Song Of The Day: Lankum – The Granite Gaze

Posted on by Paul in Song of the Day | Leave a comment

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Photo by Aidan Kelly Murphy

The stark, haunting sound of self-described “Dublin Folk Miscreants” Lankum somehow seems fitting for a cold winter day. “The Granite Gaze” is hardly an uplifting number, with singer Radie Peat delivering lines such as “they draw the marrow from our very bones and we in turn turned on our own,” “we queued up to eat the dirt,” and “the future’s farther day by day,” yet it’s an oddly compelling song that grabbed my attention from the first moment I heard it.

The song’s lyrics are matched perfectly by the slowly building music, which blends traditional sounds with a range of other influences – the band cites everything from from “American old-timey music, krautrock, ambient techno and psychedelic folk, to black metal, drone, punk and rock n’ roll” in their bio.

Lankum’s Between The Earth And The Sky is out now on Rough Trade Records.

Concert Review: Storm Large, December 9, 6th and I

Posted on by Celeste in Concerts | Leave a comment

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“If you can’t be a good influence, be a good cautionary tale.”

Words of wisdom from Storm Large, lead vocalist of Pink Martini, dazzling human being, and teller of tales extraordinaire.

Emerging from the back of the crowded synagogue at 6th and I, Storm Large sauntered her way to the front of the audience, highlighting her plunging blue ball gown and the “LOVER” tattoo blazing forth from her exposed back, and spent the next two hours guiding us through her holiday ordeal.

A yearly tradition for Storm, every year she puts on a bawdy holiday show for her traveling family, as she calls her audience, bringing people together into an intimate environment and sharing her holiday spirit with a lucky few.

These holiday ordeals involve songs and tales, all in the spirit of the holidays (even if they’re not directly Christmas-related). She started things out with a couple of classics, including “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” as well as Cole Porter’s “It’s All Right With Me” and then a song about Mary and Joseph – Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” (small town girl meets city boy…). In between, Storm told us about some of her favorite Christmas miracles, one of which included an incredible story about how when she was a little girl she befriended a nice man she met who was living out of his white van on the beach. Through happy coincidence she found him again after forty years and learned that he’d followed her career and she’d made a huge impact on his life (an impossibly happy ending, especially considering the fact that it included a white van.) She finished up the first half of the set with an original song about hooking up with a stranger on Christmas eve which included the lyrics, “Come all ye faithful”, “Let’s make a joyful noise together” and “When Santa comes you can go.”

Coming back from a quick intermission, Storm dazzled in an exquisitely sequined, green, floor length gown that made her look like a glittering Christmas tree lit up in all its glory. Working her way through “Sock It To Me Santa,” “Hallelujah” and “Forever Young,” she ramped up the energy in the synagogue until finally she had everyone, from child to octogenarian, on their feet bellowing “Won’t you find me somebody tooooooooooooo loooooooooooooooooove” right along with her. In between she told stories about her childhood, growing up with a mom who had a mental illness, and all the people who filled her unconventional childhood with love and happy memories.

More than a religious experience or a concert or a night out on the town, it felt like this warm and open and wonderful woman inviting us all into her house for a holiday celebration.

Concert Review: LCD Soundsystem, Dec 3, ACC

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment


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LCD Soundsystem is awesome live. This was my assessment of them before their show on Sunday and nothing has changed about that since.

Returning to Toronto for the first time since their “retirement”, expectations were high. The ACC was an interesting choice for a band which finds themselves at the point in their careers where they are too big for small indie venues but not big enough to fill out an arena. As a result the upper level was tarped off and the general admission area had plenty of space. I guess I was at the front on the floors so that is how I experienced the show.

Taking a hint from the title of their documentary, LCD Soundsystem more or less “shut up and play the hits” and it was great. Much like all their other albums, American Dream popped out live. All the songs you had doubts about on that album just made sense with a live band. Assessing LCD Soundsystem just by listening to their album doesn’t serve the band right. In concert, everything just sounds … right. The pounding percussion, the bass lines, the dabs of synth … It all just melds together into something that makes you want to dance. Of course it’s all led by James Murphy, tightly holding the mic and spitting out lyrics that sound intimate despite being in a cavernous arena.

It’s a testament to the band that they can skip songs like “Daft Punk,” “Losing My Edge,” “Drunk Girls” and “New York” and it didn’t really affect my feelings about the night. Every song sounds like a hit under the helm of the group and that fact actually makes you appreciate their music more.

Having said that, when those first notes of “All My Friends” hits, I still get goosebumps. It’s a euphoric song, and one of the best set closers you can have. When the chorus hits, and the entire crowd is dancing and singing along, I really do wonder where all my friends are because I think they all deserve to see a LCD Soundsystem show once in their life. It’s that great.

The Lost Art Of Liner Notes: Mike Post – Railhead Overture (1975, MGM Records)

Posted on by Paul in Albums, Classic Albums | Leave a comment

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Nowadays, Mike Post is best known for composing the Law & Order theme, but before he was famous for being the man behind that iconic “Dun Dun,” he was known for being the guy who stood at the junction of two railroads that ended abruptly while dressing like some kind of proto-Napoleon Dynamite on the cover of his 1975 album Railhead Express. While the liner notes really lay it on way too thick and play it up like this is some kind of grandiose concept album about how awesome trains (and brass bands) are, it’s … really not. It’s mostly just a random collection of Post compositions (only one of which seems to be explicitly about trains) and a few covers such as “Georgia On My Mind” and “Wouldn’t It be Nice,” with the big standout here being the other TV theme song that Post was know for before the L&O theme – “The Rockford Files.”

While I do appreciate the subtle-but-not-that-subtle shade thrown at some past collaborators of Post while he was on his way up  (“some names remembered and some best forgotten.”),  I fail to see how any of the music featured here really manages to introduce the “dialogue between rock and roll and the enlarged brass ensemble” that the notes promise. I mean, really, wasn’t that more Chicago’s thing anyways?
Whatever. Next stop, liner notes:

The great fire breathing locomotives sit like old soldiers on rusted tracks in wasted towers, their thunder silenced by the incessant whine of the endless freeway. We’ve reached the Railhead, the end of the line – the obvious place to search for a beginning.

Like the image of the iron trains etched in the memory of America, the explosive sounds of the large brass ensemble are remembered still, but only in dim lit dance halls of nostalgia where they echo the fate of the once proud locomotives.

Now a vision, similar to that which bore this “big band sound” and harnessed the fierce grace of the old trains, becomes the point at which the two converge. The artist who conceived this vision is Mike Post. He rocked and rolled through the 50’s and 60’s bending strings, pounding keys, and producing and arranging for some names remembered and some best forgotten. Post’s creative vision, however, soon exceeded the limitations of the standard five piece rock and roll rhythm section.

Through his collaboration in composition and orchestration with Pete Carpenter (his partner in various television and film scores, and very close friend) this project is Mike’s step toward a more complete musical expression.

This album then, is an introduction – an overture – to the dialogue between rock and roll and the enlarged brass ensemble, one to which we should listen closely, for it is a dialogue between our musical past, present, and future, all of which converge here, at the railhead overture.
– Stephen Geyer

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