"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Saturday, February 18, 2006

"...Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria!"
Switzerland 2, Canada 0.
My world no longer makes sense.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dave and Cheryl over at the Galloping Beaver are quickly becoming my favorite bloggers. Here is a great post on just how Canada is about to be massively screwed up for a generation by an idiotic ideologically-driven bunch of no-nothings
The Galloping Beaver: The Conservative Plan Is Unfolding As Predicted - part one


Kevin Wood / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

Nothing But the Water
Buffalo Records, 2,500 yen

With their sophomore indie album Nothing But the Water, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
take a step toward the big time. In turning down several major label offers in the United States, the 22-year-old singer-songwriter and her band have placed their trust in manager Justin Goldberg, a former Sony A&R man and born-again indie record advocate.

The group have generated some buzz, making the charts in their home state and touring as an opening act for fellow Vermonter Trey Anastasio as well as big-name blues and rock acts including the Dave Matthews Band, Robert Cray and the North Mississippi All Stars.

With Buffalo Records releasing the album in Japan, the listening public here may be one step ahead of North Americans in that they will be able to walk into a record store and buy this disc. It will only be lack of distribution and label support that keeps this album from being a breakthrough hit in North America.

Nothing But the Water is terrific blend of blues, retro-rock, Americana and blue-eyed soul. Potter plays a mean Hammond organ, writes great breakup songs and has powerful, bluesy-but-smooth voice that brings Dusty Springfield, Bonnie Raitt and Koko Taylor to mind, with the phrasing and power of a gospel or soul singer in the Otis Redding-Tina Turner vein.

While Potter can belt it out with the best of them, her tendency to always swing for the fences sometimes works against her--think Melissa Etheridge and Janis Joplin. Sometimes less is more, and the more intimate moments on the album, such as "Ragged Company" and the taut country-gal blues of "Left Behind" are among the best. "Some Kind of Ride" suffers a bit from diva overdrive, but makes up for it with some great funky soul.

Enough good things cannot be said about the opening "Toothbrush and My Table," a jocular, almost jaunty breakup song that amounts to a laundry list of possessions the singer wishes to reclaim. Woe betide anyone who gets in the way, lest the empowered singer "start blasting Cat Scratch Fever!" It is hard to imagine a more radio-friendly single, and the song has enough musical and lyrical hooks to fill at least one side of a Carole King album. Just try getting it out of your head once it gets in there.

Grace Potter is a name you'll be hearing in years to come.

Universal, 2,548 yen

A number of critics have chastised Americana auteur Ryan Adams for eschewing quality for quantity with his prodigious output. I won't be one of them. Adams' chaff is what most artists would call wheat.

This latest album is his third release in 12 months following on last spring's double CD Cold Roses and late summer's Lights of Jacksonville, both recorded with the Cardinals, but it hardly seems like a mere afterthought.

A definite downer, 29 is full of sad songs like "Elizabeth, You Were Born to Play That Part" and "Nightbirds" that are as good as any Adams has written.

For the most part, 29 features Adams' wounded voice backed by sparse piano or guitar. He mines the same early '70s vein he always has echoing Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Tim Buckley. The title track puts new lyrics and a garage rock feel to the Grateful Dead's "Truckin," and Adams pushes the boundary between pathos and self-parody on "The Sadness" with mariachi horns and over-emotive vocals.

But on the whole, the album is another solid effort.
(Feb. 9, 2006)

Monday, February 13, 2006

More blog round up
Not all new, but all "must reads" - we at the woodshed scope out the blogosphere so you don't have to!

Amanda Marcotte teaches the thicker-skulled among the trolls about feminism 101.

Glenn Greenwald whups on the claim that lockstep Bush brownshirts are "conservative"

Galloping Beaver warns of the invasion of Canada by the Bible-thumping theocrats

The lovely and talented TBogg testifies on those who put the mental in fundementalism

Neocon see, neocon do
Ezra Levant shows why Western Standard is the Canadian version of (insert title of your favorite U.S. neocon wingnut journal here, but it is probably as influentual and widely read as The Weekly Standard). No one thinks that running these cartoons at this stage is a 'defense of free speech' especially when accompanied by comments like this:

"Levant, meanwhile, asks why society finds it more acceptable to poke fun at the Christian faith, pointing to a recent cover of Rolling Stone magazine
which shows hip hop artist Kanye West made up to look like Jesus. "Why are we making a special exception for one religion?" asked Levant, who is Jewish.
"I know why. Because Christians, when they're upset, they write a letter to the editor. Radical Muslims, when they're upset, burn down embassies."

But he's not trying to provoke anyone, heavens no! Just keep in mind that Western Standard has been the flag bearer of the Alberta based conservative-reform-western separatist movement in Canada and is probably what Stephen Harper reads on the can at 24 Sussex.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for poking fun at organized religion and exposing its hypocracy (See "kissing Hank's Ass" in the Other Resources list). I particularly dislike radical Islam, militant orthodox judaism and the various brands of muscular evangelical Christianity favored by the conservatives around the world.?I don't mind other people believing what they want to believe as long as they don't try to push it on other people via the legal, political and education systems or by knocking on my door when I have a hangover. The people who are out burning embassies are being used by their leaders to distract from the real issues facing their nations. The people publishing these cartoons are getting just what they want - a reaction that lets them paint all muslims as foaming-at-the-mouth violent radicals. A pox on both their houses.

The legend of Bwana Dick
Zappa references aside, Deadeye Dick Cheney has accomplished one thing with his foray into hunting actual wild animals. He has taught us something valuable: the circumstances underwhich one may shoot a Republican lawyer and financial donor without legal repercussions.
Firedoglake has far more to say about this, and as always, says it much better. Hunting accidents don't "just happen" unless the person with the gun is being careless, but I bet Harry Wittington is thinking to himself that the next time he goes shooting with Bwana Dick, he's leaving the Osama Bin Laden mask at home.