Thursday, November 17, 2005

DFA 79 vs The Octagon feat The Locals

DFA 79 opened at Rexall Place last night. In the basement, that's where I'm gonna stay. Somebody, anybody, talk to me. I've got the merch, the music, the mixes (HMV approved, you know—three little-girl staffers at the WEM location told me the mix was "their" music), and I've even punched Sebastien Grainger in the foot. Can you remember when this city was a nice place for waterwings and cannon-balls? There's an email link over there, and it's tap-water, dudes, it's for free. Talk to me.

Elsewhere, beyond the darkness, my girlfriend invented a new word and the word is—octangular. Love it. Not a lot of use for that word out there, but I've already adapted it, myself, and I've decided to write a graphic-novel about an eight-sided bassist who forms a two-man band with a wicked-keen drummer and they rule the world and never get haircuts. All right, the drummer gets a haircut. But the story will be told from the point-of-view of the eight-sided bassist. Because every story should have an octagonist. This word will save us if we don't die young.

Listening: So I'm rappelling down Mount Vesuvius when suddenly I slip. And I'm just falling, terrified, and then I think, "Hey, me, haven't you been listening to DFA 79's remixes on Romance Bloody Romance for six straight days and couldn't some of this maybe be in your mind?" And it was. I was totally fine. I've never even been to Mount Vesuvius. That's what listening this music can do to you. Alters perception, bends spoons, spaghetti on the wall, DUCK! Everything comes at you filtered through the various and variously similar—wait, is that even possible?—remixes on the cash grab DFA 79 put out a while back. Listen, am I wrong, or is that some seriously downgraded imagery on the new cd? This band needs to look after their brand a little tighter. And I need something to clear my eyes, clean out those stubborn rhythms. I'm going local here. Local! And you were probably thinking this paragraph was going to be about my boys, didn't you? Well, Seb and Jesse can go hang. They've cancered me up too much. Let me try my hand a little closer to home here. [Edit: disclosure le full here—I do not actually know these bands, as in Biblically and/or otherwise. I hear a couple of names, I listen to the music, and it happens to be local. Yes, and I have also been known to search online and cut-and-paste these local faces on to cardboard horses and tigers and then engage in ceaseless gladiatorial duellery—a true battle of the bands, if you will—but I haven't done that in over a month]. I've already described Cadence Weapon and SO4 and, back in the day, 7and7is. Let's move on. There's three local bands I want to mention, and I've done all your googling for you.

First of all, these guys. They've been a little silent lately, but that doesn't mean they've gone away. Perhaps the only music you know are the twelve remixes on RBR. In that case, these guys are like a combination of the Erol Alkan Love From Below Re-edit and the Justice Remix. BUT A LOT HARDER. Like a garbage truck was being rolled down a rocky hill at four in the morning louder. This is punk for people who think Blood Brothers are a little too Sarah Slean. Dense like your face sliding off your head, you better believe this noise is loud. Adjust your dial down. Because they play with shapes and somehow make them fit. They've been around for a few years, now, and the music is gradually getting less thrash and more rhythmic. Not that that is a bad thing. Enthusiasm is good, but skill has its advantages, too, right? Put on your favourite dress and maybe start out with one of the lower-volume songs. I'm just saying. "Three Bells" + The Wolfnote

Right, I forgot, I do kind of know these guys. And, no, this picture was never associated with them, but I feel it fits, you know, it fits. Now, if you like the beginning of the "Black History Month (Josh Homme Remix)" or if you like that Final Fantasy verzh of the same song, you might like these guys. Well, that's a horrible comparison. I could do a lot better with this sounds-like game if a toned -down Bright Eyes handled this stuff. Why doesn't Mr. Oberst get on that? Or Mr. Swimmers (I forget Great Lake's name—which, don't let me forget, I was just told that the lead singer for this band is playing with Great Lake Swimmers at the Sidetrack on November 22, so that's all good). Think dandelions in a field, because, well, because that's the logo for this band. Very emotional stuff here, be warned, and the equal of anything coming out of Toronto or Montreal or points in between—I'm thinking the prayers and tears of arthur digby sellers or Royal City (if they're still keeping it together). Soft hearts only, please. No more walking up to your door. These songs are a bit old but still good. "Metaphors, Mythology" + Five O'Clock Charlie

Some of those DFA 79 remixes were a little more to my liking than others, of course. The Girl On Girl business with Owen Pallet is my fav, for sure, and, yeah, that's a bit like these local unacousticals, but right after that, I'm totally liking the traditional club comparison for this band, especially the Marczech Makuziak remix of "Black History Month". But so much better. You stay classy, DFA 79! You can practically hear lasers, listening to this one. So if the OP/FF mix is the one you like, this next local is the hot stuff for you. You'll like the size of their bass. Think Ladytron, think jazzy cleaned-up controller.controller, think handclaps, think small stages and tight lights. This one song (they have a four-song EP) even has a bit (a lot!) of the new Of Montreal sound-styling to it. And who doesn't like Of Montreal? Seriously? Their neighbours, maybe, cause a band like that next door would keep you up all night, for sure, like a raging nymphomaniac. You like it, but, man, you're tired. Also, this band covers Iron Maiden. Come on! Synthesize the hand-claps! Fame, money, the most beautiful lovers, check out their Myspace (because the bandsite is totally out from this end) "Lifestyles Of the Rich And Fabulously Boring" + Frosted Tipz

Reading: And after all that, I still have time to squeeze in a book! Listen, a while ago, my brother was scaring up change to toddle down to Montreal, and that was cool, because he sold a bunch of his books and I bought his Horatio Hornblower set. These books are pure story. Have you noticed something about these naval novels? They're all the same, every one of them. They're like those Oreos. The different colours don't fool me, they're all the same cookie. Patrick O'Brian, Julian Stockwin, these guys are just kitted-out C.S. Forester. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Forester was directly inspired by the real-life adventures of Lord Admiral Thomas Cochrane, a guy whom Napoleon himself nicknamed "The Sea-Wolf". Cochrane's life makes for an ideal book, structurally speaking, because the man was a master of the single-craft idea of warfare. And a novel about one man and one boat is a lot easier to write, I'm assuming, than a novel about one man, his boat, the rest of the squadron under his command and the captains of those boats, too. A lot easier to read, that's for sure. And these books are very easy to read. I watched the two-years-in-the-making Hornblower series with the perfectly-cast Ioan Gruffud on A&E years ago, and loved the in-depth soap-opera of the movies, the politics of the naval-life, and the easy audience-empathy towards the main character. Also, these movies were beautifully shot. The books are the same. I'm just reading the first one, right now, but the visuals are huge, here, clear competent pictures of figures in action and, above all, always the ship. Forester does a great calculated job of burying the hero in our hearts. Outside of Sabatini and Rowling, I've read few more skilful jobs of raising reader sympathy by presenting the battered put-upon hero. Horatio Hornblower is cut no breaks in the first half of this novel, but he triumphs just the same. And I love the skill with which Forester gets around our twenty-first century conciousness of the archaic language and terms used aboard a British frigate in the Napoleonic era. He has Hornblower himself be awkwardly conscious of not-everyday-usual terms like "Aye, aye" and odd pronunciations (and thus spellings) like "forrard' for "forward". Of course, as Hornblower comes to accept these linguistic differences between his early life and present career, so we, too, accept the difference. That's what these books are, then—strange worlds filled with familiar figures. That's why they work. That's why they keep being rewritten. That's why they're still best-sellers. Forester is worthy of being read because he is a skilful storyteller who understands competition and politics and the enjoyment of reward and accomplishment. His vocabulary is simple but always growing. His plots are sometimes nearly invisible, but always rising to some unalterable climax. His protagonist is a one-dimensional teenager who becomes a thoughtful man. This series is going to be a good one, I can tell. I'm already on the second book. Mr. Midshipman Hornblower + C. S. Forester

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