Wednesday, April 30, 2008 

"You know the escape"

Although I'm a fan of the UFC, I am also a fan of movies and so Never Back Down never appealed to me in the slightest. The idea of David Mamet placing one of his macho, triple-crossed movies in the world of MMA, though, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (a favourite of mine since at least Dirty Pretty Things)? This I might have to go see.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 

Shell of light

I'm not a fan of the whole wear-your-iPod-everywhere-you-go culture that seems to be developing, but if I'm going to wander around downtown doing errands by myself I do listen to music then (I just turn it off before I enter stores and so on). Today wasn't really an appropriate day to be listening to Burial's Untrue - it was brisk and cloudy, yes, but the sky was blue. Really, unless it's nighttime Burial's music doesn't really feel 'right,' and if I'm walking around at night it's probably with friends. But I put it on today anyway, because the album is so beautiful (in a blocky, off-kilter kind of way) that I needed to hear it again, and headphones have an intimacy that speakers can never manage. It was working fine, but I managed to enter the unlit pedestrian tunnel under the train tracks just as "Endorphin" started - a perfect, oddly sublime moment.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 

Looking for the mouse

Clay Shirky on the cognitive surplus and three kinds of media. Very, very interesting. I'd kind of like to get my hands on Here Comes Everybody now.

Friday, April 25, 2008 

Keep on talkin' like Jesus

Two things went up at PopMatters today: My Retribution Gospel Choir review, and the inaugural installment of the Pick Just One column, on The Fall.

Thursday, April 24, 2008 

A tale of two videos

So there's a new video out there for Robyn's immortal "Be Mine!":

It's very good, I enjoy the way the guy is presented, and particularly the treatment of the brief, spoken middle eight, but it still doesn't quite give me chills the way the original did and still does (I just checked):

I'm not sure why; the multiplicity of Robyns? The way the one that I am guessing came chronologically 'first' (the one with blonde hair, who is cutting it off), seems as if she's just managed to stop crying. The eerie and powerful spectacle of the bald Robyn and her creepy, occasionally glowing eyes (it's kind of subtle, or at least I missed the way her eyes shift the first time I saw the video)? I think ultimately it's because, I much as I enjoy the acting and directing in the new video (Robyn and the guy both say an awful lot with very little, the dead eyed stares of everyone else is pretty much exactly what it feels like to have romantic trauma played out in front of others, the way they have the same group of people occur again and again feels like the kind of small town where you can't help but run into people, even when the wound is still raw), the original video for "Be Mine!" acknowledges that the song isn't really about him, or even about them; it's about herself.

On the one hand, it's a careful admonition to the self to stop pretending something's not dead (when really, it was no longer alive), an attempt to cease a particular kind of emotional self-harm and to stop beating oneself up for missing or misreading an opportunity. This is, incidentally, why "Be Mine!" sticks with me far more than most "we aren't together and I'm sad" songs. But it's also, at least implicitly, about the time and effort that have clearly been wasted (are we even sure this guy is so awesome? People throw away time over men and women who are bad for them every day) and also about the fear that this sort of debacle leaves with you, at least a little: that this was Not A Fluke. There's a reason why we tell ourselves and our heartbroken friends that there's plenty of fish in the sea; when you're in the midst of the maelstrom, and at the beginning of recovering from it, it's not so much that you don't know there are others out there but that you fear (just a little) that they, too, will find fault with you the way the last one did. Lurking in the outlines of "Be Mine!" is not just the despair of "You never were and you never will be mine" but the terror of "will anybody?" And if you think that's too dire a reading, or too generous to the artist, you clearly haven't seen what she can do with it.

Monday, April 21, 2008 

"About two years"

So earlier tonight I walked to my apartment from a friend's place with six copies of my thesis in a box. That was a weird feeling. Tomorrow I'm going to drop it off with the money to get our four bound copies above and beyond the school's two copies (one for me, one each for my parents and one spare one). I have no idea what I'm doing with my life next, although people keep asking. Anyone need a freelance writer?

In line at Staples with my box, waiting for the revised abstract I brought in to print out again, the lady next to me expressed astonishment and asked me how long it took me to write. I thought about giving her a literal fingers-on-keyboard answer (two weeks to a month, depending on what you want to count), but I told her the truth instead.

Sunday, April 20, 2008 

"that level of individuation, of comfort with not fitting in"

PopMatters has a fucking fantastic piece up on John Darnielle's 33 1/3 book on Master of Reality (which I already wanted to read), including some typically dead-eyed insights on the indie scene, metal, etc etc. And by a fellow Canuck as well (whom I could have sworn contributed to Stylus at some point...) - kudos to Adrien Begrand.


I am not embarrassed

Given the age and critical milieu I grew up in, I am deeply suspicious of overt enthusiasm on the part of writers about bands. When I read old criticism, it seems fine; reading Jon Savage or Lester Bangs or whoever writing about how this band is different, this one is World Historical, etc, etc, seems legitimate, and not even because history has proved them right (it only has some of the time, of course).

So even the bands I love the most, I have tended to try and remain level headed about, in print; if you look at two high scoring, very enthusiastic reviews for my favourite record of 2007 and one of my favourites of 2008 at Stylus (here and here), the difference between them and my new PopMatters review of Hold On Now, Youngster... is pretty severe.

Not that I don't love Low and Sam Amidon as well, but something about Los Campesinos! and their music makes me feel like a believer, like a fan in a way nothing else really does. It makes me feel kind of exposed (let's face it, there is probably no one out there waiting to nail my ass to the wall for saying "I believe in this band," and even if someone wanted to, there's really no grounds to), but it feels good too. Just don't expect all my reviews to be this enthusiastic.

Friday, April 18, 2008 

No turntables and two microphones

The opening act for Hot Chip were Free Blood, who were pretty goddamn fantastic; not only did some of their songs sound kind of like live attempts to make songs that already sound like 12" remixes from the heyday of the form (which is impressive and fun in the way a live dub band is, i.e. hugely), and not only does John do a killer falsetto, but I was one of the few around me who kind of dug the screaming/atonality when they went there; it's nice to see a band who's comfortable playing around with the thin line between ecstasy and frenzy. All they've got out right now is some vinyl, but I'm eagerly awaiting a full-length.

Thursday, April 17, 2008 

Time can be overcome

The Hot Chip concert was pretty fantastic (except for the dickwads in front of me who just would not dance but wouldn't get out of my way either - cuddling is for non-dance music, guys!). My review of Constantines' Kensington Heights is up at the Village Voice.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 


I ran the clipper through my beard to trim it, then stopped and looked in the mirror.

I'd been trying to decide whether to keep my facial hair for weeks. There were things I liked about it (it's red, people said I looked good with a beard, it had filled in nicely). And then there were things I didn't (it was scratchy, there were still patchy bits, maintaining it would be a pain in the ass, and shaving my head would look a little weird). Eventually I decided - screw it, I can always grow another. I ran the clipper with no attachments straight through the middle. Now I looked like a Scottish innkeeper in a bad film. As I kept going, I was surprised at how relatively natural muttonchops looked on me. Then they were gone. All that wiry red hair in the sink.

I got a nasty surprise as I shaved my head. The wispy stuff up on top no longer grows fast enough to really show up when I shave my head normally, but due to the beard it'd been extra long. As it wafted down into the sink, it looked oddly pale next to the dark brown clumps from the side of my head. Upon careful examination, it was a dull shade of light grey. All of it.

The top of my head had gone grey! This was only unsettling because I'm not even 27, not because I dislike the colour. In fact, I kind of wished it was showing up somewhere visible. It's kind of weird to have all that grey hair and not realise, because it's too transparent and all anyone sees is scalp.

I just went to rest my head on the palm of my hand. You have no idea how nice it is to feel my chin and neck and face again.


Let's get this paper

Next time I talk you, I'ma have a Master's in Philosophy.

Monday, April 14, 2008 

Oh you had to ask, didn't you?

I go through these phases where Elbow not only seem like one of the finest bands on the planet (which, in a pinch, is a position I would defend pretty much all of the time), but they also seem to very me in an ineffable and probably pretentious and wrong-headed sense that I kind of resent anyone else listening to their music. On the one hand I kind of feel like Joe does about the National here in terms of the type of person the songs are by/for, and on the other, while I'm sure more people than Guy Garvey and myself that feel like "Asleep in the Back," "Station Approach," "Buttons and Zips" and etc., some irrational part of me just want to clutch their music to myself so fiercely that no-one else can hear.

So I went to their site and looked up their current tour, because the fact that I've never seen them live gives me a deep, painful pang in my chest (the one time I almost went, when they were touring with Doves, wound up falling through, which I now bitterly regret). They're playing one Canadian date, the 6th of May. In Vancouver. I could weep, and I don't mean figuratively. Ah well - next time!

(The Seldom Seen Kid is very good as well, on which more later, perhaps? Four great albums in a row is quite an achievement, in any case)

Sunday, April 13, 2008 

Guelph is not Staten Island

I know that, I do. And I also know that I, a white twenty-something grad student who isn't even really a fan of rap (or at least, certainly not a knowledgeable one) rather than a hardened ghetto dweller/rap enthusiast. But despite the misgivings of many, including most famously a few of the Clan themselves, I also know that 8 Diagrams sounds kind of perfect walking around downtown by myself at night, belly full of gin, light rain falling.

The Wu-Tang clan's appeal to me (musically, not culturally or iconographically) is actually kind of mystifying, much the way that my love for, say, A Love Supreme or Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus is - not because the albums are bad, but because the vast majority of their respective contemporaries leaves me so cold. The only answer for anyone who's really a music fan (let alone obsessive) is, of course, to investigate further.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 

Highly illegal

So I guess I have a muxtape now.

Monday, April 07, 2008 

I can stop any time I want

I guess there's at least one sense in which being an insomniac is like being an addict; after a few weeks of going to bed at 1 am, thinking to myself I've finally got this thing licked, the despair I felt at 5 am, the whole "I thought I was over this!" feeling, must be something like what the recovering alcoholic feels (in type if not in intensity) when they wake up with a hangover again.

In other news, I defend my Master's Thesis ("Art as Intentional Object or Generative Performance: Investigating the Ontologies of Roman Ingarden and David Davies") next Tuesday the 15th at 10 am. I had better get to sleep early the night before.

Saturday, April 05, 2008 


My buddy Orbax is on tour across Canada right now, tons of shows, a lot of them sold out, all arranged months in advance - and the day of the show, some uptight dickward at the Grand Prairie Liquor Board calls the venue, says they can't do it, and threatens them with the loss of their license and a $10,000 fine. Details here. If you look at the comments, Orbax has posted contact info for the Control Board (hint hint, any readers that happen to live in the province), and notes that they're threatening several other venues as well.

I can't fucking believe this. What a load of crap. Alberta once again offers proof that it's the suckhole of the nation.


Don't worry about the government

I'm a lucky man in many ways, but one of the odder ones is the way that, every time (it seems) I overextend myself financially a little and I'm wondering how to make ends meet until the next paycheck, and I go to bank account to see how bad it is, I mysteriously have $80-90 more than I thought I would. Because the GST rebate has come in again. One of the few benefits of having a low income, I suppose.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008 

In this hemisphere

PopMatters has my review of Thomas Brinkmann's When Horses Die today.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 

We leave alone

Another Village Voice review, this time on the reallyfuckingfantastic debut by Los Campesinos!

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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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