore on Vimeo.

(If the video above is not playing for you, go here)

Sloan is also one of the artists who are on the list for CBC Radio 2's Great Canadian Song Quest. The boys will get a commission to write a tune commemorating Nova Scotia if they garner enough votes here. Interestingly enough, they're up against hands-down one of the best artist outs of all the 65 listed - Joel Plaskett.

Here's some upcoming tour dates, see 'em before they retire or die.

Nov 28 - Detroit, MI
Nov 29 - Columbus, OH
Nov 30 - Hoboken, NJ
Dec 01 - Vienna, VA
Dec 03 - Cambridge, MA
Dec 04 - Brooklyn, NY
Dec 05 - Philadelphia, PA

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Malcolm Burn & Boys Brigade

Recently I was watching a Canadian Bradcasting Corp. (the Corpse) TV show on Canadian 80's music. I was disappointed that interesting Canuck stuff wasn't included. For some reason, Boys Brigade popped into mind.

I know, I know, bad, terribly dated video. Ignore it and listen to the song, understated vocals, tasteful guitar colours and percussion (3, count 'em 3, rhythmic raconteurs), and it's all not overly-produced - a remarkable feat for the 1980s. Incidentally, Rush's Geddy Lee produced it. Considering how far away from the full-palette former proggers Boys Brigade were, it's an intersting marriage - nicely done.

Ok, the video is still dated, but it's maybe not as bad as Melody. I don't like video anyway. The song again is not overblown and cheesy, maybe that's why the band wasn't a huge hitmaking machine.

Singer/songwriter/keyboardist Malcolm Burn want on to release one decent solo album (1988's Redemption). He also went on to become a producer and engineer of renown, working with, among others:

Bruce Springsteen
Peter Gabriel
Brian Eno
Ryan Adams
Jeff Buckley
Neil Young
Tom Verlaine
Lucinda Williams
Steve Earle
Bob Dylan
Daniel Lanois
Emmylou Harris
Iggy Pop
Midnight Oil
Blue Rodeo
Patti Smith
Giant Sand
The Neville Brothers
Chris Whitley

Not bad for a regular fella with dyed yellow hair and a red-and-black checked shirt, huh?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Miesha & the Spanks

Calgary-based Miesha & the Spanks have been riding on's top 50 chart for 5 weeks. On Saturday, October 10, the band will hit the Royal Albert with fellow Transistor 66 artists Hot Live Guys and Hot Blood Bombers as well as Domenica. Check out Baby You're Gone from their new album, Mmmade For Me. The whole thing is just guitar 'n' drums like White Stripes (but noisier and more basic), raw, ferocious female yelps, hiccups and down 'n' dirty wailing like The Vagiants, raw garage stomp like Chickasaw Mudd Puppies on eleventeen expressos, cursin' like pirates - what's not to like?

Miesha & the Spanks MP3