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Archive for October, 2003

Friday, October 31st, 2003

Happy End Of The World

All The Real Girls is aptly titled, because if there’s one thing this film feels, it’s real. In brief – Noel returns home to her small North Carolina town after boarding school and falls into a relationship with Paul, her older brother’s best friend who has a rather unflattering reputation around town with the ladies. Their story is subtle, funny, heartwarming and heartbreaking, and above all, honest. Leads Paul Schneider and Zooey Deschanel are amazing in their roles. Highly recommended.

Oh yeah, you might note in the credits Matt Chapman is credited as “Strong Bad”. Los Bros Chapman of Homestar Runner fame actually did work on the movie – Mike did graphic design for props and Matt had a tiny non-speaking role. They also did the film website. Also, check out the deleted scenes on the DVD – mostly improvised, they’re hilarious.

Sadly, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if this is how the world ended. Not with a bang, nor a whimper, but a dumb-fuck ass monkey with one access code too many.

Why hello there Alien Vs Predator movie trailer, how are you today? Brief but tantalizing? Good to hear. Y’all take care now – I’ll see you next summer…

Another Elliott Smith memorial, this one from Magnet.

Arab Strap make up for their SARS-cancelled show of this past Summer by playing Lee’s Palace on December 9. No word from their crybaby tourmates Bright Eyes about rescheduling THEIR show.

Good news for all the self-declared music pirates waging war on the RIAA – RIAA Radar is a site that lets you know which albums were released by labels that are part of the RIAA and which ones weren’t! So you can educate yourself and focus your downloading efforts on those labels that are part of the evil cabal that seeks to burn your villages, besmirch your womens honour and insult your pets, while rewarding those labels that stand alone to bring you quality music by deserving artists. What’s that? Making a principled stand against the music industry hegemon isn’t so much a pillar of your manifesto as getting as much shit for free as possible? I’m shocked. Really. I need to go sit down for a minute. Link from Information Leafblower.

Oh yeah, happy Hallowe’en, all you godless pagan heathens.

np – Britta Phillips & Dean Wareham / L’Avventura

Thursday, October 30th, 2003

Bluebird Of Happiness

Ask me who my favorite live band is, and nine times out of ten, I will say “Mojave 3“. The tenth time, I will say “Stryper“, but if Neil and Rachel could be persuaded to dress up in black and yellow jumpsuits and throw Bibles at the audience, it could be a clean sweep for them. I’m just saying. The band was kicking off their North American tour in Toronto last night, always a wise move for a British band, because goodness knows we adore anyone with an accent over here.

I thought I was getting there late, but opener Justin Rutledge was still onstage. I should say, Justin and his entourage – by far the largest lineup I’d ever seen for any opening act, let alone a local one. He was up there with an eight piece band of almost all hired guns – you could tell from the music charts most had in front of them and the fact that they were all watching him for the changes. Musically, they were very solid – for what they were probably getting paid, I would hope so – but after the initial positive impressions of his widescreen folk-country repetoire, the gliding started coming off the lily. The thing about having a band of all jobbers is that they don’t really have anything invested in the music, and it showed. Everything was played very nicely and professionally, but without a whole lot of spark or soul and there were more than a few cheeseball G.E. Smith-esque guitar faces from the players as well. Tuning into the rather banal lyrics didn’t help much either. The boy’s got some promise but should work on the substance a little more before investing in the veneer.

Mojave 3 ambled onstage at 11:15 to the delight of the mostly full house. Opening with “Starlite #1” from Spoon And Rafter, they played an hour and a half of material drawn from the last three albums. It’s hard to describe exactly why Mojave 3 live are so amazing live – you couldn’t tell from the records, really, which are gentle and beautiful but maybe not what you’d expect to amaze onstage, nor does the band jump around and whip their hair around. It’s the sound – it’s simply massive. They’re not loud, but the combination of all the instruments in the mix – guitar, keys, steel and of course Neil and Rachel’s voices – just build this incredible wall of music. You have to experience it, really.

And speaking of the mix, whoever does live sound for the band should be involved in making the records, if for no other reason than they’re not afraid to turn Rachel’s vocals UP. The most common complaint about the records is that her backing vocals are mixed so low as to almost not even be there. Live, her voice adds so much – her singing “Lay your love on me” over the coda of “Sarah”, which led off the encore, gave me goosebumps. Hopefully her solo record due out next February will satisfy.

It was a bit of a surprise to see local pedal steel-er Bob Egan filling in for Raymond Richards, though he’s becoming so ubiquitous at shows in Toronto that I should be more surprised if he doesn’t get onstage with every band that plays here. As always, he did a fine job filling in, sounding like he’d been playing with them for a lifetime.

I’m quite happy with how the photos turned out. I was afraid before the show that they’d be playing in dim lighting and I’d either end up with unusable photos or be reviled as that mook up front with the flash going off all the time. Thankfully, the stage lights were actually brigher and less red than usual, and I didn’t have to use the flash. Much.

My only gripe was the dearth of merchandise available. I was all ready to drop however much a t-shirt would cost, but all they had was CDs. Hey – I’ve already got them all! I am hoping that they’ll have some more swag when they return for a full tour next winter.

np – Mojave 3 / Spoon And Rafter

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

All Day And All Of The Night

Got The Shins’ Chutes Too Narrow. I already love this album. Bonus – the nice poster and button I got with purchase. The good people at SubPop are doing a good job of making up for delaying the release of this record a week. Get the band to tour up here and all will be forgiven. Worth noting – the die-cut fold-over artwork for the CD is so much fun. Well, not fun like a big bucket of Lego, but still. Fun.

Stopped by the library to pick up the copy of 24 Hour Party People I had on hold. Suddenly my backlog of things to read is getting out of hand. I may need to take some time off work to get it cleared up… Kidding…

The last Uncle Tupelo reissue I didn’t have was sitting in my mailbox when I got home. No, it wasn’t put there by some altruistic stranger, I bought it off eBay. Nice bonus was that it was still wrapped in plastic – I thought I bought a used copy. Finally I get to hear their version of The Soft Boys’ “I Wanna Destroy You”. Now the question is what to do with my set of original Rockville/Sire UT albums? They must go to a worthy cause.

Also in my mailbox – my Belle & Sebastian tickets. Front row centre, in case anyone missed my gloating earlier. Though I don’t see how you possible could have, it was pretty excessive. Incidentally, the band has totally redone their website. The new one is nice – go have a poke.

24 – Good start to the season. I’m aware that there may be readers from the UK and other strange and foreign lands who won’t get to see season three for a while yet. To them, I apologize, but there’ll be spoilers a-plenty here, week after week. Some random thoughts – Kim might have a fancy suit and talk in big words, but she’s still dumb and her haircut’s crummy. Chase is a dumb name. I think Chloe is a spy. A spy for an alien invasion force bent on conquoring Los Angeles. Not the world, just LA. I’m sure that Palmer’s scar is where they implanted the cybernetic robo-arm and death ray. Jack should know better than to try and administer his flu shot himself. That’s a job for a certified doctor – maybe he can borrow Palmer’s, the President seems to think highly of her.

Is it time to talk 2004 releases already? New one from Doves on March 9.

Spike Jonze will be directing a live-action film of Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are.

There will be a memorial to Elliott Smith in Toronto this Saturday. Specifics:

Dear everyone,

The Elliott Smith memorial service in Toronto will take place on Saturday, November 1, 2003 at 5:00 PM at the gates of the Trinity-Bellwoods Park (located at Queen/Strachan-Trinity). Joel has supplied a map and directions (above) to help you arrive. As at the NYC memorial, you are welcome to arrive at any time; earlier or later, to stay for a while or to simply drop by and leave pictures, letters, candles, thoughts and any other fond farewells. Binging a guitar would be lovely. I hope to see you there. Take care and dress warmly, it’s getting cooler these days.

Normally I’d be curious to attend, though it has the potential to be overly maudlin, but I’ll be engaged in my own particular tribute to Elliott that day – a pub crawl. “Between The Bars”, so to speak.

Update: And finally… It’s a Homestar Hallowe’en! Gold. Pure gold.

np – The Shins / Chutes Too Narrow

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

Positive Bleeding

Urge Overkill are coming back. If nothing else, they’ve got one of the best band names ever. I had a copy of Saturation back in high school… I think I liked it? “Sister Havana” had a great riff, if I recall. Man, this takes me back… now I want to hear the record again.

Secretary was one of the strangest… I don’t even know what you’d call it – a romantic comedy? That I have ever seen. Unconventional, to say the least. And speaking of unconventional, Maggie Gyllenhaal is cute in a very odd sort of way that I can’t quite put my finger on.

The season premiere of 24 airs tonight! The phone will be getting unplugged from 9pm to 10pm this week and every following week until the end of May (at least every week there’s a new episode). Want a sneak preview? Read this, or if you don’t, just read this excerpt:

“…more importantly Jack has a new tattoo and several dark secrets.”

NEW TATTOO?!? My God, they actually read viewer mail and take suggestions from the fans! My existance feels validated somehow.

My Belle & Sebastian tickets are now in the city under the tender ministrations of UPS. Mayhap they’ll be in my mailbox tonight? While I hate UPS with a passion, it sure is fun to track packages on their website.

np – Steve Earle / El Corazon

Monday, October 27th, 2003

Bled White

Ted Leo posted the following eulogy for Elliott Smith on his website last week. His site’s all Flash and I can’t link directly to the entry nor predict how long it’ll remain online, so I’ve copied it over directly – it’s worth saving and repeating.

Almost ten years ago, my old band, Chisel, was on our first full US tour. Nothing west of Chicago was particularly well attended, but that never really gets me down — I try to keep hopes up but expectations low. Anyway, what was getting me down, was a certain lack of respect I was often feeling from people in a lot of places, which reached a real boiling point in Portland, Or., at a place called the “O,” where we were being treated less than kindly by the promoter. It was summer, and very very hot inside the club. We attracted about 20 people that night, and played a pretty ripping set, if I remember correctly, during which I asked the promoter if I could have one of the 7-Ups he was selling for a quarter each from a cooler at the back of the room. He said, “For a quarter!” I thought he was joking, but he wasn’t. I sputtered through the sweat dripping down my face and across my mouth, “Well… Can’t I pay you after we’re done playing? Can’t you take it out of our pay?” He just stared at me, then made some quip about, “What pay?” Which, since we’d only drawn 20 people, was a legitimate question, granted, but I was kind of dumbfounded — I couldn’t believe that he was going to not only NOT offer me a soda for busting my ass on stage, but was going to embarrass me in this way in front of an audience that was actually there to see us as well. I had a serious existential crisis at that moment. What the fuck am I doing here? Why am I giving it up in this way every night? Why are people so petty in their power struggles? Is this all there is? Just then, a person stepped out from the 20 person crowd, put a quarter in the promoter’s hand, and walked the soda up to me on stage.

It’s largely due to that small gesture that I’m still playing music today, and in years to come, I got to know that person better, and count him as a friend. That person was Eliot Smith. And though I know he’s now free from the very real demons that were gnawing at him… Man, I think I’m going to miss him very very much. My love to his other friends and family, and my love to you all. Spare a thought for Eliot today.

There’s also this article from Billboard offers some thoughts and rememberances from Steve Drozd and Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips.

We’ve lost a lot of beloved figures in music this year, but I think this is one that’s going to ache for a while. As for the fate of From A Basement On The Hill, Elliott’s final album, Pitchfork reports that his family will determine when and where it comes out. At least it sounds like the record will be released.

np – Elliott Smith / Elliott Smith