Sunday, July 31, 2005 

Signs of life

People who know her should note that K finally has another blog entry up, and will probably be updating more often once she gets to law school. Also, this post has some photo information some of you will probably find cool.

(Also, she has an RSS feed now, which helps you know when she updates...)


Charts... of DEATH!

This week: Russia. The "Indioicjdsopvn Disco" song Edward has up to download is quite good.

Friday, July 29, 2005 

It's not like it seems from a distance

Also, my Seconds piece on Portishead's live version of "Sour Times" is up, complete with downloadable MP3. It's a really amazing version of a great song, you should go download it. I admit to loving the idea that, for once, you can actually hear what I'm talking about without too much effort.


I didn't expect it either

Another week, another Singles Going Steady, including a surprisingly strong Mariah Carey song.



Excellent review of a new biography of Georges Braque; I prefer his Cubist stuff to Picasso's, and the reviewer evokes some of the feel of his painting and sculpture fairly well. Despite the earthy palette of most of his famous work (which is commonly interpreted as being dull due to a lack of brightness or something equally spurious), there's a vigor and a humour to Braque that makes the paintings strangely fun, something this book apparently nails.

Thursday, July 28, 2005 

Look away

That's right; somebody scanned in some comic book pages that show a zombie fucking a cow.

No, I don't know why.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 

Tempest in a tea pot

Josh Love has done an excellent job on his "The Problem of Indie" piece today, and Justin Cober-Lake has an excellent follow-up on on his blog.


Filesharing makes me spend money on music dept.

Surprise, surprise - a British study has found that those who download music illegally spend more on legal downloads than those who don't. And not a little bit more - four and a half times more. I'm pretty damn sure you'll see similar (albeit not as extreme) results if they look at figures for buying music offline for the two groups.

It's also interesting to note that record industry's response seems to be this:

"Our concern is that file sharers' expenditure on music overall is down," said Phillips, who says that two-thirds of file-sharers buy less music than they used to.

I'm not convinced this has anything to do with illegal downloading. The simple fact is when you start doing something like this you are likely to start out spending more because you are catching up, buying all the already extent music you want. Once you've caught up as much as you want, you'll still buy new music, but the amount isn't going to be the same, for obvious reasons. Or, to put it another way: You don't bother buying the Beatles twice.


Slothrop dodging

A truly excellent essay on Gravity's Rainbow and a host of intriguing tributes to Pynchon, right here.


Grab bag

So today I'm a little late leaving for second shift at work, so instead of taking painful minutes figuring out what I want to listen to (a nearly impossible thing to decide) I just grabbed a chunk of the unsorted CDs adorning one wall of my room. And here's what I got:

R.E.M. - Document
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Source Tags & Codes
The Strokes - Room On Fire
Mogwai - Ten Rapid
Iggy and the Stooges - Raw Power (1)
Cream - Strange Brew: The Very Best Of Cream
The Apples In Stereo - Her Wallpaper Reverie (2)
Copyright - Love Story (3)
The Replacements - Tim (4)
Radiohead - Pablo Honey (5)

I do like some non-rock music, I swear. I'd guess at least 3-4 of these are eventually bound for the record store.

(1) This will be a first listen, if I get to it. I doubt I'll like it more than Fun House, but we'll see.
(2) "Questions And Answers" is the shit, yo. I actually prefer my Apples In Stereo as brief as possible, and surrounded by weird instrumentals ("Les Amants" once gave me a bad scare late at night on headphones).
(3) I bought this because I loved "Transfiguration" and "Radio", and I think I still do - I tried to sell it repeatedly because "Seven" and especially "Omnicide" are very silly. It was my favourite record for a brief period when I was very young. But "Once Upon A Valentine" is a pretty great anti-love song, and I think I may want to give this one another chance.
(4) There are some tremendous songs here - "Bastards Of Young" and "Left Of The Dial", yeah, but "Little Mascara" and "Hold My Life" are maybe even better, to say nothing of "Here Comes A Regular". Still, the record as a whole has never done that much for me - I may wind up letting this one go.
(5) I think this record may be underrated. "Lurgee" and "Blow Out" certainly are, and "Prove Yourself" and "I Can't" - the first half has some duds, but it ends really strongly.



The whole of the Secret Friends Society is pretty swell, but Kean Soo's Jellaby is the one I think I'll be following - this page alone gives you a pretty good idea of its charms.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 

Show report

I've got a post up at the Turntable on the Teenage Fanclub show we saw Monday night. Good stuff.


You can't make this shit up

Well, you can, but you don't have to; a real politician in Azerbaijan has apparantly offered to fuck your wife if you doubt his heterosexuality. Nice.


They'll never top The Colour And The Shape

British Ben's recent Feel Good Hits post reminds me that I've been meaning to point out that although the album may well be underwhelming, "The Best of You" by the Foo Fighters is actually a really good single.


Super DragAndGo

John Rogers isn't just entertaining and insightful, he's useful - I downloaded the extension he praised and sure enough, my home surfing is much more seamless now.

Monday, July 25, 2005 

Filesharing makes me spend money on music dept.

Yes, bittorrents will be the end of the music industry as we know it, etc etc. I don't think so (and whether we want the industry as we know it to survive is an open question), but in any case I'm more interested in filesharing's ability to let me only buy albums I actually, you know, enjoy. Engineers' very strong debut is one I downloaded months ago and have listened to often since; I understand why some of my Stylus compadres consider it a one-trick pony (as you might when you consider the reductive but partially apt description they bring to mind: A sleepier Teenage Fanclub making a gauzy shoegaze album for reals, all harmony vocals and soft waves), but I can't get enough of it. I went looking for it a while ago and it was import only; late last week I was informed it was out in North America and immediately ordered a copy via Amazon - actually via Caiman Canada; so far everything I've gotten from "Amazon" is actually via them in the "Amazon Marketplace", whatever that is, as they always have a better price and they ship really fast despite being based in Florida. I should probably just start going through them directly.

Anyway, that wasn't the real downloading success story; instead consider my experience with Jesu's self titled debut. I'm familiar at least slightly with Justin Broadrick's work in Godflesh, and was intrigued enough some time ago to pick up the better of the two Godflesh records my local used record store had (Selfless). I wasn't very impressed with it, and will probably sell it eventually. I liked a few of the songs, but it was too long and unvarying for me (although I would still try my hand at something like the reissued Messiah, as I understand Selfless is far from their best record). I only picked up that album with some trepidation, and my failure to really engage with it only made me more leery of this sort of music.

So when I read such great things about Broadrick's debut as Jesu, I took them with a grain of salt. It sounded amazing, but so had Godflesh; I'd never been into much metal of any description and maybe this just wasn't going to work out for me (similar to how I have yet to "get" any jazz, with the tenative exception of Jeff Parker's The Relatives album). I downloaded the album from Scott McKeating (whose soulseek generosity should be legend) months ago, but never got around to listening to it. It was in the queue, and as I'd also gotten an album by Neurosis from him that had yet to do anything for me I wasn't feeling very good about it (in light of subsequent events I'll definitely be giving Neurosis a few more tries).

But I also have a remix of Pelican's "Angel Tears" by one JK Broadrick on my computer, which I got when Michael Bennett (who wrote the review of Jesu) bunged it up on the Stypod. Filesharing, and I was amazed by the track when I stumbled onto it in random play one night. I wasn't sure how much was the band and how much was Broadrick, but it certainly made me feel a bit better about the man's work.

And then I listened to Jesu last night, and it was fucking incredible. Even longer and more monolithic than Selfless, but without boring me for even a second. First-listen love, the kind where you know it's only going to get better. An incredible feeling.

So strong, in fact, that I went by their label looking for a copy of the album, only to find it was out of print. Luckily Caiman had some copies left, and one is currently winging it's way towards me as we speak.

There is no way in hell I would have bought either album without filesharing. Both are shaping up to be parts of my year-end list. The reason, I should add, that I ordered both on Amazon (besides the impulse factor, which did come into play) was that I have no reasonable chance of finding them in record stores in Guelph, and these days when it's so easy to order off of the internet I am loathe to walk into a record store and not buy something right then. I don't want to order it and come back in a few weeks. I can do that from home, and then it comes to my mailbox.

There are some conclusions to be drawn from this by the various industries involved, productive ones (and I think this scenario is far less rare than they imagine), but I'm not very confident they will be.

Also, buy that Jesu record. I'm more than willing to YSI a copy if people are interested but wary.



My review of Chef Menteur's first sort-of album is up.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 

It's a place where books are free

Canada Post has decided to extend the subsidy for interlibrary loans, National Revenue Minister John McCallum announced on Friday. Good to hear, although I'll be interested to find out if possible some of the factors that are still in the air (i.e. how long it will continue and where the money comes from). I do wonder whether that information will make it to press.


Eccentric, not crazy

Great, semi-tongue in cheek examination of celebrity and mental disorders. It's quite well written - I got a kick out of the description of freebies as "the lava of free stuff".

Saturday, July 23, 2005 

Book quiz

You're Catch-22!

by Joseph Heller

Incredibly witty and funny, you have a taste for irony in all that you see. It seems that life has put you in perpetually untenable situations, and your sense of humor is all that gets you through them. These experiences have also made you an ardent pacifist, though you present your message with tongue sewn into cheek. You could coin a phrase that replaces the word "paradox" for millions of people.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Given that for this one there are 64 possible answers, I'm pretty happy with this.


There's no such thing as "sort of undercover"

I started reading A Grand Illusion because my Stylus compadre Alfred Soto writes there, and he's a funny and perceptive writer. As posts like this one show, the rest of the group over there aren't exactly slouches in digging out interesting info either.

Thursday, July 21, 2005 


The second installment of my Stycast went up today.


Isn't that club already called "Bowling"?

This is just hilarious, even if you've never read Achewood.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005 

And it's official

Royal assent has been received, and gay marriage is now officially, no-fooling the law in Canada.

I wasn't quite sure if we'd get here, but I'm glad we did. And very proud. Now if can just not elect Stephen Harper...


Further thoughts on Code: Selfish

I've already said most of what I want to say about my favorite Fall album (Bend Sinister being a close second, and yes there are whole swathes of the discography I have yet to hear), but after hearing the first disc of 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong again yesterday (and the selections are finally starting to make sense to me, I'll be ready for the second disc soon) I've been in the mood for them again. And listening to C:S in the gym, where the focus is so much on energy and drive, brought a few observations to the forefront:

It really as if, here more than ever, Mark E. Smith has just been strapped to the front of an inexorable machine, even on the "softer" tracks.

It really is their most New Order-esque album (that I've heard), albeit more violent.

It'd be really awesome to hear this album live, especially if the beats were mixed as foreward as the Russian Futurists' were to provide the same sort of cacophony (and I wouldn't be surprised if Matthew Adam Hart has heard and liked, say, "The Birmingham School of Business School").


The next step

It won't nearly as much press as the House of Commons vote, but the Senate has also approved the gay marriage bill. Now we're just waiting on royal assent (a.k.a. the rubber stamp).

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 

Give a hoot, read a book

It's absolutely horrifying that Canada Post is consider a measure that would in effect kill library service for much of Canada to save what would be, with their budget, a drop in the bucket.


Beating the heat

New journal entry up.


The Floating World: The Dark Don't Hide It

I own two albums by Jason Molina, and although I will follow his future work with interest, I have no real desire to fill in the gaps in his oeuvre beyond a little downloading. The records are visual and auditory near-opposites within Molina's style; Didn't It Rain as Songs: Ohia (purchased in a record store Todd Burns took me to in NYC) is black and stark on both counts, white bird-outlines perched on a blurred tree. Molina's epic ache during "Blue Factory Flame" (paralyzed by the emptiness), dark hints of demons and skeletons and death. "Ring The Bell"/"Cross The Road, Molina" is almost paralyzing in its stark good(?)'n'evil conflict.

What Comes After The Blues, as the newly-born Magnolia Electric Co, is a whole 'nother thing. White bird-outline again, but pasted in front of a curiously lush, colourful picture of a tree and then a white background. Josh Love's review of it is my favourite review of the year so far, and it correctly points out that here Molina is far more concerned with the earth-bound, brief confrontation with Death on "The Dark Don't Hide It" aside. It didn't do much for me at first, whereas Didn't It Rain I found instantly captivating, but I've listened to it more this year than anything aside from Readymade's All The Plans Resting and Low's The Great Destroyer. It's become one of those records I thought I didn't like much which I've slowly come to realise I truly love.

And even if the rest of the record is too mournful for you, there's always "The Dark Don't Hide It", reprised from the live Trials And Errors album (which I'd love to get my hands on at a reasonable price, something I fear is impossible), which Love describes as a "charged, retributive opener" for the album. And it is, like much of Molina's recent work it brings to mind Neil Young without ever really sounding like Young, and it pops into my head at the strangest times.

When K works the morning and afternoon shift (like today), she and I only share half the working day. On my break I drive her home and eat lunch, then go back to work by myself. I enjoy the place I work, and I enjoy the people for the most part, but invariably on these days I feel a little melancholy as I walk to the Jeep at 10. It makes utterly no sense - I'm always glad to get home and see K, and I'm nearly always in a good mood when I leave work, so why does the interstitial leave me so gloomy? It's always dark, but I don't have a problem with the night. (I think.) I don't have a problem with solitude, for that matter. But that trip always leaves me feeling a little gloomy, in an oddly pleasant fashion. I remember feeling that way sometimes when Erik and I were riding back into town after a shift at the factory (though of course my current job is much less demanding).

In any case, I took What Comes After The Blues with me today, and as I neared the Jeep I realised I was singing "The Dark Don't Hide It" to myself. So for the first time instead of hoping against hope 102.1 had something good playing, I popped a CD in on the way home.

Words can't express how good it felt to caterwaul along with Molina up and down the hills, especially of course to The world was empty on the day when they made it / But Heaven needed someplace to throw all the shit. It's a country-rock number, I guess, one whose steel guitar is more intrinsic to its drive than you might think at first. Molina's always been great at phrasing lines for maximum impact, and he does it here, over and over. Jennie Benford and Michael Kapinus do a great job on the backing vocals, and the song surges forward in fits and starts. It's great musically, beyond any other layers.

And then there's the brush with Death:

Human hearts and pain should never be separate
They wouldn't tear themselves apart
Both trying to fit

At least the dark don't hide it
At least the dark don't hide it
At least the dark don't hide it
At least the dark don't hide it

Now Death is going to hold us
Up in the mirror and say we're so much alike
We must be brothers
"See I've had a job to do but people like you
Have been doing it for me
To one another"

At least I don't hide it
At least I don't hide it
At least I don't hide it
At least I don't hide it

Bitter? Just a little. It's actually kind of odd that "The Dark Don't Hide It" is so castigating compared to the calm (a quality I seem to value increasingly in music these days), compassionate likes of the rest of What Comes After The Blues. Anger before acceptance, I suppose, but this is a record that ends with Molina asking, in the very depths of angst:

Will I have to be alright
all of the time?

Only to have Jennie Benford answer, with all the empathy any human being can muster:

No-one has to be alright
all of the time.

Even if you're having a good day, maybe it doesn't matter if you feel sad for five minutes driving home in the post-rain haze. Not as long as people keep making you songs to sing that reassure us that all the shit Heaven threw down isn't so bad when you get right down to it.

[PS: Can blogger do those Livejournal style cuts? If so, does anyone know how? I'd love to be able to do that.]

Monday, July 18, 2005 

I don't drink coffee

...and thus have never been in a Starbucks, but I still find this article on the chain's nebulous appeal kind of interesting.


We're just painted on canvas

My review of Susumu Yokota's Symbol is the Album of the Week over at Stylus.

Friday, July 15, 2005 


So this week's Singles Going Steady went up, without anything from me. Which it doesn't need (I'm glad to see we had five people), but I did do some blurbs - I'm not sure what happened then, but I either forgot to send them to Andrew or his email address didn't receive it in time (again). I'd hate to see all that work [Ed: err...] going to waste, so here they are. I will say my input would have decreased the scores for Kelly, Stefani and Beck, all of whom needed deflating.

Natasha Bedingfield - "These Words"
Meta-something enough to be annoying, but greatly aided by almost random breakdowns. There are too many uses of the phrase "I love you", although somebody should really name an album "dead poets and drum machines". The chorus sounds kind of like Creeper Lagoon, bizarrely enough, but that combined with the sudden blats are enough to make this endearing rather than pretentiously annoying. For me, at least. [7]

Beck - "Girl"
Didn’t Beck used to be special or something? As generic as its title, between the singles from this album and the ones from Sea Change it’s clear somebody needs to strap Mr. Hanson down and play him Mutations again or something. Or maybe he should just stop with all the Scientology. Chick Corea and Isaac Hayes haven’t exactly been producing stellar music recently, if you know what I mean. [3]


Gwen Stefani - "Cool"
With a backing seemingly nicked from John Waite’s "Missing You" and a bunch of Don Henley’s 80s crap, "Cool" offers equally convincing but sonically opposite proof from "Hollaback Girl" that the American public should just stop encouraging Stefani. It’s nice that she’s cool with her ex, but does anyone care? Go find "Missing You" instead, which may be quasi-schlock but (a) sounds better (b) feels more emotionally honest (c) was around first. [2]

R. Kelly f/ The Game - "Playa's Only"
Do we really have to keep repeating the dumb grammar error in the title? Kelly speak-sings the verses like he always does, and as always it’s kind of annoying. He’s got a good enough singing voice you’d think he would stop half-assing it. The Game appears to be ripping one of his dreary, non-"Hate It Or Love It" singles off for his work here, and Kelly doesn’t get either as catchy as "Ignition (Remix)" or as wacky as any of his other good singles. All of a sudden I miss the days when he offered to toss our salads. [2]

Gavin DeGraw - "Chariot"
No. Just no. Maybe you could have got a 1 or 2 if I hadn’t already been oversaturated with this, but I’ve had as much as I can take. Insufferable, smug faux-“soulful” pablum. I’ve never hated John Mayer, but I don't like him, and right now I would gladly purchase all of his albums just to make Gavin DeGraw go away. A couple of non-sequiturs about chariots and strength and DeGraw’s immensely annoying bray add up to precisely nothing. [0]

Boyz n the Hood f / P. Diddy - "Dem Boyz"
That is an astoundingly stiff drum machine. With the occasional stutter thrown in it works amazingly well with the different rappers and the barely-there synths. Parts of the attempted interplay here remind me of the Diplomats only not as entertaining, but there are a couple of good lines (for some reason I really love the fact that one of them starts their verse with "I’m an Eastside resider") and it’s really too early to tell if these guys are any good. This isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. [6]

Thursday, July 14, 2005 


There is currently a thunderstorm parked above our building, and I'm hoping this computer doesn't suddenly shut down while I'm typing this.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005 

The system is not, will never be and should stop trying to be perfect

This is a fine example of why we don't/shouldn't let economic factors rule everything. I'm okay with some "social costs" if it means we're not executing people constantly.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 

Bumper sticker

Stolen from a message board K frequents:

If you didn't evolve from apes
Maybe you should start


I hate and fear the burning daystar dept.

So our heatwave is supposed to last another two weeks, and temperatures in August are supposed to be higher to boot.

Man, fuck the summer. Can we get some snow or something?


Necessity is the mother of content

John Rogers has an excellent post about Hollywood's lack of agenda. Stylus gets accused every so often of being purposeful in similar ways that Hollywood is, as does the Ontarion, and I'm glad someone's pointing out that it just ain't so most of the time.



The battle women everywhere have been waiting for with bated breath: Johnny Depp vs. Chocolate.

I do respectfully disagree with the outcome, though.

Monday, July 11, 2005 


David Ahenakew has been stripped of his Order of Canada.


I perjured myself but I didn't name names

I'm sure some of you remember when I was frothing at the mouth about the Plame case. It now looks like it's gathering momentum, which is good, and I find I don't feel very ranty about it now. I will point you to John Darnielle's nice little analogy, though.



Yes, we continue to be your Zombie News Network, today reporting that apparantly in Montreal if you practice your SCA stuff in the public park you should be prepared for attacks from the undead.

I don't think I need to point out how awesome that is.


Wonka vs. Wonka

Personally, I think they should have a slap fight. Just because I'd find it amusing. I love Wilder, but is he going cantankerous in his old age?


Sexy Mr. Falcon

My review of De Novo Dahl's album is up today.

Sunday, July 10, 2005 

On Sunday, for once

New journal entry up.


Merely rational

Excellent article here on "freakonomics" and the "shareholder society".

Saturday, July 09, 2005 


I've just been reading the archives for "Shit Happens", and I think this one sums up it's appeal to me nicely. Using zombies.


The road to mockery is paved with the same stuff as the road to Hell

Warren Ellis with a sterling example of British resiliency and humour.

And also their tendancy not to appreciate maudlin, rootless sentiment.


Everybody wants it clean and quick

Sometimes music just seems right (and it's too late for me to want to explain that), and tonight walking home in the mist, alone, to Six By Seven's "England And A Broken Radio" on my headphones was one of those times.

Thursday, July 07, 2005 


I almost posted something about the London bombings earlier today, but couldn't think of anything that wasn't egotistical or maudlin or in any case useless. Luckily for me John Rogers has done it again.



The first edition of my internet radio show (currently voiced by Todd Burns, until I get a microphone), is up at Stylus today. Todd does a great job making me sound not like an idiot, although I can tell he has again forgotten how my last name is pronounced.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005 


My piece on Wire's "Being Sucked In Again" is up at Stylus.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005 

A classic

The Onion this week is in reruns, but anything that lets you read this one over again is beyond reproach.



I'm interested in john Carey's new book for it's "uncompromising relativist position on aesthetics, denying the possibility of absolute values", but this excellent review goes far beyond that.

And a brief, presumably obvious caveat - believing in total aesthetic subjectivity is not the same as rejecting absolute values in all fields.



I've been reading it for years but I don't normally mention Sluggy Freelance because it's so over the place. But today's strip is absolutely hilarious, what with the Talking Heads reference and the "podcasting" joke and everything.

Of course, you need to be familiar with "Once In A Lifetime", iPod ads, and current goings-on in Sluggy (precis: Riff has a really small iPod which eventually wound up stuck in the toilet) to appreciate it, but I think the visual alone should be amusing.

Monday, July 04, 2005 

Cheer up

Spiked online can be a bit much to take sometimes, but their point here about the over-diagnosis of mental illness in North America is well taken.

Key lines: Of course, we are not suggesting that everyone is perennially happy or possessed of an abiding sense of wellbeing. Many, if not most, human beings are mildly neurotic, at times self-defeating, anxious, or sad. These traits or behaviours are characteristic of the human condition, often emerging in different life circumstances - they are not pathological.



Interesting review of Disruptive Pattern Material: An Encyclopedia of Camouflage at the London Review of Books.



This is just a great idea - a religion based around Philip K. Dick's writings would either be utterly nightmarish or the most humane religion possible. In either case, as the original writer says, "We'll kick their ass."


Long weekend

Once again the world of technology puts a crimp in my ambition to get things done - the International Mix Tapes sidebar is updated, but that's it. More tomorrow, hopefully.

Friday, July 01, 2005 

True patriot love

It's Canada Day, and although we're going to be hitting the Scottish Festival in Kincardine this weekend, today isn't a day for kilts and haggis. Go outside, sit in the shade, have a beer, eat some meat. Wait for the fireworks later. That sort of thing.

Whatever you do, don't do anything you don't want to (i.e. work). It's Canada Day, and that's not what we're about.

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About me

Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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imathers at gmail dot com

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