Author: Matthew Barlow

Hüsker Dü: Savage Young Dü

Hüsker Dü Savage Young Dü The Numero Group Hüsker Freaking Dü, kids.  I’m not sure why I’m even bothering to write an actual review here.  Away back in time, in 1979, in the frigid climes of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bob Mould, Grant Hart, and Greg Norton met at a record store.  They formed a band.  Mould played guitar and sang.  Norton played bass.  Hart played the drums and sang.  Mould and Hart wrote the songs and took turns on lead vocals.  They were vicious.  Perhaps the fastest band on the planet.  The took punk and sped it up.  They were louder and more vicious than anything else, and that includes so-called speed metal, with the possible exception of Bad Brains.  Eventually, over the course of the 1980s, they mellowed some and began to make albums of more melodic music, but they never lost that viciousness. They were hampered some by the generally weak recording quality of SST records, though even their Warner years were somewhat muddied by poor mixes.  And then they split amongst great acrimony at the start of 1988.  Mould had a drinking problem and was domineering and controlling.  He also was managing the band after the suicide of their manager, David Savoy, in 1987.  Hart had a bad heroin addiction.  Norton, whom I’ve always felt sorry for in between these two, got married and became a chef....

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Robert Plant: Carry Fire

Robert Plant Carry Fire Nonesuch/Warner My buddy Rob says that Robert Plant became a musician over the past decade.  I think that’s a bit harsh, Plant wasn’t just a pretty face in Led Zeppelin.  Take, for example, the writing of ‘Kashmir,’ which took several years for the band to put together.  Jimmy Page wrote the bulk of the music, with input from both John Bonham and John Paul Jones, but also from Plant.  Plant was, of course, the lyricist for the band.  And writing lyrics for ‘Kashmir’ was particularly challenging for Plant due to the complexity and time signature...

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Resurrecting Les Négresses Vertes

One of the wonderful things about growing up in Canada was official bilingualism.  This meant, for example, that growing up in Vancouver, I could see my beloved Habs every Saturday night on La Soirée du Hockey on Radio-Canada.  It also meant that the French-language version of MuchMusic, MusiquePlus, was broadcast across cable in Vancouver, direct from Montréal. For the adventuresome young music fan, there was this whole other world out there from France, Belgium, Québec, and French Africa.  Musiqueplus is how I first heard a whole raft of great French artists, from Youssou N’Dour to Noir Désir to Jean...

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Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band: Adios Señor Pussycat

Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band Adios Señor Pussycat Violette Records, 2017 Michael Head is another one of Liverpool’s long line of brilliant musicians who went nowhere (seriously, the NME once put him on the cover and called him a genius). And more’s the pity.   Back in the early 80s, he fronted The Pale Fountains. Formed in 1980, the Fountains weren’t exactly what you would expect to be coming out of the dying industrial cities of England’s north. It wasn’t punk. The Fountains were influenced by the Beatles and Burt Bacharach. Despite landing a record deal, they didn’t...

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The True North Strong and Free

Last week, Canadian Governor General Julie Payette gave a speech at what the Canadian Broadcast Corporation calls ‘a science conference‘ in Ottawa.  There, she expressed incredulity in creationism and climate change denial, and called for a greater acceptance of scientific fact in Canada.  Payette is a former astronaut, holds an MSc in computer engineering, and has worked in the field of Artificial Intelligence.  In other words, when she speaks on this matter, we should listen. Her comments ignited a storm of controversy in Canada.  Some people are upset at her comments.  Some people are upset the Governor General has an opinion on something.  With respect to the first, Payette spoke to scientific fact.  Full stop. Not opinion.  Fact.  With respect to the second, Governors General and opinions, I will point out that our former Governor General, David Johnston, also freely expressed his opinions.  But, oddly, this did not lead to massive controversy.  What is the difference between Payette and Johnston?  I’ll let one of my tweeps, author Shireen Jeejeebhoy answer: Personally I cldnt care less. Our prev *male* GG was pointed on some of *his* views.Did anyone give a damn? No. Sexism lives in #cdnpoli MSM — Shireen Jeejeebhoy (@ShireenJ) November 3, 2017 But then I found a particularly interesting tweet.  The tweet claimed that for the very reason that Canada has the monarchy, the country cannot...

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