Friday, November 17, 2017

Happy Birthday Gene Clark

Here's "Winter In," an outtake from Gene's White Light album from 1971.

Souljazz Orchestra, Tush @ Lee's Palace, Friday

Here's the Souljazz Orchestra performing "Holla Holla" off their new album Under Burning Skies out now. 

RIP Michael "DikMik" Davies, 1943-2017

Synth innovator DikMik who played on Hawkwind's 1970 debut, In Search Of Space and Doremi Fasol Latido has died.

One For The Weekend: The Botumless Pit

Most copies of this San Antonio garage classic have the "The Botumless Pit" sticker removed. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Happy Birthday Dan Penn!

Raising a glass to soul songsmith extraordinaire Dan Penn on his day with "Heavy Duty"  

Roy & Yvonne w/ Frankie Foo @ Remix Lounge, Friday

Legendary Jamaican ska duo Roy Panton & Yvonne Harrison reprise their classics at 1305 Dundas St. West Friday.

Limited-run RSD albums from The Fleshtones, Los Straitjackets and Minus 5 due November 24

With Record Store Day fast approaching, the fine folks at Yep Roc Records just announced a Black Friday bonanza of releases from The Fleshtones, Los Straitjackets and the Minus 5 – each containing at least some music you don't already own! Here's the scoop...

The Fleshtones – Budget Buster (Yep Roc Records)
Packaging: 12” Vinyl / red and orange splatter-colored
Limited to 1000 copies worldwide

Known as the “The Kings of Garage Rock” or “America’s Garage Rock Band,” there’s no debate that The Fleshtones are one of the hardest working (and rocking) bands of all time. In the past decade, Peter Zaremba's crew has released loads of new music that rivals the best of their impressive 40-year run. The 12-song Budget Buster collects some of their finest singles tracks and rarities over the last 10 years, many of which are long out-of-print and difficult to find. Fleshtones completists should note that Budget Buster includes two previously unreleased tracks and features a sleeve created by Mons. Zaremba himself!

Los Straitjackets – Sing Along With Los Straitjackets (Yep Roc Records)
Packaging: 12” LP with bonus 45 single
Limited to 1500 copies worldwide

Way back in 2001, Sing Along with Los Straitjackets marked the first time the masked instrumental marvels featured vocals on their recordings, an endeavor they would embark on again later with Deke Dickerson.

Sing Along with Los Straitjackets features a party of musicians spanning the musical sphere, from Nick Lowe playing bass on his own “Shake That Rat,” to collaborations with the always amazing El Vez, Raul Malo from The MavericksExene Cervenka from X, Mark Lindsay of Raiders fame, Mike Campbell from Tom Petty's Heartbreakers, and even instro royals The Trashmen. Reissued on wax for the first time, every copy of the LP comes with a bonus 45 single featuring two rare collaborations from the Sing Along with… sessions featuring Dave Alvin and Reverend Horton Heat, who also appear on the album.

The Minus 5 – Dear December (Yep Roc Records)
Packaging:  12” LP | white vinyl
Limited to 1500 copies worldwide

In early 2017, Scott McCaughey penned a few holiday numbers to submit to a well-known artist’s prospective holiday album. He became so inspired by the task that he wrote more than an album’s worth of material and decided to record that album with his group, The Minus 5, which for this project includes Peter Buck and drummer Joe Adragna as core members.

A cool yule selection of 11 original future holiday classics, Dear December includes collaborations with Kurt Bloch, M. Ward, Death Cab's Ben GibbardMike Mills, Colin Meloy (of The Decemberists), Chuck Prophet and a few other special guests. The deluxe white vinyl album comes packaged with an Advent-inspired calendar, a gatefold cover and digital download.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Happy Birthday Niklas Vahlberg!

Raising a glass to Niklas Vahlberg with a classic Nomads performance from 1985.

Alex Pangman's Hot Three! EP Release @ The Supermarket, Wednesday

Toronto jazz swinger Alex Pangman's Hot Three! EP for Justin Time boldly bares the advisory: "Recorded Straight to 78 rpm in New Orleans"  Yep, that's right – direct to 78rm acetate disc. The resulting CD includes both beautiful *and* bawdy songs, the likes of which one might expect to have been recorded in a one-room studio, around a single microphone back in the 20s. It's the answer to a question which Pangman has long pondered "why do old records sound the way they do?" And so the  recording process for her latest project was a journey into the mindset of the earliest recorded jazz musicians. The songs on which Alex chose to focus for the Hot Three! EP – Sweethearts on Parade, It's the Talk of the Town, Sweet Lotus Blossom, Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me, Little White Lies and Clarence Williams' 1924 classic popularized by Virginia Liston, You've Got the Right Key but the Wrong Keyhole – suitably reflect that lively period in the Crescent City's storied history.

Bringing into the present, Alex will be joined at The Supermarket tonight (November 15) by Drew Jurecka on violin, Nathan Hiltz on guitar, and John MacMurchy on bass saxophone (in the roles of Matt Rhody, Nahum Z, and Tom Saunders). In the second set, they will be joined by more of Alex's own Alleycats, Glenn Anderson, Peter Hill and Jack Zarowski.

DJ Colonel Tom Parker will spin period 78 rpm jazz records before and during intermission! Doors open at The Supermarket (268 Augusta) at 7 pm. The show runs from 8 pm to 10:30 pm. Tickets are $15 available at or at the venue. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ron Gallo, Naked Giants, Boyhood @ The Horseshoe, Tuesday

Here's a rippin' performance by a shirtless Ron Gallo after his new split with Naked Giants. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Irwin Chusid compiles Sun Ra's Exotica for Modern Harmonic

The beautifully packaged 3-LP and 2-CD Sun Ra collection Exotica is out November 24. 

When music fans think "Exotica," the names that typically come to mind are Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman, Les Baxter, Esquivel, and countless others. But Sun Ra?

Here, we offer an illustrative passage from John Szwed's indispensable 1997 Ra biography, Space is the Place. For context, Szwed is chronicling the evolution of Ra's style in the late 1950s, when the budding legend was based in Chicago, leading a midsized ensemble (already dubbed an "Arkestra"), and still working largely in subgenres identifiable as "jazz." Szwed's reflections on Sunny's absorption with Exotica align the Afrofuturist icon with an unlikely musical inspiration:

[quote] "Sunny was listening to the Hollywood-inspired music being made by people like David Rose, whose lush, massed string writing could be heard as theme songs on popular radio programs; or to the exotica of people like Martin Denny, who recorded in Honolulu accompanied by animal noises, natural acoustic delay, and reverberation; and especially to the arrangements of Les Baxter, the premier figure in what was being called mood music.

"Baxter developed a post-swing style in the late forties and early fifties of spectacular orchestral writing, full of timpani and hand drums, tumbling violin lines, harps, flutes, marimbas, celesta, Latin rhythm vamps, the cries of animals, choral moans, and flamboyant singers, creating imaginary soundscapes which he helped evoke with titles like 'Atlantis,' 'Voodoo Dreams,' and 'Pyramid of the Sun.' Sunny first heard Baxter on Perfume Set to Music (1946) and Music Out of the Moon (1947). Baxter went on to produce records which celebrated the Aztecs (The Sacred Idol, 1959), South Asia (Ports of Pleasure, 1957), Africa and the Middle East (Tamboo!, 1955), and the Caribbean (Caribbean Moonlight, 1956), all of which used Latin rhythms generically, as did his two big band records, African Jazz (1958) and Jungle Jazz (1959). Though later generations would understand this music in strictly utilitarian terms, and hear in it the sounds of air conditioning and the clink of ice in cocktail shakers, for Sunny it was music rich with imagination and suggestion. His genius was to take as raw material what others in the 1950s thought of as 'easy listening' and turn it into what in the late 1960s would be heard as 'Third World music' by some and as 'uneasy listening music' by others." [/quote]

Perhaps it's enough to say that Ra and Baxter were both musically omnivorous. However, Baxter, like Sunny, composed music that resisted the Earth's gravitational pull. His 1958 LP Space Escapade contained titles that share a vision with Ra: "Saturday Night on Saturn," "Moonscape," "A Distant Star," "The Other Side of the Moon," and "A Look Back at Earth." His 1947 Music Out of the Moon is arguably the Rosetta Stone of outer space Exotica. Like Sunny, Baxter was an early adopter of the Moog synthesizer—he released the album Moog Rock in 1969, the same year Sunny found himself in Gershon Kingsley's Manhattan studio exploring the circuit-based sounds of the new instrument (featured on tracks he would self-release as My Brother the Wind). And Ra's 1957 debut LP Jazz by Sun Ra included Harry Revel's "Possession," which had first been introduced on Baxter's album Perfume Set to Music.

In a 1996 eulogy for Baxter in Wired magazine, David Toop wrote that "Baxter offered package tours in sound, selling tickets to sedentary tourists who wanted to stroll around some taboo emotions before lunch, view a pagan ceremony, go wild in the sun or conjure a demon, all without leaving home hi-fi comforts in the white suburbs."

Was Exotica kitsch? Did it represent "cultural appropriation"? Was it a dilution of indigenous art? Who cares? Music should be enjoyed on its own terms. The Beatles were heavily influenced by American R&B. Ra borrowed from Gershwin and Stan Kenton. Nigerian juju music was radically altered by the infusion of electric guitars and Western rock. This is how styles develop and evolve. Exotica has roots, but those roots are uncopyable. What emerges is something derivative, yet original. Here you have Sun Ra, of African-American extraction, influenced by Les Baxter, a Caucasian from Texas, who was in turn influenced by primitive jungle rites. It's a cultural feedback loop, best enjoyed by leaving politics out of it.

Herman Poole "Sonny" Blount was born in 1914 in Birmingham, Alabama, where racial discrimination was endemic and historic. Music became his solace. During the late 1940s and 1950s he lived on Chicago's South Side, a black racial enclave. It was a culturally vibrant, if economically downtrodden community. Like many of his neighbors, Ra struggled to earn a living and aspired to move on. However, "travel" takes many forms, not all measured in miles. Paul Youngquist, in a chapter entitled "Interplanetary Exotica," from his 2016 book A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism, writes: "One of [Sun Ra's] responses to the confinement of blacks, segregated as they were in Chicago's South Side and other such urban spaces […] involved deploying the cultural rhetoric of the Space Age toward the progressive ends of opening up wider vistas, new horizons. If blacks couldn't flourish in segregated cities, then maybe they could follow exotica into space."

Mainstream Exotica's sensuous dreamscapes underscored middle-class post-war optimism, providing rhapsodies for midcentury moderns. Ra knew the despair of the underclass, and created art that was no less escapist. Music could be transcendent; it could transport the listener. The root word "exotic" implies something strange, something unfamiliar, a place that's — anywhere but here. Maybe you can't afford a cruise to Barbados, but a stylus in a cheap microgroove LP could be a ticket to paradise—or the moon—for 20 minutes.

That Ra hasn't been widely celebrated in Exotica circles is understandable. He never made an "Exotica record"; such tracks are mixed in his LPs alongside space jazz, post-bop, electronic freakouts, and sonic experiments. Another reason: the most acclaimed Exotica LPs were "clean." The labels and producers strived for technical perfection. Ra's catalog—indeed his style—is redolent with wrong notes, indifferent mixes, ad hoc mic placement, ill-tuned instruments, distortion, and dollar-store acoustics. Perfectionism? With Sun Ra, it’s all perfectly flawed. But where it lacks sonic purity, it offers something more gratifying: soul.

Ra is not known for cocktail party accompaniment or Tiki bar soundscapes. But here's a few dozen recordings that might suit the mood.

adapted from the full LP/CD package liner notes by Irwin Chusid

Recordings produced by Sun Ra for Saturn Records, under the business aegis of Alton Abraham
Recorded at various locations in Chicago and New York, 1956–1968

Sun Ra – Exotica (Modern Harmonic)
1. Kingdom of Thunder
2. Space Mates (abridged)
3. Star Bright
4. The Nile (Part 1)
5. Eve
6. Tiny Pyramids
7. The Lady with the Golden Stockings
8. Paradise
9. New Horizons
10. Portrait of the Living Sky
11. India
12. Ancient Aiethopia
13. Planet Earth
14. April in Paris
15. Island in the Sun (complete version)
16. Africa
17. Friendly Galaxy
18. Interstellar Low Ways
19. Conversion of J.P. (abridged)
20. Cha Cha in Outer Space
21. Brazilian Sun
22. Lights on a Satellite
23. Somewhere In Space
24. Spontaneous Simplicity
25. Overtones of China

RIP Bobby Matos, 1941-2017

Sadly, Afro-Latin jazz percussionist, composer and bandleader Bobby Matos passed away on November 11.

Here Lies Man vs. Fela Anikulapo Kuti

Check out Here Lies Man's cover of Sorrow, Tears and Blood followed by Fela Kuti's extended version. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

John Carpenter @ Danforth Music Hall, Sunday

John Carpenter's Anthology tour rolls into Toronto tonight – here's what you can expect from the horror maestro. 

Robert Earl Keen admits he doesn't listen to country radio

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Lydia Loveless @ The Rivoli, Saturday

The new Lydia Loveless album Boy Crazy and Single(s) is available on beer coloured vinyl from Bloodshot Records.

One For The Weekend: Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

Here's Delvon Lamarr's combo performing "Concussion" back in May. The red vinyl version of the single is now sold out. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

R.I.P. Fred Cole, 1948-2017

Sadly, Fred Cole of Dead Moon, Pierced Arrows, The Rats, King Bee and Lollipop Shoppe has passed away.

James Hunter returns with Whatever It Takes in February

A permanent fixture in the world of Rhythm and Soul, James Hunter follows up five critically acclaimed albums with Whatever It Takes for Daptone Records. At the height of his famed recording career, Hunter and Daptone co-founder and producer Gabe "Bosco Mann" Roth recorded an elegantly crafted collection of 10 originals that are evermore poignant and compelling than the singer’s previous works.

The James Hunter Six and Roth recorded Whatever It Takes straight to tape at Daptone's Penrose Studios in Riverside, California – where Roth cut Hunter's 2013 album Minute By Minute. Whatever It Takes will be internationally released on February 2, 2018. Digital Pre-Order available right here - stay tuned for physical pre-order announcement!

JD McPherson @ Lee's Palace, Friday

JD McPherson will be rockin' his snazzy TK Smith custom made guitars at Lee's Palace tonight. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Robert Forster sings the Go-Betweens at the Copenhagen Jazzhouse

Here's Robert Forster and company performing a few old Go-Betweens faves in Denmark recently.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Philip John Lewin, Sing Leaf, Sandro Perri @ The Burdock, Wednesday

Don't miss this rare Toronto appearance by folk legend Philip Lewin at The Burdock. 8:30 pm doors. $10. 
Am I Really Here All Alone?

In 1967 I began my life in the student union of a university. In other words, I was in school. But, classes definitely took a back seat to people-watching and attempts at relationships. I would not say that I was particularly good at the latter, but I made a great observer. I even stayed near the school community for an extra year until an opportunity came up to move in with friends in Toronto, Canada, which turned out to be a pivotal opportunity for me.

Listen to a WFMU performance here.
I was once told that one should first write about one's own experiences, then, expand to documenting the observed experiences of those around, and, finally write about what one imagines. Am I Really Here All Alone? encompasses all of the above. Something else I realized in writing lyrics is that sometimes it is good to be transparent about the meaning and others times, not so much.

"Unusual Day" is an example of me being honest struggling to develop and maintain a relationship, but ultimately realizing it was not going to succeed. "Watercolours" documents a crushing experience, but is couched in metaphor. I hope that listeners will relate through their own experiences, and because my reality is implied, not specified, will not be limited to mine.

"Sweet Georgia" is an example of me, as a writer, leaving my personal space. I think of it as an attempt to clone William Faulkner to Bobbie Gentry.

"The Magic Within You" is actually a commission where I was asked to write a song for a benefit to be performed by Doug Henning, the groundbreaking stage magician and friend. I once heard John Prine complain that there was no point in writing a 'train song' because Steve Goodman had already written the perfect one with "City of New Orleans." Naturally, I had to write "Back Home, To You," my idea of a train song where I tried to capture the movement of the train in the rhythm of the guitar.

As for the other six songs, to me, they all reflect realities, experienced, observed and imagined. Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am." However my question is, "Am I Really Here All Alone?" – Philip Lewin,  2017

William Shatner vs. The Cramps

Listen to William Shatner sing "Garbageman" off the forthcoming Dr. Demento comp following The Cramps' classic version. 

Catherine MacLellan @ Hugh's Room, Wednesday

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

L.A. Witch, Honduras, Hot Garbage @ The Garrison, Wednesday

Here's L.A. Witch performing "Untitled" followed by Brooklyn's Honduras doing "That Old Feeling" + a tour promo.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Happy Birthday Doug Sahm!

Bassem Youssef @ Bluma Appel Theatre, Saturday

Egyptian surgeon-turned-satirist Bassem Youssef (right) spoke with Marc Maron for his WTF Podcast. Listen below. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Watch Les Misérables' video for "Vivre Avec Toi"

Montreal garage kings Les Misérables are in fine form for this vintage clip of their Jupiter label classic "Vivre Avec Toi"

Saturday, November 4, 2017

'B' Girls 40th Anniversary @ The Rivoli, Saturday

A new version of Toronto's legendary 'B' Girls is joined by Chris Houston, The Trash Bags and Pale Lips tonight.

Susanne Sundfør @ Adelaide Hall, Saturday

Watch Susanne's epic version of Scott Walker's The Amorous Humphrey Plugg.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Khruangbin celebrates 70s Persian popstars with "Maria Tambien" video

Khruangbin's Con Todo El Mundo album is out January 26. Watch the "Maria Tambien" clip below. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Colter Wall, Blake Berglund @ The Horseshoe, Thursday

Key song placements on the right film soundtracks certainly helped Colter Wall break outta Swift Current.  

One For The Weekend: Kanaan

David Walden (right) cut Kanaan's "Leave It" b/w "Something Inside" at Robin Hood Brians' studio in Tyler, Texas.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Toronto's New Enchanters unveil Crystal Ball

The new single from Classy Craig Daniels, Mar Sellars and Graeme McCann is a ripper – check it out below.   

Midweek Mixdown: DJ Format & Abdominal

DJ Format & Abdominal are hitting the UK roads once again to spread the glorious word of their current LP, "STILL HUNGRY" starting tonight (Wednesday, November 1) at The Strait and Narrow in Lincoln, then hitting The Magnet in Liverpool (Thursday, November 2), followed by the Workmans Club in Dublin (November 3), Drygate in Glasgow (November 4), The Soundhouse in Leicester (November 7), The Georgian Theatre at Stockton (November 8), Fibbers in York (November 9), The Brewery in Kendal (November 10), Bootleg Special in Blackpool (November 11), The Venue Derby in Derby (November 14), Thekla in Bristol (November 15), Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff (November 16), Canvas in Bournemouth (November 17), The Haunt in Brighton (November 18), The Boileroom in Guildford (November 22), Sub 89 in Reading (November 23), The Craufurd Arms in Milton Keynes (November 24), culminating with a London blowout at The Garage (November 25).

After STILL HUNGRY's released in back in April, the Abs & Format had success through the spring with yet another sellout tour, a #1 album chart topping position on Bandcamp (for two months!), Top 10 on the iTunes hip hop charts, playlisting and appearances on BBC 6 Music and Soho Radio and numerous rave reviews.

To switch things up a little, a hand picked selection of remixers were appointed to turn the original STILL HUNGRY tracks on their heads and the results will both surprise and delight open-minded music fans worldwide.

Expect basslines, live bands, hip hop hitters and tropical vibes from the likes of DJ Supreme, Featurecast, Danny.wav, Hiphoppotamus, Dutty Moonshine Big Band and plenty more. Heck, even the MC maestro Abdominal himself has reworked the standout track "Dirt" alongside his three piece band The Obliques!

This remix album truly has it all – and best of all, it's free ...or PWYC, if you're feeling generous! Check it out.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

Courtney Marie Andrews opening for Hamilton Leithauser @ Danforth Music Hall, Monday

"Table For One" is off Courtney Marie Andrews' fifth album, Honest Life, out now on Fat Possum. She's on at 8 pm. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Catl's Halloween Bash w/ Frankie & Jimmy @ Dakota Tavern, Sunday

You'll need to come up with a cooler and/or creepier costume than the headliners if you expect to win any of the fab prizes. 

Petrifying posters, scary-cool shirts and a gaggle of ghoulish goodies are up for grabs Sunday. 

Catl on tour

Saturday, October 28, 2017

U.S. Girls, Cindy Lee @ The Tranzac, Saturday

Here's Meg Remy and crew performing Island Song and 28 Days at The Bookshelf's eBar in Guelph back in April. 

Whaddya mean you don't know Poison 13

Here's Poison 13's creepy cool video for "One Step Closer" shot back in Austin back in 1984.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Blind Matty opening for the Dead Boys @ Velvet Underground, Friday

Check out Blind Matty's cover of Link Wray's Take Me Home Jesus which you can get right here.

One For The Weekend: Mark Sultan

"Let Me Out" b/w "Be The Blood" by Mark Sultan
Mark Sultan, a garage wunderkind who is also sometimes known as BBQ, has toured and released countless records for his legion of fans the world over. Daptone's garage/psych subsidiary Wick Records are delighted to have the opportunity to make a couple of Mark’s new tunes available for your frugging pleasure and for his debut Wick platter Sultan takes his nous for pop hooks and garage rocking to new levels. You can mail order Mark Sultan's swingin' new single directly from Daptone right here.

LET ME OUT is a snarling acid-punker that’s driven by an urgent beat, paper-cut-thin fuzz guitar and surging organ, it’s a classic garage lament - he just can’t take it and he wants OUT.

BE THE BLOOD jumps out of the gate like a Micheal & The Messenger’s side, and in it’s short life pushes the garage sound to edge of the psychedelic rainbow. Listen to "Let Me Out" below.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Gord Downie video released ahead of Introduce Yerself album

Gord Downie's 23-song album Introduce Yerself – produced & co-written by Kevin Drew – is out Friday on Arts & Crafts.

In the lead-up to the release of Gord Downie's new album, Introduce Yerself, tomorrow, Arts & Crafts has shared a video documenting the creation of the album's closing song, "The North." Directed by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicolas de Pencier, the clip is an intimate look at the creation of Downie's final work coming together in the studio with producer Kevin Drew, Dave Hamelin and engineer Nyles Spencer at The Bathouse studio in Bath, Ontario.

Co-written and produced by Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew, the album's twenty-three songs were recorded swiftly over two four-day sessions in January 2016 and February 2017, with the finished album often reflecting first takes.

"A lot of these I wrote the words in advance," Downie said at the time of recording. "Like poems. I'd get one or two a day and then I'd have to stop. Because that's about all... the soul or whatever, would give up. And then, so with music, it becomes pretty easy."

Introduce Yerself will be released on CD and digital formats on October 27. The vinyl version follows on December 15, housed in a double gatefold jacket with two pull-out posters. See the complete tracklist following the clip below.

Gord Downie - Introduce Yerself 
1. First Person
2. Wolf's Home
3. Bedtime
4. Introduce Yerself
5. Coco Chanel No. 5
6. Ricky Please
7. Safe Is Dead
8. Spoon
9. A Natural
10. Faith Faith
11. My First Girlfriend
12. Yer Ashore
13. Love Over Money
14. You Me And The B's
15. Snowflake
16. A Better End
17. Nancy
18. Thinking About Us
19. The Road
20. You Are The Bird
21. The Lake
22. Far Away And Blurred
23. The North