Sunday, February 18, 2007

Adventures in Pandora, Episode 1: WTF

On the nightshift, and sometimes just at home, I often listen to ye olde Pandora on the internet. Quite frequently, I listen to Jon Ronson's Ronson On archives, but sometimes I listen to music, too.
As of right now, I have, um, let's see, 10 stations on Pandora, which follow:

Bad Ass Folk: based on my suggestions of the Mountain Goats, Two Gallants, etc.
Big Pop: which is an attempt to scratch my Andy Kim/Tommy James itch.
Global Psych: this is the newest station, still very ill-defined. Hoping for some Luaka Bop-type stuff. Os Mutantes, Jorge Ben, etc. I've been trying to get some 60s French pop in there too to try to broaden the base.
Herky Jerky: a dismal failure reaching for White Hassle/Railroad Jerk type stuff, of which there is none. So instead, based on the Railroad Jerk entry, I get tubloads of 90s rock, including Hootie & the Blowfish.
Howling Hex: for all things Neil Hagerty/Jennifer Herrema related, I suppose it should be called Truxrox or something, but having it "H" based keeps it near the top of the list, alphabetically.
Mello Instro: another poorly defined station, ranges from Precious Fathers to Tin Hat Trio. Okay, "poorly defined" in this case = "too narrowly definied"
Nerd Rap: De La, Talib, Ghostface, etc
Sweet Country: trying to get countrypolitan, like 70s Jerry Lee Lewis, but the Jerry Lee Lewis stuff triggers 50s r&b, so it's kind of a bust. And the Willie Nelson suggestion triggers Sheryle Crow(e?). So it needs more
Sweet Soul: I plugged in the Dramatics and the Commodores.
Rough Soul: Rufus Thomas to Sugarman Three.

So that's what I'm working with. I'm listening to Sweet Soul right now, and it's playing the Commodores' "Night Shift", which is, y'know, PERFECT. But two songs ago, when I decided to start this entry, it played "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)", one of my VERY FAVOURITE Soul/R&B songs, only they played the one (I didn't even know it existed, HOW COULD I KNOW?) by the New Kids On the Block!!! And that's why Robots will never rule the Earth. They have no judgment, no sense of context. This Pandora robot just coldly examines quite superficial aspects of songs and doesn't seem to take in to consideration the fact that I am not a 12-year-old girl in the year 1990! In fact, the mere suggestion that I am a 12-y-o-g-i-t-y-1990 should make the Pandorbot self-destruct. And then I could go back to listening to Mastodon on the iTunes.
So now, I've switched to Sweet Country, and it's playing Jay Bennett, who I think used to be in Wilco or somesuch, which has ZERO to do with what I'm looking for in this station, but I think I entered Smog into the computation, which has completely ruined the experiment. Okay, axe the J-Ben, and we get "Why Baby Why" by GeoJones, which is is still a little hillbilly for what I'm after. Fast forward it, though, cuz I still might some 70s George, esp. George & Tammy, whoo! So now it's giving me Merle Haggard (thanks to the Willie, no doubt), CRIPES. Merle gets THUMBS DOWN. Not it life, just for this station. THIS IS SCIENCE DAMMIT. So now it's playing Iron & Wine. GIVE ME ONE BREAK, YOU CURSED MACHINE!
Okay, switch I&W to Bad Ass Folk, right? That's more or less the secondary reason for that station, as a clearing house for most of the stuff that's coming up in Sweet Country thanks to my ill-conceived Smog request (I just wanted to hear "Dress Sexy at My Funeral", which, to me, is a Countrypolitan song).
Okay, Charley Pride, "A Shoulder to Cry On". Nice. I've interviewed CP about three times, back in my music journalist days. I highly recommend interviewing him if you get the chance. He'll tell you a story, and I don't just mean he'll tell a story, but he'll tell YOU a story. He'll take the jist of your conversation, and find some anecdote that will sublimely express the very thing you were wondering about, only he won't actually answer your question, and he'll take LOTS of sidetrips in making the point. But it's wonderful. And if you can get tix at a decent price, go see him. He wears awesome sweaters, and still sings great.


Each night that I go out there and I hear that applause and appreciation, it's just like it was the first time. I love what I do, and I think that permeates out to my fans and right back to me. They love it, and we love doing it. It's a good marriage.

Okay, let's move over to the Howling Hex station...what've we got? Old Time Relijun, YES! Skronky w/o sax (at least no sax yet). I don't think these guys have any actual connection to Trux, but I dig their spirit in the same way. There's a sort of rock-as-freejazz, but not really aesthetic. Next up, the Minutemen, which, okay, that's closer to OTR than Trux for nu-jazz fakeness and turbull singing, but okay, yeah, plus the Meltzer connection (D. Boon had a Meltzer pome in his pocket when he died, sad, huh?). So now, Erase Errata, who, um, I think my brother likes these guys. I get why Pandorobot is playing this, it has that same syncopated Zappa-like swirl thing, but it's a little to proggo for me. So skip that, and now it's Tricky Woo, which I plugged in as a variable. Only, Pandora has a very poor selection of CanRock, and they only have Tricky Woo's hair metal album, First Blush, which I like, but, um, I don't think I like the stuff that it triggers, so maybe I should take it out of the equation. So now I get Chavez, which has nothing to do with anything except 90s alt-rock (i think they toured with the Smashing Pumpkins, blecccchhhh). So this station is broken. TIME TO MOVE ON.
Let's see what Herky Jerky gives us...Clem Snide, okay, I can kinda see the Railroad Jerk connection there. Very Brooklyn-y, very, um, rootsy but also wordy. Urbane. Or as Pandorbot sez: "features subtle use of vocal harmony and electric guitar" GREAT. NICE TO PULL OFF THE PANEL AND SEE THE MACHINE AT WORK. But I kind of like "End of Love", so who cares WHY, let's just listen. Back to the Nat'l Post cryptic x-word, which feels reallyl easy this week. Anagrams are always the easiest for me, because, y'know, the answer is LITERALLY right there. I mean, Withdraws corrupt decrees (7)...
Who the hell is Karl Blau? Sometimes I think Pandorbot just makes shit up to piss me off. NEXT!
Global Psych, okay, this one holds the most promise of actually introducing me to new (to me) music, since it's sort of a (fake) genre that I'm only sort of casually into. Zuco 103, sorta triphoppy, foreign language, I like. Sez P'bot: "features minor key tonalities, portoguese lyrics and synthesizers", which are all things P'bot believes I dig, so: RESULT!


When I first got in to the business, people would always ask me, 'How does it feel to be the Jackie Robinson of country music? How does it feel to be the first coloured country singer? How does it feel to be the first negro country singer?' I'd say, 'I don't feel no different.'

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I meant to post this a long time ago, like weeks and weeks ago, but now is when it's happening, so that's that. Check out X-Ray Records (and tell Dave hi from Emmet!) on the right for a bunch of other lists somewhere down the line.
Here's my favourite albums from last year in no particular order. Keep in mind that I more or less stopped being on top of music like I had for the previous ten years around September, so I mighta missed some things, like maybe that new Black Keys, which I've only heard one song from, but that one song sounded like I'd like it.

1. Two Gallants - What the Toll Tells (Saddle Creek) - I first heard these guys on a 2005 Loose Music compilation called Start Your Country, which also featured faves like Parkas and Roger Dean Young, and sometime this year I became really addicted to "Steady Rollin'", the second track on this album. There's a sort of a jugband quality to that song, and the usual Two Gallants rightous throat bleeding.
2. Howling Hex - 1-2-3 (Drag City) - Another year, another 2 albums from Neil Hagerty and his band(s). I haven't really warmed up to the other one, Nightclub Version of the Eternal yet, but sometimes it takes me a while.
3. Hylozoists - La Fin Du Monde (Boompa) - I saw Paul Aucoin's mostly instro combo twice in Oh-Six. Once in Regina and once in Vancouver. The Regina was way better, for a variety of reasons. But the album is really, really amazing.
4. Rah Rah - Songs for Pasquala (self-release) - Oh how I love these kids.
5. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale (Def Jam/Universal) - Pretty much for "The Champ" alone, from which this blog got its name (via Rocky II, as well, long live Burgess Meredith).
6. Prototypes - Je Ne Te Connais Pas EP (Minty Fresh) - fun, dumb, French pop. This EP is a FREE DOWNLOAD at the Minty Fresh website.
7. Ray Davies - Other People's Lives (V2) - I don't know. I think I'm overrating this. There are some really brilliant songs, but I honestly haven't listened to OPL since, like, May. So maybe it doesn't belong here.
8. the Parkas - The Scars to Prove It (Little Records of Concrete) - not really an album, but another EP, and so far only available with the DVD A Life of Crime, which is REQUIRED VIEWING for anybody who wants to tour Canada with a rock band. The songs are absolutely killer, though, and the Parkas have already two newer tracks on their mySpace page. HUZZAH! The Parkas are sort of turning into a less fun band than they were on their debut record, Now This Is Fighting, which is too bad, but they're probably actually even better, and they're sorta really kick-ass and tough now. Like on their first record, they were sorta mouthy and cheeky punks, and then they got theirs (see the movie) and now they've become sort of what they where acting as if they were. I don't think that makes any sense. But, like, I think of the Parkas as a street gang. On their first record, they were a street gang from Grease. Now they're a street gang from, um, a Martin Scorsese movie. Anyway, the Parkas remain wickedly smart and terrific, and, little known fact: their drummer writes their lyrics! Just like, um, Mudhoney, I think.
9. Chad Van Gaalen - Skelliconnection (Flemish Eye/Sub Pop) - Another album I didn't hear was C Van G's Calgary buds The Cape May's new one. I should seek that out. I really liked their last one, Central City May Rise Again. Anyway, C Van G has a new album and it's real good. Favourite track: Wind Driving Dogs.
10. Various Artists - Congotronics Vol. 2: Buzz & Rumble from the Urb'n Jungle (Crammed Disc) - AWESOME.

Stuff I'm looking forward in 2007: new albums/music from RTX, Parkas, Goldenmile AND HOPEFULLY ANDREW VINCENT GODDAMNIT. And also picking up some stuff I missed last year.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A posting I found.


F'r realz,

It's Friday night, and whattayaknow, things're totally lousy! Awesome! The weekend belongs to misery! Woo hoo!
Regardless, in 14 hours, I return to the airwaves on a semi-regular basis. For the month of June, I'm going to be filling in on the 2 to 4 p.m. slot on 91.3 FM, CJTR. If I was a more "together" person, I'd have something really wild and awesome planned, but, um, YU KNOW YU KNOW.
I've got a whole SCHWACK of new (and new to me) musik that I'm going through AT THIS VERY MOMENT, and since I'd rather not talk about me (then why the blog, bub?), let's talk about MUZIK.
Classical Classics, Vol. 1 - Emmet continues his half-assed attempt to GET Classical Musix. Those of you IN THE KNOW already know that I've sorta got halfway down with the fourth volume in this intrepid series, so why not go back to the orginal. THE ONE THAT STARTERED IT ALL. First up, Tchaikovsky: big whoop. Nutcracker music. Mozart "Eine Kleine Wittgenstein" sounds pretty good. But I'm sure that's only because I'm familiar with it from TV. Still not down with Vivaldi, despite my inclination to BE DOWN WITH VIVALDI. I figure I've give two seasons a shot, and unless Winter is totally Next Level Shit, me and Viv are DONE.
Mixtape presents: UK Garage: the Next Step - I think there's a pun in the title, but I don't think I'll ever get it. This sounds like Dance Dance Revolution music, and I suppose, y'know, in a way, IT IS. There's a notable version of Bel Biv Devoe's "Poison", but otherwise, pffffffffff. The thing about Dance Dance Revolution music is that when I hear it, I'm either dancing or I know I'm going to be dancing soon, so, y'know, pavlovian whatchamacallit. Dawg. True story: the Windows Media Player thinks this CD is Tori Amos.
The Very Best of Alfred Apaka With The Hawaiian Village Serenaders - this un's still in the cellowrap, with a Tempo pricetag no less. THIS IS GAS STATION MUSIC. I kinda don't want to open it, because, y'know, MAGIC. But then again, do I want a collectible or a listenable? Eff it, let's listen. IT'S OPEN. It's in the drive. Hmmm, sort of a South Pacific Bing Crosby, which is what I expected, but not what I hoped. Just goes to show ya. Still, the instruments are MY-T tasty, and, like, whew, that's just about enough for me. Suffice to say, it's no Tau Moe Family. Actually, it's pretty dull.
Strange Lights and Resolutions by Kobayashi - Montral triphopjazzensemble. Totally mellow, totally "chill" oh snap, there's the horns. Totally Tim Weisgarber music. I was listening to Tim's show on the radio-radio tonight. He played the entire As It Happens theme. Oh, nuts, there's vocals. Not bad vocals, pretty appropriate vocals, but I was like, totally into hearing this ALA INSTRUMENTAL, as the music snobs say. Song 2, "Midnight Ambulances" has a wicked groove. This is late night music. Can I make it work on a summery Saturday afternoon? DO YOU HAVE TO ASK? I think these guys are coming through with the Jazz Festival. Should be a deadly show. Yeah. I'm there.
La Fin Du Mone by the Hylozoists - I saw these guys live a bout a month or so ago and they were pretty amazing. Picked up the CD they had out at the time, and was pretty so-so about it. I think if I had heard that CD BEFORE I'd seen 'em live, I'd have been able to form a more meaningful relationship with it. This new one--so new it's not even new yet. It's pre-new--naturally seems much more in tune with what I saw. A little more together, and little more, um, filmic (cuz i think "cinematic" is a wrong word to use to describe music: "It's cinematic" "Oh, you can see it?"), or better still Morricone-ish. Or BIG, GRAND. Yeah, this is really good.

Well, that's it for this week/month/whatever.