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My favorite Canadian supergroup has a new album entitled “Forgiveness Rocks Record” coming out May 4th, and since my favorite Canadian supergroup is also my favorite musical act on the planet, here, there, anywhere, anytime, I am delirious.

This is, for me, the greatest news on the planet. It makes my year. There are years where no BSS records come out; those are eh. Then there are years when they do: and they are super. They are years when you invite friends over to listen to those albums all night and pass out on your floor at 5 am. They are years when you take off work to go drive to get the album and listen to it all over creation. It’s a year that is perfect. I’ve already listened to “World Sick”, which you can get from their website, and maybe I’m biased, but yeah, I’m in love all over again (I missed them so). So May 4th is kinda like a big deal for me. To celebrate, here are some pictures with no rhyme or reason to them. Bless ’em all.

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Wheat, Boom Boom, Wheat

I’m disappointed in myself. Wheat has had a new album out for over six months and I’ve been clueless about this. But before I start this, I should clarify:

I am, and have been for many years now, madly passionately adoringly in love with Wheat.


Wheat. A band so deserving, and so perpetually on the outskirts. A band discovered after each album, by new and old adorers alike. Ever since my sister played them for me so many years ago, I’ve gone through a phase with each of their albums, a phase which usually lasts for a bubbly month of hopping around and spacing out and creating excuses to postpone going home; it ends in me planning to move somewhere or do something else drastic.

It’s pop music. It’s brilliant pop music that’s been made in a decade that has repeated stale, horrifying dribble on the radio over and over and over. Who cares what the corporate Grammys do with themselves, but do all these corporate-owned radio stations have to assault my ears whenever I have the audacity to run into Giant to pick up some milk and garlic (vampires, you know…)? I beg whoever is choosing the playlist I’ll be forced to zombie-walk to in my grocery store to just consider Wheat. Let’s start with Per Second, Per Second, Per Second…Every Second.


It’s Wheat’s most accessible album. It’s pop-pop-pop, it’s driving on a summer evening when you’re twenty. It’s picking a pen out from under the pile of books and clothes in your backseat and scrawling something on your wrist and walking out to everything else with a fucking huge grin. It’s “The Beginner” being played over and over for years on evenings after long days of work, be it at the rodeo or picking children up at the playground or showing up on a dimly lit, snowy street early in the morning to look for a lost someone. Or “This Rough Magic” with all its gorgeous something-ness and beyond-ness: “and carrying counts for something / when you can give it all away …. and I hope god will mend / the little things I break and bend / and equal it to the love I made”.  It’s endearingly pretentious wanna-be music critic friends saying when they hear ‘These Are Things’ that it’s ‘movie music’, as if you will bow to their intelligence now that they’ve insulted you ( or schooled you in their wisdom, they think ) thoughtlessly. You smile, because fuck, even Pitchfork got over themselves to swoon just a bit before this album. Then, two years later, self-declared music-critic-genius friends are declaring they’ve discovered Hope and Adams, and you have to laugh because you’ve been listening to the heartbreakingly beautiful precursor to Per Second for years, but you stifle that laugh because you won’t deny anyone the joy of Wheat simply in order to feel vindicated.

When we talk of Hope and Adams, let us not raise our voices. Let us wait till late twilight, and then open the blinds to watch the blue, and we’ll just listen to the album, rather than argue. It’s all we can do, I suppose. Was it an album written for May? For June? Just as much September, I think, all blues at night, and green and white during the day. It’s “Body Talk” (one or two) in the evening. “Raised Ranch Revolution” driving somewhere far away. “Who’s The One” early in the morning, I’m talking four or five am, driving back (or to) someplace. When you are feeling absolutely yourself and finding you absolutely belong to the universe, you have to put on “Off the Pedestal” and start jumping all over as you go along with Scott Levesque : “I never seem to get these feet beneath my legs to land up like a cat who’s taken back his lives for one that’s not going right.” More than anything, though, it’s that too-croony-to-be-corny classic which made it out of the shadows, “Don’t I Hold You”. Oh, “Don’t I Hold You”. Whosoever hears you can’t help but be enchanted by all your pounds of air, and rolling right off the road into something-lovely-ness.

Then there is Wheat’s four-year afterthought to Per Second, a strange little album entitled Everyday I Said A Prayer For Kathy and Made a One-Inch Square. Well, honestly, I don’t know what that means to them, but I love it. It sounds a bit like meaningful nonsense, with a listener finding the meaning one day and losing it the next. There’s “Saint In Law” which is as strange and pretty and halting as the first time I heard it. “Closeness” takes me right back to “Raised Ranch Revolution” on Hope and Adams, and frankly, I love it. Other songs like “To, As In Addressing the Grave”, “Move = Move” and “Little White Dove” give those whole exercise an ethereal, caught-between worlds feel. “An Exhausted Fixer” I find to be running even with KC Accidental’s “Tired Hands” for loveliest song title. The whole album, as I’ve found it, is something which sounds sad and beautiful and happy and worn out, and perhaps a little surprised at finding itself older as it look laughingly back upon itself. I guess I sort of love it too.

So this is the album I have been whomping myself over the head about all evening, or at least I would be whomping if I was a whomper. But I am a lover and a peaceful one, so I decided to do penitence by putting my love into words and sending it out into space. Anyway. I am all about the occasional song which comes along and is sort of reassuring. It’s why I love their earlier song “These Are Things” because, honestly, it would be an unhappy world if you can’t have a tough year and jump up and down in the car in the new spring and shout out “these are things I did for my love” over and over. On White Ink, Black Ink Wheat has a few more of these, though with a little less swooping choruses. “My Warning Song (Everything is Gonna Be Alright)” has none of the obvious charisma of “These Are Things”, but its off-the-beaten-path-but-still-trumpeting-on-the-way-and-so-is-perhaps-a-bit-more-grown-up-and-should-probably-have-gotten-past-hyphens-charm is all its own, and I’m in love. They have songs which twinkle. They have songs called “If Everything Falls Together”. I have to say, after a few go-throughs, this album makes me feel young and again. It’s the Wheat album I’ve wanted for years, with all the dreaminess of Hope and Adams, the excitement and on-the-edge feeling of Per Second, the strange precision of Everyday I Said A Prayer. And, for the true Wheat lovers, it also has all the upstart daring-ness of Medeiros. White Ink, Black Ink is young and old at the same time. I think that might be one of the nicest things I’ve said about anything, ever. In my mind, it’s quite a compliment.

One of the young-old-brimming songs on this album is called “Changes Is”. It’s the sort of song to have a lyric which I can’t help but, you know, adore, that goes “Boom Boom / I’m getting out of here”. Well, yeah. That’s Everything, isn’t it?

Who knows where Wheat will end up in the pantheon of music history. As for me, I’m grateful I’ve handed over moments of my life to their music many, many times. I wish I could hear I remember in twenty minutes that I have no food and this calls for a crawl over to the grocery store. This would be what I’d like to hear when I walk in at 11:30 at night into the 24-hour Giant and smile at the cashiers and pick up a few magazines to take home and read in the snowy night. This would make us all feel good about everything.

I like, when thinking about them, going back to one of their very first songs, the rousing “Death Car”. When it starts swelling up and being feisty, I think about those sleepy-looking fellows who occasionally gaze into the camera, but are usually off looking or focusing on someone else entirely. Maybe that’s why I love their music. It holds and suggests more than itself.

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Hey, John

When an enormous part of your universe grows up around someone’s memory, even if they died years before you came into the world, the moment they left can still give pause. Even if you don’t know what it was like when they were there.

I have my poster of John singing over a piano with the words “People for Peace.” I love Yoko Ono and I love all the weird things John said and did. I think his original version, solo over a piano and alone in his apartment, of ‘Real Love’ can break and mend hearts simultaneously. It’s difficult to be unaffected by that version of John, the man who wrote ‘Imagine’, the man who quite definitely sought to change minds and people. The strong cultural memory of that man is so strong, and often has such lovely ideals attached to it, that it can wipe out the real one.

But the man was a man, and he could be a fucking… something. He so sought to be loved, but he also sought to be open and make a mockery of himself and be honest when it wasn’t flattering. It’s wrong to deify him. He wasn’t into that, and I think it’s fair to point this out. I was hugely, hugely upset when I read Philip Norman’s John: The Life several months ago. It’s this man, proud and angry, desperate to stave off the world and defy it, and to not reckon whose feelings or lives are destroyed in the process. This man joked off ‘Imagine’ when defending all the fur coats in the closet, this man who loved to mock infirmities and the sick and the slow. It is all an undeniable part of the man who wrote ‘All You Need is Love’ and ‘Strawberry Fields’ and ‘In My Life’. One without the other does not seem possible or right.

When I think of John now, I can’t think of John the idealist or John the dreamer. I think of John Lennon, human being. John Lennon, roil of contradictions, of ideals and sins, of wants and needs, of hopes and grudges. Of him loving… and demanding love. Of wanting peace, and wanting to fight about it. Of wanting real love, and being human.

You know, John Lennon, I’m sorry I put all my dreams and schemes on you all these years. He wasn’t a black-and-white version of our own shifting ideals and passions. It’s not for one person to bring peace or some message to the world. We want to do good, and we also want our own private happiness. We are human beings who make mistakes, and the best place for us to begin to do well is to wish one another joy. All I can think of are his own words:

You are all geniuses, and you are all beautiful. You don’t need anyone to tell you who you are. You are what you are. Get out there and get peace, think peace, live peace, and breathe peace, and you’ll get it as soon as you like.”

I liked the man’s voice. I wish it was still around.

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Sheeeeeeeeee-lia

Atlas Sound!

bradford cox

Listen, all you really need to know is Bradford Cox of the band Deerhunter has made two of the most gorgeous albums of the past few years. I speak the truth here. Mr. Cox is an interesting gentleman, and his life story is all fascinating, but that’s not what I’m trying to say here.

What I want to say, clearly, is “Sheila” is an incredible song. Dear God, it is a lush piece of work. “Walkabout” is what I think it would be like to skip along ten feet across the ground. Think of all the things you’d see! Logos is, in my mind, easily going to be one of the very, very best albums of the year. Maybe it’s cos I like really spacey thick stuff, but this is seriously good. His album from last year, Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, was also most excellent. All, I don’t know, starry or fireworks-ish.

blue!

Okay, I think that’s all I have to say about that. I don’t want to describe or review genius, I want to enjoy it. Time to go listen to “Small Horror” and “Ready Set Glow” and shoot off like a rocket to the moon. Times that are fun!

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor being vague, or, you know, something like it

Godspeed You! Black Emperor being vague, or, you know, something like it

Without a doubt, the greatest 57 seconds in music is “Attention Mon Ami Fa-Lala-Lala-La-La (55-St. Laurent)”, with 57 being arbitrary, since the piece is actually 1:18, and that piece is actually just a fragment of “She Dreamt She Was A Bulldozer, She Dreamt She Was Alone In An Empty Field,” which is, in turn, just one of the movements in “Anthems,” the fourth song on Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s eternally something else album, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven. Said album also has the greatest introduction to any album anywhere ever,  “Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas to Heaven…”

There’s no real point to this, but I just want to put it out there. I was listening to Do Make Say Think’s new album Other Truths, and all of a sudden I was very much, dude, I need something epic-and-more. Something which is going to not just space me out, but speak to all the nuttiness I feel after Capitalism. I loved Lift Your Skinny Fists when I was a young lass, and I can’t say my feelings of it have changed in the slightest. Ultimate point being, there can’t really be a way (I hope) for a human being to hear “Attention Mon Ami Fa-Lala-Lala-La-La (55-St. Laurent)” and not just feel something fucking huge.

Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas to Heaven

Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas to Heaven

On a side note, Godspeed You! Black Emperor is one of the few bands where I’d like to meet the whole crew, though they haven’t recorded in ages and probably won’t in the foreseeable future. Still, there are not many other groups I’d really want to sit down and just listen to them bullshit or rant and rave. It’s not like I’d particularly like to pick their mind about the songs, but I just sorta like what they say (and don’t) and the explanations they give (or avoid giving at all). Plus, they named themselves after a Japanese documentary about bikers entitled God Speed You! Black Emperor. I don’t know, them, they just make sense to me. Yeah, that’s it.

from the film which gave the band the name which made all the songs which are super neat

from the film which gave the band the name which made all the songs which are super neat

And if I haven’t mentioned they have one of, if not The, greatest names for a band ever, let me say it: Godspeed You! Black Emperor has one of the greatest, if not The Greatest, name for a band. Ever.

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So I’d been having a fine Saturday afternoon, listening to Mandy Moore and writing a little bit about her, dancing around to The Marvelettes and Françoise Hardy and painting my nails. In the middle of all this, DJ Reggie popped into my head.

that ryan, he thinks about the big things

that ryan, he thinks about the big things

Yeah, DJ Reggie. As in, the pseudonym Ryan Adams used a few years back (on his own website! ha!) to release about a thousand fucking songs. Those songs! They were silly, dude. So I love them. I have a soft spot in my heart for “Egyptiania Christmica” which contains lines like: “I got a thing about Ancient Egyptian documentaries / I like the voices they relax me.” Even better: “Those motherfuckers were busy as hell too / They just wanted, they wanted to build something fun / And have something to do / Well, not really /I mean, some politics went into it / In fact, there’s a good chance a bunch of motherfuckers didn’t get paid.”

Thinking of “Egyptiania Christmica” made me think of my favorite: “Unicorns (prob. don’t exist).” Here are the lyrics to this brilliantly insightful song:

“i got to tell you the truth about unicorns
unicorns don’t exist
i got to tell you the truth
i got to tell you the truth

motherfucking unicorns don’t exist
elves and wizards don’t exist
although it ain’t proven
nobody ever took a picture of them

i suppose they could still be
but the chances are 95%
that shit don’t exist
unicorns don’t exist
i got to tell you the truth
unicorns don’t exist
sad, but true
sad but true motherfuckers

if they did i bet there would be some kind of skeleton remains
on exhibit up in the moma or the met or the national history museum
but i ain’t seen nothing
nobody reported it back to me
it’s a fucking shame
unicorns don’t exist.”

Ryan Adams, you are absurd. Of course wizards exist!! But I love you anyway.

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Okay. So I am sort of a fan of Mandy Moore. As in, I inexplicably love her as a person despite, you know, not knowing her. Whatever, man.

mandymoore

I don’t know how it started. It wasn’t her early music, for sure. But I didn’t dislike her for it. I remember seeing her on tv from time to time and thinking to myself: “She seems like a sweetheart. I like this broad. I had better not tell anyone.” Of course, being myself, I told everyone. I went to see her films. I bought a cd. I listened to it occasionally. It was silly pop, but hey, I can make room for some of that in my life. So for years, unbeknownst to Ms. Moore herself, we shared a steady but slightly embarrassed relationship. I would get drunk and tell people I was a fan. I would go on lengthy talks about how I bet she was really cool to hang out with, and my theory that her earnestness might lead to her making a sort of decent album one day.  Friends had to listen me chat about how yeah, she did some cheesy movies, but she was always polite about it and self-deprecating and spoke about how she wanted to be a better artist. I would wake up in the morning and think: “Damn! I told people how I feel about Mandy again! I have to stop doing that!”

I need to point out that, despite my bizarre faith in Mandy Moore, I wasn’t under any illusions about some of the stuff she had done. I only saw the film How to Deal when my sister told me it was the most hilariously terrible film I would ever watch. She was right. Manos: the Hands of Fate and Troll II are certainly joyously bad, but much of the awfulness is because they are both (I don’t really know what to call them) sci-fi/fantasy/supposed horror films. They have a lot of room to be stupid. How to Deal tried to deal (ha!) with teen ‘problems’. Instead, Mandy Moore put her arms above her head at many points in the film, doing a weird swaying thing. I don’t know what it meant. God, Mandy, that swaying!! That fucking swaying, and those little turns!! Please, why, please, explain it to me. And! Alison Janey! I’m sad you were in that. Still.

Anyway, digression aside. Mandy Moore did things I wasn’t wild about, but I persisted in thinking she was going to do something pretty good one day. Then Mandy Moore did something which kinda broke my heart while also delighting me. She totally started dating Ryan Adams.

I Like This.

I Like This.

There were a whole lot of feelings I had about this. A) I love Ryan Adams. B) I like tall people. C) Mandy Moore seems like one of those really nice people who meets assholes and jerks and doesn’t feel a need to prove how morally superior she is to them, but just kinda smiles and makes the best of it. D) Does this mean Ryan is into dating tall people? Cos I’m as tall as she is. E) Why do I know how tall Mandy Moore is? F) Whatever, so I do. G) This is the only celebrity relationship I approve of. H) I hate celebrity relationships. I) I never want to know a single thing about their private relationship, because that is creepy J) All the same, I will feel devastated if they break up K) I probably shouldn’t live vicariously through this relationship L) Does this mean Mandy Moore will write a good album soon? M) I feel so proud of them both. Look at these two kids, growing up! N) I am getting old and sentimental.

Well, obviously a lot of those thoughts were silly (were they?) but L was actually rather on-point. Because this year she released Amanda Leigh, an album which is not bad. In fact, it is kind of okay. Okay to the point where I kinda listen to it more than occasionally. I wasn’t mad about Wild Hope. Wasn’t into that album of covers. I tried to like them because I could tell she was really trying to become a decent song-writer, but she wasn’t there yet.  On this new album though! There are some good songs on here!

‘Merrimack River’ is rather lovely. And ‘Pocket Philosopher’ is charming, holding itself back from unbearable perkiness. It makes me wanna restrain my own hyperness a bit and try to put some balanced rhythm in my walk. The album is pretty without being totally fucking boring. It’s not perfect, but it’s perfectly listenable. I still think she could benefit from going on-tour with Ryan Adams and getting really fucked up on stage every night, doing shots of whiskey and trying to figure out how to play the guitar while wobbling around. I feel that would be good for her as an artist. But that is probably why I am not a musician, and a poor blogger: because I like to have some beers and try to sing Ryan Adams songs before getting tired and watch Stella shorts. Still. Listen to me Mandy! Get drunk and tour the country! Yeah!!

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