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January 2, 2011

Music for a Sunday: And you wanted to dance...

I loved these guys during my '80s teens; I still do, though I think there are other bands from the same era that have stuck with me more. This song and video, though, are just about perfect. The video was shot in Sri Lanka and those aerial views of the temple are to die for.

December 19, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Song of the season or sign of the times?

This one's a little bit of both. And hilarious as hell.

December 12, 2010

Music for a Sunday: This one's just for John Boehner

I don't know why the perma-tanned Repug leader of the US House of Representatives is always bawling his eyes out. Every time he talks, whoosh--on go the waterworks, for no apparent reason. That's why this song seems tailor made for dedicating to him:

He's probably old enough to remember when the original, by The Kinks, charted, too. Isn't he old enough to stop being such a big bloody baby?

December 5, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Too sweet to resist!

A tweet from Dave Weigel alerted me to this one. He's cute, funky, and colorful, and his message couldn't be more positive. Or catchy. Love him!

November 28, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Are we scared yet?

In honor of the Big Wiki Leak Day, I decided to dig up some old, paranoid faves of mine...

Kennedy Gordy, a.k.a. Rockwell, was clearly ahead of his time. (And yes, that IS Michael Jackson singing on the chorus. Ghostly!)

So were the Kinks:

Reds under the bed, little yellow men in yer head? In light of what just happened this past week in Korea, it's déjà vu all over again.

November 21, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Highly strung like nervous guitars

I'm not afraid to call it love. This weirdest and most wondrous song of Martha and the Muffins has been with me since I was 14. And in spite of its jarring aspects--or maybe because of them--I could just swim in it still.

And speaking of weird 'n' wonderful stuff you could swim in, Calle 13 does it in Spanish. Clicky here and follow the linkies to listen.

November 14, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Undercover on the edge, I move alone

Out of reach, out of love, stepping out of bounds...

November 7, 2010

Music for a Sunday: No birds, no bees, no butterflies, no bugs...

November!

October 31, 2010

More Music for a Sunday: WTF, India???

It looks a bit like "Thriller", but with low-budget instrumentals. Plus, I don't recall Michael Jackson saying anything about Kali Ma or Om Shanti!

(h/t Roger Ebert.)

Music for a Sunday: Scary Monsters and Super Creeps

What better song for today, goblins?

And what more electric than a live performance in ghoulish getups?

October 24, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Bloody marvelous

But at night, when all the world's asleep...

Roger Hodgson, ex-Supertramp front man, treats one of his best songs to a full orchestra. It's a tiny bit slower than the original (which I learned to sing in seventh-grade music class--yes, I had a REALLY cool teacher!), but it's lost absolutely nothing in the translation.

And it still makes me feel so logical.

October 17, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Lights all around us, won't you take a chance?

Out of sight but never out of mind. Blue Peter is unforgettable, and some of the effects in this video (like the spilling martini glass, which is actually inverted in an aquarium to create an air bubble) are downright ingenious.

October 10, 2010

Music for a Sunday: You smell a familiar perfume...

...from a girl you knew long ago:

"But you're there/once more/in some forgotten story/from your/private library..."

October 3, 2010

Music for a Sunday: I'll give you a four-leaf clover

Take all worry out of your mind:

Others may favor The Who; I like Pete Townshend solo. This is still my #1 fave of his, after all this time. The sweetly upbeat lyrics, the great backup harmonies, and the they-don't-play-em-like-that-anymore keyboards are what make this song so unpretentiously awesome.

September 26, 2010

Music for a Sunday: One for all the guerrillas, past and present

This patriotic hymn was first associated with Fidel and Che's victory in Cuba, but it's since become incredibly popular with freedom-fighters all over Latin America. And no wonder. It's a stirring one, isn't it?

Guerrillas have been in the news a lot this week--from the much-trumpeted death of the FARC's "Mono Jojoy" in Colombia, to the impending victory of Lula's comrade, the kick-ass Dilma Rousseff, who's about to become president of Brazil.

This song also figured on a recent campaign-trail edition of La Hojilla, as Venezuelans go to the polls today to keep the escuálidos from advancing. So I thought this would be only fitting to play for you today.

Guerrillero, guerrillero, adelante...

September 19, 2010

Music for a Sunday: For Christine O'Donnell, who doesn't approve this sort of thing

Yes, there's a theme going on here. See if you can tell me what it is...

First up, Cyndi Lauper (she's SO unusual!):

Next, Tweet discovers something sweet:

Then, a very slinky Pink, covering The Divinyls:

And finally, one from Serge Gainsbourg, recommended by my francophone tweep Jipim:

So. Have YOU figured out the theme here yet?

September 12, 2010

Music for a Sunday: "When the eagles crawl on the ground"

This wonderful Alí Primera song goes out to the people of Venezuela today, as they mourn the sudden loss (on Friday) of William Lara, their former president of the National Assembly (and at the time of his fatal car accident, governor of the state of Guárico).

If you've seen The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, you've seen William Lara. He's the man who got on the phone to reporters in several countries, informing them that the putschists were lying, that Hugo Chávez did not step down as president, that he was kidnapped and held prisoner. Had Chávez and his vice-president been killed, as the putschists had no doubt intended, Lara would have been next in line, constitutionally, to serve as president of Venezuela; his life, like that of all Chávez's parliamentary cohort, was at grave risk during those 48 awful hours. Lara was also the one who swore in Diosdado Cabello, then vice-president, as temporary president, so he could officially order the military out to bring Chávez back. And, having worked as a journalist himself, William Lara knew the importance of getting the truth out through the media. The role he played in the rescue of his president was a crucial one.

Here are the lyrics to the song, which at the time of Alí Primera's own death (also in a car accident) was still just a poignant precursor of the Bolivarian revolution to come:

When the soldier doesn't serve the Homeland in a general's garden, When the eagles crawl on the ground, When no one talks empty talk, When there are no more oppressed people, Then, I'll sing an ode to peace.

You can hear from a distance the drums of San Juan,
How they say to the blacks who used to be slaves, that they used to be slaves;
But what I know is that there's no song
That says to Venezuela that she's free, because she's not.
When the eagles crawl on the ground,
When no one talks empty talk,
When there are no more oppressed people, then
I'll sing an ode to peace.

Let's go, just once
Let's go, just once
We have to make revolution soon
Because the longer we wait,
The harder it gets.

When the eagles crawl on the ground,
When no one talks empty talk,
When there are no more oppressed people, then...
I'll sing an ode to peace.

Honor and glory to William Lara--journalist, revolutionary, parliamentarian, governor, hero. Peace be to his name.

September 5, 2010

Music for a Sunday: One for my Spanish-speaking friends

This is a rare find, and I was so happy to see that someone put it on YouTube:

A pretty damn decent translation of "Nights in White Satin", performed by the selfsame Moody Blues. I hope nobody snickers at their mispronounced Spanish. I'm just amazed and delighted that this song even exists in Spanish at all!

August 29, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Chuck a can, chuck a can, chuck a can...

Silly schlock: We haz it.

And if you wonder where the "chuck a can" bit really came from, here:

Flashy keyboards and a funky bassline. What more does a soulful diva need? (Besides a funky hunk, that is?)

August 22, 2010

More Music for a Sunday: The entire hip-hop genre, explained...

...by the world's lamest rapper:

Every hip-hop meme is in there. Every. Single. ONE.

(Thanks to the tweeterriffic @gameandpc, whom you are hereby commanded to follow. Queen's orders!)

Music for a Sunday: One of those "just because" songs

This one just seems to flow, doesn't it? Straight from a sad place where we all have been at one point or another (yes, even you, the smug twit there at the back, pretending it's never happened to YOU...)

Crank it and sing along. You know you wanna.

August 15, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Leave a message with the rain

Here's the first Jefferson Starship song I ever heard, back in the summer of '81:

I had forgotten just how gorgeous the instrumentals of this one were. It's been too long since I last heard it!

And here's the second, in an excellent live recording:

Love how everyone is all happy and exuberant at the end, singing together. They used to be Jefferson Airplane in the '60s, and clearly they carried that collaborative, collective hippie vibe forward into the hard-rocking '80s, even if the sound changed quite radically.

August 8, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Two from Dame pa' Matala

Two more consciousness-elevating songs from Venezuela's finest folkies:

First, "Roba Caminos":

Best line: "Shuddup muddafucka!"

Sounds like he's tired of something. Hmmm, I wonder what?

August 1, 2010

Music for a Sunday: People gettin' high, people gettin' low...

...people gettin' nowhere 'cause they don't know where to go...

Some of the best damn instrumentals ever. And also some of the funniest, most poignant lyrics.

July 25, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Who's that yonder dressed in red?

There are a lot of good versions of this song out there, but Eva Cassidy's is my personal fave. That swinging organ and horn make for a dizzyingly perfect combination.

July 18, 2010

Music for a Sunday: On the hill where he went when he ran from a raging storm

When this Payola$ song first came out in '83, it was considered unusual and a bit shocking for telling what life is like for children of abusive, alcoholic parents. It was inspired by an actual story, told to one of the band members by a kid with a badly blacked eye, who was painfully frank about his alcoholic dad. After that, the song practically wrote itself; I can remember reading about how it came about, and how satisfied the entire band was with this very strong piece.

I was a little shocked at first, but I also liked it. It was courageous, and I badly needed courage. I was bullied at school a lot that year, so I could somewhat relate. A few years later, the full significance of it finally sank in. This tune saw me through a bad time, five years when I was intermittently seeing a boyfriend who drank (and whose father had also been an abusive drunk.) It gave me the strength to survive, and eventually dump the drunk.

I still consider it their strongest song, all these years later. And I absolutely love it.

July 11, 2010

Music for a Sunday: As revealed by orange lights in a smoky atmosphere

I looked for Genesis's original of this song, which has been a favorite of mine for about twenty years now. It wasn't on YouTube, but this very nice cover is surely the next best thing. It's a lovely rendition in its own right, and stands up well even without the lush early-80s synths. In fact, I find that this way of performing it really underscores the theme of loneliness and solitude, in a way the studio production could not. Kudos to the piano man.

July 4, 2010

Music for a Sunday: "Mother, let me fight..."

Rock 'n' roll is supposed to be the music of rebellion--right? Well, here's a great example of that:

Now, not to take anything away from Jerry Doucette, who is one of Canada's greatest and most-covered guitar heroes, but let's just contrast that song with another rebel tune, from another great guitar man--Alí Primera, Venezuela's numero uno folk hero:

Here are the lyrics, in my own translation:

Mother, let me fight

Mother, let me fight

Mother, how I adore you

because I love my people

and you taught me

to fight for them

You taught me
to share my bread
to share my love
to share my dreams

Now I want
to share my arms
that embrace you--
with the same
I want to embrace my people

Mother, let me fight
Mother, let me fight

You taught me
not to kill the butterflies
or cut the roses
that you grew in your garden

I learned little by little
to love the others
For the humble ones
Mother, let me fight
Mother, let me fight
Mother, let me fight

And do you remember, Mother,
how one day, there came a knock at our door--
a boy begging for bread
and you made me give him the old shirt
in which I used to play
and you were a good Christian.
I hope you understand
that the struggle for the people
cannot be won by charity!

Mother, let me fight
Mama, let me fight
You taught me not to kill the butterflies
or cut the roses
that you grew in your garden

I learned little by little
to love the others

For the humble ones,
Mother, let me fight
Mother, let me fight
Mama, let me fight

Quite the contrast, no?

Who is the bigger rebel--the little boy who needs Jerry Doucette to tell his mama to lighten up, or the young man who directly asks his mother for her blessing before going off to the guerrilla struggle for her freedom and for that of his country?

Three days ago, it was Canada Day. Today is the US's independence day. Tomorrow is Venezuela's independence day. And the rebellion is still going on. We all have a much bigger fight ahead of us than just getting Mama to let us play some rock 'n' roll.

June 27, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Sweet Diana to the rescue

Today's playlist is going out to all those imprisoned for peaceful protest in Toronto. Let me hear the radio:

And just for good measure, another one from J. Geils that you'll want to learn all the lyrics to:

Sing it! "Bomp-ba-ba-bomp, bomp-ba-ba-bomp..."

And sing it LOUD, so the pigs behind the security fence can hear it. Spoil their fancy Sunday dinner.

June 20, 2010

Music for a Sunday: When angry, reach for snarling guitars

All the burning of sea turtles by BP has me in an EXTREMELY rude mood, so I'm digging out the still-topical-after-all-these-years stuff.

First up, from Kingston, Ontario, the Hip, drinking something muddy from a fruit jar:

And then, the most appropriate thing ever to come from Down Under:

Crank your dials to 11, kiddies...and listen to the lyrics, too.

June 13, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Consumed in a single desire

I could think of no better tribute for the martyrs and survivors of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla than this song, a longtime fave of mine. The lyrics fit on so many levels. And note how these three guys kick ass and radiate energy without ANY scantily-clad dancers, outrageous outfits, or backup band. Can YOUR pop tart do that?

June 6, 2010

Music for a Sunday: More prescient than the Gorillaz knew

Don't let the dreamy hip-hop groove suck you under. Listen to Snoop Dogg's rap: doesn't it sound like he foresaw something? My best friend, who sent me the link to the YouTube, thinks so:

The song I linked is on an album that came out earlier this year (at least as far back as March) and has lyrics which struck me as being rather prescient for things that are happening right now. [...]

It's probably just coincidence but as I listened to the song for the first time all I could think of was:

- the BP disaster (plastic beach, kids feeling despair, pollution)

- the Gaza flotilla ("the revolution will be televised", click-clacking, mo' stacking, full packing, acting a fool when I teach)

I thought of that, too, of course, hearing this. More likely the song's about how modern life has become so fake and artificial that it leaves us all feeling alienated, but it still works, even on that level. Wasn't it that artificiality, that alienation, that led to the BP disaster? And isn't the need for connection ("Kids, gather around / Yeah, I need your focus / I know it seems like the world is so hopeless...") what's driving activists (most of them definitely not kids) to take matters into their own hands and force governments to do what they're dragging their heels on?

Listen again and again, and enjoy. But don't let the undertow pull you down.

PS: Word up--the Gorillaz are among the groups NOT playing in Israel as a result of the assault on the Freedom Flotilla. Rod Stewart and "Sir" Elton John, however, are still playing, the moneygrubbing cynics...

May 30, 2010

Music for a Sunday: One of two phone numbers everyone knows

The other, of course, is 9-1-1.

May 23, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Cruisin' on a sardine boat, loaded with crazy people

Sailing season starts (unofficially) today here in Southern Ontario. Who better than Trooper to herald it?

Well, how about Prism, to get things really off the ground?

"Take me to the Kaptin/and tell him why I'm here/I wanna stay in your world/while my world disappears..."

(I figured, with all the crises going on, a little escapism was in order.)

May 16, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Let's see the anti-piracy laws catch THIS!

Q. Why are pirates so badass?

A. Because they just arrrrrrrrrrr, matey!

(Or in the case of ones from out West--they just are Métis!)

May 9, 2010

Music for a Sunday: And all she had to do was step into the light

...and everyone would start to roar:

Genesis's entire Duke album was a gem; it's one I keep coming back to when I'm feeling pensive and in need of understanding. This song didn't chart over here (that honor was reserved for the more conventionally radio-friendly singles, "Misunderstanding" and "Turn It On Again"), but it's a masterpiece both for its instrumental virtuosity and its ability to tell the story of all too many pop stars who start out good, then falter.

May 2, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Our minds say no, but our hearts are talking faster

Great song, despite the video. I don't know what's up with the outfits (culottes? That was cheesy even for 1980!), but watch for the middle part when he briefly strips down and the clothes go flying. Hey, even nerds have sexy times!

April 25, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Jenny was sweet

She always smiled for the people she'd meet...

Great, great classic song. I first heard it a few years after it charted, but it was one of those "love at first hear" ones for me. Those blue raindrops from the keyboard, leading into the loveliest takeoff at the end (which is sadly cut off in all the videos I've found of this so far)...well, they just don't write 'em like that anymore. And I find that a damn shame.

April 18, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Won't go living in the past...

...but I believe that love can last:

There's a lot to love about this song, which is my favorite of theirs. They have a lot of ones that are more overtly raunchy, or more overtly rough-and-tumble. This one stands out for its sense of restraint. It's sexy and badass in a sunny, laid-back, off-beat, absolutely note-perfect way. See if it doesn't have you from hello, too.

April 11, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Be yourself, no matter what they say...

I'm not a Sting fan (although I'll admit I have a couple of The Police's old records); sometimes the sheer size of his ego grates and annoys. But this low-key masterpiece still resonates with me (and don't miss Quentin Crisp in the cameo role.)

It also seems very appropriate after the week I've had.

April 4, 2010

Music for a Sunday: And while they're busy reaching their conclusions...

...I'll be reaching for something else:

Yup, another awesome Canadian band.

This song is dedicated to the antihero of my novel. So's this one:

March 28, 2010

Music for a Sunday: I, Isabella...

March 21, 2010

Music for a Sunday: All I want is the real thing, nothing but the real thing

Let's just close our eyes...

March 14, 2010

Music for a Sunday: The Ballad of Hugo Chávez

A little birdie told me this song won some kind of award. No kidding! What a rum old world.

March 7, 2010

More Music for a Sunday: Anti-war electronica at its finest

I was just going on 18 myself when this came out, so this song hit home hard for me. I'm guessing that the average age of US combat soldiers in Iraq is about the same as it was in Vietnam.

Closer to the present, a clear indictment of the MIC and disaster capitalism.

Music for a Sunday: Holy guacamole with awesome sauce

See if you can detect a common element in these two very different tunes. First, the country:

I have a confession to make: This song is one of my earliest childhood faves. Even when I was barely talking (at less than a year old!), I already knew this man's voice. Whenever he came on the radio, it didn't matter what the song was--someone always asked, "Hey, Bina, who's that singing?" And I was bound to reply, lisping: "Dzonny Cass!" Yup...even as a baby, I knew badass when I heard it. And I still love this song.

Now, the Brit-pop. Sorry, I couldn't embed this. (Damn you, EMI, learn how the Internets work!) But listen muy, muy closely and you'll hear one of the few instances ever of a jackhammer being deployed to musical effect. If you're not laughing your ass off at that juncture, you're not human.

And no, the jackhammer is NOT the common element. (Bonus points for anyone who can tell me what the girl yells in the #2 song.)

PS: I've now heard from two people that they couldn't get to the #2 song. It's Thomas Dolby's "Hot Sauce", the "saucy version", digitally remastered just last year. Gotta love EMI for really not knowing how to make the Internets work for them.

February 28, 2010

Music for a Sunday: In the rain or on a winter's night...

Ottawa isn't known for its great bands, but this is one of them, and of course, like so many other things Canadian, it's underrated. I had forgotten all about this song until flipping through a bunch of other old faves.

February 21, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Classic wonderful weirdness

Mike Malloy uses this one on his radio show a lot:

And no, I don't even want to speculate how many drugs you'd have to be on to do what the frontman does here. But I do salute him!

February 14, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Deep in a moment's overflow

...I hear a voice from long ago:

And if the synths in this one don't give you goosebumps, you probably don't have a pulse:

Yep, your humble queen is one die-hard romantic. So shoot me!

February 7, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Whatcha gonna do when everybody's insane?

So who said only men could be guitar gods? Nancy Wilson kicks ALL their asses...with an acoustic guitar in the intro here:

BTW, this has got to be one of THE most sensuous songs of all time. This one's also right up there, IMO:

And yeah, they're Canadian. Who knew?

January 31, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Guerrilla Soldier

I've been reading Richard Gott's excellent book on some of the guerrilla movements in Latin America lately, so this song is a natural choice for me this week:

Unfortunately, there's no video for this one (except an unembeddable live version which is very fun and concert-y but doesn't capture the real tone of the song, IMO. Plus, Larry's got a pouffy '80s mullet. Eek!)

The guerrilla soldier may be "born in Santo Domingo", but he has more of a universal feel about him; he could be any little guy in Latin America, really. Every time there's a bout with interference from Washington, he springs up somewhere. The US marine "down from his home up in Maine" doesn't seem to have changed much, either. What has changed is that popular sentiment has now swung to the side of the guerrilla, and seems likely to remain there, thanks to education--and a keen, deep-seated personal awareness of imperialism and the collusion of Big Media.

January 24, 2010

Music for a Sunday: João Donato in Havana

The great bossanovista (second only to his namesake and lookalike, João Gilberto) comes to his favorite city and jams with the locals. This is part of a longer documentary, but I'm delighted to hear one of my faves in there--"The Frog".

January 17, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Haiti

"Haiti is here. Haiti is not here."

Full lyrics, and translation, here.

BTW, these lyrics, referring to racial injustice in Haiti and Brazil, are especially appropriate in light of a scandal concerning a Haitian diplomat in Brazil a couple of days ago:

The Haitian consul in São Paulo, George Samuel Antoine, not knowing that his microphone was open, commented before a journalistic interview that the earthquake "would be good for" his country, because thanks to it, "we are now more recognized". The diplomat blamed the ills of his country on the fact that "every place where there are Africans is fucked".

The consul also blamed the earthquake on macumba, the religion practiced by a majority of Haitians in spite of official Catholicism: "I believe that because of all this practice of macumba, we don't know if it's that. Africans are cursed in and of themselves."

Upon learning that his words, spoken in confidentiality to an investigator, had been recorded, the diplomat became very nervous and excused himself, saying that he could not speak Portuguese very well, and had been misinterpreted. However, he has been living in Brazil for 35 years, since 1975.

By way of apology, Antoine also recalled that his grandfather, born in Africa, was president of Haiti in the late 19th century, and being so nervous as a result of the earthquake in his country, he managed to avoid getting into an argument.

Throughout the interview, Antoine fingered a rosary. "It's to calm my nerves and receive positive energy," he said.

In Brazil, it is hoped that the government of Haiti takes a firm position on the matter, seeing that this is an offence not only against that country, but against all Africans.

Translation mine.

The reason this is so scandalous should be obvious.

In Brazil, as in Haiti, black slavery, though abolished, still works its malign influence to the present day in the form of racism (and in some cases, de facto slavery still).

A great many Brazilians--some estimate a majority--are mulattoes, although the higher up the class order you go, the less African and more European faces you'll see. It is possible for many a middle-class Brazilian to look white and still carry a lot of "black" blood, as Caetano Veloso does. But he is just as much a mulatto as his friend and collaborator in the song, Gilberto Gil, who looks more black.

In Haiti, as El Duderino reminds us, "black" is supposed to be a deracialized term (under the Haitian constitution), and even white-skinned permanent residents of the land are referred to as "blacks", in a radical interracial solidarity and a vehement rejection of the old slave-order of things. When all are black, all are equal, goes the reasoning; no one gets to lord anything over his neighbor, no matter what color. And no one gets to own another person outright, as chattel. To be a Haitian "black" is to be free, or so it should be.

Yet the racism of colonial times persists in the mentality of many. It is an internalized racism, and even a man of known African heritage can and does let it slip from time to time, as Mr. Antoine has done. The fear and mistrust of macumba, or Voudou, plays into this mindset; it is both racist and superstitious, since Voudounsis (practitioners) are largely peaceful and in fact have maintained the religion as a direct tie back to Africa, as well as a means of gaining liberty for Haiti (and by extension, the rest of the Americas). The fact that Voudou is syncretic is also proof of its peaceful nature; it signals a reconciliation of Catholic saints (bequeathed by white colonists) with African spirits, ancestors and deities. Voudounsis pray to both in the same breath and in the same ceremonies; in fact, they recognize that the "two" are one. The power summoned in the practice of Voudou is personal and can also be political, giving the practitioner the strength that a long struggle for liberty demands.

And that's why this internalized-racist statement of Africans being "cursed" and "fucked" by macumba is so offensive. It directly insults the entire Haitian (and Brazilian) struggle against slavery and racism--a struggle that still goes on to this day.

Haiti is here. Haiti is not here.

January 10, 2010

Music for a Sunday: No time for the killing floor

An extended version of the Guess Who classic. Randy Bachman would later go on to form his own band (and singer/writer Burton Cummings would also end up flying high solo), but his signature heavy, buzzy guitar style is already easy to pick out here.

January 3, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Pilot

Underappreciated Canadian talent? We haz it...

One of my all-time faves of his. Whimsical, poignant, and full of questions still unanswered as to whether we will survive our own worst innovations. Re-hearing it recently for the first time since high school, I finally realized what it was about. The Manhattan Project and the bombing of Hiroshima. Of course! What bigger fire would we rely on a pilot to deliver us from?

December 27, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Best jazz tune EVER.

Seriously...isn't it just?

December 20, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Best untrained voice EVER.

And really, if it were professionally polished, would Astrud's voice still have that lovely understated wistfulness?

And if there were more to the lyrics, would this play on rhythms (of women's swaying walks, no less!) be as much fun?

And would this song be ruined by those who forget that often, less really is more?

December 13, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Because 'Bina's feelin' badass today

Two from the badass-est band of the '80s:

This feast is an orgy. There's even a couple of pussies on the table.

This one's got everything: sharp social commentary, motorbikes--and a sax player in groovy horn-rims.

December 6, 2009

Music for a Sunday: A beautiful song for Bolivia

I thought this was only fitting, since today's election day down thataway. This should capture the festive spirit nicely, no?

Viva Bolivia, viva Evo, viva Alvaro.

November 29, 2009

More Music for a Sunday: Buffy Sainte-Marie takes on greed and wins

"No No Keshagesh", from her latest record, Running for the Drum. You can hear Buffy talk about this song and so much more with Amy Goodman here.

This Buffy really IS a vampire slayer!

Music for a Sunday: Calle 13 no se calla

Ever hear a rap song quite like this? No? Well, now you have!

November 15, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Folkies, North and South American...

Yep, I'm still on a folkie kick...take it away, Kate 'n' Anna!

Better learn to dance, or at least keep your balance on a floating log, fellas...you never know when it might come in handy.

And now, for something completely different, from Raíces de América:

The style could hardly be more different, but the basic theme is the same: The humble, in the end, come out on top.

November 8, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Lunatics Anonymous, that's where I belong

A two-fer hit from a great old Canadian arena-rock band. Listen closely and you'll hear how to really pronounce "Toronto".

And just to mash things up a bit, here's another great song from another great Toronto (pronounce it correctly, now!) band with a similar name, but a rather different style:

Yep, that's rockabilly. When's the last time you heard anything half so cool on your radio?

And could the lack of music like this be the reason radio is suffering lately?

November 1, 2009

Music for a Sunday: So, you thought Halloween was over?

Grace Jones says it isn't...until SHE says it isn't:

And who am I (or you, or anyone) to argue with Grace Jones?

PS: Speaking of unarguable, Calle 13 gave a free concert last night in Caracas. El Residente slapped shut the mouths of the Globomojón buffoons (who were speculating on what his next "controversial" t-shirt would say) by going shirtless. Well played, sir. Video here, for anyone interested in hot-torso shirtless action and funky raggaetón.

October 25, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Everybody need reverse polarity

The first Rush song I ever heard* wasn't this one, but it was on the same album. Moving Pictures yields a number of gems that I can't imagine why they were never released as singles; probably for the reason that there'd have been no B-sides left if they did! (Vinyl...sob...how I miss it!)

Fortunately, they play this one a lot in concert, and they have a lot of good concert videos out. So now you can get the mood lifter. Soft filter. Evelate from the norm. (Yes, that's a deliberate blooper--a quirk that became so popular that they left it in and even perform it live every time!)

*For those who care, it was "Limelight". It grabbed my 13-year-old attention for two reasons: lyrics that, refreshingly, had nothing to do with "baby baby baby", and the fact that here was a dude with a kick-ass name, who sang in my exact vocal range. Still does, too!

October 18, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Memories of a Cold War gone by

This one's a bit dated now (and kind of overly sanitized if you've ever seen The Day After, which came out around the same time and scared the bejesus out of me), but it's still effective, for all that; the "meltdown" of the home movie at the end always chokes me up. One commenter at the YouTube site writes, "Looking at Chernobyl it's almost a premonition." It is...and it's more than just that. It's an admonition, a warning never to let this happen for real.

Yes, President Obama, this song's for you.

October 11, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Not to say I did not speak of flowers

A small reminder of why it's so important that Brazil has lent its embassy as a haven to democracy in Honduras. Just twenty years ago, they emerged from a 25-year era of military dictatorship, in which generals ran the show, and the CIA pulled the strings behind the scenes, training the death squads in the not-so-fine art of thuggery. Torture, disappearances and murders were the lot of many who protested.

This tune has been on my mind for many a week now. Geraldo Vandré's beautiful folk song, celebrating the common courage of people in simple acts of bravery, dates to the late 1960s, when people marched en masse in the streets demanding an end to the dictatorship. It took a long time, but when that day came, it was inevitable. In the meantime, voices kept rising, and this man was just one of them. Others, like Caetano Veloso and his friend and sometime brother-in-law, Gilberto Gil, were first imprisoned and tortured, then had to go into exile. When Lula came to power, he made Gil his minister of culture--a fitting role for one who helped build it in the teeth of a culture-hating junta.

A salute to the people of Brazil, who know what democracy is worth from having lacked it too long themselves.

October 4, 2009

Even More Music for a Sunday: A farewell with applause

For Mercedes "La Negra" Sosa, who passed away today in Argentina. A survivor so many times over gives thanks to life with her awe-inspiring contralto voice, which spoke out against military dictatorship and for freedom.

A voice that survives...

...wherever she came to offer her heart.

Who said that all is lost?

More Music for a Sunday: So pretty, so plagiarized

The other day, El Duderino uncovered a shocker: A German group called Cordalis (a father/son/daughter group apparently, never heard of 'em till now) has plagiarized this beautiful song by Bolivia's revered folk group, Kalamarka:

...which I took it on myself to translate. (Apologies if the Aymara words are wrong, I found several different versions and just went with the ones that looked most like what I heard.)

Cuando Florezca el Chuño (When The Potatoes Are In Bloom)

If your parents hate me now
It's because I did you so wrong
If my panpipes don't whistle now
It's because you've been gone so long

They say you're coming back, come back
Like the river to the lake
They say you're coming back, come back
Like the river to the lake

Human pi, kayan pi
When the potatoes are in bloom
Augua yogua
When the potatoes are in bloom

Don't tell me you've forgotten
The land where you were born
Don't tell me you've forgotten
The land where you were born

They say you're coming back, come back
Like the river to the lake
They say you're coming back, come back
Like the river to the lake

Human pi, kayan pi
When the potatoes are in bloom
Augua yogua
When the potatoes are in bloom

As you can see, it's a very succinct, compact song about lost love and--not coincidentally--betrayal of country. The lover mourns his sweetheart, who has left not only him, but all of her native Bolivia behind. This is kind of interesting when you consider what Cordalis has done to it:

Gawd...even for a German Schlager (a very cheesy genre--it means, roughly, "hit parade"), that's just low.

I wanted to translate the lyrics to show you just how banal they are compared to the original, but I can't find them anywhere on the web now. I don't suppose it matters. The irony of ripping off a very Bolivian love song about not forgetting one's roots, and turning it into a generic, globalized "dance" tune with hackneyed lyrics, should be apparent anyoldhow.

EDIT, October 28: See comments below. I've learned (thanks, Maria Eugenia!) that the chorus can now be translated as follows:

They say you're coming back, you'll be back Like the river to the lake Me with you, you with me When the dried potatoes bloom...

Which makes me wonder if she'll ever be back. It's an ironic statement, as my commenter points out, because rivers only flow one way and can't go back to their headwaters again. Unless it evaporates, the river won't be coming back; dried potatoes, for obvious reasons, can't bloom. In other words, it's a song about futility and being unable to come home again. Even more poignant when you consider how many Bolivian campesinos, particularly indigenous ones from the Altiplano, have had to migrate to the cities and lowlands in order not to starve to death as the glaciers and alpine lakes dry up due to climate change (a product of capitalism).

I love a song that makes me think (as well as being so lovely!), even if it ends up making my head and heart ache...

Music for a Sunday: You can't say that on television!

Wanna bet? Dame pa' Matala can:

And they look so cute doing it, too!

September 27, 2009

Music for a Sunday Night: The Enemy Within

This Rush classic has been in my head all day. Now, the haunting's all yours:

September 20, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Nazareth (for those who love Joni Mitchell)

Not too fussed on the video, but the song's unbeatable. Love how they switch styles to a Beach Boys vibe so seamlessly midway--and then switch back again. That's the mark of a great band!

September 13, 2009

Music for a Sunday: What's wrong with going around in the buff?

"En Cueros", a rockin' number from Cuba's own Buena Fe.

September 6, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Neil Young for the geek brigade

A rare 1983 reworking of his Buffalo Springfield hit from the late '60s, "Mr. Soul", this time with electronics. This is actually an extended version of the single from the Trans album. Proof that a good song can sound outstanding in any format, including the electronic. Proof, also, that synthesizers can take on a humane undercurrent when a great musician is at the helm.

August 30, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Remembering Katrina

Ray Nagin and Led Zeppelin--a duet made in hell on Earth.

"Wonder why I got my middle finger up down here?" I don't. After four years, it's still not fixed. And the racists are still gloating. So, when is Cthulhu coming for THEM?

August 23, 2009

Music for a Sunday: A little breeze from Cuba

A lively yet understated version of a great classic by Carlos Puebla.

And one sent to me by a friend who, like me, is waiting for another revolution of conscience and justice, this time on mainland North America. Since torture has happened/is happening at Gitmo (though not at Cuban hands!), it still relates to Cuba, too.

May the winds of change get blowing in earnest, now.

August 9, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Find a bar, avoid a fight, show your papers, be polite...

Three to brood on, all Canadian:

"Listen to the Radio", by the Pukka Orchestra.

"Tokyo Rose" by Idle Eyes.

"Eyes of a Stranger", by the Payola$.

August 2, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Bina's summer shimmers

Throw down that trashy romance novel! Let's go chase some sandpipers with the tide.

I know it's out of fashion...and a trifle uncool...but I can't help it...I'm a romantic fool.

Carry me down, carry me down...carry me down into the river...

...and walk me back to life again.

July 19, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Sing along with Chavecito and El Ecuadorable!

This was too cute not to post. Chavecito can really sing!

June 14, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Siddown, shuddup and CRANKIT!!!

Great song, great video, great hair.

May 31, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Hold the phone!

May 24, 2009

Music for a Sunday: When the bullet hits the bone

A paranoid classic, with a wonderful acoustic treatment.

May 17, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Today's Kid

Dame Pa' Matala has the diagnosis of what's wrong, and what's to be done:

May 10, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Two by Shriekback

Two of my old faves.

I never knew this one was on a soundtrack. I only knew it from Oil and Gold, same as this one:

Gorgeous, underrated stuff. Still fresh after all this time.

May 3, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Infinitely crankable

For what you are about to receive...well, I really can't put it better than one of the commenters at YouTube did:

Let me explain to anyone under the age of 40 that stops by here: this is rock from the far side, the wild side, this is eyes-out-on-stalks, ears-in-a-flotation-tank heavy metal. These guys were outré, avant garde. I bitch slap any weedy modern-day pretenders. The Webster were insanity with a Marshall stack. Try and wrestle this song and the album if you've the brass balls to do so. I don't think you can. So run along, kids, and leave this to the real men! Bust the busters!

Ahem. Well put!

And with that said, here's Max Webster, featuring Kim Mitchell and a secret guest vocalist whose screeching alto you might recognize:

There's an incredible amount of Max Webster stuff on YouTube, BTW...and Kim Mitchell solo ain't bad either:

Rah, rah, olé!

Here's another of his Max Webster greats, which proves that he's good for much more than just the loud noodly stuff:

April 26, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Two by Yaz

Midnight. It's raining outside. What's Bina listening to at this hour? This:

An awesome remix of the '80s classic; the incredibly soulful voice of Alison Moyet and the purest synth-pop backdrop make perfect foils for each other.

A live version of "Don't Go", proving that they don't need no stinkin' studio engineers to make them sound amazing.

April 19, 2009

Music for a Sunday: One to plant your garden by

This one's been earworming through my head of late, so I finally gave in. Now it's YOUR turn!

April 12, 2009

Music for a Sunday: The only capitalism I care for

Of course, it's foreign:

April 5, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Febreros y Abriles

Mario Silva of La Hojilla introduces a brand-new video from folk-singer Amílcar Briceño of Zulia.

February and April are fateful months for Venezuelans--the Caracazo and Chavecito's failed coup attempt both happened in February, the opposition's failed coup attempt (and the people's subsequent rescue of democracy) happened in April. This song links it all together and celebrates the ongoing struggle to fulfill Bolívar's dream.

March 29, 2009

Music for a Sunday: The Ballad of Hugo Chávez

How did this escape my notice so long? There's this group up here in Canada (hailing from Hamilton, Ontario) called Arkells, and guess who they dedicated a (very cool) song to? Yep, him:

"The Night of the Sun". Crank your speakers!

March 22, 2009

Music for a Sunday: When the Belfast Child sings again...

This one's going out to victims and survivors from a city that's seen more than its share of violence; let's hope that the troubles of late remain small-t, isolated incidents and not a re-escalation of a conflict best left to the past.

March 1, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Two you're not likely to hear on commercial radio

From Venezuela's own Dame Pa' Matala, my latest musical crush:

"En favor de la paz". Crazy hippie peacenikkery never sounded better! Stick around till the end and you'll even hear a bit of German.

And one whose chorus requires no translation. Something tells me these guys don't like Daddy Yankee. Or misogyny.

I think it's only fair to warn you that these are both extremely infectious. If you get earworms (especially from the latter!), don't blame me. Just get up and dance, 'kay?