Category: Friday Classic Dark
Ken Lewis – Cosmic Cars
This one is kinda cheating in that it’s a fairly faithful cover of the classic Detroit Techno song by Cybotron. That said, we’re thrilled that someone from Toronto had enough piece of mind to recognize an instant hit and lovingly reproduce it. For more of the history, check out Brandon Hocura’s excellent write-up on the song over at Weird Canada, who turned us onto this gem.
In this week’s installment of our barely beloved music history series we will have a quick peek at a IDM group from the more recent past, Vancouver’s Landscape Body Machine. They were formed in 1992, and are perhaps only provisionally acceptable as part of this feature, as they are still putting out music, but this song amused me far too much not to include it. The track was on their 1999 album, Structure and is apparently an angry rant left on the CBC’s answering machine by an unhappy customer set to some heavy beats. Enjoy it you god damn cocksuckers.
Another week another visit from the ghost of Canadian music past. This week we’re heading back to the beautiful city of Vancouver for a passing glance at the skronky, arty New Wave of Exxotone, about whom even the mighty internet knows next to nothing. As near as the FCD can tell it was the project of one Randy Pandora who had previously been in a semi-legendary Vancouver band called The Generators who never put out a record. Exxotone’s output spans two tracks on the Vancouver Complication, one of which is so poorly produced its virtually unlistenable, and the other is called Big Shot and its super great and presented above accompanied by a video of Randy Pandora talking about eating out of the trash in just about the most endearing way he possibly could.
After a one week hiatus due to the unrelenting intensity of NXNE FCD is back, refreshed and ready to plunge into the murky waters of the before time. On tap this week we have the much beloved, never imitated, spasmodic spiraling madness wave of Vancouver’s short-lived art rock superheroes UJ3RK5 (as per wikipedia, “pronounced ‘you jerk’ – the five is silent). The band was formed in the late 70s, coalescing into their final lineup in 1979 and releasing one EP, before signing to PolyGram and promptly breaking up in 1980, with several members of the band moving on to successful art careers.
Their recorded output is limited to the aforementioned EP and two tracks on the Vancouver Complication, a wonderful snapshot of the Vancouver scene released in August of 1979. The sound is remarkable. The immediate comparisons to the Talking Heads and the B-52s are certainly valid, but UJ3RK5 maintain an unhinged quality that, coupled with their frantic precision set them apart from both bands and their contemporaries in the Vancouver scene. Frank Ramirez’ angryman shouts recall fellow art rock/new wave also rans Wazmo Nariz and Jim Skafish, and would be risible were they not backed with such conviction and employed in the service of his arch, smartest guy in the room ramblings. The Anglican, possibly the highlight of their 6 song oeuvre, is a loving take down of Anglicanism expressed, for reasons unknown, in the vocabulary of science fiction over a DEVO-like robotic shuffle, but with violins. Eisenhower & The Hippies, named for a work by American conceptual artist Dan Graham, was an unlikely minor radio hit and is the bands most overtly political track, though those politics remain inscrutable, (sample lyric: “Eisenhower and the hippies/one synonymous with the other/try to make it clean as houndstooth”) but features the band at their most dynamic, expertly building tension with their frenetic stops and starts. The A-side’s final track, The Locator, is perhaps the closest UJ3RKS get to an orthodox pop song and provides a tantalizing glimpse of what they could have become, fusing their general oddness with a harmonized hook and unlikely dance beats. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about UJ3RK5 is how fully realized their sound is. Every moment of their lone EP feels deliberate, designed by a razor-sharp aesthetic sensibility to be received exactly as it was conceived, and it leaves a bittersweet feeling. This band were too good to give us so little.
Ceramic Hello – Footsteps In The Fog
Ceramic Hello formed to make one LP in 1980, available only by mail-order at the time. The Burlington duo were lovingly written up by Matthew Samway of Electric Voice Records on Weird Canada, and there isn’t much that we can add to that. What we will say is that this is indicative of all the hidden records that exist in the world. I mean, who would expect this to come from some random basement in Burlington? That’s why people like Electric Voice and Suction Records – who, along with releasing new material, find and archive forgotten records like this and make sure they get the attention they deserve – are so important to our cultural identity.
Ceramic Hello probably aren’t a specific influence on today’s minimal wave bands that sound like them, but the sincerity behind the album is. They were working within limitations with the equipment they had and could afford. What results is a sincerity some of our favourite bands could only dream of.
You can buy the album in its entirety Suction Records
For the first time in what seems like a long time the Janus-like gaze of FCD has been cast on the beautiful city of Toronto, and the behaircutted, three(!) percussionisted New Wave sextet, Boys Brigade. The band formed in 1981 and released just one, self-titled LP, which was also called Boys Brigade and, bizarrely, produced by Geddy Lee. The band first received attention for their track Mannequin, an angular guitar driven ode to a plastic lady which appeared on Q107′s 1981 Homegrown compiliation. They followed it up with Passion of Love, the lead single from their LP, which is excellent, and some how manages to sound like both Duran Duran and Haircut 100, an especially impressive feat given lead singer, Malcolm Burn’s, simultaneous resemblance to Simon Le bon and Nick Heyward. They had their greatest chart success with the future CanCon staple, Melody, an overwrought, Lou Reedesque love song that, while charming in its agonizing sincerity is, if we’re being honest with ourselves, perhaps a bit too silly for its own good. Alas, despite decent sales and critical praise the band didn’t last, breaking up in 1983 and launching Burn towards a career of collaborating with Daniel Lanois and producing Emmylou Harris records. Short lived as they were, Boys Brigade is a near classic of the genre and well worth a listen for the New Wave inclined.
For this week’s FCD Lorenz Peter has dug into his bottomless collection to share with us a classic Canadian disco single, Geraldine Cordeau’s Space and Time. Lorenz is a comic artist so he has submitted his column in his chosen medium. He is also the owner and operator of one of Toronto’s best record stores, LP’s LPs at 104 Ossington Ave. He’s got a wonderful selection of Canadian disco and electronica, including many of the artists covered in this column, and a really deep collection of new and vintage vinyl. You can get updates on the store and his general goings on here.
We’re not going too far back in time in this week’s edition of Friday Classic Dark. Just to 2008, when Vancouver’s Kellarissa released her first album Flamingo. Standout single “Tiny Things” is a seriously sweet indie pop tune with some extremely clever vocoder use. Kellarissa went on to make another album, Moon of Nepture in 2011, she’s still active, and also started Fake Tears.
In this week’s dispatch from the long long ago we’ll be having a cursory glance in the direction of Kinetic Ideals, scritchy scratchy postpunkers from Mississauga, Ontario. Their relatively brief career spanned just three EPs and a one off single but they put out some excellent Factory Records inspired post punk including this gem, the pyrotechnic In A Second, the final track on their final release, 1983′s A Personal View. It gets heavy.
This feature seems to have been spending a lot of time in Vancouver recently, but Images in Vogue are worth the trip. Formed in 1981 Images in Vogue made icy, synth driven new wave, propelled by the golden voice of Dale Martindale, who was initially asked to join the band because he looked like the drummer in Japan. The band also originally featured percussionist Kevin Crompton, better known for his work with his other project, Skinny Puppy. They had some chart success with their 1983 single Lust for Love, accompanied by the spectacular video you see above. So many haircuts! So many wonderful haircuts. It’s a pretty weird little pop single, being both quite slow and sparse, and featuring some interesting vocal production. They have a tendency toward the experimental, especially with the instrumentals and the triumphant first single Breaking Up, a slow burner that takes a throw-it-at-the-wall approach reminiscent of early Human League. A super interesting group with a relatively brief discography that’s well worth diving into. Also, hilariously enough, they had a song on the soundtrack of Being Erica.