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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

A funny thing happened on the way to the aftershow drink
Mr. Iron N. Wine played the Horseshoe this evening. Quietly. Very quietly. To the point that, from the back, it sometimes seemed you weren't so much at a concert as you were watching a really small concert from a great distance. Our thanks to anyone within earshot who feels moved to let us know what on earth Sam was talking about between songs. By the way you were all laughing it seemed quite funny.

Anyway. Played for an hour. Then a short encore. Then he leaves. Stage goes dark. And the house music comes on. Only those of you upfront won't quiet down. After about 30 seconds of this it seems to become something of a concerted effort. The house music gets louder. The crowd gets louder. House music louder still. Crowd louder still.

Finally Sam returns. Plays one more song. Blesses the disciples. Then disappears in search of some place even quieter.

P.S. Dear Screamy Girl. Should you be at tonight's Nellie McKay show we make no apologies for the fate that may befall you. You have been warned. Sincerely. Management.
P.P.S. Couldn't make the instore. Did anybody go? Did anybody get in? Heard it was lined up round the block (is it ever lined up around anything other than the block? hmmm).
OU812
For someone with several (yes, several) Van Halen albums, this was an interesting discussion. At least at first.

Also this debate over Nick Hornby's relative similarities to poopie is rather fun.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

"We told you to live," they seem to say, "but off of the dancefloor, outside of your little clubs, you didn't. You didn't learn."
Tangmonkey bliss. Wonderful, wonderful.
'You're not really a whore, it turns out, you're a slutty volunteer, serving complimentary love bites instead of $10 toothy blowjobs'
Or... Inside the Music Writer's Studio.

Those of us lucky (and/or deluded) enough to earn a living writing about music are sometimes asked to surrender ourselves to TV soundbite whoredom. In Northern America this means MuchMusic or MuchMoreMusic. And sometimes CBC Radio. But only if that story about the woman with the unusually large turnip has fallen through.

It's not always painful. Or so I'm told. (Mamma always said I had a face for newspapers. And I have no interest in testing that theory.)

Here, Michael Musto ('You might remember me from such VH1 specials as The Glamorous Life of Carnie Wilson and The Inside Poop on Celebrity Bathroom Habits") turns the soul-destroying camera on itself. Those who will read while nodding more knowingly than others know who they are.
You know those times when you can see something bad happening almost before it's actually happened? Like it's all in slow motion? Like say you see a rather unco-cordinated friend about to toss a glass bottle across the room at a faraway garbage can and you just know it's going to end badly but you have no chance to stop it?
Yeah. This is one of those times:

The Backstreets Boys are Back!
As courteous as Ritz-Carlton bellhops
Not that we Strong! Proud! Free! Canadians care what others think of our Super! Great! Thriving! But! Still! Forever! Endangered! Without! Taxpayer! Money! national music scene, but...

Here is New York Press critic Lionel Beehner turning up his nose at our nation after sitting through a Canada Day concert in Cental Park. (Huh? Do we bother with July 4th concerts in Nathan Phillips Square?)

To wit:
Canadian music is for driving, not dancing, so hips swayed, but not too much; some feet were seen to tap, but only occasionally. There were no mullets, no marijuana, just the Calgary Stampede Rodeo and at least one famous CBC broadcaster. "She's Canada's Tom Brokaw," I was told. Oh, I thought. Wow...

...Most of the music was dull and predictable, particularly the songs of Sam Roberts, whose Warren DeMartini hairdo and three-chord tunes were as tired as his antics ("Put your hands in the air! Okay, now, just the ladies!").


Warren DeMartini!? Zing!!

Thing is, the cruelest cuts were self-inflicted. Here, as reported by Beehner, are some of the jokes offered up what we can only assume were some Kingston drivetime radio DJs serving as hosts for the big Maple Leaf circle jerk.

"How do you spell Canada?" the emcee asked. "C, eh? N, eh? D, eh?" Another zinger: "Apologies to the Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the No No Nos, but rock 'n' roll lives in Canada!"

Oh Canada. Making a mockey of ourselves to save the rest of the world the trouble.

P.S. Someone begin writing the 1,400 word think piece about why Sam Roberts' essential "Canadianness" will keep him from succeeding in the United States.
P.P.S. Someone else begin writing the 1,400 word think piece about why Sam Roberts' essential "hairiness" will keep him from succeeding in the United States.
P.P.P.S. "She's Canada's Tom Brokaw." Huh? Who on earth did we send down there?
P.P.P.P.S. Is Pamela Wallin to blame for this? Recall her and install Rufus Wainwright in her place.
How am I going to kill the new MuchMusic VJ??
This ilXor thread refuses to die. Which is sort of ironic I guess.
How scary?
Kanye West - Jesus Walks (MTV Version)
Real Player
Windows Media

Kanye West - Jesus Walks (MuchMusic Version)
Real Player
Windows Media

Kanye West - Jesus Walks (MTV.com Version)
Real Player

MTV: Jesus Walks... and Walks... and Walks.
New York Times: A Trinity of Videos for One Religious Rap
SOHH: 'I didn't find Jesus'
Bitter. Not entirely sweet.
Went to the ballot box this evening listening to The Cure. Seemed strangely approrpiate. First impression: It's probably not the best Cure record ever made. But it's definitely the best Korn album ever.

Further discussion here.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Bring down the government, they don't, they don't speak for us
So yeah. Paul Martin.

But there is some good news. At least for those of you who lurve yer downloading. Heritage Minister Helene Scherrer, opponent of file sharing and object of much music industry pleading, has been promptly returned to whatever it is she did before clinging to Paul Martin's pant leg by the voters in Louis-Hebert.

So what does this change? Probably a whole lotta nothing. Which is sort of tonight's theme.
Sing Sing
Serena Ryder - At Last (buy)

Serena Ryder, a folk pixie from Peterborough, is to-date still best known as Hawksley Workman's protege. After hearing Ryder perform on CBC radio last year, he invited her up to his schoolhouse studio north of Huntsville to lay down a few tracks. Several months later she came back and cut a full album - this year's Unlikely Emergency. Underneath the bohemian chic is the descendent of a toothless Southern sharecropper singing torch standards with the ole boys at the blues bar for spare change and cigarettes. This cover of At Last will break you at the knees. Destined to be huge in France.
Pseudo-Intellectual Thought of the Day
At this very moment, the Tangiers Killers are the best rock band North of the 49th on the planet. No election required.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Weekend Reading
The San Diego Union-Tribune goes inside Nettwerk
Rayner laments Lollapalooza
The Cure just lament
Nick Drake radiated need
Chris Robinson v. Rich Robinson
Tupac: Still dead
The Zutons: Still hot
Oasis: Still royalty
The Hives: Hard working
60s All-Girl Bands: Where are they now?
The Killers: Cocky
Kenny Rogers: Still alive
Hip-hop: All sex and swears
Nashville: Australian for 'country'
Glasto goes opera
Everything's coming up 80s
And somebody finally does something with all... of... Stephin... Merritt's... pauses.

Friday, June 25, 2004

About a Bearded Man
Sometimes we worry about Badly Drawn Boy. Cos we quite like him. And we think he's one of the finest songwriters on the planet. But he hasn't yet been able to replicate the world-beating brilliance of Bewilderbeast. The stuff since has been dreamy. Sometimes bold and, in its own special way, defiant. But it hasn't come close enough to matching the acclaim. And so much about this funny little game is based on reputation and perception. The momentum just isn't in Damon's favour at this point.

One Plus One is One probably won't change that. It's not the audacious masterpiece he needs to get him back in the tastemakers' good graces. But it's pretty. And sincere. And, after giving it another listen recently, we've decided it's rather wonderful.

Hear this:
Badly Drawn Boy - Year of the Rat (via Music for Robots)

Read this:
Stuart Berman's review in this week's Eye (scroll down)
Really
Carl Wilson has a brilliant, close reading of Nellie McKay's infinite ambitions, uneven reality and anxiously anticipated future. Carl and I have tangled over McKay in the past, but even her most lovestruck supporters have to acknowledge the sins of youth. And I do fear she might be destined to some sort of NPR hell.

All the same, I think I enjoy her all the more sometimes for her rookie mistakes. That lack of fear. That struggle to make sense of her own talents. That unwavering belief in her own ambitions. The vague notion of what she wants to be without yet the fully-formed concept of how she plans on get to there and even what she'll be exactly when she does. The fact that, no matter what, she wants it to be unique.

Surely the exuberance is a little much for some. That's fair. And yeah. The philosophy that "it's not that the band I hate, it's their fans" is surely going to come into play eventually (the liberal arts/women's studies, university professor, wine drinker quotient was off the scale at her last Toronto show).

But faith persists. It's that the present is inspiring (and fun), but also that the future... ah, the future... well... you know...

Now if only I could find a political candidate who could convincingly sell me the same sort of starry-eyed optimism. I'm a sucker. I readily acknowledge that.
Dancing Queen nearly made me do it
Excellent reportage in today's Globe and Mail from Joe Friesen on the tale of the homicidal maniac with a soft spot for man's best friend. With a keen eye for detail, Friesen discovers what drove this simple man to, erm, almost, er, kill.

"In the trunk, a collection of CDs revealed a taste for the music of Mariah Carey, the Doors, Abba and Judas Priest."
Punchdrunk Silly
Can't imagine this translated all that well to radio. But here are some links to Hot-97 FM's Smackfest 2004. Un. Be. Weaveable. Two people. Most often two ladies. Slapping each other repeatedly in the face. Check out the last one - Puerto Rican Smackfest. This is the worst thing in the world ever. Or maybe the best thing in the world ever. Though we learned of this from Jimmy Kimmel so, uh, you can draw your own conclusions...

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Fiona?
She's right here.

Greetings to all new visitors. Enjoy that which you apparently can't be trusted to understand. Prove Sony wrong. Free Fiona. Fight the power. Keep on rawkin in the free world. Have a good breakfast.
While we have your attention
Sarah Slean - Climbing Up the Walls (buy)

While we await the new Sarah Slean (heard the first single the other day, lots of guitar from that funny haired chap in Billy Talent), here's one from the archives. This Radiohead cover is the hidden track (track 44 to be precise) on Slean's debut independent EP, Universe (a copy of which I found for $6.99 at the local used CD oasis the other day). Dark stuff. But lovely. So "dark and lovely" then. Like the hair care product. Or something. Enjoy.
Lies, damn lies and completely useless statistics
Fifteen percent of Nickelback fans, aged 14 to 18, prefer the Conservative Party in next week's election. Make of this what you will.
Finally a reason to vote for Paul Martin
So the other night MuchMusic aired this video of Nardwuar playing something called "Hip Flip" with our soon-to-be-former Prime Minister. Wanted to post it here. But couldn't find it online.

Then, shortly before midnight this evening, as if he could read my mind (or at least recognize an obvious opportunity for timely self-promotion), I received this message from the mysterious Nard.

----------
From: XXXXX
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2004 23:57 PM
To: awherry@nationalpost.com
Subject: Hullo Aaron From Nardwuar Re: Paul Martin does the Hip Flip!

Hullo Aaron!

Hi! It's Nardwuar again!

Just wanted to let you know I recently talked to Paul Martin (On tuesday) and got him to do the Hip Flip (a twister like game). Layton declined when i asked him to do the hip flip (but said he would do it another time). I am still trying to get a hold of harper.

You can actually LISTEN and WATCH my Paul Martin encounter. And see him do the Hip Flip here:

http://nardwuar.com/vs/paul_martin/

This clip will also be included in my 2nd ever MuchMusic special ('Nard Wars II: Return of the Nard' ) which will be airing this Saturday June 26th at 1pm ( Pacific Time) (4pm eastern) on MuchMusic.

http://www.muchmusic.com/tv/specials/


Thanks again for your time!

Keep on rawkin in the free world!

Have a good breakfast!

Nardwuar
Fight the real enemy
Nellie McKay on hip-hop: "They have to do that hip-hop thing, a certain way of walking, and it's so conformist."
The Streets on hip-hop: "I think American hiphop is very conservative, and really it's more about the market that it serves."

Now guess which one's going to catch the most grief?

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine
Download here.

Read lyrics here:

I certainly haven't been shopping for any new shoes
and I certainly haven't been spreading myself around
I still only travel by foot and by foot it's a slow climb
but I`m good at being uncomfortable so I can't stop changing all the time

I noticed that my opponent is always on the go
and won't go slow so as not to focus and I notice
he'll hitch a ride with any guide as long as they go fast from whence he came
but he's no good at being uncomfortable so he can't stop staying exactly the same

If there was a better way to go then it would find me
I can't help it the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me or treat me mean
I make the most of it I'm an extraordinary machine

I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day
You deem me doomed to clean my view and be at peace and lay
I mean to prove I mean to move in my own way
and say I've been getting along for long before you came into the play

I am the baby of the family
it happens so everybody cares
and wear the sheeps clothes while they chaperone
curious you're looking down your nose at me while you appease
curteous to try and help but let me set your mind at ease

If there was a better way to go then it would find me
I can't help it the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me or treat me mean
I make the most of it I`m an extraordinary machine

Do I so worry you?
Do I need to hurry to say it's very kind
but it's to no avail
I don't want the veil of flowers to
no everything will be just fine

If there was a better way to go then it would find me
I can't help it the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me or treat me mean
I make the most of it I'm an extraordinary machine
Good news for people who like good news
From Warner Music:

Iron & Wine
Instore Performance
Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 7:00pm
Location:  Soundscapes
Address:  572 College Street, Toronto.


See you all there. Except Liss. Cos she hates everything.
Banjos and crunk
Rayner on this summer's unlikely pairing of Earl Scruggs and Big Boi.
Four percent of the population is tone deaf
And, if history is any judge, one of them will win Canadian Idol.
Pseudo-Intellectual Thought of the Day
A Ghost is Born is the sexiest record Wilco has ever made.

Other theories:
Boston Globe: Brave, audacious, and often lovely
Village Voice: A sonic demonstration of a worldview
Washington Post: Tight, assertive and measured
New York Times: Even harder to pin down
Byatch
Nellie McKay talks to the Onion AV Club. Says nasty stuff about hip-hop. Let defensive rage commence. (Via SFJ)

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Free Fiona
Word came to these ears last week that the Fiona Apple album, Extraordinary Machine, has officially been shelved by Sony. There had earlier been some indication that they were hoping to re-record it. Now maybe we've got ourselves a new Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

God Bless this Internet thing then. Cos it's starting to leak - beginning today with a couple links to the title track. Download and enjoy. It's different. But great.

Link 1
Link 2

The Latest... June 24, 9:32pm EST
Alright. All those updates were getting cumbersome. So here's the deal. That first link seems to still be working. The second one not so much. But two readers - Keith and Wage - have stepped up and offered their own links. They are:

Citizen Keith
Villa-Straylight

Conspiracy theorists take note that the original Velvet Rope thread that really kick-started this Fiona frenzy seems to have been removed. Make of that what you will.
Party pooper
Don't vote for Stephen Harper if you don't feel so inclined. But don't not vote for him because you're concerned about the welfare of MuchMusic.

Fellow Courtney Love fan Antonia Zerbisias has a rather foam-at-the-mouth rant in today's Toronto Star singing the praises of the nation's music station and warning that a Harper government would mean certain doom for Moses Znaimer's wet dream. To wit:

A Canadian music channel with Canadian music and Canadian talent and Canadian veejays and Canadian awards in a Canadian building which houses other Canadian channels (Citytv, CP24, Bravo, Star, Space, etc.) which employ Canadian journalists and Canadian producers and Canadian writers and Canadian camera crews. Hundreds of people worked the awards show, from Patrick and Zach who were pouring those Moet blue martinis to the security guards and caterers. In Stephen Harper's "Canada," none of this would have happened.

Oh swoon... God bless Canada! God bless MuchMusic! God bless government regulation! And pass me one of those martinis. Then when we're good and drunk - on booze and faux-patriotic fervour - we'll flip on MuchMusic and watch MTV's Becoming or MTV's Cribs or MTV's Making the Band or MTV's Newlyweds or WB's Superstar USA or the MTV Movie Awards. Then maybe we'll go up a few channels to MuchMoreMusic and watch any of their fine programming like VH1's Pop-Up Video, VH1's Surreal Life, VH1's Fabulous Life, VH1's Driven, VH1's All Access, VH1's Rock & Roll Jeopardy, VH1's The Chris Isaak Show, VH1's Behind the Music or maybe VH1's Storytellers.

And...er... sorry... we're on our fifth martini now... what was that you were saying about these Canadian music channels with Canadian content? Erm. Wait. Sorry. You're going to have to get back to us later. The Beastie Boys and Evanescence just came on to headline to the MuchMusicVideoAwards.

Update... Here is the original CRTC decision granting MuchMusic a license.

And here is a rather interesting academic paper from the Canadian Journal of Communication detailing the root causes of the nation's music station.

Particularly enjoy this passage from a 1992 report by the Federal Cultural Policy Review Committee:

If cable television posed a threat to Canadian broadcasting because of its importation of U.S. television stations, it is sobering to contemplate what the impact will be when a host of U.S. services can be received via satellite anywhere in Canada — not just in locations near the border or where cable systems exist. Restrictions are not the solution. In the long-term, no government or regulatory agency can, or should, prevent the public from obtaining access to the foreign programs and services it wants. But if Canada is to remain a programming presence in its own broadcasting and telecommunications system, it must use all its technological and creative resources to provide Canadian programs and services that Canadians want to see and hear, programs that are competitive in quality with those from other countries.
For the archives
Columns on American Idol, Madonna, Gretchen Wilson vs. Velvet Revolver, and NXNE.

Interviews with Avril Lavigne and k.d. lang.

Plus, in a slight break from the usual, today's chat with Michael Moore.
Catching up
So. How have we all been? Since we last spoke, little has changed. Except for that whole man in space thing.

Congrats to Broken Social Scene
The embedded music writer
Skye Sweetnam discusses "weird things like Bjork."
Skinny Puppy?
Like OMG LOL!! Chart breaks news of Sum guy's new hair.
Pitchfork breaks news of Pitchfork's mistake
And Glenn Lewis dropped by Sony?
Top nine Southeastern Michigan town names happened upon by the PopWherry staff during this past weekend's trip
9. Parma
8. Horton
7. Moscow
6. Manchester
5. Clinton
4. Brooklyn
3. Grass Lake
2. Napoleon
1. Cement City

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Weekend Reading
The PopWherry staff is taking a class trip to Michigan this weekend to watch the NASCAR race. Seriously. So Weekend Reading will be in a slightly abridged form until maybe Sunday evening when we'll dispatch the intern to pad things out. Till then...

Van Halen is back. Whether you like it or not.
Rock n' roll Riot in Detroit. Discussion here
Wilco: The best band in the world?
The Guardian reviews the Oasis casualty list.
JC Whatshisname arrives. Or something.
Comfortably dumb rock lyrics.
The Beastie Boys: Old
Happy 50th to the Fender.
Weisblott has a good idea.
Wilson has a crush on the Fiery Furnaces.
Smooth has discovered a new way of listening to the Beatles.
Coolfer has much love for Interpol.
Gramophone has some new songs, as always.
And Keith Harris has an apology to make.
Weekend Listening
The Golden Dogs - Birdsong (buy)

The first song from the debut album of our new favourite band. At least for this week. The Golden Dogs are ripe for some well-deserved Wilco comparisons (circa the early years at least), but it's far too limiting a comparison (as all comparisons are, I suppose). Anyway. Live they're rather unhinged, if nearly nerdy — complete with signs held up by that cute keyboardist to introduce each song. Oh. And tiny flashlights. All the same, Birdsong (from the album Everything in 3 Parts), is a perfect anthem for all your summer weekend needs. Enjoy.

(Wonky disclaimer: All links stay active for seven days. Labels and/or artists are free to ask for their removal. Songs are offered only to provide somewhat greater exposure to great music. And, like, everybody else is doing it.)
From the Bittsburgh bureau
Good to see the "Underappreciated genius" storyline doesn't stop at the border:
Canadian pop-rocker has fans in high places
Worship
Press release from Outside Music:

THE HIDDEN CAMERAS
Present MISSISSAUGA GODDAM at Trinity-St. Paul's Centre 427 Bloor W., Toronto
Friday, July 23rd 8pm $10 (at the door)

The Hidden Cameras play Toronto's beautiful and historic Trinity-St.Paul's Centre to celebrate the release of their highly anticipated new album, Mississauga Goddam, in stores July 13, 2004.
What he said
"There needs to be a well-rounded analysis of their social value," Jim Munroe explains of government arts grants in this week's Eye. Note that he says one is needed, not that he is at all interested in providing said analysis.

For that we turn things over to Andrew Coyne. This has to be downloaded and is rather long, but required reading for anyone interested in debating the future of Factor and the like.

Actually. Somebody print this out. Mail it over to the SaveCanadianMusic.com crowd and all those writers who have offered reports and editorials in their favour and ask for a response. Just for fun.

The music industry officials who come round here every so often are free to e-mail me their own replies. In fact, I'll guarantee right now that I will post any and all replies I receive and let readers decide which side makes more sense.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Rappers give a voice to Angola's cry for democracy
From the Financial Times (no link, subscriber only):

Angola, a melting-pot of African, Portuguese and foreign musical influences, abounds in locally produced pop music. Much of it is recorded non-commercially and sold by street vendors. Most of it is cheerfully apolitical.

But rap music is emerging as a medium of protest. In many nations rap is viewed with suspicion by the authorities as subversive and anti-establishment. This is no different in Angola - but in this southern African country, the "subversive" message of rappers is criticism of the country's lack of democracy. There is already a small but vocal political opposition to the government, which last week joined forces at a pro-democracy forum to press President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to call new elections. Angola also has an outspoken independent press, but newspapers are little read outside elite urban circles.

The spoken word - and in particular the growing number of songs from political rappers - therefore have great power in a country where fewer than half of all adults can read. Compact discs and tapes by political rappers such as MCK and Brigadeiro 10 Pacotes (Brigadier Ten Packets) are copied privately and eagerly passed from hand to hand. MCK, an underground rapper formerly unknown outside hip-hop circles, sprang to unexpected notoriety last November. Several of President Dos Santos's guards allegedly killed a man for singing anti-government lyrics from MCK's song, "The Technique, the Causes and the Consequences".

Eyewitnesses say the enraged men beat, dragged and drowned the victim, a car-washer at Mussulo quay, at a departure point for ferries to Luanda's beaches. A criminal investigation was launched, but no charges have yet been brought against the men. "The song cost this guy his life because it reflects Angolan reality and strikes at the people in power," says the rapper. "We still have a government that doesn't allow freedom of expression."

Two years after the end of their nearly three-decade civil war, some young Angolans such as MCK (pronouncedEmcee Kappa in Portuguese) are beginning to demand greater accountability from their leaders. President Dos Santos's MPLA party rules in a government of national unity with Unita, its former guerrilla foes.

The government's political opponents and Angola's foreign partners, led by the US, have been pushing the president to call elections. Pressure is also growing for greater transparency in the management of Angola's abundant oil and other resources, which could help stimulate growth in this poor country. "Each discovery of an oil well widens the gap between those who have and those who do not," MCK says. "Unfortunately, oil shines for just a few."

The 23-year-old rapper - a university student of philosophy by day - declines to give his real name for fear of reprisals. He says he has received threats, and commercial stations will not play his music. He lives in Luanda's working-class Chaba neighbourhood, where open sewers run down mud alleys between a labyrinth of cramped houses. Malaria, spread by uncollected rubbish and stagnant water, is common in Chaba, as in Luanda's other poor quarters.

The son of a driver and a retired charwoman, he began singing in 1995. "I come from a family that's typically religious and self-examining," he says. "I was lucky to live with siblings who were in the habit of asking questions." By the subversive, even violent standards of much US rap and hip-hop, MCK's lyrics are mild. "We have more firearms than dolls, fewer universities than discos, and more bars than libraries," the song that sparked November's alleged murder claims. Friends of the victim, Arsenio Sebastiao, draped another MCK lyric over his coffin: "Who speaks the truth ends up in a coffin/ What sort of democracy is this?"

Brigadeiro 10 Pacotes's lyrics are more militant, alleging that Mr Dos Santos is corrupt and calling for his overthrow. A full-time rapper and inhabitant of Luanda's squalid Hojy ya Henda quarter, like MCK he sells CDs by word of mouth.

"The government plays a different tune and song/ But people no longer want to dance or smile/ We are fed up with the situation," his best-known song goes. It has become an anthem of Luanda's working poor, often heard in minibus commuter taxis. Recently in Huambo, a provincial inland city, Angolans listening to a recording by the rapper on a street turned it down as a group of strangers approached.

Opposition figures have also embraced the rappers. MCK and Brigadeiro 10 Pacotes both played at the March launch of the Campaign for a Democratic Angola, a pro-democracy group that includes seven small opposition parties and Unita. "What we're trying to accomplish is to set in motion a democratisation process that does not exist at the moment," says Rafael Marques, head of George Soros's Open Society Institute in Angola and the campaign's co-ordinator.
Another reason to vote for Stephen Harper
*Warning. Crass attempt at publicity ahead.*
Puretracks, the legal downloading service (who knew?), asked each of the federal party leaders to choose - fromt the Puretracks database mind you - their five favourite songs. Visitors can then go vote for their favourite PM DJ. Blah, blah, blah...

In an attempt to eliminate the democratic deficit in this country (and because we simply don't have enough unqualified candidates already), the Green Party was included. Gilles Duceppe did not respond. Because he is a robot unable to compute sound. Anyway. Their picks. Let the eye-rolling commence.

Jim Harris, Green
1. Top of the World - Rascalz
2. Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell
3. Taking Care of Business - BTO
4. Elevation - U2
5. Where is the Love? - Black Eyed Peas

Steven Harper, Conservative
1.Thunderstruck - AC/DC
2. I Want To Hold Your Hand - The Beatles
3. Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash
4. Mungojerrie & Rumpelteazer - Original Cast of Cats
(A favourite of Mr. Harper’s children)
5. It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) - Duke Ellington & His Orchestra

Jack Layton, NDP
1. If I had a Million Dollars - Barenaked Ladies
2. Lovers in a Dangerous Time - Barenaked Ladies
3. Blowin' in the Wind - Joan Baez
4. Buena Vista Social Club - Buena Vista Social Club
5. Married by Elvis - Barlow

Paul Martin, Liberal
1. Beautiful Day - U2
2. Taking Care of Business - BTO
3. Moondance - Nana Mouskouri
4. Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel
5. A Case of You - Diana Krall
Analogy of the day
From that Feist girl again:

“I had very specific ideas about the framework around the voice … It was more about the function of the instruments around the voice. Kind of the idea of when you’re at a parade and you see the floats going by — nobody’s really taking note of the fact that it’s just an old Chevy with the float perched on top. But the float wouldn't be going anywhere if it wasn’t for the rusty old car underneath — one needs the other.”
Her language distorting lyrics and her harsh voice
Alanis gets mad love from her home girl Eszter in Budapest.
Holy.
Crap.
Velvet Revolver, blah, blah, blah... get back to us in three weeks when they're fleeing the Top 30 faster than Scott Weiland from the scene of a hit-and-run...
How bout instead we marvel at Alexisonfire? Second best debut of the week at #6. Sold a little over 6,500 of those soon-to-be-obsolete little disc things last week.
Now imagine if they had even one tenth the resources afforded to Slash, Duff, Sleepy, Dopey and Sneezy. Now imagine there's no heaven.
Consider it done
----------
From: XXXX@XXXX.XXX
Sent: Wednesday, June 16, 2004 21:09 PM
To: awherry@nationalpost.com
Subject: Hullo Aaron From Nardwuar Re: Nard Wars II

Hullo Aaron!

Hi! It's Nardwuar!

Hope all is well!

Just thought i would mention...My 2nd ever MuchMusic special ( 'Nard Wars II: Return of the Nard' ) will be airing Saturday June 26th at 1pm ( Pacific Time) On MuchMusic.

'Nard Wars II: Return of the Nard' is basically a compilation-countdown of my favourite interview of the past year. You can watch/read/listen to some of those interviews at http://www.nardwuar.com.

If there is any way you could possibly help spread the word, it would be sooper appreciated.

Thanks for your time Aaron and i hope i haven't bugged you!

Keep on rawkin in the free world!

Have a good dinner!

Nardwuar
Cover girls
Leslie Feist - Tout Doucement (buy)
Kate Maki - Mid March Blues (buy)

Couple tracks for the NXNE afterglow. The first is the French track from the European release of Feist's Let It Die (as discussed here earlier at some point or another). Slight shuffle left the little gem off the Canadian release. More on Feist from last week's Eye.

The second comes from Kate Maki, who begs some really obvious comparisons we're too tired to repeat. Infinite charms all her own. Track is found on last year's independent debut, Confusion Unlimited. More on Kate from last week's Now.

Leslie link will be active for seven days. Kate will remain until she decides to take it down.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Fred Durst sets the record straight like he makes revolutionary rock music
So Avril was all, "Ooooh, Fred like totally loooovvvesss meee. But he's got cooties."
And now Fred's all, "Whatever. Do not! And I don't love you, I hate you. You're a poopeyhead."
(Via XRRF)

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Hangover Happy
Heard Franz Ferdinand nearly kick-started World War IV last night. Anybody go?

UPDATE... Adam enjoyed himself (scroll down).
UPDATE II... Further confirmation.
In Bath the water is blue
Seriously.
This afternoon was the most fun we've had with a group of older men in a place called The Bathouse since... well... that time in university when we were, uh, you know, "experimenting" with, erm, "alternative lifestyles."
Anyway. New rule: All towns, no matter of how big or small, must have a Main Street. And there we must find a Creamery. And it must be called The Main Street Creamery. Deal?

P.S. Not generally a Hiphead. But some standout tracks on the new album. Summer's Killing Us is pretty, er, killer. Especially because it, like, so is. Go download it off Kazaa. Heh.
Tomorrow's Chart headlines today
For the first time in our short history, we're actually mildly ahead of that curvey thing. It feels... uh... tingly.

Seis Pistos top NXNE honour roll

P.S. How do White Cowbell Oklahoma not finish higher? Dude played the guitar with his penis! What more do you want people?
Things Have Changed
Off to The Bathouse tomorrow to interview The Hip. Going over clippings. Came across this. Remember how the Hip were trotted out by the Canadian Recording Industry Association as an example of downloading's damage done - complete with testimonial from Gord Sinclair? Well, this is Gord Downie in a March 2001 interview with Jam. Somehow these comments didn't make the CRIA press release.

Q: When (Hip drummer) Johnny Fay did an online chat with Canoe, he mentioned there was some thought of pulling together a box set. Has that plan gone anywhere?
A: He maintains that was a joke, and he has thrilled to see how it ... I don't know. Box set? I think all that stuff is available on E-bay. I'm quite shocked at how thorough that is. Although a lot of that hasn't been recorded by us. There have been radio things (trading among collectors).
Q: Do you see things like Napster as being what it claims, a community of music lovers?
A: I think that is what you have to believe, that it is a good, positive thing.
Q: So it doesn't scare you, you don't mind that people are trading stuff you have done?
A: No. No, I don't.
Q: Do you think it enhances people's interest in music?
A: Yeah. I would have to guess yeah. I can't know, but I think music is ... it's interesting. They move from vinyl to CD, and music lovers have been pushed around and herded this way and that way. And yet, this prevails. It is like water-on-rock. It finds its way, and that is what it means to people. There are people who think a world without music is, next to a world without love, the most repulsive notion. I mean, reading about indie promotion and how songs get on the radio, I am glad that is going to become public knowledge and figure out how it is going to work. People out there think a deejay still hears a song on the breeze and races in and spins the new platter. That's funny. People are going to realize radio is no longer their friend.
Q: Like George Carlin used to say: The boss tunes my boss told me to play.
A: And it's not the deejay, it's not the PD (program director) anymore. That is all well and good, and that will suffice as one sliver of the industry, I guess a major sliver, if selling music is your main thing. But for musicians, it has always been playing shows, as Dylan is proving. Doing what you know is real.
Q: Did you see Dylan perform at the Oscars?
A: Oh, it was awesome. He is hitting his stride. "Time Out Of Mind" is one of his best records ever. And that tune ("Things Have Changed"), that is deadly. His performance was brilliant. Ultimately, that is why musicians haven't stood up in legions to protect the record industry from being gouged or leaking sales, because in the end, you (in the record industry) are kind of on your own, just like we have been. We work together, but musicians since the dawn of time -- the money goes in the front door and they get paid as they go out the back door.
I dream of Feisty
Life imitates art as Carl Wilson supplies the words and Chromewaves serves up the pictures.

For more on the magnificient Shary Boyle draw a line to here.
The promise of yoga babes
This much we know for sure, The Left throws better parties:

A Green Party Party
Love on the dance floor
This video was mentioned by Tab below and first spotted by our crack research team at Chez Pytlik.

Better still, drop the end off that URL and you've got this - which is like some sort of music video emporium of cool. Enjoy.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Who says Conservatives are humourless wanks?
We do.

Remember when Ed Broadbent was illin' like a villain? Well the Conservative Party of Canada says he did so in violation of campaign finance laws. Cheers to that then. Good to see we're finally getting down to the real issues in this election.

Sigh. So who was the member of the Conservative braintrust who a) took the time to figure this out and b) decided it needed to be attacked in public? It couldn't have been student council election runner-up and all round good guy Ray Novak, could it? Cos that would break my heart.

Sigh. Anyway. I defer to the NDP on this one (from their latest newsletter):

NDP candidate Ed Broadbent challenged his Conservative opponent in Ottawa Centre to a battle — the hip-hop term for a rap-off — today, following the Conservative riding association’s complaints to Elections Canada that the “Ed’s Back” spoof is in violation of election law. “They don't know how to have fun, these guys,” said Broadbent spokesperson Rob Sutherland.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Brothers and sisters... do you believe in the power of rock n' roll?!
Thus spaketh the lead singer from White Cowbell Oklahoma during Sunday's rousing sermon.

So how did we all do? Carl? Liss? Tab? Pytlik? Berman? Rayner? Josh? Other people I didn't see or may not know who frequent this tiny corner of the Interweb and who drank themselves silly at this weekend's NXNE festivities?

In order to keep the Ray Charles obits front and centre, I ceased with the NXNE updates. Until now at least. If only because Ray surely would've wanted it this way, I thought I'd post the wrap-up from tomorrow's Post (might I interest you in a subscription?) a night early. A slightly better edited version will appear in Monday's paper, so pay no mind to any typos.

All of the above names and faces are kindly asked to offer their own reports on the weekend in the comment section below - especially if they have thoughts on our dear Feist and any of her three (!?) performances.

Aaron Wherry, on Pop

A large man in a sheriff's uniform is berating us in a thick Southern accent about some still as yet alleged transgression. Something about fornication. Something about rock n' roll. It seems foolish to argue, given the large rifle he's brandishing. It's an hour after midnight, early Sunday morning. We don't entirely remember how we got here. But we know we're in trouble deep.

***

Author, music critic and middle-aged man Nick Hornby recently used up a great deal of space in The New York Times repeating the mantra about old time rock n' roll that Bob Seger made famous. Hornby might have enjoyed Wednesday night, the first of North By Northeast’s four evenings. Or at least more than we did.

Arriving to the stage 15 minutes and 30 years too late, the reformed MC5 represented the star attraction of this year’s music festival, which should tell you everything you need to know about NXNE’s own premature mid-life crisis. Never able to match its predecessor, South By Southwest, it is now, ten years in, being quietly surpassed to the East by scrappy upstart, Pop Montreal. Celebrating a decade in existence, it turns this year to a held-together-with-duct-tape version of the original Motor City riot rock band who were reportedly quite influential.

Instead of checking IDs on the way in there’s a sign advising all concertgoers to turn down their hearing aids. All right, we’re joking (poorly) about that last part. Though it might have saved a few eardrums — the MC5 as loud as they are old. Which is to say they could still rock. Though there will forever, with rare exceptions, be something slightly amiss about the sight of anyone over the age of 40 attempting to “rock out.” That’s ageist. But it’s the truth.

Minus two dearly deceased members, the band are, for this reunion tour, supported by two guest vocalists, the marginally younger Mark Arm and Evan Dando, two survivors of the early 90s grunge explosion. The former is most certainly a shot in the arm (it had to be said), screaming and raging as best he can. The latter can’t seem to get past the fact that he is not Liam Gallagher — banging his tambourine, baiting fans, picking fights and generally making a first class twit of himself.

As the final squeals of Kick Out The Jams faded out, someone in the crowd held a cane aloft in triumph. Even if it did belong to a youngish-looking man, the image seemed apt.

***

Thursday brings new hope — the first night of citywide music, a hundred or so bands squeezed into a couple dozen venues. But Ray Charles is dead. And so the night begins, appropriately enough, six feet under at a blind guitarist’s basement club, with a former gravedigger on stage.

Greg McPherson, a sort of Billy Bragg for Prairie kids, affably greets acquaintances and well-wishers before the show. Then he plugs in his guitar and tears himself apart singing about Corona, Catholics and Carol Channing. His guitar seems simply an extension of his spleen. A talented spleen, but a bloody, messy, internal organ all the same.

Across the street and up a harrowing stairwell, Serena Ryder, all clad in black, is a little closer to heaven. For whatever reason, no one in the crowd seems willing to get within ten feet of her. So Peterborough’s pearl strums gently, projects a little farther and very nearly lives up to the enormous hype that precedes her. Her closing number, a mesmerizing At Last, is more than enough to make you forget all the other acts you’re missing at that very moment.

Following Ryder to the stage is Vancouver’s Girl Nobody, fronted by a lead singer who, dressed all in pink with a flower in her hair, seems a Glinda the Good Witch to Ryder’s dark angel. And whereas Ryder was but a girl with a guitar, Glinda comes complete with guys, gadgets and layer upon layer of guitar pop. Not always dazzling, but completely adorable.

Jim Bryson, roaring through his 11pm set at our third bar of the evening, is neither of these things. In the movie about tonight he will be played by comedian Colin Quinn. And his bar rock will seem to the saddest music ever made. Maybe we’re just tired. Maybe we just miss Ray a little more than we realized. But, for whatever reason, Bryson’s usual world-weariness seems all the more so sitting here alone in this depressingly smoke free bar (the nicotine apparently responsible for covering up what now seems a remarkable stench).

Around 1am, after watching Australian New Wave punk trio Sekiden nearly lay waste to an obnoxious bar in Toronto’s depressing dance club district, we arrive back where Bryson nearly made us cry. While the waitresses mop up, Laika & The Cosmonauts, a bunch of middle-aged Finnish men who should probably be selling computer software, wash away a night’s filth with their nordic surf rock. All the same, it still stinks in here.

***

The industry weasel has several distinct characteristics. First is the tribal tendency to adorn itself in leather or, in times of famine, pleather. Most peculiar though is the habitual bobbing of one's head, often in conversation, but most likely displayed when tracking prey. Here the weasel indicates a cool, been-there-done-that detachment, a contemplative seriousness.

There is much dead animal skin and awkward head movement on Friday night, as the Marble Index, some of the newest employees of the Universal conglomerate rip through a 9pm showcase that seems almost entirely absent of real people. The herd is primarily located in the back of the bar so as not to show too much enthusiasm. And try as they might, the guys on stage can’t seem to muster anything approaching genuine excitement for their brand of post-punk guitar rock. In the movie about the three-piece’s rise and fall, the part of the lead singer and guitarist will be played by an alcoholic Jeff Daniels.

A fifteen minute walk away, and several hundred thousand dollars apiece poorer, the Parkas are jammed into the upper level of a College Street bar. There are precious few, if any, weasels in our midst, which is a pity because the Parkas are putting on exactly 2.53 X the show. Earlier in the week, the band, a scraggly bunch of underdogs that bring to mind Sloan, won a $2,000 prize from NXNE and McDonald’s towards the purchase of new gear. So they will be able to replace the amp they just blew. And maybe use some of their own money to get some haircuts.

Back where the Marble Index underwhelmed, the crowd is, by midnight, just about over-capacity. The weasel population seems to have doubled and whispers place even her highness Denise Donlon in the building. The cause for their attention eventually finds the stage, long, sweaty hair covering his eyes, a Winnipeg Jets cap atop his mane.

And while the weasels think of ways they might package him as if he were the latest in well-designed cookware, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia’s Matt Mays and El Torpedo blast through one of the weekend’s more heroic performances. Nothing particularly fancy or new. No gimmick. Just great alt. country stompers and a selection of bowling trophies scattered around the stage.

Which probably isn’t enough. Not that Mays seems particularly concerned at the moment.

***

Revolutionary theory about human blood #1: Once clotted and dried, blood from the perforated tympanic membrane can form a very effective earplug. This is your body's way of saying, "Turn down that gawd awful racket before you go deaf you speaker-chewin’ moron."

Revolutionary theory about human blood #2: When rushing simultaneously towards the toes and brain, you can quite easily lose track of both your whereabouts and yourself.

The Golden Dogs’ frontman is Jeff Tweedy’s inner child. Or maybe Iggy Pop with a guitar and better hair. Either way he’s thrashing around the stage through some wonderfully insane takes on the legacy of Wilco’s earlier years, his head threatening to secede from his body. Rivaled maybe only by Matt Mays, this is the best rock n’ roll has felt all weekend, all bloody and sweaty and very nearly transcendent.

In the afterglow, we hail a cab and make it down to the Bovine Sex Club — imagine what would happen if a scrap metal yard threw up — in time to see Seis Pistos, a Mexican punk band from a land called Chihuahua. They yap and fidget while a throng pushes up against what is more cage than stage. We’ve only got time for a short visit, but in the 12 minutes we spend less than eight feet away from Seis Pistos’ hairy frontman, the band seems to have played about ten songs.

Immediately afterwards it’s back into a cab and back to where The Golden Dogs are probably still picking up the pieces. And it’s at this point that the aforementioned law enforcement officer gets involved.

He is preceded, of course, by a keyboard solo. Striding to centrestage, he begins to preach. And before anyone has time to get away, a number of men with cowboy hats and guitars have us surrounded. An electric sander and a cowbell send sparks everywhere. There are scissor kicks, a stripper and good ole Southern rock. A man plays slide guitar with his penis. And two large stuffed animals are torn to shreds by that sheriff, now in a one-piece, stars-and-stripes jumpsuit, his rifle exchanged for a chainsaw. The night ends with the men of White Cowbell Oklahoma playing well past curfew, pulling random women onstage and certainly violating several local laws (we counted at least three).

When they finally exit the stage we are left standing amid the innards of a plush, electric yellow and purple alligator, bits and pieces of the stuff still stuck in our hair hours afterwards. As we make our own retreat we see the remnants of what was once that gator’s hindquarters underneath a table, soaking in beer. We snag the gruesome memento, tuck it under our arm and hope we’ll remember some of this in morning.

National Post
awherry@nationalpost.com

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Ray Charles
Dead at the age of 73.

Updated... June 11 at 3:59am EST...
Updated again... June 11 at 4:43pm EST...
Updated again... June 12 at 3:48am EST...
Houston Chronicle:Musician made indelible mark on American scene
SF Gate:Overcame blindess, poverty on road to stardom
Washington Post:The Soul of a Genius
NY Times:Bluesy essence of soul
MSNBC:Soul Man
The Guardian"I was born with music inside me"
The Guardian:Father of soul music
Bloomberg:Pioneer of soul music
Reuters:Helped bring black music to the world
Fox:In his own words
Rolling Stone:Van Morrison's tribute
Newsday:Ray on Ray
NAACP:Leaves unfilled shoes
His music will live forever
An American musical master
Denver Post:Soulful giant broke barriers
Seattle Post-Intelligencer:Seattle a launch pad
Naples News:Best known grad of St. Augustine
Net Music:Country musicians react
St. Louis Post-Dispatch:St. Louis musicians react
Poughkeepsie Journal:No stranger to Hudson Valley
Green Bay kids remember
New Haven remembers
South Georgians remember
Oregonian:Local artists recall influence
Left his mark on Musikfest
BBC: Your tributes
A director remembers
Fox: A producer remembers
A professor remembers
Celebrity Cafe:We helped him with his luggage
Wonder pays tribute
Star-Ledger:Voice of a lifetime
Scotsman:Master of many musical styles
Newsday:In Quotes
Reuters:Facts and Timeline
MTV:Justin, Alicia and Wyclef pay tribute
Washington Post:Howard Kramer remembers
The Age:World pays tribute
Salon:Genius hits the road
Time:The Genie
Chicago Sun-Times:1930-2004
Chicago Sun-Times:Thank You
Globe and Mail:Long history of winning moves
Slate:Shame about Ray
Seattle Post-Intelligencer:Part of Seattle's sizzle
Remembered in Central Illinois
Lifted America with his spirits
Star-Ledger:Jersey singer recalls working with Charles
Town of Greenville to honour Charles
Oscar Peterson remembers
Houston Chronicle:Audio clips
NPR Audio I
NPR Audio II
NPR Audio III
NPR Audio IV
Online video tribute
Public viewing scheduled

***
Paul Wells
Jay Smooth
Carl Wilson
Keith Harris
Oliver Wang
XRRF
Different Kitchen
Tom Ewing
Naked Maja
Tofu Hut
Dynamist
J-Walk
Matt Dentler
Brothers Judd
David Scott Anderson
Gus Mueller
Drink Tank (German)
John Kerry for President
ilXor

***
Just going to leave it here for awhile. Maybe post some songs later. Feel free to add any other links in the comments section. Take care.
-Aaron
NXNE, Night One
Unfortunately I lack the sort of punk rock ideals that might have kept me away from tonight's MC5... er... DKT... er... DKT/MC5 show. Set to start at 11:15pm, ye olde rock stars took the stage approximately 30 years and 10 minutes too late (sorry, it had to be said). Less hair. Still very, very loud. Not all bad. Mark Arm is an admirable stand-in. And Evan Dando is... well... Evan Dando. He couldn't stop whispering in Arm's ear. (Evan: Dude, I'm wearing pants, right? I can't feel my legs. Mark: Erm. How did you get out of your cage?) At one point the Lemonhead started picking fights with random audience members. Someone threw a perfectly good beer in his direction. Tragically, it missed.

Swear to God I saw someone in the crowd hold up a cane in triumph at the end of Kick Out the Jams (alright, it belonged to a youngish looking man with a limp, but still...). Second best instamemory of the night - a greytop gentlmen walking around with his fingers in his ears.

Gawkeresque celebrity stalking: A very giddy Jeremy Taggert from Our Lady Peace, that guy from the Trews and a very nervous-looking Dave Foley of Kids in the Hall fame.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

There's always people that tries to impose their criteria on you, don't let them, they whill not hessitate on their efforts to take you down
Seis Pistos - Rebelde
Seis Pistos - Nametekure
Seis Pistos - Iggy Pong

Haven't yet finalized much of my NXNE itinerary but I will, without doubt, be found at the Bovine Sex Club around midnight Saturday to see these guys - the Seis Pistos from Chihuahua, Mexico. Haven't the faintest idea what they're yelling about. But I like it.

Will also be at the MC5 show this evening. Less excited about that. Would like to know which Globe writer refused to talk to Wayne Kramer though? Carl?
This is supposed to be a step forward, right?

Mullahs give their blessing to leader of the Teheran posse
By Behzad Farsian in Teheran

He's clean shaven and goes about his business wearing a suit with a windsor knotted tie on his cut-back collar shirt. Hardly a hip-hop image for Iran's first official rap artist.

But Shahkar Binesh-Pagoh has brought the once underground genre of rap music into the open for Iranian teenagers. Sales of his new album Eskenas, literally banknote, are rocketing. "I started writing the album four years ago but knew that we would encounter problems releasing the album,'" said the 32-year-old singer. "Up to 20 lyrical excerpts were deleted and we had no choice [but to] delete some songs.''

The album was finally approved by the ministry of Islamic guidance and culture, which vets all forms of art in the theocratic state. Many of the songs question the necessity of girls defacing their natural appearances. The lyrics mock the girls in Teheran who stroll through the capital with designer headscarves and make-up.

"More important than bread at night is your lipstick and lip-liner,'' raps Binesh Pagoh about a conceited girl. "There's a lot of religious people here, cover your legs with that skirt.''

The album's release is an indication that officials are easing the restrictions on art. "Teenagers will always want to express themselves fashionably,'' said Binesh-Pagoh. "The government has realised this and is now a bit lenient on social demands.''

Officials are being forced to move with the times because 65 per cent of the population is younger than 25. "I love this kind of music,'' said 20-year-old Farzaneh. "I am surprised that the album was officially released. But even if it wasn't, we can download banned artists from the internet.''

The Daily Telegraph
Yeah, I dunno why kids turn to Kazaa either...
The ten most added songs at all radio formats for last week, according to the latest issue of Canadian Music Network:
1. Van Halen - It's About Time
2. Rush - Summertime Blues
3. Counting Crows - Accidentally in Love
4. Celine Dion - You and I
5. Tim McGraw - Live Like You Were Dying
6. Train - Ordinary
7. Jimmy Buffett & Friends - Hey Good Lookin'
8. Uncle Kracker - Rescue
9. Fefe Dobson - Don't Go (Boys and Girls)
10. Stabilo - Everybody

Specifically at Rock radio:
1. Van Halen - It's About Time
2. Rush - Summertime Blues
3. The Trews - Tired of Waiting
4. Tragically Hip - Downloading, er, Summer's Killing Us
5. Out of Your Mouth - Music
And their Queen
Gramophone has posted two tracks from the new Kings of Convenience album, the second of which features guest vocals from some girl named Leslie Feist. Never heard of her. Suppose she sounds alright.
Ben Moody still possibly dead. Or not.
Meanwhile, the Internet is both fun and educational.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Ben Moody dead?
This might be cause for concern.

UPDATE... 6:49pm EST
Or not. The site's back to its normal state of disrepair. But it did say this before:
As the webmaster of Ben's site I felt an obligation to post that I can nether confirm or deny the rumor about Ben at this time.
I have not been able to contact him for some time and as soon as I do or have word of his well being this site will return.
Beating A Dead President
Suppose this had to happen. Reagan's death has brought out not only the faithful, but the angry - notably, at least for our interests, the most outspoken of rock stars.

Morrissey uses the moment to wish death upon Bush (gotta love the cutline). And then there's our own Matthew Good who catalogs The Gipper's many sins (Osama, Iran Contra, AIDS, etc) and uses the occasion to campaign for more coverage of Sudan. The old "if only the media dedicated a *insert fraction here* of the coverage they give to *insert name of celebrity or silly cultural obsession here* to *insert name of global crisis here*, the world would be a better place" trick. (Suggested reading: Stephanie Nolen's piece from Sudan in Saturday's Globe.)

At least James Brown offered 30 seconds of silence. Then immediately went back to funking things up.
Be your own hero
(Editor's note: Though by no means with the frequency of the Interweb's more MP3-oriented blogs, PopWherry will begin linking to the odd song whenever the circumstances should merit. Lacking the server space or bank account to support said server space, we're going to use the fine service at YouSendIt.com, a free program intended to assist individuals hoping to transfer files too large for e-mail. This seems to work with Windows, but I've had trouble with my Mac. Someone test that and let me know. Links will expire after seven days. But, otherwise, good times. Thanks to Sean for the assistance.)

Be Not So Fearful, the lyrics to which are posted below, figures prominently in Greg Kot's new book, Learning How To Die, essentially a history of Jeff Tweedy's life and times in music. An interesting read to say the least, it may be discussed further here in the next little bit.

Bill Fay, a rather obscure British folk singer/songwriter, figures rather late in the story as Tweedy discovers and finds solace in Fay's Be Not So Fearful. In Kot's hands, Tweedy's tale is one of much fear and frailty and so, Fay's hymn becomes something of a personal mantra for Tweedy. It's significance to Tweedy all the more apparent given the last few months of his life.

Anyway. Even without that context, it remains a remarkable song. And we all love an obscure, forgotten gem. So here's Tweedy's cover (taken from a live performance in 2003), plus the original.

Jeff Tweedy - Be Not So Fearful (live)
Bill Fay - Be Not So Fearful

Monday, June 7, 2004

Finally some music that works with the iTunes visualization option
Teaching The Indie Kids to Dance Again has a few tracks from the new Polyphonic Spree, Together We're Heavy. As they say, be a good little fanboy or girl and buy the album when it comes out officially.

They're for real. And they're fantastic.
Be Not So Fearful
By Bill Fay. Someone be a hero, find an MP3 of Fay's original or Jeff Tweedy's cover and put it online.

Be not so nervous
Be not so frail
Someone watches you
You won't fail

Be not so nervous
Be not so frail
Be not so nervous
Be not so frail

Be not so sorry
For what you have done
You must forget them now
It's done

And when you wake up
You will find that you can run
Be not so sorry
For what you have done

Be not so fearful
Be not so pale
Someone watches you
You won't leave the rails

Be not so fearful
Be not so pale
Be not so fearful
Be not so pale

You must forget them now
It's done

And when you wake up
You will find that you can run
Be not so sorry
For what you have done

Be not so sorry
For what you have done
Further Reading
Today's column is about the cautionary tales of both Velvet Revolver and Gretchen Wilson. Some supplemental learning:

The 2000 census data for Pocahontas, Illinois.
A pair of stories from the St. Louis Dispatch-Post on Pocahontas' native daughter.
PBS' online information hub for the recent frontline special, The Way the Music Died.
The Times' Jon Pareles on Velvet Revolver's posturing.
And some helpful hints for dealing with drug overdose.

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Weekend Reading
Love him or hate him, Neil Young's favourite president, The Gipper, is gone.
***
Ben Mulroney vs. Ryan Seacrest
Repeat after us kids: Hilary Duff is the devil.
Patio listening: Think of a Spanish-singing Beth Orton with an even more laid-back sensibility.
Feist explains "jhai."
The optimistic Patti Smith.
The Truth Hurts tries her luck on 8 Mile.
USA Today discovers that other countries have women who can sing too.
Four stars for the Cowboy Junkies in London.
Another four for the Hives in Camden.
You can now spend your honeymoon in the Bob Dylan suite.
The Times appends this editor's note to a piece about Velvet Revolver: Note: In the above quotes, the expletives that appeared every other word have been removed.
Loudon Wainwright III discovers technology, records anti-Bush song.
Hope of the States, the latest Brit rock saviour, "exude all the unbridled enthusiasm of Labrador puppies."
Nick Carter chews tobacco, gets car cleaned.
Weisblott on Kroeger.
Coolfer on Creed. And Dee Dee.
Coyne on Conservative coverage.
Ross on the end of music.
Matos on good songs, bad albums.
And nearly everyone loves P.J.

MORE...
The Libertines, er, not breaking up?
The Palm Beach Post considers Glenn Gould.
And Courtney's looking, erm, green.

STILL MORE...
Oh thank heavens! k.d. lang hasn't forgotten about us! Sigh. She likes, she really likes us!
And cheers to MC Tidmarsh - rockin' the mic like a home schooled playboy.
Energy Jaws
Oh drunk guy using your beer bottle for a phallus. You realize what that means when you put it back in your mouth and begin drinking again, don't you? Of course you do. Anyway. While you're sucking on your own imaginary penis, the Tangiers are making a claim on galactic domination. Right there. On stage at the Horseshoe. Shitloads of pleasure. Can't understand why they bother to play anywhere else. Can't possibly look this good. Afterwards, fried ice cream. A stroll through the puke and broken glass. Too many people tossing that which becomes both the former and latter. Too many homeless people with dogs. Too many people crying. Have fun at the prom kids. It's all uphill from there.

Might as well just make out in the lobby.

Friday, June 4, 2004

Ohhh yeaaahhh Boyyeeee
I stand corrected. The comeback rap single of the year is not Mase's Welcome Back, but instead Ed's Back by NDP candidate Ed Broadbent, aka MC Eazy Mutha Fuckin' Bee.

You know, this guy used to be a serious politician. Really.

Ed rocks the mic:
RealPlayer
Quicktime
Windows Media
From worse to worser
Well it's finally official, Creed have broken up. Which is certainly cause for celebration. Maybe even a parade. Or maybe we'll rent one of those steamrollers and smash a big pile of Creed records.
But then comes this - buried in the third paragraph of the release announcing their demise. News that will shake you to your very core. Please remove any children from the room and ensure you are sitting down, your trays are in the upright and locked position before reading any further...

Creed songwriter / singer Scott Stapp has been busy in the studio writing and recording over the past several months. His first post-Creed recording will be featured on an album coming on August 31st via Wind-up Records that will pool together superstar talent, as they individually offer compositions inspired by the film The Passion of the Christ. Simultaneously to tracking his contributions to the Passion title, Stapp will continue to work with producer 7 Aurelius, and has joined forces with Canadian rockers The Tea Party to work on his solo debut.

NOOOOO!!

This is kinda like blowing up Afghanistan only to see the terrorists scatter and take on new, and more dangerous, forms.
In other rags
Lianne George finds k.d. lang in Florida.
Guy Dixon finds the Cowboy Junkies down a back alley in Little Italy.
Carl Wilson reviews the new Royal City. And laments the standard summer festival circuit.
While Pitchfork reviews the new Andre Ethier.
Rick Wakeman campaigns for the salvation of Maple Leaf Gardens.
Sixtoo is cranky.
And the deep intellectualization of William Hung continues.
Memoration
The installation of an iTunes MP3 player on the office laptop seems as good a reason as any to catch up on what free music the World Wide Interweb has to offer.

Said The Gramophone has reached godlike levels of importance with Sean's posting of Welcome Back - the god-loving Mase's comeback single. A short synopsis: Puffy protege Mase turns his back on the rap game to seek salvation. Finds God. Asks Him for guidance. And He sayeth unto Mase, "Thy must sampleth from the hymn book of Welcome Back Kotter and thou will be praised across the land and bring great glory upon thy Lord. Oh, and if you see that Wyclef Jean, slap him for me. We appreciate his helping the kids and all but he's not Dylan. Or Marley (who sends his regards by the way)."

Anyway. Recent graduate Sean is totally getting into heaven for this.

Meanwhile, the angelic Aimee Mann doesn't do too much new with Coldplay's The Scientist (via Music for Robots), but it's a nice reminder what a straight pretty song it is. When Gwyneth breaks Chris' heart it'll be the saddest song in the world.

In less-readily available news - the arrival of advance music from Sub Pop has come to be cause for celebration round these parts. Solid stuff from the Thermals and brilliant stuff from Iron & Wine followed most recently by the shimmery summer pop of Rogue Wave and the Icelandic-by-proxy pop of The Album Leaf.

The Rogue Wave album, effectively the brainchild of the wonderfully named Zach Rogue, has actually been kicking around for a couple years, but is just now receiving wide release with Sub Pop. A not too distant cousin of The Shins, who, coincidentally, Rogue Wave will be touring with this summer.

For the latest Album Leaf, er, album Jimmy LaVelle went to Iceland, frolicked (can you do that in Iceland?) around with the folks from Sigur Ros and Mum and convinced Black Heart Procession's Pall Jenkins and Sigur's Jon Thor Birgisson to provide vocals. Better than the last Mum album. But probably not as good as the next Sigur Ros album. Just guessing.

In the meantime, go find:
Waiting for the Morning Light: Gene Simmons' collaboration with Bob Dylan from the forthcoming Asshole (never has an album title seemed more appropriate)
B-Boy Stance: The new single from K-Os. Half a listen says: "Might actually be good."
AMP Army - AMP f. Bishop: Someone finally jacks the beat to Seven Nation Army.

Thursday, June 3, 2004

McKroeger
Aside from Zach Werner, the most consistent source of unintentional hilarity in the Canadian music industry has to be Chad Kroeger.

Replacing one clown with another, McDonald's has convinced Chad to shill for their new joint campaign with Sony and Puretracks, promising one free download with each Big Mac purchased. Chad explains:

Kroeger says he didn't show up at the news conference to sell hamburgers. "I'm here to promote awareness and try to get people to change their mindset. Instead of stealing music, hopefully, they're going to go to more sites like this (Puretracks) and download it."

Oh, but Chad you were there to sell bland, generic hamburgers - you just call them "songs."

Not limited to Canada, the deal between McDonald's and Sony includes the United States. It's all part of McDonald's plan to "escape... the kiddyland box" and target young adults. Fat, malnutritioned young adults.

All the more reason to go see Super Size Me.

Possible Irony: Apparently Chad was so poor as a kid he probably couldn't have afforded the Big Mac or the 99 cent download (let alone the Internet connection or computer required to utilize the latter).

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