Monday, March 17, 2008

Gig Review: The Fall Tripod

The Fall

Creative Commons License photo credit: Mc-Q

(This review was mostly written through robbin’ lyrics from popular toons – and under the restriction of having read too much Joyce on way too short a space of time…)

Wanted for continuous wanton crimes against the English tongue
– DJ Krossphader

City Hobgoblins

March 16th in Dublin. The eve of our annual celebration of being a nation of drunken wasters by being a nation of drunken wasters. Scuttling through the city to make the pub for 7.30. Round Merion square corner of a funfair. Through Nassau street by the Dail, round the Stephens Green shopping centre – girls there – tall – just past that and coming out of some new hotel very wealthy creative or criminal types – both? – They have hours fun embracing – sneak through Montague Street thinking the Scott Walker tune and nearly fall over two quite figures in tracksuits – end of an affair?

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Gig Review: Gogol Bordello


(Photo: Deathnabottle's Flickr set)

I headed along to the Docks last night, a huge sports hall by day and super club by night that creeps alongside the lake in Toronto, to see the insatiable and relentless stage show that is Gogol Bordello. The lead singer, Eugene Hutz, has been quoted as saying "Gogol Bordello is a collective, musically and politically. We create an insant party atmosphere to deliver messages of social and political commentary." With statements like that you are left wondering what exactly the politics of the band might be.

For a start, they have some great iconography: all fists gripping sling shots and slogans pronouncing global underdog and immigrant punk uprisings. Throwing out yet another blog posts that compares the band to the Pogues would leave me sinking well on the wrong side of cliche, however Gogol do contain that similar righteous outrage of diaspora mixed with a severe drink problem. It's something of that feeling of being perplexed at state borders that place themselves artificially between community and friends, then there's the alien laws and social mores that stand over and regulate how you socialise.

So a perfect theme for a Toronto audience then, it's a city where on Sunday's the off-licenses close at 5pm - so in short our gig going crew was far from the perfect state for a Gogol Bordello gig. The venue itself consisted of endless crowd control barricades, and stupid assed queues for drinks, all well out of sync with the theatrical abandon of show. Walking out at the end, the thought immediately struck me that the vast car park outside would have been the best setting for it, with a giant bonfire melting the tarmac and smoke plumes rocking over the Toronto sky line. Then, akin to one of the band's more popular songs, there'd really be dogs barking.

As the leader singer, Eugene Hutz has been pushed into the position of an artist extra-ordinaire, it's almost a reactionary thing - with Western journalists seizing on him as a little parcel of Eastern European myth they can package on cat walks and magazine covers. But from his state behavior he seems only too happy to be raised to a pedestal and endowed with a primal fury that drives his fans to Dionysion excess or so most of the media around the band push. Documentaries like The Pied Piper of Hutzovina follow this pattern, tracing his artistic and cultural roots, and how they manifest themselves in his music.

On the night itself, when he's tearing through his morbid love affair with booze in a song called "alcohol", I'm reminded slightly of the Manic Street Preachers own tragic Design for Life - with crowds flailing themselves in sweaty exuberance to a song that celebrates yet exudes the crippling emotional consequence of such wildness. He looks like Street Fighter's Vega, after raiding one or two items from a mustacio'd pointy shoed hipster's closet - the similarity goes further too, for most of the show he looks like he's about to swipe down off the stage in an Izuna Drop straight from the arcade classic.

Sergy Ryabtsev, the impossibly red faced fiddler in a Slayer t-shirt, adds a real carnivalesque feel to the affair - with a devilish menace he orchestrates most of the music leading with screeching assaults from his instrument. The show spirals through one climax after another - its fucking relentless and never ending - the best being an intense routine consisting of pom pom drums, bashed cymbals and a fire bucket in a discordant crescendo of building samba noise.

Apart from hearing a few tracks online, I'd little idea of what to expect on the night - it actually started with some transglobal dancehall riddims, the point where the Guns of Brixton meet arabic hip hop. At the end of the night, tiny little flyers were dished out to the crowd for one of the DJ set after parties that accompany the Gogol roadshow - I was pretty curious as to what he'd be pumping out, but with a work day brewing that morning there was little chance of getting sozzled. The web held the answers, and the guy's piece on music being a catharsis for freedom when taken out of the hands of industry parasite's is great too.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Broken Pencil Gets It's Irish On


Sort of perfect timing this one, allowing me to throttle two zine related posts in one punchy go. First off, Loserdom number 17 came out some time last week. I've mentioned Loserdom over this direction before, when I was particularly delighted so that the whole affair had gone online.

Falling headlong into the clickaholic mode that dawns on me every so often, the new Loserdom announcement prompted me to run over to the Zine Wiki, where there's a brilliant history of early Irish zines by one of the blokes behind Loserdom. Now the best thing about the wiki, is not the information on the zines - mainly who copied with who and what local scene they covered - but the occasional splattering of links to some well dodge mid-90's Geocities pages that roam the net like the living dead.

These are left over as html-ified archives of zine based writing, great for those of us without old stuffed shoe boxes under their bed full of the original xeroxes. Here's some examples of where you can at least trace something out about how some of these dropped;

  • Slanted and Enchanted - love affairs with Warp Records, the long gone Temple of Sound and madser mid'90's Ireland at its proto-Slate best.

  • The Path - If that Crimethinc lot are indomitably associated with crust punk, then this was a double sided A4 page freesheet that shared at least some of their anti-work and sensational rage to life but through a laconic pill head trapped on the assembly line sensibility. Living with your ethics, the M50, a 24 hours where the end of the world was nigh and a social history of the Monto get a look in.

  • Direct Action Against Apathy - brought you a guide to squatting in the bushes on your travels, and free music from the band Devil's Bit Scabious, laced with anarcho politics too.

  • Gearhead Nation - said to be the original '90's zine that buoyed the boom of print copies during the period, it seemed quite politically focussed and a fair few copies online.

  • Analogue Bubblebath - taking its name from an Aphex track maybe, this one had an interview with Freebird Records' John Dee on the history of that Dublin record shop.

What interests me most about these is the level of variety contained within each one, it's impossible to slap them in the face with associations with only a punk mileu and tradition of music. Most of the Irish blogs knocking around today are certifiably monolithic in their pursuit of niche topics, it's either music or politics, film or literature, art or style, or continuous shout outs to their friends - completely one sided approaches. Where with these zines, they were at least somewhat multifaceted.

With the desperate lack of proper alternative free magazines around Dublin now, they hint at a rather bubbling mid 1990's independent spirit that really doesn't seem that well reflected on the blogs and websites that have come to replace the zines. Sure, it's the spurt in a culture of music forums over the past decade that definitely put the nail in the coffin of zine culture. But a young kid from down the train tracks, and up to Dublin to poke around Temple Bar, is not going to stumble upon, say, a lost copy of when having their coffee.

Blogs require shooting your mouth off impatiently, attempting to stay fresh - it must have been so much more appealing to relax and put together a zine, trading addresses and reviews to tap into further distribution channels patiently rather, than racing to keep a site updated.

Moving on, recently Broken Pencil, doyens of the North American zinester world, held their Canzine event in Toronto - a huge show case of independent magazine talent and music, I'd intended to put together a special offline zine version of Soundtracksforthem for the day that was in it and table it with herself, who was due to be distributing copies of the Rag at it.

I booked the table, but never got the hard copy versions thrown together quick enough. Copies of the Rag never arrived, but the organisers were kind enough to return the tabling deposit and throw in a free year's subscription out of sympathy. So it arrived in the post today, and holy moly they reviewed Soundtracksforthem in their ezine section. Click over this direction to have a read of the review. Matt Vinyl's in there too.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fecking Civil Servents


You know over at that Irish civil service website? Where it says "please complete the following Questionnaire" for the Temporary Clerical Officer role that's dished out to all sundry, and especially hopeless for the summer? I'm just curious, but the link to that test is a scrambled url reading So that's a dead end then. Now that's something that might put a lot of less tech sussed people off, or at the very least, frustrate them into throwing a head but into their lap top screen. But that's not the only screw up with the whole affair.

The self assessment advises you to take twenty minutes or so, and put them aside to complete the whole shebang. Then the site downloads with all the pain and strain of a server vomiting its bandwidth over to you from a dial up connection, and choking half way through a screen load. It took me three hours, I swear to God - three hours to do one simple job application survey.

Now, is that a consequence of some cute hoor muck savage of a tech boy in one of the departments, sabotaging the whole affair. All in order to save the 500 advertised work placements for his own social network of third cousins, GAA club drinking buddies and young girls he's shifted out the back of Copper Face Jacks, then promised work to while they were stuck for a job between applying to Templemore? Or was I just having a real bad night online?

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Fake Pharma Ads

Over the last week or so, fake pharmaceutical ads for a drug styling itself “Obay” started jumping up across Ontario. Immediately the mind starts springing with”hey its corporate a rip off of Shepard Fairey (aka OBEY).” But no it wasn’t. With the transit commission and the ad regulatory body refusing to budge and give up the ghost of who was doing the advertising, it was left to the Torontoist to suss it out.

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Vidiot: Data Entry

Boy! Do we have the career for you. Do you have the talent and capability to pace yourself to avoid eye strain and other repetitive strain injuries? Have you ever thought you might like a workplace with good lighting, comfortable chairs and an actual desk? Think you can handle the responsibility of double checking? Then we might be able to plug you in as a data entry bot.

And there’s lots more benign helpful corporate advice for you lost mid-twenties souls out there all courtesy of some madsers called Gadball. It’s all a little too like one of those information videos Lisa Simpson always got subjected to in junior high for my liking.


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Life and Debt

Wiretap Magazine is a pretty liberal online creature, with its head well up the Democrats’ arse, but that said - at least it actually pays its youthful writers. This week it carries a decent piece on the crisis of credit facing North American third level students. Anyone that has ever seen the documentary Maxed Out will have some idea of just how credit has evolved as a a linchpin of North American consumer culture, but really it has quite startling effects.

For instance, try working in your typical North American workplace. In one call centre I did a stint in, way out in suburban north Toronto, it was pretty damn obvious that most of those working the 14 and 16 hour shifts, and without family, were there only as a result of credit card debt. Usually it was from frivolous expenditure or holiday resort based tourism binges in places like Cuba. The work ethic and job loyalty was frantic, and it was no surprise for me to hear today on CBC that something like 67% of Canadians disapprove of workmates using the internet for personal use. I mean, come on.

On a side note, one of thatWiretap site’s regular contributers Larisa Mann might be more familiar to readers under her DJ moniker of Ripley.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Last Night Cosmo Baker Saved My Life / Hip Hop History

Photo: Nicked from Cosmo's Myspace.

Cosmo Baker comes straight out of Brooklyn. You might already have a hint of who he is - what with his re-jigging of that old synthpop classic "Oh Sheila" from Ready for the World, popping up across mixes highlighted on this blog, both on that recent one from DJ Half Dutch and, ages ago, on DJ C's Bouncement.

Last night he played Toronto, a tight blend of smarts from a man that really digs deep and back. His Martial Law CD, for instance is made up of old 45' funk records. Baker is sometimes mix buddy with DJ Ayres - one of those types that blows Baltimore club sounds all over poptastic hooks in a sick formula for club music. Grab a track called Shake from Ayres and you'll see what I'm taking about.

A few years ago, literally about half a dozen people I know had just read Simon Reynold's Energy Flash, his excellent journey into what would end up becoming know as the hardcore continuum, or 'nuum as parts of the blogosphere call it. At the time, compilations such as We Call It Acieed - named after that old D Mobb track, and The History Of The House Sound Of Chicago were passed around manically to accompany the read.

And here's where it's good, now it seems another book has popped up inspiring a similar infectious reading routine among friends. This time it's that Jeff Chang Can't Stop Won't Stop look at the hip hop generation. So no better time to check out the radio show Cosmo Baker does alongside DJ Ayres, it's called the Rub - and there's an amazing archive of shows on it, including 14 different specials looking at hip hop on a yearly basis from 1979 through to 1994.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Eye Candy: Dufferin Hoarding Gallery

Gladstone library is located at the intersection of Bloor and Dufferin, right acrss the road from those every present Timothy Horton coffee joints, a franchise named after some famous Canadian hockey player - bought out and flung across the nation to giddy middle range entrepreneurs desperate for a quick buck from the hideously addictive vanilla tinged coffees they dish out by the gallon. With building work going on, hoarding has popped up all around the old library building. It's an area of the city on the fringe, walking distance from the hipster capitalism of Queen St West and mashed into an old Portuguese, come Ethiopian come what ever neighbourhood - one night framed photographs started popping up on the hoarding, and then more and then some more. Here's what it looked like yesterday.

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Soundtracksforthem specialises in iconoclastic takes on culture, politics, and more shite from the underbelly of your keyboard. A still-born group blog with a recent surge of different contributers but mainly maintained by James R. Big up all the contributers and posse regardless of churn out rate: Kyle Browne, Reeuq, Cogsy, Chief, X-ie phader/Krossie, Howard Devoto, Dara, Ronan and Mark Furlong. Send your wishes and aspirations to

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In no certain order... Politics, Guest Bloggers Interviews, Music, Internet, Guest Bloggers, Travel, Blogging, TV, Society, Film, Gig Reviews, Art, Media.

The Neverending Blogroll
A Womb Of Her Own
Arse End Of Ireland
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Customer Servitude
Counago & Spaves
Candy PDF Mag
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Kick Magazine Toronto
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Modern Cadence
One For The Road
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Gig Review: The Fall Tripod
Gig Review: Gogol Bordello
Broken Pencil Gets It's Irish On
Fecking Civil Servents
Fake Pharma Ads
Vidiot: Data Entry
Life and Debt
Last Night Cosmo Baker Saved My Life / Hip Hop His...
Eye Candy: Dufferin Hoarding Gallery
Review: Heads for the heart of the Sun – The Welco...
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