Monday, February 23, 2009
March 3 is the due date for Neko Case's new CD, Middle Cyclone, the follow-up to 2006's Fox Confessor Brings The Flood. Everything about the new album screams for attention, the guests musicians (M Ward, Garth Hudsen, Calexico, Los Lobos, NP's etc), the higher production value, the fact this has been hyped for the past 6 months and of course the awesome cover art! After only a couple of listens I assure you this will be on many a best-of lists for 2009 and her exposure via TV, print and the internet will surpass anything she has done previously (yes, I'm talking to you Carl Newman and the the New Pornographers). She will probably tour the hell out of this album which will mean little or no dates with the NP's and I'm sure AC Newman will be busy enough supporting his own solo effort, he in small venues and clubs, she in theatres and large music festivals.
I haven't intensely listened to the album enough to give a fair and informative review just yet, but my first impression is it's a winner (though I have mixed feelings for track 15). I would like to post the whole album or at least a few select tracks from the disc, but I'm worried the record label or blogger will slap my ass and remove this post (It has happened before, twice). So instead I'll link to the download so you can judge for yourself and have a listen. Remember, Neko Case would still appreciate it if you buy the CD when it comes out. Judging by her serious look on the cover, she means business...so listen to her!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Back in the mid-eighties, if you wanted to listen to some great punk rock that was fun and humorous, a splendid choice would have been the Dead Milkmen. Their debut album from 1985, Big Lizard In My Backyard was a classic with all the snotty charm you'd expect from the Milkmen, giving their opinion on such creatures and things as swordfish, lizards, gorillas, pigeons, retards, nutrition and bitchin' camaros. They followed with Eat Your Paisley and Bucky Fellini in 86 and 87 before reaching MTV fame with Beezlebubba and it's hit, Punk Rock Girl. The band then hit what I call the "Soul Asylum syndrome", when a band who has a great dedicated cult (indie) following gets a hit song, gets heavy rotation on MTV and "alternative" radio stations and performs on talk shows. This is followed by a succession of albums that never live up to the expectations of the mainstream public then they fade to obscurity. Unfortunately for the Milkmen, they got signed by Hollywood records who were a subsiduary of the Disney corporation, they receive little or no promotion then the label goes belly up and the band breaks up...sad.
Before the Big Lizard album, the Milkmen produced a series of self-produced cassettes that they sold at all-ages shows and through friends and fans in and around Philly. Many of the songs on the tapes appear on Big Lizard and later albums, but on these tapes they are lo-fi basement recordings and all these versions are exclusive to these releases.
Funky Farm was recorded live in a barn in Bedminster, PA and was recorded in 1983. It includes an early version of Watching Scotty Die (from Bucky Fellini) and their tribute to Jerry Lewis, Labor Day.
Funky Farm (1983)
Friday, February 13, 2009
We didn't win, nor were we in the top 10, but still it was amazing to be a finalist in the My City/My Song contest. To top it off we were the only finalist, besides the winner and the two runner-ups that had their photo published in the Winnipeg Free Press article, Spirited Melody. The Zamboni Joe photo only appeared in the print version, not the online, but it is available for purchase at the Free Press online photo shop ($10-25). This photo was awesome because it gave us great exposure and because we have never had a (formal) band photo before. For another cool photo from the same photo shoot, check out our photographer's, David Lipnowski's blog under the February 4th posting called, Long Day. (So I don't offend any copyright infringements I will not re-post any of David's photo's on this blog)
The accompanying article profiled a few of the performers, including myself which helped explain the origins and meaning of the song. I think a lot of people will be scratching their heads wondering what the hell I'm talking about, but Melissa Martin did a good job including quotes from the song and quotes from me.
OK, at 44, Geoff Miki, songwriter for occasional "hockey rock" trio Zamboni Joe, isn't a kid anymore. But he was one in the '60s and '70s, when a local puppet show called Archie and Friends dominated the noon hour on CKY TV. The show was cancelled in the early 1980s, but it lives on in Zamboni Joe's song, Mayor of Funtown. ("Marvin Mouse was the coolest thing on that show / Man, that sock would take no guff from anyone," Miki sings on the tune, which was written in 2001.)
"There may never be a TV show like it again," Miki says. "It was a shock when it came to an end. At first I was hesitant to put the song in, because it isn't your usual sort of Winnipeg song. But we thought it might be something different."
That it was. One of our judges dreamily remembered rushing home to nibble cheese sandwiches and watch Archie; all of them giggled over how the song's chugging rock 'n' roll chords mixed with the impotent childhood rage of the lyrics. "How could they mess with a formula such as this / highest rated show on CKY."The exposure of the newspaper article not only attracted attention from friends and co-workers, but also the Manitoba Moose who called me the following Monday to ask if we were interested in performing at the MTS Centre. Okay, not in the arena area, but in the lobby at the south end where they have a mini stage (near the Tim's concession) and they feature a band, before the game and between periods at select games. They said, "hockey jerseys, a hockey sounding name and playing hockey-rock, what a perfect fit". The only problem is that Zamboni Joe hasn't played a gig in years and the other two probably aren't interested in playing. We'll have to see, this would have been a no-brainer opportunity a few years ago, but now it'll take a lot of leg pulling and band rehearsals to get in game shape again, but it could be our last chance for success or at least mediocrity.
If you haven't had a chance to listen to the finalists yet, go to the My City/My Song page and leave a comment and vote for your favourite. According to the article there will be a people's choice winner as well, I'm guessing the person that unofficially receives the most votes. So far out of the 171 comments, not one has commented (good or bad) about Mayor Of Funtown. Sure the sound quality is rough and not as slick as a lot of the other recordings, but has anyone actually listened to the song? Another thing before I finish, the top 3 along with a couple other finalists are professional musicians that have professionally recorded CD's, why do they need to enter a contest where the top prize is a recording session (for one song)? Obviously they want the attention and publicity, but I really think this contest should have been open only for non-pro musicians that haven't produced a record label quality work. It reminds me of what pissed me off about Canadian Idol, how can musicians such as Rob James (from McMaster and James) and Keith MacPherson (from Keith and Renee), both professional performers that tour, record and receive airplay compete on the same level as untrained amateurs? Just saying...
(Note: From now on any other Zamboni Joe or local level stories will be written about on my other blog, Sick Puppy)