Sunday, June 29, 2008


We here at junkiesthievesandcrazies... endorse and support the art of Timothy Renner. We encourage our readers to hit his ebay store and purchase one of his paintings.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ipso Facto Single Review - Harmonise/Balderdash

It’s remarkable how something once mocked so mercilessly can gain a kind of avant-garde respectability. Ipso Facto are part of that particular set of British bands cribbing feverishly from the great goth acts of yore, and getting away with it in the full, indulgently approving view of the NME. How does this happen? How does one generation dismiss it as a silly obsession with coffins and snakebite and the next embrace it as… a delightful obsession with coffins and snakebite? Mystified, but pleasantly surprised, I can’t find it in my heart to complain.

‘Harmonise’, their first single, is decent stuff. It’s sparse and angular, but too melodic to be dissonant. Best of all it has some neat horror show keyboards. But singer Rosalie Cunningham sounds so much like Siouxsie Sioux that it’s distracting. Cunningham does an admirable job of mimicking her delivery and typical vocal melodies. However, it mostly serves to point out the fact that she lacks Siouxsie’s range, daring and attitude. It made me want to listen to ‘Night Shift’, not another Ipso Facto song. It’s both amusing and sad that they opened for several of Siouxsie’s recent UK dates. Was our inimitable doyenne oblivious to the similarities, or was Siouxsie just trying to prove how much better she is? She needn’t go to such lengths.

B-side ‘Balderdash’ fares better. It’s a nice, fast paced little slab of this updated, hybridized garage surf/goth business. And Cunningham doesn’t seem to be trying so hard to sound like someone else.

It’s a good effort, not perfect or mind-blowing, but somehow engagingly gawky. I’m curious to see how this little movement evolves. There’s room for growth and improvement, but that’s a good thing. It means they’re worth watching.

-N. Votta

Monday, June 23, 2008

Three of the many, many reasons why the Harper Conservatives need to go...

If pressed, I would say that a good 85% percent of those in office are greedy, corrupt, petty, hypocritical, patrician, cowardly motherfuckers. This goes double for the Conservative Party of Canada under Stephen Harper and his posse of delusional neocons.* Here are three of the many reasons why they need be booted out of office:

Bill C-61
and why.

Bill C-10
and why.

Bill C-51
and why.

*The all about the money, fiscal "small c" conservatives annoy me marginally less, they're much less prone to interfering w/one's private life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Demotivation (aka The Pissed Jeans Rant aka a lot of things suck but some things suck harder than everything else)

This is a slightly more thought out version of something my bandmate Carol mentioned here.

It all comes down to Pissed Jeans. The band, on Sub Pop. A slightly compressed version of the story:

Band practice. Working on a new song. The song was being contrary. I was completely frustrated and in a bad mood. We took a break and I said something like, "Fuck this, it's not working. It might as well be Pissed Jeans." Carol (the singer) and Alex (the drummer) gave me a weird look. They often give me weird looks during practice. I explained, "Pissed Jeans. They're this band on Sub Pop. They're supposed to be the new Jesus Lizard, or at least JL gets tipped a lot in the reviews, etc... And they are kind of like the Jesus Lizard, if you took away the songwriting, the musical ability, you know, the talent. Their disc makes Blue* sound like Liar. Carol looked skeptical, so I played a Pissed Jeans song. I can't remember the name. It's the one w/the shitty noise guitar and the guy yelling over the bass and drums. I suspect that's most of them. After listening for a couple of minutes, Carol broke in, "Does it keep going like this?"
So I shut it off. I don't quite remember how the rest of the conversation went but essentially I said something like: If this is what's cutting it as 'rock' then what's the point? I mean, PJ are a perfectly ok band. But that's the problem. They're ok. And that's it. What annoys me about them is that this is the state of semi-underground rock. (And no some noise guy doing 20 copies of his 'rawk' project doesn't count.) They're not some major label play-to-the-aging-Gen Xers (see Heritage Rock) like Nickelback, Foo Fighters, or The Bravery kind of thing. They're not even fake indie a la Yeah, Yeah, Yeah's or The Kills, who can at least write songs. They're not even the Black Keys (Hey man, cut the bullshit white boys from the middle of nowhere thing, yr. dad played in Tom Waits' band...) or Black Mountain. And this what's depressing. Pissed Jeans don't do anything. Music is supposed to push you, to engage you, to move you. When it doesn't, what's the point? I mean even that Scarlett Johannson album is compelling in a, "How did this happen?" way.

But Pissed Jeans? Which brings me back to the question. Is this really what people are going for? The A+R people at Sub Pop must dig 'em. The bloggers seem to dig 'em. (That's not saying much though, look at nu-rave...fuck...) And if so, where does that leave the rest of us? If the Jesus Lizard or Laughing Hyenas came along now, would anyone pay attention? (c.f. Federation X, a kick-ass band and probably the closest thing to the JL, in spirit if not in sound going right now.) 'Course it really doesn't matter either way. To put things in perspective, the entire time I've been writing this I've been humming The Time Warp. Why? 'Cause a busker in the subway was rockin' it on an accordion the other day and blew everyone w/in earshot away. And really how can you compete w/that?

*I should note that Blue, while not the best Jesus Lizard disc by a long shot, is still a pretty good album, comparatively.

Also, tangentially related and on a much more positive note: The way out of print Boss Hog Am Rep stuff has been posted over at Xhol Desert. Get it.

*Addendum to the Pissed Jeans thing...*
Fucking hell. After all that I hear this. Yep, U R My Fucking Sunshine U Cunt. What else can I say?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tea Time in Heaven: Random Observations

I've been avoiding any and all Lollapalooza press. Love and Rockets are playing, and fate will fit them in on the 2nd, my birthday, thus compounding the agony of not seeing them. Today, however, I caved and checked out the L&R page on the Lollapalooza site.

Certain people find it totally appalling that I would still drink tea out of Daniel Ash's cup, but whatever. I would also like to draw attention to the fact that the festival's PR people brazenly referred to L&R as 'shoegaze' in the blurb that runs next to this picture. I think this particular shot speaks more their well developed taste for absurdism than any maudlin tendancies or any affliation to that 'g word'. Those of us with a long memory will recall Ash's rather catty remarks on the dreaded label, which earned him a rebuke from Marc Almond.

Ian Sullivan Cant makes good zines. I have one next to me, Bela Lugosi Is Speaking, that is easily one of the more interesting zines I've had the pleasure of reading in a long time. He also creates zines in Morse code. Quite frankly, I think that's brilliant. It's conceptual without being specious or pretencious; it's experiemental yet anchored by legitimate talent. Cant is a top-notch artist, as the examples on The Unkindess of Ravens blog demonstrate. Several of his pieces remind me strongly of Aubrey Beardsley, in particular the images posted on the 6th, 16th and 19th of May: the handling of the lines, the breathtaking sense of dynamic balance and the use of large areas of solid white or black. I think it's quite lovely and very fresh, not at all derivative. If I was in the mood I'd scan a few illustrations from Brian Reade's Aubrey Beardsley, but quite honestly I'm not in the mood. You'll just have to trust me.

-N. Votta

Monday, June 9, 2008

To Wield the Raygun and Boa of Talent

I watched Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars tonight. No, I had not seen it before, just bits and pieces, like the clip of 'Ziggy Stardust' that's on the Best of Bowie DVD.

God, it's things like this that make it so damn hard to deal with all these two-bit bands. Even across the distance of 30+ years and celluloid to digital the sheer, crackling charisma of Bowie and the Spiders is palpable. They are all damn good musicians and consummate performers. They had style, they had flair, they had everything everyone wanted. When Bowie does that mime bit during ‘The Width of a Circle’ I clapped and exclaimed that it was the most awesome thing I'd ever seen; Neddal, rather wryly I'd say, said that it was probably the first time someone had ever called miming 'awesome'. But all those girls in front in '73 sure seemed to think it was awesome.

And the music sounded real. It's always good to hear music that has had nothing to do with a Macbook.

I remember how... pallid Nine Inch Nails seemed at the Molson Ampitheatre in 2006 when they went on after Bauhaus. Peter and Co. are like that too; they have presence and everyone else is going to look quite small and completely human next to them. That kind of presence doesn't even have to be theatrical or fancy. The Cure don’t have costume changes and The Gutter Twins didn't make Mark Lanegan sing while hanging by his ankles, and they both have that presence. I don't know if it's confidence, or conviction in their music, or some inner quality that makes people sit up and pay attention to just them. Whatever it is, so few bands have ever had that.

I wonder if that doesn't make me ill-suited to review music. Everything can't be amazing and beautiful. There's only one Joy Division or Cure, and there is most assuredly only one Bowie (one Ziggy, one Thin White Duke... etc). I don't expect anyone else to measure up, but I like it when people at least try. There are some bands I've heard that I think have the right idea, maybe have some notion of how to put on an actual show and not a bleedin live action CD. I like that. I know it's possible.

I suppose what I'm saying is that I'm officially sick and tired of ironic hipsters and their shitty, shitty, shitty ironic hipster music. I'm sick of joke metal. I'm sick of ironic folk. I'm sick of ironic disco and blog house. If it sounds good for a couple listens on your iPod and then you find some other song to play a few times, it sucks. In fact, I'm going to go one step further.

Let's all stop listening to stuff on mp3 players all the time. Let's all stop this bullshit of expecting music to come in itty bitty super compressed formats. Get those damn earbuds out of your head and interact with the world. Put the damn music on something with speakers that you can't fit in your ears. Piss the neighbors off with it. Invite your friends over and get drunk and dance while it plays. And then, god help you, see how it sounds live, see if there's actually some substance to it. Because when people start writing, playing and mixing music so it sounds good in a highly compressed file playing through shitty earbuds then we're all fucked. Then we're stuck in a world where The Teenagers and Justice can get away with being called 'good'.

-N. Votta

Monday, June 2, 2008

Words of Wisdom, Version One

"Don't let the hand you hold, hold you down."
-Anonymous, Union Station ladies room

"MIA would be really hot if she dressed like a normal person."
-N. Ayad

-N. Votta

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bits and Pieces

Links to things....

Anna Sommer's
art is funny and disturbing. Mostly disturbing, e.g.

...and speaking of smoking animals. For some reason I find old footage (from the 50's) of apes and monkeys smoking hilarious. More recent footage is really not that cool, of course it would come from Fox News.

I recently finished reading Elaine Feinstein's biography of Ted Hughes, Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet

It's a fairly balanced account, but he does not come off well. (...and Feinstein was a friend of his.) Though it's fairly clear that however much of a bastard he was, he was not a murderer. He was a surprisingly slick womanizer. I'm not quite sure how he kept it up as at one point he had a wife, whom he lived with on weekends, a mistress with whom he lived during the week, and another woman on the side who in the beginning at least didn't know the score. The most depressing part of the book, and this is one fucking depressing book, deals with Assia Wevill, the woman for whom he left Sylvia Plath.
To (sort of) completely swing things around:
Trees are heavy, very heavy.

Joe Carducci, music crank, has a new book called Enter Naomi: SST, L.A. And All That... It's available from Redoubt Press. There's a review here.

Keeping w/the SST/punker thing: If you want to see pics of old punks when they were young punks, this is the place to go.

And there's a "horror" play called Minotaur running here in Toronto. While I'm down w/the idea of a "horror" play. Is it just me or does it sound like the playwrights lifted a lot from Danielewski's House of Leaves?

An addition: Make yr. own Cthulhu