Shapes and Sizes Are Movin’ On Up… To the East-Side (of Canada)

It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when the mere mention of "Montréal" immediately prompted wistful thoughts of this [Shapes and Sizes look to be the latest act to receive the golden touch of luck that residency in Montréal brings].

Wait, I know what you're thinking: "Hey dicklick! Shapes and Sizes are from Vancouver, not Montréal!" Well, the Victoria-born and Vancouver-based group are now Montréal-bound, as the band have decided to pack up their gear and try their luck in "la belle province." Whether a change in home camp will result in success on the scale of century-long hockey glory or 1.5 month-long indie rock message-board talk is anyone's guess, but the quartet is having a plum year nevertheless.

Before setting up permanent headquarters, the band will head out on vacation, albeit a working one. Like so many Canadian "snowbirds," Shapes and Sizes will spend the cold month of December in the mostly agreeable U.S., touring in continued support of their summer smash debut album on Asthmatic Kitty, Shapes and Sizes. There should be plenty of new songs to hear as well, because they recently recorded their second album (tentatively due in the spring of 2007).

Before the sophomore effort hits both concrete and virtual stores, Asthmatic Kitty will be releasing a new single by the band, with a twist. The label will be launching its "Unusual Animals Series" on January 23 with the release of the first in a series of split 7-inch singles. As the title suggests, the goal is to pair seemingly unsimilar acts and perhaps highlight the more "experimental" side of the record co. Volume 1 has "Jinker/That Fat Hand" by, you guessed it, Shapes and Sizes paired with The Weird Weeds' "Hold in the Light." Future singles include Half-Handed Cloud splitting sides with Ariel Pink and a Castanets/Dirty Projectors disc. Each will be sleeved in designs by kinky illustrator and animator Jared Chapman. If you are allergic to vinyl or don't own a turntable, the songs in this series will be available for streaming on the Asthmatic Kitty website. The following shows will not, so you'll have to get out of your bedrooms and away from your computers to see 'em.

12.01.05 - Missoula, MT - The Loft
12.02.06 - Billings, MT - Venture Theatre
12.04.06 - Fargo, ND - Aquarium
12.05.06 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry
12.06.06 - Madison, WI - Café Montmarte
12.07.06 - Chicago, IL - Beat Kitchen
12.08.06 - Urbana, IL - Courtyard Café *
12.09.06 - Columbus, OH - Andyman's Treehouse
12.10.06 - Covington, KY - Southgate House
12.11.06 - Muncie, IN - Village Green Records #
12.12.06 - Bloomington, IN - TBA
12.14.06 - Austin, TX - Emo's $
12.15.06 - Dallas, TX - The Roadhouse
12.16.06 - Odessa, TX - The Cavern
12.17.06 - Phoenix, AZ - Modified Arts %
12.19.06 - San Diego, CA - Che Café ^
12.20.06 - Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland
12.21.06 - San Francisco, CA - Botton of the Hill

* w/Headlights
# w/Arrah and The Ferns, This Story
$ w/The Weird Weeds
% w/Dressy Bessy
^ w/Bunky, Rafter and Friends

Caroliner Celebrate 23rd Birthday with Huge Exhibit and Live Performance; Michael Jordan Conspicuously Absent, and Jordan Made All of the Other Birthdays

I asked a friend of mine why he decided to steal a kayak and paddle to a lighthouse while on LSD. He told me he saw a spaceman while running up a hill in an attempt to dodge the policemen who raided a hotel crack party. The spaceman told him to walk to the beach, which is two miles from the hill, and make his way to Faulkner’s Island. While at the beach, he met the other three people who took acid with him that night. Apparently, they received the same message. The story left me with one of those WTF looks on my face. It was one of the most bizarre things I ever heard.

Shortly thereafter, I discovered the music of Caroliner, a deranged band of miscreants from the Bay Area in California, who claimed to play covers of songs originally sung by a magical singing bull in 1833. (I'm not making this up). The bull's owner killed and ate it. As a tribute to the magical singing bull, the band adorns themselves in flamboyant day-glo costumes (think Green Jelly meets the Merry Pranksters by way of Nautical Almanac and crust punks) and play wildly noisy, dissonant folk music. Their record sleeves are handmade and each packaged with a set of hand-typed lyrics. The sound quality on each record brings to mind 78 rpm blues and folk records, only accentuated with fuzzy montages, high-pitched vocals, and Henry Flynt-like Fluxus guitar lines. None other than Alex Ross called them "some lost American Baroque, retrieved at rummage sales" in a 1993 article from The New York Times.

On December 13, PLAySPACE in San Francisco, a division of California College of the Arts, celebrates 23 years of these American underworld icons with an extensive exhibit. The exhibit features a collection of Caroliner's costumes, props, instruments, records, and flyers from concerts. A live concert from the legends themselves at California College of the Arts Graduate Center in San Francisco will mark the closing ceremony on January 13.
23 Years of Caroliner is curated by Sarrita Hunn, Marcella Faustini, and Museum of Viral Memory. It runs December 13, 2006 through January 19th, 2007 at PLAySPACE California College of the Arts, 1111 8th Street (at 16th and Wisconsin), San Francisco. Regular gallery hours are Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 12-3 PM or by appointment.

The closing reception will be held on Saturday, January 13 from 6-8 PM, with a live performance by Caroliner at 8 PM. It's their first live performance in a year-and-a-half. Don't drink the milk, kiddies.

Far fucking out.

Beirut (aka Zach Condon) Cancels Tour Due to Extreme Exhaustion

You remember The Decemberists, right? We just don't seem to give them enough attention around here. I mean, we give their records consistently low scores, we hardly ever report their tours on time, and we basically just think they're on the cusp of writing a Coke jingle. Doubtless they'll go downhill from here, now that we've made this statement of discontent with their progress.

Hot on the heels of their first album released on a major, The Crane Wife [TMT Review] — which barely registered on the TMT radar — The Decemberists have announced their latest scheme to garner publicity. They've decided to auction themselves off to hopeful fans in a sordid series of so-called "romantic encounters." Bizarrely, for a band comprising only five members, they intend to run 2007 dates on consecutive nights. I've never been on that many in my life! If you do the math, that's just over 400 dates for each band member. Colin Meloy is going to be sore at the end of this, no question about that.

What this means for the Decemberists' tour plans as yet remains unknown, but if you would like a chance at getting to know Jenny Conlee a little bit better, maybe lasciviously watching her play the keyboard lick from "The Island: Come and See/The Landlord’s Daughter/You’ll Not Feel the Drowning," then you might want to turn up at the following venues:

02.02.07 - Sheffield, England - Leadmill
02.03.07 - Dublin, Ireland - Village
02.04.07 - Glasgow, Scotland - ABC
02.05.07 - Manchester, England - Academy 2
02.07.07 - Nottingham, England - Trent University
02.08.07 - London, England - Shepherds Bush Empire
02.09.07 - Southampton, England - University
02.10.07 - Brussels, Belgium - Botanique
02.12.07 - Cologne, Germany - Prime Club
02.13.07 - Hamburg, Germany - Knust
02.14.07 - Berlin, Germany - Postbahnhof
02.16.07 - Fribourg, Switzerland - Fri-son
02.17.07 - Bologna, Italy - Estragon
02.18.07 - Munich, Germany - Ampere
02.19.07 - Vienna, Austria - Flex Club
02.21.07 - Amsterdam, the Netherlands
02.22.07 - Paris, France - La Maroquinerie

Oh, and don't forget: The Decemberists have released a digital-only EP, EXCLUSIVE to Sony. WOW! Here are some songs: "O! Valencia," "The Perfect Crime #2," "The Crane Wife 1 & 2," and a cover of "Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)." Double wow!

Beirut (aka Zach Condon) Cancels Tour Due to Extreme Exhaustion

According to Pitchfork, Beirut's Zach Condon was briefly hospitalized in Paris last Saturday due to "extreme exhaustion." Apparently, the "stress of organizing and traveling with a full-blown, 12-person orkestar took its toll," according to a representative from Beirut's U.S. label, Ba Da Bing!. Condon is now out of the hospital recovering, thankfully, but the remaining four dates of his U.S. tour are cancelled. We'll let you know if/when we hear anything about some new dates. BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT WE DO.

Oh, by the way, have you read this wonderful PopMatters article yet on Beirut? Yes, it may seem like quite the diatribe, but it's good (and important) reading for those of you interested in Beirut and perhaps Balkan and/or "World Music." Ever since I heard Beirut's Gulag Orkestar, I have been as highly suspicious as PopMatters (especially since everyone seems to be strokin'/rubbin' to the music without thinking twice about it). Now, I'm not one to say whether this is GOOD or BAD music (well, I am one to say, but I don't want to cuz it doesn't matter). All I know is that the topics discussed in the article ("authenticity," value, disconnection, tradition, culture, postmodern irony, aka Olskooly/P Funk/Mr P stuff) are things that need to be discussed on a wider scale. So read the article and at least THINK about SOMETHING when you listen to Beirut again.

11.16.06 - Providence, RI - Leung Gallery
11.18.06 - Bennington, VT - Bennington College
11.21.06 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
11.22.06 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom

You Can Dance When You’re Dead; Kill Yourself for the Skeletons and The Girl-Faced Boys Tour

There's one thing that's far too often overlooked when reviewing, writing, or even talking about music – band names. I am aware that many people mention the worth of a strong band name, but then they quickly dismiss the significance of this feature. Sure, the quality of the music, the complexity of the song structures, the technicality of the instrumentation, and whatever else are pretty important, but the band's name is what's going to be said, and that's how they'll most easily be remembered (because we all know that the stuff that's coming out as "music" nowadays isn't going to last like that classical shit). Certain trends have been pointed out within the "indie" scene; types of animals (e.g. wolves), for one. And terrible band names from relatively good bands are quite often mentioned: Broken Social Scene, Say Hi To Your Mom, Arctic Monkeys, and so on. (P.S. - Some of those bands aren't good in addition to having bad names! Guess which ones!) But there has never been a definitive guide that rates bands simply by their names.

The quirky "indie" bands always have the quirky "indie" names; the cutesy, twee-pop bands always have the cutesy names; the punk bands always have the badass "fuck you" names; the abrasive noise bands always have the shocking, "I hate god/women/babies/nihilism/puppies/pussies/dicks/you" name; the ambient noise bands have the introspective, philosophically ambiguous, yet not so meaningful names; and there's generally a fairly accurate formula (with proper standard deviation, mind you) that can determine to a decent degree what genre a band falls into just by looking at their name.

Now, along comes this dude who decides to go solo and call himself "Skeletons." Not only does he deviate from the band-name norm, but he also has a plural name for his singular project! But wait, there's more! He decides that, instead of perpetually looking for collaborators to aid him in his journey-that-can't-be-classified-simply-by-his-band-name, he will have a true, full-time band. Not a very surprising decision, right? Wrong. In the same vein as original punk-rockers Iggy Pop and Richard Hell, he keeps his name and adds a name for the backing band on top of the original Skeletons! And that is how Skeletons and The Girl-Faced Boys were born. The name is so beautiful and so giddy that people often forget to wonder, what type of music do they play?

Have you ever wanted to tattoo yourself something special where people can't see?:

11.15.2006 – New York, NY – The Cake Shop
11.16.2006 – Baltimore, MD – The Bank
11.17.2006 – Pittsburgh, PA – Brillobox
11.18.2006 – Columbus, OH – Andyman's
11.19.2006 – Champaign, IL – Cowboy Monkey
11.20.2006 – Chicago, IL – The Empty Bottle
11.21.2006 – Madison, WI – Café Montemarte
11.22.2006 – Milwaukee, WI – Stonefly
11.24.2006 – Lansing, MI – Temple Club
11.25.2006 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Tavern
11.26.2006 – Buffalo, NY – Mohawk

YouTube Becomes a Hater, Bans NYOIL’s Video

A story has been brewing the past few days in the Blog-o-Blag-o-Sphere, and this very moment seemed like the most appropriate time to bring it to you. So how are you anyway? Did you get a chance to listen to that new Tipper album yet? It's pretty fly. I enjoy its serenity while I spend countless hours writing code. Thanks Filmore. Shit... the story. Sorry about that.

So this is one of those ditties where first-hand experience would be a huge asset, but as a white kid who grew up in a predominately white community, I'm not really comfortable making any comments on the content of the video released by up-and-comer NYOIL. I will, however, agree that the black community seems to be in a rough place, and it's probably true that commercial rap is not helping the situation. Lynching people is obviously not the answer, and calling for the mass hanging of many visible members of the black community is probably not the best way to draw attention to your cause. NYOIL's supposed mission is to embody an ideal and remain faceless in the community. He claims that by not trying to become an icon himself it will allow him to speak for others who share the same viewpoints but can't afford the negative publicity. His main goal is to become the catalyst for a renewed sense of awareness in the community and to draw as much attention as possible in the process.

And YouTube took notice. Following nearly 5,000 page views in a single day, the powers-that-be canned NYOIL's video. The artist followed up the alleged censorship with a few e-mails looking for an explanation, but as of writing this he has yet to receive a response. In an interview with Unkut.com, NYOIL has this to say about the ban: "Why would a song like 'Y'all should all get lynched' be more troublesome to YouTube than the thousands of videos of underage black girls and white girls alike doing jigglit videos? Doesn't that sort of imply child pornography? That doesn't strike you as odd that of all the filth on that site one of the things that they are diligent about is a song that is in essence reminding the people of the sacrifices that were made and to live up to them?"

This entire brouhaha is reminiscent of the KMD fiasco of 1994, where Elektra refused to release Black Bastards due to the Sambo character hanging on the front cover. Years later, the album would be released to little-or-no controversy, but this situation may not mirror KMD's due to some key differences. First, with YouTube you see the video before it's censored; and secondly, NYOIL is dead serious. The remainder of his interview with Unkut reveals that he's speaking in the literal sense about lynching those who reinforce negative stereotypes and become caricatures themselves in the process, which lends a shred of credibility to YouTube for taking down the video.

Unfortunately, it doesn't entirely excuse them for censoring the video in the first place (if that's what they did). You can agree or disagree with NYOIL's politics, but removing the content he created without an explanation smells of the new financial backers leaning on YouTube to remove content that has the potential to snowball into their bottom lines. This is only speculation, of course, by some geek who spends entirely too much time on the Inter-Tubes. Take that as you will.

  

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