Archive for September, 2008

h1

The forgotten pioneers of electronica

September 30, 2008

I’ve been fairly obsessed with the Freezepop song “Melon Ball Bounce,” a cover version of the 1963 Sprite jingle by electronic music artist Raymond Scott. And after a childhood watching Doctor Who, I still think that its theme music, created by Delia Derbyshire (pictured above), remains the coolest, creepiest musical intro ever. It turns out that I’m not alone. A recent article in the Guardian discussed the resurgence of interest in ‘library music’ – early electronic music experiments, in the service of advertising and TV soundtracks, from the 1960s and ’70s. Most of this music was never intended for release to the public, and it’s accordingly quite rare. However, the Glo Spot label has begun to reissue some releases (they are still pretty hard to get, it looks like – they seem to be sold out everywhere).

MP3: Orbital – Dr ? (Doctor Who theme)

h1

And the Polaris goes to…

September 29, 2008

Voted on by an ‘even more expert group of experts’ (a quote from the live webcast), the winner of the 2008 Polaris Music Prize is the album Andorra, by Ontario’s Caribou (Dan Snaith). As well as being a fan of his music (I played the track “Melody Day” when I guest-DJ’ed on WMBR), Caribou also gets z=z love for being in the ranks of overeducated musicians – Dan Snaith holds a doctorate in mathematics from Imperial College London.

h1

The Weakerthans win Verge artist of the year

September 28, 2008

Speaking of the Weakerthans and awards, they just won the Verge Award for artist of the year. Verge is XM Radio’s Canadian alternative/indie station, and this is a fan-based award (something like 45 000 people voted for their favourites of the bands ‘in regular rotation’ on the channel). Like the Polaris Music Prize, the glory comes with a nice chunk of change – in this case, CDN$25 000. I’m not sure if Natalie Yanchak (of the Dears, who were also nominated in this category) considers the prediction in her rather catty blog post to be negated or fulfilled: “It’s gonna be a free for all, and some totally corporate band who hired a bunch of kids to vote everyday for them is going to win. And that’s what some bands want, which is great.” (despite her dismissal of the idea, she was nevertheless thoughtful enough to provide a direct link to the voting page for her readers).

I can, however, guess how Weakerthans’ frontman John K Samson’s former bandmates in Propagandhi might feel, given their account of Samson’s departure:

For the next 3 years, we rode the tail-end of the punk-rock explosion. When the smoke cleared and we were putting together Less Talk More Rock, it was becoming evident that Jordy and I, the rural metal-heads, were cut from an entirely different cloth than little John-John, the urbane poet. He just didn’t seem to enjoy getting attacked by nazi-skinheads or sleeping on piss-soaked mattresses in lice-infested italian squats anymore. Go figure.

So shortly after we recorded LTMR, we shook hands, performed a mutual culling of the herd and like all good revolutionary anti-capitalists, got into an argument about money. Eventually, we worked out our differences and helped John into his proverbial Golden Parachute, which he has apparently, thus far, rolled into $80,000 worth of pennies with which to buy gourmet peanut butter and bread made of gold. Weird!

Personally, I’m happy to see the Weakerthans get the recognition I think they deserve.

EDIT: Natalie of the Dears stopped by in the comments to say that she was ‘happy with the results.’ All’s right with the world.

h1

Webcast: Polaris Music Prize 2008

September 28, 2008

Tomorrow (Monday) night is the announcement of the winner of Canada’s 2008 Polaris Music Prize. Modeled after the Mercury Prize, it’s given for the best Canadian album, ‘judged solely on artistic merit, without regard to genre or record sales.’ This year’s shortlist of ten albums includes StarsIn Our Bedroom After the War, Caribou‘s Andorra, Holy Fuck‘s LP, and the WeakerthansReunion Tour (a full list is here). As well as glory, the prize comes with $20 000 Canadian, which is real money these days. The awards ceremony is being held in Toronto, and will feature live or video performances by all the nominees. The whole thing is being being webcast on CBC radio 3, starting at 8 pm Eastern time. If you do happen to be in Toronto, the official after-party starts at 10 pm at the Drake Hotel, and members of nominee and z=z fave Holy Fuck will be among the DJs.

webcast link (8 pm Eastern on Monday, September 29th, 2008)

h1

Coverage: Ted Leo, “Since U Been Gone”

September 26, 2008

Speaking of Ted Leo, here’s his cover of Kelly Clarkson‘s “Since You Been Gone,” with a bonus bit of the Yeah Yeah Yeah‘s “Maps” thrown in. Enjoy!

MP3: Ted Leo – Since U Been Gone (Kelly Clarkson cover)

h1

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Rapid Response

September 25, 2008

Ted Leo is, as ever, putting his music where his mouth is. In response to the protests at the RNC convention, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists recorded a digital-only benefit EP, Rapid Response. As the name implies, they got it out in a hurry, using their demo setup and mixing it in GarageBand. You can purchase it from Touch and Go records – actually, I think it’s more of a ‘premium’ (in the public radio pledge drive sense), since everything you pay for it will be donated to Democracy Now! and Minneapolis Food Not Bombs, and you can choose from a range of ‘prices’ (donation amounts). The EP includes two new songs, as well as an Amebix and a Cock Sparrer cover (click on the image above for a larger version of the tracklisting).

Donate for the EP here.

h1

Listen local: The Builders and the Butchers

September 25, 2008

Portland, OR’s The Builders and the Butchers might have the most varied instrumental lineup of any band I can think of. Their Myspace page lists, in addition to the usual, banjo, mandolin, accordion, xylophone, bells and washboard (lead singer Ryan Sollee admits to something of a thrift shop instrument addiction). And they’ve been known to hand out tambourines, tom-toms and the like to get their audience involved at their raucous, revivalist live shows. I’m looking forward to checking them out. Meanwhile, here’s their track, “When It Rains,” – I think it sounds a little like early Mountain Goats.

MP3 link: The Builders and the Butchers – When It Rains (at RCRD LBL)

More: myspace

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.