Archive for August, 2011

The Freedom of Music: Spammed by Rival Sons

August 29th, 2011
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

Writing about music has changed the way I hear music. Tap my toes, sing along, figure out the words or chords, dance or take it to the car and blast it at 115K. All good, all reasonable ways to listen to music. Now there’s an addition: thinking to myself, “do I have anything to say about this music.” Writing about music forces me to think about what I like about music whenever I happen to be listening to music.

sidebar-7I am now on a pile of mailing lists from PR firms, meaning I get 10 emails a day from people wanting me to write about bands I have never heard of, and that is completely outside of the general type of music I might write about. If I was inclined, I was invited to a Lady Gaga album release party early in the summer. However, as I don’t see me writing about Lady Gaga anytime soon, I wasn’t about to lower my standards of integrity and accept a gift I couldn’t, with conscience, repay.

In his book, Songbook, Nick Hornby writes of becoming a music reviewer:

I have been doing some writing about pop for The New Yorker over the last couple of years, a gig that necessitates having hundreds of CDs you don’t want thrust through your letterbox every morning… My usual response to these unwanted CDs is as follows: a)I look at the cover. If it has a Parental Advisory sticker, and the artist is called something like Thuggy Breakskull or PusShit, I don’t play it. Nor do I bother if the artist in question is pretty, or has big hair, or is snarling, or has blood coming out his or her nose, or looks like he or she has appeared in a soap opera, or looks very old, or looks very young, or simply vaguely clueless… b)I look at the press release. If it uses as a comparison any of the 300,000 names whose music I don’t have time for… well I don’t play it then either. So very, very few albums make it as far as step 3), which is where I actually put the fucking thing in the CD player and listen to it.

As I said, I currently receive emails (or spam, to use my wife’s term for them), about ten a day, inviting me to review this band or that singer. Alway with a link to a YouTube video – because you know only the very special people can view the YouTube video. And like Hornby, if I don’t like the picture, or the name of the artist, or the comparative they use, I just delete it. At least, I have been known to mumble, send me some music: I am not reviewing your band based on a YouTube video.

Then came this email:

Nevermind The Kings Of Leon, here are Rival Sons…

Classic Rock Magazine calls them “The Future Of Rock and Roll,” and featured them last month in a three page spread, unheard of for the publication with an indie band. The mag started the love affair with the group… and the UK audiences are starting to attach themselves to the band. Rival Sons have also been nominated in 2 categories for the Classic Rock Awards. Best New Band and Album of the Year….

CMJ says “The title track, “Pressure And Time,” immerses you in a thick and heavy sound that hooks you in an instant; the effect lingers. Rival Sons doesn’t sound like a typical Los Angeles rock group; it sounds like it’s rooted in the Deep South, channeling soulful rock influences. Hints of Robert Plant vocals and strong references to Wolfmother chart Rival Sons as a truly hard rocking band. Listen to this album with the volume cranked.”

Included was something new, or at least something I had never noticed before, a link to download of the album, the entire album. Including artwork. It’s not CDs in the letterbox, but then I’m no Nick Hornby. And as I like Kings of Leon, I was interested. Five minutes later Rival Sons Pressure and Time is downloaded, on my iPod and I am heading to the car.

The first song, All Over The Road is barely started and I know why “UK audiences are starting to attach themselves to the band.” Check out the video for All Over the Road, the songs opening track. Now search for videos of Slade on Top of the Tops. Ignoring the pants and hat, that is exactly what All Over The Road sounds like. Not in the bad, unoriginal copycat kind of way, but in feel. It sounds, in short, like great, classic rock and roll, and I am hooked by the end of the song.

The remarkable thing is All Over The Road is not even the hit that they PR emailer sent the YouTube video link for. That’s the third song, Pressure and Time which, I am reliably emailed, the band even performed on George Lopez. It’s another great rocker, which a classic 70’s lick and a solid Led Zeppelin feel, mostly from a drummer who’s obviously schooled in Zeppelin.

The whole albums like that, classic rock. Something that sounds so eerily from the 70’s, without sounding like some 70’s band or another. Rival Sons Pressure & Time is a solid rock and roll album from start to finish.

Nice Spam I get some days.

The Freedom of Music, Uncategorized , , ,

Cool for Cats Friday

August 26th, 2011
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“Dad, if you could be anything in the world, what would it be?”

“A Pip.”

First you confuse ’em, then you make them google. Seriously though, could you do this night in night out and be unhappy?

If these guys can do it…

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The Pimply Minions Rebellion of 2010…

August 23rd, 2011
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Year 2.

First they come for your lemonade

Seriously, do the police in city after city not realize how stupid they look?

h/t Meow

Jacobian Piece of Impertinence, pimply minions of bureaucracy ,

The Freedom of Music: Wood Holly?

August 21st, 2011
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

The special invitation came via Facebook: I, Brian Gardiner, was personally invited to the the 515 Concert Club to see Holly Woods and Toronto: répondez s’il vous plaît.

The 515! That’s just down the road in downtown Hespeler, a fifteen minute walk from my house. This, I thought, was going to require planning.

sidebar-6 First, I had to get the wife out of town. Holly Woods was going to be just up the road and the frustrated teenage boy that lingers inside is taking no chances. Who would have thought, Holly Woods right here. Next it will be Darby Mills serving up coffee at the Townline Tim Horton’s (maybe I should start dressing better).

A refresher. Holly Woods was the lead singer of the band Toronto in the ’80’s. With songs like Your Daddy Don’t Know, Girls Night Out and Start Telling the Truth, Toronto had a number of fairly big hits. With cat like eyes, puffy hair and a big voice, Holly Woods was a classic Canadian cutie.

Watching fictional singer Marie De Salle in the movie/book “High Fidelity,” the guys from Championship Vinyl dreamily talk about being with a musician:

Barry: I wanna date a musician.
Rob: I wanna live with a musician. She’d write songs at home and ask me what I thought of them, and maybe even include one of our little private jokes in the liner notes.
Barry: Maybe a little picture of me in the liner notes.
Dick: Just in the background somewhere.

That’s what I want. A little picture of me in the background of the latest album, one of our private jokes in the liner notes. If not for me, for the teenage boy, who so rarely got his wish.

The question is, once the wife is safely out of town, chasing down that anonymous tip she mysteriously got that Parker Stephenson is in Guelph, what to do? You can’t go barging up to her and say, “hey, I’m the guy who drooled over the album covers in 1979.” It has to be a chance meeting, just hanging out front of the club. It’s what I do every Saturday, most natural thing in the world and… “hi, how are you?”

For conversational bon mots, I should check her bio, find something in common that I can casually mention. Lets see… she likes fishing, that’s good, can use that. Wait, she’s from North Carolina? Durham, North Carolina, home of the Durham Bulls? How can that be? How can Holly Woods of the rock band Toronto be from Durham North Carolina? How can one of Canada’s sweethearts not be Canadian?

Suddenly she feels like a fraud, like a different person than the one I haven’t known all these years. What about the songs, are they a lie too? Was Even the Score even about hockey? Perhaps she was never really Looking for Trouble. Oh sure, she can still sing, and regardless of where she was born they were great songs, great eyes, great shoulder pads. But it can never really be the same.

Umm, honey, about that Parker Stephenson thing. Never mind. I think I’ll throw on my good suit and go hang out at Tim’s.

The Freedom of Music , ,

Saturday Fluffernutter: The Isn’t This a Dilemma Edition

August 20th, 2011
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorCharlie Sheen showed up in Illinois at the Gathering of the Juggalos Saturday to host the musical event on the main stage of the festival. He was promptly booed and had bottles thrown at him. fluff2

“I should have worn my fu&%ing goggles,” he told the crowd, before exiting, stage left (all these Hollywood guys exit stage left – never stage right).

Frankly, that’s the boring part of the story. Here’s the meat.

The Gathering of the Juggalos is a four day “rap and wrestling festival,” put on by rapper (I presume) Violent J.

“I think the Juggalos won’t be respected until 20 years after they’re done,“ said the Insane Clown Posse member. “Everybody will look back on it and say, that was great. That was history.”

Here’s your dilemma: it’s 20 years in the future, and your doing a I remember when with your kids. “I remember,” you say, “a rap and wrestling festival called Juggalos, put on by a guy in a group called the Insane Clown Posse called Violent J.” Do you use the word respect without irony?

fluffincolorHere’s a dilemma. Your a Federal Trade Commission investigator. Ashton Kutcher served as a guest editor for Details magazine, in which several stocks were recommended. Kutcher, it turns out, invested in a number of those stocks.

So, FTC investigator, do you investigate this possible breach of securities law, or do you say to yourself, “any person who takes investment advice from Ashton Kutcher deserves to lose his shirt?”

This week, the FTC chose option B. They chose wisely.

fluffincolorReview in Brief: Cowboys and Aliens: The title suggests this could be a very dumb movie: the title is guilty of severe understatement.

fluffincolorDilemma #3. For the last year or two you have been tabloid fodder. You have just lost your high paying TV job. What acts of desperation are you willing perform to stay in the spotlight?

If your name is Kat Von D, AKA Skanky Tat Ho, the answer is, you are willing to reconcile with serial moron Jesse James.

James and Tat Ho, er Von D, have rekindled their lust and announced their engagement, mere weeks after announcing they were splitting up, but days after it was announced Von D’s TV show was being cancelled.

fluffincolorDilemma #4: You’re having a baddish day, and it is deteriorating. You have a train to catch, and your running late. How to perk up the day, just a little?

Get Gwyneth Paltrow to run you over.

The story of Paltrow and Lara Lundstrom Clarke on September 11, 2001 came to light this week. Paltrow, it seems, saved the life of Clarke by hitting her with her Mercedes SUV. Clarke was then late for her train, and was not in 2 World Trade Centre when it was hit by a hijacked plane.

“At that time I was annoyed at everything that had made me late that day, including Gwyneth Paltrow… (But) if I had made that train I would have been at my desk on the 77th floor of 2 World Trade Center.”
She wrote a letter to Paltrow detailing her experience on the morning of the terrorist attacks and the actress’ publicist reveals the star was “deeply moved” by the story.

Thank God! Paltrow wasn’t driving a Prius. And yes, when you’re Gwyneth Paltrow, even 9/11 is about you.

fluffincolorDilemma the last: Your on a plane from Paris to Dublin, except the plane is delayed on the runway. You have to go to the bathroom, but the cabin crew, in the strange, draconian wisdom that airline employees have developed over the past number of years, tell you a can not go to the bathroom.

Of course, as sarcastic teachers have been teaching their students at least since I was in grade 6, may not go to the bathroom and can not go to the bathroom are two different things.

The cabin crew said can not, when what they really meant was may not. What do you do?

If your French actor Gerard Depardieu, you give a lesson. Specifically, Depardieu peed into a bottle. Unfortunately, his bladder was bigger than his bottle and their was spillage.

The plane was delayed a further two hours while Mr. Jutzi taught a lesson on Merlin’s laugh.

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Cool For Cats Friday

August 19th, 2011
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Happy Birthday, Robert Plant

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Mark Steyn’s Favourite Milton Friedman Quote

August 17th, 2011
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“What matters is not electing the right people, but creating conditions whereby the wrong people are forced to do the right thing


Doubting the Experts

August 15th, 2011
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Listening to the radio last week and the finance “expert,” suggested laying off public servants would not help the US debt: “you just put those laid off people on unemployment,” he explained. “And lower your tax revenues. It would increase the deficit.”

Well, yes, when you lay off a public servant you add that person to unemployment, and yes they pay less tax. However, as their pay comes from the same government, and as they get less on unemployment than they do when they work, each public servant would be less of a net loss to the treasury on unemployment than working. So no, they wouldn’t increase the deficit, they would slow the growth of the deficit.

Submitted for your perusal

Submitted for your perusal

Of course, there are good arguments for not laying off public servants, and the above doesn’t take productivity into account. An “expert,” however, should know the difference between net effect on the treasury of public workers vs. unemployment.

I thought of that expert today when I read Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman arguing what the US economy really needs is a war with space aliens:

PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: Think about World War II, right? That was actually negative social product spending, and yet it brought us out.
I mean, probably because you want to put these things together, if we say, “Look, we could use some inflation.” Ken and I are both saying that, which is, of course, anathema to a lot of people in Washington but is, in fact, what the basic logic says.
It’s very hard to get inflation in a depressed economy. But if you had a program of government spending plus an expansionary policy by the Fed, you could get that. So, if you think about using all of these things together, you could accomplish, you know, a great deal.
If we discovered that, you know, space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive buildup to counter the space alien threat and really inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months. And then if we discovered, oops, we made a mistake, there aren’t any aliens, we’d be better –

ROGOFF: And we need Orson Welles, is what you’re saying.

KRUGMAN: No, there was a “Twilight Zone” episode like this in which scientists fake an alien threat in order to achieve world peace. Well, this time, we don’t need it, we need it in order to get some fiscal stimulus.

Cooking the books

Cooking the books

As the article linked to notes, claims of positive economic effect of WWII are extremely dubious, noting a 10.9% decline in GDP in 1946 the year after Victory in Japan. Huge increases in wartime spending through the 1940’s led to a massive decline in GDP by 1946.
But even if you accept the argument that WWII stimulous improved the economy:

If we discovered that… space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive buildup to counter the space alien threat… this slump would be over in 18 months.

My father in law likes to cite various experts to me when we end up discussing economics. I always argue with him, because the experts always seem to just be wrong.

Can’t wait until he starts quoting Pul Krugman to me.

h/t SDA

Economic Fundamentalism ,

The Freedom of Music: In the Heat of the Shite

August 14th, 2011
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

It was the great cover that made me listen in the first place to The Pat Travers Band Heat in the Street. It sat in my bedroom for ages, along with Puttin’ It Straight, a later Travers opus. The covers to both were “themed covers,”© to coin a phrase. On the front was a scene, oddly normal, but strange. The back cover is the same scene, minutes later, and things are no longer normal.

sidebar-4 Heat in the Street, for example, features the band members suntanning in a parking spot on a busy city street. Two female police officers and a male one are on the scene. Strange, but believable. On the back cover all normalcy is gone. The police officers have not arrested the sun-tanners laying on lounges in their bathing suits, but have joined the party. The police women, it turns out, are hotties, and sitting, shorts open, talking to the band members.

I spent hours pouring over that album cover, studying the band members, studying the police women, looking for clues in the front of the hot party girls of the back, looking for other, less obvious differences between front and back. I loved that cover, and eventually it led me to listen to the music inside.

“Some call what we play blues based rock,” Pat Travers told the audience at the Kitchener Blues Fest last weekend. “Some call it,” he hesitates, searching for word, “shite, I guess,” he shrugs and laughs. Well yea, that’s probably true. If it’s not blues based rock, it’s not really anything. And not really anything is pretty much shite.

Fortunately for Pat Travers, he qualifies as blues based rock.

Travers is probably most known songs for a couple of pretty politically incorrect numbers. Snortin’ Whiskey and Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights promote violence and drug use. Good party music,we called it in the 70’s and early 80’s. Shite people would call it today, pretty much without listening.

Snortin’ Whiskey is a party rocker. The main line, “snortin’ whiskey and drinkin’ cocaine,” is certain to offend the folks at MADD, AA, and any other temperance group with a Facebook page. That one line is so inappropriate, if Travers was writing it now he would be compelled to rap it over a sample of When the Levee Breaks.

Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights is worse:

No Kiddin’, I’m ready to fight.
I’ve been lookin’ for my baby all night
If I get her in my sight,
Boom Boom (out go the lights)

traversOf course, it’s an old Little Walter song, a true blues legend. And there is an argument it’s not about smacking his woman around, it’s about making love to her. With Travers pumping two guitars through Marshall Amps at volume, both songs fall clearly into the rock category. And both would qualify as traditional, roadhouse blues based on the lyrics. So yea, blues based rock Pat Travers music undeniably is.

In 1982, Travers hit the Am radio with the top 40 hit, I La La La Love You. It’s your pretty standard 80’s fare, keyboards, over produced guitars and “I la la la love you,” lyrics. It is, some might call it, shite.

I keep returning to that Heat in the Street cover. Clearly The Pat Travers Band had a sense of fun, that was the draw of the cover (hot police women notwithstanding). And then you put the album on, and the song, Heat in the Street comes up. A classic 70’s rock lick, played over an A chord: a complex version of Tie Your Mother Down, and you think, who cares what they call it? This guy is a virtuoso guitar player, playing great rock songs, I’ll listen all day.

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Cool For Cats Friday

August 12th, 2011

Here’s a new video from, “Mick Jagger’s new band,” Superheavy. What happened to his old band? you ask. Something about Kieth, a book, and the size of Mick’s -ahem -intromittent organ.

Mick’s femme-fatale co-singer in Superheavy is Joss Stone:


In other news, Warrant Singer Jani Lane was found dead yesterday. I’ve always had a soft spot for those 80’s hair band power ballads, and Heaven is one of the best.

RIP Jani Lane ( 1964-2011)

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Dear Mark Steyn

August 8th, 2011
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I asked:

Mark, I have noticed Alex(is) de Tocqueville popping up in your work lately Is Tocqueville’s work significant in After America and if so, why? Also, what works of Tocqueville’s did you reference, and what of his would you recommend?

Mark answers.

Steyn’s new book, After America: Get Ready for Armageddon hits the bookstores today. Buy yours at Steyn Online or Amazon.

While your at Amazon, you can get the Alexis de Tocqueville book that Mark Steyn recommends you read just as soon as your done with After America, Democracy in America.

Mark Steyn , , ,

Toronto the Not in a Death Spiral

August 4th, 2011

If only she had blown bubbles in his face, maybe Toronto Police would consider it assault.

spiral toronto

The details: I was at Yonge-Dundas Square … And I used my new Canon camera to take photos of this neon shrine.

Suddenly, a woman wearing a hijab ran toward me… She was screaming: “We are Muslim! You do not take pictures of us!”

I informed the lady I was in a public square in a democracy. I can actually take pictures of whomever I please.

And then: Ka-pow! Her fist collided with my face…

The cop walked back to me. No charges would be laid, he said, because he believed the woman’s story — namely, she was merely trying to knock the camera out of my hands.

Even if you accept the story of the attacker, she committed a crime.

The Toronto Police Service has become so bad at doing their job, it’s hard to imagine that Chief Bill Blair will not be a Cabinet Minister within the year.

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