Saturday, October 06, 2007


I saw Parts & Labor not too long ago at Sneaky Dees. The crowd was sparse and relatively unenthusiastic and you could tell the band was pretty bummed out - it was kind of awkward for everybody. Partially because I felt bad, and partially because I had already downloaded some of the record and liked it, I picked up their Mapmaker LP at the end of the show and walked away marginally satisfied. The album is mostly pretty decent although it can stray in some uninteresting directions at times, and I'm actually quite glad the drummer left as I thought he really overplayed in that band. Anyhow, here is the song that is worth the purchase of the album:

Regulations are a Swedish band that are pretty good at balancing '77 style punk rock with 80's hardcore. The formula works most of the time on last year's Electric Guitar featuring some pretty rad cut/paste cover art. Here is my favourite, Laugh At Me (Ha Ha Ha) featuring a pretty awesome 3rd verse breakdown that always makes me happy:

Lastly, here's a song called "Not A Substitute" by Jay Reatard, whom I saw at the Silver Dollar on Thursday, put on by the always entertaining and bizzare Dan Burke. Jay and his band played for a mere 20 minutes, and walked off ignoring encore requests, but got through all the "hits" off Blood Visions so I was good. I also did the same thing I always do whenever I'm drunk and at a show - I'm up front and accidentally step on a smashed beer bottle then try to bat the shards of glass off my shoe with my hand. I've got this nasty cut on my middle finger and I'm wearing a band-aid cause it keeps re-opening every time I put on my jeans (for some reason). And now, Jay Reatard:


If the words "funeral doom" don't really do much for you, then you are probably not going to be very interested in Torture Wheel. As a bit of background, this is a one-man studio project which began on days off from EM Hearst's other band, Wrath of the Ropes who are only noteable for having a keyboardist named Scarecrow Jack Rottinghouse.

This might be the slowest piece of music I have, and there's something oddly compelling about it.


The Chills are from New Zealand, and have been putting out albums for the last 25 years. To my knowledge, this is their only good song. Here is "Pink Frost" from 1986's "Kaleidoscope World" (now you see what I mean).


I recently discovered Bo Diddley's Black Gladiators LP from 1970, and never knew that he was that crazy (and I also discovered that he has a song called "Bo Diddley is Crazy". ok). Here is an excerpt from Shut Up, Woman.

Shut up!!/You could call your momma/you could call your brother/when I finish puttin my hoochie cooch on/I'll have 'em fighting and cutting up one another/put your shoes back under the bed/put the coat back on that rack/I'm gonna have to get my message across, honey/because I know if you leave you'll never come back/hush your mouth!/shhhhhhut up!!!/ehhh, it's Diddley talkin'

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Eggs and Bakey

Received a late-evening e-mail the night before last which let me know of some work I could do for possible reward. Scurried around yesterday morning, wrote with a fury rarely summoned, biked uphill and through traffic, and bowed before droogs. Wrapped everything up around 2:00, and took notice of my hunger. Ran to a Dep, grabbed a coke & this sticky apple-cinnamon bun, which was sealed tightly in thick plastic. Asked the guy on cash if I can pay with a debit, he says -- sorry, no. But we share a protracted conversation about this fellow's willingness to allow for debit payments of any amount, the attitudes of his boss -- who had put his foot down, and my history of similar exchanges here and elsewhere. Conspiracy and counter-conspiracy afoot in this game to be sure! At least now I know I have an ally. I ask for a pack of smokes, and he proceeds to punch it through. Gather up my order: now smokes, a coke, and this spongey old bun. Tote the junk out and suggest -- Breakfast of Champions, Uh huh? -- Yeah, with a cigarette for desert!

Never have I had the opportunity to make that joke! Not sure if it's funny, but this first go gives me pause to think -- perhaps.

A more fitting morning meal:

DivShare File - My Name is Nobody.aif

"My Name is Nobody" -- Ennio Morricone, from some flick of the same name (1973). Anyone seen it? This file is an aiff because I recorded it off a record. Not so advanced that I can figure out how to convert to mp3.

DivShare File - 06 Aisere I Love You.m4a

"Aisere I Love You" -- from Le Monde Fabuleux des Yamasuki, which was some great collabo between these spaced out French composers and a Japanese dance troupe with the goal of producing an instructional dance album for children. Not sure how properly pedagogical this is supposed to be, and for that I love it. This one's a slow one, but they rock out too.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Greg Dulli and The Afghan Whigs

I discovered The Afghan Whigs about a year ago and proceeded to devour their entire back catalog. But the catalyst for this Whigs obsession was this video for the title track of their 1993 album “Gentlemen”. Greg Dulli stalks around a house that looks like it’s a set from 90210, peering out the windows at the neighbors, as the band rocks out behind him. Though he bears more than a passing resemblance to Joaqiun Phoenix, at various points he seems to change into an old man and a large black man. I kid you not. The song itself is an all out attack. Dulli doesn’t sing the words so much as he spits them. “Do you understand?! I’m a gentle man!” The delivery of the line would lead us to believe otherwise.

One of the biggest influences on the Afghan Whigs was the soul singers and groups of the 1960s. This became more and more apparent with each album as the band revealed a much more soulful side to their music, immediately setting them apart from their Sub-Pop grunge contemporaries. “Crazy” is my favourite song from their final album, appropriately titled “1965”, and shows a slower, smoother Afghan Whigs.

After the break-up of the Afghan Whigs, Greg Dulli immediately formed the Twilight Singers to make more diverse, even more soul-influenced music. In recent years, however, the band has shown a harder edge and more or less picks up where the Whigs left off. “Forty Dollars” is a song that quickly rose to the top 5 of my ipod’s most played tracks. And really, that’s better then being top 5 on Billboard or something, am I right? I am not.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Those who have some idea what it is that a punk tune can do to get me amped might immediately recognize this extremely-subjective-formula perfectly sorted out in these Tyvek songs. This realization of the constituent elements of this formula got me thinking about some things that together support my rather broad conception of “good” punk rock…an abstraction to be sure, but not without examples that suggest how this abstraction is realized, and often at its best (in my opinion, my opinion, my opinion):

- We get repetitive, marshal rhythms: sometimes a call to arms, but always a call to movement. Fast and keen, it sustains an adroitly minimalist song sculpture, revelatory for its mechanics of extraction and separation: the self-aware foregrounding of self-founding change; a band obviously at work together with a song that seems to move of its own accord (eg. drums push on, the bass picks up with new inflection, and the guitar completes a modulation of the riff, which nevertheless remains recognizable – and all without the loss of a song’s intensity). Together, yeah. Together the rhythm and song sculpture exemplify a wrought under-wroughtness that could just as easily be its inversion, and I always dig this (cf. Times New Viking, Sneaky Pinks, Wax Museums, for something similar going on). Always dig this, but perhaps because I’ve never been able to write a song like this: always only overwrought exercises beyond my perfect execution of them. Is this quality more popularly enjoyable?

- We also get sloppy solos and exuberant shout-along parts. Notable, of course, for their power to pull one out of oneself, unite a listening audience before selfhood can supplant itself. One needn’t stray to a hockey rink to confirm that an exuberant slogan, shouted in concert, represents the bread and butter of a good time, yuh?

- More, the vocals are upfront and range wildly with the tonalities of the songs. Roughly, they oscillate between the evocation of both antithetical senses of the term “nonplussed,” which I think might represent the very limits of the gamut available to punk rock’s first person. On the one hand one encounters surprise and confusion resulting from a singer’s generally negative experience with the status quo (which, ironic or not, tends to characterize less strident strains: personal narratives with the Buzzcocks, eg. Intellectual posturing and Dada/Surrealist shock aesthetics with Devo; unstable delivery in the work of other bands with “artistic” inclinations…and emo, which I guess unites this quality with the “personal” narratives of pop punk). On the other hand, one encounters a complete lack of surprise owing to a singer’s prior negative determination of him or herself (him, too often) and the status quo, apropos of each other (as with the machismo of American Hardcore, and more “politically” positioned artists such as, oh say, Crass, Riot Grrrl and Straight Edge bands…for whom authenticity and adversarial articulations are de rigueur). It is my opinion that shock and familiarity are too often taken to be mutually exclusive in punk rock.

- But Pallies in Tyvek are clearly in dialogue with their tradition. Attention, critique, attitude are here capable of redrafting the discursive limits of experience, prior conceptual systems, what have you. “If you learn to ignore everything is punitive” drawls the fellow on vox during one of these songs, and Mark E. Smith is certainly a handy reference for explaining the affect achieved. Whatever. With this line, angry familiarity and shock are grouped together, and beyond passivity. So, what? We find agency in attention, critique, and the negation which characterized earlier or antecedent punk rock (see Greil Marcus on this for a good read). Tyvek’s lyrics, for instance, return always to a principal preoccupation with malaise: its function as politics when comfort is a priority, and its possible detournement in an electrifying articulation of dissent (eg. repetition of “I don’t need […] I don’t want [… etc.]” in “Give it Up”). All that is really needed to produce a creative experience is this disavowal.

- There are also a few songs with some skronky atonal saxaphone, and I love this sort of thing.

So, Hidy Hidy Ho. All of that to say that I think these songs are some real bangers. I only bring up the above gobbledegook because I think that these strategies are located in the very centre of the heart of the site of the place of tension from which punk rock is pulled in various directions for better (eg. commitment to social justice, formal experimentation, fun times!) or worse (the homophobia of Angry Samoans say, or white power hardcore, but more commonly sexism, misogyny, and heterosexism). And I believe that it has always been punk rock’s mission to inhabit this space (the attempted re-signification of Nazi iconography for example).

I also bring all this up because I cannot help but notice the above elements similarly corralled in the music of a few other bands similarly on the cusp of a more general popularity than such acts tend to enjoy. Overdetermined, wuh? No Age and Mika Miko from LA both come to mind, and both are worth getting into as well y’all. Seems like an exciting time for this sort of stuff: Shwarma Sunderstun has booked Tyvek for Pop MTL & I'm excited to see 'em.

Here are the tracks:

Party on.