Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Live: Arcade Fire @ Salvation Army Citadel, Sat. Sept. 25th

I've never been to a concert completely sober before. That is, of course, unless you count my pre-boozy days as a child, but that's just nit-picking. Point is, it generally takes a couple of beers to get me in the rock 'n roll mood. Last Saturday, that just wasn't necessary. Perhaps I've been saved.

The Arcade Fire get way too much attention from this blog but I can't help it--they give off that cult vibe like the Causey Way, only AF fans don't try to spike the Kool-Aid; musically, they are both challenging and accessible, meaning they can speak to the cool kids and to the geeks simultaneously; above all, their songwriting is pure orchestrated sonic alchemy, mixing that indie thing with elements of soul, 60's rock, 80's post-rock, and even occasionally a countrified flavour (witness the beginning of "Crown of Love" from their Funeral LP to see what I mean).

When I heard that they were going to play in a church, I was a little bit hesitant and kind of wary. I half expected them to announce that all along, they were really a Christian rock band and that we were all being baptised in the name of our Saviour. Bizarre thoughts like this would make any self-respecting agnostic shudder. Luckily, they just wanted a room with great acoustics. The show was pure and cultivated and we didn't mind that the lights were on. In fact, I've never seen 600 Montreal rock fans go so long without a cigarette.

(Salvation Army Logo)

On the stage, there was an engraving that read "Redeemed". Their keyboard was a "Prophet 6000". As they played their virtuosic double-bill (the opening band couldn't make it!), I couldn't help but notice the Salvation Army flag in the corner that read "Blood and Fire". Despite the odd surroundings, they kept the crowd on its feet for the whole show. I couldn't help but sing along to several of the songs, to the disappointment of many concert-goers around me.

Highlights were all over the place like Couche-Tards, but I'd have to say that "Wake Up" was the song of the night. "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" was also very well done, although my friend Gen preferred "Rebellion (Lies)". "No Cars Go" never fails to disappoint either.

Régine showed off her honed singing skills (she sounds more confident than the last time I saw her on stage) and the crowd was musically pacified. "In the Backseat" turned out to be one of their better songs, even though it didn't stand out when I listened to "Funeral". [Ed. Note: As soon as I track down the DJ from Reggie's Pub, who accidentally nabbed my Promo Copy, I will post a review of "Funeral" on JB.] Plaintive and moody, it built up slowly but surely, until cascading into a powerful crescendo near the end of the song.

(Photo courtesy of the Montreal Mirror)

Admittedly, the AF are not for everyone. If you listen to Simple Plan or anything formulaic, you may have trouble with AF songs. If you are a hip-hop backpacker, this may not turn your crank (unless you dig soul music or luminaries like K-OS). Likewise, if you are like my cousin and can't appreciate a band if they're local, keep the line moving and thanks for stopping by. No offense if you're from the preceeding categories. You're people too.

Here is a nice set of Arcade Fire photos from the live show. [Ed. Note: Kudos to Dirty Water for the snazzy shots!] If you're sick and tired of listening to canned music being pissed out of 4000 watt speakers at your local techno orifice, I would suggest that you attend an Arcade Fire show. Salvation can be bought after all; it only cost me eight bucks on Saturday.

The Arcade Fire are on tour! New Yorkers and Bostonians are being spoiled by two fine bands for the price of one--the Hidden Cameras are orgasmically talented. Anyone who sings a line like "The drugs get dealt / and the cocks get felt / on the church grounds" deserves your undivided attention.

Sun 9/26
Black Sheep Inn,
Wakefield, Quebec
(25 minutes north of Ottawa)

Wed 9/29
Kingston ON,

Thurs. 9/30
The Trasheteria (Club Vinyl)
Guelph, ON
w/The Barmitvah Bros.

Fri. 10/01
Lee's Palace
Toronto, ON
w/Bell Orchestre

Sat. 10/02
The Underground,
Hamilton ON
w/Bell Orchestre & Heston Rifle

Wed. 10/13
CMJ Merge Records Showcase
(Mercury Lounge)
New York, NY

Halifax Pop Explosion
Halifax, NS
The Marquee
w/The Organ

Bowery Ballroom
New York, NY
w/ The Hidden Cameras

T.T. the Bears
Boston, MA
w/The Hidden Cameras

Cornell University-
Noyes Community Center
Ithaca, NY

First Unitarian Church
Philadelphia, PA

Garfield Artworks
Pittsburgh, PA

Empty Bottle
Chicago, IL

[Ed. Note: In other AF-related news (Gulp. I almost feel like I'm their unpaid P.R. person, for fuck's sake!), Merge Records is promoting the "Funeral" LP with a flashy animation on their main site. You can listen to the full version of "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" for a limited time only. That is all.]

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Ed Harcourt Plays a Mean Hammond!

He looks like Canuck Wunderkind Hawksley Workman--he even wears one of those strange furry hats like H.W.--but he's more a soul brother to Connor Oberst. I'm talking about Ed Harcourt, and don't let his plain-Jane name fool you. He's hiding musical gems beneath solid rock.

I downloaded his song "Something to Live For" and it jarred me from my woozy slumber. Still enjoying the after-effects of the Arcade Fire concert on Saturday (at the Salvation Army Citadel! Fucking A+), his plaintive, slightly moody drawl with a tinge of British accent (?) made me smile.

Don't take my word for it. I'm just some hack with a keyboard and two barely functional eardrums. Check out his website for streaming audio and some of the good press he's gotten. [Ed. Note: Your grammar skills are turning into soup. Can you remind me why I keep you around, JB?]

Because you need me. Get lost, Ed. boy.

Ed Harcourt is playing in the UK right now:

Sun 31 - Portsmouth - Wedgewood Rooms - 02392 863 911

Mon 1 - Brighton - Concord 2 - 01273 772 770
Tue 2 - Oxford - Zodiac - 01865 420 042
Wed 3 - Norwich - Waterfront - 01603 508 050
Fri 5 - Bristol - Fleece - 0117 929 9008 / 0871 22 00 260
Sat 6 - Brimingham - Academy 2 - 0870 771 2000 / 0871 22 00 260
Sun 7 - Leeds - Cockpit - 0113 245 5570
Tue 9 - Glasgow - Cottier Theatre - 0870 169 0100
Wed 10 - Nottingham - Rescue Rooms - 0115 958 8484
Thurs 11 - Liverpool - University, Stanley Theatre - 0151 256 5555
Fri 12 - Manchester - Royal Northern College Of Music - 0161 907 5555 / 0871 22 00 260
Sun 14 - London - Madame Jo Jo's - 0207 403 3331 / 0871 22 00 260
Mon 15 - London - Madame Jo Jo's - 0207 403 3331 / 0871 22 00 260

Monday, September 27, 2004

Bush's Guided Tour of the Oval Office

Bush may not have a plan for pulling out of Iraq, but he does have time to give guided tours of the Oval Office.

"The job of a president is to set big goals for the country," Bush says. "Big objectives. And in order to achieve those objectives, the country must be united."

Like...bombing other countries? Increasing medicare premiums? Letting jobs slip away to foreign shores while plants close down all around America?


Admiring his presidential rug, proudly crafted by his wife Laura, he notes that the eagle on the seal faces the olive branch in its left-hand talon, not the right-hand claw full of arrows. (Funny. Left=olive branch, Right=arrows, ie. Anti-war movement versus Neo-Con Attack Squad.)

"Of course, it's always important to make sure you got enough arrows in the talons to keep the peace," he admits.

Pointing to the massive desk in front of the window, he says "...this door was put on the desk by Franklin Roosevelt to cover his infirmities."

One painting on his wall shows a horseman riding up a steep cliff. Weird symbol, but it is analagous to the way Bush leads his nation. They're a pack animal and he's riding them right into a bottomless pit. "A president must serve himself, not his self interests," Bush says, unaware of the irony inherent in his statement.

"The other paintings are all from Texas. It's where I'm from, and where I'm going."

Patting a bust of Churchill affectionately, he says "I like Churchill because he was a great war leader, he was resolute, and he had a fabulous sense of humour."

"My family is a priority in my life," Bush says. That's for guess is that your priority is definately not your nation. You're leading them up a steep cliff and the shale rock is chipping away as you gallop. When will America realize what a swindle you're roping them into? The whole Iraq quagmire was probably just a front to cover the billions of dollars you stole from the treasury to pay for your millionaire-friendly tax cuts and elimination of the dividend tax.

Kerry may not be perfect but at least he'll choose a cabinet that isn't war hungry. Also, he's being watched by the progressive side of his party so he won't step on any toes, aside from the Pharmaceutical/HMO cronies and possibly the military/industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about. If you have any love for your land at all, vote Kerry in 2004.

This message was brought to you by Ralph Nader. [Ed. Note: We're fibbing about the Nader thing. Ralph is busy nipping at Kerry's heels in all the swing states. Admittedly, John Kerry isn't exactly helping himself by being so stiff and impersonal on camera. Bush seems like a good ol' boy, which will play well in the populous southern bible belt. I'm scared shitless.]

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Jeremy Brendan- "Foie Gras" MP3

It will be a challenge to write meaningful lyrics for a song entitled "Foie Gras" but I'm sure both Ween and Guided By Voices could succeed. Ever listen to "Vallejo"? Pure brilliance. Likewise about GBV.

this is an audio post - click to play

Jeremy Brendan- "On a Cellphone" MP3

The hiss near the end borders on annoying, but that's what happens when Rogers Wireless drops packets of audio traffic.

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, September 20, 2004

A Text Every American Should Read (at least once!)

Liberal bad-boy Michael Moore may be a master propagandist, as his critics claim so fervently, but he certainly does know how to track down articles that mean something. He posted a piece on his website, written by Garrison Keillor, which sums up the situation in America perfectly.

In lieu of repeating his points and ruining the subtlety of his argument, I will simply post the first paragraph and ask you to follow the link below for the rest of the brilliant text. Please forward it to every American you know and feel free to leave your thoughts here (or anywhere else available, ie. on bathroom walls, chalkboards in your school, your own blog, etc.)

As much as we "foreigners" criticize and poke fun at America, we still want them to be happy and don't want to see them become a neo-fascist entity or a 4th-Reichian Plutocracy. Above all, let peace reign & may the Good Guys win. (Kerry may not be FDR but he's anybody but Bush!)

Without further ado,

"Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element. The genial Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican." More...

Friday, September 17, 2004

Ancient Wisdom from a Departed Soul

"One thing that really fucked me up at Creem was that I got caught up in the whole idea that Lester Bangs was this thing, this idea. I call it like Hunter Thompsonism. It's when you pay more attention to your image than you do to your work. And that destroys your writing. Hunter Thompson's never gonna do anything good again as long as he lives. I don't think anybody really cares about his drug habits."

Lester Bangs being interviewed by Jim DeRogatis in 1982. Two weeks later, he was found dead in his home.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *

I think that I'm going to print out those words and staple-gun them to the walls of my apartment (and my cubicle, if I'm ever forced to squat in one of those unholy spaces hunched over a sticky keyboard).

Just like an old friend Dennis once told me, it's not about your persona; it's about the art you bring forth. Who gives a fuck whether you're drunk off your ass on Wild Turkey? The people want something great, something excellent. What they don't want is some half-witted malarky cobbled together by an addict desparate for his next fix.

I'm not trying to badger you all. Talk about vanity press; this post is for me, to resuscitate that will to disturb that is so important for a journalist. Don't get me started on fraudulent shitheads like most of the staff of the National Post--while they are probably very nice people, their words reveal that they are soulless and willing to kneel for the master--I guess what I really want to say is that I'm in this for the long haul and I won't be known as an easy lay.

Here is my pledge to you all. I won't interview a band or musician whom I don't consider fucking excellent. I also won't become a "corporate shill" (as per Lester's rant in the interview) and my business is not to encourage sales but to discourage shitty music from being released into the general population. I'm a doctor and all futile, commerical tunes are under quarantine from now on.

Also, I have to call on you guys for a little help over here. I need writers, photographers, actors, thieves, or anybody who has a will to create something. Send me your material and I'll see if I can include it on Jeremy Brendan. (My email is @ the top right hand side of the page unless your browser is crippled)

Don't forget about the little "Comment" button below each post. Leave me some feedback, you scurvy-ridden mongrels! I don't mean that...I love you all. I'm just trying to light a fire under your ass so that you'll bother to actually give me some criticism. Without it, I am a withering little fern behind thick, stuffy drapes. My chlorophyll is nearly gone already and you are all sunrays. Feed me. I'll owe you one.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Pitchfork Give the Arcade Fire a Thumbs Up

MTL rock darlings the Arcade Fire have been given a nod from the press gallery; Pitchfork Magazine, an influential online publication that some consider the benchmark of contemporary musical criticism, has given them a stunning 9.7 out of 10 for their LP "Funeral".

Arcade Fire Cover

If fate has smiled upon you, you'll make it to the Arcade Fire show @ the Salvation Army Citadel on September 25th in Montreal (2085 Drummond). Tickets will be on sale @ Cheap Thrills (Metcalfe Street, above St-Catherine). I bought two tickets today and the kindly owner told me that he still has a few remaining. The AF kick so much ass that it would be offensive for you to miss this show. I can't emphasize this enough.

[Update! Doors open @ 8 PM and the music begins @ 9. Word on the street is that the AF have been practicing with the echo effect (the show is in a sort of church, apparently) so expect a wondrous cacaphony of sonic beauty. Also, there is no smoking cigarettes and no drinking allowed in the music space so if you must be fucked up to enjoy a show, take care of that before you attend.]

If you haven't been entranced by their sound before, visit this commercial Babylon of a site and listen to "Wake Up" or even "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" [Ed Note: Scroll down the page to find the songs...they're in Windows Media format & also Realplayer]. You'll be catapulted into a bombastic orchestral Elysian field.

Also, Pitchfork has reported that the AF have announced a whole slew of tour dates across Canada and the U.S. Spread the joy!

09-25 Montreal, Quebec - The Salvation Army Citadel
09-26 Wakefield, Quebec - Black Sheep Inn
09-29 Kingston, Ontario - Clark Hall Pub
09-30 Guelph, Ontario - Trasheteria
10-01 Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Place (w/ Bell Orchestre)
10-02 Hamilton, Ontario - Underground
10-13 New York, NY - Mercury Lounge (CMJ Showcase)
11-05 Halifax, Nova Scotia - The Marquee (w/ The Organ)
11-11 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom (w/ The Hidden Cameras)
11-12 Boston, MA - TT the Bear's (w/ The Hidden Cameras)
11-13 Ithaca, NY - Noyes Community Center
11-14 Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
11-15 Pittsburgh, PA - Garfield Artworks
11-26 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Live: Dan Livingstone, The Hooks & The Casingles @ Pub Balafré

It was the first Saturday in September and I was looking for a fix. I don't mean I was searching for anything contraband--that's what those 24 hour delivery cards are for--no, I wanted to hear some pure, uncut live music. I found just that at Pub Balafré, a dimly-lit little hole in the wall nearly devoid of women, except for a couple of cute ones at the tables. This would make any hetero single dude nervous, maybe because of that hunter-gatherer instinct, so I wasted no time in buying a 650 ml Boreale Blonde. (This is Quebecois for micro-brewed beer)

The first act was a solo blues artist named Dan Livingstone. He was all about Mississippi Delta slide guitar but adamantly refused my Muddy Waters request. Despite this obvious transgression against blues music as a whole, he still fed us some decent blues riffs. His peak must have been during an obscure Bob Dylan cover--"Let me Lay it on You", I think--and the crowd was mostly into his satisfying-yet-mediocre set. I'm sure he would have sounded a lot better with a full band to take some of the weight off.

A rumour was floating around the room that Luca, the Hooks bass player, was passed out on the street in front of the Pub. I gulped and felt a tad bit guilty for having shared my beer with him only minutes before. With starry eyes open wide as saucepans, he had admitted that he took "every drug possible" and that I could quote him on that. This appealed to me greatly. "Rock and roll," I thought.

I went outside for a cigarette and saw that Sebastian, lead singer and guitarist of the Hooks, had just resuscitated Luca and they were sitting in front of the bar. Luca vowed that this was his last night in Montreal. "I'm going to California. I want to sleep on beaches and rooftops like Jim Morrison," he said. "If I die, I die...but if I can make it out there, that's even's a cherry on the sundae." I suspect that he is still here in Montreal somewhere, although I can't be sure.

Minutes later, the Hooks were up on stage. From the minute they plugged in their instruments, I sensed that something was awry. Perhaps it was the way Luca had his bass slung so low; maybe it was that fierce look in Wolf's eyes (their part-time drummer); in any case, they sounded like a drugged-up Who with Kurt Cobain handling the vocals. [Ed. Note: This is a compliment!] The Hooks roll very close to the highway and they are not in the least bit ashamed about their rough edges. I guess this is what it's like to see the Libertines.

Eventually, Sebastian's guitar fell off and he smashed it angrily on the stage, halting the show for a few minutes. Soon enough, they were rip-roaring through a feedback laden opus who's name escapes me. They managed to squeeze a few more songs out of the night before Seb's guitar died for the last time. After leaving the stage, Luca ran back up and pulled his bass out of the case and raised it in the air. Although he used Ian's bass during the set, he had promised to smash his own bass before leaving.

True to his word, he began to pound the wounded bass into the floor. After a few strikes, it was in pieces and the soundman was running towards him in protest. Sebastian ran up and shouted "We're the Hooks" before they left the bar to cool down. I managed to pick up a chunk of bass the size of a Bic lighter; it remains in my pocket to this day.

The Hooks have the potential to be a great band if they can avoid setting themselves on fire at their gigs. They have the soul of Loki [Ed. Note: The Norse God of Mischief!] to guide them but he is a cruel master.

Next up were the Casingles, another rock band based out of Montreal. Justin is their guitarist & lead singer, Ian is on bass, and Tim plays some wicked drums. They started off their set by apologizing to Pub Balafré, God, Canada, and the Rickenbacker Bass Company for Luca's antics. Their sound is more polished than the Hooks; they might even be more huggable. They could be compared with the White Stripes but this wouldn't do them justice. Live, they exude a lot of confidence and reminded me somehow of Iggy Pop & the Stooges. This is a good thing.

the Casingles logo

Justin has a magnetic stage presence but he wasn't able to seduce the saucy blonde barmaid that had caught his eye, even though he purred compliments at her into the microphone between nearly every song. Ian held down the rhythm section with tight, effective bass lines. Tim proved to be a good drummer in his own right, peppering each song with frenetic fills and generous helpings of cymbals.

"Drive" could be a future hit single. It careened wildly towards a feedback-laden bridge and a dissonant, Sonic-Youthy solo before fading into the second-hand bar smoke. Another highlight was "Take a Chance", a dirty, vampy punkish song with allusions to Modest Mouse. I also enjoyed "Behind your Eyes" because it made me feel that I was watching a Canuck version of the Buzzcocks. Justin dedicated the song to his former manager, "a real bitch". This wasn't exactly PC of him but the largely-male audience laughed and guzzled their beers, this journalist included. [Ed. Note: What did Peter tell you in Broadcast 201? Keep yourself out of this, dammit.]

The definate musical OD came when we least expected it. By now, numbers were dwindling slightly and I figured that the show would just wind down. How wrong I was! Justin dedicated "Russian Opera" (which seemed to be a garage cover of the Beatle's "Eleanor Rigby") to a friend whom he had lost only days before. The emotion was visible on his face as he sang "I look at all the lonely people!" and the whole room resonated like a quartz crystal. "Russian Opera" had teeth and most of us were bitten.

"Three for One" was their second last one and I'm sure it could have been a Doors song in some other distant dimension. Slightly caustic yet completely palatable, it convinced me to finish my beer in time to buy another one before last call. They ended the night with a bluesy ode with slide guitar; Justin used a red Zippo lighter for effect.

Keep your eyes peeled for the Casingles. They are ready for prime time. The Hooks need some time in detox but they're good too, only a little bit scary. Dan Livingstone left me indifferent but remotely satisfied.

You don't have to go to Sweden to hear what true rock and roll sounds like; it's living here in Montreal and swigging forties in alleyways, rolling joints on the sidewalk and scrubbing windows with dirty water. I got my fix of gutsy garage rock that night, and it tasted pure. Do yourself a favour and go and find some of your own really soon.

Monday, September 06, 2004

All Points Bulletin!

Have you seen this man? If so, you're probably a Montrealer. Avoid at all costs. Unarmed but dangerous. A threat to civil society. If apprehended, the reward is a three-and-a-half of indo Quebec Gold. Please call 514-242-9840 if you have any information leading to his capture. That is all.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Arcade Fire Get National Press Coverage; Buzz Audible From A Great Distance

Ever since I first laid eyes on the Arcade Fire, I knew that they were going to blow up (in the hip-hop slang sense, not in the explosive one). Their live shows are a frequent source of new converts to their brand of bombast-rock and they are consumate professionals. Still, I never imagined that they would move so far, so fast.

If media hype is an indicator of a bands commercial potential, then the AF (and their label Merge) will be laughing all the way to the bizank. Of course, Win et al. are not in this for the money. They want to save rock and roll by evacuating it from the muddy confines of garage rock and lifting it to a higher level of thinking. They are the anti-Hives, the White-Stripes-murderers. This is a good thing.

Exclaim is a nationally-published music magazine (from Canada, the only free country in North America besides Mexico!) and has a tradition of defining the "cool" up here. They review scores of indie releases from around the world and they have a powerful sway over the tastemakers of the Canuck music industry; the college radio DJ's, the local bar promoters, and other influential folks read Exclaim (along with countless thousands of music fans and rockers). As you can see, Exclaim is a whale to this minnow of a blog, a giant treading loudly beside the JB ant.

And they love the Arcade Fire. In the September issue of Exclaim, a high-res live shot of Win Butler crooning into a microphone appears on the cover. You can read the well-researched, intricately-conceived album review/interview here.

Not to sound glib or pretentious, but JB has earned its first actual press coverage. Exclaim quotes from the interview we conducted in February. Although I'm sure that Michael Barclay meant well, I believe that he should have at least given us a shout-out in his text, instead of writing:

In one fanzine article, he was asked to summarise his outlook on life in 11 words or less, to which he responded simply: “Death is real.”

[Ed. Note: FYI Michael, although I am a fan of the AF, this is definately not a fanzine. I abhor the idea completely. I prefer DIY blog/zine, or even just music blog, but fanzine? Come on! If this is just a fanzine, why bother to lift my quote and then not attribute it to me? That is just not very nice at all.]

Exclaim Cover

On a related note, a fellow blogger called *Sixeyes has posted a link to a live interview/performance by the Arcade Fire. It is located here so please point those mice and click away.

I've contacted Merge to request a promo LP of the AF album "Funeral" but I am still waiting for an answer; expect a follow-up in the coming days/week.

[Ed. Note: The Arcade Fire will be touring North America in the months ahead, including a couple of sets with the stupendous Hidden Cameras. Get your tickets while you still can!]

09/29 Kingston, ON, @ Clark Hall Pub
09/30 Guelph, ON, @ Trasheteria
10/02 Hamilton, ON, @ Underground
10/13 New York City, NY @ Mercury Lounge (Merge and CMJ Showcase)
11/11 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom w/ The Hidden Cameras
11/12 Boston, MA @ TT the Bear's w/ The Hidden Cameras
11/14 Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church
11/15 Pittsburgh, PA @ Garfield Artworks