Jukeboxparables

WT2010 – CANADA – Day 49/50/51/52/53 – On and On and On in Toronto, ON

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on May 6, 2010

WT2010 – CANADA
Day 49/50/51/52 – On and On and On in Toronto, ON
[On the iPOD] Pulp / The xx / The Beatles / Los Campesinos! / Gotye / Siouxsie & The Banshees / Le Tigre / Bikini Kill

Well I picked the time to leave Montreal! It went from a nice warm-sunny 20degrees (Celsius) to -2 overnight and I was met with SNOW in the morning (which is apparently very rare this time of year) The wind started to pick up and I started to worry. Sure I’d endured the worst Alpine-rainy conditions on the way to Portland, OR but this was SNOW and yet again I was in a front-wheel drive rental Nissan Versa (with questionable tyres) I quickly got the scope of driving on a freeway though; keeping the tyres in tracks made by large trucks hence keeping them slightly warmer than running your own lines on snow. The wind and snow picked up to the point where I had the wipers on full-blast and I was overtaking most cars. Even so it was a good 3hrs of snow-storm freeway before the clouds started to clear.

When you eventually get into the city-scape of Toronto, it has the same International-fresh feeling that Vancouver does, only better weather. My hotel was on the top floor of a shopping centre; I was slightly worried about this but it turns out it’s an advantage; you have access to the array of cheap fast-food buffets on-hand in the foodcourt and the room was actually rather brilliant (probably the best so far on this trip) No plans for day one after the tiring 6hour drive but what better way to learn your surroundings than explore aimlessly.

I headed for an Intersection which just happened to be none other than Queen St W, which is scarily like Newtown in Sydney, right down to its music stores, tattoo parlours and herds of hipsters on the streets. After walking one way down, I decided to head the other and towards the towers of the CBD. The shops change from vintage-used-hobo-sheak to the typical International labels with hefty price tags you’ll find everywhere in this part of the world. But theres also an array of cool bar-restaurants that give this part of town a really cool vibe.

Toronto has a tram network, how similar this makes the area look to Melbourne is uncanny. Exactly like being in Fitzroy in Melbourne. I remember thinking great I’ve travelled 15,000km to go to Melbourne. It was interesting to note driving in also that the pushy-rudeness of drivers in Montreal hadn’t transferred to Toronto. It must be a French thing.

Toronto has some amazing Architecture; besides an array of Modern-futuristic sky scrapers that fill the CBD theres also older style heritage sites. A stand out though is the College of Arts building which looks like something of out Samuel Youd’s series of novels; The Tripods.

Some night photography and thai food rounded out a busy day.

After sleeping in and some more wandering about on day two I decided to head to the CN Tower, which was a bad idea because it was like $36 to go up. This sounds expensive but doable but unfortunately I’d made the proper commitment to cutback on expenditure upon arriving in Toronto (tightass? Well I’m 2g over budget and haven’t even arrived in the UK yet) A view of Toronto is something I could pass on.

The weather took a turn for the worst later in the day so I headed back to shelter, later in the night however I met up with a friend Cathy I’d met in a New York city hostel, scarily although she’d been living in Toronto she is originally from a suburb in Sydney 15minutes from mine. You really can’t escape us Australians no matter where you go the world over. I’d heard Canadians in Japan talk about something called “Poutine” so I was promised a late night venture to one of the better vendors of this Canadian delicacy. It’s basically hot chips with a covering of cheese, which then melts when you cover it with shit-hot gravy! Your given a spoon and encouraged to dig-in. It’s an experience for sure (especially great on a cold day)

On Friday I decided to head to Toronto Island, yes there is an island off the coast of the CBD. You hop a ferry for $6.50 and in about 10minutes your staring at an amazing panorama of the Toronto city-scape. The island itself is a lazy playground of sorts. A huge park with places to picnic, a small amusement fair for kids, animal farm, port for yachts and some landmarks. One side even has a beach! the best part about the place however is there is a plethora of cement bike paths criss-crossing about the island. You can rent a bike for as long as you desire.

This will sound rather silly but I’d forgotten how much fun it is to actually ride a bike without purpose. Just for the sheer fun of exploring and the convenience of effortless speed. I literally circled the entire island, a beach view, a lighthouse, local bird life. People actually have holiday houses in certain areas. Pretty great considering it’s a 10min ferry ride from a bustling CBD and you feel like your on a sleepy-town beach-island. I decided to make like the locals and a bunch of tourists and laze around some on the grass. A good change of pace from days of doing anything and everything.

Quite tired from kms of peddling I was walking past Queen St W on my way back to the hotel when I saw some local BMX bandits kick over a parking sign and then use it to flip jumps off on the footpath in betweens gaps of pedestrians! This was too good to pass up so I brought out the camera for some action shots. Some of the photos are rather good as one of the riders was getting some serious air and even went on to jump 2 of his mates standing up!

Final day in Melbourne’s doppelganger sister city, what better thing to do than to hit Kensington Market. Basically a collection of backstreets just west of china-town. The hipster/hippy/alternative/antique/collectible/used/vintage crowd is all represented here. A stretch of the area is essentially people having all collectively decided to turn their front-yards into shop stalls selling their own clothing and wares! I hadn’t seen anything like this since Tokyo! pretty amazing.

One store had every conceivable novelty instrument, I pondered purchasing an accordion more than once. Another had oldschool toys such as an array of gaming consoles to easy-bake ovens (in boxes) Another a shelf of used cameras, some with film still inside! After getting some food I stumbled to a small park near the area and pretty much fell asleep. The long bike ride the day before catching up to me perhaps?

Later than night before heading out I decided to visit a store called “Ed Harry’s” which is the inspiration for an amusing scene in the comic series Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. Unfortunately it was closed, so I didn’t get to experience it’s blinding brightness but got photos none the less. I had to call it an early night because I was up 4:50am the next morning for the drive back to New York and a stop off at Niagara Falls on the way!

Racing towards the border I made it to the Falls just after sunrise (the signs really don’t help you when approaching, a small 5minute detour into town eventually led me to the falls) You had to pay ridiculous amounts for parking; luckily it was just past 6am and there were no attends so I raced in for free, dodged the misty spray from the water and stood there taking in the sun clearing over some clouds. The area was also deserted, the average tourist not keen enough for 6am on a sunday morning luckily. The mist covered up half the view but it was awesome none the less!

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WT2010 – USA – Day 42/43/44 – New York, NY (Antiques, Art, Memorials & Alcohol)

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on April 26, 2010

WT2010 – USA
Day 42/43/44 – New York, NY (Antiques, Art, Memorials & Alcohol)
[On the iPOD] Brainiac / The Replacements / Sparklehorse / David Bowie / The Libertines / New Order / Pink Floyd / American Football / Dizzee Rascal / The Whitest Boy Alive / The Thermals / Johnny Foreigner

Heading over to Brooklyn for the last time, I wanted to see if I could find some more bargains in the excellent shops around there. Wandering into an antique furniture store for no real reason. It’s really interesting checking out antique stores in foreign countries because their cultural history is so dissimilar to anything you’ve experienced back home. Amongst the furniture were toys, instruments, trinkets and nik-naks. Something that stood out in this particular store was a huge collection of ‘Life’ magazines dating back decades. Flicking through them is like stepping back through time.

Another interesting collection near the vinyl music section of the store was a collection of photos, literally in a huge pile in a 2metre wide crate, you trawl your fingers through them finding snapshots of memories people had shared and mattered at some point in time. It’s funny how you can discern what era a photo was from by the style of print of the photo and fashion/style of the subject. There was something from every decade from the 20’s and 30’s I’d say. Another area had boxes and boxes of postcards; used and new dating from as far back as the 1920’s. I flicked through them reading the messages from sender to recipient, one dated 1917 another 1946 and another 1974. I literally wanted to read them all but it would have taken days.

Wandering onwards to a used clothing exchange, a cool shirt for $10; perfect. My stomach rumbling I wandered back to the main strip and a Pizza place. Have I mentioned New York’s obsession with Pizza? It’s utterly ridiculous, there is one on every corner and that’s not an exaggeration. This particular store had an amazing selection and was probably the best I’d had in NY. I was then staring down at the wall eating my bbq marinara ranch chicken with pineapple! when I noticed a banner reading “Welcome new recruits” and the logo reading “DHARMA” hold on…

An Internet link flashed straight into my mind. Over a year and a half ago I came across an Internet link where someone had blogged about being in Hawaii and roaming around in-where they somehow stumbled on the shooting location of the TV series “Lost” and found a whole bunch of props from the show unattended and started taking photos. I linked everyone I knew to this blog because I thought it was rather amusing (and I loved the show at the time)

I was all set to ask the attendant where the hell he’d gotten the banner but then overheard people in the booth next to me talking about it first hand; “So a guy who worked here was in Hawaii and…” (long story short It was the same guy!) and apparently he decided to take the banner as a souvenir. Here I am, having traveled 15,000km and I randomly stumble into the guy’s Pizza place staring at the very sign I’d seen online.

Got back to my hostel and spoke to a dorm mate Bryan who was going to see a movie with other pals, I ended up tagging along (the movie being Kick Ass, which is an apt movie title) Afterwards they all decided to head for drinks in Lower-Manhattan so I tagged along. Next thing I knew we were putting cool songs on the jukebox and ordering pitcher after pitcher and approaching 3am (on a tuesday mind you) we decided to grab some food and call it a night.

We were wandering towards the subway when Bryan spotted an Art mural being posted up. As it turns out the mural was this The Artist being none other than Shepard Fairey (he was actually there finishing it off) The name sounded familiar but it didn’t click. I’d soon realise it was the same artist responsible for the world-famous OBEY works. Bryan knew his work a lot better than me (I think a friend had mentioned him in passing a few years back) But it didn’t click immediately. It was quite the experience, seeing this being worked on whilst tipsy drunk in New York and actually meeting the Artist there.

The Following day and I’d been pondering visiting the WTC site. I didn’t initially want to do it, because I knew it’d effect me profoundly and I’d be on a downer for the rest of the trip which is not to be disrespectful but In the end I decided I had face up to reality and do it. I hopped a train down to the financial district and wandered about there first. I came across a man bowing down before a giant bull-statue (the symbol for wealth/wall st? I’ve been told?) I’m not sure if it was performance art or simply some poor disgruntled American whose lost his home thanks to the recent Crisis’ (He was yelling at it; “Are you mocking me?”)

I’ve always laughed off banking conspiracies (you know the ones about the major banks of the world knowingly plotting in some clandestine/cult-like fashion to control everything; a tip of the hat to the empires of Rome) It all still sounds like utter crap, except for the Architecture and sheer money put into these buildings. They do almost to some extent look like ‘holy’ shrines to a bankers/traders money-fueled way of life.

The WTC site is huge, the footprint of the area below where the towers stood is probably two regular city blocks. My first impression of the people around was one of ‘We’ve got work to do” the cranes and construction workers scaling cast-steal beams in the far distance directing the pieces of a new tower in place. Signs around me point you in the direction around the site though I stopped short at a fire-station memorial with a placard of the faces of some 100 firefighters who scrambled as fast as they could to get into the towers to help people only to give the ultimate sacrifice in doing so.

Around the corner was a permanent memorial cast into the walls of the building. Some personal effects of one of the family members hung off it along with flowers and a flag nearby. The area was mostly tourists and school kids visiting, learning about the scale of what happened and what the future of the site will hold. The plans included a few things; from a new tower, to a park, to a memorial to two huge receding 2-tiered-level square ponds (which occupy the original footprint of the two towers) which will look amazing at night I think. For now the area is a buzz with construction. I tried taking some long-distance photos of the construction workers erecting steal only to have one walk past me and whistle at his buddy 50metres up as if to say ‘look good, your on camera’.

The vibe of the area is one of reserved pride. All the workers minds are on the job; getting these plans built whilst all the tourists stand solemnly in remembrance gawking at the new constructions forming before them. I will visit this place again when it’s completed. I think it’ll be a fitting tribute, you can always trust Americans for that. America is a country built on a secular constitution and I believe this place is holier than any place of religious worship.

Wednesday night was a trip back to Brooklyn and a venue by the name of the Brooklyn bowl to see Portland’s finest The Thermals with the best Jerseygirl ever; Molly. The band played a solid set which numbered something like 16songs-18songs. It was the second show in two days (the show the night before sold out) The crowd got treated a huge selection of songs spanning all of their albums with songs from The Body, The Blood, The Machine and last album Now We Can See seeming to get the biggest crowd response. Lead singer Hutch Harris exclaiming they were playing a longer set than yesterday because It was the last show of the tour, he also mentioned their new album is finished and being mixed by Chris Walla and will be out soon. For me; “Here’s Your Future”, “We Were Sick” and “I Called Out Your Name” were stand-outs. The band also played the song off the split 7″ vinyl they’ve released with The Cribs (which I hadn’t heard yet) amongst other new material which sounds rad overall. Full of energy, but plenty of room on the floor. The Brooklyn bowl is amazing; It’s a bowling alley and a restaurant and a venue in one. And you can see the band no matter what your doing! They even had projection screens above the ten-pins so you won’t miss anything if you’d rather bowl and drink and have the music as a live soundtrack.

Thursday, Last day in New York. I was considering visiting The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) because people have said it was ‘good’ but I kind of felt “museumed out” but after hearing Bryan and Ed rave about some of the installations there I knew I had to go. Luckily it closed 8:45pm on a Thursday. Little did I know what I’d run into…

I was expecting another run of the mill gallery, instead I got 6 levels of wow. Ill quickly summarise some of the stand out moments. Marina Abramovic is a performance artist who uses her body as her medium. She’s been doing this since the early 1970’s (in installation form) and MoMA just happened to be showing a retrospective of all of her ‘works’. For the first time, her older works were being performed by other people whilst she was present in a new piece which struck me as soon as I walked in.

It was a room with a square painted on the ground; A table in the centre and 2 chairs, one with Marina sitting there in an eye-catching red ceremonial style gown and the other free for members of the audience to participate in. People queued around the square watching on as Marina and a member of the public stared each other down. There was no time-limit for a person to sit there, some took 5minutes some an hour or more. I actually walked through other exhibits and came back to find the same women sitting there. For some it was too much, they’d leave with tears in their eyes perhaps recalling sad memories or successfully having read some in the blank stare of the artist herself. The performance was filmed and streamed on the Internet live and a photographer took photos of the participants which you can find here I overheard an array of comments from; “How completely lazy” to “I don’t think I could go up there” and “This is intense”. My interpretation of it was a commentary on the interaction between people on a daily basis, the distractions of speech and meaning removed.

I wandered through the works of Picasso for sometime then eventually moved on to more modern works like those of Kentridge. On my way up through the levels of sculpture and design I reached the second last level and walked in to find Van Gogh’s The Starry Night staring me in the face. I kind of froze, In the single art class I’d failed in high school we were made to re-draw this painting. It took me awhile to adjust to realise I was actually looking at the real thing (I wasn’t aware it was hung in America let alone the museum I’d just wandered into on a hunch) It is one of my favourite paintings to this day. Nearby were other Van Gogh works as well as those by Munch, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso and Dali. What can one say other than wow.

I’d missed some of Marina Abramovic’s other retrospective works however I think they had closed for the night. They were being performed by other people one of which an interpretation of her 1974 work entitled “Rhythm 0” was chillingly retold to me by my mates at the hostel it goes like this;

A woman was in a room by herself, only accompanied by a table with 72 objects on it; including scissors, markers, a whip and knives and a gun with 1 loaded bullet. The audience was instructed to use the objects on the women as they saw fit they were also allowed to put her limbs in any position. Initially people used the markers to draw on her and put her arms in certain positions but as time went by people started to use the knives to cut her (on the face) and it all slowly culminated to the point where an audience member, grabbed the loaded gun, placed it in the hand of the women, moved her arm and pointed the gun towards her own head and began to pull the trigger only to have the audience gasp in shock horror and head to pull it away.

MoMA really is one of the best museums I’ve ever been to. My last stop before closing however was the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibition. Basically he is the original intrepid exploring photographer. Starting in the 1930’s. As you enter the walls are plastered with maps of his journeys, he literally travelled everywhere before the average person knew what ‘there’ looked like and he took a huge array of photos being published by magazines such as Life, he also helped establish an photographers right to own his work. India/Indonesia during Independence / China during the revolution / USSR and the death of Stalin / The American post-war boom. He covered everything from the average shot of the everyday person to portraits of icons. I kind of got inspired after seeing his work and travels. Just thinking about it all logistically (how one traveled the world with camera gear in the early 20th century) It was utterly impressive.

I wandered around towards the Apple store on 5th Ave and that was pretty much the end of the day, my last set of photos in New York were black&white of random people interacting on the sidewalks of Midtown Manhattan some sort of pathetic attempt or homage to Cartier-Bresson? I don’t normally focus on strangers but I thought I’d give it a shot.

Later that night involved vodka, beers and generally a good time at the hostel (a hostel party of sorts)

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WT2010 – USA – Day 26 – Seattle, WA

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on April 8, 2010

WT2010 – U.S.A
Day 26 – Seattle, WA
[On the iPOD] Nirvana / DFA1979

A 3hour drive to Seattle, WA. Surprisingly up until this point, I hadn’t listened to much American radio but forgetting to charge the iPod I was furiously channel flicking on the short drive into Washington. You do not know bad music until you listen to American radio. Twenty channels of Country-Pop-Rock… think acoustic Nickelback with a country accent, endless different ‘artists’ in this vein. My ears were bleeding.

I finally got into Seattle, much later than I had planned unfortunately because I was only effectively staying one night I’d have to get out there and do something. When I began planning this trips months and months back I had to move dates around a few times, which makes this all the more spooky. I had planned to do a small site-seeing Nirvana/Kurt Cobain tour thing but as it turns out the date I’d be Seattle was in fact April 4th and staying overnight of the 5th (The anniversary of the day Kurt Cobain died) I wanted to detour 1hour into Aberdeen (1hour from Seattle but I’d left it a little late) Instead I apprehensively decided to visit Cobain’s “Graceland” or the last he bought and lived in.

It’s not a proper Indication of Cobain, because he only lived there for a short period (after Nirvana had become successful and he had the money to buy such a place) even so the house itself is completely modest. It’s in an expensive area on Lake Washington Blvd (it overlooks a lake with Ice-topped mountains behind it) It’s an amazing view but the house is secluded behind many trees. It looks like a large very-homey lodge.

Next to the house is a small (1 house block-size) park with a park bench. The story goes the last place Kurt Cobain was seen alive was by passing residents as he sat on that park bench. It’s kind of funny in a way. It’s this small, understated park where you effectively stare at some trees and the road where yuppies pass by in SUV’s. I can totally picture Cobain sitting there with a smirk of contempt on his face, wholey aware of the irony of him living there.

The park bench has become a make-shift shrine. Courtney Love (his late wife) apparently scattered his ashes in the trees behind the bench. The bench itself it covered in dedications from fans. As I walked towards the park there were three guys sitting before it, writing messages. It turns out they had hitch-hiked across the USA and it was the first time in Seattle and first time at the spot. We exchanged stories of our little minds being blown growing up; ages 11, 12, 13 listening to the sludgey raw, gravely sounds of Cobain and then expressing dismay at how the many artists of today (and following) have failed to ever comprehend Cobain’s message of a world of anti-rockstar, anti-masochism, anti-cockrock and sexual equality in music. We sat there on the bench, the four of us quietly.

One of the guys Adam lent me his iPod to listen to a b-side I’d never heard. Loud and bright LIVE, just like many of the bootlegs I listened to as a kid. People had already left flowers and candles there. There were messages of solidarity from all over, the UK, Poland and Japan. I contemplated for awhile what I’d write. I eventually went with a quote from one of Cobains loves; a song from a band called The Vaselines, Nirvana covered two of their songs on their album Incesticide. Kurt loved them so much he FORCED them to reform so they could open for Nirvana when they were in Edinburgh, Scotland (The Vaselines hometown) The chorus of the song titled “Son of a Gun” is “The sun shines in the bedroom when we play, the raining always starts when you go away”. I went with the latter part of that.

The guys were genuinely shocked when I told them what day it was (the anniversary of Kurt’s death) turns out they hadn’t planned it either. Later on they went to knock on the door of the house and then heard someone playing basketball out the back. They walked up to the fence and asked “Hi, just wondering are you a Nirvana fan?” this was met with a stern NO! and the guy sounded like a yuppie tool. Quite amusing, though understandably he probably has to put up with constant harassment.

Later on I went for a wander around Seattle, it’s an Interesting place. Not really smoking-metropolis but not really quiet and dull either. Somewhere in between. No bands were playing on a Sunday night a the Crocodile Cafe unfortunately (a popular venue in the 90’s) so I stayed in at night and decided to leave early the next morning!

Theres probably more to Seattle than half a day can uncover, unfortunately I’ll have to leave it to another time! I’ll leave you all with a small Cobain tribute… or the two sides to Nirvana (the loud and raw and the soft and humble)

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WT2010 – USA – Day 24/25 – Portland, OR

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on April 7, 2010

WT2010 – U.S.A
Day 24/25 – Portland, OR
[On the iPOD] The Libertines / The Sonics

Sunny sunny Portland! I’d found something out from the locals, they discern who ISNT from Portland by the simple fact they carry an umbrella. Apparently the done thing is everyone wears hoodies to fend off the rain and rain it does in Portland (a little too much this week) It is the most bizarre weather I’ve ever seen. You could compare Portland to Melbourne but the fact of the matter is it never rains more than 5minutes, not sure if it’s the way the landscape surrounding Portland is organised but those rain clouds roll in and roll away before you’ve had a chance to get our umbrella wet. Mostly it’s sunshower drizzle and a trusty hoodie will get you through the day.

I headed over to the Portland Craft Museum, it doesn’t sound very enticing does it? I had my doubts too but I was running out of options in the rain. Some interesting subversive ‘hack-art’ mostly surrounding clothing. A local artist had modified two bicycles and rigged them to a sewing machine to faux canvas clothing. It was a human-powered production line, perhaps protesting modern production line clothing or the hours it takes to produce such clothes using human power in protest of sweat shop labor. I’m not too sure frankly, its rather subjective. Interesting none the less. Another display featured giant blanket with the Nike swoosh which was collectively sewn by hundreds of people around the world and then delivered to a CEO at Nike in protest of their sweat-shops. The piece I liked the best however was a bunch of letters stuck to a wall.

They were letters written by a former gulf-war marine address to various heads of organisations such as America’s ambassador to the UN, the secretary of Defence and so forth. Next to them were the replies. Basically they were short and to the point letters (half a paragraph) praising efforts of the recipient on sticking to their intended goals re: the current wars in Iraq/Afghanistan and mildly suggesting an opposition to it. Enclosed with the letters were home-made pots with Army-inspired themes as gifts to the recipients. It’s kind of jading reading the robotic replies. The last was addressed to the representative of China to the UN praising China’s efforts to oppose to the war, next to the letter was the pot (returned to sender unopened) It’s funny how American politicians are happy to play the game and be all smiles whilst the Chinese just don’t give a toss. No photos of most of the exhibition (not allowed)

I later headed to a popular music store called Jackpot Records (bands play in-store showcases frequently) See The Cribs doing so right here I was after an album by a local band called Yacht and found a cheap used copy but they couldn’t find the CD! So I asked if they had The Cribs latest album on vinyl which they didn’t. The guy felt genuinely bad for me leaving empty handed so he ended up giving me a Cribs T-shirt which were made specially for the in-store appearance (a limited set) for free! Radness. I also picked up a present for a friend.

The rain was picking up so I again headed to the only point of comfort nearby The Powell’s bookstore. I’m not sure if I put into perspective what this store is to Portland, it’s more than a bookstore it’s like a meeting-point and hangout for all of Portland it seems. The place is ALWAYS packed they have a cafe in there which serves epicly good coffee and tea and the independent feel of the store and it’s selection of new and used books make it a place you can keep going back to without getting bored. Did I mention it has 4 levels and spans a city-block? I stayed in there reading The Zinesters guide to Portland. Written by a local bunch of Zinesters (A Zinester is someone who makes Zines; home-made, photocopied magaZINES which usually contain creative writing on topics of sub-cultural themes which are mostly autobiographical) That’s a poor description but you get the jist.

The book apparently started as a zine itself, with a bunch of ‘cool places to go and see’ in Portland written for out-of-town zinesters visiting for a zine symposium. If I say zine one more time i’m going to explode. But anyway it’s now a 100+ illustrated book, its quite amazing actually. I learnt a few things like theres actually 5 quadrants to the city (NW, N, NE, SE, SW) and Portland has 12 bridges! (8 in the immediate city area) Bridgetown indeed. Sipping Japanese sencha tea I totally lost track of time.

No cool gigs on Friday unfortunately though the night before I’d headed to see a band at a venue called Holocene. “The Morning Benders” out of San Francisco. They’re opening song was brilliant kind of an oldschool british post-punk vibe to it with working up rhythms. But then they settled into the ‘sound of today’ or falsetto folk-pop. They’re ultimately a soft folk-pop band along the lines of Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend. But not as memorable really. If only they’d stuck to that post-punk opener instead of conforming to what’s cool right now. I kind of left not really that interested. Good venue though.

Saturday involved getting out to “the real portland” on my own. The NE and SE. Basically these quadrants all have ‘suburbs’ or areas but when someone asks where your from people usually reply by the quadrant. In the NE it’s Alberta St that featured a bunch of cool little shops and restaurants, it was a shame about the heavy rain or I would’ve explored more. I settled for lunch however and next headed to SE Hawthorne Pde. This place reminded me most of home, or that is Newtown in Sydney. Not as big or as crowded but good original stores and restaurants. Theres the best damn used clothes store I’ve ever seen called Red Light. I tried on two jackets, 1 of which was too big and the other too small (DAMNIT!) because they were an utter bargain and totally cool. Theres racks and racks of vintage used t-shirts. Girls would probably go insane in this place. There was only a small section for mens clothes with the rest of the store for women. A Madonna album played in the background whilst I flicked through original run Simpsons T-shirts. Early 90’s flashback much! Ack.

I tried to go to a park East of Hawthrone Pde but it turns out it was a damn Forest again, PDX likes its inner-city forests. After shopping around for a bit I ate and then headed back early to relax for a big gig that night.

A show at the Doug-Fir (a snazzy newish-looking venue) I don’t like that “new-polished-bar” venue appeal but I’ve gotta say they have the best sound tech/setup I’ve probably ever heard. Utterly perfect. I say ‘big gig’ because headlining was current hyped “IT” band “Surfer Blood” from Florida. Even JJJ back home has been sprucing them loudly. They’ve got a sort of Surf-Pop 60’s vibe to them, but not in a raw-garage way. More in a Beach Boys kind of way (minus the keys and multiple voice harmonising or epic genius layering) I’d like to say they were all that, but they looked about 17 years old and though they were tight they pretty much had the appeal of a young band. IE; Not much. They have some stand out songs but overall it’s a bit too simple in parts. The venue was packed (near sell out) but no one seemed to be dancing to it. All hype? No, there are some points to write home about, but they’re no Arctic Monkeys (and look where they’ve gone) Time will tell I guess.

But but but the band before them by the name of “Turbo Fruits” from Tennessee were wholey entertaining and in parts; a flat out riot. This is probably due to the fact they have a former member of “Be Your Own Pet” It’s raw 60’s garage rock/pop meets a Southern-knee-slapping good time. At times a little too much so (I almost mistook one of their songs for Kings Of Leon) but thankfully the vocals sound nothing along the lines of that accent. They played two covers; CCR – Bad Moon Rising (in a garage style) and then The Undertones – Teenage Kicks, which was spot on. If anything the band doesn’t have the songs as yet (a short set with two covers) but they’re one to look out for. I met some cool people later on and then stumbled home. Just like that Portland came to an end. Farewell Bridgetown, Beervana, PDX, Stumptown and The City Of Roses.

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WT2010 – USA – Day 17/18 – Los Angeles

Posted in Uncategorized by jukeboxparables on March 27, 2010

WT2010 – U.S.A
Day 17/18 – Los Angeles
[On the iPOD] The Smiths / The Cure

I felt like I needed a change of pace from driving everywhere, even though I’d only been doing it for two days. I found some interesting directions to something called The Giving Tree, which I’ve since learnt is based on a book. Basically it’s a ‘hidden spot’ in the hills surrounding L.A well known to hikers but not really anyone else. So I went to check it out early in the morning.

The directions were purposely poetic, I wasn’t sure what to expect really but as instructed parked in a certain car park and saw a bunch of joggers/hikers heading up this trail where the road/car park had ended and the hills somewhere near the Hollywood sign began.

When I say poetic; think along the lines of “When you see the dragon on your right, you’ll know your on the right path” etc. Amusing, but an adventure none the less. I followed the directions and as the trail path began to rise I started to wonder how far this damn tree was going to be. Eyeing the path on the other side of the valley, it looks like it winds kilometres and kilometres which I wasn’t exactly dressed for hiking. Though passing sweaty hikers on the way down I continued to climb and climb.

Eventually you could see the Hollywood sign to your distant left, It would’ve made a good photo but theres a hill obstructing “HOL” so I pressed on. And then after some more twists and turns there it was on the right; a large grand tree with an open-knot-burrow in the centre of it and a red box placed right before the hole. It’s called the giving tree but it might as well be called The Wishing Tree I suppose. People have written their wishes on hundreds of different pieces of paper and placed them in the box or in the tree itself. Somehow they seemed in good condition, it must shield them all from rain naturally.

It wasn’t utterly awe-inspiring but I think it’s more of a destination to make you actually trek the 1.5km or so up the hill “It’s the journey, not the destination” type deal. The hills in that area are actually rather amazing and so is the view. If someone had suggested I go for a hike I probably would have told them no thanks (in a more abrupt way)

So I trekked my way down, sliding in places in my grip-less chuck taylors. Basically every hiker would greet you with a smile and a ‘heya’ I also observed a lady with seven, yes seven dogs in a range of sizes all on their own leash. How one is supposed to hike with that much chaos is beyond me.

I then headed to MOCA; the Museum Of Contemporary Art which currently was hosting a “30years of MOCA” exhibit. Some interesting works, mostly I found myself sighing at some works. Contemporary Art isn’t really my thing but I suppose that’s part of the experience you find yourself loving some things and hating others. Some of the photographers works on show were pretty mind blowing. I generally dislike work “setup or staged” to provoke, its just really hard to do it and not be cliched. Even though these were master photographers I found myself scoffing at some artful shots. Someone has to do it I suppose.

When photographers are more candid, its wholly more interesting to me. The best photography in my mind are shots that are entirely spontaneous and then capture the moment in a way that almost makes it seem as if it were staged. I guess you could say “documentary style” but alluring to something more, something “almost staged” perhaps it’s their subject matter that makes them seem this way. Nan Goldin and Larry Clark were standouts for me.

The MOCA exhibition actually had two venues, the other being in Little Tokyo 10blocks or so away, So I made the trek over and it was worth it. I had three! different people randomly come up to me and comment on my shoes (Im currently wearing mis-matched cons because I wore the inside of one out in Tokyo) or maybe I’m just a hipster wanker.

Too much walking! so I headed back to my hotel and decided to head to a venue called Spaceland at night. After missing out on the soldout gig at The Echo the day before I really really didn’t want to miss another show. Heading there like 10pm I circled the venue for parking for like 10minutes! Shows are really popular in L.A apparently. I kept getting further and further away until I was like 6 blocks away and it was past 10:30pm I thought; to hell with this and headed to the venue from the night before The Echo; which was bound to have some good music right?

$12 entry and I walk in to find lazers hitting my eyes, people wearing hoodies and some hip-hop/electronic mashup stuff on stage. Ohhh FFS!….. As much as this isn’t me I decided to get a drink anyway because I couldn’t be bothered driving anywhere else. The headline band was more electronica and better than the one before / had a guy with a guitar; this looked slightly more promising.

Queue a bunch of knob twiddlers hitting the stage and playing a bunch of samples on laptops and then a guy in a mask stage diving over and over whilst his laptops played his sick mixes. /cuesarcasm I was thinking wow these guys are really good. /endsarcasm. They naturally had projectors running in the background of their set bombarding the crowd with a visual art component which had to win some points or something. One screen played a bunch of handpicked retro cool 80’s videos which I must admit were rather amusing. The other screen however was connected to a laptop which was connected to a webcam pointed at the crowd which was connected to… yes you guessed it, chatroulette. Needless to say I called these guys knob-twiddlers at the start of this longwinded paragraph and then that’s exactly what we all had to witness on a 100″ projector screen. Cocks and Electronica… and I paid $12 for this. What worried me more was the excitement of some “doods” in the crowd at all this.

They did have one or two good tracks though I must admit. Still.

Anyway long story short, I met some cool people who ended up showing me around Echo Park / Silverlake one bar featuring a wank security guard who didn’t want to let an Australian in. We eventually found some bar with a couple of free seats for drinks though. So in the end it was a good night!

Part of the reason the gang was in a rush to show me around Thursday night was because I was sure I was checking out Friday morning. I checked iCalender the day before, where I’ve planned everything out and sure enough I was. Fast forward to me rushing in the morning to get my stuff packed and taking 30minutes to find my spare doorcard which I couldnt checkout with to then rush to reception to ask for checkout; only to be told I’m checking out tomorrow! She was right. Id somehow stuffed up the calendar entry on my laptop. So with a free day to spend circa 12pm already and nothing planned I decided to head to LACMA.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art; which had two exhibitions one on the last 30yrs of Renoir the other on American Stories (Collection of classic American Art) I don’t have any photos because they weren’t allowed but I’ll just summarise by saying the American Stories exhibition was eye opening and really good. I had lunch beforehand which was rather disappointing. A “side” was listed as “home-made crinkle cut chips” I was thinking something else; eating steak with potatoe chips (per you’d find in a plastic packet ala doritos) is a recipe for a coronary disaster eww.

Friday night in L.A! I’ve got to say up until this point it’d been disappointing. Some good shows but just not hugely memorable. Well Friday night L.A finally!! delivered. Theres a venue known mostly to locals that goes by the name of “The Smell” it’s been around for awhile and was quite notorious back in the day for being dingy as hell; I’ve heard stories of it from punk peeps who have talked about having to dodge dumpsters, garbage and the odd hobbo fight to get there and struggle to find the entry of it. Police constantly patrol the area to keep bad shit from going down.

Though I’ve gotta say that’s all in its past. It has a website now and everything. Basically it’s an artspace/warehouse off a lane in L.A that looks kind of dingy but definitely has character. It’s All-ages, No Alcohol and most of the time ALL bands are $5. These are basically the venues 3 rules. There were five, yes five! bands on the bill starting from 9pm. $5! Brilliant.

I turned up kinda early to find people slowly walking, no music yet so I sat on a couch and noticed they have a permanent in house ZINE collection as well as a book shelf. I picked up a zine called “These Days” as was blown away. Couldn’t put it down and wanted to steal it. Maybe I’ll find it online.

Eventually a band kicked off and people slowly made their way to the floor (the opening band plays on the floor) but they were rather impressive. “Wounded Lion” was their name. They had a 60’s garage-rock vibe with a bit of surfrock, lots of reverb on guitars etc. They actually changed lineups for several songs and had some catchy numbers but seemed like they only had one gear and were better with one lineup than the other.

Second band “The Splinters” an all-girl group. They were kind of fresh really, not as tight as Wounded Lions and had some okay songs in the riotgrrrl style ala The Breeders but others were in a classic rock vibe which wasn’t my thing. I took a breather outside. Que “Jeff The Brotherhood” kind of blues-rock inspired ala anything involving Josh Homme which I really don’t vibe on at all. They were tight and loud but I sat in the other room wondering when they would finish.

Then a fresh-faced trio by the name of “Charlie and the Moonhearts”, fucking wow. Energy reminiscent of Cap’n Jazz (and thats a huge compliment) kids began to circle pit. The bassplayer/singer strums his bass (playing chords) as if he were playing rhythm guitar in a hardcore punk band, the sound is thick and they are immensely tight. I can’t pigeon hole it really. It’s punk/grunge drumming meets garage-noiserock guitars meets 60’s surf-pop-rock vocals (with a pinch of screaming) The only problem this band has is they only have one speed and one rhythm and thats pound pound pound, it got repetitive kind of quick but the energy was constant so thats all that mattered. They closed with a sped-up-alterno cover of early 60’s number one hit “Runaway” by Del Shannon. Which was the highlight. If this band relaxes and finds other avenues of melody look out for them.

Headliners were “Ty Segall” think classic rockabilly or proto-punk ala The Cramps but more up-tempo and with some screaming. Some standout songs and overall pretty tight. It was a pretty good bill overall. I later found out the bands have actually detoured off SXSW so hence the good lineup of bands. I chatted to a bunch of people and ran into some fellow travellers who were in L.A and the venue for the first time also. It’s interesting the crowd this venue draws. It’s unpretentious, its dirty, its fresh and not many people know about it. For example whenever you hear about L.A you hear people instantly mention The Viper Room, after actually looking at the bands on the bill complete with posing-“imawesome”-pamphlets of wannabe hardrock or metal warriors, who the fuck would go there when you’ve got something as natural and pure a venue as The Smell in town.

The site of 100 kids in a laneway up against the fence and wall as cop cars slowly rollby giving everyone the dirty is priceless.

L.A I salute your dingyness.

I have a bunch of photos but most are in FILM but here are the ones I’ve got;

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WT2010 – JAPAN – Day 13 – Shimokitazawa & an All-nighter in Shibuya

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on March 22, 2010

WT2010 – JAPAN
Day 13 – Shimokitazawa & an All-nighter in Shibuya
[On the iPOD] The Cribs / Iggy Pop

Struggle street. I was flipping through a guide-book pondering the museums and points of interest. They involved train trips and transfers and effort, something I’d exceeded in past days but was baulking at after two late nights getting intimate with alcohol and the the near-sight of a Tokyo sunrise approaching the horizon.

Then almost flippantly a place called Shimokitazawa is mentioned, it has no dedicated section because its outer-Tokyo but then again so is my hotel in Sangenjaya (by outer I mean an outer-line a mere two stops from Shibuya) I google the area an realize it’s actually 2km in a straight line north of my hotels road. It would probably be quicker to walk than catch a train in and hop on a transfer back out. I decide it’s a plan; walking has become my default form of exploration.

I’ve forgotten to mention this; People love bikes here (bicycles as well as motorbikes) Tokyo seems dedicated to the bike rider, perhaps it’s not as dedicated as some stand out places but every footpath you find bike lines (they share them with pedestrians and are usually wide or have a line down the centre saying bikes on one side) Besides that locals have an uncanny ability to dodge anything and everything. My first night here I watched a women with shopping on hee handle-bars holding an umbrella swaying vigorously in the wind whilst it SNOWED she pedalled on. People cycling one hand whilst the other is holding a cigarette or whilst talking on a mobile phone they dodge cars and weave around and through tight passages without stopping. Some how I’m yet to witness a stack.

Walking to Shimokitazawa I came across a park that completely split one part of town from the other (like a road you could say) but not a road, it was a park with a dedicated cycle path. It must have been converted from an actual road, I can’t forsee a park originally being that long. A great idea of urban planning. People of all ages use bikes and the men-women ratio is near 50/50 Id say. It’s great to see.

A mere 2km wander from Sangenjaya is Shimokitazawa; I’m promised some good shops; but the entire town is essentially a shop as far as I can tell. One minute I’m walking passed peoples homes and the next minute its a restaurant, a bargain basement, a vintage clothing store, an upmarket clothing store, a music store, an antique store, an electronics store. But mostly clothes and food.

On I walk to find a bridge leading under a train line, turns out the town is split North/South by this bridge (or so it seemed so far) I then explored that side of the tracks only to another train line and it’s a pedestrian/car crossing right in the centre of town. It turns out it’s also split East/West by a second train line. So Shimokitazawa is essentially four quadrants of awesomeness. The shops just don’t end, they’re all of interest and I literally walked around for 2hours just trying to figure out what I wanted to buy, whatever it was you could find it there. Remember we’re not talking big shopping centres but a local community who have built a town of shops to cater for all.

A stop and stare at the price of a brand new LCD screen and an American fellow bumps into me introducing himself as someone who served on duty from the states but has since settled down with a Japanese wife and is living outside of Tokyo he’s been here for awhile. I express admiration for the town we’re in and he replies with “Shimokitazawa is the bomb” too true. It was refreshing to come across a down to earth, chilled out cool American without an air of superiority.

I stumble through a record store and many a clothing store. Some are more commercial than others and if your looking for something slightly Indie and Alternative just keep walking you’ll find it somewhere. Don’t ask me where because you DO get lost in this place. Which is half the fun. I had the camera out wholey awares that I wasn’t going to take photos of shop-fronts because I would have too many damn photos to sort so I restrained myself diligently. I did however take a photo of a crepe place. Their crepe menu was in small crepe size boxes on the wall; faux designed plastic examples of what you could order. It looked amazing. I would walk a thousand miles and I would walk a thousand more just to…(ok I’ll stop) just to find that crepe store later on when I felt desert was on the cards. I couldn’t however, so I settled for a cake/coffee ‘deli’ which served amazing cakes such as “Caramel / Banana” etc.

You’ll also find a few restaurants that are hosting live-bands (at lunch time) and they’ll serve you a drink or food with your ticket. Theres many places like this in Shimokitazawa, you’ll find kids walking around with guitars constantly. The prices are pretty hefty though (compared to back-home) Bands (even small ones) seem to get paid well here (tickets to one place were 2500yen including a drink) that’s about $28 I wanted to checkout some local acts but If I bought the ticket I’d have to forgo paying for dinner later on (with no citibank in town) So instead I checked out one or two local buskers. Pretty talented.

Just like that the day was winding down, you can spend a good half-day wandering this little suburb of shops aimlessly. Sadly though it’s apparently all going to come to an end I’ve heard. The powers that be are building an extension of a subway line directly under it (I think) and the small cultural vibe and community style shops are set to make way for the real urban sprawl of Tokyo (think sky scrapers) The locals are fighting back to keep Shimokitazawa the way it is. I’m definitely on their side. Inner city Tokyo is great with it’s Neon shops but this place (the buildings stand no more than 2 stories tall) have that community vibe that developers always don’t care for. It happens all over the world it seems (I draw parallels to venues and pubs giving way in Sydney) It seems you can’t stop progress no matter the cultural cost, if culture even has a value to big wigs.

I’d put my DSLR camera away so many times this day; Instead I opted for the LOMO film camera (so not many shots until theyre developed) but I was on my way back when I noticed a cat sleeping on mans lap… the photos speak for themselves really.

I strolled back to my hotel and that night (it being a Sunday night the night before a holiday on monday) Long weekend essentially. I was aiming for a club in Shibuya I got there way too early (11pm) so I decided that I’d have a wander around somewhere else first. I had no idea what I was going to find, if anything hell I had trouble finding the place I was going to and I knew where I was going.

No more than a few metres up this quiet backstreet road I observed some Musos coming out of a bar (carrying equipment etc) So I decided to scope this place out. It was called “Derori” I walked in to find an avant-garde oldschool rock vibe venue. It had drums/guitar/bass/pa setup on the floor and a DJ decks behind it. A bunch of people were at the bar so I decided to take a seat with a drink.

Within minutes a guy from behind the bar came over to greet me and ask where I was from and How i’d found the place. I told him all about my travels and after a few words a nice lady came over to talk to me who as it turns out owned the bar. Eventually more and more people came in and I got to talking to a few locals who have traveled. The music was classic rock but as far as I could tell there was no one DJ behind the decks, it was more random people getting up to mix.

Eventually a guy hopped on drums and another on bass and another on guitar, I downed a few drinks and listed to them Jam along to what the DJ was spinning; mostly the likes of Iggy Pop, Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, The Ramones and so on. Classic music along that vibe. Next thing I knew the guitarist is asking me If I play guitar, I reply yes. He hands me his Telecaster (plugged into a Vox amp which is cranking) As much as I love the aforementioned music I don’t play too well in that style but I obliged. Doing my best 12-bar-blues rock solo thing pretty poorly, but I tried to mix it up a bit.

I turn around to find a filling dance-floor and I start bumping into people; Iggy Pops “I Wanna Be Your Dog” comes on and I’ve got the song down in about 20sec (as I said I don’t play in that style at all) The PA is fighting against the sound coming from this 3-piece band that Im jamming in. Struggling to hear the song it’s probably sounding like complete ass but I don’t care and kick on for a good 30minutes to various tunes. Eventually we put the gear down and people start coming up to me at the bar. An Australian from Canberra even, I talk about travel plans and a few people reply; Is the band touring overseas too? How long have you guys been together? (They must have walked in late)

The bar was kicking, I enquired about the song selection and asked why different people were getting on stage. One girl said it was ‘A party’ I asked what the occasion was and got “No reason” as an answer. It’s a good an answer as any. Apparently the DJ decks were free reign, people had brought their own vinyl and cd’s and you could mix them up live. Naturally I pulled out my Iphone and played a track.

The vibe of Derori is one of people with a seasoned knowledge and love of the avante-garde and some classic rock and punk tunes. I could imagine Iggy himself rocking out here. I looked at the time and it was close to 2am, damnit I was supposed to meet someone at that place down the road. I didn’t want to leave all these cool people but I decided I’d come back later on. The bartenders and DJ’s and co were all occupied so I slipped out quietly.

A venue called Seco was the destination for a night called British Pavilion. It was a bigger venue with multiple DJ booths and a younger crowd of the Indie variety. It’s funny how I’ve traveled halfway around the world for the sounds of familiarity, but theres just nothing better to dance to. The door charge was kind of steep but included a free drink ticket so what the heck.

A short summary without going into details I met a bunch of awesome people one of which was one of the DJ’s dressed in an awesome avante-garde-steam-punk getup. He gave me like 4 free drink tickets for some reason over the night So I virtually didn’t pay for anything that night. One thing perplexes me about Japan, back home you have ‘promo girls’ right who are usually dressed in a companies gear and go around giving free samplers of said companies brews or sometimes not. This club featured 2 girls dressed as nurses and another as a playboy bunny all of which were serving shots for FREE, for apparently no other reason than to keep punters happy.

And boy was I happy. Damn damn damn the language barrier, that’s all I’ve got to say! It was like 6am and the venue had run its course, a bunch of cool indie songs, a bunch of cool people from all over town (and out of town) Everyone is really welcoming, I was probably the only gaijin in there but I felt at home.

Ok time to head home! Hold on what’s that I hear? Music coming from Derori, I head down to find it as I left it only the people are a little drunker. A different set of people jamming, Im sitting next to a rad looking spiked hair old rocker. A girl leans in and asks me If I know who I’m sitting next, I reply no. She says he’s a famous bass player from a big band in Japan. I’d guessed a much from the two girls either side of him. Derori has the feeling of that bar I’d talked about earlier called MOTHER, it has that sense of a bunch of friends running a bar and treating every night as a party to meet and make new friends and have a good time with them. You can’t buy that by throwing money at a venue. Why don’t they have places like this in Sydney?

I say bye to some friendly faces, It’s 7am Maccas breakfast time. Sitting there, face blankly staring at the wall. I could live somewhere between Sangenjaya and Shimokitazawa, a cool community a stones throw from the epic radness that is Shibuya. Hmmm.

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This aptly describes what I dream about…

Posted in Photography, Random by jukeboxparables on February 1, 2010

Came across this website linked from a friend. Yes uber cool photoblogs are nothing new, but this one has some rad topic matter.

It’s all in monochrome of course and features some great random photos along with classic actors, musicians, artistic nudity and oldschool motorbikes. It’s all very punk rock, kids.

I likey.

2009 Triple J Hottest 100!

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on December 25, 2009

Yes another list! But get voting in the biggest music poll on the planet: Triple J’s Hottest 100

Here’s my 10 votes, culled down from 30 or so. Making the cut from 15 was rather difficult!

Animal Collective – My Girls
Big Pink, The – Dominos
Bluejuice – Broken Leg
Cribs, The – Cheat On Me
Flight Of The Conchords – Carol Brown
Kasabian – Fire
Metric – Gimme Sympathy
Phoenix – 1901
Red Riders – Ordinary
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll

And my vote for #1 for this year goes to Phoenix – 1901.

Lists Lists Lists!

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on December 20, 2009

Is it just me or has every music / movie etc site published a ‘best of’ list in the past few weeks? It’s kind of annoying, but on the other hand it is coming to the end of the decade, so we’re seeing best of yearly lists which have been blogged about yearly of course but not many of said websites were around in 1999 so I guess it’s free market for the ‘best of decade’ lists.

Yes I’m going to cave, but I’ll do it all in ONE post. This being my uber best of music best of the decade list!

Top 10 Best Albums of the decade (in no order)
#At The Drive In – Relationship Of Command
#Tegan & Sara – The Con
#Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
#The Libertines – Up The Bracket
#Death From Above 1979 – You’re A Woman I’m A Machine
#We Are Scientists – With Love And Squalor
#The Cribs – The New Fellas
#Thom Yorke – The Eraser
#Muse – Absolution
#Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

Top 20 Best Songs of the decade (in no order)
#The Strokes – Hard To Explain
#CSS – Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above
#Thursday – Signals Over The Air
#Arcade Fire – Intervention
#Tegan & Sara – Nineteen
#Bloc Party – This Modern Love
#Death From Above 1979 – Blood On Our Hands
#At The Drive In – Pattern Against User
#The Drones – Jezebel
#The Cribs – Be Safe
#Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps
#We Are Scientists – Lousy Reputation
#Babyshambles – Fuck Forever
#Arctic Monkeys – When The Sun Goes Down
#Band Of Horses – The Funeral
#Sonic Youth – Or
#HARD Fi – Hard To Beat
#The White Stripes – 7 Nation Army
#Muse – Stockholm Syndrome
#Phoenix – 1901

Top 10 Best Albums of 2009
1. Johnny Foreigner – Grace And The Bigger Picture
2. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
3. The View – Which Bitch?
4. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
5. The Cribs – Ignore The Ignorant
6. The Maccabees – Wall Of Arms
7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!
8. Metric – Fantasies
9. The Veils – Sun Gangs
10. Sonic Youth – The Eternal

EDIT:: I’m editing my top 10 albums of 2009. I’ve bumped into a bunch of albums much too late that have blown me away. So I’m changing my mind, yes I can do this. Above is the now the revised list! Next time I won’t jump the gun early! :p

In the case of Songs of the decade, I could probably just as easily choose a different 20, oh well. I’ve gone with this!

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Review: Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation

Posted in Music, Review by jukeboxparables on December 1, 2009

sydn

Ever since I decided I’d start reviewing music on this blog, Daydream Nation was in the back of my mind. Why? Simply because the mere prospect of trying to put this album into words is a salivating challenge. I’ve long thought that words are inadequate to describe music, which seems like an obvious thing to say. But not many albums out there truly convey the shortcomings of literary prose more;so than Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation.

What is Indie?, What is New-wave?, What is No-wave? And what about that much used Umbrella term to seemingly describe everything since the 1980’s –Alternative? Most people you speak to would attribute different meanings (or at least bands) to those categories, some of which you and I would vehemently disagree with. You don’t really have to have a debate with them about it because It’s all summed up by one band on one album.

In 1988, Sonic Youth released their fifth studio album; Daydream Nation. In retrospect it’s been given shiny reviews and has a long list of accolades appearing on many ‘must have’ and ‘best of’ lists over the decades. The album was not an immediate success however as their label at the time went bust and the album was out of print for some time.

What’s going to make describing this album well so darn hard is that I feel an almost nostalgic need to delve into the history of the band, the ‘scene’ and happenings surrounding the band not only in 1988 but from their inception, if anything to highlight their growth from their self titled debut EP in 1982. But I’m going to put the burden on me; I’ll try and review it without going into all that.

But what I will delve into briefly is references; Daydream Nation connects together various themes from an expansive artistic world (the band’s various influences) weaving them into a complex magic-eye decorated woolen sweater. When you let your ears blur ever so slightly; things begin to jump out at you.

“Teenage Riot” is the opening track, it was also the bands first single off the album. It’s allegedly about an alternate dream-world where the lead singer of Dinosaur Jr; J Mascis is President. It goes on to give a nod to The Stooges track “We will fall”. It kicks off with this slow, clean slightly haunting yet completely disarming guitar riff with lyrics being delivered by bassist Kim Gordon in a spoken word stream of consciousness style. And then suddenly it picks up as if a strong gust of wind has filled the sails and the boat is on it’s way.

Everybodys talking bout the stormy weather, And whats a man to do but work out whether its true?
Looking for a man with a focus and a temper, Who can open up a map and see between one and two

Third track “The Sprawl” has particular influence alluding to influential author William Gibson’s SCI-FI Trilogy (the trilogy features famed book Necromancer) Amongst other things Gibson wrote the short-story Johnny Mnemonic (later adapted to film) The 3rd book from the trilogy ‘Sprawl’ is titled ‘Cyberspace’ Gibson coined the term and the resounding theme is one of a world in the near future where dark corporations rule and technology via AI becomes something sinister.

By the time you reach fourth track “‘Cross The Breeze” you start to feel a shift in your mood, your overcome by this kind of up-beat numbness; It’s a combination of the previous tracks working on your psyche and the intro guitar picking of this one. It’s an urgency to do something profound, but alas your caught in a siren song of sorts. It’s all akin to something like being in a mosh pit, staggeringly drunk, falling over and just not bothering to get up again, watching yourself get trampled in slow motion; you’ve ceased to care. The Intro’s repeated heavy 8-chord attenuation coming like blows to the head. Then it all ‘seems’ to clear up and all you hear is Kim Gordon incessantly repeating “I Wanna know…” That memorable 8-chord repeating thud comes back towards the end and leads into a sweet clean outro only outdone by track “The Sprawl” before it which can’t be described without going into passe’ metaphors about use of illicit substances. It’s really …that good.

Track five “Eric’s trip” is a nice break from the previous two songs (all 15minutes of them.. almost) in that its short and to the point, leaving your head time to recover; the ending line being one of note. It’s hooks are out-done by the following track however. The 7minute:33sec “Total Trash” Sonic Youth don’t let up for long. This isn’t a pop album, use your head. Concentrate.

If anything though. By the time you’ve reached the end of the eighth track “Providence” you either begin to see the ultimate brilliance of this album or you’ve been lost in it all and you see its downfall, more on that later. On the track in question, Mike Watt; Iconic bassist of the mid 1980’s band Minutemen (amongst various other projects) is heard calling Thurston Moore and leaving a late night phone Message. This message is blended into the track’s eerie echo piano intro and layered with what is apparently the impromptu recording of one of the bands amps in melt down amongst what sounds like recorded wind distortion/interference. The amp’s valves have given all they can and will never make music again. It’s actually my favourite track on the album.

[Mike Watt]
“Thurston! Watt! Thurston! I think it’s ten thirty, we’re calling
From Providence, Rhode Island. Did you find your shit? You gotta
Watch the motin’ Thurston, your fuckin’ memory just goes out tha window.
We couldn’t find it in the van at all, we wonderin’ if you looked in
That trash can. When we threw out that trash, man, was the bag in
Your hand, did you dump it? Call later. Bye.”

I did say the intro piano sounded eerie but that’s not quite right. The track captures a desperate sort of sentimentality. It’s at this point you realise your listening to the avant-garde. And now to that downfall I was mentioning earlier. It’s more of a paradox than anything else. Daydream Nation, or any other brilliant album that pushes the boundaries in such a way can never really be given a 10/10. It’s completely inaccessible to the average-joe music listener. The musician in me say’s who gives a damn, such people don’t deserve to listen to this because they won’t appreciate it. I think Art should be hung on a wall for all to see sure, but the question remains can a piece of art with references and themes so deep really be as appreciated and engaging as say; the traditional pretty picture? It all depends on the listener of course.

Rating: 9.2/10

Tracklist:

1. “Teen Age Riot” – 6:59
2. “Silver Rocket” – 3:48
3. “The Sprawl” – 7:42
4. “Cross The Breeze” – 7:01
5. “Eric’s Trip” – 3:49
6. “Total Trash” – 7:33
7. “Hey Joni” – 4:24
8. “Providence” – 2:42
9. “Candle” – 4:59
10. “Rain King” – 4:39
11. “Kissability” – 3:09
12. “Trilogy (The Wonder – Hyperstation – Eliminator Jr.)” – 14:04

Sonic Youth
Daydream Nation
Released: 1988
Label: Enigma

Bluejuice – Broken Leg, and more.

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on July 19, 2009

Bluejuice are a band from Sydney, Australia. I caught them at a show at the Annandale Hotel a few years back and was blown away on performance alone. These guys put on such a good show they force you to like their music even if your not that into it… yeah.

Anyway, check out their new video which is the first single of their upcoming second LP which is out the second half of 2009 through new label Dew Process The music video is a classic!

It’s in the similar vein of the popular single off their first albums music video, Vitriol (check that out below) They probably need their own TV show or something.

A novelty – My hottest 100 of all time!

Posted in Music, Random by jukeboxparables on June 15, 2009

Yeah, so I thought I’d have a shot at my top 100 songs of all time. It’s a total novelty because It will probably be completely different come next week. And as opposed to songs that I think are great as per my voting in the JJJ hottest 100 I’m just going to go with songs that have stood out to me personally over the years or as I remember them standing out. Here goes; (I’ll try and not repeat bands but it’s tough!)

1. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
2. Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
3. The Beatles – Twist & Shout
4. The Temptations – My Girl
5. At The Drive-In – 198d
6. Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop
7. The Smiths – This Charming Man
8. David Bowie – Life On Mars?
9. Sonic Youth – Teenage Riot
10. John Lennon – Imagine
11. Radiohead – Karma Police
12. The Clash – Train In Vain
13. Cap’n Jazz – Little League
14. Nirvana – Drain You
15. The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry
16. Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode
17. Iggy Pop – China Girl
18. The Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen In Love
19. Elvis Presley – Suspicious Minds
20. Johnny Cash – Big River
21. Lou Reed – Perfect Day
22. Roy Orbison – Love Hurts
23. The Easybeats – Friday On My Mind
24. Sonic Youth – Schizophrenia
25. New Order – Blue Monday
26. Pulp – Disco 2000
27. The Go Betweens – Was There Anything I Could Do?
28. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps
29. Weezer – Tired Of Sex
30. TV On The Radio – Wolf Life Me
31. Ramones – Needles & Pins
32. The Clash – London Calling
33. Little Richard – Good Golly Miss Molly
34. The Beatles – Can’t Buy Me Love
35. At The Drive-In – Pattern Against User
36. Bloc Party – This Modern Love
37. Buddy Holly – Rave On
38. Blur – To The End
39. Muse – Stockholm Syndrome
40. Radiohead – Creep
41. The Cure – Friday I’m In Love
42. Gang Of Four – Natural’s Not In It
43. The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony
44. Babyshambles – Fuck Forever
45. Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah
46. Mental As Anything – Live It Up
47. Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime
48. Hunters and Collectors – Throw Your Arms Around Me
49. Blondie – Call Me
50. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand
51. The Cribs – My Life Flashed Before My Eyes
52. Sex Pistols – Anarchy In The UK
53. The Mamas & The Papas – California Dreamin’
54. Cursive – Staying Alive
55. U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
56. The Stone Roses – I Wanna Be Adored
57. Sonic Youth – Dirty Boots
58. Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb
59. Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In The Dark
60. Counting Crows – Colorblind
61. The Mars Volta – Cicatriz E.S.P
62. David Bowie – Space Oddity
63. DFA1979 – Blood On Our Hands
64. Led Zeppelin – Kashmir
65. The White Stripes – My Doorbell
66. Joy Division – Transmission
67. Iggy Pop – The Passenger
68. Thursday – Signals Over The Air
69. The Doors – Roadhouse Blues
70. Wire – Sand In My Joints
71. The Fall – Rebellious Jukebox
72. At The Drive-In – Embroglio
73. Tegan & Sara – Nineteen
74. Janis Joplin – Piece Of My Heart
75. Tom Waits – Blind Love
76. Cut Copy – Out There On The Ice
77. ACDC – Highway To Hell
78. The Promise Ring – Red & Blue Jeans
79. We Are Scientists – Lousy Reputation
80. The Offspring – Bad Habit
81. Pavement – Silence Kid
82. The Smiths – Still Ill
83. Ikara Colt – Rudd
84. Fugazi – Merchandise
85. Interpol – Pioneer To The Falls
86. Jay-Z – 99 Problems
87. The Drones – Jezebel
88. Ramones – Commando
89. The Breeders – Huffer
90. The Knife – Heartbeats
91. The Strokes – Hard To Explain
92. Radiohead – Street Spirit
93. The Rakes – The Guilt
94. CSS – Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above
95. Peter Bjorn & John – Objects Of My Affection
96. Love Outside Andromeda – Bound By Heart Dissolved
97. My Bloody Valentine – When You Sleep
98. Metallica – One
99. Refused – Rather Be Dead
100. The Postal Service – Such Great Heights

A few things have become apparent here; I’m a sucker for a hit single and I apparently have an unhealthy love for era’s long past. Oh well.

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Nardwuar – From Nirvana to Jay Z.

Posted in Film & TV, Music, Oldschool/Classic Things by jukeboxparables on June 7, 2009

I randomly came across an Interview with Nirvana on youtube the other night. The Interviewer was someone called; Nardwuar The Human Serviette. It took me about 30sec to start convulsing at the microphone IN YOUR FACE ‘silly put on voice’ Interview style but about a minute later my ears started to ‘light up’ at some of the references he was dishing out to Kurt Cobain… still in that stupid voice. The Interview was in 3 parts (30min long) and by the end of It I was completely blown away at how much Information he’d dug out of Kurt.

And there was more… Soon I found Interviews with Sonic Youth, N.E.R.D, The Mars Volta, The Strokes, The Libertines, Weird Al Yankovic, Blur, Henry Rollins, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arctic Monkeys, Slipknot, Marylin Manson, The Roots, Ice-T, Snoop Dogg, Common and Jay Z.

I ended up watching all of those in a row.. Not because I particularly like all of them but because of Nardwuar’s approach to Interviewing. Basically all of the Artists mentioned initially react in exactly the same way. They’re sick of Interviewers, they’ve done hundreds if not 1000’s to popular media Journo’s who don’t really give a damn.

His wikipedia page states (rather factually) that he’s an Indie rock expert. I couldn’t agree more, sometimes I like to pretend I have a knowledge of music history but the connections that Nardwuar put’s together will blow you away. It’s basically A-class journalism ala an oldschool 60miutes, BBC or Dateline reporter mixed with the comical approach of Bobcat Goldthwait (circa Police Academy) and the stylings of say… an Irish golfer. Perhaps this guy’s research ability has something to do with his bachelor’s degree (with honours) in history.

Anyway. Apart from all the cool things you’ll pickup watching these interviews another reason to watch them is (after you watch your first one) try and pick which band will snap it in complete incomprehension whilst which artists will get it, be in Awe and deliver give an insight into their past and yet others who will fall somewhere in between!

Since Nardwuar has been doing his thing for a Canadian radio station since 1987 there’s a bunch of written and audio Interviews on his website. But I recommend you definitely watch the Youtube videos… nothing catches the awkwardness better than a Video Interview. Some are lengthy-er than others I guess probably based on Nardwuar’s affection for the Artist he’s Interviewing, or perhaps allotted time. Particularly look for the ones spanning from the early 90’s to early 2000’s. As of late the format has seemed to change to shorter cuts with newish Artists.

Here’s a small selection!

Nirvana – January 1, 1994. (Also with Courtney Love)
PART 1
PART 2
PART 3
Kurt handles it with a kind of sick desperation to please. You can see the worked up ability of dealing with any number of dull Interviewers over the years serves him well here.

The Mars Volta
PART 1
PART 2
Omar and Cedric find it all rather amusing. The question is, were they also joking when talking about ex band mate Jim Ward? At this point they totally came across as pretentious dicks IMO, I’ll give them the benefit and say they’re pretty amusing.

The Strokes
PART 1
PART 2
PART 3
PART 4
This is one of my favs. Singer Julian in the early early days after a big night and probably on something good. He eventually warms to Nardwuar and tells about the utter battle in his head about being credited for their music as opposed to being perceived on Image alone or as a band all about Image. And selling out and all that. It’s kind of eerie seeing this in comparison to Kurt Cobain (who was also very very weary of this situation) he lived through it to get to the state of cynical regression you see in the Nardwuar interview above… but as we all know he never really got through that phase.

N.E.R.D – Pharrell Williams
PART 1 (Extended)
Pharrell is high as a kite here, which is rather unfortunate as he gets totally stumped by the questions put to him. I would’ve loved to hear him talk more about Carl Sagan. I think I like this one so much because it’s refreshing to see someone who has achieved that much as seemingly as still chilled out and down to earth (well perhaps more in the clouds in this Interview!)

The Roots (with drummer Questlove)
PART 1
PART 2
PART 3
PART 4
One of the better Interviewee’s that opens up without everything going to a shambles, you learn a lot here!

Funniest Interviewee goes to Iggy Pop! Members of Sonic Youth and Blur win awards for being the biggest dicks. Jay Z wins the biggest stoner award and It’s a tie between Cobain and Questlove for most chilled out!

Check out all the video interviews here.