Friday, June 30, 2006

Live From Oxford, On A Friday!

Geoff Trainor

Many of you probably think you know Radiohead. Nineties prog-rock, riding the waves of the post-punk electronica. You are partially right, but their story goes back further than that.

In was a cool summer morning in Oxford, England, 1990, three years before Radiohead as you know them would take the world by storm with their hit debut. A young Thom Yorke was waiting at a barstool for his audition for vocalist lead in some local house band, when he stumbled upon a newspaper ad.

Wanted: Back-up vocalist for new band, "On a Friday." Have a record deal!

Willing to do anything to get his foot in the door, Yorke went to meet the band, fronted by Geoff Trainor.


The Original Line-Up For On A Friday

Little did Trainor know that the rest of the band, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Colin Greenwood and Phil Selway, were looking to replace their tyrannical frontman. Canadian born Trainor never quite fit in with the rest of the band, despite having written all their songs.

It was Greenwood who came up with the plan. They had all the material they needed for numerous releases, so all they had to do was find a replacement singer. Greenwood convinced Trainor that the band needed another voice to add a bit of harmony to the group.

When Yorke arrived, Greenwood knew instantly that he would be the one to replace Trainor, mostly because he thought his name sounded better, more rock and roll. So Yorke was in, and Trainor slowly faded out. They changed their name to Radiohead and by 1992, it was as if he never existed. The band, with Yorke at the helm, released their first stolen single, Creep, in 1993.


Radiohead, years later, pretend not to know Geoff

As far as Radiohead goes, the rest you already know. Trainor on the other hand was forced to go solo. He waited 20 or so years and attempted a come back with a friend of his, Jack.

With Yorke's solo album being released on July 10th, maybe the band will ask for Geoff's return. I'm sure they feel scorned. But will he have them back?

Here are some other offenders:

Download:
The Cure - Creep
Pedro the Lion - Let Down
Tallywood Strings - Optimistic
Dresden Dolls - Karma Police
Brad Mehldau - Paranoid Android
Husky - Idioteque
Lunasect - How To Disappear Completely
The Willies - Creep
Jamie Cullum - High & Dry
Mountain Goats - No Surprises
Mayfield - Fake Plastic Trees
Tori Amos - Karma Police
Osunlade & Erro - Everything In Its Right Place
Steve Jaunzemis - Kid A

Buy:
Radiohead - OK Computer
Thom Yorke - The Eraser
Various Artists - Exit Music: Songs for Radio Heads
Various Artists - Engmatic: The String Quartet Tribute to Radiohead
26 comments

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Best Albums Of 2006 So Far (Pt.1 of 2)

Calum Marsh

I told myself I wouldn't do this. It's only June, I keep telling myself, but I can't resist. I look at all the wonderful recordings my iPod has been graced with in the past six months, and I simply must write about them. I've got to celebrate. I've got to throw my arms in the air and announce that yes, I, Calum Marsh, love these albums. You've been good to me, dear records, and telling the world that I've enjoyed my time with you is the very least I can do. I'm listing my favourite albums of 2006. Already.

And hey, why not? I figured it would be worth throwing together, if just to see what you all think. I'm going to do it all again in another six months, I can tell you that right now - and yeah, sure, the list will probably look a lot different by December. But that's what this is all about: saying things you're going to regret later. Tell me what you love or hate in the comment box, folks.

The 10 Best Albums Of 2006 So Far (Pt.1)
___________________________________________________________________

10. Hot Chip - The Warning

I think it's a testament to the strength of the DFA catalogue that the worst album they've ever released - this album, that is - stands strong as one of the best records I've heard all year. Few records warrant use of the word "smooth", but if any does, it's Hot Chip's The Warning - it's laid-back, "groovy" (as I believe the kids say), and, at the best times, a little bit silly. Whenever I'd describe a movie or album as "fun", my roommate would say "whee!"; he's right, of course - a piece of art isn't a rollercoaster, and it never will be - but that's always the word that comes to mind when I'm listening. Whee!
___________________________________________________________________

09. Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds

I spent a lot of time last summer sitting in Denny's at two in the morning, sipping coffee and chatting with my good friend Tate. One night, overcome with the boredom of what had quickly become routine, Tate and I decided we would go on an overnight roadtrip to Toronto - a mere 3 hours away. We made a quick pitstop to pick up Tate's as-of-then girlfriend, Laura, and headed for the only thing we knew would be exciting in Toronto at 5 in the morning: the CN tower. Sitting on the car, gazing up at the monument which would in a few short hours be surrounded by busy tourists, we listened to Final Fantasy's "The CN Tower Belongs To The Dead" - and that moment shall forever be burned into my mind.

The point? He Poos Clouds isn't as quirky or as charming as its predecessor, but it succeeds in a way that I didn't think a Final Fantasy album could: it feels like a great album. Its goofy title aside, He Poos Clouds is a graceful and, dare I say it, epic record, the kind of album you feel disenchanted by upon first listen but that stays in the back of your mind for weeks and months to come.
___________________________________________________________________

08. Casitone For The Painfully Alone - Etiquette

Have you ever felt like someone is singing a song just for you? Sure, idiotic couples pick "their song" because the lyrics fit juuuust right (or, you know, kinda close...), and angry females are drawn to bitter pop tunes because, hey, their boyfriend/father/friend/whatever is totally stupid and mean. God, Generic Singer X really gets it, ya know? They understand my inconsiquential issue - nobody else feels my pain, but this random millionare pop group that doesn't write their own songs sure does.

But then there's Owen Ashworth. He writes songs about like...well, me. And you, too, probably. If you're between the ages of 18 and 27 and have ever in your life: gone to University or College, borrowed money from your parents, stayed up until breakfast, slept until noon, or basically just felt sad about something even though you sure as hell don't have much to feel sad about, then chances are there's a Casiotone For The Painfully Alone song for you. Ashworth understands that when you're twenty-something, you're stupid - you feel crushed by the weight of whatever, and though you're old enough to understand that things could be worse and you've got no reason to be worried or sad or depressed, it's really goddamn hard not to. "We drink too much and fuck too soon/ cut our wrists and sleep till noon", he sings on lead single 'Young Shields' - think about that the next time you hear "Untitled (How Could This Happen To Me", or some such shit.
___________________________________________________________________

07. Liars - Drum's Not Dead

I'm pleased with how many good records this year I can describe as "scary". Fear is one of the most difficult emotions for art genuinely inspire in its audience, so I'm always appreciate it that much more when it's done well.

Drum's Not Dead is indeed quite frightening. Lead single "It Fit When I Was A Kid", for example, chuggs along like a freight train with that creepy tribal drumming before devolving into organ-based chamber piece that would feel at home in Count Dracula's castle. Intense and at times overwhelming, Drum's Not Dead is certainly not the most pleasurable record you'll hear this year, but it's one of the most engaging and, more surprisingly, one of the most rewarding.
___________________________________________________________________

06. The Knife - Silent Shout

I'm still not quite sure how to accurately describe Silent Shout. Is it scary? I didn't think so at first. It was too dancy, too focused on a techno-like pulse to engage my emotions, I thought. I enjoyed it as a spacy electronica record, one I might hear when I'm in the mood for something intense and a little off-beat (or, as my parents famously said, "when we're playing cards and having a lot to drink").

Unsatisfied with my orignal observations (in that almost everything I read about the album suggested I was missing something crucial when I listening to it the first time), I went back to Silent Shout - this time alone, in the dark, with my headphones. This experience made me realize: listening conditions change everything. I was shocked and amazed that I had once found Silent Shout even remotely fun and was even more shocked and amazed that I hadn't fallen immediately in love with it. This is rich, engaging record that is emotional, intelligent, and - gasp! - pretty darn scary.
___________________________________________________________________

Download:
The Knife - We Share Our Mother's Health
Liars - Let's No Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Cold White Christmas
Final Fantasy - Song Song Song

Buy:
The Knife - Silent Shout
Liars - Drum's Not Dead
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Etiquette
Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
Hot Chip - The Warning
7 comments

Monday, June 26, 2006

Can You Hear The Sound of Joy ?

Jonathan Migneault


Last Saturday I was lucky enough to see The Creeping Nobodies at Ottawa's Club Saw. The show, which was organized by i (Heart) Music's Matthew Pollesel, had the Toronto band follow two great local acts: Ennuie and The Bridegroom.

The headliners, though, stole the show. Attached to Toronto's Blocks Recording Club, which also houses Final Fantasy, The Creeping Nobodies have lived up to the co-operative's eclectic reputation. Like most artists linked to Blocks, The Creeping Nobodies sound is not easily classified.

At their music's heart is the idea of opposition. Their post-punk aesthetic melds with the notion of contrast. Their songs navigate a soundscape that is both quiet and loud, harsh and soft, smooth and sharp and rarely anything in between. Their latest album, Sound of Joy, carries the listener from high musical peaks to quiet valleys. Just when you think you've gotten comfortable it lifts you up for another ride. Believe me, once it's all over you'll want to come back for more.

Tracks like "Treachery" and "Sense of Belonging" find a delicate balance between the creation and release of tension. The entire album juggles nervous energy, especially that of lead vocalist Matthew McDonough. At times that energy is let loose in brilliant outbursts while at others it is subdued by Sarah Richardson's and Valerie Uher's soft vocals. This gives a "calm before the storm" effect that only makes McDonough's sonic eruptions that much more powerful.

If you have an adventurous musical palette The Creeping Nobodies are well worth a listen. The sound of joy awaits and it is wonderful.

Download:
The Creeping Nobodies - The Sound of Joy
The Creeping Nobodies - Treachery
The Creeping Nobodies - Sense of Belonging

Buy:
The Creeping Nobodies - Sound of Joy
10 comments

Friday, June 23, 2006

Gnarls Barkley Next Lord of the Sith

Geoff Trainor

I seems as if Gnarls Barkley has chosen the quick and easy path of the dark side of the force. That doesn't mean he can't be joined on stage by a wookiee and a couple of X-Wing pilots though. Yes, I know this is old news, but I just could not resist posting about this. I did not see it for myself, but I was checking out TheForce.Net for some much needed Star Wars updates and came across it. Anyone that knows me also knows my obsession for all things Star Wars.

(Casey: Of course, one half of Gnarls Barkley is Cee-Lo who is also the man responsible for unleashing "Don't Cha" so clearly his path on the dark side has been long tread.)



You know, as much as I dislike the MTV shows that get syndicated onto Much Music, I usually enjoy their award shows. They do seem to consistantly have great acts.

Download:
Gnarls Barkley - Crazy (Live @ MTV Movie Awards)

Buy:
Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
9 comments

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Record Shopping In The European Theatre

Calum Marsh

There's a used record store about a block away from my apartment. I visit fairly often, since I'm always walking past it, and I've noticed something fairly obvious which had previously never clicked: rare records pass through these stores all the time - every day, in fact. I held previously a romantic vision of nostaligic record collectors, sitting at home and spinning their copies of Low and Swordfishtrombones with grace and delicacy, and never even imagining the thought of giving them away. But such is not the way of the world. I know that somewhere, at this very moment, a copy of The Queen Is Dead that has been collecting dust in a box in someone's attic for fifteen years is being brought in to your local record shop - the LP's owner will not shed a tear tonight or remember the album fondly, and he will use the five dollars that he gets on trade to pick up a used and badly scratched copy of All That You Can't Leave Behind, which he had been meaning to buy for some time and, if he remembers correctly, has some pretty okay songs on it.

So I've been looking for rare records. In the past few months alone, my patience and diligence has uncovered a bounty of treats: the aforementioned The Queen Is Dead, Closer, Swordfishtrombones, Ambient Four: On Land, Drums & Wires, My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, Fear Of Music, The Lounge Lizards, Disintegration, Solid Gold, and a number of others. It's taken on a toll on my bank account, yes, but can I really put a price on...um, commercial goods...?

Last week I stumbled upon something rather interesting: Life In The European Theatre, an extremely rare punk and ska compilation from 1981. I hadn't planned on writing about this LP, but Jonathan's post on the history of Ska music inspired me to sit down and do so. Life In The European Theatre is an interesting snapshot of the British music scene in the aftermath of the Punk explosion, but it's also a surprisingly comprehensive portrait of Ska's second wave. Hell, I'm very tempted to call it the second-wave Ska compilation, but there's probably a much better one floating around and it probably has a catchier title.

Nevertheless, The Eurpoean Theatre remains an unusual but thoroughly enjoyable collection of songs that by artists that range from "most important band ever" to "I think I know that one song they did" - but for the most part, surprisingly, we get the bands that count. It's good, too, that a record featuring so many big names has so many surprises: I'd expect and am okay with The Clash's 'London Calling' kicking things off, but it was a shock and relief to find that songs by the other big names - XTC, The Jam, The Stranglers - are a whole lot less obvious (a lot of B-Sides and Rareties, which is always good).

So what's the story with this compilation? From the liner notes:

NUCLEAR POWER - No single civil industry theatens our lives and the lives of future generations with such brutal finality as Nuclear Power. It will have a deep and damaging effect on all of us. An enormous, appalling expensive risk. Despite the soothing words of the nuclear industry, accidents will happen.

Everyday, the radioactive rubbish dump of leathal nuclear waste grows bigger - in spite of the fact that no one yet knows hot to dispose of it with safety and certainty. It is a deadly inheritance to leave our children and their children. Of course, everyone needs energy - now, and in the future. But heat from atom splitting will fail to provide the kind of secure source of energy we all need because it is complex, over-centralised, and un
reliable, and also creates the materials for any country to assemble and atomic bomb.

Meanwhile, it is diverting vast sums of money and scientific research resources away from the only true long term solutions to our needs: an enery conservation programme, coupled with the harnessing of the only abundant source of energy the world will always have: the sun.

Half of the recording artists royalties (sic) from this album go into a fund for projects opposing nuclear arms and power.


Um, what? Since when is the sun a source of power we'll always have? I'm sure glad I bought this record, otherwise I'd be totally unaware of the awesome and unimaginably dangerous threat of NUCLEAR POWER. Hey, aren't people saying that Nuclear Power is the best way to avoid furthering the effects of global warming? Didn't Al Gore say it was the safest and most effective energy source we can currently harness to prevent damage to the planet? I'm so confused...I think perhaps I should write to the record company and question this matter.

I wonder if, twenty five years from now, some punk kid sitting at his supercomputer will tease our generation for worrying about what ails us. "Ha Ha Ha", he'll guffaw, "Global Warming? What silly nonsense they worried about!" I'm reminded of a classic scene from Woody Allen's Sleeper: a scientist from the future observes that in our time, people didn't eat deep fat, steak, cream pies or hot fudge: "Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true". Maybe it's silly to worry, or maybe it's a serious danger - I'll error on the side of caution, but I'll never know for sure - or, hell, maybe Nuclear Power will kill us all.

Here's Life In The European Theatre. I've included the songs where possible and I've offered alternative tracks from the same bands for the ones I couldn't come across. Listen to them all and think hard about what Nuclear Power is doing to our planet, and what you can do to help.

FIGHT NUCLEAR POWER - TOGETHER!


Track Listing:

Side A

1.The Clash - London Calling - Download
2. The Jam - Little Boy Soldiers - Download "Down In The Tube Station At Midnight"
3. Beat - I Am Your Flag
4. The Specials - Man At C & A - Download "Friday Night, Saturday Morning"
5. XTC - Living Through Another Cuba - Download
6. Peter Gabriel - I Don't Remember - Download "Biko"

Side B

7. The Doors - Peace Frog - Download
8. Madness - Grey Day - Download "My Girl"
9. Bad Manners - Psychedelic Eric
10. The Stranglers - Nuclear Device - Download "Golden Brown"
11. Undertones - It's Going To Happen - Download "When Saturday Comes"
12. Echo And The Bunnymen - All That Jazz - Download
13. Au Pairs - Diet - Download "Headache For Michelle (Live)"
32 comments

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ska: A Brief History

Jonathan Migneault


The iPod is a wonderful machine in its ability to revive old songs that you had completely forgotten. Last night, I experienced one such "revival" when the song "I Can't Wait" by third-wave ska band, Hepcat, popped into my random shuffle. The song brought back memories of a genre that gone through many ups and downs over the years. It seems that ska was virtually cleaned off pop culture's radar when the 90s ended. It's a shame because a lot of great music came out of the genre.

I think a little ska-revival, at least for a day, is in order. Too many people often have an averse reaction to ska because all they remember is The Mighty Mighty Bosstones' "The Impression That I Get" and how they wanted to stab themselves in the ears after its one-thousandth play on the radio. Fortunately, there is a lot more to ska than The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Reel Big Fish.

In general, ska's history is split into three distinct waves.

The first wave was born and blossomed in Jamaica. Artists like The Skatalites and Prince Buster transformed the music they heard on American radio into their own unique style. Early ska combined elements of rhythm and blues, jazz, mento, calypso and African rhythms to create a sound that has come to define Jamaican music. Bob Marley and the Wailers adopted the sound and transformed it by slowing the tempo and adding more rhythm guitar into the mix. This, of course, resulted in reggae. The first wave was short-lived and made way for reggae's huge popularity in 1966. The Skatalites, arguably the first period's most important band, have since made several comebacks.

Ska's second wave is my favourite. Also called the Two Tone era, after the movement's most popular record label, ska's second wave melded the genre with England's punk rock aesthetic. The movement's most popular bands included The Selecter, The Beat, Madness and The Specials. Jerry Dammers, the latter band's keyboardist, founded 2 Tone Records. The label's name described the solidarity between black and white members of the working class during a time of high racial tension in England (history seems to be repeating itself). These ska-loving English minorities were part of a larger sub culture that called itself the rude boys. Ska music has many references to rude boys/girls and the name "Rudie." Two great examples are The Clash's "Rudie Can't Fail" and The Specials' "Rudi, A Message To You."

Ironically, second-wave ska's greatest moment, at least in the mainstream, was when the Clash released its masterpiece, London Calling. The double album had only three songs that could be called ska: the aforementioned "Rudie Can't Fail," "Wrong 'Em Boyo" and to a lesser extent, "The Guns of Brixton." Nevertheless, the album's Jamaican sounds, largely influenced by the band's bass player Paul Simonon, helped cement second-wave ska's sound.

The late 80s and early 90s saw ska's third wave quickly rise in popularity. Based largely in the United States, third-wave ska emphasized the second wave's punk aspects. Bands such as The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, No Doubt, Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake broke into the American mainstream. Meanwhile, bands like Hepcat (who inspired this article) and The Slackers stuck more closely to their predecessors. These bands never gained the others' (short lived) popularity but managed to please the purists while they maintained a contemporary flair.

Below I've posted a small sampling of ska songs. They are each placed under their respective period. If you enjoy these you should go to your local record store and dig out a few ska albums. There are plenty of gems available (probably cheaply) in this mostly forgotten genre.

Download:

First-Wave

The Skatalites - James Bond Theme
The Skatalites - The Guns of Navarone
Prince Buster with Determinations - Dance Cleopatra (Live)

Second-Wave

The Specials - Rudi, A Message to You
Madness - House of Fun
The Clash - Rudie Can't Fail
The Clash - Wrong 'Em Boyo

Third-Wave

Planet Smashers - No Self Control
Leftover Crack - Gay Rude Boys Unite
Hepcat - I Can't Wait
The Slackers - Wasted Days
The Slackers - Wanted Dead or Alive

For the haters


Propagandhi - Ska Sucks

Buy:
The Clash - London Calling
The Skatalites - Foundation Ska
Hepcat - Right on Time
The Specials - Specials
The Slackers - Peculiar


31 comments

Monday, June 19, 2006

Compare and Contrast

Geoff Trainor

Anti-Flag (L) vs Alexisonfire (R)



This post is actually started off with a completely different subject. As it went on, and I started to listening more to the subject matter, I realized it stopped making sense. But out of it came an idea. I liked the idea of choosing two bands and sort of comparing them and making it a semi-regular post. Guidelines? C'mon now, this is Mocking Music, we don't have standards.

For my first attempt I chose two bands that I enjoy immensely on different ends of an incredibly diverse (read: vague) genre of punk rock. Anti-Flag, are the more traditional side of punk, while Alexisonfire came to power during the great screamo revolution of 1812 (or 2001). Anti-Flag are known for their pseudo-hardcore songs with heavy political overtones, while Alexisonfire are known for fast guitars, faster singing and that classic screamo "I scream and he whines" duo.

What these two share are solo side-projects, which end up being remarkably similar to their core bands. Fortunately, one of them is great. The other? Well in my opinion, he should stick with the screaming guy backing him up.

VS
Justin Sane (L) & Dallas Green (R)

Anti-Flag have always been a favourite of mine, long before I saw some guy having an epileptic seizure in the Pulmonary Archery video, which was my introduction to Alexisonfire. So when I heard Justin Sane's solo album, I had mixed feelings. One side of me was intrigued to hear this new material. The other, a little skeptical, that this guy whom I knew for his high energy anti-establishment punk anthems would be able to pull off a subdued solo effort.

But it works. The album itself is actually not much of a departure from the standard Anti-Flag fare. If you remove all instruments save Justin's guitar and slow the tempo, you have this record. Okay, that sounds like quite a departure, but it's not. The songs are catchy and you don't get the feeling that anything is missing.

Which brings me to City and Colour. Dallas Green of Alexisonfire tried his own hand at a solo project. Green and his good old acoustic guitar work as a team on this record. The end result is some of the most whiny music you'll ever hear. Which isn't bad in itself. I do listen to some pretty whiny music. The problem is that he is doing the same querulous voice that he does in Alexisonfire . . . so you are left waiting for the screaming guy (George Petit).

Maybe it helps Justin's case that he is the lead (and generally only) vocalist in Anti-Flag, and any back-up is very similar to his sound. They don't really use much in the way of harmony, so you don't associate his voice with that of another. Hearing him in a different setting does not leave you feeling empty, which is how City and Colour makes me feel. I am always expecting someone else's voice to jump in, and am left disappointed when it does not.

That said, I'm not trying to pick on Green, the first Alexisonfire featured no whiny singing. When the album was released, I loved it because I knew nothing better. Perhaps if City and Colour had come around first, I would feel the same way. Going back to the first one, it just doesn't have the same effect it once had (although still better than City and Colour). It's definitely the dual voices that make the band.


Dallas and Justin Battle It Out Final Fantasy Style. Why? Who Needs A Reason?

Looking up that title is a bit deceptive as I don't really compare Alexisonfire to Anti-Flag at all. Oh well, I can fix that for next time. Or not, whatever works for me. Odds of me actually doing another one of these posts? Approximately 3,720 to 1 or was that the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field?

Download:
Alexisonfire - No Transitory
Anti-Flag - Die For Your Government
City and Colour - Casey's Song
Justin Sane - Worst Case Senario Survival Handbook

Buy:
City and Colour - Sometimes
Justin Sane - Life, Love and the Pursuit of Justice
12 comments

Friday, June 16, 2006

Does This Make Us Crazy? Possibly.

Calum Marsh

I'm sure you're all entirely too sick of Gnarls Barkley's overplayed (and over-covered) 'Crazy', but I found one last cover that's too hilarious to ignore. Give The Old Valley Restoration Society's mechanical reproduction a listen over at their Myspace; seriously, you won't regret it.

The Old Valley is the half-serious musical project of a nice game named Rich, who also does a bit of filmmaking and some animation. I highly recommend that you also take the time to check out an incredible animated short that he did last year.

Listen:
The Old Valley Restoration Society - Crazy

Watch:
The Disturbing Adventures Of Jake And Stuggy D.
8 comments

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Save Indie Music (and the Internet)

Jonathan Migneault


Those of you who follow the news should be well aware of the ongoing debate that has surrounded network neutrality in the United States. You may not be aware, however, of the debate's impact on independent music and blogs (especially those, unlike ours, that are completely independent).

Since its inception the Internet has functioned on a principle called network neutrality. In short, individuals are given full access to any website (more or less) without any interference from their Internet providers. This concept has made the Internet the most democratic medium in all of human history. Unlike television or radio there are no governing bodies to regulate content and restrict individuals' freedom to publish and distribute that content. Restrictions do exist but they are tied to laws that oversee copyright protection and illegal activities.

Cable and phone companies have recently lobbied the US Congress to forgo the preservation of network neutrality. If they get their way the Internet will move in the same direction as television and radio. Multi-million dollar deals will restrict people's access to independent content (or even that of competing multinationals). Let's say that your Internet provider cuts a deal with company X -- that company's online content will run great on your computer -- company Y, however, which has similar (i.e. competing) content may not be accessible at all.

The videos below further explain the consequences what can be called Internet discrimination. The first offers a more informative perspective while the second looks at the issue from a humorous stance.

Video 1
Video 2

Now, what does all this have to do with music? Well, the answer is quite simple. It is no secret that indie music has benefited tremendously from the Internet. Websites, like this one, have given independent artists a platform in which to promote and distribute their music. Many artists have achieved success levels that were previously impossible without major label support. Personally, I can say that without the Internet I would likely have to listen to the shit factory that is Top 40 radio. I think it's safe to say that without the far-reaching platform provided by the Internet, independent music would be effectively doomed. It would become increasingly difficult for indie artists to reach an audience and build a fan base.

Some of you may be saying to yourselves: "Well, I'm not American, why should I care?" Like it or not, the United States happens to be the world's sole superpower and tends to have a strong influence in these matters. If the US scraps network neutrality other countries will surely follow suite. There are several things the average person can do to ensure the Internet's free and democratic exchange of information.

First, if you have a blog write something about the subject and do all you can to get the word out. Even without a blog you can still tell all your friends and spam random message boards with this information.

Second, if you happen to be an American citizen visit the Save the Internet campaign's website. Once there you can sign a petition and send an e-mail to your representative in Congress.

Third, you can add Save the Internet to your MySpace. It's one small step to raise awareness.

Finally, this being Mocking Music, I've posted a few songs that I think are appropriate for this subject matter. The first song, "God Save the Internet", was written by three musicians -- Jill Sobule, Kay Hanley and Michelle Lewis -- who formed a group called The Broadband as part of Save the Internet's campaign. It's kind of corny (in fact it's really corny) but it gets the message across.

Download
The Broadband - God Save the Internet
Neil Young - Rockin' In the Free World
The (International) Noise Conspiracy - Capitalism Stole My Virginity
Warsawpack - Lump of Coal
Greg MacPherson - Bankrobber (Clash cover)
29 comments

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Best Songs Of 2006 So Far

Calum Marsh

I get really excited about making Best Of lists. I don't know why, exactly, but I think it might have to do with celebrating the music I love. Sure, I get a kick out of mocking music as much as the next guy (the next guy presumably being Casey), but once in a while - once a year, actually - it feels good to sit down and stew over which records, movies, and books of the past little while had the biggest impact on you. Maybe that's why today, a mere six months into this long year, I'm compiling the best songs of 2006. Half-year lists being, of course, a silly excusion into the exhausted mind of a blogger with little else to write about - still, I'm sure you'll have a blast telling me what I forgot or what I should still hear.

My 2005 Year-End list took a long time to put together and ended up getting revised three or four times before I just stopped caring. Considering the effort and thought I put into that silly thing, it's odd that I don't agree now with half of what I wrote then. It's only been six months, but already I've lost interest in so many of the albums that I thought would surely be everlasting. The records I liked most at the time - Bloc Party's Silent Alarm, Architecture In Helsinki's In Case We Die, Boards Of Canada's The Campfire Headphase - are still good, but I don't listen to them nearly as much as the records that placed a little lower on the same list - Antony & The Johnsons' I Am A Bird Now, The National's Alligator, M83's Before The Dawn Heals Us - and some records that didn't even make the Top Twenty - Sunn 0)))'s Black One, Art Brut's Bang Bang Rock And Roll, Black Dice's Broken Ear Record - rank in my mind as much higher than many of the discs that did make the cut.

So why bother listing at all? I'm not sure, to be honest. I guess, in a sense, it's interesting to see what albums stand the test of time and which simply fade out of memory - and I'll be damned if it isn't fun to do.

The Best Songs Of 2006 So Far
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17. Who Made Who - Space For Rent

From The Album: Space For Rent 12"
Gomma Records
Download
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16. Thom Yorke - The Eraser

From The Album: The Eraser
Xl Recordings


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15. Think About Life - Serious Chords

From The Album: Think About Life
Alien 8 Recordings


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14. Sunset Rubdown - The Men Are Called Horsemen There

From The Album: Shut Up I Am Dreaming
Absolutely Kosher Records
Download
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13. Shit Robot - Wrong Galaxy

From The Album: Wrong Galaxy/Triumph 12"
DFA Records
Download

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12. Mates Of State - Think Long

From The Album: Bring It Back
Barsuk Records


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11. Man Man - Engwish Bwudd

From The Album: Six Demon Bag
Ace Fu Records
Download

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10. Liars - It Fit When I Was A Kid

From The Album: Drum's Not Dead
Mute Records
Download

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09. The Knife - One Hit

From The Album: Silent Shout
Rabid Records


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08. Islands - Rough Gem

From The Album: Return To The Sea
Equator Records
Download

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07. Hot Chip - Over And Over

From The Album: The Warning
DFA Records


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06. Goldfrapp - Ooh La La

From The Album: Supernature
Mute Records
Download

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05. Final Fantasy - This Lamb Sells Condos

From The Album: He Poos Clouds
Tomlab Records
Download

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04. Danielson - Did I Step On Your Trumpet?

From The Album: Ships
Secretly Canadian
Download

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03. Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - New Year's Kiss

From The Album: Etiquette
Tomlab Records
Download

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02. Beirut - Postcards From Italy

From The Album: Gulag Orkestar
Ba Da Bing Records
Download

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01. Beck - Broken Drum (Boards Of Canada Remix)

From The Album: Guerolito
Interscope Records
Download

_____________________________________________________________

Buy:
Beck - Guerolito
Think About Life - Think About Life
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Etiquette
Man Man - Six Demon Bag
20 comments

Monday, June 12, 2006

Radiohead live @ Place Des Arts, Montreal, QB - 06/10/06

Calum Marsh

They were awesome. That is all.

Download:
Radiohead - Arpeggi (Live)

Buy:
Radiohead Tickets
8 comments

Life, The Universe, And Radiohead

Calum Marsh

Thom Yorke loves The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. We all know that. Everyone's quick to point out that OK Computer's 'Paranoid Android' is a reference to that book/radio show/mini-series/Hollywood movie franchise, but fans often forget about or overlook a plethora of other equally-obvious Hitchhiker shout-outs. Today I present to you, dear readers and Radiohead fanatics, the comprehensive list of Radiohead-Hitchhiker connections. None of these are officially verified, but I'm sure you'll find that my conclusions are undeniably accurate nonetheless.
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The Song: 'Just' (The Bends)
The Line: "Don't Get My Sympathy/Hanging Out The 15th Floor"
The Reference: In The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, the second book in the Hitchhiker series, Zaphod Beeblebrox is mysteriously transported to the head office in charge of the 'Hitchhiker's Guide' book. As he searches the building for a man named Zarniwoop, an alien named Roosta shows up and rips the building in two. Half of the building - the half that Zaphod is in - is moved to a planet called Frogstar World B. Zaphod, confused, is left hanging on the side of the building, and he happens to be on - yep, you guessed it - the fifteenth floor.
___________________________________________________________________

The Song: 'Paranoid Android' (OK Computer)
The Line: " When I am king, you will be first against the wall"
The Reference: When asked about his creators, Marvin (the Paranoid Android himself, no less), declares that they are "a bunch of jerks who'll be first against the wall when the revolution comes". Coincidence? I think not.
___________________________________________________________________

The Song: 'Paranoid Android' (OK Computer)
The Line: "The Panic, The Vomit"
The Reference: The line "The Panic" kinda sounds like "Don't Panic", which is the famous inscription on the front cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide and which is the most prominent line from the series.
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The Song: 'Sail To The Moon' (Hail To The Theif)
The Line: "Maybe You'll Be President...Sail To The Moon"
The Reference: Well, Zaphod was President of the Galaxy, and he flew a ship in space, and ships usually sail, and, um, the moon is in space. Right...?
___________________________________________________________________

The Song: 'Motion Picture Soundtrack' (Kid A)
The Line: title
The Reference: The Hitchhiker's Guide was turned into a motion picture, and that motion picture had a soundtrack.
___________________________________________________________________

The Song: 'Subterranean Homesick Alien' (OK Computer)
The Line: "I'd show them the stars and the meaning of life."
The Reference: He'd show them that meaning of life, the Universe, and everything, is 42 - just like in the book. Oh, and there were a lot of stars in Hitchhiker's (because they're in space, obviously).
___________________________________________________________________

Download:
Radiohead - Creep (Live)

Buy:
Thom Yorke - The Eraser

28 comments

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Making Drinks For Nigel: Singles & Shots

Calum Marsh

One hot summer day last year, a good friend of mine from high school invited me and several others over for a little reunion. The six or seven of us that could spare enough time to show up spent an afternoon doing what we did a lot back in the day: playing video games and eating pizza. It's one hell of a way to spend a hot afternoon, but I was getting restless and wanted to make things more interesting.

"Let's drink this evening", I proposed to the group, expecting acclaim for such a spectacular idea. I had already spent a year in University, which these folk had not yet done, and so my affinity for binge drinking was totally alien to them. I got all the usual excuses - "I'm working in the morning", "I can't really afford it right now", and the worst, "I really shouldn't" (what the hell does that even mean?). Disheartened, I gave up. But Dan, the friend that had organized the event, was all for the idea, and piped up when he noticed that nobody else would: "Fuck it, let's drink".

And so we did. All we had to drink was beer, which, at the time, I wasn't really into. Dan and I had only managed to convince one other friend to stick around and have some fun, but the three of us were determined to have a good time nevertheless.

At midnight we found salvation. Tyler, an old friend who we weren't able to get ahold of earlier in the day, gave us a call. He was already drunk. "I'll be right over", he slurred before hanging up the phone. We waited. Moments later Tyler pulled into the driveway - he nearly hit Dan's car and wound up parking on the lawn. He stumbled into the house and threw a very large duffle bag onto the floor. "Open it", he said, making his way into the kitchen and pouring a small glass of water for himself. Inside the bag we found, to our great surprise delight, bottle after bottle of liquor. He had everything from Prince Igor vodka to Creme Du Cacao (a delicious chocolate liqueur), and it was ours to enjoy. A moment passed and nobody said anything. What was there to say? I asked what the others were surely thinking: "Where on earth did you get all of this?" We never got an answer. Instead we got a shot glass each and an open invitation to drink whatever we pleased. Tyler dug through the bag retreaved a small hardcover book with the words "101 Shots" scrawled across the cover. "We're going to have as many of these as we can until we pass out", Tyler declared, preparing for business, "come, we've got a lot of work to do".

Tyler set us up downstairs. Each bottle was affixed with a stopper to ensure accuracy even when completely hammered - laid out in front of us I could now see the extent to which we were stocked; we had everything I'd ever had and a great number I'd never before seen. I was amazed.

I was excited to get drunk with my friends but even more excited to try new things. I imagined tasting many different recipes and deciding which were the best. I would be a shooter expert, and I could make a drink for any occassion. Ah, but here's the rub: the more shots I had that night, the less likely it was that I'd remember them the next day. Turns out I had so many that I didn't remember a single thing the next morning. I think one was green, but I could be wrong.

The point here is that while shooters are a lot of fun and often tasty, it's a bit pointless to try and make a mental inventory of the ones you like and the ones you don't. Nobody wants to spend the time and money trying each of these professionally. This isn't fine wine. Shots are for getting drunk, plain and simple, and although the process is a lot more interesting and enjoyable when you're downing two ounces of layered rainbow-coloured mystery liquor that tastes like schnozberries, it's not the only thing that matters.

Still, it's worth having a few simple and delicious shooter recipes on hand that you can crack out at parties and impress your friends with. And those delicious shooters are even more delicious when downed to the sound of the right record. Making and drinking a single shot isn't long enough a process to warrant an entire album, though, so these excellent shooters are going to be paired up with some excellent singles. Here are five great 12" Singles from my record collection and five great shooters from my recipe book. Enjoy (responsibly).
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5. LCD Soundsystem - Losing My Edge/Beat Connection
There are few records that start a party as well as this great LCD Soundsystem single. Things start of smooth and slow with 'Losing My Edge' - you've gotta ease people into the dancier stuff - and then appropriately pick up with B-Side 'Beat Connection'.

Shot: Alabama Slammer
The problem with drinking is there's no particularly easy way of starting. Doing a shot is pretty rough when sober, so it's important to start the night with a drink that's not too harsh. The Alabama Slammer is always a crowd favourite because it's a lot of fun to drink with friends and it's relatively smooth going down. If you're really anxious to get things going, shoot every time James Murphy says "I was there" - you should be soused in no time. Pour 1oz of Southern Comfort (though you could use Rum or Tequila in a pinch) into a 2oz shot glass. Top up with a clear soda (7Up, Club Soda, etc), and cover the top of the glass with your hand - shake it up and shoot it while it's fizzing. Be warned: this is increasingly diffcult to do properly as the night goes on.
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4. The Juan Maclean - Give Me Every Little Thing
This a great song to hear smashed strictly because it's fun to should "GIVE ME EVERY LITTLE THING - AND DON'T STOP!" when you're completely and unabashadly intoxicated. Trust me, you will not be able to resist doing so. Seriously. Just try it.

Shot: Blow Job
Yeah, yeah - it's the most cliched shot ever, and it's got a really retarded name. But it's actually pretty good, and, sadly, kind of fun to do when you're drunk. Just imagine the possibilities: with enough alcohol, you'll spend the whole night dunking these shooters while slurring "AND DON'T STOP!" - now doesn't that sound fun? Layer a half oz of Kahlua and a half oz of Baileys (or some other Irish cream) in one oz glass and top with whipped cream. Tie or hold your hands behind your back and grasp the glass with your mouth; throw your head back and please, don't choke.
___________________________________________________________________

3. M83 - Don't Save Us From The Flames
It's a great nighttime album and a great nighttime song, made all the more moody and intruiging with a couple of drinks and some good friends. It isn't very appropriate for wild and crazy parties or hardcore keggers, but if you're planning a more relaxed social event with friends you like actually talking to, this is the song to throw on.

Shot: Fireball
It's kind of a lame pun, but it stands up as a shot even without the silly name connection. Though it won't satisfy every intellectual in the room, the craziness of the Fireball shot will definitely spice up your party - ho ho. Mix 1oz or Cinammon Schnapps (though I find Fireball Whisky works just as well) with a little bit of Tabasco Sauce (not much, for Christ's sake) in a two oz or 1.5oz shot glass. Be extremely careful and have a glass of water on hand.
___________________________________________________________________

2. Antony & The Johnsons - Hope There's Someone
I don't recommend throwing on 'Hope There's Someone' in the middle of your drink-fest, but this is a great song to throw on right at the end of the night. Or, if you're planning a classy party with a few close friends, this song does a good job of setting the right mood.

Shot: Polar Bear
Mmm, mmm - there are few shooters as delicious or heartwarming as this classic bar favourite. I've yet to meet a single person who doesn't like the taste of this delicious treat, and it's not too crazy or too powerful to upset the tone of a slower or classier gig. Combine a half oz of Peppermint Schnapps (anything minty will do) and a half oz of Creme Du Cacao in a standard shot glass and shoot or sip to your heart's content.
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1. !!! - Take Ecstasy With Me
A great band's great cover of a great song by a great band. The interesting thing about this single is that works for both wild parties and calm gatherings, making it a crucial part of any record collection. I've thrown on this record so many times and my company has yet to be disappointed - I love it.

Shot: Ecstasy
Obviously. Granted, the experience would be all the better (and gleefully self-referential) if you were actually taking the drug, but for now I think I'll stick to the shooter that happens to go by the same name. Combine 3/4 of an oz of Butterscotch Schnapps with a quarter oz of Baileys (or, once again, another Irish Cream) in a standard shot glass. Enjoy.
___________________________________________________________________

Download:
LCD Soundsystem - Losing My Edge
Juan Maclean - Give Me Every Little Thing
M83 - Don't Save Us From The Flames
Antony & The Johnsons - Hope There's Someone
!!! - Take Ecstasy With Me

Buy:
LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem
Juan Maclean - Give Me Every Little Thing
M83 - Don't Save Us From The Flames
Antony & The Johnsons - Hope There's Someone
!!! - Take Ecstasy With Me
2 comments

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Man Man @ Mavericks, Ottawa, ON - 06/04

Calum Marsh

Wholly unsatisfied with just having recorded the best album of the year so far, the genreless Philly crew Man Man have wrangled yet another coveted title: Best Live Act of 2006. Yeah, yeah, we're barely half way through the year - but seriously, people, if I see a show in the next six months that's even half as good as this, it will be one hell of a good year.

Man Man drew in an unexpectedly large crowd by Ottawa's standards, requiring a last minute venue change that moved the show from the miniscule Cafe Dekcuf to the considerably larger (but still pretty damn small) Mavericks, which are convieniently located in the same building. The opening acts - one-man cover band Male Nurse and the acclaimed punk kids Million Dollar Marxists - were a strange fit for Man Man, which I suppose in its own way made sense. I figured the inclusion of the Million Dollar Marxists would make for an interesting crowd, but I only counted one mohawk the whole night (and it was a pretty tame one at that).

Male Nurse played to a crowd of about ten, and that was probably for the best: completely wasted and without a supporting band (apparently he "never usually does this"), the dazed and barely conscious kid exclusively played cover songs. The theme song from Family Matters and 'Jenni 867-5309' seemed like crowd favourites, which basically means that some guy in the back yelled "yeah!" after both. It was a sad and hilarious display of intoxicated bravado, punctuated by his own coy self-awarness ("this is...so silly", he noted at one point), but funny or not, it was kind of waste of time. Things quickly picked up, though, when the Marxists hit the stage - though the crowd didn't seem like they were that into the music, they were at least responsive to the band's charisma and stage presense. People cheered for the band's drunken leader when he stumbled through the audience and laughed when he attempted to crush himself under the monitor - it was a strange and intense little set, a good appetizer for Man Man's main course.

Man Man put on a show unlike any I have ever seen before. Employing a loot bag of quasi-instruments and noise-making junk, it seemed like the group could and would do anything. Man Man's lead singer, Honus Honus, mentioned that watching Man Man peform was like watching a play - and that is indeed the best way to describe the experience. The stage was an elaborate set, designed to not only manage their space and keep everything they needed in just the right spot, but also to look interesting and fun. Like any musical, the visuals are just as important as the music. The band was even outfitted with matching costumes: white tennis gear, polo shirts, sweat-bands - and, of course, big beards. Gimmicky or not, the schtick worked; Man Man's act was so over-the-top and unbelievable that the audience couldn't help but be giddy with excitement. When Honus and the drummer, Pow Pow, began wildly jumping in the air in the middle of a song, smashing their instruments and making a lot of noise as they landed, the crowd cheered and laughed with the kind of unabashed joy seldom seen at an indie show. That whole "I'm too cool to be here" shit was dropped for the sake of - gasp - having fun. It was good to see a crowd of indie kids and music snobs let their precious guard down and just have a good time. After the show was all said and done, everyone was elated - the energy that pervaded the room during the set stuck around afterward; every person I saw on the way out was smiling largely, and all I heard were gushing raves. "We need this!", someone yelled out before the encore - a joke, yes, but in a way we all did. We loved that energy rush so much that to have it go away so soon was unthinkable. We want Man Man, dammit, and I'm so glad they delivered.

The set's highlights were the moustache-loving energy of "Push The Eagle's Stomach", the dramatic sing-along joy of "Ice Dogs", and the craziness that was "Engwish Bwudd". Here are some pictures from the night, courtesy of Jonathan:


If Man Man are coming to your hometown or somewhere nearby, I urge - nay, I command you to go. Best live act of 2006, everyone (although I'm seeing Radiohead on Saturday, so...).

Download:
Man Man - Engwish Bwudd

Buy:
Man Man - Six Demon Bag
Man Man - The Man In The Turban

Related:
Man Man Interview 1
Man Man Interview 2
What's He Building There? (Man Man profile)
8 comments

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Interview: Man Man (The Sequel)

Jonathan Migneault


Last April Calum interviewed Man Man's mysterious lead singer, Honus Honus. It was a glorious event that likely improved many lives and nearly caused World peace. Like Hollywood, Mocking Music has run out of original ideas and has decided to return to what works: Man Man interviews. Fear not, because this is one of those rare sequels that is superior to the original. In fact, I would even say that this is the Empire Strikes Back of interviews. An interview that delves deeper than the original ever dared to go. New characters, such as the indomitable Sergei Sogay, the utterly awesome Alejandro "Cougar" Borg and myself have been added to the plot. There are incredible twists and turns at every corner that will leave the reader dizzy with intrigue. Grab some popcorn, your favourite beer/soda and read on. Man Man's world awaits...

Calum: This is the second tour for your album, right?

Honus Honus: Off this album we've done three.

Calum: Three tours?

Honus: Yeah.

Calum: What's the reason for so many tours?

Alejandro "Cougar" Borg: They weren't long ones.

Sergei Sogay: Yeah they were little ones at first. This will be the longest one for this album.

Calum: Has it been picking up steam since you guys started, since the album was released?

Sergei: Definitely.

Honus: We still have a lot of touring ahead of us, so...

Calum: And it's just been North America?

Cougar: Just North America and then hopefully Europe in the fall. We're gonna try to do another North American tour in the early fall. We're gonna do some Canada stuff too, hopefully.

Jonathan: Where in Europe?

Cougar: Hopefully all of Europe man. It's not really worked out yet. It's in the works...

Jonathan: You guys have a reputation for being a great live band. Do you guys put more thought into the live aspect than the recording process?

Honus: Sergei!

Sergei: Umm... It's got the same, I mean recording there was a lot that went into it, a lot of preparation but for the live we do a lot of preparation and planning --- figuring out what works best. It's a process just like any other thing that we do.

Calum: And everyone that was part of the recording process is touring with you? Is it just you four?

Honus: No there's five of us. I mean I mean Mandrew is the Man manager. (laughs)

Calum: And are you guys working on anything new or are you just sticking with the same songs?

Honus: We're gonna have a recording where it's just Pow Pow singing. You know that?

Calum: Hopefully not...

Sergei: Yeah we've been working on some new stuff.

Cougar: We'll probably play two new songs that we've been working on this evening.

Jonathan: Tonight?!?

Honus: Yeah. Two new songs from the next record.

Cougar: We'll we've got "Snake Hand" on it too.

Honus: Yeah, I guess it's three new songs from the next record. We're gonna try to do that tonight. Keep a fair mix.

Homeless man about ten feet to our left: Get your free moustache rides!
[A moment of delicious irony when one considers that a) most of Man Man's members have kick ass facial hair and b) they have a song called 10lb Moustache.]

Everyone: (Laughter)

* We then move inside the venue's "vestibule" where there are fewer distractions.

Calum: With all the pseudonyms and wild stage show stuff is it aiming for anything specific? Like, do you guys have fake names for a reason?

Sergei: The names just kinda... They're just nicknames that fit who we were, our personalities. They help make our personalities a little bit bigger on stage.

Jonathan: Did you guys put a lot of thought into the names?

Cougar: I just really love John Cougar Mellencamp so... That's where the "Cougar" came from.

Calum: I've read that you guys are friends with Islands. Is that true?

Honus: Yeah I'm friends with Nick. He was at our show last night. He's a nice guy.

Jonathan: They played here a couple of weeks ago.

Honus: They played here?

Calum: They played at a club down the street.

Honus: I kinda bust his balls a little bit because we wear all white.

Calum: And they wear all white...

Honus: Yeah but we were wearing all white first!

Everyone: (laughter)

Honus: His last words to all of us yesterday were: if we don't stop wearing all white he's gonna kill us.

Jonathan: Well they're breaking up anyways, so...

Honus: They're breaking up?

Jonathan: Well didn't J'Aime Tambeur leave the band?

Honus: Yeah but he's the drummer. I mean he's a founding member but they're still going. They're not gonna break up. I mean Nick's a very driven determined guy.

No one in this band was around except for me was around in the first lineup.

Calum: Will you guys be around for the third record?

Honus: I fuckin' hope so.

Cougar: Since we're on that subject Honus I've been meaning to tell you...

Calum: Do you write the songs yourself?

Honus: I write the lyrics but I don't write Cougar's guitar parts or Sergei's bass parts.

Calum: And you guys all contribute then?

Cougar: Yeah. We all throw in ideas.

Sergei: The songs all come together in the end. Honus writes the skeleton of it and we all just throw our parts in.

Calum: That second album [Six Demon Bag] especially seems like it's really cohesive. It seems very purposeful in that it flows. I assumed that it wasn't spontaneous.

Honus: No. I mean even in our live shit there's a lot of energy and a bit of improv going. I mean we riff on a lot of...

Sergei: Yeah we don't stick strictly to how things were written and recorded. The songs are the same pretty much...

Honus: But we just play around with how we attack it.

Calum: You guys don't play a lot of the songs from the album because they're too slow or too emotional?

Honus: Yeah, well you shouldn't believe everything you read.

Jonathan: Will we hear "Van Helsing" tonight?

Honus: Probably not. But it doesn't mean we don't play it. Definitely there's a pacing in a set and some songs totally destroy the pacing.

Jonathan: When would you play those [slower paced] songs?

Honus: Sometimes we'll play those first. Sergei?

Sergei: Umm, we feel it out. If we do an encore or anything silly like that sometimes we'll play those first or play them first in the set.

Cougar: Once we get moving we just like to keep it moving and keep the room bouncing. It's kinda hard to go the room amped when all of a sudden you go to a slow heavy song in the middle of the set when everyone's dancing and enjoying themselves.

Honus: You're like a DJ. For example "Gold Teeth", it's a great song to play live but it's just a really long slow jam. In the middle of the set it sucks the energy out of the room. We're trucking along and...

Calum: Do you still play a lot of the old material?

Honus: Our live show is pretty much half and half from our first two records and then we even throw in new stuff together.

Calum: Someone mentioned before that it's mostly new album material.

Honus: Oh, I don't know. I think it's pretty evenly split.

Calum: I find the first album is a lot more consistently paced and a lot slower than the second album...

Honus: The first album?

Calum: Yeah. Do you find that sometimes throws off the pacing?

Honus: I feel like we have a lot of really good last song in a set songs. "Van Helsing", "Gold Teeth" or "Werewolf" or even...

Sergei: We could even play those songs faster, much faster.

Calum: Just to keep the pace going?

Sergei: Yeah. It's not all an energy thing too. Whether it was on purpose that we meant to go that fast or not it's just that we're coming out of something that's really hot and we just keep plowing away...

Calum: And you guys feel each other out in that sort of way?

Cougar: We have little walkie-talkies.

Everyone: (Laughter)

Calum: Do you guys find that you've had any problems with your lack of a genre? Because I've seen you listed as indie rock or experimental.

Sergei: The experimental thing kind of bums me out because experimental means that you're gonna do something and you're not quite sure what's going to come out of it. Everything we do is pretty much on purpose, so I don't really think we fall into "experimental". I don't think we're experimental at all.

Honus: I think we're experimental. I mean we're not adhering to a classical pop structure.

Sergei: Yeah, but it's still intentional what we're doing.

Honus: It's intentional but..

Calum: I think sometimes people say experimental when they mean weird.

Honus: I think we're a non-masturbatory experimental.

Calum: I think those two go hand-in-hand.

Honus: Masturbatory and experimental, yes they do. So we're non-masturbatory, we're semi-masturbatory.

Calum: Are you guys kinda stuck with the Waits, Zappa, Beefheart thing?

Honus: Only when people keep mentioning it.

Sergei: Our influences don't really come from them at all. I mean those are all people that we respect but we're not really like...

Honus: They're amazing musicians.

Sergei: We're not huge Zappa fans or we're not huge Beefheart fans in any way.

Honus: I like Tom Waits. He's an amazing lyricist but why the hell would you just want to just mimic.

Cougar: Everyone else is really doing that.

Sergei: We get a lot of Zappa comparisons. People tell me personally when they see me on the street: "You guys are like Zappa." I'm like, "nah, really what we're doing is different from other people, I guess."

Calum: I think the biggest thing in common between you guys and those guys...

Honus: Is our moustaches.

Calum: Well it's hard to define them so I think that that's...

Honus: Why the hell do you want to put yourself in a genre box anyway? It's like when I first started playing music with this band it's like: "Why do I want to start playing disco punk rock now that I'm not gonna play five years from now?" Why not just be in a band where I could be playing variations on this theme 10 years from now.

Jonathan: So, what are your influences?

Honus: What are your influences? You know... Having people shit on you, having bad relationships, being in love with people, being broke, having bullshit jobs, you know. Everyone influences us, that's what this is.

Calum: Do you play with a set list?

Sergei: We play with a set list.

Calum: Bu that's not strictly adhered to?

Honus: We try to change it up.

Sergei: It's usually more or less the same but we feel out the crowd a little bit we don't really like to stop between songs. So there's no discussion really or...

Calum: You're not gonna make witty banter?

Honus: Why? I mean everyone else makes semi-witty banter. I don't give a shit at what Indian restaurant the band ate. Or some terrible joke you've already heard.

Sergei: What street they drove in on...

Honus: Who cares? Just play your songs.

Sergei: We'll leave the jokes to Blink 182 and bands like that. We just want to play music, you know?

Honus: You'll see that it's more like a play than anything else. Will the members of Man Man be able to pull it off this evening even though there's a set structure. How far can we go exploring where we're at? Do we have to stick or adhere to a song structure?

Download:
Man Man - Van Helsing Boombox
Man Man - I, Manface

Buy:
Man Man - Six Demon Bag

Related:
Interview: Man Man
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