Friday, September 29, 2006

20,000 hockey bugs . . . .

. . . . And each a Drive By Argument fan!

When you're in a band that's achieved even a modicum of success, you come to expect them plaudits of the unusual variety. The kooky fan, the kooky fan letter, the kooky fan letter with the pictures. But even Drive By Argument would have to admit they never saw this one coming.

Last year, the five-piece Ayr outfit learned its debut single, "Sex Lines Are Expensive Comedy," had become quite popular with members of a certain professional sports club. And no, it wasn't a footie squad -- it was the National Hockey League's New York Rangers. The team took to playing the song as its skate-out music and rather quickly it became a fan favorite at the Rangers' home arena, Madison Square Garden.

Not too shabby, especially when one considers Drive By Argument's origins: They initially formed as part of first-year course work at University Of Paisley; the five members were involved with the school's Media, Language And Music program, before taking a year-long sabbatical to focus on the band.

Druve By Argument were locked up by American label Lizard King Records back in May. Both an EP (November) and LP (early spring of 2007) are forthcoming.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Lower Your Pieces" by Drive By Argument.

Right-wing nutjobs!

No one really got the joke. McCarthy? They were Marxists! Members of England's Revolutionary Communist Party! Left-wing nutjobs!

Lost on many wankers was the fact that much of McCarthy's writing was infused with bits of sardonic irony and playful humor. Very rarely was a McCarthy song a true representation of what the band's thoughts and opinions were regarding a particular social issue. "We'll let no cash soil our hands." Not quite. These lads were mainstream pop Gawds and broke the bank. (Okay, that's a lie.)

Anyway, I'm about to cheat here, which if you know anything about me, is not a gigantic surprise. Every since I picked up McCarthy's 7-inch single "Red Sleeping Beauty" in '86, I've been a devout fan of the nutters variety. And that's why I felt no remorse over bending the rules already (only '80s guitar pop, you gaffer!) and uploading tracks from Banking Violence And The Inner Life Today, which was released in August of 1990.

I hope the higher-ups don't get too peeved. I believe one listen to "The Well-Fed Point Of View," however, will make them come around.

"The Drinking Song Of The Merchant Bankers" by McCarthy

"Use A Bank I'd Rather Die" by McCarthy

"The Well-Fed Point Of View" by McCarthy

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Novel indeed

Billed as the world's premier new music convention, In The City has been chugging along for close to 14 years now. Founded in 1992 by Yvette Livesey and Factory Records honcho Tony Wilson, the event serves two purposes: during the day, music industry bigwigs gather to talk shop -- and twist their moustaches and hatch schemes to further destroy pop music; at night, the shindig becomes a music festival (allegedly the biggest city-based music festival in Europe), as unsigned artists are showcased at various venues throughout the host city (which is typically held in Manchester; one-time sites have included Glasgow in 1997).

In The City has helped launch the careers of countless acts, including Oasis, Doves, Suede, and The Stereophonics. More recently, the festival played a hand in kickstarting the career of Glasgow's My Latest Novel. Since performing at In The City back in October of '05, this five-piece outfit has performed at the 2006 T In The Park, done a support slot for The Pixies, and inked a deal with Bella Union Records. But not in that order.

I discussed My Latest Novel rather briefly back in July, but felt the need to revisit them after finally landing their debut album, Wolves (thanks Joel!).

"There is without doubt, a character to Scottish music because we tend to still be very much a Scottish race and don't have a large immigrant population," Graham Weir, a lecturer in popular music at Napier University, said in this article. "So Scotland tends to have its own kind of music -- usually guitar-based."

My Latest Novel, however, aren't bridled by their six-strings; they build upon that ancient guitar template, garnishing their sound with violins, xylophones, peculiar percussion instruments. The result is a work fraught with anxiety and absolution -- an album that fills the listener with a heightened tension, rewards with a much-ached-for release, then starts the cycle anew before one's had time to bask in the afterglow. Scotland hasn't heard a release this labyrinthine in years.

Hear it for yourself. Download: Wrongfully, I Rested" and "Learning Lego" by My Latest Novel.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

To a sweetheart, a bodhran

So the teetotalers were assigned to one particular table: right smack-dab in the middle of the reception hall, the furthest point from either bar. The alcohol was flowing like the Liffey, but we didn't care. We made exotic animals out of our cloth napkins, oogled the bridesmaids, and conquered the dance floor.

One hour left before we were all to be evicted, we extended our campaign to include the band. While the thirsty lads satiated themselves, we hefted their instruments and began to belt out a tune. Behold, The Temperates! Never, in the history of Ireland, has a wedding band sounded so mellifluous. Of course, we were of the sober sort and our crowd was in fine fluthered form -- this helped immensely. Regardless, when all was sung and done, even the band applauded our efforts.

These old hands come alive when playing the bodhran. I pretend its an overgrown bottlecap and I'm lumping up some grotesque demons. Later, the owner told me the instrument was made with kangaroo skin, which is what I learned many of the newer models are being outfitted with. I couldn't contain my smile. "Oh my, next you'll tell me your uilleann pipes are crafted from koala." He was stricken with laughter; he was drunk.

We belted out a handful of spry ditties, all picked on account of the special occasion. Two are listed here, played infinitely better than us by the much acclaimed Boys Of The Lough: "Hillswick Wedding/Robertson's Reel" and "La Grande Chaine/The Newlyweds' Reel."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Besides the autumn poets sing

They're much prettier elsewhere, I'm told. Like up in Stowe, Vermont. Here, they're just a nuisance. Wet, dirty, and sticky: covering your yard (if you have one; I don't), clinging to your car (if you drive one; I don't), attaching themselves to your shoes, where they are then dragged inside your home.

They're not leaf peepers, they're leaf poopers -- party poopers, if you will -- and I don't agree with them. They're just as pretty here in the city. The sugar maples, the beech, the birch, the oak. The candy apple reds and banana skin yellows on their tops, and the soft, fleshy pink color underneath. The way they congregate in tiny groups, like they're taking solace in one another's company, a support group for those once employed in the industry of photosynthesis -- then the wind gives them a small fright and they scatter in every direction.

I gather up some leaves and paste them to construction paper, like a grade schooler in art class. I crush up the really dry ones, relishing that crinkley sound. I stuff a handful down the back of my friend's sweater. I bury myself in a large pile, up to my chin, taking in that acrid smell.

Brooklyn's Oxford Collapse must be leaf peepers. On their forthcoming album, they implore us to "Please Visit Your National Parks." White Mountain National Forest would be a good destination, I'm told. Not too far from here. They also sing, "For The Khakis And The Sweatshirts," which is the standard uniform of us autumn revelers.

Vancouver's The Be Good Tanyas also have songs that call to mind autumn: "Scattered Leaves" and "Out Of The Wilderness." Melancholic and haunting -- just like the season.