Saturday, December 01, 2007

Return of the son of Aubade

While this blog is still officially closed for lack of interest, I ran across this recording of Spoon live on NPR's World Cafe that I thought might interest some of you.

Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is easily one of my favourite releases of 2007. An easy choice, I know; it was one of the year's most hyped albums. But it's a funky good record, dammit, nearly as good as Gimme Fiction and Kill the Moonlight, each of which is a shoo-in for my top ten of the decade so far. (What is it with male music geeks and top ten lists? Has some anthropologist done a study on this phenomenon? Is it cultural or pathological?) While at first listen it sounded too stark and teutonic, all hard lines and sharp angles, like a drawing done with a thick Jiffy marker, repeated listens reveal its hidden subtlety, soul, and even warmth.

Anyhow, here's the live set. Songs are broken out as individual MP3s, or you can download the whole show, interviews and all, as one file. The files are direct-linked.

Spoon on World Cafe [direct-linked MP3] [via RapidShare]
"Don't Make Me a Target" [via RapidShare]
"You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" [via RapidShare]
"Rhthm & Soul" [via RapidShare]
"I Summon You" [via RapidShare]

Spoon home emusic

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Good News

Hüsker Dü were, as I'm sure you astute little Aubadelings all know, one of the key bands of the 1980s, a herald of the "Alternative Revolution" of the 1990s (note the ironic quotation marks indicative of the era) (note also the self-conscious aside indicating that I'm aware that I am a product of my environment and that I somehow transcend the clichés even as I employ them) — where was I? Let's start again.

Hüsker Dü were, as I'm sure you astute little Aubadelings all know, one of the key bands of the 1980s, a herald of the "Alternative Revolution" of the 1990s and a strong influence on what came to be called "the Seattle Sound" — an admixture of sensitivity and brutality, pop and punk, art and commerce. They were the first "Alternative Rock" band to sign to a major label (though they never had anything like a hit — or even a decently produced album) and paved the way for hungrier bands with more testosterone to dominate radio airplay a few years after their breakup in 1988.

Drummer Grant Hart was Lennon to Bob Mould's McCartney, the latter writing all the songs your grandmother would like if she was kind of into hardcore, while Hart followed his drug-addled muse into oblique corners, sometimes bursting forth with a pop gem and sometimes wailing over a wall of noise.

While Bob Mould's solo output has received consistent attention from fans and critics, and his band Sugar nearly made waves on rock radio in the 1990s, Hart's career has been more haphazard; both solo and with Nova Mob, he has recorded with successively smaller and smaller record labels, nearly disappearing altogether in a kind of Alice in Wonderland trick. His last album was 1999's Good News for Modern Man. About 14 people noticed when it came out.

The thing is a fucking monster, easily one of my favourite albums of the past 10 years.

While searching for information on it (few and far between), I stumbled across this interview. Good reading.

How about a contest? First person to name the "three" that Hart refers to in the following song gets something nice.

•Grant Hart: Nobody Rides for Free (via RapidShare)

Grant Hart home

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Find: Yep Roc downloads

Besides being a very cool record label (hey, what else are you going to call Americans who dig Sloan?), the folks at Yep Roc are also very savvy when it comes to the world of internet promotion. They know that if they give you a little, you'll come back to buy more. So if you sign up at their website, they give you a "stash" — a bunch o' tracks, free as Willy!

Their roster includes the aforementioned Haligonians, plus Robyn Hitchcock, Jim Lauderdale, the sublime Go-Betweens, Robbie Fulks, Big Sandy, Marah, the Sadies ... the list goes on and on. Oh, and the new Nik Lowe will be out soon. *pant pant*

Then, when you buy records from them (right now they have a bunch of vinyl on sale for five bucks a pop!), they give you the digital version for free, too, and sometimes bonus tracks to go with it. Tres swell.

Tell 'em I sent you.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

50th post: a protest moment

Nowadays they'd call this an incitement to terrorism.

•Barbara Dane and the Chambers Brothers: It Isn't Nice (via RapidShare)

Barbara Dane home eMusic

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Notes from Banjo Underground

Here's a nice find: when Uncle Dave Macon died, he left a hole in the shape of John Hartford, which John Hartford nicely filled. When John Hartford died a few years ago, his hole was shaped like Chris "Old Man" Luedecke.

Old Man Luedecke's album Hinterland fills a void you might not have known existed – the need for you to own an album of solo singer-songwriter banjo tunes. Alternately tender and goofy, poignant and hilarious — and sometimes all that simultaneously — Luedecke's songs are surprisingly good. You're expecting novelty tunes, you get spicy rice and potatoes. These suckers are good for you, and tasty to boot. Dig it!

• Old Man Luedecke: I Quit My Job (via RapidShare)
• Old Man Luedecke: Joy of Cooking (via RapidShare)

Old Man Luedecke home radio 3 myspace

Hinterland available through eMusic's 25 free MP3 offer

Monday, June 04, 2007


Double ewe tea eph?!


[from the online etymological dictionary]

1896, Amer.Eng. from feist "small dog," from fice, fist Amer.Eng. 1805 "small dog," short for fysting curre "stinking cur," attested from 1529, from M.E. fysten "break wind" (1440), related to O.E. fisting "stink."
The 1811 slang dictionary defines
fice as "a small windy escape backwards, more obvious to the nose than ears; frequently by old ladies charged on their lap-dogs." Cf. also Dan. fise "to blow, to fart," and obs. Eng. askefise, lit. "fire-blower, ash-blower," from O.N., used in M.E. for a kind of bellows, but orig. "a term of reproach among northern nations for an unwarlike fellow who stayed at home in the chimney corner" [O.E.D.]


There are those of us gushing about the new Feist album &tc. – and if Justin says so, I'll take his word that it's a fine piece of work (his fondness for the less-than-1/2-baked Broken Social Scene notwithstanding) – but when it comes to the artist in question, there are also those of us for whom the present-day rhinestone-spangled shimmy-dancer will never wholly displace images of wee Leslie Feist in cargo pants and dreadlocks, howling, growling, and belting her lungs out with Calgary grunge sensation Placebo*. Ah, to be young, white, and disease-free in 1995!

•Placebo: Spike (via RapidShare)

Leslie Feist home myspace

*not to be confused with the British band of the same name

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The National: 4-song EP

Here they are, L&G'men, this week's buzz band, The National. Unlike last autumn's bande-du-jour, The Hold Steady, who not only jumped the shark with their cover of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" but began to grate after only about a week's exposure, The National actually get better with repeated listening. I wasn't all that impressed with them at first, but now every time one of their songs comes 'round on shuffle, I get all excited: "Hey, I love this song!"

That said, if you never liked Leonard Cohen, The Smiths, or The Afghan Whigs (to name three mope-rock artists from three previous decades), you probably won't dig The National.

But enough of this! Listen and love.

•The National: Murder Me Rachael (MP3) (from Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers)
•The National: Fake Empire (via RapidShare) (from Boxer)
•The National: Karen (via RapidShare) (from Alligator)

Special Super Bonus Action: The National 4-song live EP from Spinner dot com (thakns to Bradley for the link)

Every damn note The National ever recorded is available legitimately and super-cheap from eMusic -- try it out with 25 free no-strings-attached downloads!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Back to the 'Gaz

Awfu' quiet 'round these parts. I've been busy writing blurbs (Oops, not supposed to call them blurbs) for the Calgary Folk Music Festival program guide, and making electrical things go boom, and being a human snot factory, and chopping wood, and gearing up for the next Quarterly Report CD (if you haven't downloaded the current one, get it while you can). How 'bout you?

So anyhow, I've been driving a vehicle with a CD player, so my new-music-listening-ability has been on the slimmer side. That said, I've been able to dig out a few older gems that deserve a second glance. Take Fugazi's 1998 album, End Hits, for example. Not something I paid a lot of attention to at the time, and not something I think to pull out every day. But whotta mind-whacking slab o' crunchy goodness!

•Fugazi: Floating Boy (via RapidShare)
•Fugazi: Arpeggiator (via RapidShare)

Fugazi's entire catalogue available through eMusic — 25 free MP3s for free, no strings attached!

30 live Fugazi shows

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Love Supreme (court)

From (via the XTC Forum):

MIKE LOVE's latest feud with former BEACH BOYS bandmate BRIAN WILSON has been thrown out of court over a disputed partnership arrangement. The singer alleged a 2004 promotional CD of re-recorded Beach Boys songs - given away as part of a promotion in Britain's Mail On Sunday newspaper - cost him millions of dollars, damaged the reputation of The Beach Boys and violated their "partnership." But U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins poured scorn on Love's lawsuit last week (11May07), claiming the partnership he speaks of never existed and pointing out the plaintiff has repeatedly done the very same thing he accuses his cousin and former bandmate of doing. In a 17-page decision, obtained by Rolling Stone magazine, Collins rebukes Love and states he and Wilson never had a business partnership to begin with and any partnership they ever had stopped in the 1960s and was merely creative in nature. She also points out, "Plaintiff also admits that he re-recorded some of the co-authored songs several times between 1996 and 1998 without first informing (Wilson)." Love has sued Wilson numerous times in the past and prior to this has always been successful.

Proof positive that Mr. Love is a twat of twatular proportions:
Heroes and Villains (Rehearsal 1967) (via RapidShare)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Find: Revenant Records downloads

Hey, here's a nice little grotto of legit free downloads for the more adventurous among you. The late John Fahey's Revenant Records has long been known for judiciously releasing a very few albums and boxed sets — some so lavishly packaged that they're not just collector's items or fetish objects: they qualify as real estate. The music is similarly for fetishists: deep diggers of the "Old Weird America" of Harry Smith and the darker corners of Nick Tosches. One is tempted to say that Revenant has rescued these tracks from obscurity, but they remain (and will always remain) necessarily obscure; better say they've rescued them from oblivion.

The Revenant website has a generous selection of free downloads, a few from each release, which will give the discerning (read: insane) listener a taste of what the label has to offer: what Revenant describes as "raw music of all stripes." Indeed, the tracks are raw, ranging from the blind punk blues of the Bassholes to the delicate, crackly beauty of Blind Mamie Forehand's sublime "Honey in the Rock." You know when the Captain Beefheart tracks are the most commercial-sounding, you're in deeply strange territory. But every note is worth a listen, if you have the cojones, pachuco.

Catch the trove here.

The Albert Ayler tracks (a must for jazzbos and other fans of the tenor sax) are, rather perversely, housed here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mein Humpf

Alright, everyone seen Alanis Morissette's version of the Black Eyed Pees' "My Humps"? Good. Now check out the original.

No, the real original. Think 1830s...

(This vid brought to you by Andrew Struthers, author of some fine books and annoyer of all Tofino natives.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The real payolas

I have some lost Calgary classics coming up for you (including a snapshot of Leslie Feist's origins in cargo pants and dreadlocks — a far cry from her current incarnation as a spangle-bedecked shimmy-dancer. Have you seen this video? It's nuts!) but not just yet. It's been the kind of couple of weeks where music just hasn't seemed that important or exciting, y'know? Still, kids, hang on for the treats.

In the meantime, do you want to know why you hear that shitty Finger Eleven song every ten minutes on rock radio? Here's why. Exact same thing that's been going on since "Rock Around the Clock." Need more? Read Hit Men by Frederic Dannen. Or maybe don't... Those are some nice fingahs there, I would hate ta see dem get all mashed up, if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"He thought the Indians were some lost 13 dudes, but he didn't treat 'em any better, and they were never on his side."

One of the great forgotten corpuses (corpi?) of the post-punk era is that of Camper Van Beethoven, of Santa Cruz, California. They incorporated elements of country, punk, ska, Eastern European folk music, psychedelia, and novelty songs into a sound that got more and more accessible (and less tongue in cheek) with each album, culminating in the twin late-'80s masterpieces Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart and Key Lime Pie. (They reformed and began recording new albums a few years ago. Due for a new one, what?)

What got me thinking about them again was an author interview that I'm procrastinating on writing. The book in question centers around the Mountain Meadows Massacre, a horrifying and little-known episode in US frontier history. Doing a bit of research on that event led me, in a few clicks, to the surprising fact that until 1976, it was legal in Missouri to kill anyone belonging to the Church of Latter-Day Saints.
•Camper Van Beethoven: The History of Utah (via RapidShare)

Camper Van Beethoven home myspace

CVB's output 1985–1987 (including rarities and previously unavailable tracks) available through eMusic's 25 free MP3s offer.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Nothin' to do?

If you're at loose ends after Easter dinner tonight (or better yet, if you don't have one to go to), then by all means head down to the HiFi Club to see one of the best lineups I can imagine in Canadian indie rock.

The Constantines are playing with Jon-Rae and the River and Ladyhawk. A cornucopia, to be sure. The Constantines are well known for their furious live performances, Ladyhawk gave a great, noisy CBC Session, and though I've been ambivalent about Jon-Rae and the River's fauxy-classic-southern-rock leanings I'm sure they put on a hell of a live show. Sad to miss it.

Check Radio 3's concert calendar for stops further west. (They'll be in Canmore tomorrow night...)

•The Constantines: Insectivora (via RapidShare)
•Ladyhawk: The Dugout (via RapidShare)
•Jon-Rae and the River: Nothing to Do (via RapidShare)

all three artists are available through eMusic's no-strings 25 free MP3s offer.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Take me out.

A while ago I posted about how the last half of 2006 was The Hold Steady's "moment," and that the inevitable result of their trajectory would be a simultaneous ascendancy to the throne of Kings of Rock, USA, and a descent into wince-making self-parody.

Here's proof.

The Hold Steady home myspace

Get 25 free MP3s and buy exclusive tracks and an otherwise unavailable killer live album by The Hold Steady at

edit: Bradley aptly noted that this is where they jumped the shark.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Forest Lawn, 17th Avenue: it's Mount Pleasant, y'all

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, check in on Calgary's own Dragon Fli Empire. Positive hip-hop that name-checks everyone's favourite bus route. The link below leads to their CBC Radio 3 session (stream only).

•Dragon Fli Empire: Mount Pleasant and others (CBC Radio 3 session)

Dragon Fli Empire home myspace

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Glue-sniffin', scab-pickin', butt-scratchin', egg-hatchin' freaks

Just for Bradley, because he asked so nicely:

•Freddie Blassie: Pencil Neck Geek (via RapidShare)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Quarterly Report: v.1.0

Lays an gemmin, a compilation CD collecting some of my favourite tracks from the first three months of 2007. I'll try to make this a regular feature. Some thoughts:
•This is very much a "singles" collection — my listening habits having been very snippety and iPod-oriented these past months, in short bursts of driving between stations.
•At 78:38, you should be able to fit this on a regular CD. For optimum rock-isfaction, burn with no gaps between songs.
•To avoid lengthy lineups and frusty-ration, all songs are direct linked (right-click and "Save As").
•None of the wonderful songs previously posted on this blog were eligible for inclusion.
•I have no idea when most of these songs were released. I'm pretty sure they were all within this decade, and a good many are very recent. But what the wind blows my way, I keep.
•No single artist has more than one song represented. Except for The Broken West, who changed their name from The Brokedown between albums. This affords them, in my mind, and for no good reason, a legitimate exemption.
•The Faintest Ideas are from Gothenburg, Sweden, which must be the coolest place in the world to be from.
•Neko Case's little-known live album, The Tigers Have Spoken (available through eMusic's 25 free MP3s offer), recorded with The Sadies, is a must-have.
•Tiny Spark sounds best when played loud through crappy, trebly, blown-out car speakers.

Please check out the artists' websites and buy stuff from them. They deserve it.

The Quarterly Report: First Quarter, 2007
1. The Thermals: A Pillar of
2. The Faintest Ideas: Nosebleeders on the Trackmyspace/thefaintestideas
3. The Inbreds: Is it the Right Time?
4. Malajube: Montreal, -40˚
5. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: The Sons of
6. Born Ruffians: Kurt
7. Spoon: The Way We Get
8. The Broken West: You Can Build an Islandmyspace/thebrokenwest
9. Great Lake Swimmers: Hands in Dirty
10. Vetiver: I Know No
11. Brendon Benson: Tiny Sparkmyspace/brendanbenson
12. Ladyhawk: My Old
13. Mike O'Neill: See Clearly@zunior
14. Howlin' Rain: Death Prayer in Heaven's
15. Super Furry Animals: Rings Around the
16. Shearwater: Hail
17. Neko Case: The Train From Kansas
18. The A Sides: Sidewalk
19. Num:
20. King Tuff: Staircase of
21. Ruth Minnikin: Angel at the fixed
22. The Brokedown: Down in the Valleymyspace/thebrokenwest

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"Have you worked with maniacs before?"

Guess what! There's a new Coyle and Sharpe boxed set out, with 3 CDs and a DVD. I can only imagine that it will, in time, be supplanted by the long-dreamed-of definitive megalithic slab of technological derring-do and archival quarrywork that presents all their incredible man-on-the-street pranks, but in the meantime this is a friggin' goldmine.

(BTW, you know what strikes me about the difference between then and now? The general grace, well-spoken-ness, and eager-to-please-iosity of their interview subjects compared with folks in a similar position today. Not one of Coyle and Sharpe's marks grabs his crotch and screams "I'm on the radio, bitch! WOOOOOT!")

•Coyle and Sharpe: Microphone in Brain (via RapidShare)
•Coyle and Sharpe: Maniacs in Living Hell (via RapidShare)
•Coyle and Sharpe: Lathe and Sponge (for Simon Mailer) (via RapidShare)

The above cuts are from Audio Visionaries (Street Pranks And Put-Ons), an album not contained in the boxed set but which is available through eMusic's no-strings 25 free MP3s offer.

Coyle and Sharpe home myspace cdbaby

Best. Cover. Ever.

OK, not really, but this might be Best. Cover. Of. Worst. Song. EVER.

(Thanks to Bradley for the heads-up.)

Monday, April 02, 2007

What light

Has it really been so long since I updated this thing? To my faithful readers: sorry, mom.

New Wilco track. I might have heard the whole album (Sky Blue Sky, available May 15) somewhere... (*cough*). It's either extremely subtle or totally boring, i.e. either it will reveal its layers over time or you'll only want to listen to it when you're on Xanax. But this new track (available free through Wilco's official site, yes) is a real winner, one of my favourites in their whole catalogue.

•Wilco: What light (MP3)

Wilco home myspace

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Battle of the song titles, v. 4.0

It's long past due: the Duel Toooooo Theeeee DEATH!

•The Lettermen: Shangri-La (via RapidShare)
•The Kinks: Shangri-La (via RapidShare)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Emily Haines: Expecting to Fly

Despite my protestations to the contrary, I guess I do have a predilection for covers. At least, ones that add something to the original.

Here's a really nice one: Emily Haines of Metric doing a version of Neil Young's most overblown, overproduced psychedelic number, solo with only a piano for accompaniment.

•Emily Haines: Expecting to Fly (live on the Current) (via RapidShare)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Come all ye...

Best known as one of Bob Dylan's early mentors in the Greenwich Village folk music scene of the early 1960s, Dave Van Ronk should more properly be known as one of the finest interpreters of songs from the folk tradition.

I recently bought Inside Dave Van Ronk on vinyl. Had some friends over for dinner and put it on when we were all half-cut and in food-coma repose. When "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies" came on, everyone was struck thoughtfully mute as we let the music wash over us. Simultaneously fragile and masterful, this is a truly haunting rendition. Dig it, chilluns.

•Dave Van Ronk: Fair and Tender Ladies (via RapidShare)

Inside Dave Van Ronk available through eMusic's 25 free MP3s offer

Monday, March 19, 2007

A St. Patrick's Day miracle!

rbally is back. Shore & begorrah, sodom & gomorrah. Drink up and drown, my little bootlegweasels.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Beauty Way

This studio version of "The Beauty Way" doesn't do justice to the way she's been doing it live lately: full of fire and fury and desperation and toughmindedness. When she played it at the Ironwood a while back, the whole room went stone-silent and the hairs on the back of my neck tried to escape.

But until she comes back through town it's the best you'll get.

•Eliza Gilkyson: The Beauty Way (via RapidShare)

Eliza Gilkyson home myspace

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The really invisible republic

Can I point you to a great article about the "Ramblers Step" missing from Greil Marcus's Invisible Republic?

Dylan did not learn Harry Smith's lessons directly from the Smith Anthology. He got them mostly second-hand — that is, he learned them, but mostly in translation. I'm now convinced that the single most important vehicle delivering Harry Smith's peculiar message to Dylan in those early days — the widest pipeline between Harry and Bob — was The New Lost City Ramblers.

The whole article can be found here.

Invisible Republic

•The New Lost City Ramblers

•Harry Smith

•More from the Monochord: Beyond the Anthology

Monday, March 05, 2007

A smoky snatch ...

... of whiskey-soaked late-night corner-bar Americana (get your mind out of the gutter), Melissa McClelland's "Passenger 24" is one of those rare songs that grabs you by the goolies from first listen. Available free from eMusic (email me for details).

•MM: Passenger 24 (via RapidShare)

Watch the video at her much-too-spiffy website. On second thought, don't.

Melissa McClelland myspace

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Do what you must do, and do it well

Some bloggers are real suckers for cover versions; I'm not, necessarily (these posts notwithstanding), but treat your ears to Neko Case's version of Dylan's "Buckets of Rain." As with a lot of her non-country covers, this track lacks a certain something that the original has. But it more than makes up for it by adding a certain something else in spades. Something that only the redoubtable Ms. Case can do. Dig.

•Neko Case: Buckets of Rain (via RapidShare)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I'm shitfaced and my freckles are a mess

Capturing the coveted "Best Band–Worst Band Name" award (taking over from reigning champs Neutral Milk Hotel), Paris (France)'s Diving With Andy offer up a nice slab o' melancholy for the sad bastard in all of us.

Their self-titled debut album is tough to come by (I had to go to Japan for it, and the liner notes are all in Japanese, dammit!) but well worth checking out, especially for those of you who were fans of Portishead's first album; there's a similar groovy, draggy nighttime vibe to it. There are a couple of splashes of real genius on the record, too, particularly on the debut single "Andrew," which is a top-notch slice of black-clad drama. You can hear four songs on their Myspace page, and here's another:

•Diving With Andy: Andrew (via RapidShare)
•Diving With Andy: The Waltz (via RapidShare)

Diving With Andy home myspace

Sunday, February 18, 2007

You thought you'd heard it all.

Then there was Yat Kha, with their calypso/Tuvan-throat-singing version of Led Zeppelin's most churny album side. When I was 17, this would have been about my favourite thing ever. And it's still pretty cool, somehow avoiding being a novelty number. Guaranteed you've got nothing like it on your iPod.

•Yat-Kha: When the Levee Breaks (via RapidShare)

Yat-Kha home

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Let me take you down, for a half-price Strawberry Margarita...

Today (February 17th) marks the 40th anniversary of The Single That Changed Everything. The "Strawberry Fields Forever"/"Penny Lane" double A-side.

"Strawberry Fields" is pretty consistently my favourite Beatles track. Yeah, they wrote better songs, with better lyrics and better melodies, they had harder or dreamier or more perfect (or more perfectly sloppy) performances, and they even had more psychedelic production than this. But there's something extra-special about this cut, which came together through many takes, weeks of experimentation and fragile cobblings-together (bravo, George Martin!) of multiple performances and layers. While album tracks like "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "I'm Only Sleeping" had used multi-tracking, backwards tape, and other studio effects to augment their moods, "Strawberry Fields Forever" was the first and biggest modern art-rock smash hit single. It's impossible to imagine a song so far outside the norm ever getting airplay on rock or pop radio nowadays, much less becoming a bona fide hit ("Penny Lane" was a bigger hit, actually, though both sides charted at the same time).

Remember, the #1 single just a couple weeks earlier had been "Kind of a Drag" by The Buckinghams.

And if you're in Liverpool today, Ha! Ha! Bar and Canteen are offering half-price Strawberry Margaritas.

•The Beatles: Strawberry Fields Forever (MP3)
•The Beatles: Penny Lane (via RapidShare)
•The Buckinghams: Kind of a Drag (via RapidShare)

Monday, February 12, 2007

"I decided that I would become like an encyclopedia."

Folkways Records was probably the most important record company of the 20th Century. Argue with me! You can't. When the entirety of human sonic endeavour is your ambit, the Beatles have nothing on you.

Moses Asch, founder of Folkways, donated a complete set of Folkways albums (more than 2100 altogether!) to the University of Alberta in Edmonton in 1985. Since then, the U of A has been working on FolkwaysAlive, an ongoing, open-ended project that continues the spirit of experimentation, documentation, and cultural broadening that characterized the original Folkways label.

A fantastic documentary series created by CKUA Radio (also, not coincidentally, based in Edmonton) is now available as a podcast. Dig:

•Download a snippet (MP3) from the first episode

•Go to the podcast: via iTunes or via Smithsonian

•Smithsonian Folkways home myspace
•CKUA home

Sunday, February 04, 2007

John Lennon: The Rolling Stone Interview

Available for free from the iTunes store: Jann Wenner's historic December 1970 interview with John Lennon. Three and a half hours in five episodes.

John Lennon: The Rolling Stone Interview

Friday, February 02, 2007

The dusty-foot philosopher

OK, I'm not a huge fan of hip-hop, but once in a long while something comes along that grabs me by the pants (Crabbuckit, anyone?) Dig this, kids: it's K'naan (pronounced KAY-non).

There's a little bit of Eminem's flava in his flow, but his lyrics are a million miles from the usual (c)rap, and his production's stellar; dig his use of the Baka Forest People's "Water Drums" in the first cut below. The record's awesome front to back, so go get it already.

•K'naan: Wash it Down (MP3)
•K'naan: My Old Home (MP3)
•K'naan: My God! (MP3)

•K'naan home myspace

All day long I'd badabadabum, if I were a wealthy man...

Here's a strange one: Accompanied only by mandolin, Stephin Merritt reinterprets the classic Fiddler on the Roof song. It's too long by half, but there's something charming and compelling about this basic, almost Leonard Cohen-ish track.

•The Magnetic Fields: If I Were a Rich Man (MP3)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Another afternoon with the goats-head tunes and pilfered booze

Oh, man, it's all about The Shins this week, and rightly so. It's been years and years since I've been as blown away by a single as "Phantom Limb." The first few times I heard it, I thought it was so-so. For some reason, I didn't remove it from iPod rotation after the requisite two spins. It continued to come around with increasing frequency. Then I began seeking it out (no easy feat, sometimes, when you have a Shuffle).

It's impossible to sing along to a song you can't for the life of you figure out the words to, but I did the impossible.


It got its hooks into me. And such hooks!

The new record, Wincing the Night Away, after many delays, was released today. I was a good boy and didn't go find a bittorent leak of the album. I was a very good boy. Was the wait worth it? Well, I have a very handsome piece of vinyl to show for it (dig it, brothers and sisters, when you buy the LP, Sup Pop throws in digital downloads for you for free!). As for the music, given how much of a grower the single was, it's way too early to tell. On first hearing, it sounds like a bigger, broader Shins. Hail the bands that rise to heightened expectations.

In the meantime, put this bug in your ear and let it float there awhile. The terminally hip among you are probably sick of it already, but the rest of you could probably use a dose of this medicine.

•The Shins: Phantom Limb (MP3)

•The Shins home myspace

P.S. It's nice to have printed lyrics — a touch I didn't expect from this cryptic crew. The actual lyrics ("Foals in winter coats") are much more evocative than the misheard ones, and I'm coming to believe that they achieve a compression and inscrutable beauty that Ken Babstock would envy.

Monday, January 15, 2007

"We play the loudest music in Poland."

For fans of "Nuggets"-style '60s garage and psych, Poland's Czerwone Gitary are a must-hear. Sure, they kind of sound like Herman's Hermits, but when the penalty for being radical was death or gulag, you can't blame them for taking the easier road.

Introduced to the sounds of Pop Britain by sailors visiting their seaport hometown of Gdansk, CG became one of the greatest and most famous of all Eastern Bloc bands. They degenerated into folk-rock wimpitude by the mid-'70s (as, alas, so many did), but you can still imagine the excitement of Polish teenagers on speed and bad potato vodka in the following cuts, can't you?

•Czerwone Gitary: Takie ładne oczy (via RapidShare)
•Czerwone Gitary: Johnny Walker (via RapidShare)

Czerwone Gitary home

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Battle of the song titles, v. 3.1

In deference to astute comments, here are a couple more excellent takes on the Tufargonese national anthem.

A quick search reveals that this is a very popular anthem.

•Tammy Wynette: Too Far Gone (via RapidShare)
•Neil Young: Too Far Gone (Chrome Dreams version) (via RapidShare)

Monday, January 08, 2007

They can make you like them.

I've rarely felt as ambivalent about a band as I do about The Hold Steady. On one hand, their verbose yet repetitive lyrics, barked out by Bob-Mould-with-a-head-cold and backed by a crackerjack out-of-work Meat Loaf tribute band, can be alternately uplifting, grating, and embarrasing. I mean, "Those were massive nights / When every song was right"? There's a very Bryan Adams strain of hesher nostalgia underlying the junkie poetry, and I don't quite trust it.

On the other hand, they fucking rock ass, so shut up.

Anyhow, this will all be moot when they break big on rock radio, which inevitability is a mere 14 months away, by my reckoning.

In the meantime, get some (authorized) rare goods while they're still an underground sensation. If you're all very kind to me, I may post the NPR show as MP3 files someday. (And probably get my ass sued off by whatever mammoth label they'll be recording for at the time.)

Stuck Between Stations (live on The Current) (MP3)
Cattle and the Creeping Things (live on The Current)(MP3)
Killer Parties (remix) (MP3)

Listen to the gently fabulous NPR broadcast

The Hold Steady home myspace

Get 25 free MP3s and buy The Hold Steady (including exclusive tracks and an otherwise unavailable killer live album) at

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Battle of the song titles, v. 3.0

This week, two bands from the little-known country of Tufargon will present radically different interpretations of the Tufargonese national anthem.

•National Dust: Too Far Gone (via RapidShare)
•The Feelies: Too Far Gone (via RapidShare)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

They don't even know which side they're on...

One of the great side-benefits about having an iPod Shuffle is that when you're checking out new music, you often won't know who you're listening to until much later, when you get home, plug the thing in, and scan your playlist for the stuff that did/didn't work for you during your listening day.

I had completely forgotten about having downloaded a song off the Violet Archers' website until I stumbled across it for about the 10th time on my Shuffle. Dammit! EVERY TIME I HEAR THAT SONG IT GETS BETTER! WHAT IS IT?

•Download The Violet Archers: First the Wheel (MP3)
•Buy The End of Part One at Zunior

The Violet Archers home myspace

Monday, January 01, 2007

This just in!

From Sam Larkin, mentor to a million Toronto songwriters, lunatic extraordinaire, and author of exquisite toonz:


Happy New Year!

oh mah geeze i'm nervous i never sent no spam before. but hold on, this ain't spam because i have no spam list, no mailing list. i don't believe in it. but it's now 2 hours and 25 minutes into 2007 and things are happenin differently. or are they? i'm tryin to get to the point, here.

starting yesterday, Dec. 31, 2006, and going forward into the unknown, sam larkin now writes, records and publishes a new song each day at one click to the page "today's song", click on that player and ears receive. also you can follow the lyrics printed right there on the same page. is this ridiculous? this is ridiculous! but what can be done? -- it's 2007.

while we're at it, if you're around Toronto this coming Thursday, January 4th, 2007, sam is playing at the Cameron House, 408 Queen Street West, accompanied by Eric Newby on guitar and dobro. it's a triple bill, and also playing are two wonderful artists who have got it good: Mellisa Mills, and James Carroll. starts at 9 pm on the nose and a hat will be passed sometime.

okay, hold on, lemme just hold out my glass and receive another pour of, is that Drambuey? what the devil IS Drambuey, anyway, some kinda raki, or is zat ... woops, watch that cat, oh geeze, ra

ki in the
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6 89-0(_9(87*(*^@



•Sam Larkin home
Songs from the new CD, Night Melts Chains
Songs from Ransom