Thursday, 28 August 2008

Broken Social Scene presents Brendan Canning: Something For All Of Us

review/interview for the skinnybroken social scene presents brendan canning - something for all of us (**)

“It’s a very confusing time for musicians,” Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning told The Skinny late last year in the bowels of Glasgow’s Arches. There to play with his BSS buddy Kevin Drew, then promoting his first solo album, Canning had to do Drew’s press while the main man was away dealing with unforeseen equipment problems. It was a confusing time for fans too, who wondered what the prefix to Drew’s record, ‘Broken Social Scene presents…’, meant for the future of the Canadian indie collective. But in answering the 'In Rainbows Model' question, which was legally obligatory for interviewers to ask at the time, Canning wrestled with an issue he would have to properly deal with himself in the summer of 2008.

After Canning’s first solo album, Something For All Of Us, was leaked a month ahead of its US release in May 2008, he decided to try to wrestle control of his music back by immediately releasing a fully mastered version for digital sale. Back in October, he told us: “You're not going to get mainstream radio support, so having music downloaded is an essential way to get your music heard and spread a fan base. We would not be in the position that we're in without that. But then you look at someone’s record collection and there's so many burned discs you think 'do they ever spend any money on records?’ They said 'home taping is killing the music business', but of course I made mix-tapes as a kid.”

And there’s no immediate danger of Broken Social Scene finishing, despite the increasing focus on solo records. It’s like the Wu-Tang Clan brand system, where everyone in the group helps each other out with their solo endeavours, without losing sight of the appeal of the central project. But the BSS project's membership has never been set in stone: Canning estimates an enrollment "in the 20s". “Kevin made a record where the trio was Kevin, Charles Spearin, and Ohad Benchetrit, but everyone in Broken Social Scene was involved. And when we're going out to tour the show, we're playing songs from that record and also Broken Social Scene songs. When we started this band in 2001, we had many different incarnations of the band who would put on different shows as members were in or out. There are people on my record who weren't involved in Broken Social Scene before, but I like to work with them. This is just the next phase of whatever being in a band is all about.”

But does it sound like BSS? Something For All Of Us is full of overdriven guitar, but not too loud – the overdrive is quiet enough to leave a fuzzy, ambient shadow. “I just want to continue to make music with my bandmates” he told me at the Arches, but it appears at times that this professional sense of duty is the only motivation for the record's existence. Artistic compulsion is a much healthier spur, but so much here is lacking spark that Canning must’ve included everything he’s got. Better songwriters would have discarded or worked harder to give meaning to, for example, the title track hook - "Everyone’s talking ‘bout something for all of us" - which frankly means absolutely nothing. If the title is supposed to indicate an appeal to universality, then it only achieves that in the sense that lots of people like bland music. Unfortunately, Something For All Of Us contains very little for any of us.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Super Adventure Club - Chalk Horror!

album review for the skinny

super adventure club - chalk horror! (****)

Welcome to the bonkers world of Super Adventure Club - Edinburgh's radgest new band - who'll knock you over one minute with an armour-piercing guitar assault before lifting you back up with a lullabied line about "Jabba The Hut phoning Pizza Hut, drinking cheap cider watching films with Rob Schneider”. But Super Adventure Club's batty humour doesn't make them a comedy band; you can't doubt the chops of two music teachers and a music student, and when second track Math Rock criticises over-thought, joyless music, you know exactly where they're coming from. Sure, they can switch from ballistic post-hardcore attacks to gentle hip-swinging grooves, from sludgy metal riffing to Zappa-esque synth wobbling; and sure lead vocalist Bruce Wallace is equally at home wailing like an unhinged lunatic as he is crooning a doleful falsetto; but Super Adventure Club know it’s no fun playing serious music if you have to take it seriously.


and that album cover deserves some sort of prize too

Sunday, 17 August 2008

5 Reasons to Haul Ass to Hydro Connect

preview for the skinny

1. The Location
- It's in the grounds of a castle on the banks of Loch Fyne. If you can't appreciate that you must be a blind man who lives in a castle. You're not though, are you?

2. The People - There's no easy way of putting this: everyone at Hydro Connect is there for the music and the good times, as opposed to y'know, other festivals, where you get the impression some folks are there solely to make boke castles after downing enough booze to kill a whale. In contrast, drink with an outstretched pinky at Connect and you could easily be mistaken for royalty, or Rick Parfitt from Status Quo (it happens, seriously).

3. The Food - Sure, Glasto's got its Non-Traditional Meat Source Burgers, and T's got its famous I'm In A Hurry Curry Bus, but Connect's got fresh oysters from Loch Fyne - that's the one we're all standing beside - for a pound a pop! There's nothing quite like a giant salty sea-bogey to stoke a rumbling stomach, that's for sure.

4. The Summer - This'll be the last big weekend of the summer, before we settle down for seven months of wondering why the hell we still live in this god-forsaken country. Won't it be lovely to sit outside past tea time for one last time in 2008?

5. The Music - Apparently they're putting on some bands too. The Roots! The Breeders! Grinderman! Spiritualized! Sigur Ros! Best make that 10 reasons, at the very least.


1. Yes I realise this makes me look like a massive hypocrite, because of a post I made before criticising the Connect line-up. That's exactly why I didn't focus on the music! FWIW, I didn't mention any of those bands - I've never heard the Grinderman album and I can't stand Sigur Ros - but when articles get subbed, people add stuff, and sometimes it's something you don't necessarily agree with.
2. I am a subber for The Skinny but obviously cannae sub my own articles.
3. Which is a shame because this article was published in the mag with the headline
4. And when they add stuff, it's not even always in the right place! The very first thing I ever got published was a review of a Devandra Banhart single in my Uni paper. It concluded "nice and twee like a nice cup of tea" or some other shite like that. The Editor (pbuh) decided to change that to "nice and twee like a cup of sweet tea", which I don't think is any better particularly, but it's OK. Shame that he mis-spelled the word he inserted. So my first ever published review ended
"...nice and twee like a cup of sweat tea."

[insert FAIL pic here]

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

RIP Isaac Hayes

obit for the skinny

Soul icon Isaac Hayes has died at the age of 65, it has been confirmed. He was found dead in his home in Tennessee next to a treadmill, though a cause of death has yet to be established.

Isaac Hayes was best known in his later years as the voice of Chef from South Park, the school cook and town lothario who always broke into inappropriate song when giving advice to the children. Under this guise he had a 1998 UK No.1 with the song Chocolate Salty Balls, but later he faced criticism for apparently quitting the show after it lampooned the Church of Scientology.

But Chef was not the reason Isaac Hayes is a soul icon. In the 60s he was a songwriter for Stax Records, and along with David Porter wrote classics like Sam & Dave's "Soul Man" and "Hold On, I'm Comin'". In the latter half of the decade he began performing himself, and his 1969 sophomore album Hot Buttered Soul was a breakthrough. It featured only four songs, including a classic 12 minute rendition of Bacharach & David's "Walk On By" and the 18-minute rap-introduced "By The Time I Get To Phoenix". Hayes' habit of introducing slow, brooding epics with minutes-long monologues is often thought of as a prelude to rapping: indeed, a series of songs in this style were named "Ike's Rap".

Hayes achieved what was perhaps his greatest moment in 1971 when he was commissioned to record the soundtrack to the seminal blaxploitation movie Shaft. The double LP he made, with funk band The Bar-Kays, remains a classic in both blaxploitation funk and original soundtrack recording history, dominated by the "Theme From Shaft" which earned Hayes an Oscar, two Grammy Awards and a Golden Globe. His later 70s funk got more indulgent, and his attempt to follow the herd into disco wasn't as successful as it could've been, so Hayes withdrew from the public limelight barring a few acting cameos.

Of course, he re-emerged into fame in the late 1990s as the aforementioned voice of overweight ladies' man Jerome "Chef" McElroy in the controversial comedy cartoon South Park, and became known as another celebrity recruit to the somewhat more controversial Church of Scientology. In 2006 he suffered a stroke, and seemed to quit South Park after they ridiculed his religion, though some associates said he in fact left for health reasons. But as recently as last August, Hayes was still able to tour and perform live. The Skinny was lucky enough to see him perform at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London last August, and while Hayes himself seemed barely able to walk or move his face, "Shaft" still made the hips sway and "Walk On By" was amply capable of causing jaws to drop.

RIP Isaac Hayes.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Why couldn't the baby crawl through the doorway?

...because it had a drill through its head

I'm busy, but proper posts will return soon.