Okay, okay, I've been out of this for a while. But after some touching comments from several fans (amounting more or less to "I actually read something on there." and/or "Where are the updates?") I'll see what I can do for you, the loyal reader.
I have a clunky mp3 player courtesy of my good buddy Claus, which saw me through on my travels. All these iPod people make me nervous. But I've been listening to the radio a lot anyway, as I've been happy with the recent (well, it occured before I moved back to Vancouver) shift in format for the Fox. Most of the DJs are good, though one particular guy is a total tool; you would notice if you listened for any length of time during the day.
Anyway, they tend to have themes for weekends, like an all-90's weekend or all Pearl Jam or "then and now" where they play an older song followed by a newer song for the same band (like that old Jimmy Eat World followed by that new Jimmy Eat World . . . hmmmm). This weekend's theme is "Mullet Madness", all 80's metal hair bands. But I was expecting a slightly longer set of songs (they only play one of these every 15 minutes or so); I've heard the same Europe song three times this weekend. Same for Cinderella. Cinderella is brutal. And Ratt. These guys were huge (turns out they are around and touring) . . . how high was everybody back then?!?
In another victory for internationalisation, you can hear, blaring from the radios of other cars or your own (more on that later) around Bordeaux, a wide selection of 50 Cent, including the wildly popular P.I.M.P. in all its unedited glory.
Somewhere in Thailand, a lone Canadian cheers . . .
I got a couple links to this last week, and since I am such a fan, figured I'd report on the this little fiasco:
Creed sued for crappy performance (from Rolling Stone, thanks Michal).
A more behind the scenes look at same, from the Smoking Gun (thanks Beth).
Tough luck, cowboy.
(YOU ARE NOT A COWBOY!)
(But you are probably A BETTER COWBOY THAN YOU ARE A MUSICIAN!)
(Though cowboys can get drunk and still do their job.)
In the interests of having news in all categories, I thought I might mention that I finally got around to giving Pearl Jam's Riot Act a good listen, and it's been getting a lot of time in my car. It's got that whimisical thing going for it that we've come to expect from them in the last several years, but they also still rock out . . .
Saturday night in Edmonton saw our little crew at Side Track, a bar a block from Tim's place. I was a bit uncertain what kind of place it was, as there were some cowboy hats present but it didn't feel like a full-on country bar. Also, there was a signup sheet at the door for a/the wet t-shirt contest (whose entrants amounted to a couple girls and a guy).
The opening band did not play the kind of music I'm used to hearing anywhere. Ben called the type of music "cow punk", which seems pretty fitting. The lead singer had one of those big country guitars and a cowboy hat, but his band mates had backwards baseball caps. The music was kind of like that, with a country feel over a nouveau punk sound. Interesting. Oh, and they covered Motorhead's Ace of Spades, which was cool.
The headline act for the evening: White Cowbell Oklahoma. Their genre of music was much more country than the opening band, but still . . . edgy. The exploits of White Cowbell Oklahoma are well-known in Toronto, or so we were told in some promotional material. At the beginning of the show, there were about 9 people on stage (just a regular bar stage, with room to comfortably accomodate a band of five with guitars and drums and such). Some played guitar, others sang, they had a drummer, one guy hit either a cow bell or wood block. Then after a few songs they were joined by people I had originally placed as being part of the entourage, so there were a good 15 people on stage. The second wave consisted mostly of dancers, and they would go out into the crowd and try to get people pumped up. The crowd was quite into it. I couldn't figure out how much I liked them, but they had great energy and if I weren't rolling around in a steak-induced blur I might have gotten more into it.
The Stonemason boys opened for a cd release party tonight for local band Slabdrab. As it turns out, this is Slabdrab's third such recording. I'd heard of them and a couple of their songs, but never seen them live before.
The venue: a small blues bar about six blocks from where I live. The kind of place with high tables and stools where you throw peanut shells on the floor. The mullet rate was about 2% (unless you are just counting men, in which case it would be about 4%). They usually have blues bands, but last night's show was straight-up rock.
Stonemason had a decent set. I was in a much better state (read: more sober) than last weekend, so I got more of a chance to enjoy the music this time.
Slabdrab had an extensive bunch of 80's covers, mostly from female artists (Slabdrab consists of four guys, but the backup vocals are used a lot so they get a lot of harmonies going), including: Tiffany's I Think We're Alone Now, Joan Jett's I Love Rock 'n Roll, The Bangles' Manic Monday, and Madonna's Material Girl. They even played the more obscure My Name Is Luka by Suzanne Vega. The tiny dance floor was packed for the last couple of hours of the show. I'm glad they played several of their original songs earlier in the night, though, because that was what I was more interested in hearing. Sadly, the scene here is not big enough to suport bands that just play their own music.
Since the music category has gone unused for a while, I figured I'd mention the new offering from Queens of the Stone Age called Songs for the Deaf. A present from the young bricode for Christmas (thanks, big guy), this cd has been getting a lot of play in my car of late (more, of course, than I can say for myself . . .).
Some of you may have heard the first single, No One Knows, with its accompanying cool video where a deer beats up the band. The rest of the album is great, with some of the songs each having a little flavour of other bands that I like, those that come to mind being Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney and Screaming Trees (Mark Lanegan does guest vocals). Or maybe that's just me. For those of you that like the Foo Fighters, and I know you do, you'll want to check this one out.
Also, I don't know if the story about how the other guys in the band goaded Dave Grohl into playing for them is true, but I like it anyway.
As luck would have it, I was invited along to the Blue Rodeo concert in Saskatoon last night. I only found out on Saturday that not only were they coming to town, but there was this extra ticket. I've always meant to get around to checking them out, and they do tour every year or two, but I just hadn't gotten to it.
I'm very glad I went. For those of you not familiar with the band, their music is sort of a mix of country, blues and rock, with some songs fitting nicely into one or two of those, and other songs that pretty much defy a handy categorization. They've got a lot of stuff that makes for good road music when you're driving through the Canadian prairie. They've got something like ten albums, have played together forever, and it shows.
Audioslave's Cochise released today.
I actually had a longer post with no relation to this one, but it was lost due to network trouble at school. Soon to come: education.
The new Foo Fighters album is excellent. Not a major departure or anything, just the usual fun times I've come to expect from these guys.
Also on my listening list is the new Pearl Jam which I haven't gotten to just yet.
And don't forget Audioslave comes out next week. I'm sure I'll be mentioning that again . . .
Quite a good month for music, really.
Last night was the first meeting of a math-music seminar I am attending. It's a joint effort between the music and math departments, and is meant to highlight some of the places where the two subjects intersect.
This first talk dealt with music that is produced from some sort of random process. If you haven't heard this stuff, it is basically a random (in the mathematical and not the Friends sense) sequence of notes or chords of random duration. The scores are produced by some sort of method. One guy (John Cage) placed a blank music sheet over a star chart, and used the stars underneath to plot where the notes would be. Then he flipped coins to determine things like volume and duration. He would generate a bunch and keep the ones that sounded pleasing. This was considered to be his gift; while anyone could generate music this way, he picked out the trials that were best suited to the source they came from, and probably according to some musical theories of which I am not familiar.
The speaker had prepared some music of his own. His method was to determine the chord placement, where the rests go, and pitch using a system with random numbers generated from the "random" decimal representation of the square root of two. Any irrational number could have been used, and the way it was designed, one could theoretically reconstruct the number from the sounds (of course that would involve listening for an infinte amount of time), since each irrational number has a unique digit sequence. So when you listened to the end product, you were in some sense listening to a translation of the square root of two into audio form. I would say that listening to an audio representation of the square root of two ranks right up there with any geeky experience I've had.
And now, thoughts on the Tool show. So good. Even the neophytes we dragged along (Tim and Bryce) were impressed.
I had heard a rumour from a friend of mine in the US that Meshuggah, the opener, was some sort of Swedish death metal band. And hey, what so you know, they were. Really not my thing. Tim and I went to grab a beer and checked out the crowd while we waited for their set to be over. It's kind of an ignorant thing to say, but their music all sounded kind of the same to me. I felt a bit vindicated taking this position when Tim met up with one of his friends, a fan of the death metal scene, who said very much the same thing. Perhaps my taste can wander a bit beyond my usual genres . . .
Tool opened with Sober, much to the delight of those who had seen them before and were hoping for something from Undertow at the Vancouver show. From the opening straight through until the end, I basically just stared and listened and tried to be as alert as possible. The animation was again pretty fancy and really added to the whole experience. It was nice that they didn't show exactly the same thing, either. And as Tim mentioned, they did not feature the live-action tentacle porn quite as much this time around, which if you ask me was a good call.
The setup for the stage was pretty similar to the Vancouver show. Danny Carey (still a total freak - so cool to watch) had his own stage for his extensive drum kit plus gong, and Maynard had his little Maynard stage again, this time with its own turntable action. Painted all black and dancing around a lot, he was much more active this time.
Enema was the real highlight for me. There was this really cool rain effect over the pit crowd down in front acheived by sparkly bits and clever lighting. Relevant and effective. And the performance was amazing.
Overall, I think I preferred this show to the last one I saw. I think the flow was a little better in terms of the (sometimes kind of long) breaks during the performance, and I don't think much was lost in dropping the wacky Schism acrobats for whatever reason.
Two things I came across today.
The "new" Nirvana song is bouncing around the internet. You may have heard about this as a serious bone of contention in the lawsuit over the Nirvana box set. Anyway, it's called You Know You're Right, and I like it.
The first single and title track for Audioslave's upcoming album Cochise is now available to be streamed from here at Yahoo. This is the new band with Chris Cornell fronting the former members of Rage Against The Machine, known as Civilian until recently. As you might expect, they sound like Chris Cornell singing with Rage Against The Machine, which is what I was hoping for. The cd is due out on November 19th, a date that seems firm (it took them a long time to come up with one, though).
What better way to finish off music week than by mentioning my favourite band (of all time?), Soundgarden. This will come as no surprise to anybody who has known me for any length of time.
This is a picture of Sound Garden, a sculpture in Seattle which inspired the band's name. I was fortunate enough (my detractors would disagree with this statement) to visit with my brother Brian when we were down in Seattle to see Pearl Jam a few summers ago.
The sculpture is designed to make noise when it gets windy, which you could maybe see happening. It was a calm day when we were out there, so no such luck.
I would recommend checking these guys out, too, but as you may know, they broke up about 5 years ago . . . still, you never know, right?
Guys . . . ?
I hate you.
It would be remiss of me not to mention some local music. And I'm also friends with the guys in the band. And live with the drummer. And have recently taken over managing their web site, which I'll keep in the list of Links from now on.
I would expect that most people reading this (i.e. both of you) will not have heard these guys before. They've got kind of a Headstones flavour to them (if you know who that is . . . as a side note, I first saw the Headstones live a couple months ago, and they are excellent: they play all the fan favourites, and Hugh Dillon spits and flicks his cigarette butts into the crowd just like you would hope). They haven't been playing much lately, but are recording a second, shorter cd at the moment. I'm sure you'll hear more about that here in the months to come. For now, there are a couple sample songs on the web site.
To continue in this week's music theme, did I mention I'm off to see Tool in a few weeks? I will be joined at the Edmonton show by the illustrious tim, his roommate Ugly Bob, and some friends of mine from Saskatoon. This will be my second chance to check them out on this tour . . . the show in Vancouver last fall was unbelievable. I'd definitely recommend it if they're coming anywhere near you.
Not sure what the big deal is? The best Tool information sites I know of are toolshed.down.net and the official band site, www.toolband.com. I'm sure there are plenty of fan sites kicking around as well, but these update earliest and pretty much directly from the band.
You may now return to listening to your Jimmy Eat World cd, ble-otch.
By way of further introducing myself, I present to you this quotation from the host of MTV's Total Request Live and his own show. If it's new and it's trendy and it's in the music world, he's probably all over it.
"It's like I'm a bartender. Someone wants a Zima, and I might think it's kind of an iffy drink, but - you know what? - I'm gonna give it to him in a cold glass and hope he gives me a nice tip."
- Carson Daly
Yes, ladies and gentlmen, this guy is fucking clownshoes. On a slightly related note, I discovered recently that it is pretty tricky to find a picture on the internet of a person drinking Zima. If you can find one (if you Google and get to www.amishabuse.com, you've made it as far as I was willing to go), send it in and I'll post it here.
Anyway, for a less hospitable take on the music industry, check out Buddyhead, which used to be a lot easier to read before they framed it all up. Basically, they are an indie label with a hate-on for The Strokes, Fred Durst and all things emo. Consider, for example, this review:
"Ever wonder what would happen if you crammed Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit, Vanilla Ice, 311, Korn, Snow, and the Kottonmouth Kings into your mom's blender and set it on liquify? No need to wonder anymore kiddies, because it looks as if someone over at Warner Brothers already tried this and they got a thick and milky diarrhea shit shake called Linkin Park. Turntables, one guy raps, one guy sings, the rest of the dudes bob their heads and play wack yo! metal. This is the worst shit ever..."
- Buddyhead on Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory
which crytallizes nicely the way I feel about Linkin Park (sorry to all the fans I couldn't get a backwards "n" on that one).
So I lied about not writing anything. My plan to sit around the house changed tonight when I was invited to the Bif Naked show on short notice.
We made it in time to check out Theory of a Deadman, whom I was curious about. Their set ended up kind of as I'd expected; they have the kind of sound that I liked three or four years ago when I first saw Nickelback. The lead singer even sounds like Chad Kroeger, and does that move where you lean back really quickly and flail your guitar just as you finish singing something and hit a chord. You know the one I mean. They also had a bit of a Days of the New flavour to them, for anyone who remembers them. Anyway, if you're into these guys (and while I'm at it if you're American and have only heard Nickelback circa Silver Side Up), I'd recommend checking out Nickelback's The State; whatever you may think about them now, that album kicks ass.
As for Bif Naked, this was something like the fifth time I've seen them over the last few years. Always a treat. It might be because the sound kind of lost its polish later on, but I think the best song of the night was "I Died" (the french fry song) while the band and the crowd was still fresh. And I will definitely check these guys out again (they seem to be on a perpetual tour at the moment), despite the fact that they continue to close with Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It", which is godawful by any band, including of course Twisted Sister. Oh well, the kids seem to like it.
And we'll keep our fingers crossed that Bif brings liveonrelease with her next time.