I can't stop listening…

…to “Trees In The City” by Clearlake. It makes me think of Christmas and misery. Figure that one out, smart guys.

“look around, you will see
maybe things could be better
evergreens haven’t been
all they promised they’d be

there’s hope there, there’s fresh air
there are trees in the city
standing out from the background
saying things could be worse

i wouldn’t have thought
anything living could grow
here what with the smoke
that i can smell on your clothes
there’s mud on your shoes
and there’s dirt in your hair
still maybe the trees
in the city are still there

we’ll stand in the shadows
of that dirty great cathedral
do you ever get the feeling
that you’re being watched

if you’re evil or wicked
then you won’t know what hit you
it’s there to remind you
you’d best watch your step

i wouldn’t have thought
anything living could grow
here what with the smoke
that i can smell on your clothes
there’s mud on your shoes
and there’s dirt in your hair
still maybe the trees
in the city are still there”

Songs you should check out if you've not heard them already

  • The Black Keys . “Brooklyn Bound”
  • The Beach Boys . “Sloop John B”
  • Blur . “Battery In Your Leg”
  • Drive By Truckers . “Sink Hole”
  • A Northern Chorus . “Let the Parrots Speak for Themselves”
  • PJ Harvey . “50 Ft Queenie”
  • Tangiers . “Keep the Living Bodies Warm”
  • The Walkmen . “We’ve Been Had”
  • Photon Band . “Outer Space”
  • Kitchens & Bathrooms . “First One In, Last One Out”
  • Neil Young . “For the Turnstiles”
  • The White Stripes . “Lafayette Blues”

Buttons & Zips

About 2 years ago I burned a copy of Asleep In The Back, the debut CD from Elbow. I’d bought it on a whim, really, having probably read about it on HMV’s staff picks page or Pitchfork. I flipped out when I heard it; it struck me as sounding like what Radiohead would have been if they’d taken the other path after recording The Bends rather than heading toward OK Computer. My friend wanted to hear this band I was raving about, so I burned a copy for him. He told me later that, as he listened to it on his way to work, he almost had to pull over, fearful that the shock & beauty of the opening track “Any Day Now” would distract him from the lunacy of the Don Valley Parkway. Later that same friend and I saw Elbow live at Lee’s Palace, a concert that consisted mainly of a replaying of the same album, but was impressive just by dint of the emotion that falls out of Guy Garvey’s voice and the music that struggles & strives to prop it up. I wanted more.

Finally, they’ve come back with their second disc, Cast Of Thousands. It doesn’t come out of the corner swinging in the first round like Asleep In The Back does. It gives you the rope-a-dope, letting you think you’re winning when really, you’re being violently lulled. By the end you’re stroking your bruises lovingly, happy to have been in such an artful contest.

Bring on the rematch.

Scatterbrain

I don’t know what it is with me and concerts. Last year I had tickets to see the White Stripes, a concert I’d been looking forward to for months, and I got sick that day so I couldn’t go. This past spring I had tickets to see The Music at Lee’s Palace, but there was a minor pet emergency, so I couldn’t go. A few months ago I was on the guest list for Mogwai and got a pile of work dropped on me at the last minute. Again…couldn’t go. So when I got deathly ill yesterday, the day of the (long delayed) Radiohead concert, I was desperate. I tried to sell the tickets, but Ticketmaster made it impossible (expensive tickets, abusive postponement exchange policy, etc.), so I loaded up on Tylenol Cold medication and went to the Skydome, Nellie in tow. She would’ve preferred to stay home, watch the bachelor and make me chicken soup. At least, I’d like to think she would’ve. 😉

When we got there Kid Koala was well into his opening set. Not being a big fan of DJ/turntable/scratch, I didn’t feel too put out by missing it. However, what I heard wasn’t terrible; he’s garnered quite a reputation, but being 28 he might not be able to hold onto the “kid” moniker much longer. Ummm, what else…he did a dub of “Moon River”. That was interesting. Happily, he was off the stage by 8:15, so by about 8:30 the lights went down again. We got on our feet, and stayed there for the whole night.

First of all, Thom Yorke is a nutter. He was much more animated that I thought he’d be, hopping and dancing around the stage, generally spazzing out. The cameras they had mounted around the stage would record a few seconds of him dancing, then loop them back on the giant monitors on either side of the band, or just show live digitally altered video of he or the guitarists (but never the drummer or bassist ’cause, you know, they’re not real musicians…). Thom even sang into a little camera mounted in the piano during “You And Whose Army”, playing about with the crowd. Generally pretty goofy for a guy who’s supposed to be so morose.

They played 23 songs total, including all but 2 of Hail To The Thief. Set list (I got this from at ease; I don’t totally trust it, as I’m certain there was a fifth song in the first encore, but can’t remember what it was) is as follows: The Gloaming, There There, 2+2=5, Where I End And You Begin, Backdrifts, My Iron Lung, Myxomatosis, Paranoid Android, Sail To The Moon, Kid A, Scatterbrain, Climbing Up The Walls, Like Spinning Plates, Go To Sleep, Idioteque, Fake Plastic Trees, Sit Down Stand Up; encore 1: You And Whose Army, The National Anthem, A Punchup At A Wedding, How To Disappear Completely; encore 2: Karma Police, Everything In Its Right Place.

Highlights: “2+2=5”, “Myxomatosis” (Thom stopped the song partway through to tell security to haul a kid to safety; looked like he took some bad E, ’cause he was passed out. Once he was out Thom just said, ‘Third verse’ and they snapped back into the song like nothing happened), “Sail To The Moon”, “Like Spinning Plates” (apparently they rarely play this live, and it was spec-frigging-tacular), “Fake Plastic Trees” (except for the idiots who broke out the lighters…who still does that!??!), “The National Anthem” (probably my favourite Radiohead song) and “Karma Police” (naturally, we all sang along with the final chorus, so after the song ended Thom led us in a round of ‘…phew, for a minute there, i lost myself…’). Really, the only songs I didn’t like were “Kid A” and “My Iron Lung”. Everything else was as sincere and immaculate as I’d been hoping for.

Lowlights: the venue (the sound at Skydome sucks, but it was only there because the blackout cancelled the date at the amphitheatre), Ticketmaster (we were way too fucking far back for $67 tickets), and the people who thought they were at a baseball game (going for a beer, going to take a piss, going to buy nachos, standing around talking, etc.). Obviously though, none of these things can be blamed on Radiohead.

I’m glad I forced myself to go. It was worth the sore throat. And feet. And wallet. Radiohead, you’re dreamy.

Words Of Wisdom

  • Buy (or download; I’m progressive) the new Fiery Furnaces CD. As sick as I should be of male/female guitar/drum combos by now, this one is just different enough to be interesting. “Don’t Dance Her Down” has been stuck in my head for days.
  • The Weakerthans write the coolest lyrics. I mean, “I must say that in the right light, you look like Shackleton…”? C’mon!
  • If anyone tells you that just because you like Cragganmore and Dalwhinnie that you’ll also like Talisker, don’t believe them. Lies. Lying lies. Told by liars.

Chain Gang Of Love

New Raveonettes. Well, not new, but newish. It’s greatish too.

Also, pick up anything by Blind Willie Johnson. You owe it yourself. I’m the biggest atheist who ever athed, but there’s just something about gospel music sung by a raspy blind man singing to god and playing the guitar with a jacknife…