Friday, February 19, 2010

Babies, they only wanna dance...

I recently posted about a cover song by Owen Pallett. Thanks to a comment from blog reader Honeyschool, turns out the song is by Steve Kado, recorded under the name of The Blankket.

Image courtesy of The Blankett's Myspace

Luckily enough, I was also able to find a very good live recording of Pallett's cover.

It's been on repeat ever since.

MP3: Owen Pallett, Live in NYC, "Independence Is No Solution"

Monday, February 15, 2010

Independence is no solution

Last thursday, Owen Pallett performed in Halifax, at - his now usual haunt - St. Matthew's Cathedral in Halifax.

He performed this song (not recorded on site) and I have had it stuck in my head ever since. I know that it's a cover, but have been having a hard time finding any more info. Any and all will be appreciated.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Disco Recommendations.

My friend Andre asked me for some disco suggestions.

"I thought disco was dead," he said.

It just went underground and got dirty. When it decided to come back up, it came back with a polished vengeance.

Take for example, all the wonderful tracks and remixes coming out of Scandinavia, such as Lindstrom, Prins Thomas and Todd Terje

Or sometimes you just want things to be a little rougher.

As I have mentioned before, it's all about THE EDIT.

An edit is what it sounds like. Take a record, edit out the shitty bits, pump up the best bits. Like this edit of a Talking Heads song, put out by Disco Deviance..

Personally, I'm rather fond of this track, which is considered an edit, but could easily be termed a mash-up (which is a term which leads me to negative knee-jerk reactions).

Take one part Candi Staton and one part Electra, and you get this beautiful piece of dark days of disco goodness.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wolf Parade in Halifax.

It was recently annouced that Wolf Parade will be playing in Halifax, on April 3rd, at the Paragon.

Tickets go on sale this friday through Ticketpro.

All day long, I have had "I'll believe in anything" stuck in my head.

This is a good way to spend the day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gentle Kate.

Kate McGarrigle died today.

The first time I heard Kate, and her sister Anna, sing, I didn’t even know who the McGarrigles were. I have memories of sitting in front of a large floor model television – VHF & UHF – and watching “The Log Driver’s Waltz”. It was the very early 80’s and a small NFB vignette, with an earworm for a hook, would mark many people of my generation:

“Do you remember that old cartoon? You know, the one that would play at the end of television shows, usually on the CBC?”

But I didn’t know who sang it. Few of us did. We could remember a melody, perhaps describe a few frames or scenes in the cartoon. But it stuck to us, a mnemonic cultural palimpsest, held onto by thirty and fortysomethings across Canada.

In 1999, I was taking care of a friend’s apartment while he was away. I had quite recently broken up with someone – my first real relatonship - and so I spent a lot of time alone in that apartment nursing my wounds. It was the summer and the apartment had a beautiful solarium that overlooked the neighbour’s small garden. I’d sit at the wooden table in the solarium reading, writing and listening to the few CD’s my friend had left behind.

One of them was The McGarrigle Hour. I had heard of The McGarrigles. I was – as I am now – a fan of Rufus Wainwright and I knew that Kate was his mother and that she and her sister were artists in their own right. But that was it. I couldn’t tell you what songs they had written, or what their sound was like, or how or if they were significant.

The CD had been left in the player, so it was the first thing I heard in that apartment.

I pressed play.

Here were these two voices, one slightly husky, the other light and airy.

I was a fan of a few folk artists and singer-songwriters. But most of them were self-indulgent, self-reflective folks. Here were two people, singing (and writing) simple melodies that spoke outside of themselves.

I listened to that album over and over during the ten days I spent in that apartment. On the last day, I went out and bought a copy of the album.

That album went everywhere with me. It went with me on car trips. It went with me when I went to visit my parents. It made frequent rotations on the CD player when I hosted my own radio show on a campus station.

I introduced my sister to the album. It wasn’t the type of album she would normally listen to, but I told her she should listen to it. It stuck with her as well.

I bought more of Kate and Anna’s albums. My sister and I talked about Montreal when we listened to “Complainte Pour Ste. Catherine”. I would find myself humming “Perrine etait servante”, without even knowing it. When my sister got married, we all danced to “La porte en arriere”.

When Kate and Anna came to Halifax a couple years ago, my sister and I got free tickets through a friend of mine. The concert hall was only half-full. I felt bad for the McGarrigles, but even worse for the people who didn’t know what they were missing.

One of my favorite moments of the show was when Kate, Anna and all of the musicians stood up and sang, “Dig My Grave”.

Go and dig my grave
Both long and narrow
Make my coffin
Neat and strong

My sister and I smiled, as this was one of our favourites. The voices carried out, over the half empty seats, defying death, even as it called for it.

And my little soul’s
Gonna shine like a star
And my little soul’s
Gonna shine like a star
bound for cavalry.

It was only last year, as I was talking to a friend of mine , that I found the connection between my very cherished childhood memory and Kate & Anna. I found a pixelated video of the NFB vignette on YouTube and watched it. Over and over again. I showed it to anyone and everyone who remembered it, and introduced it to others who didn’t.

Last month, I discovered the NFB website, and found, to my great joy, that the Log Driver’s Waltz could be find on the website. I watched it all over again. Every time I did, I could remember myself reaching up to turn the volume knob on the old floor model television set.

And then today, my sister sent me an email. Telling me that Kate had passed away. The text of the email was nothing more than a link to her obit, a CBC news story, and an exclamation mark next to the link, marking its importance.

I suddently felt deeply saddened. And this puzzled me. Kate McGarrigle was no more. Why did I care? At one point in the day, I came across a picture of a very young Kate, smiling, and I felt a chill. I felt a chill for a woman I had never met. A woman I only knew as a childhood memory. A song.


When I got home, I dug through my CDs to find my copy of The McGarrigle Hour. The first song I played was “What’ll I do”, the Irving Berlin cover.

What’ll I do
When you are far away
And I am blue
What’ll I do.

The first time I heard this song was in that apartment where I house-sat. I remember reading in the liner notes that when Kate and Anna’s mother died in 1994, that they had sung this song at her funeral. They recorded the song for the album in one take. Kate, her ex-husband and father to Rufus, Martha. The notes described how the family “who had never sat down to a Christmas turkey together, let alone sing a song”, came together to sing this song. And it is wondrous.

Part of me imagines them singing this song, all over again.

I only wish they didn’t have to.

Goodbye, Kate McGarrigle.

A voice is gone.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I've got a tape I want to play.

This is just another reason why I love edits.

Take the best bits, stretch them out until you're begging for more.