Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Paperbacks give you more MP3s, tour like Lance Armstrong

The Paperbacks are still quite willing to let you join their gang (what should their fan club be called?). Maybe you've been afraid to dive into the spiky seas of their double album, Lit From Within, with its frothy 20-foot waves and dark, chilly depths. Never fear, the boys are playing the crack dealer role well, slipping you another taste that will have you begging for more - two more tracks to lovingly place on your Walkman until you must buy the whole frigging thing.

Drop me a comment below - how do you like the Soundcloud player? Does it download the mp3 quickly and easily for ya? Witty, pithy ideas for the Paperbacks fan club, anyone?

The paperbacks-a dizzy chain of bees by scruffy the yak

The paperbacks-perpetual autumn by scruffy the yak

“Lit From Within” Tour Dates

May 14 Winnipeg, MB @ Lo Pub w/ The Departures and The Ear Drums.
June 01 Thunder Bay, ON @ Black Pirate's Pub
June 02 Sault Ste. Marie, ON @ Foggy Notions w/ Kalle Mattson
June 03 Sudbury, ON @ The Townehouse Tavern
June 05 Montreal, QC @ Quai des Brumes - w/ Mia Verko & Camaromance
June 04 Toronto, ON @ TBA
June 06 Quebec City, QC @ L'Agitee w/ Fiction in Motion & Hopeful 16.
June 08 Rimouski, QC @ Bar L'Après-Match w/ Modern Sins + Guests.
June 10 Halifax, NS @ Gus's Pub w/ Greg MacPherson & The Winning Hearts
June 11 Moncton, NB @ Plan B
June 12 Sydney, NS @ Governor's Pub
June 15 Ottawa, NS @ Rainbows
June 16 Toronto, ON @ NXNE
June 17 Sarnia, ON @ Paddy Flaherty's
June 18 Toronto, ON @ NXNE
June 19 Peterborough, ON @ The Spill.
June 24 Lethbridge, AB @ The Slice w/ The Darby and Joan Club
June 25 Calgary, AB @ Broken City
June 26 Edmonton, AB @ Haven Social Club w/ We Were Lovers

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Morning Benders

This is not really new, but I think it's my favourite video of all time.

Yours Truly Presents: The Morning Benders "Excuses" from Yours Truly on Vimeo.

You can download 5 songs for free from Daytrotter, including an acoustic version of the tune above.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hello Red Vienna

You know that disappointment when a band you follow implodes? I was saddened when Projektor gave up the ghost. The Winnipeg-based quartet's urgent brand of sweeping melancholy and angsty hyped-up caffeine-guitar injections hit the spot. And the secret weapon was drummer Darren Achorn, one of the best traps men I've ever heard. But Projektor faded, and singer/songwriter-sometime-guitarist-sometime-bassist Jahmeel Russell went off to play with Hide Your Daughters, Mico and Black Halos, adding a move to Vancouver somewhere in there. So I was more than a little pleasantly surprised when I got a message that Russell had finally put together a new sonic vehicle. Red Vienna is a brand-spankin' new band from Vancouver, and now there's a brand-spankin' new EP out there for you to taste; you can get it here.

01 The Best Words - Red Vienna by scruffy the yak

Track Listing:
1. The Best Words 03:26
2. Low Lights 03:22
3. Blood Letter 04:20
4. Victory Victoria 03:55
5. The Long Walk 04:08
6. Reprise

You can also snag Projektor's farewell EP, Atlantic Tired South, even if your pockets are empty, by going here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Today is Earth Day, Tomorrow is Robyn Hitchcock Day

photo by Michele Noach

Criminally underrated Robyn Hitchcock would now like you to have two more free songs courtesy of his Phantom 45s page.Comme Toujours (Here I Stand) and Halo Mary are your free just for visiting here. The Museum of Robyn Hitchcock says that Halo Mary was written "Written for the movie Elektra Luxx, where Carla Gugino plays a recovering Catholic and porn star. Catholicism and sex…what a team! Paul and the boys bring out all the flaming colours in the prism of guilt, in under 3 minutes." A swirling, driving Hitchcockian version of powerpop, with poppy yet desperate vocals, tasty organ, and a nifty little buzzing guitar solo.

Halomary by scruffy the yak

Comme Toujours was "originally conceived for Bryan Ferry as Humphrey Bogart, a man alone consoling himself with a cigarette. Finally brought into being for Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar, who very kindly named their play after it. Sublimely accompanied on cello by Jenny Adejayan." I'm pretty sure this is the first Hitchcock tune featuring another language. Mellow, delicate, and yes, I'd like to hear Ferry do it.

Commetoujours by scruffy the yak

On Record Store Day I bought two Robyn Hitchcock discs, Propellor Time and I Often Dream of Trains in New York. The latter is now one of my top records of the last ten years, if not forever. It comes with a dvd of the show, and many of the songs are better than the originals. It's true, I wouldn't make that up. I have a difficult time understanding why Hitchcock isn't more popular despite his sometimes-unusual voice. He writes catchy melodies and amazing, oft-funny lyrics, his live shows are always entertaining and include amusing, between-song banter, and he rocks mean polka-dot shirts. What more can you ask for? Anyway, some video recently surfaced of Mr. Hitchcock playing live.

ROBYN HITCHCOCK from Black Cab Sessions on Vimeo.

This one's from Feb 2009 but has just come to my attention. If the collection of songs is too long, try the interview segment.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Covers 6: Beck and his gang, Arcade Fire, Decemberists, Spoon, My Morning Jacket

Following up on the covers we threw you last week, here's the next two instalments of Beck's Record Club, more INXS from the Australian band's Kick.

Record Club: INXS "Devil Inside" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

Record Club: INXS "New Sensation" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

On to other covers, You Ain't No Picasso has continued to share some interesting artists doing other artists, recently unveiling an Arcade Fire collection including their covers of Springsteen, Pixies, Violent Femmes, The Clash, Lennon, and so on. Check out YANP's covers archive for more collections for Spoon, Decemberists, and of Montreal. Some of them are live and the sound quality is not for audiophile purists, but there's definitely some cool and unusual song choices. Hearing The Decemberists and/or Colin Meloy solo doing Robyn Hitchcock, Heart, Bjork, Cheap Trick, Squeeze, The Soft Boys and more makes me appreciate The D's even more. And I love Spoon, so anything's appreciated, but Guided by Voices, The Kinks, Wire, Julian Cope covers, among others? No wonder Spoon turned out so durned good. And included in the My Morning Jacket collection? INXS's Never Tear Us Apart. Is INXS cool these days?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Covers 5: Peter Gabriel Scratches His Itch

photo by mac filko

Whole albums of covers can be hit-and-miss affairs. Bowie's Pin-ups album was pretty good, but it was arguably done at the peak of his powers, whereas Duran Duran put out their covers album, Thank You, after their comeback album. Both records were probably done to get something out there without the pressure of writing enough new material, but Bowie's was full of fire and passion, while Duran Duran's just sounded tired. Def Leppard put one out not too long ago which was similarly mediocre.

So doing a whole album of cover songs can be a risky proposition. It can seem like the easy way out, especially if slavish imitations add nothing to the original versions. Peter Gabriel recently released Scratch My Back, his own covers album. One would be hard-pressed to argue that Gabriel is at his creative apex, since aside from soundtracks, he releases a pop/rock record every 8 or 10 years these days.

Then again, Gabriel is not Duran Duran or Def Leppard, he's always done things in his idiosyncratic way. Scratch My Back is no different,since he decided to record the whole thing with orchestration intead of stock rock instrumentation - no guitars, no drums, for example. Gabriel has also managed to get the artists he's covered to record a Peter Gabriel song, except for David Bowie, who is busy hibernating (supposedly Brian Eno is going to reciprocate in Bowie's stead). So far, Bon Iver has covered Come Talk to Me, Stepehn Merrit (Magnetic Fields) has covered Not One of Us, and Paul Simon has done Biko. I've heard rumblings that Arcade Fire and Radiohead might not get their songs done, but we'll see.

Track Listing (listen here):

Heroes (David Bowie)
The Boy in the Bubble (Paul Simon)
Mirrorball (Elbow)
Flume (Bon Iver)
Listening Wind (Talking Heads)
The Power of the Heart (Lou Reed)
My Body is a Cage (Arcade Fire)
The Book of Love (The Magnetic Fields)
I Think it's Going to Rain Today (Randy Newman)
Apres Moi (Regina Spektor)
Philadelphia (Neil Young)
Street Spirit (Radiohead)

The Book of Love - Magnetic Fields

Peter Gabriel - The Book Of Love by user543929

Street Spirit (Fade Out) - Radiohead

Peter Gabriel - Street Spirit (Fade Out) by v7nce

My Body is a Cage - Arcade Fire

Peter Gabriel - My Body Is A Cage (Arcade Fire Cover) by seriousstache

Heroes - David Bowie

Peter Gabriel - Heroes by MiK*

Peter Gabriel has even covered the Vampire Weekend tune that dropped PG's name into the lyrics, here's Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.

Hot chip peter gabriel cape cod kwassa kwassa vampire weekend cover by revrev

You can get a free download of Flume here by trading your e-mail address:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Covers 4: Beck's Record Club: The King of Music Geeks?

photo by Scott Beale/Laughing Squid

As far as cover songs revealing an artist's true rock geekdom (see previous post), Beck's gotta be the king. His record club features him and whatever cool musician-type buddies are around (like Wilco, Feist, MGMT, Giovanni Ribisi [!], etc.) covering not just one song, but entire albums - three so far, recently started fourth. The recording is videotaped and posted to his site song by song. Here's the official explanation:

"Record Club is an informal meeting of various musicians to record an album in a day. The album chosen to be reinterpreted is used as a framework. Nothing is rehearsed or arranged ahead of time. A track is put up here once a week. The songs are rough renditions, often first takes that document what happened over the course of a day as opposed to a polished rendering. There is no intention to 'add to' the original work or attempt to recreate the power of the original recording. Only to play music and document what happens."

Beck covered Skip Spence's Halo of Gold previously on the tribute album More Oar, so obviously he's enamored of Spence's Oar, which is a rock nerd signpost. The Velvet Underground and Leonard Cohen fit the rock snob yardstick too, but go to the bottom of this post if you want to see how the club's tackling some records that don't necessarily have the most street cred or cool factor.

Beck Halo of Gold by scruffy the yak

Remember you don't necesarily have to watch the video - I don't, I just like to listen.

Record Club: Skip Spence "Little Hands" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

Record Club: Songs Of Leonard Cohen "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

Giovanni Ribisi alert!

Record Club: Velvet Underground & Nico "I'll Be Your Mirror" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

The newest album being covered is INXS's Kick. Interesting choice, but Beck says Ace of Base's The Sign had previously been kicked around as a possibility, so anything goes.

Record Club: INXS "Guns In The Sky" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

My favourite Beck cover has to be his version of Gram Parson's Sin City. I went to get it to share with you, but I found that I had already shared my disc with a friend and hadn't got it back. I'll post it soon, check back - it's worth waiting for, believe me.