Sunday, June 20, 2010


photo used under Creative Commons by pasukaru76

Scruffy the Yak's 100th post. I wanted to get all hot and bothered about this, do something big and splashy and celebratory. But I'm not. A blogger I read regularly wrote that without engagement, blogs die. He's right. I'm a little weary of not receiving any comments on my posts. I'm not looking for self-congratulatory, ego-stroking nonsense, just the occasional discussion, opinion, or even argument. Try to leave a comment below a post sometime. Like most bloggers, I'm not getting paid, so your feedback is meaningful. If Soundcloud's not working, or you can't download from the widget, let me know. Disagree with something on this page? Voice your opinion, please.

Anyhow, no special birthday celebration came to mind, so the only difference with this post is I'm hawking a book I read recently. Rest is the same, new and old music I'd recommend you take for a spin.

Kids on Fire I haven't been able to learn a lot about yet (Mr. Transistor 66, send more updates!). The Winnipeggers released their debut cd in January and will be playing Canada Day in front of Music Trader at 8:00.

KIDS ON FIRE - Pure Passion for the Desperate Masses from Randy Frykas on Vimeo.

This is not a fresh new video, but Spoon is one of my top three bands throughout the last decade, and I haven't given them much notice here. That's only because the band gets hyped enough. However, if you've never paid attention, the following is from Transference, the new one. For an intro to the band, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga should make you a beleiver, and I sincerely urge you to try Kill the Moonlight as well; you can hear them at the band's site.

Spoon - Got Nuffin from Merge Records on Vimeo.

During the Stanley Cup playoffs, I heard a Pride Tiger song (Fill Me In) used as the rock and roll soundtrack to stir up viewers and I remembered how much I liked the band. I just discovered the band broke up. Too bad, our loss. Here's The Lucky Ones.

I only knew Buck Owens as a bad joke guy on Hee Haw as a kid, but I've recently discovered he made some cool music, not necessarily the cheesy country I associated him with. I'm still learning. For example, what genre does this tune, Who's Gonna Mow Your Grass, fit into?

I really enjoyed Donald Westlake's Memory, in which the protagonist loses his memory and never regains it. Here's the beginning of the book:

After the show, they went back to the hotel room, and to bed, for the seventeenth time in three weeks. He had chosen her because, being on the road with him, she was handy; and additionally because she was married, had already clipped the wings of one male, and could therefore demand nothing more from him than he was willing to give. Why she had chosen him he neither knew nor cared.

He was deep in clench-faced sweaty blindness of physical passion when the hotel room door burst open and what could only be the husband stormed in, topcoat flaring behind him like Batman’s cloak. He rose up from the mounded woman, smiling idiotically at the enraged face rushing toward him, thinking only What a cliché! and so unable to take it seriously. Till the husband reached out one flailing hand and brought it back lifting a chair, the legs pointing at four spots around his head as though to frame him there symmetrically for eternity, and then he scrambled back and away from the woman, his hand slipping on her rubbery breast, and he cried out, "What are you doing?"

And the nurse dressed all in white said, "Ah, there you are!" She was smiling, looking down at him, pleased by his presence. Her teeth were wide and shiny, like enamel kitchen cabinets all in a row. The pale lips were an oval smile around them, but then the oval reversed to the comic exaggeration of a frown, and she said, "Oh, no. Don’t fade away again."

The teeth aren’t real, he thought.

There was nothing between the two thoughts, what are you doing and the teeth aren’t real. No transition, no time lapse, no going to sleep and waking up, no explanation.

The nurse had a face of leather, like a cowboy, but with a soft round nose. She said, "The doctor will want to talk to you. Now don’t fade away again."

"I won’t," he whispered, because whispering was all he dared until he found out whether or not he was real.
Copyright © 2010 by the Estate of Donald E. Westlake.

David Byrne recently released his cover of Peter Gabriel's I Don't Remember, which might be a fitting cover for Westlake's book (which, by the way, is very different from many of his humourous crime caper novels). Byrne says his version "might imply a willing sublime surrender to memory loss.”

Listening Wind/ I Don't Remember by RealWorldRecords

The The made increasingly less accessible music in some ways after having some form of hit with Infected, but I think a lot of it has aged pretty well.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Unconnected Recent Faves - Shout out Louds, Hold Steady, Jason and the Scorchers, JP Hoe, Scott Hinkson, The Shins, Ryan Dahle...and more

Illustration by Gustaf

Shout Out Louds continue to send sublime pop from Sweden. The Cure meets Billy Joel maybe? I haven't found a lot to get excited about lately, but I wouldn't mind if this band became as a popular as ABBA.

Shout Out Louds - Show Me Something New from Merge Records on Vimeo.

The Shins would like to give you their cover of Squeeze's Goodbye Girl, and it's good good good. Go here.

The Shins aren't doing much lately, but mainman James Mercer is doing all right with Broken Bells.

The Hold Steady do The Sweet Part of the City, which seems like a southern rock ballad to me...and I like it.

Winnipeg's Scott Hinkson has decided to hand over the digital keys for his entire album The Torrent Sessions, at least for a short period of time. Go here to grab it before it's gone.

Scott Hinkson-A Miracle Complete by scruffy the yak

Ryan Dahle's video for Agoraphobe. I think this guy is amazing, please give him a listen.

Find more videos like this on R Y A N D A H L E

Nada Surf, you gotta love 'em, here's their cover of Electrocution followed by the original.

Bill Fox - Electrocution

The original, record label-approved video for Jason & the Scorchers's White Lies is a prime example of why the 80s are called cheesy, go here if you want to see it. This Chinatown-White Lies mash-up is more interesting, but it's really the song I adore. Recently the genius at Music Ruined My Life posted some cool live Scorchers you can grab, and the band's brilliance is lighting up my days once more.

Jason & the Scorchers - White Lies

One of my favourite tunes by Peg City's JP Hoe. Featuring the nimble Rob Pachol (with last post's Telepathic Butterflies and Sanfordand songs, that makes 3 plugs for Satch in a week - does he have to be so ubiquitous? When's the solo record arriving?). Hoe is working on his new album, which I gather will come out with a live album he recently recorded.

I missed the Hank III show the other night, sold out before I snagged a ticket. But I do think he's one of the most intriguing characters out there, pure country one sec, balls-out metal the next, or raging punk. Can anyone else do that? Anyone want to?

I think my next post will be my 100th. Any ideas about how I might commemorate/celebrate/desecrate that Scruffy the Yak birthday? Please leave a comment below.