Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Record a Week: Femme Fatale - Fire Baptism



SIDE 1.
FIRE BAPTISM (Reprise)
BIG GAME HUMAN HUNTING
DANCE PARTY
STABBING VICTIM

SIDE 2.
COKEHEAD METABOLISM
TORMENTED BY DEMONS
BENTONOUVEAU MANIFESTO

As I talked about last week, this was actually the first recorded album, but the second release. The sound is not quite as refined, though it is still an aural assault in a short burst, true to JFK's form.

I don't like this album quite as much, although it is still pretty great. I think perhaps Al P hadn't quite wrapped his head around the best recording technique, or perhaps his studio wasn't as polished or the mastering wasn't as well done, but the sound quality isn't as excellent as the other albums.

I think the best songs are the last two of the whole record, and especially Bentonouveau Manifesto, which I can only imagine alludes to the ready-made sushi company of the same name.

It is bittersweet to listen to records like this. They remind me of a time seeing/playing lots of shows with these guys and what felt like a really great time for music, while reminding me that these bands are no longer and the bands that have moved in their place don't have the same feeling to me. Or more likely, I am just old.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Corn Muffins

This recipe was from my mother's file, with minor adjustments for veganism.



INGREDIENTS:
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 cup Cornmeal
1/2 cup Margarine
1 Egg Replacer
3/4 cup Soy Milk


Preheat oven to 375F.

Combine dry ingredients except cornmeal, then gently stir in cornmeal. In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and beat until margarine is in small chunks. Mix wet and dry and stir until just mixed. Spoon into greased muffin tin to about 2/3 full, bake for 15-20 minutes or until knife comes clean and top is lightly golden.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Record a Week: Femme Fatale - As You Sow, So Shall You Reap



SIDE 1.
BLOOD MONEY (Reprise)
I AM FUCKING INVINCIBLE
HANDGUN FANTASY
FUNERAL PARTY

SIDE 2.
BLOOD MONEY
HANDS UP BABY
AS YOU SOW, SO SHALL YOU REAP

This record was the second Femme Fatale record recorded, but the first released. This could be a scheduling thing, a strategic release, or possibly because the record label for this record may have had their crap together a bit more to pump it out quickly.

Containing the first (second?) sub-20 minute burst of fast-paced aggressive music from the mind of Jesse F Keeler. While Keeler was playing in Black Cat #13, he became upset with the band and started this as his side project. Over time, he recorded the music and when he got around to recording all of the songs, he recruited his then girlfriend, an ex-Standing 8 band-mate and a couple of others to fill out the lineup while he kept to the microphone. Their live performances were know for being like a 15 minute musical sprint. The short songs had little break between them and the band would go full volume and full power for the duration of the set, leaving their shirts covered in sweat and instruments covered in blood.

Keeler and his girlfriend broke up and they decided to continue with no keyboard shortly after. In the end, the fact that the band was really the baby of Keeler, matched with the grueling show schedule ended up being too much for the band as a whole. There was a pretty good overlap in time with Femme Fatale and Death From Above (1979), which was (and is again) a pet project of Sebastien Grainger and Jesse Keeler that took on a life of its own once it started going.

Anyhow, back to this record. As with their live performance, the records are swift and to the point. They all tend to have a lead-in that is instrumental. This one also includes a musical outro as well. I think the cohesiveness of this album is great and it also has one of, if not my favourite Femme Fatale song, Hands Up Baby.

I was happy to hear about the recent reunion of DFA1979, but I REALLY would love to see a Femme Fatale reunion.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Record a Week: The Faint - Mote/Dust



SIDE 1.
MOTE
VICTIM CONVENIENCE (Remixed by The Lack)

SIDE 2.
DUST (Feat. Bright Eyes)
THE PASSIVES (Spectated Wished remix by Psyrendust)

This 12" single contains two songs not found on any full-length albums, as well as two previous songs remixed. Most notable on this record is 'Dust' which features Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, who was in the band in its inception, when they were known as Norman Bailer.

The sound that would become the core of The Faint is influenced by the industrial music of the 90's. However, they mix in a heavy dose of indie, pop and synth to create a sound that isn't exactly like any one of those styles.

Though this album is just a small sampling, I remember REALLY liking Blank-Wave Arcade and Danse Macabre when I was younger. It was a familiar sound with a fresh take all at the same time. I bought a ticket to see them play at Lee's Palace in Toronto just months before my 19th birthday. Lee's was a notorious (and still is I imagine) for IDing people at the door, so I was in a bit of a panic. I borrowed an old ID from a guy I went to school with that was an expired Nova Scotia license. It wasn't much to go on, but it was all I had. I had never really been all that interested in seeking out a fake ID, as I wasn't a huge drinker and didn't know the city all that well yet.

I overdid things completely, wearing sunglasses and having my hair over my face. Luckily, the bouncer must have been in a good mood, because he let me in after my lame story about just moving to town and not having my new Ontario License yet. Also luckily, I had checked the paper to see what sign the guy was in case that was a quiz question, which it turned out to be.

Anyhow the concert was good, but I sort of lost interest in the band not long after that. It was nice to hear them again and maybe I will throw a couple songs on my phone if I can track down the cds in my basement.

A Record a Week: Elvis - Elvis Presley Commemorative Album (not the rare one)

2 things. For one, a recent dose of being away, coupled with an altered Saturday schedule has lead me to be lax about this lately. Today I will do two and hopefully that can kick me back into gear. Secondly, this record comes in two forms. I do not have the limited gatefold yellow-coloured version. I have what I believe to be the earlier and somehow less desired version. Anyhow...



SIDE 1.
HOUND DOG
I WANT YOU, I NEED YOU, I LOVE YOU
ALL SHOOK UP
DON'T
I BEG OF YOU

SIDE 2.
BIG HUNK O' LOVE
LOVE ME
STUCK ON YOU
GOOD LUCK CHARM
RETURN TO SENDER

SIDE 3.
DON'T BE CRUEL
LOVING YOU
JAILHOUSE ROCK
CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE
I GOT STUNG

SIDE 4.
(LET ME BE YOUR) TEDDY BEAR
LOVE ME TENDER
HARD HEADED WOMAN
IT'S NOW OR NEVER
SURRENDER

I find compilation albums to be a tricky thing. Musicians like Elvis seem to have an endless amount of them. If you are going about compiling one for a band or solo artist, how do you approach it? Double album? Include rarities to allow your collection to differ from other ones out there? Split the album up into different volumes? And then there are the subsequent issues such as what super-hits do you leave off of volume 1 to make sure you have a solid core for the next one(s)? Do you include cover songs or only originals?

The one thing that can be said for sure is that if you are 'kind of' interested in a band or musician, the best way to check them out without dedicating the time to their discography is to check out a greatest hits compilation. Either that or ask an existing fan what the best album in their opinion is.

RCA's angle on this one was 'Commemorative Album', which sets it apart from regular greatest hits albums just by having a different name. As far as music, no real surprises here. The standard Elvis hits, mixed with some second and even third-tiered songs and a coupled of covers. No doubt these songs are only the ones RCA had control of, as record labels have always been pretty picky about that kind of stuff.

It's a good record. I would say no better or no worse than any other Elvis records (that I can think of) and the Yellow vinyl copy is said to be worth $50 or so these days, so I suppose that is a bonus if you're a rarities finder.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Record a Week: Elvis - In Person/Back in Memphis



SIDE 1. (In Person)
BLUE SUEDE SHOES
JOHNNY B. GOOD
ALL SHOOK UP
ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT
HOUND DOG
I CAN'T STOP LOVING YOU
MY BABE

SIDE 2.
MYSTERY TRAIN/TIGER MAN
WORDS
IN THE GHETTO
SUSPICIOUS MINDS
CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE

SIDE 3. (Back in Memphis)
INHERIT THE WIND
THIS IS THE STORY
STRANGER IN MY OWN HOME TOWN
A LITTLE BIT OF GREEN
AND THE GRASS WON'T PAY NO MIND

SIDE 4.
DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?
FROM A JACK TO A KING
THE FAIR'S MOVING ON
YOU'LL THINK OF ME
WITHOUT LOVE (There is Nothing)

This double record also has the titles 'From Memphis to Vegas' and 'From Vegas to Memphis' in small letters. Very little internet research verified this fact.

The record, each also released on their own, is half live (In Person) and half studio (Back in Memphis). The first record is the live performance that captures the raucous energy that made him so famous and helped produce large crowds during his heyday. The songs are his most famous, along with covers of already popular hits. It covers most things you would think of when you think Elvis.

The second record encompasses many unfamiliar songs, alongside some previous b-sides. The record, while still good, does not live up to the performance of earlier-years Elvis. It sort of paints a picture of what the tail end of his career was like. It is a somber feel to it and an unmistakable sadness. Not all of the songs, but certainly as a whole.

Elvis was a force in his time. Some may say he stole African-American music and popularized the style as his own. He wasn't the only one to do this, but definitely the most famous. However, it was him who brought the music into the mainstream and one could argue that made it more palatable to those who wrote off good music based solely on their own racial views. This record, while not a greatest hits, does give a sort of an overview of his career all in one shot, while also combining the essence of the live show with that of the studio.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Craisin Hot Cross Buns



I've seen my dad more often than usual lately and he ate these a lot when I was a kid, so this is a shout out to him.

INGREDIENTS:

Buns:
2 tsp Dry Yeast
1/2 cup Soy Milk, heated to near but not boiling
1 tbsp Vegan Margarine, soft
1 Ener-G or other Egg Replacer
4 tsp Dry Sweetener
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
dash Salt
1 1/2 cup Flour, divided
small handful of Craisins
1 tbsp Veg Oil

Icing:
1/4 cup Icing Sugar
1 tsp Soy Milk
dash Vanilla


Put yeast in a medium mixing bowl and cover with warm soy milk, stirring to dissolve. Add margarine, sugar, salt, egg replacer and stir to combine. Add in 3/4 cup flour and mix; then slowly add 2nd 3/4 cup until it is doughy, but not too dry. Knead and grease, then cover to let rise for 1/2 hour.

Take out and roll into even dough balls (I made 6, but 8 would probably work too). Put them on a greased cookie sheet, separated and covered, let rise for 15 minutes. Bake at 375F until golden brown, cool on a wire rack. While cooling, stir icing ingredients together and make an icing cross on each bun.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Record a Week: Giants of Jazz - Duke Ellington



SIDE 1.
EAST ST. LOUIS TOODLE-OO
CREOLE LOVE CALL
BLACK AND TAN FANTASY
BLACK BEAUTY
JUBILEE STOMP
YELLOW DOG BLUES

SIDE 2.
HOT AND BOTHERED
THE MOOCHE
SHOOT 'EM AUNT TILLIE
RING DEM BELLS
MOOD INDIGO *The Jungle Band
ROCKIN' IN RHYTHM *The Harlem Footwarmers
IT DON'T MEAN A THING (If It Ain't Got That Swing)

SIDE 3.
BABY WHEN YOU AIN'T THERE
BUGLE CALL RAG
MERRY GO ROUND
HARLEM SPEAKS
IN THE SHADE OF THE OLD APPLE TREE
MERRY GO ROUND
TRUCKIN'

SIDE 4.
CLARINET LAMENT (Barney's Concerto)
ECHOES OF HARLEM (Cootie's Concerto)
CARAVAN
I LET A SONG GO OUT OF MY HEART
SOPHISTICATED LADY
JACK THE BEAR

SIDE 5.
KO-KO
CONCERT FOR COOTIE (Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me)
COTTON TAIL
NEVER NO LAMENT (Don't Get Around Much Anymore)
HARLEM AIR SHAFT
IN A MELLOTONE
WARM VALLEY

SIDE 6.
TAKE THE "A" TRAIN
I GOT IT BAD AND THAT AIN'T GOOD
PERDIDO
C JAM BLUES
ROCKABYE RIVER
JEEP'S BLUES

This one took me a couple of weekends to listen to in its entirety, so I apologize for the delay. Plus things have been busy, plus I had people here last weekend. With a side of I have no other excuses and will get back to business next week.

The 3-record collection is the last of the Giants of Jazz records that I have and as with the others, it takes a journey through the career of the artist over the span of their career. Instead of the way I did the other ones, this album seemed to mostly be Duke Ellington lead groups, except for the few songs I noted where the group name didn't include his name.

Spanning multiple styles and recording qualities, starting with the foundation of jazz and direct wax recording through to the multi-tracking days that were in their early years by the time he died. It's interesting to think that every new style of jazz heard on the record could conceivably have been brought upon by Ellington or even the very song. His progressive musical styling took jazz in new directions with the likes of Louis Armstrong and other innovators at the time. They never were around to experience anything but the beginning of the experimental likes of fusion and other newer branches of jazz. I would be interested to hear his take on that. It may not have suited his style, but as a musician I think he would have appreciated the creativity involved.

I would say this takes the 'bet of' term and brings it all the way up to 'thorough sampling of' territory. Definitely a must listen for fans of Ellington and those curious alike.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Strawberry Applesauce

I've lost my camera, so I don't have any pictures for this posting.

INGREDIENTS:
10L bag of Apples (Empire or Mac I like best, but whatever you'd like)
1 pint of Strawberries
Sugar (to taste)
dash Cinnamon (optional)

There are two different ways to go about making applesauce. The first one, the one that is my preference, requires a applesauce colander (looks like this):

Image from http://gleaminggloat.blogspot.com

The other way is to pre-peel the apples and take out the cores. The reason I like the colander is because you only have to remove the stems and wash the apples.

Method One:
De-stem, quarter the apples and strawberries and put them in a pot with enough water to cover the bottom (to prevent burning). Cover the pot and bring to a low boil over medium-high, stirring occasionally. Bring down to a simmer and stir often until all the apples turn mushy. Put them through the colander into a bowl, adding sugar if the mixture is too tart for your liking and cinnamon if you wish.

Method Two:
Peel, quarter and core the apples and chop the strawberries. Put them in a pot with just enough water to cover the bottom. Bring to a low boil over medium-high and then simmer until the apples break up and become mushy. The applesauce should look like applesauce right away in this method. Stir in sugar and cinnamon to desired taste.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Record a Week: Duke Ellington (& Others) - Original Big Band Sounds



SIDE 1.
UPPER MANHATTAN MEDICAL GROUP (Duke Ellington)
BIG ROCK CANDY MOUTAIN (Johnny Long)
IN THE SHADE OF THE OLD APPLE TREE (Art Mooney)
ARKANSAS TRAVELER (Ray Block)
AUTUMN (Lionel Hampton)

SIDE 2.
UNBOOTED CHARACTER (Duke Ellington)
MEET ME TONIGHT IN DREAMLAND (Ray Block)
HAWAIIAN HOOPLA (Johnny Long)
SHINE ON HARVEST MOON (Art Mooney)
STARRY NIGHT (Lionel Hampton)

This record contains less of Duke Ellington's earlier career and more of his big band/bandleading days. I suppose, though that there are only 2 songs of his, so there is a much smaller sampling size. Also of note, Lionel Hampton seems to have gotten the shaft, being the only one who never gets a higher position than last on both sides.

The opening song has a Jazz club feel to it, though the rest sound like more typical big band shows. I really like the Ellington stuff and basically anything instrumental on the album. I don't have anything particularly bad to say about Hampton, so I'm not sure what made him get the short end of the song listing stick.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I've Never Been Very Good at Lying (or hiding the truth)

This week we received some mail from the John Labatt Centre that looked like tickets. The problem was that it was addressed not to us, but the former residents of the house. We always roll our eyes at the fact that they haven't changed their address on things, but usually it is the understandable flyers or other things you might 'conveniently' forget to report an address change to. Why you would order tickets to an event and not make sure they were to your current address is beyond me. Perhaps they have an account and haven't ordered anything from there since they moved. I would imagine you would double check, but what do I know.

Anyways, this brought up the moral dilemma of what to do about this? We don't know their new address or what the tickets are for or anything like that. We're sick of writing 'moved' on a piece of mail every other day. Also, we have a hint of feeling like it's their fault for not paying attention when they ordered. Plus, when you've never met someone (it's another story on how that came about) there is no personal feeling attached to the name you see. In this case, we decided to open the tickets so we'd have the reference number and any other information and call the place to report we had received them by error. I would say this decision was about 95% good nature and 5% fueled by the vision of appearing at the event and awkwardly encountering the people at their seats that they had re-acquired the tickets for; or more likely getting all ready for the event and being told at the door that the tickets were invalid, due to the people calling and wondering the whereabouts of the tickets and the ensuing ones making these null and void.

This all reminded me of another story from when I was younger (maybe 12? 13?), a story I had actually thought about randomly just recently.

I was always the first home when I got home after school, my parents both working and my sister usually doing things with friends or at school. As this was the case, I always took the mail inside and left it on the table. I was a bit nosy when it came to things that were not simple white envelopes, so it certainly piqued my interest when a larger package from National Geographic arrived one day. It was addressed to the previous house owner who hadn't lived there for at least 6 or 7 years and I couldn't even recall the last time they had received mail. In my head I thought that if they really cared about stuff like this, they would have put in their new address. Also, I thought it wouldn't be much of a harm to take a peek to see what it is, most likely it would be some sort of sales pitch.

To my surprise and giddy delight, there was a nice, shiny binder with animals on the cover and three laminate-style sheets inside with a different animal on each one and one card with a table of contents showing which cards made up the whole set. Each page contained a photo of the said animal, along with a whole bunch of information about their habitat, locale, diet, etc. I thought it was very interesting and again, since they had just sent it unprompted, it would be no harm to keep it. Packed in with the binder was an order card that said 'Would you like to order the next cards in the set?' Of course, I was thinking DEFINITELY!!!! Thinking that if it was a real issue, they would ask for money or not send the new ones, I sent the form back (no stamp was needed) and checked the box for wanting more.

So, the pages kept coming. I would get the three new cards every month or so in the mail and check off the box saying I wanted the next ones in the set and send the card back in the mail. I was almost always the one checking the mail, so I always opened up the cards on my own, nobody else ever even seeing these packages to think anything of it. Over time, I had not even thought about it being wrong anymore, since they just kept sending them. It wasn't even as if I was hiding the cards, it was just a coincidence that I was the first one home to retrieve the mail and would then put the cards neatly away in their binder (which again, was stored on a shelf in my room, not something that would necessarily flag anyone's attention). I suppose one might wonder why I never mentioned the binder to my parents if I was so excited and thought nothing was wrong? I suppose, subconsciously, I did know and that part of my brain controlled the part of me that would run to them telling them I was excited about getting a new piece of a cool book that National Geographic was mysteriously sending me without ever receiving any money for it.

Then one day a letter came from them that I either didn't notice, or I wasn't the one to get it. I can't say which it was, because frankly I don't remember. What I do remember was my mother asking me 'What do you know about information card orders from National Geographic?' At which point my face when blank and unmoving, my eyes likely opening widely and my pupils dilating, possibly with the addition of an open mouth waiting for the words to arrive at my lips. Those words never arrive, and that day was no exception. I always panic when caught in a lie and can never come up with the thing to say to cover my ass before my face gives me away.

After that, all I really remember is that my mom was very upset with me. What happened to the book I can't be sure. Some time not long after that, my house burned down and the book was gone for good, if it was even there at that point. She might have sent it back, but knowing my mom she probably paid for it and apologized to the people, simultaneously being mad at me for a while. Also, if I had to guess, I lost interest in the book, having read all of the cards enough and the whole experience lost the excitement of danger.

I don't know what made me remember that story, but it was very amusing that I was thinking of it days before reliving it as an adult (though in a much lesser scale, in which we played both the children and the adults).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Record a Week: The Best of Duke Ellington and his Orchestra



SIDE 1.
WARM VALLEY
ROCKIN' IN RHYTHM
PRELUDE TO A KISS
SATIN DOLL
CARAVAN

SIDE 2.
FLAMINGO
IN A SENTIMENTAL MOOD
BLACK AND TAN FANTASY
PASSION FLOWER
BAKIFF

Duke Ellington was an incredible jazz piano player, jazz pioneer and band leader. He was innovative and ground-breaking, an important part of the foundation of African-American music movement of the early 1900's.

His style covered many grounds, as this album proves. He has that soft jazz style that was famous in the early days of jazz as well as some more intricate pieces, different time signatures and different groupings of instruments. I thought for the first few songs that it was going to be that slower sound of many jazz records I have listened to over the past year or so that don't really have the punch and swing of the jazz form later time periods. I forgot, however, that this was encompassing his entire career, or at least more that the early 20's.

Both Satin Doll and Caravan are my two favourites on the album, though it is a solid listen in its entirety. I imagine those songs may pop up again, as looking forward, it would appear I have at least a couple of weeks more of Duke Ellington ahead. Thank goodness he is so talented.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Record a Week: The Best of Duane Eddy



SIDE 1.
YOUR BABY'S GONE SURFIN'
REBEL ROUSER
BOSS GUITAR
MY BABY PLAYS THE SAME OLD SONG ON HIS GUITAR ALL NIGHT LONG
FIREBALL MAIL
HIGH NOON

SIDE 2.
(DANCE WITH THE) GUITAR MAN
THE BALLAD OF PALLADIN
DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS
LONELY BOY, LONELY GUITAR
LIMBO ROCK
WILDWOOD FLOWER

This album has a classic surf rock feel to it. That twangy-reverb sound is one that Eddy adopted and set out for other rock and surf rock bands for years to come, including the Beach Boys.

Long before the reverb and delay pedals that are out today, Eddy used a variety of techniques to achieve the surf and spacey sounds he is known for. This includes, apparently, bringing in a large water tank to use as an echo chamber in a studio that was not equipped with one. The tone of the music is not unlike the opening theme for 3rd Rock From the Sun mixed with the style of play from any beach cafe jukebox from the 1950's (many of which probably included a few of Eddy's numerous hits).

This album is a good look, as many of the ones I explore seem to be, at the beginning of a certain style of music. You can really hear the experimental sounds of rock and surf littered throughout this record and I like the raw feeling of his earlier stuff mixed in with the developed sound of a bit later in his career.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Miscommunication With my Mother

I got to thinking about my mom the other day and all of the wonderful times from over the years. There is no way I could ever tell all of the stories I think about so frequently, but I will relive them as they come to mind.

There are many stories that I will retell so many times that if you spend enough time with me, you could probably tell them yourself or may notice when I miss a detail or tell it differently. However, the story that came to mind recently is one that I don't think of as often and probably tell even less.

I must have been 14, maybe 15 years old; certainly not old enough to drive or this situation never would have come up in the first place. There were some musicians who lived on the other end of town that I thought were pretty cool, and wanted to become better friends with. They had all been in bands for much longer than I had and they were all achieving some level of local success. Anyhow, one of their friends who had transferred to my school became a good friend of mine over time, so he told me to meet them out at the Tim Horton's/Wendy's plaza on their end of town. I was totally broke, save for the $2 I had for coffee and $1.50 or so in my bank account that I hadn't spent on CDs or cigarettes the day I got paid from my paper route. My mother agreed to drive me out and pick me up later on in the evening.

We were having a great time buying one coffee and sipping it slowly while having cigarette after cigarette (when you could smoke indoors). The time came when everyone was heading home and it was about 10-15 minutes before I was to meet my mother. I said bye to everyone and headed over to the gas station on the corner and waited (probably smoking another several cigarettes, which seems absolutely foreign to me these days). Twenty minutes went by and she hadn't shown up. I didn't think anything of it because, really, what is 5-10 minutes late? No big deal. Then another 20 minutes went by and I started to get a bit antsy. I had no money left in my pocket and my stomach was grumbling. Some time later, I walked into the gas station and sheepishly asked 'do you accept debit under five dollars?'

So I purchased myself a chocolate bar on debit and ate it in no time. Eventually, I had to figure something out. It was fairly clear that she wasn't coming and it was a long walk home if I was to go that way. I went to the pay phone and called her collect. Because I was aware that collect calls cost more money than the 25 cents that calling out regularly does, when the phone asked me to say my name I said as quickly as possible 'please come pick me up I'm at the Petro Canada'. She accepted the call anyways and apologized. I could hear some of her friends in the background and realized that they had probably just gotten into a few drinks and some good conversation (a non-stop thing between these particular friends, if I recall).

She came to pick me up post-haste and quite apologetically. Also, if I remember correctly, I got a some fries out of the deal or something like that.

I remember this not as a negative memory at all, but as one that reminds me of my mother having a good time. I didn't suffer any for the experience and knowing that my mother had friends in town, probably should have made a better plan for getting home another way.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Record a Week: Donovan - World of Donovan



(Record 1: The Physical)
SIDE 1. (The Body)
BARBAJAGAL
THE FAT ANGEL
RIKI TIKI TAVI
MAD JOHN'S ESCAPE
SUNSHINE SUPERMAN

SIDE 2. (The Senses)
SUN
ISLE OF ISLAY
THE SONG OF THE WANDERING AENGUS
SAND AND FOAM
CEILA OF THE SEALS

(Record 2: The Spiritual)
SIDE 3. (The Heart)
CELESTE
TO SUSAN ON THE WEST COAST WAITING
GUINEVERE
HI IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME
LALENA

SIDE 4. (The Soul)
WEAR YOUR LOVE LIKE HEAVEN
THE MANDOLIN MAN AND HIS SECRET
CHANGES
HURDY GURDY MAN
ATLANTIS

As noted in the parentheses, this album is broken up by record into the physical and spiritual records; as well as by side, into more specific points.

Much of the album has a typical, yet tuneful singer-songwriter feel to it. You could imagine that it was any of Harry Chapin, Neil Diamond, Simon & Garfunkel, etc. That is until you hear the hit track Sunshine Superman, which if you are like me, is a song you have heard a hundred times and can at least hum, if not sing along to without ever knowing the name or artist.

I am glad that with the process of breaking the album down into four different themes, that each grouping of song has a different feeling to them. The Body side is more upbeat, whereas the Senses side seems to be mostly written in a minor key. The second record follows a similar pattern, with more of a traditional Scottish sound on some songs.

All in all, a good listen and always a nice surprise to find a recognizable song on a record you don't know.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Record a Week: Giants of Jazz Collection - Johnny Dodds



SIDE 1.
CANAL STREET BLUES
DIPPER MOUTH BLUES
SNAKE RAG
SOBBIN' BLUES
LONESOME BLUES
PERDIDO STREET BLUES
GATE MOUTH

SIDE 2.
TOO TIGHT
MIXED SALAD
I CAN'T SAY
MAD DOG
SOMEDAY SWEETHEART
SALTY DOG
SKID-DAT-DE-DAT

SIDE 3.
OH DADDY
THE BLUES STAMPEDE
WILD MAN BLUES
MELANCHOLY
S.O.L.
WOLVERINE BLUES
COME ON AND STOMP STOMP STOMP

SIDE 4.
AFTER YOU'VE GONE
JOE TURNER BLUES
WHEN ERASTUS PLAYS HIS OLD KAZOO
ORIENTAL MAN
HOT POTATOES
BLUE CLARINET STOMP

SIDE 5.
BUCKTOWN STOMP
WEARY CITY
BULL FIDDLE BLUES
BLUE WASHBOARD STOMP
GOOBER DANCE
INDIGO STOMP
FORTY AND TIGHT

SIDE 6.
PIGGLY WIGGLY
WILD MAN BLUES
MELANCHOLY
25TH AND DEARBORN
RED ONION BLUES
GRAVIER STREET BLUES

The earliest recorded days of jazz remind me of Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes from Star Wars, in that the songs from that era all sound like they might be the same one repeated with different rhythm or tempo. The songs, as I have previously alluded, mostly sound like the instrumental soundtrack to early movies (with some lyrics strewn in) or oldschool jukeboxes in diners.

The songs on this record start off featuring Dodds in a group that also had a very young Louis Armstrong (possible crossover from this Armstrong record). These were groundbreaking recordings, as they were the first recordings of African-Americans doing original 'black music'. Any earlier records were white groups, because as sad as it is to say, that was what was acceptable at the time.

It is not until the second record comes in that the songs more prominently feature Dodds and his clarinet. Also, as these songs are from years later, the sound has started to evolve from the 'talkie' style of the early 1900's jazz. This more progressive sound is where I start to take more of an interest. Perhaps recording techniques improved so you could begin to hear subtleties you couldn't previously, or perhaps the style gained a bit of substance (in my opinion, that is).

It is always exciting to me to have my eyes opened to an instrument that I had not thought much about, something I used to find a challenge to do. Also, I used to think of such instruments, unjustly, as the ones that kids got stuck with if they weren't there on instrument selection day in 8th grade music class.

Dodds, although he did not possess the instrumental versatility of a Louis Armstrong, he nonetheless played the clarinet with mastery.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Brunch: The Best Smoothie I've Ever Made

I have made a lot of smoothies in my life; using juices, soy milk, protein powder, Spirulina and many other things. Although this one lacks the nutritional punch of some of those things, the flavour is impeccable. This recipe makes ample amounts for two people.

INGREDIENTS:
App. 2 cups Frozen Fruit(I use 'Caribbean Treasure' which is peaches, strawberries and pineapple)
1 Ripe Banana
Enough Soy Milk to just cover fruit(about 2 cups)
1 tbsp Vanilla (unless you use vanilla soy milk, but you might want to still add a touch)
Generous pour of Maple Syrup(about 1/3 cup or so(not table syrup, it's yucky))


In a large blender, put the frozen fruit and banana in. Add soy milk until it barely covers all of the fruit(small pieces sticking up a bit). Pour in vanilla and maple syrup and blend on 'smoothie' setting until the chunks are broken up. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Record a Week: Dr. John - The Night Tripper/Gris-Gris



SIDE 1.
GRIS-GRIS GUMBO YA YA
DANSE KALINDA BA DOOM
MAMA ROUX
DANSE FAMBEAUX

SIDE 2.
CROKER COURTBULLION
JUMP STURDY
I WALK ON GUILDED SPLINTERS

As mentioned last week, this album is the voodoo/funk beginning of Dr. John (aka Mac Rebennack)'s career. The songs on this album invoke that slow deep south style of dance and images of masked voodooists dancing around a fire.

Dr. John's career was lifted instantly by this album and with the recent funk revival, this record has seen another wave of success. Although his live show contains only a few of these tracks by now, the album is still full of classics. The opening Gris-Gris is slow-cooked, much like the cuisine in Louisiana, where Rebennack calls home. The album gets upbeat in the following songs, infused with much jazz and funk.

This album was how I came about discovering Dr. John several years back, and it has been part of my rotation ever since. Not to be missed on side B is Jump Sturdy.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Poached Peaches w/ Topping



INGREDIENTS:
2-3 Peaches per serving
2 cups Water
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup White Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean, cut lengthwise
2 Cinnamon Sticks, or tsp powdered cinnamon
dash Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Peppercorns (optional)
Topping (more on this later)


In a pot, boil the water with the sugars, spices and lemon juice. Peel and slice the peaches and add to the boiling mixture. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally.

For a topping, use a warm toasted granola, or a vegan whipped cream, or whatever you'd like. I used Post Great Grains© cereal toasted in the oven at 350F for about 10-15 minutes with a bit of maple syrup, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Record a Week: Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack



SIDE 1.
DOROTHY
MAC'S BOOGIE
MEMORIES OF PROFESSOR LONGHAIR
THE NEARNESS OF YOU
DELICADO

SIDE 2.
HONEY DRIPPER
BIG MAC
NEW ISLAND MIDNIGHT
SAINTS
PINETOP

Dr. John may be most famous for his funky New Orleans sound, or perhaps for his voodoo-inspired Night Tripper/Gris Gris days. However, the thing that doesn't necessarily shine through those records is his piano playing ability. Boy, can he tickle those ivories.

On this record, he strips down his sound and his moniker (born Malcolm 'Mac' Rebennack) to give you ten great tracks of just him and his piano. Even the vocals are sparse, leaving you to enjoy the true talent at the core of his music.

For those of you who are fans of Dr. John's Night Tripper days, I suggest you check this out as a musical history of the man behind those records.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Record a Week: Herwin Records Presents - Dixieland Jazz Classics (1917-1928)



SIDE 1.
DIXIELAND JAZZ BAND ONE-STEP(Original Dixieland 'Jass' Band
MEMPHIS GLIDE(Original Memphis Five)
MOBILE BLUES(The Bucktown Five)
SAN SUE STRUT(Arcadian Serenaders
THAT'S NO BARGAIN(Red Nichols and his Five Pennies)
BIG BOY(The Wolverines)
AT THE JAZZ BAND BALL(Bix Beiderbecke and his Gang)
SAN(Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra)

SIDE 2.
DIPPER MOUTH BLUES(King Oliver's Creole Band)
MUSKRAT RAMBLE(Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five)
WEST END BLUES(Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five)
BLACK BOTTOM STOMP(Jelly Roll Morton and his Red Hot Peppers)
KANSAS CITY STOMP(Jelly Roll Morton and his Red Hot Peppers)
KATER STREET RAG(Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra)
HERE COMES THE HOT TAMALE MAN(Doc Cook and his Dreamland Orchestra)
ROCKY MOUNTAIN BLUES(Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra)

Much of dixieland sounds like the soundtrack to a silent film to me. Specifically the type where the characters move around very choppily and slap their faces in an exaggerated way and there are breaks between scenes that say 'I don't care how she votes I'm still going to marry her' (Buster Keaton in The Scarecrow). Perhaps that's because this was the style of music that coincided with the time of silent films. Either way, it's not just silent films that come to mind when listening to this music. Flappers, bobs, the Charleston, prohibition, speakeasies and many other things that happened in the first world war and post-war era.

If you didn't know that this album was a collection, you may think that it was the chronicle of one artist. The only real difference being the quality of the recording improves over time. The one notable difference on the album is Louis Armstrong, who adds a bit of the progressive jazz style that jump started his solo career. He also adds some of his signature vocals to the mix, something that most, if not all of the other groups did not do.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Record a Week: John Denver - Poems, Prayers and Promises



SIDE 1.
POEMS, PRAYERS AND PROMISES
LET IT BE (Beatles)
MY SWEET LADY
WOODEN INDIAN
JUNK (McCartney)
GOSPEL CHANGES (Jack Williams)

SIDE 2.
TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS
I GUESS HE'D RATHER BE IN COLORADO
SUNSHINE ON MY SHOULDERS
AROUND & AROUND
FIRE AND RAIN (James Taylor)
THE BOX

This is the type of album you don't want to put on when you are feeling a little down, as it may tip the scales towards a cry session. It is a beautiful piece of work, but the sombre tones could definitely bring you down a notch. On another note, it could provide good counterpoint in a romantic comedy in those musical interludes while the main character thinks about their screw-up. Well, that's a strange little window into the things that go through my head.

On another note, the song that has a place in my heart is Take me Home, Country Roads. It's a song my dad sang to us as kids and I still love to hear him sing it today. It's one of those songs that I heard him sing so many times, that I am far more familiar with his version of it than Denver's.

Denver's originals are great on this record and his covers are not too shabby, either. His Let it Be and Fire and Rain are particularly good ones.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Maple Peach 'Cream' Delight



INGREDIENTS:
2/3 cup Soy Milk (or coconut milk for a thicker 'cream')
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil (or more to thicken)
3-4 tbsp Maple Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla
2 tbsp Granola per cup
1 Peach, thinly sliced


In a blender, blend whichever milk while slowly adding oil. Add maple syrup and vanilla (more of oil or syrup can be added to thicken if desired). Put the mixture in the freezer to thicken while you chop up the peach and top with granola (1/2 peach per glass if served as shown).

Top the peach and granola with the blended mixture and freeze for 20 minutes. Enjoy a frosty maple treat!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Record a Week: Death From Above (1979) - Heads Up!



SIDE 1.
DEAD WOMB
TO MUCH LOVE
DO IT!

SIDE 2.
MY LOVE IS SHARED
LOSING FRIENDS
IF WE DON'T MAKE IT WE'LL FAKE IT

I put the 1979 in brackets because the original release of this album was prior to the cease and desist letter that forced them to add drummer Sebastien Grainger's birth year.

I remember the time this album came to be, because the band I was in at the time was playing a boatload of shows with their other band. I was at the house where they lived and they invited me into the basement to hear a new project they were working on. A month or so later, I booked their first Canadian show at a small bar called the OPM Den. There were a grand total of about 35, maybe 40 people there.

This is a fast-paced album, exploring many facets of the loud dance-punk/indie sound. It comes in at a short 14 or so minutes, leaving you wanting more. This was released during an overlap while the duo were also performing in the live version of Jesse's solo noise-dance outfit Femme Fatale.

The beauty of this album lies in the fact that it sounds familiar to other music you like, but contains enough different elements that it also sounds completely unique. In my opinion, this was their best recorded album. The music they wrote was always good, but the production of this album really harnessed the energy of their live show, which was probably their most attractive element. The vocals have a slight distortion and a lot of emotion to them. The production on the later albums makes the music more commercially viable, while somewhat taking away from the energy.

The highlight for me (also awesome at their live shows) is 'Do It! (live)' If you ever have the pleasure of seeing it live, you will see Jesse finger-tapping the bass part with his left hand while he uses his right to play the vocal line on his vocorder. The album was re-issued on CD, but if you are a savvy searcher, you may still be able to find one of the two presses of the LP.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Record a Week: Deadseraphim/Montcalm



SIDE 1. (DEADSERAPHIM)
IN LOVING MEMORY
BUT DUDE, YOU'RE MISSING THE POINT...ROLLERBLADES!
INSTRUMENTAL
THEIR BATHROOM'S NO GOOD FOR DOING COKE
MCAVITY, MCAVITY, THERE'S NOTHING LIKE MCAVITY
SURE THING COACH, HIKE!

SUDE 2. (MONTCALM)
SIX
FOUR
ONE
TWO

I came to know about Deadseraphim through their drummer, who emailed me to set up a show for them in Toronto. They never showed up for the show or even emailed/called me to tell me they weren't coming, which is a bummer. However, they had sent me a cd and it was really good. Later on, when we started up a distro, I made sure to carry this very record. It turns out that their van broke down and they only completed the West Coast part of their tour.

The Deadseraphim side of the record is mostly a thrash/punk/grind sound. The songs are fast and a little sloppy, but very energetic. The band did not last much longer than this and broke up, formed multiple other bands.

The Montcalm side is more of an original emo/screamo style. It's a mixture of bands like Orchid/Ampere/etc. Some songs have a slow melodic minor opening with fast paced music once it kicks in. It definitely has a very west-coast Ebullition-type sound to it. Montcalm was really good, but unfortunately only released this and one other split. One member went on to be in Ampere, but I am not sure what the others have done.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Rhubarb Crisp



4 cups Rhubarb, chopped
1 cup Brown Sugar or Demerra
1 cup Flour
3/4 cup Oats
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 cup Melted Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)
2 tbsp Cornstarch
1 cup Lukewarm Water
1 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Sugar

In a measuring cup, put the cornstarch in the bottom and whisk while slowly adding the cup of water. Heat that with the cup of white sugar and vanilla in a small pot until all clear and pour over the chopped rhubarb in a baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon with the melted margarine until crumbly and crumble over top of the rhubarb.

Bake at 350 until the top gets lightly golden and the rhubarb bubbles up a bit (should be about 45-50 minutes)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Record a Week: Miles Davis - Sketches of Spain



SIDE 1.
CONCIERTO DE ARANJUEZ
WILL O THE WISP

SIDE 2.
THE PAN PIPER
SAETA
SOLEA

This album is the first one I've heard by Miles Davis that has a real vibrant energy. Don't get me wrong, his immense talent always shows through, it's just that the more upbeat tempos aren't usually his style. There is also plenty of his type of jazz on this record. Infused with Spanish melodies, this album contains a larger selection of horns than a normal Davis record.

To me, the first few songs sound like backing music for a movie from the 40's or 50'swhere the dialogue might go something like 'We gotta go, see. Time is running short, see'. But then the second side sounds more like the score to a film detailing a victory by Alexander the great or some other ancient conqueror, with its horn-tooting melodies in major keys.

As someone who only has limited exposure to Miles Davis, this was a great record to experience the range of this vastly talented man.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Lemon Loaf



INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup Vegan Margarine
1 cup Sugar
2 Egg Replacers
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups Flour (all purpose/spelt best)
1 tsp baking powder
Dash Salt
Zest of a Lemon
Juice of a Lemon
1/4 cup Sugar (depending on size of lemon, may need more)


Cream the sugar and margarine together in a large bowl. Add in egg replacer and milk and stir until well-mixed. In a separate bowl, blend dry ingredients (including zest). Add to wet mix and stir until just mixed. Spread batter into a bread pan evenly and bake for about an hour at 350F (until sides get lightly golden). At about 50 minutes, stir together sugar and lemon juice over medium-low until sugar is dissolved. It should be sauce-like, so you may need to add more sugar, but do it slowly so you don't over-sweeten. When the loaf is done, set on a rack to cool and glaze with lemon sauce.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Record a Week: Culture Club - Colour By Numbers



SIDE 1.
KARMA CHAMELEION
IT'S A MIRACLE
BLACK MONEY
CHANGING EVERY DAY
THAT'S THE WAY (I'M ONLY TRYING TO HELP YOU)

SIDE 2.
CHURCH OF THE POISON MIND
MISS ME BLIND
MISTER MAN
STORMKEEPER
VICTIMS

No need to tell you that this was the springboard for Boy George's career. Also no need to tell you that the lead-off song, Karma Chamelion is the group's most successful single.

This album blends the sound of reggae, new wave and the pop sound that was so synthesizically popular in the 80's. It also sort of has a whiff of the boy band sound that would be ultra-popular later in the decade and into the 90's. If you read this, you'll know my take on the sounds of the 80's, so I will spare you that rant. However, I must admit that Karma Chameleon is one hell of a catchy song with a lot of good dance to it. Also, it reminds me (fondly) of this (musically talented, but retrospectively terrible) band 'The Chubs' that was around in Burlington when I was a teenager. They were a ska band that covered this song and a couple others in addition to their own songs, including the ever-nerdy 'Ska Wars'.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Breakfast Burrito

INGREDIENTS:
5 Whole Wheat Tortillas
1 brick Medium Tofu*
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/4 cup Red Onion, chopped
1/2 cup Mushrooms, chopped (your favourite type)
1 cup Other Veggies, chopped (peppers, spinach, tomatoes, anything works)
Daiya or other Vegan Cheese substitute, to taste
Mango Salsa, to taste (2 parts mango:1 part red pepper:1/3 part green onion:1/16 part lime juice:1/8 part olive oil, optional 1/8 part cilantro)


*Some people can't stand medium tofu, i like it for the 'egg' in this application. If you don't like it, use extra firm tofu and crumble it instead.

In a small pan in oil over medium heat, break medium tofu into small chunks and saute. Add the turmeric and cumin, stir frequently until mixed. Meanwhile, saute mushrooms in a larger pan until they begin to shrink a bit. Add other vegetables and cook over medium until all veggies are to your desire. If you are using tomatoes, add at the end if you want them warm, or just add in uncooked.

Put some of each the tofu and veggies into a tortilla with some 'cheese' and chopped red onion and warm in the oven until 'cheese' melts. Add in mango salsa and wrap up, enjoy!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Record a Week: Crossed Wires - Abstract Perspective From Atlanta's Underground(Various Artists)



SIDE 1.
ELEMENTALS THEME (The Elementals)
EPISTROPHE (Copland)
CACOPHONY (Osaga)
NAPKIN (Ness)

SIDE 2.
MONKEY V. FISH (AS Octopussy)
BOSSA CALLING (Rishi Kumar)
CLOSED DOORS (Love Pheotus)
WHAT YOU (Justone)

SIDE 3.
DUB KUNG FU (Gnosis)
METROPOLIS [LUNAR RADIO MIX EDIT] (Parts Unknown)
SCIENTIFICAL (J. Stroke)
WARM (Fascia)

SIDE 4.
SISTAH LOW (Alphanumeric)
AMATERASU (DJ Damn featuring Henok)
ONE UNDER THE SUN (Johnny Ether)
DEPRIVATION (J. Square featuring Divine)

This record came to me in a shipment of wholesale records for my old mailorder/concert distro. It is not unusual to get promotional albums or a copy of a couple different label groups along with an order, but whatever label sent it to us had a bazillion copies of this in their warehouse or something. I can see no other reason why it would be thrown in. The songs all say '1997' (at least 7 years prior to us receiving it) and the music is far off course of anything we ever sold.

The album starts off like the slower beats from the 90's-popular 'Obscene Underground: Tits' and other such collections. The songs never really lift off from that slow, un-danceable groove and can't even match their level of slow funk. As the second side of the album starts off, it is more of the same, but now with some rapping over top. I guess sometimes I don't entirely get the underground scene of any music, but I can see why some waves of underground music come up and take the world by storm while others don't quite catch on. Not a knock on it at all and every type of music appeals to a certain amount of people, but this is not what I would call the most user-friendly music.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Banana Oatmeal Everything Cookies



1.75 cups Flour
1.5 cups Instant Oats
1 cup Sugar
3 Very Ripe Bananas
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Baking Soda
Dash Lemon Juice
Dash Cinnamon
1 Egg Replacer
4 Strawberries, chopped
1/4 Mango, chopped
Handful of Chocolate Chips

Mash bananas with lemon juice in a large bowl, then cream in sugar, oil, egg replacer and vanilla. In a separate bowl, blend flour, oats, baking soda and cinnamon. Add both mixes together, along with fruit and chocolate chips then mix until all flour is blended in. Bake at 350F until edges turn light brown and then let cool. Enjoy chewy goodness!

A Record a Week: Crimson Curse - Both Feet in the Grave



SIDE 1.
BOTH FEET IN THE GRAVE
RADIATION BLUE
VELVET FLESH DESIGN
SWEET BABY JESUS
RAT ROMANCE
I LINER
BLACK DYE NO. 15
PSYCHO 75
GOLDFISH

SIDE 2.
SILK SCREENED BUGS (no music)

This album falls smack in the middle between original hardcore punk sound and the sound of the west coast hardcore/screamo of the late 90s and early 2000's. The band is centred around the Locust's Justin Pearson and his attempt to revive love for hardcore/punk at the time. This band was also an early project of Jesse Keeler from DFA (1979) and Femme Fatale.

One of Pearson's short-lived projects, this album is abrasive and in-your-face. If anyone can inject a sense of excitement into a dull hardcore scene, it's him. He has a league of loyal followers that will listen to the Locust through all of their changes and anything else that he gives a shot at. Rightfully so, as many of the projects have mostly been top acts in their respective genres.

This record takes me back to when I would buy records on a recommendation and by the time they arrived in the mail and I could listen to the band; be excited about the band, they would break up and move on to a new project, starting the process all over again. It was a good listen back, but probably not my favourite of the many revisits I will have over the course of these listens.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Record a Week: Creedence Clearwater Revival - 20 Greatest Hits



SIDE 1.
SUZIE Q.
I PUT A SPELL ON YOU
PROUD MARY
BAD MOON RISING
LODI

SIDE 2.
GREEN RIVER
COMMOTION
DOWN ON THE CORNER
FORTUNATE SON
TRAVELIN' BAND

SIDE 3.
WHO'LL STOP THE RAIN
UP AROUND THE BEND
RUN THROUGH THE JUNGLE
LOOKIN' OUT MY BACK DOOR
LONG AS I CAN SEE THE LIGHT

SIDE 4.
I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPE VINE
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE RAIN
HEY TONIGHT
SWEET HITCH-HIKER
SOMEDAY NEVER COMES

This album contains a number of songs that seem as if they always existed. Have you ever heard a song and thought about what the writing process for those types of songs is like? Is it just like the writing of another song, or is it possible that the band thinks at the time 'this is going to be a song that will become eternal'? I suppose that's a bit arrogant, though it's not as if arrogance is something forever absent of popular rock bands.

Still, though, some songs feel like they have always existed and it's amazing to think that at one point they didn't. This album contains some original material like that (Bad Moon Rising and Down on The Corner to name a couple) as well as covers of other songs like that (Heard it Through the Grapevine and Suzie Q).

I grew up in a time when rock was a little bit more 'in your face' than this, but this album certainly contains a number of great classic rock songs.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Strawberry-Cherry Custard Tarts



INGREDIENTS (Shell, from How it all Vegan):

3 cup Graham Crumbs
6 tbsp Water
5 tbsp Oil
dash Salt

INGREDIENTS (filling):
4-5 Strawberries
4-5 Cherries, pitted
1 cup Soy Milk
3ish tbsp Custard Powder
1-2 tbsp Sugar (to taste)

Combine shell ingredients and press into muffin papers, creating a thin cup shape. Bake at 350F until very lightly browned. Remove and let cool.

In a blender, combine strawberries, cherries and soy milk until smooth. Over medium heat, combine custard powder and sugar, adding soy milk mixture gradually. Stir frequently until it becomes thick, remove from heat. Once it thickens slightly, fill the cooled graham cups up until almost spilling over. Refrigerate until custard thickens up (overnight is best).

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Record a Week: Elvis Costello - Armed Forces



SIDE 1.
ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN
SENIOR SERVICE
OLIVER'S ARMY
BIG BOYS
GREEN SHIRT
PARTY GIRL

SIDE 2.
GOON SQUAD
BUSY BODIES
SUNDAY'S BEST
MOODS FOR MODERNS
CHEMISTRY CLASS
TWO LITTLE HITLERS

This is the last Elvis Costello installment in this series.

After I had said how good Costello was at not bending to the terrible sounds of the 80's, this late 70's album starts off with a few songs that have a total 80's pop keyboard sounds. Fear not, though, the songs aren't nearly as cheesy. They could be an influence on some of the less desirable music from that era, unfortunately.

The songs bring to mind hints of, and possibly draws a bit from heavyweights Devo (yes I know they were around in the 70's), as well as Men Without Hats, two of the better 80's pop bands in my opinion.

The album is still a great, fairly complex pop album. My favourite songs lie on the B side, with Busy Bodies and Mood for Moderns.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recipe: Six Ways Soy




INGREDIENTS:
1 Brick Tofu
1 Can Soy Beans
1 Box of Frozen Edamame
1 Can Coconut Milk
1 Package Tempeh (I used the marinated coconut curry tempeh strips)
1 bag Spinach
2 Garlic Scapes (or 1 clove of garlic if scapes aren't in season)
1 tsp Curry Powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp Coriander Powder
3 Cardamom Pods
Dash of your favourite curry spices (mace, masala, etc.)

Separate tofu like this:


Saute 1/2 or so of the bag of spinach with chopped garlic scapes or minced clove of garlic until spinach is reduced down. Stuff as much of the mixture in the tofu cavity as you can, putting the rest on top.

Set oven to 375F.

Mix 1/2 can of coconut milk with the spices. Put the stuffed tofu in a baking dish and the rest of the spinach on top. Pour a little of the coconut-spice mixture over top and stick it in the oven.

In a saucepan, heat 1/2 can of soy beans and the rest of the coconut milk mixture over medium hear, stirring occasionally.

On a BBQ or grill, grill the indicated piece of tofu to get that signature grill mark crossing (2-3 minutes each side then rotate 1/4 turn and do again). Meanwhile, fry the thin piece of tofu in some oil and then fry the tempeh in same oil. Right near the end, cook the edamame according to box directions. Stack up the pieces in this order: Fried piece on the bottom, grilled on a 1/4 angle, baked/stuffed on another 1/4 angle, tempeh pieces layed across top, then top with sauce and a few pieces of edamame!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Tsamporado



INGREDIENTS:
3 cups Water
1 cup White Rice (Sticky gluten rice is best, any type that gets mushy is good)
1/2 cup Sugar
1-2 tbsp Coconut Milk
4 tbsp Cocoa
1 tsp Vanilla or 1/2 Vanilla Bean scraped out
1 tbsp Shredded Coconut, unsweetened

Put all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until mixture gets sticky, like a porridge (all uncovered). Add more water or some soy milk if the rice soaks up the liquid before releasing its gluten and binding the mixture.

Tsamporado (or Tsampurado, or Champorado depending who you ask) is a Filipino version of rice pudding that I stumbled across while seeking out methods of the North American version. Most versions I found did not have coconut milk or vanilla or coconut, but those are mostly ingredients that can be found in the Philippines, so I didn't feel like I was bastardizing it too much.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Record a Week: Elvis Costello(The Costello Show) - King of America



SIDE 1.
BRILLIANT MISTAKE
LOVABLE
OUR LITTLE ANGEL
DON'T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD
GLITTER GULCH
INDOOR FIREWORKS
LITTLE PALACES
I'LL WEAR IT PROUDLY

SIDE 2.
AMERICAN WITHOUT TEARS
EISENHOWER BLUES
POISONED ROSE
THE BIG LIGHT
JACK OF ALL PARADES
SUIT OF LIGHTS
SLEEP OF THE JUST

Before I jump back into the Elvis Costello pool, today is my wife's birthday, so happy birthday to her! My guess would be she couldn't care less about Elvis Costello or any selections from his discography. Luckily, he didn't have any part in her present.

This album was the only one released under the group name The Costello Show, though I don't think it matters what the group name is as long as Costello is in charge.

The sound on this album has the style of rock music that seems to stand up to time. No screechy singing, no stoner rock, no space rock, no extended guitar solos. It may not be flashy, but it is very solid. The most commercially successful song on this album is the catchy remake of The Animals song 'Don't Let me be Misunderstood'. However, it's not as if the rest of the album is in any way disappointing. There are the typical ballad-type songs on there to go along with the standard Costello rock.

Although he has swung his style a bit over the years, Elvis Costello has kept a standard Jazzy Rock style as a base and it has made for a long, wonderful career.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Fruit Leather



INGREDIENTS:
1+ pint of Apricots (or other stone fruit), washed, pitted and chopped
1 pint of Strawberries, greens removed
or any other fruits you see fit

I asked my aunt for this recipe thinking it would be some great secret or process. She used to make it for my sister and I when we were young and I would eat it up until my stomach was achy. Turns out it is really easy.

In a large bowl, use a potato masher to mash up the fruit until it is very pulpy. Spread out 1/4" thick over lightly oiled saran wrap on a cookie sheet. Set outside in the mid-morning on a hot, sunny day and allow to sun dry for the day, flipping over to make sure both sides are equal. Roll up to preserve!

I have to be honest, it wasn't sunny enough to fully dry mine so I had to use the convection setting on my oven at 170F for about 4 more hours.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Record a Week: Elvis Costello - The Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions



SIDE 1.
ALISON
WATCHING THE DETECTIVES
(WHAT'S SO FUNNY 'BOUT) PEACE, LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING?
OLIVER'S ARMY
PUMP IT UP
ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN
RADIO, RADIO
I CAN'T STAND UP FOR FALLING DOWN
ALMOST BLUE

SIDE 2.
BEYOND BELIEF
CLUBLAND
WATCH YOUR STEP
SHIPBUILDING
I WANNA BE LOVED
EVERYDAY I WRITE THE BOOK
THE ONLY FLAME IN TOWN

This is the Best of Elvis Costello and The Attractions version from 1985, not the 1990 version or either of the 'very' best of ones, just to be clear.

Elvis Costello is one of those artists that I think I got into because a girl I had a crush on in high school was really into him. Furthermore, he was one of the few artists in that category that were actually any good (oh, the terrible music people listen to in high school).

This album came out before my favourite of his albums, Blood and Chocolate, but does include two of my favourite Costello tracks, 'Pump it Up' and 'Radio, Radio'.

A constant re-inventor and mixer of styles, Costello is a reminder to me of what could've been a better era of music in the 1980's. Costello creates music from a blend of rock, country, folk, jazz, swing and many more, including a clear homage to the 1950's. Layered over top of that is his very distinct voice, including a British accent that doesn't entirely shine through while singing.

This album is as advertised, the best that Costello had to offer up to the time of release. A great mix of post-punk and slower jazz-influenced love songs, this includes all of the raw ingredients that formed a long, successful career.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Apple-Raspberry Fritter Drops

Every week I pick my wife up some apple fritters from the farmer's market at the fairgrounds. This weekend I decided I'd had enough of being left out of the tastiness and that I would set out to make my own. I am going to attempt to make the pocket pie-style type that I buy her, but I first want to spend a weekend searching out the perfect pie pastry and then begin experimenting.



INGREDIENTS:

2 Apples, peeled and cored (I used Mac, but any crisp tart apple would work)
1/2 Pint Raspberries, chopped
1 tbsp Margarine, melted
2/3 cup Soy Milk
2 Egg Replacers
1 cup Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1 heaping tsp Cinnamon
1 heaping tbsp Sugar

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add melted margarine, soy milk and egg replacers, stir until mixed and store in fridge, covered (for about 1/2 hour).

Cut up peeled apples into small pieces (1/4" or so) and raspberries, too. Stir into batter until a good balance is reached.

Heat about an inch of oil over medium-high (375F) in a large bottomed pan. Drop tablespoon-sized amounts of batter into the oil and fry until golden, flipping to get both sides (about 5 minutes total) and set on a plate with paper towel to soak excess oil. Enjoy while hot!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Record a Week: Concerto Under the Stars by 101 Strings


SIDE 1.
THEME FROM CORNISH RHAPSODY
CLAIRE DE LUNE
CHOPIN'S STUDY IN E MAJOR
CHOPIN'S NOCTURNE

SIDE 2.
MEDITATION FROM THAIS
THEME FROM SWEDISH RHAPSODY
LIEBESTRAUM

I'm not quite sure what made me file this record where I did alphabetically, but I guess I thought the title was more of a collection than an album name by a band.

Anyhow, no point in dwelling any further on that.

This record comprises the best classical musicians of Europe in the late 1950's coming together to play a group of classic songs meant to simulate an evening of music underneath the stars. 30 first chair violins, 26 second chair, 20 violas, 18 cellos and 7 stand up basses make up the 101 strings, who play alongside various instruments to make up a formidable group. The reason for the large group of strings is to be able to play many different melodies in each arrangement, while not sacrificing the fullness of multiple players in each part.

The full effect is not felt on record, but I can only imagine it was breathtaking in a live setting. They have created a nice flow between the songs, the song selection is good and the playing is terrific.

Claire de Lune is one of my favourite classical songs and I really also enjoy the two Chopin selections on the first side. I always hear classical music in movies or the mall and enjoy it, but when I seek it out it's hard to find some I like. I would put this in the 'enjoyable' category.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Record a Week: Nat King Cole - You're My Everything



SIDE 1.
YOU'RE MY EVERYTHING
LITTLE COQUETTE
MAGIC MOMENTS
YOU'LL SEE
BEND A LITTLE MY WAY

SIDE 2.
THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA
BECAUSE YOU'RE MINE
BRUSH THOSE TEARS FROM YOUR EYES
POINCIANA

This album is a compilation of Nat King Cole songs and as far as I can tell, it was an unauthorized release. It's hard to find information on it other than that it was released by Pickwick Records in 1967 and it doesn't seem to appear on any of his 'official' discographies.

It contains a mixture of Jazz Piano, some more upbeat stuff and some crooning style. No matter what the style, Nat King Cole's wonderful voice floats above. The man fought adversity to become a pioneer in the formats of Jazz Piano, Jazz Trio and Male Vocal. Constantly up against the racism battle, he just kept on making music and ignoring the hatred. Sadly, he died in 1965 after a battle with lung cancer. No surprise, as he reportedly smoked up to three packs a day, something he apparently attributed his vocal sound to (if you trust Wikipedia).

This album is a nice mixture, but it leaves me wondering why, if you are going to make a (most likely) unauthorized collection, you wouldn't make one with a few more chart-hitting songs of his. Perhaps these were the songs that were public domain, or favourites of a label exec. Either way, with a voice like his, it's pretty hard to go wrong when picking songs.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

100th Post! The Dexter Dog DNA Drama (a co-written venture)

For my 100th post, I will for the first time do a co-written post with my lovely wife Karen; detailing the story of how we got our dog DNA tested and how we each felt about that.

KAREN:


So, remember when you were a kid and it was coming up to Christmas time? Maybe you didn't know what you wanted at first, but then there were all these TV commercials on for really awesome toys and your friends started talking about what they wanted for Christmas, and you found yourself thinking "Hey! Suddenly I feel like I really need a Barbie!" Maybe before you didn't really care about Barbies, but after hearing your friends talk about what kind of Barbies they had and what kind they wanted, you felt like you should care too. Pretty soon you do care, you care a LOT, and that Barbie is all you can think about. You tell your parents a million times that you want a Barbie for Christmas. They're not that enthused about it, but you know deep down they're really listening and come Christmas morning, that Barbie is coming your way.

This story is kind of like that.

At first I really didn't care what sort of dog Dexter was. We assumed he was at least mostly Lab, but since he's a rescue there was no way to know for sure. I was fine with that. Fine, that was, until we started going to the dog park. Standard small talk at the dog park generally involves what sort of dog you have, what sorts of messes they make and what silly things they've done. We can certainly tell stories about Dexter's antics, but when it came to his breed we were stumped. This was not an acceptable answer for the other dog owners at this park, the majority of whom have dogs of a most definite breed. The answer "he's a mutt of some sort" was generally met with blank stares and vague disbelief (as though not knowing was not an option), followed by some well-meaning guesses as to what Dexter might be like they needed to solve the puzzle. I started to feel like I needed to solve it too. Then one day a nice man made an offhand comment about having had his mutts DNA tested and, well, I was immediately hooked on the idea. And by hooked, I mean obsessed.

DNA testing a dog is stupid. I knew that. I still know it. There's no real reason to know your dog's breed, but I came up with some anyway. For example, I reasoned, if he is part Great Dane he will have a shortened life span as they do not live as long as some other breeds. We need (and I placed great emphasis on 'need') to know if he is even partially a Great Dane, because then we can care for him properly in his impending old age. Right? Sure.

The test was not as expensive as one might assume, which should have been my first clue that it was even more ridiculous than my husband claimed it probably was. I didn't care; I was cheek swabbing that dog, end of discussion. I checked the mail religiously for weeks afterward and nearly had an aneurysm when the results finally arrived. They were here! I opened the envelope with bated breath.

Remember that Barbie you wanted so much for Christmas? Imagine if, on Christmas morning, you ripped open the paper from the package you absolutely knew contained the thing you were longing for, only to discover that it was not a Barbie. It was some stupid knock-off version called Barbara. She was kind of like a Barbie (close enough, thought your parents), but her face was a little weird and her feet weren't shaped right so your other Barbie shoes wouldn't fit her, and her clothes were some 1976 polyester mess rather than Barbie's signature awesome styles. What is this crap? Who's Barbara?!









In other words, COLOSSAL DISAPPOINTMENT OF EPIC PROPORTIONS.

I hate when my husband is right.


ME:
A few years ago we adopted our dog, Dexter. He was a rescue from the Humane Society and as such, we were unsure of his exact lineage. It was quite obvious that he was mostly black lab. As he got older, though, he got bigger and bigger and it became evident that he may have some other breeds mixed in. He is taller than a standard lab and a bit faster running and sometimes barks sort of like a hound (Great Dane? Greyhound?)

At some point during the years of various people asking us what he was crossed with, my wife's curiosity piqued. I can't say that I wasn't interested, but it certainly never got to the same level. It started with the odd mention of 'I think it would be fun to have the dog DNA tested', which was met with little response from me. Then from time to time I would find her researching DNA test websites to compare the differences. At this point, the previous statement appeared in conversation more frequently. I then had to state my point of view, which was 'I think it's a waste of money. You're going to do it and then when the results are something ridiculous, you'll be disappointed and want to keep trying until you get the results you are happy with.'

She was on maternity leave at the time, so my go-to response was 'You can do it when you have a job.' I wasn't thinking very well, obviously, because of course, she would go back to work at some point. And of course, she wouldn't forget that I had said that.

So the time came when she was back at work and lo and behold, she ordered the kit and said 'you SAID I could when I was back at work.' Well, I couldn't argue with that logic.

The kit came and we did a cheek swab and sent it back. The hints that this might not be so accurate were right in the kit, which said things like 'what breed do you think your dog is' and 'would you like to include a picture of your dog for the certificate?'

2-4 weeks later we got it back, and as I had estimated it was a little bunk.
It said that Dexter was mostly Lab (as estimated), Australian Shepherd (okay I guess that's possible) and Maltese (wait, what?)

That can't be the case. Observe Dexter and the other breeds and their lack of similarities.

Here's Dexter (notice the fur and height, unlike labs):


This is an Australian Shepherd (some size and facial similarities, not at all the same fur and shorter in height):


This is a Maltese (wtf really?):


So naturally, as I so Nostradamically predicted, she was disappointed with the results and wanted to try more companies to see what he really is.

The moral of the story? You can't find out what your dog is by a DNA test and even if you can, it's more fun to come to your own conclusion anyways.

(KAREN:)


Okay, that is not the moral of the story. The ACTUAL moral is that expecting great science from a company you found on the internet is stupid, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't try again with a different company.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Banana-Cherry Oat Muffins



INGREDIENTS:
1 cup Flour (white or spelt)
1 cup Quick Oats
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
dash Salt
3 Ripe Bananas, mashed
1/2 cup Vegan Margarine
1 cup Brown or Demerra Sugar
1-2 tsp Vanilla
app. 1/2 cup Fresh Cherries, pitted and chopped to various sized pieces

Preheat oven to 325F and line or grease 2 muffin tins.

In a medium bowl, cream margarine and sugar together, then add vanilla and mashed bananas. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir together until just mixed, then add cherries and give it a few stirs. Fill muffin papers about 2/3 full and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden on top.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Record a Week: City of Caterpillar - City of Caterpillar



SIDE 1.
AND YOU'RE WONDERING HOW A TOP FLOOR COULD REPLACE HEAVEN
A HEART FILLED REACTION TO DISSATISFACTION
MINUTE-HOUR-DAY-WEEK-MONTH-YEAR (THE FAITH'S IN MY CHEST)

SIDE 2.
FUCKING HERO
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME WE PAINTED OVER THE BLOOD ON THE WALLS
A LITTLE CHANGE COULD GO A LONG WAYS
MAYBE THEY'LL GNAW RIGHT THROUGH YOU

I don't like cursing on here, so I considered blanking that out before I realized that's the name of the song.

City of Caterpillar was a band comprised of members of bands like pg99, Darkest Hour and near the end, Majority Rule. As I was into all of these bands, I thought I'd give them a chance. They took that hardcore and sometime 6/8 screamo sound and added the spacious ambient instrumental riffs. The shorter songs are straight up emo/screamo with great shots and yelling-style vocals. The longer songs are pieces of that mixed in with long melodic, dark guitar parts. It didn't take me long to warm to this record.

Sadly, though, like many bands from that scene, they broke up after far too short of a time playing together. They went on to form Malady, who was also good, but also put out one album then broke up. Also they formed Haram, who may still be around, but I don't think so.

The opening song of this album is one of those songs that just ropes me in. The combination of the energetic quick parts and the long drawn out build up leading to another energetic part. Good stuff right there.