Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best (And Worst) Of 2013 In Music

I'll be up-front about it: there were no game changers this year. And that, in itself, is a major disappointment. When I grew up, there was at least one per year:

1987: Guns N' Roses, Appetite For Destruction
1988: N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton
1989: The Cure, Disintegration
1990: Jane's Addiction, Ritual De Lo Habitual
1991: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik
          Metallica, Metallica
          Pearl Jam, Ten
1992: Dr. Dre, The Chronic
          Rage Against The Machine, Rage Against The Machine
          Megadeth, Countdown To Extinction
          Pantera, Vulgar Display Of Power
          Alice In Chains, Dirt
1993: Snoop Doggy Dogg, Doggystyle
          Nirvana, In Utero
          Pearl Jam, Vs
          the Judgment Night soundtrack
1994: Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral
1995: Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness
1996: Jean Leloup, Le Dôme
          The Chemical Brothers, Dig Your Own Hole
1997: Radiohead, OK Computer
          Buena Vista Social Club, Buena Vista Social Club
2001: The White Stripes, White Blood Cells
2004: Arcade Fire, Funeral

If that list doesn't ramp your brain up with possibilities (and the countless acts that tried to rip them off), I don't know what will.

That being said, here are my tops in music this year:

Top 20 Albums:

20. TRIXIE WHITLEY, Fourth Corner
19. LORDE, Pure Heroine
17. PORTUGAL. THE MAN, Evil Friend
16. MONSTER MAGNET, Last Patrol
15. CHVRCHES, The Bones Of What You Believe
14. LAURA MARLING, Once I Was An Eagle
13. NINE INCH NAILS, Hesitation Marks
12. EMILY JANE WHITE, Blood / Lines
11. TRICKY, False Idols
10. EMINEM, The Marshall Mathers LP 2
9. SUUNS, Images Du Futur
8. CHELSEA WOLFE, Pain Is Beauty
7. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, ... Like Clockwork
6. GHOSTPOET, Some Say I So I Say Light
5. YEAH YEAH YEAHS, Mosquito
4. THEE SILVER Mt. ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA, Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything
3. THE BESNARD LAKES, Until In Excess Imperceptible UFO
2. NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS, Push The Sky Away
1. ARCADE FIRE, Reflektor

There are many there whose positions I could switch around depending on my mood, such as NIN's - at times I find it immature and self--centered, at others its standout tracks take me back to the band's heyday. And Lorde, well, some days I can listen to it from start to finish, others I can't stand the electro-pop bullshit. Tricky could have been higher, were it not that GhostPoet made the perfect Tricky record... I almost put Moonface's Julia With Blue Jeans On on there,but I remembered I wasn't into sad piano songs this year. Also, past the dazzle and the tears, it's a shallow record.

And I really like Beyoncé's record so far, but it came out so late in the year, it's too fresh, it's unfair to compare it to the rest.

As for the songs, well that's another story. Most of the songs I listened to this year were from the past. On the other hand, I think I could manage a Top 10 where 5 of the songs are from Arcade Fire's latest...

Top 15 Songs:

15. BLOOD ON THE CURTAINS, Melted Faces (Blood On The Curtains)
14. MOZART'S SISTER, Mozart's Sister (Mozart's Sister)
13. COPY OF A, Nine Inch Nails (Hesitation Marks)
12. CAN'T HELP MYSELF, Dead Messenger (Recharger)
10. SIRENS, Pearl Jam (Lightning Bolt)
9. ROYALS, Lorde (Pure Heroine)
8. BIG SHOT, The Pack A.D. (Do Not Engage)
7. RHYME OR REASON, Eminem (The Marshall Mathers LP 2)
6. FOR IT ALL NOW, Outernational (single)
5. HIGGS BOSON BLUES, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Push The Sky Away)
4. GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS (Peter Gabriel cover), Arcade Fire (And I'll Scratch Yours)
3. DESPAIR, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Mosquito)
2. HIGH ROAD, Cults (Static)
1. REFLEKTOR, Arcade Fire (with David Bowie) (Reflektor)

Honorable mention to Biting Elbow's Bad Motherfucker, surely the Video Of The Year.

And, of course, there are the utter disappointments...

Top 5 Failures:

5. JULIA HOLTER, Loud City Song
4. PEARL JAM, Lightning Bolt
3. DAFT PUNK, Random Access Memories
2. KANYE WEST, Yeesus
1. JAY-Z, Magna Carta... Holy Grail

Ok, three of these are actual disappointments, because I always expect Pearl Jam to deliver top-notch rock, and Jay-Z should have at least one monster track per record; Kanye West, well, if he were 10% as good as he thinks he is, he'd be at the list up-top. Un-huh, honey. As for Julia Holter, well, my knowledgeable friends recommended this one way too highly and it just didn't match up.

I wasn't disappointed in Daft Punk per se, seeing as I never liked them, but this fucking piece of shit of a record was overplayed and booooooooooring. I hope we Get Lucky enough that they Lose (Themselves) To Dance and never come back. Seriously, there's a reason disco ended: 4 years was enough, and there was little else to do with it - I, of course, exclude funk from disco just like I exclude Kenny G and Pat Metheny from jazz.

Also, please note I didn't include Beyoncé's record because it JUST CAME OUT and is too fresh in my mind for me to properly position. But it's good!

Drugs And Christmas. Elf Edition

Sam Briggs is at it again.

He'd taken drugs then gone to work as a public servant before, and this time he's back as a gift-wrapping shopping mall elf, high on cocaine, LSD and Ketamine:

The Ketamine skit is both the longest-seeming and funniest, a dichotomy that represents the whole ''experiment'' very well.

Monday, December 30, 2013

1992 In Film

While everybody else is busy making their ''Best of 2013'' lists, I decided to go way back to 1992 for my year in film. Sign of the times (grunge rock, the final year of a long run of Conservatives in power in the U.S., Canada and England), a lot of them are of the depressing variety, though, so not films you'd want to watch over and over again.

Previous posts: 1994, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2005.

Top 25 Films:

25. STAY TUNED, Peter Hyams (USA)
24. DEATH BECOMES HER, Robert Zemeckis (USA)
23. GAS FOOD LODGING, Allison Anders (USA)
22. TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME, David Lynch (USA/France)
21. RAISE THE RED LANTERN, Zhang Yimou (China/Hong Kong/Taiwan)
20. C'EST ARRIVÉ PRÈS DE CHEZ VOUS, Rémy Belvaux & André Bonzel & Benoît Poelvoorde (Belgique)
19. EL MARIACHI, Robert Rodriguez (USA)
18. CHAPLIN, Richard Attenborough (USA/Japan/Italy/France)
17. ALADDIN, Ron Clements & John Musker (USA)
16. HARD BOILED, John Woo (Hong Kong)
15. BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA, Francis Ford Coppola (USA)
14. BARAKA, Ron Fricke (USA)
12. HOFFA, Danny DeVito (France/USA)
11. EL VIAJE, Fernando Solanas (Argentina)
9. OF MICE AND MEN, Gary Sinise (USA)
8. LÉOLO, Jean-Claude Lauzon (Québec)
7. MALCOLM X, Spike Lee (USA)
6. THE CRYING GAME, Neil Jordan (UK)
4. UNFORGIVEN, Clint Eastwood (USA/Canada)
3. NAKED KILLER, Clarence Fok Yiu-leung (Hong Kong)
2. RESERVOIR DOGS, Quentin Tarantino (USA)
1. RAISING CAIN, Brian De Palma (USA)

Top 20 Directors:

19. ROBERT ALTMAN, The Player
17. DAVID LYNCH, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
15. LOUIS MALLE, Damage
14. JOHN WOO, Hard Boiled
13. GARY SINISE, Of Mice And Men
12. NEIL JORDAN, The Crying Game
11. FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA, Bram Stoker's Dracula
10. RON FRICKE, Baraka
9. TIM BURTON, Batman Returns
8. SPIKE LEE, Malcolm X
6. CLINT EASTWOOD, Unforgiven
5. ROBERT ZEMECKIS, Death Becomes Her
3. QUENTIN TARANTINO, Reservoir Dogs
2. BRIAN DE PALMA, Raising Cain
1. ZHANG YIMOU, Raise The Red Lantern

Top 20 Lead Actors:

20. WESLEY SNIPES, White Men Can't Jump
18. CHOW YUN-FAT, Hard Boiled
17. JAMES WOODS, Straight Talk
16. JOHN RITTER, Stay Tuned
15. GARY OLDMAN, Bram Stoker's Dracula
14. WILLEM DAFOE, Light Sleeper
13. JEREMY IRONS, Damage
12. JOE PESCI, My Cousin Vinny
11. CLINT EASTWOOD, Unforgiven
10. STEPHEN REA, The Crying Game
8. HARVEY KEITEL, Bad Lieutenant
7. DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, The Last Of The Mohicans
5. AL PACINO, Glengarry Glen Ross
4. GARY SINISE, Of Mice And Men
3. JOHN LITHGOW, Raising Cain

Top 20 Lead Actresses:

20. PENELOPE ANN MILLER, The Gun In Betty Lou's Handbag
19. ANÉMONE, Le Petit Prince A Dit
18. DOLLY PARTON, Straight Talk
16. EDIE FALCO, Laws Of Gravity
14. DEMI MOORE, A Few Good Men
13. SHARON STONE, Basic Instinct
12. JANE MARCH, L'Amant
10. ROMANE BOHRINGER, Les Nuits Fauves
9. CYNDA WILLIAMS, One False Move
8. CHINGMY YAU, Naked Killer
7. JENNIFER RUBIN, A Woman, Her Men, And Her Futon
5. JOHANNA TER STEEGE, Sweet Emma, Dear Bobe
1. SUSAN SARANDON, Lorenzo's Oil

Top 20 Supporting Actors:

20. ERIC ROBERTS, Final Analysis
19. ALAN KING, Night And The City
18. JEFF GOLDBLUM, Deep Cover
17. WOODY HARRELSON, White Men Can't Jump
16. MICKEY ROURKE, White Sands
15. ROBERTO BENIGNI, Night On Earth
14. GÉRARD DEPARDIEU, Tous Les Matins Du Monde
13. DELROY LINDO, Malcolm X
11. MORGAN FREEMAN, Unforgiven
10. CHRIS PENN, Reservoir Dogs
9. STEVE BUSCEMI, Reservoir Dogs
8. JAYE DAVIDSON, The Crying Game
7. JACK LEMMON, Glengarry Glen Ross
6. WILL SMITH, Where The Day Takes You
5. ALAN ARKIN, Glengarry Glen Ross
4. MICHAEL MADSEN, Reservoir Dogs
2. FOREST WHITAKER, The Crying Game
1. JOHN MALKOVICH, Of Mice And Men

Top 20 Supporting Actresses:

20. JEANNE TRIPPLEHORN, Basic Instinct
19. WINONA RYDER, Bram Stoker's Dracula
18. ROSIE PEREZ, White Men Can't Jump
17. RICKI LAKE, Inside Monkey Zetterland
16. MADELEINE STOWE, The Last Of The Mohicans
15. RICKI LAKE, Where The Day Takes You
13. FRANKIE THORN, Bad Lieutenant
12. IONE SKYE, Gas Food Lodging
11. FAIRUZA BALK, Gas Food Lodging
10. CARRIE NG, Naked Killer
9. JULIANNE MOORE, The Gun In Betty Lou's Handbag
8. BÉATRICE DALLE, Night On Earth
7. MARISA TOMEI, My Cousin Vinny
2. SHERILYN FENN, Of Mice And Men
1. REBECCA DE MORNAY, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

Top 20 Screenplays:

20. WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP, Ron Shelton
18. HOFFA, David Mamet
17. NAKED KILLER, Wong Jing
15. NIGHT ON EARTH, Jim Jarmusch
14. EL VIAJE, Fernando Solanas
13. UNFORGIVEN, David Webb Peoples
12. GAS FOOD LODGING, Allison Anders
10. A FEW GOOD MEN, Aaron Sorkin
7. C'EST ARRIVÉ PRÈS DE CHEZ VOUS, Rémy Belvaux & André Bonzel & Benoît Poelvoorde
6. ONE FALSE MOVE, Billy Bob Thornton & Tom Epperson
4. LÉOLO, Jean-Claude Lauzon
3. THE CRYING GAME, Neil Jordan
2. RAISING CAIN, Brian De Palma
1. RESERVOIR DOGS, Quentin Tarantino

Top 20 Cinematographers:

20. WANG WING-HENG, Hard Boiled
19. ANDRZEJ SEKULA, Reservoir Dogs
17. IAN WILSON, The Crying Game
15. STEPHEN H. BURUM, Raising Cain
13. MICHAEL BALLHAUS, Bram Stoker's Dracula
12. DONALD MCALPINE, Patriot Games
11. PETER PAU & WILLIAM YIM, Naked Killer
10. ZHAO FEI, Raise The Red Lantern
8. JAN DE BONT, Basic Instinct
7. STEFAN CZAPSKY, Batman Returns
6. JACK N. GREEN, Unforgiven
5. ARTHUR WONG, Once Upon A Time In China II
2. ANDRÉ BONZEL, C'est Arrivé Près De Chez Vous
1. RON FRICKE, Baraka

Top 10 Villains:

10. DANNY DEVITO, Batman Returns
8. TONY TODD, Candyman
7. TOMMY LEE JONES, Under Siege
6. MERYL STREEP, Death Becomes Her
5. HARVEY KEITEL, Bad Lieutenant
4. GILDOR ROY, Requiem Pour Un Beau Sans-Coeur
3. JENNIFER JASON LEIGH, Single White Female
2. MICHAEL MADSEN, Reservoir Dogs
1. JOHN LITHGOW, Raising Cain

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top 10 Songs This Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. MOTHER, Danzig (1988, 1993, 1994)
9. ALL THINGS BREAK THROUGH, Freelove Fenner (2013)
8. I'M SHAKIN' (Little Willie John cover), Jack White (2012)
7. BLOOD ON THE CURTAINS, Melted Faces (2013)
6. INSTANT CRUSH, Daft Punk (feat. Julian Casablancas) (2013)
5. HIGGS BOSON BLUES, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)
4. HIGH ROAD, Cults (2013)
3. THE LORD IS OUT OF CONTROL, Mogwai (2013)
2. FOR IT ALL NOW, Outernational (2013)
1. BIG SHOT, The Pack A.D. (2013)

Video Of The Week: Danzig

I spent the week in Ohio (Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Green, Springfield) visiting my mom for Christmas, and had a decent time. But because I'm a night owl and insomniac - and there's little to do over there at night if you don't have a valid driver's license - I resorted to watch a lot of late-night TV, mostly on Adult Swim, which means I got a healthy dose of Family Guy and American Dad.

I'm also a huge fan of The Cleveland Show, and the ad promoting it was from the episode where Rallo's band sings Danzig's Mother, which means I heard it at least 200 times. And considering my brother and I were there to see our mom, it actually represents my Holidays better than any Christmas song would, which explains this:

Danzig is fronted and was founded by Glenn Danzig, who also founded then-punk band The Misfits and horror-metal band Samhaim. Though not an artist I listen to every day (apart from maybe his duet/collaboration with Melissa Auf Der Maur), I'd say he's a pretty big deal and would probably make my top-25 list of influential metal musicians, which makes me feel bad every time I laugh at him getting his pretentious ass kicked by Danny Marianino backstage on YouTube.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Going Through Changes

I know I'm at a crossroads. It's not just about the signs, which are abundant, but also everything else. There is no choice but change.

Some people worry about stagnating, others about boredom; I'm not even there: the status quo could literally be the end of me. Figuratively, too, but, uh, duh.

And I know one step will inevitably lead to many more; it's a slippery slope going downhill with a couple of bumps that could either stop me in my tracks or just propel me even further. And I think I'm fine with that.

Of course, the conditions aren't ideal, and my attempts at normalcy have usually failed miserably. And predictably. But I trust the future and what it'll put in my path. I'm surrounded by more good people than I remember on most days.

Like Mick Jagger said, I'm probably not going to get what I want, but I'll try for some time, so maybe I'll get what I need.

Loaded Aftermath

I've been asked how our show went, last Thursday. I've got to say, it was our best show as Loaded, and everyone in the crowd and the band seemed to have a great time.

Here are a few of the comments I gathered, first from the performers themselves:

Patrick Hutchinson (guitar, vocals):

Well, that was a blast & a half...what a gas to be part of that huge throbbing wall of sound! Mighty kudos to Loaded co-conspirators Dave Lines (keys/vox) Luca Fantigrossi (guit/vox) Jordi Rosen (accordion/vox) Caroline Glass (cor anglais/oboe/vox) Sébastian Hell (guit/vox - completely nailed that Heroin!) JW Triangles Stuart (bass/vox) Allan Lento (guit/vox) all anchored, grounded & mainlined into the 220v by the incomparable rock'n'roll queen of la batterie, Jackie Gallant (drums/vox) !!!!!

Luca Fantigrossi:
"What goes on in your mind?" well, thanks for asking... I'd like to say that I'm still reeling with joy from last night's festivities! It's such an honor to play with such wonderful musicians... 
Mr. Hutchinson put it perfectly by saying "what a gas to be part of that huge throbbing wall of sound!" Thanks to Dave for bringing us all together last night, and his awesome band A Devil's Din, to Jackie for making our hearts throb with your drumming, to Jordi for your always inspiring presence and lovely vocals, to JW Triangles for rocking that bass and providing us all with a space to rehearse, to Allan for getting this whole thing started a few years ago and for allowing us to keep it going - also you sure can rock those songs! Thanks to Caroline for giving that special extra sound to the band, and to Sébastian for rocking the house as always as well, and to Patrick for all those wonderful leads that sore the band real high! 
Also, much thanks to L'esco, and all you wonderful people who came down to experience it with us! Much love, and happy holidays!

JW Stuart :
You think the last thing one would want to do after playing a Velvets tribute show would be to listen to them the next day. But the song below really moved me this morning. Partially because it represents Lou's love of 50's music... but mainly it got me thinking about the dear people I shared the stage with last night. 
Allan who started the whole shebang years ago. His Waiting For The Man and Venus are really mind-blowing. He is a truly kind and loving soul who has the gift of seeing joy and beauty in small things.
Dave - whose musical prowess still astonishes me. His calm admist the chaos, his sly sense of humour and contagious love of music.
Jackie - well what can you say about her. Humble, brilliant, and always spot-on. I loved last night so much because I turned away from the audience and watched/fed off her the whole night.
Jordi brings light and beauty to everything she does, and her voice at once innocent and wise gives me shivers.
Patrick - again where do I start with this madman. He's been plucking on stages across the city for decades, and his positive/giddy/talky- talky personality is a rare and beautiful thing. The moment I met him (for a slide lesson) I wished I had known him my whole life. A real treasure.
Sébastian Hell - he's quiet, wickedly opinionated, and a brilliant interpreter of songs. I can think of countless Sake Of the Songs performances that really should go down in local music history.
Caroline - a stunning and brilliant musician. And holy shit that Femme Fatale... again shiiiiivers... Keep your ears attuned to her, brilliant.
Luca - well you just want to hug that guy. He's an inspired and deep soul.
& yes I missed Will too.

I love you guys, look forward to the next time.

And a few choice words from folks in attendance:

Bill Gould:

Thanks! for a real swell time!,everybody got along so really well, I can hardly wait until the next time!
Mikhail Doborvlianski, who taped the show and whose footage is all over YouTube and Facebook:

It was a great show! Thanks to everybody!!!

Victoria Smutova:
Absolutely agree awesome guys, awesome performance! Thanks to everyone!

 And now, a few short videos from my friend Anne-Marie Martino:


We're Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together:

Who Loves The Sun:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Very Megadeth Christmas

Despite becoming ultra-conservative (and a joke), Dave Mustaine has other things going for him these days, including poking fun at himself and his band:

Kudos to Jenny Lewis (The Postal Service, Rilo Kiley) for a quick cameo (and kidnapping a kid).

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mutually Assured Disdain

What I love about the internet is having a discussion/debate/argument with someone, and knowing for a fact you both think you're talking to the dumbest person on the face of the planet.

Video Of The Week: Daft Punk Featuring Julian Casablancas

No, it's not one of the year's best albums; it's a collection of rehashed 1980s keyboard riffs you can't put your finger on but know you've vomited to hundreds of times, like a Giorgio Moroder-penned soundtrack to your worst hangover.

But a Julian Casablancas vocal is better than one by Pharrell, and though it doesn't sound like a disco hit as much as Get Lucky or Lose Yourself To Dance, Instant Crush is a much better track as a whole, more subtle (as subtle as Daft Punk can be), yet still miles away from the ''smart dance music'' it claims to be. Which is also a metaphor for The Strokes' career, fittingly - the harder they try, the less they're appreciated by most (though I like all their records).

The video shows off a toy soldier molded after Casablancas and its pursuit of true love, interspersed with footage of the actual Srokes singer dancing on a platform and wearing an outfit that would get him kicked out of The Outsiders - leather jacket, tight pants, bandana at the thigh, and the cheesiest sports shoes this side of an awful 1983 breakdancing video.

When I think about the 1980s - particularly the middle part, but even as a whole, and even up to 1990 itself - or when I hear certain songs that were hits in my childhood, I usually start feeling sick and literally want to puke my brains out. Even songs I kind of like (and at times cover myself), such as Edie Brickell's What I Am, but just about any New Kids On The Block, Milli Vanilli or Bobby Brown song will do. This song here (and this group) also have that effect on me, which must mean it's the real deal.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Top 10s This Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. INSTANT CRUSH, Daft Punk (feat. Julian Casablancas) (2013)
9. ALL THINGS BREAK THROUGH, Freelove Fenner (2013)
8. RED EYES, The War On Drugs (2013)
7. BLOOD ON THE CURTAINS, Melted Faces (2013)
6. THE LORD IS OUT OF CONTROL, Mogwai (2013)
5. BIG SHOT, The Pack A.D. (2013)
4. HIGGS BOSON BLUES, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)
3. HIGH ROAD, Cults (2013)
2. FOR IT ALL NOW, Outernational (2013)
1. I'M SHAKIN' (Little Willie John cover), Jack White (2012)

Top 10 Hockey Players Of 2013-14 So Far:

10. TUKKA RASK, Boston Bruins
9. BEN SCRIVENS, Los Angeles Kings
8. EVGENI MALKIN, Pittsburgh Penguins
7. JOSH HARDING, Minnesota Wild
6. ALEXANDER STEEN, St. Louis Blues
5. SIDNEY CROSBY, Pittsburgh Penguins
4. ALEXANDER OVECHKIN, Washington Capitals
3. P.K. SUBBAN, Montréal Canadiens
2. PATRICK KANE, Chicago Blackhawks
1. JONATHAN TOEWS, Chicago Blackhawks

Sure, Crosby leads the NHL in points, but he's Sidney Crosby, which means no one's going to deliver the dangerous hit on him intentionally, because no one wants to be the guy who'll end his career, which means he has more room and freedom out there to make plays than anyone else. If anything, having him be only 2 points ahead of his competition as of tonight is kind of disappointing.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Video Of The Week: Jack White

I had a ton of options to go with this week, but I opted for this Jack White number because it was just nominated for a Grammy or an American Music Award or one of those things. It's the only track off his debut solo record that's a cover, as it was originally sung by Little Willie John and written by Rudy Toombs.

The video showcases both bands White toured with for his album, the all-female The Peacocks (in light blue), and the all-male The Buzzards (in black) in a battle-of-the-bands setting, preceded by a breakdancer.

And it's a riff I've had in my head all week, so that's that.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Re-Plug: Loaded Sings The Velvet Underground, December 19th At L'Esco

It had to happen, and it will. Lou Reed left us, and left a huge void countless musicians are vying to fill, and tributes to the man's work came left and right.

In my neck of the woods, there is one collective that has attracted hundreds of people to their shows, specializing in his Velvet Underground era, the one I'm in, Loaded.

There will be absentees (Ingrid Wissink, Will Austin, Zuzu Knew, Cassie Doubleday), but enough will be around to make it worthwhile: grandmaster Allan Lento, maestro Dave Lines (also in A Devil's Din, who will close out the evening), Patrick Hutchinson, Jackie Gallant, Jordy Rosen, Caroline Glass, John Stuart, Luca Fantigrossi and myself, playing all the songs you'll want to hear, from Sister Ray to After Hours, from Heroin to Femme Fatale, from Pale Blue Eyes to White Light, White Heat.

The only ones we're forgoing are those usually sung by absentees and those off Squeeze, because, let's face it, it's not a real VU album.

Each musician will sing at least one, as usual.

Five bucks gets you in, on December 19th (2013), at L'Escogriffe, corner St-Denis and Mont-Royal.

This Week's Top 10s

Top 10 Songs:

10. RED EYES, The War On Drugs (2013)
9. INSTANT CRUSH, Daft Punk (feat. Julian Casablancas) (2013)
7. BLOOD ON THE CURTAINS, Melted Faces (2013)
6. ALL THINGS BREAK THROUGH, Freelove Fenner (2013)
5. HIGGS BOSON BLUES, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)
4. THE LORD IS OUT OF CONTROL, Mogwai (2013)
3. BIG SHOT, The Pack A.D. (2013)
2. FOR IT ALL NOW, Outernational (2013)
1. HIGH ROAD, Cults (2013)

Top 10 Ben Stiller Parts/Performances:

10. THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, Peter Farrelly & Robert Farelly (1997)
9. REALITY BITES, Ben Stiller (1994)
8. STARSKY & HUTCH, Todd Phillips (2004)
7. FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, David O. Russell (1996)
6. ZERO EFFECT, Jake Kasdan (1998)
5. THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, Wes Anderson (2001)
4. KEEPING THE FAITH, Edward Norton (2000)
3. GREENBERG, Noah Baumbach (2010)
2. ZOOLANDER, Ben Stiller (2001)
1. YOUR FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS, Neil LaBute (1998)

I juggled with the idea of having his memorable cameos fill out the 5-10 positions but decided against it, so all in all, it makes for a pretty unimpressive list.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Video Of The Week: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Sometimes, simple is better. So is playing to your strengths, something Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds are experts at.

This song, Higgs Boson Blues, from their terrific (though not as catchy as previous releases) album Push The Sky Away is built around one simple groove, but layered and textured with multiple levels of restraint and taste captured brilliantly by directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, and cinematographer Lol Crawley.

The hirsute men comprising The Bad Seeds (currently Warren Ellis - not the comic book writer - Martin P. Casey, Conway Savage, Thomas Wylder and Jim Sclavunos) are capable of rocking out with the best of them - they are, in fact, among the best of them - but they are just as adept at holding back and letting Nick Cave unroll his storylines where they need to go.

In this case, from Robert Johnson's selling his soul to the Devil (for better guitar skills) through to current-day Geneva, home of CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) where the so-called ''God-particle'' (Higgs-Boson) was discovered, he weaves a cautionary tale that the only certainty we have about the future is death, and we will get there anyhow, no matter the path taken, and that everything in between is at best a discovery, at worst trivial (death of a pop icon, hereby represented by Miley Cyrus, pre-VMAs/naked meltdown, ironically), and the middle just tragic (the fatal shooting of Martin Luther King at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis).

All told through a golden voice meant to lure nubile young females into dark places.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Life Is A Thrill-Kill

Life. It's bigger. It's bigger than you, but you are not me. (from R.E.M.'s Losing My Religion)

Meaningless words to some, words to live by for others. To me, words that pop up in my head when I'm going through confusing, exciting, or troubling times. Words that entered my mind again as I sit in the wee hours of the morning, nary a whimper of light in the night sky.

Today will be Wednesday. Hump Day - as if the road we travel meets a hill, and we're curious to see what's on the other side. More often than not, though, our measly excuses for an existence is just looking to bypass any surprise and satisfy itself with the mundane for the little rest we'll get to forget what we've become. In the words of Loverboy, ''Everybody's working for the weekend''. But the second part of that chorus also rings true to the vast majority: ''Everybody's going off the deep end''. Like they require extreme behaviour to justify their week-long confinement to a cubicle.

Our ancestors made the most sense. They actually journeyed from one place to another, and over that actual hump was an actual event waiting to happen.

I was already tired of the weekly drag, but playing Grant Theft Auto 5 (GTA V) of late, the latest installment from my favourite video games series that doesn't compare to some of the better titles, has made me hate the world we live in even more: spend 70 bucks to end up pretend-driving cars in traffic, and execute jaw-dropping tasks and missions such as parachute diving, jogging, riding bikes, manning a tow-truck and carrying cars from their location to the impound, driving a garbage truck... or just driving around listening to an annoying, poorly-scripted character whose sole use is to get you to your next ''mission''.

Ha, ''mission''. Might as well resort to spreading the word of Jesus door-to-door and only have sex in one position. If there was sex to be had.

My Life was on the upswing. Seems like it's stalling now. No time available, yet no time to waste. Something's got to give.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Idiot Of The Month

I've been sitting on this one for a few weeks now, because it's really graphic. Horrific, really, and even more stupid than it is violent.

It's a fuck-up, dancing at a wedding, with his AK-47, getting so excited he kills 3 people.

And, no, it's not a Christian Conservative at a gay wedding... just an over-excited idiot going Gangnam Style...


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Too Soon?

By now you all know Paul Walker (the undercover-cop-turned-car-thief in the Fast & Furious series) died this weekend. In a car crash.

Some nut jobs are comparing it to James Dean's, because both crashed a Porsche. That's where the comparisons end, though, because Dean died at 24, with three masterpieces behind his belt (well, two, plus one that people changed their minds about post-mortem, Cobain-style). Walker died at 40 (though I hear it's the new 30), with a film resume that wouldn't even make Ice Cube blush.

That being said, here's the funniest picture found online yesterday:

Saturday, November 30, 2013

2005 In Film

The mid-2000s may have been the heyday for smart big budget films of this generation, as the 1960s and 1970s had been before formulaic fare (everything with John Hughes' name on it and everything imitating it) took over the 1980s and still contaminate the art form to this day (though the biggest problem with the film industry today is the studios' race for profits rather than proposing anything original, but still ends up serving rehashes, recipes, sequels, remakes and reboots for the sole purpose of making extra millions rather than actually entertaining or impressing audiences).

Previous posts: 1994, 1995, 1996, 2001.

Today, a leap forward (as far as these lists go) to 2005:

Top 25 Films:

25. BATMAN BEGINS, Christopher Nolan (USA)
24. MR. AND MRS. SMITH, Doug Liman (USA)
23. WALK THE LINE, James Mangold (USA)
22. SKY HIGH, Mike Mitchell (USA)
21. CONSTANTINE, Francis Lawrence (USA)
20. HUSTLE & FLOW, Craig Brewer (USA)
17. WEDDING CRASHERS, David Dobkin (USA)
16. GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK., George Clooney (USA)
15. CRASH, Paul Haggis (USA/Germany)
14. CACHÉ, Michael Haneke (France)
13. THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, Noah Baumbach (USA)
12. TIDELAND, Terry Gilliam (UK/Canada)
11. SYRIANA, Stephen Gaghan (USA)
10. THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, Rob Zombie (Germany/USA)
9. CAPOTE, Bennett Miller (USA/Canada)
8. SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE, Park Chan-wook (South Korea)
7. WAITING..., Rob McKittrick (USA)
6. LAND OF THE DEAD, George A. Romero (Canada/France/USA)
5. THUMBSUCKER, Mike Mills (USA)
4. THE CHUMSCRUBBER, Arie Posin (USA/Germany)
3. MAURICE RICHARD: THE ROCKET, Charles Binamé (Québec)
2. V FOR VENDETTA, James McTeigue (UK)
1. SIN CITY, Robert Rodriguez (with Frank Miller & Quentin Tarantino) (USA)

Top 20 Directors:

20. GAVIN HOOD, Tsotsi
19. WERNER HERZOG, Grizzly Man
18. JOSS WHEDON, Serenity
17. GUY RITCHIE, Revolver
16. JIM JARMUSCH, Broken Flowers
15. GEORGE A. ROMERO, Land Of The Dead
14. DAVID CRONENBERG, A History Of Violence
13. NEIL JORDAN, Breakfast On Pluto
12. ROB ZOMBIE, The Devil's Rejects
11. CHRISTOPHER NOLAN, Batman Begins
10. CHARLES BINAMÉ, Maurice Richard: The Rocket
9. TERRY GILLIAM, Tideland
8. SAM MENDES, Jarhead
7. MARY HARRON, The Notorious Bettie Page
6. TIM BURTON, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
5. PARK CHAN-WOOK, Sympathy For Lady Vengeance
3. JAMES MCTEIGUE, V For Vendetta
1. ANG LEE, Brokeback Mountain

Top 20 Lead Actors:

20. JEFF DANIELS, The Squid And The Whale
19. JOAQUIN PHOENIX, Walk The Line
18. NICOLAS CAGE, Lord Of War
17. SAMUEL L. JACKSON, Coach Carter
16. HEATH LEDGER, Brokeback Mountain
15. ROBERT DOWNEY JR., Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
14. JOHN MALKOVICH, Colour Me Kubrick
13. JOHNNY DEPP, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
12. SAM SHEPARD, Don't Come Knocking
11. RUSSELL CROWE, Cinderella Man
10. ROY DUPUIS, Maurice Richard: The Rocket
7. BILL NIGHY, The Girl In the Café
6. WILLIAM H. MACY, Edmond
5. TERRENCE HOWARD, Hustle & Flow
4. DANNY AIELLO, Brooklyn Lobster
3. CILLIAN MURPHY, Breakfast On Pluto
1. DAVID STRATHAIRN, Good Night, And Good Luck.

Top 20 Lead Actresses:

20. RACHEL WEISZ, Constantine
19. CHARLIZE THERON, North Country
18. CAMILLA BELLE, The Chumscrubber
17. DINA KORZUN, Forty Shades Of Blue
16. ANGELIQUE HENNESSY, Bad Reputation
14. HALLE BERRY, The Eyes Were Watching God
13. KELLY MACDONALD, The Girl In the Café
12. JULIE LE BRETON, Maurice Richard: The Rocket
11. MARIA BELLO, A History Of Violence
9. LEE YOUNG AE, Sympathy For Lady Vengeance
8. ROBIN WRIGHT PENN, Sorry, Haters
6. KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, Pride & Prejudice
5. NATALIE PORTMAN, V For Vendetta
4. LAURA LINNEY, The Squid And The Whale
3. ZHANG ZIYI, Memoirs Of A Geisha
2. FELICITY HUFFMAN, Transamerica
1. GRETCHEN MOL, The Notorious Bettie Page

Top 20 Supporting Actors:

20. DELROY LINDO, Domino
19. MOS DEF, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
18. MATTHEW MCGRORY, The Devil's Rejects
17. NICK FROST, Kinky Boots
16. MORGAN FREEMAN, An Unfinished Life
15. TIM ROTH, Don't Come Knocking
14. SETH ROGEN, The 40 Year-Old Virgin
13. NIELS ARESTRUP, De Battre Mon Coeur S'est Arrêté
12. JAKE GYLLENHAAL, Brokeback Mountain
11. JUSTIN LONG, Waiting...
10. JESSE EISENBERG, The Squid And The Whale
9. PAUL GIAMATTI, Cinderella Man
8. GEORGE CLOONEY, Good Night, And Good Luck.
7. JEFFREY WRIGHT, Broken Flowers
6. STEPHEN REA, V For Vendetta
5. WILLIAM HURT, A History Of Violence
3. GARY OLDMAN, Batman Begins
1. STEPHEN MCHATTIE, Maurice Richard: The Rocket

Top 20 Supporting Actresses:

19. ZOOEY DESCHANEL, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
18. MARION COTILLARD, La Boîte Noire
16. EMMANUELLE DEVOS, De Battre Mon Coeur S'est Arrêté
15. MICHELLE WILLIAMS, Brokeback Mountain
14. RUTH NEGGA, Breakfast On Pluto
13. MARICELA GOMEZ, Apocalipsur
10. SARAH POLLEY, Don't Come Knocking
7. ISLA FISHER, Wedding Crashers
6. GLENN CLOSE, The Chumscrubber
5. RACHEL WEISZ, The Constant Gardener
3. BRENDA BLETHYN, Pride & Prejudice
2. AMY ADAMS, Junebug

Top 20 Screenplays:

20. SHOPGIRL, Steve Martin
18. REVOLVER, Guy Ritchie & Luc Besson
17. WAITING..., Rob McKittrick
16. CRASH, Paul Haggis & Robert Moresco
14. THE 40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, Judd Apatow & Steve Carrell
13. SYRIANA, Stephen Gaghan
12. CAPOTE, Dan Futterman
10. BROKEN FLOWERS, Jim Jarmusch
9. GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK., George Clooney & Grant Heslov
8. BREAKFAST ON PLUTO, Neil Jordan & Patrick McCabe
6. TRANSAMERICA, Duncan Tukcer & William H. Macy
5. V FOR VENDETTA, Larry Wachoswki & Andy Wachowski
4. EDMOND, David Mamet
2. TIDELAND, Tony Grisoni & Terry Gilliam
1. THUMBSUCKER, Mike Mills

Top 20 Cinematographers:

20. NEWTON THOMAS SIGEL, The Brothers Grimm
19. STÉPHANE FONTAINE, De Battre Mon Coeur S'est Arrêté
18. SALVATORE TOTINO, Cinderella Man
16. DECLAN QUINN, Breakfast On Pluto
15. JEONG JEONG-HUN, Sympathy For Lady Vengeance
13. BOJAN BAZELLI, Mr. & Mrs. Smith
12. WALLY PFISTER, Batman Begins
11. PIERRE GILL, Maurice Richard: The Rocket
9. PHIL PARMET, The Devil's Rejects
8. AMY VINCENT, Hustle & Flow
7. DION BEEBE, Memoirs Of A Geisha
5. PHILIPPE ROUSSELOT, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
4. TONY SHEARN, MirrorMask
3. ADRIAN BIDDLE, V For Vendetta

Top 10 Villains:

10. KEVIN GAGE, Chaos
9. ANDREW GLOVER, Boogeyman
7. KATHY BAKER, Nine Lives
6. BILL MURRAY, Broken Flowers
5. WILLIAM FICHTNER, The Chumscrubber
4. NICK STAHL, Sin City
2. WILLIAM H. MACY, Edmond
1. SID HAIG, The Devil's Rejects

This Week's Top 10s

Top 10 Songs:

10. GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS (Peter Gabriel cover), Arcade Fire (2013)
9. MIND YOUR MANNERS, Pearl Jam (2013)
8. REFLEKTOR, Arcade Fire (with David Bowie) (2013)
7. ALL THINGS BREAK THROUGH, Freelove Fenner (2013)
5. BLOOD ON THE CURTAINS, Melted Faces (2013)
4. CAN'T HELP MYSELF, Dead Messenger (2013)
3. BIG SHOT, The Pack A.D. (2013)
2. HIGH ROAD, Cults (2013)
1. FOR IT ALL NOW, Outernational (2013)

Top 10 Paul Newman Films:

9. THE STING, George Roy Hill (1973)
8. NOBODY'S FOOL, Robert Benton (1994)
7. CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, Richard Brooks (1958)
5. THE COLOR OF MONEY, Martin Scorsese (1986)
4. THE VERDICT, Sidney Lumet (1982)
3. COOL HAND LUKE, Stuart Rosenberg (1967)
2. SLAP SHOT, George Roy Hill (1977)
1. THE HUSTLER, Robert Rossen (1961)

I'll admit I haven't seen Cars, though... probably will this weekend, though I'm more in the mood for a really stupid film, à la Battleship or Pacific Rim.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Video Of The Week: Freelove Fenner

Freelove Fenner is a Montréal three-piece who make music as clean and finely crafted as you would expect from serious creators who listened to The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and George Harrison's work too much, then gave way to their inner Pavement.

It's like being stuck in the late 1960s, except with a very real sense of now. Caitlin Loney (vocals, bass, guitar) Peter Woodford (guitar, vocals, keyboards, bass) and drummer Michael Wright, who plays in half the bands in town at the same time and yet always manages to sound both exactly like himself while creating brand-new beats or new variations on beats you've heard before, at times sound like they don't want you to fear the Reaper (yes, I'm capable of a Blue Öyster Cult reference), other times they get a good groove on, and once in a while throw in a little bit of Nightwood in there too. (I really miss Nightwood.)

But back to the Freelove. After a busy past couple of years of heavy touring and an EP following a relatively quiet first half-decade, they're set to release their first full-length later this week (hometown launch this Saturday, November 30th) and even managed some valuable media exposure last week in the Montreal Gazette. I'd advise you to attend if you're in town.

This video, for All Things Break Through, stars Jane L. Kasowicz, another fine local creator of sounds, as she rolls the dice on life the way you would blindly follow a Magic 8-ball if you, too, were in a hazy video lost in a forest.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

R.I.P Nicolas Plamondon

I had to write about Expozine recently for someone involved with it (he participated from 2007 to 2011) to go through enough hell to alter the life experience of everyone who knew him...

Artist Nicolas Plamondon took his own life a few days ago, unable to cope with a world he never quite fit in. Ever searching for his place in it, recognizing himself always only in part in what was offered, even his art reflected his dazed outlook:

The above picture was taken from Théâtre Des Souffrances and reprinted in the last edition of Four Minutes To Midnight, which I also occasionally contribute to.

Because life and art often intersect, he participated in the Spring demonstrations to support striking students, getting arrested multiple times. They weren't his first times behind bars, as he wrote about his 10-hour detention for the G20 demos in 2010 here.

The world loses one sensitive young adult who thought the world we live in doesn't make sense. The status quo loses an opponent and rolls on that much closer to victory.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

This Week's Top 10s

Top 10 Songs:

10. BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES, Atoms For Peace (2012)
9. MIND YOUR MANNERS, Pearl Jam (2013)
8. GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS (Peter Gabriel cover), Arcade Fire (2013)
7. BLOOD ON THE CURTAINS, Melted Faces (2013)
6. REFLEKTOR, Arcade Fire (with David Bowie) (2013)
5. BERZERK, Eminem (2013)
4. BIG SHOT, The Pack A.D. (2013)
2. HIGH ROAD, Cults (2013)
1. FOR IT ALL NOW, Outernational (2013)

Top 10 Months To Live In Montréal:

10. January
9. October
8. March
7. December
6. September
5. April
4. May
3. June
2. August
1. July

Nothing bet Montréal in the summer. Nothing. Not heroin, sex (though it's the perfect time to get plenty), sports, music, films, arts, being healthy (though it helps), poutine, video games, Facebook, squishing your own fruit to make juice, good-hearted people, traveling, sleeping in, sleepless nights, nothing.

April edges September because the specter of hockey playoffs beats a plethora of birthdays just because I'd rather it start getting warm than start getting cold - though the end result is the same (cotton hoodies or jackets over your t-shirt), it's better when you're subtracting a layer rather than adding. It's reverse-math. That's the same reason why November lost to January and didn't make the cut: the ''cold November rain'' Axl Rose was talking about? It just proves there is no God: it smelled like winter, feels like water, but freezes you up at the slightest bit of wind worse than your worst breakup ever did.

And don't get me started on February, despite it being the shortest month, it's the coldest by far. And I mean sub-sub-sub-zero temperatures, the type that make your home heater explode, that literally freezes your eyeballs and makes Hoth seem like a Hawaiian vacation. You know how most beauty pagent wanna-bes would wish for peace on earth? A smart person would wish for February hibernation for mankind.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Video Of The Week: The Pack A.D.

I was all set to feature a cheesy 1980s video this week when I learned that a band I really like and whom I have seen 5 times in concert had released a brand-new video to set up the release of their next record early next year (well, 5 or 6 weeks from now), The Pack A.D.

They hail from Vancouver, BC and, because they're a two-piece, have often been compared to The White Stripes (of course), The Kills (more understandably), and The Black Keys (hopefully not lately), though I'd put their brand of garage rock closer to the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (though cleaner), where, sure, the riffs abound, but they're packed with a dark bass-level ''full'' sound that works wonders with singer Becky Black's clean and pitch-perfect voice, one that is slightly reminiscent of Elastica's Justine Frischmann.

In concert, the duo exhibit a fierceness and edge like you'd expect, but also a dry sense of humour the British would love. I was somewhat surprised to learn they'd jumped from small indie label Mint Records to the bigger Nettwerk for this release, but perhaps it's a step they needed to make to move from playing bars with 100 standing-room only places to the 1,500-3,000-people places they should be in and would fill out easily - both in crowd capacity and largeness of sound.

Without further ado, from Do Not Engage (January 2014), Big Shot:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Today's Hypocritical Republican: Trey Radel

Motherfucker, it happened again.

This time, his name is Trey Radel. His main gripe was welfare and food stamp recipients, or so we thought, and he wanted them all to have to test for drugs to receive government help and services.
He's a GOP Congressman, whose salary is paid by the government. He just got caught buying cocaine from an undercover cop, and has resigned.

Don't get me wrong - I'm happy he got caught.

But these fucking Republicans with their holier-than-thou causes always seem to get caught doing that very thing they were most against.

Hypocrites, the lot of 'em!

I tell ya, when one of them wants to outlaw something, just watch them closely for a year or two... they're the ones they're really afraid of.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rob Ford / Chris Farley Mashup

The only bit missing is Rob Ford, (warning of) living in a van, down by the river...

... well, and Ford's most recent magical quotes, such as the one where he has plenty to eat at home.

Expozine Last Weekend

I was hit with a flu this weekend, which stopped me from doing many things I had planned, including attending this year's edition of Expozine, the annual get-together of independent publishers in fields as varied as poetry, graphic design, calligraphy, comics, fanzines and many others.

A lot of my friends were there on both sides of the tables - selling and buying, learning and meeting new creative people, including the sometimes illustrator of my music singles AMM (Anne-Marie Martino), whose recent comics collaboration is this:

Also there was whiz designer Kevin Lo, who displayed his famous Wu-Tang Clan C.R.E.A.M. diptych, letterpress printed in gold ink on thick black cardstock:

Now that's postmodern genius.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Top 10 Songs This Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. NO CHURCH IN THE WILD, Jay-Z & Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean (2011)
9. SIRENS, Pearl Jam (2013)
8. MISS YOU, Blink-182 (2003)
7. BLOOD ON THE CURTAINS, Melted Faces (2013)
6. BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES, Atoms For Peace (2012)
5. GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS (Peter Gabriel cover), Arcade Fire (2013)
4. FOR IT ALL NOW, Outernational (2013)
2. REFLEKTOR, Arcade Fire (with David Bowie) (2013)
1. HIGH ROAD, Cults (2013)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lest We Forget

I'm usually big on Remembrance Day (Veterans' Day for my American friends), a day in which I tip my hat to those who have sacrificed so much for the general ''us'' (and myself in particular), our freedom, our present. It's like a more honest Thanksgiving, without the turkey, and celebrated privately rather than with relatives.

But I'm not feeling it as much. Not that I don't respect it, just... the world we live in isn't all that great, for starters, especially towards those who have served their country:
But also in light of natural disasters such as today's Typhoon in the Phillippines, there are countless people who give or lose everything they have, every single day, with no one to benefit from their actions and losses.

Then comes the thought of all the unjust wars, both ones in Iraq starring in that role, but also Vietnam, and on a lesser scale, the Korean war - in which my grandfather served as a sniper - which, lest we not forget, pitted a communist government (North Korea) against a right-wing government (South Korea), and despite being less than a decade removed from WWII, the United Nations supported the right-wing, starting a spiral for North Korea that, with the help of blockades and embargoes, left them bitter, poor, starving, technologically impaired even to this day, and pissed off at the Western world - for good reason.

It takes a special person to be willing to sacrifice their life for their country, for their beliefs; it takes an even better soldier to go through with it despite disagreeing with orders, as many U.S. troops have since 2003. It takes a righteous person to serve as a means of defense rather than invasion or regime change, though.

More than all of that, though, I really despise profiteers pinning poppies to their suits when they use other humans - mostly kids and young adults yet to reach their prime - to unjustly invade another country for profit or territory after everything we know now. And to, at times, even poison their own troops while doing so.

Then there's the ''after'': those who come back perfectly healthy still struggle to find decent work; those who come back mentally scarred receive no help whatsoever; those who come back maimed and missing limbs being refused any type of disability claim, financial help, often having their insurances cut soon after their (first) hospital release.

The problem is those in charge see it as a mathematical equation: what will it cost, versus how much do we/some of us get back? I've heard time and time again, if senators, politicians and big company executives were to send their own children to war, would they hesitate at least a little more before pulling the trigger?

That's the wrong question, though. When a soldier's life is equated with his $30K salary and negatively evaluated as a three-year investment, how many can you spare in order to help Halliburton make billions? Where is the cut-off line where they would have to think twice about putting kids in danger? What if they made $100K a year, $250K? With a life insurance worth 5 to 10 times their yearly salary, would insurance companies warn not to risk losing them uselessly?

Unfortunately, that is the world we are left with today. Corrupt leaders doing a small group's bidding, sacrificing everyone they have to in order to keep going at it. I used to love the picture at the top of this post, the sacrifices of the past supporting our care-free way of life. Except more and more, it seems like their sacrifice was for nil, that the hell they're in transposed to the upper level, that the grass is no longer green, the future is bleak, the people are poor, starving, bitter and rightly pissed off, but it doesn't even matter, because the powers that be have us all in check anyway, throwing fake laws and militarily-equipped cops at us, restraining our education, our means of purchase, access to decent jobs, clean air, fresh water, natural fucking food...

I'll tell you what: I'm pretty sure that's not what my uncle Jean-Marc (late 1970s), stepdad Daniel (late 1970s), grandfather Raymond (Korea, later Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau's personal bodyguard), great-uncle Gérard (WWII) and the others I'd rather not get into at the moment had in mind when they joined the Canadian Forces, nor what Joseph, Jack, Kevin, James and John had in mind when they joined the U.S. Forces.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Video Of The Week: Outernational

For their latest single and video, current rock revolutionaries Outernational explore a wider gamut of musical styles, keeping their usual blend of rap-rock and mariachi sounds, as well as the ska influence that they forgt at times, but also a sailor/Irish-punk influence - particularly in the first two verses, where it's not only the tone and melodiy borrowing from the Celtic and sea worlds, but also the choice of words (storms, guillotine, gallows, dragons, and the way the word ''countries'' is pronounced), all old-world references well assimilated.

It all reinforces their ''one-world music'' position, and encapsulates the modern times better than most others who attempt it, including Manu Chao. As a matter of fact, the prevalence of rap and rock as the core of most of their songs (a clear nod to the influence of such groups as Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill) should help make Outernational a household name in the U.S., which is perhaps why I'm perplexed that this video barely had over 1,000 views at last count. It really is a sad state of affairs for intelligent music nowadays.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cop Kills Kid, Part 75

''To serve and protect.'' A motto dating back to the black-and-white days of yore, Pleasantville-type Utopian pasts of ''the way things were'', where the most rampant crime was underage smoking or forgetting to pay for your sundae at the drive-in diner.

Then again, there were less laws to even break back then, as cars didn't even have seat belts.

''Law enforcement'' has sure come  along way since then.

Wikipedia describes their job thusly:
Law enforcement broadly refers to any system by which some members of society act in an organized manner to enforce the law by discovering and punishing persons who violate the rules and norms governing that society. Although the term may encompass entities such as courts and prisons, it is most frequently applied to those who directly engage in patrols or surveillance to dissuade and discover criminal activity, and those who investigate crimes and apprehend offenders.[1] Furthermore, although law enforcement may be most concerned with the prevention and punishment of crimes, organizations exist to discourage a wide variety of non-criminal violations of rules and norms, effected through the imposition of less severe consequences.
But in the past 10 years or so, what is most commonly referred to as ''the police'' have resorted more to the ''force'' part of the word ''enforcement'', using military tactics, weapons, vehicles and excuses to become what many conspiracy theorists once warned we were headed towards: a police state.

From the mass brutal beatings of tens of thousands of kids who thought a tuition hike was too high, to repeatedly sodomizing people they arrest even when under media scrutiny (a fact that happens way too often in itself, but it seems New Mexico cops in particular now have developed a taste for it), to having a double-standard regarding aboriginal women in Canada, to selling information to organized crime, to killing innocent civilians - perhaps the saddest, disturbing, recurring situation of all.

It seems to go over people's heads when it's an alleged criminal receiving the bullet, and things are usually forgiving when it's the result of intermediary force - for example the result of getting tasered (and we're lucky that in instances where Tasers are used on 80-year-olds they aren't always fatal) - but there are clear instances where death should simply have never occurred under any circumstance, and today's example is the strongest in a long time: a man wanted to teach his son a lesson after taking his truck without authorization, so he did what anyone born prior to 1980 would do: he called the cops, thinking they'd bring the boy home, he'd have a scare, and he'd have learned his lesson and be good to get on with his life.

But that's not how cops work nowadays. They have a licence to kill and use it, they shoot first and ask questions never, they seem to no longer have to nor have the training for using submissive and/or non-lethal force first and whenever possible. And they no longer shoot to maim or stop - they shoot to kill, period. Sometimes even on clearly homeless folks, a story found everywhere from Santa Clara (aged 22) to Montréal (aged 40, also dead: a 36-year-old innocent bystander).

Tyler Comstock, though, was a bright 19-year-old kid  on his way to getting his GED.
Ames Police Officer Adam McPherson eventually fired six shots into the truck, two of which struck Tyler who was later pronounced dead.
The official report claims the action was necessary in order "to stop the ongoing threat to the public and the officers."
Tyler's dad says he was unarmed at the time.
The saddest and most common part of that story?
McPherson is currently on paid leave pending the results of his department's investigation.
Of course he is. His friends and co-workers are investigating him and the tactics he used, which are the exact same ones they use all the time. How in hell are they going to bring the whole thing down by saying he did anything wrong? And from that point on, how are any of those murderers with badges ever going to be tried in a court of law like the rest of us mere mortals or, rather, the target practice we seem to be to them.

And there is a kicker:
An unidentified person on the Ames police radio dispatch twice suggested that police back off their pursuit of a teen who allegedly stole a pickup truck from the work site he and his father were working at on Monday.
Sounds a lot like what George Zimmerman was told when he shot and killed an unarmed teen. I wonder how that turned out.

Friday, November 8, 2013

This Week's Top 10s

Top 10 Songs:

10. YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH, Metric (2012)
9. SIRENS, Pearl Jam (2013)
8. BLOOD ON THE CURTAINS, Melted Faces (2013)
7. BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES, Atoms For Peace (2012)
6. COPY OF A, Nine Inch Nails (2013)
5. DESPAIR, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2013)
4. HIGH ROAD, Cults (2013)
3. GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS (Peter Gabriel cover), Arcade Fire (2013)
1. REFLEKTOR, Arcade Fire (with David Bowie) (2013)

Top 10 Pearl Jam Official Live Bootlegs:

10. SAN FRANCISCO, CA: 2006-07-16 (2006)
9. TOKYO, JAPAN: 2003-03-03 (2003)
8. CHICAGO, IL: 2000-10-09 (2000)
7. MISSOULA, MT: 2012-09-30 (2012)
6. PHILADELPHIA, PA: 2009-10-31 (2009)
5. MANSFIELD, MA: 2003-07-11 (2003)
4. MTV UNPLUGGED (1992-03-16) (2009)
3. LAS VEGAS, NV: 2000-10-22 (2000)
2. STATE COLLEGE, PA: 2003-05-03 (2003)
1. VERONA, ITALIA: 2000-06-20 (2000)

Honorable mentions: Edmonton 2011-09-23, Rio De Janeiro 2011-11-06, Mexico City 2011-11-24, though I feel the band sounded best in 1996, particularly the Berlin show, which they haven't released themselves (yet).

Album Review: Near Grey's The Herschel Central Peak

It isn't ''easy listening'' per se, as it clearly demands some attention span to grasp the subtleties of their 10-minute songs, but Near Grey's The Herschel Central Peak won't blow your brain apart either. Unless you listen with your headphones on too loudly.

As far as instrumentals go, this is closer to the atmospheric leanings of Godspeed You! Black Emperor (albeit a tad heavier and sludgier, but in the same vein of explorations of sonic landscapes that go from calm to heavy swiftly yet subtly) than British shoegazers that so many were fond of a decade ago.

Guitarist/synth expert Kevin Bartczak has been experimenting with post-rock and heavier music for a decade now through numerous projects (Raw Madonna and USA Out Of Vietnam to name a couple of collective efforts, but also quite an extensive solo library as well as more conventional releases like the terrific Natalie Portland), and he seems to have found something with this particular band that he didn't have earlier: boundaries that lead to substance.

It's not art for art's sake, it's not a vanity project, it's music. Really good music.

The first piece, Sauropod, numbs your mind with the repetition of just one dark chord, then takes you away with a lighter side in the middle, enabling your senses to take flight, as if reflecting safely from above the wreckage of a war-torn village, spirit-like. Or something.

Then comes Northfield, which sounds like the aftermath of the previous scene. Slow-paced, filled with sadness and melancholy, with a touch of anger and resignation - just enough to prop you back up. The drumming in this one is particularly good, both at first in the subdued part, and in the end as well, when the emotions rise.

Cannulated starts exactly where Northfield ends, mid-crescendo, before cooling off quickly and revealing the album's best melodies... only to increase in intensity with more convincing drum work. For this song in particular, however, I would have liked the drums to display a lower frequency/pitch and perhaps be a tad louder in the mix starting from the half-way mark, as they are clearly driving the song, but having them so far behind in the mix creates a bit of a sense of dead air floating in the middle of all the instruments.

Regina closes off the album, and begins by sounding like an old black-and-white photo feels: desolate, sad, decrepit, like all of its descendants are long dead. It's also the one song that is best described by the band's self-inflicted ''metal'' categorization, seeing as from the middle of the song onwards, it sounds pretty darn satanic. It's also pretty energetic and invigorating, like the last song of a set, be it pre-encore or during it.

All in all, it's a pretty satisfying record that I'd rate a solid 7.5/10.

The only negative thing I found - particularly in the third track - was a less-than-optimal production, whose overall grade is fine (7/10) but in that particular song, closer to 6/10.

You can purchase it here, for a mere $5.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

That Downward Spiral Called Rob Ford

''Elect me as mayor, and I will clean this city up like you wouldn't believe.'' That was the attitude Rob Ford put forth just a couple of years ago, running to take over Canada's biggest economic center.

Like a true used car salesman, his first order of business was to eliminate bike lanes, and his second was to get as drunk as possible in as many public events as possible, a political Chris Farley if you will, without the visible and audible threat of ending up living in that van down by the river, yet you could tell just by looking at him that that was exactly where he was headed, probably in the near future.

Then came rumours about drug use - and not just marijuana, no: straight-up crack. And there could even be video footage... a video people have already died for.

After denying it - and the existence of the tape - for the better part of 2013, Ford has now admitted to having smoked crack, but he did so with his usual sense of grandeur:
"Yes I have smoked crack cocaine. But I am not an addict," he said in a stunning admission. "Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors," he said, adding that he may have smoked it approximately one year ago.
Oh yeah - one of his drunken stupors. Makes sense. What else did he do in his (frequent) drunken stupors, kill a hooker? Waste taxpayers' money? Eat tons of donuts?

As if hearing that the police had found the video - and another one, rumoured to be a sex tape with an alleged minor - recovered from a erased hard drive (that's right, kids, hitting 'delete' is not a guarantee) wasn't enough, the mayor's boat is leaking from everywhere, and reports are coming out that he and his team hired a crack team (sorry) of hackers to erase the recording from online storage spaces.

Didn't work.

Now, I know it's never over until the fat lady sings, but I'm guessing that's merely one or two drunken stupors away from happening...