Music Review: John Cale, Fragments Of A Rainy Season

Published on December 9th, 2016 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reissues, Retrovirus, Reviews |

By Emily Carney


The biography supplied with this reissue of John Cale’s 1992 stripped-down live album, recorded at various venues, states: “Fragments gives us Cale at his most melodic and moving, a mellowed and certainly a soberer man in a Yamamoto jacket and a lopsided haircut running through a selection of his prettiest songs.” While there’s no doubt that Cale was soberer at that time (having cleaned up his act following the birth of his daughter in 1985), this reviewer will disagree slightly with the bio, only in that not all of the songs on this offering are prettier. It’s also possible that Cale has never truly sonically mellowed out.

Music Review: British Electric Foundation, Dark – Music Of Quality And Distinction, Volume 3

Published on June 11th, 2013 in: Music, Music Reviews, New Music Tuesday, Reviews |

By Emily Carney


BEF’s first volumes were released in the halcyon days of white-boy soul, respectively in 1980 (Music for Stowaways, 1982—Volume 1) and 1991 (Volume 2). BEF’s excursions into the world of pop-music covers encompassed Tina Turner (who did a version of “Ball of Confusion” in 1982 which pretty much still blows everything out of the water) and Heaven 17’s Glenn Gregory covering Glen Campbell’s country chestnut “Wichita Lineman.” Oh yeah, this “collective” is also basically Heaven 17, now sans Human League founder and legendary disappear-er Ian Craig Marsh.

Now it’s 2013, and BEF is back with a set of new covers. Dark pretty much mines old material with the same players, including Kim Wilde (who covers “Every Time I See You I Go Wild”), Andy Bell from Erasure (who covers Kate Bush’s “Breathing”), and Boy George (who does The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”), among others. There are a few newer artists on the disc, including Shingai Shoniwa of the Noisettes (whose version of “God Only Knows” is a godsend), but I wish the disc included more new artists and perhaps newer songs.

Dark is essential for BEF and Heaven 17 completists, but those interested in being introduced to this family of music should check out 1981’s Penthouse and Pavement and 1982’s Music of Quality and Distinction Volume 1 which remain amazingly undated. While some of the versions of songs on Dark are standouts (Kim Wilde’s song contains all the electronics snaps and beeps we expect from BEF), don’t expect an epiphany here.

Dark, the British Electric Foundation’s third volume, is out today through The End Records. For ordering information, visit the BEF website.

Music Review: Shooter Jennings, The Other Life

Published on March 19th, 2013 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, New Music Tuesday, Reviews |

By Emily Carney


As I sit in my apartment on a quiet Sunday morning, the Tampa Bay area is still reeling from the effects of a Kenny Chesney concert. It even merited an article in our local paper, the Tampa Bay Times. While I’m glad these fans raised a bit of G-rated hell and enjoyed some country music, some of us enjoy the grittier sounds of the son of one of the canon’s finest, Shooter Jennings. On his new release The Other Life, Waylon’s son proves himself to be worthy of his dad’s crown.


Music Review: Otis Redding, Lonely & Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding

Published on March 7th, 2013 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Emily Carney


Sadly, Otis Redding‘s music seems to have limped off into the sunset, despite having a posthumous number one hit with “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” in 1967. Redding’s one hit was relegated to “classic rock” stations and was associated with MOR entertainment; his name was tainted with the voices of countless awful disc jockeys. However, a new disc should change his image: Lonely & Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding showcases his absolutely heart-wrenching soul songs.

The disc opens with “I Love You More Than Words Can Say,” which should, by rights, be the only love song ever written—it pretty much says it all and Redding’s voice is heartbreaking. It can be argued that great singers are actors; they tend to “act out” the songs they perform. Otis pours his heart out into every note—and no note is performed wrong.

“Gone Again” and the eerie “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember”—which references an airplane flying across the sky, his particular manner of death—are highlights of this disc, although each cut is an emotional tour de force. This is not easy listening if you’re feeling sad, beaten-down, and lonely, hence the name of Lonely & Blue. One becomes sad recalling that soon, Redding wouldn’t have dreams to remember.

“. . . You are the one that loved me,” Redding sings in another choice tune, “Everybody Makes a Mistake.” Redding deserves to have his due, even at the late date of 2013; he deserves to be loved. His pleading, emotional voice almost echoes a more contemporary star of R&B, the equally doomed Amy Winehouse. This is essential listening for those obsessed with soul, R&B, and music in general.

Lonely & Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding was released March 5 on Stax Records through Concord Music Group. It is available to order from the Concord Music website.

Music Review: Hayden, Us Alone

Published on February 5th, 2013 in: Canadian Content, Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, New Music Tuesday, Reviews |

By Emily Carney


Toronto’s Hayden Desser released one of my favorite indie rock albums in 1996, Everything I Long For. It has aged remarkably well, given that it was produced in the mid-1990s (let’s face it; music did have a specific sound then, even though we didn’t realize it at the time). It occupied a prominent place in my CD collection (remember CDs?), next to Sebadoh’s III and Pavement’s Wowee Zowee. I’ve lost track of Hayden over the years, but just caught up with his music by listening to his newest release, Us Alone. It’s like saying hello to an old friend who has gotten older and might be having a slight nervous breakdown, but I mean that in the best possible way.

Tracks like “Instructions” and “Just Give Me a Name” are moody and slow, very much in tune with some of Hayden’s 1996 tracks. The more uptempo tracks, including “Rainy Saturday” and “Blurry Nights” have a Neil Young-esque quality to them—lots of guitar effects, plaintive vocals, and slightly country-ish flourishes. This album is not a radical departure for Hayden by any means; it’s more like a whisper in the dark than a sonic boom.

That being said, it’s recommended listening. It has a “sweet and low” quality, similar to Yo La Tengo. It’s perfect listening for the party after the party, where you’re drunk, emotionally overwhelmed and exhausted.

As some things get older, some things stay the same—while it seems Desser is in a happy relationship, he’s still a bit mournful. Adulthood does that to you.

Us Alone is out today from Arts & Crafts and is available to order from the label’s website. You should also check out Hayden’s website at

Tour Dates:
2/6: Kingston, ON @ The Grad Club
2/7: Guelph, ON @ Cooperators Hall SOLD OUT
2/8: Hamilton, ON @ The Dundas Valley Montessori School SOLD OUT
2/9: Avening, ON @ Avening Community Centre SOLD OUT
2/13: New York City, NY @ Mercury Lounge*
2/20: Toronto, ON @ The Dakota Tavern SOLD OUT
2/21: Toronto, ON @ The Cameron House SOLD OUT
2/22: Toronto, ON @ Rivoli* SOLD OUT
3/7: Wakefield, QC @ Blacksheep Inn*
3/8: Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa*
3/13: Austin, TX @ SXSW
3/17: Denver, CO @ Hi Dive*
3/20: Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern*
3/21: Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge*
3/23: Vancouver, BC @ The Rio Theatre*
3/24: Nelson, BC @ The Royal on Baker*
3/26: Edmonton, AB @ The Royal Alberta Museum Theatre*
3/27: Calgary, AB @ Festival Hall*
3/28: Saskatoon, SK @ The Bassment*
3/30: Winnipeg, MB @ West End Cultural Centre*
4/3: Chicago, IL @ Schubas*
6/8: Toronto, ON @ Arts & Crafts 10th Anniversary Field Trip

* with special guest Lou Canon

Will John Cale Always Be Cool? Why, Yes.

Published on January 17th, 2013 in: Music, TV |

By Emily Carney


Last week on Thursday, January 10, John Cale played “I Wanna Talk 2 U” (from his new album, Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood, which is a must-own) and The Velvet Underground’s casual BDSM classic, “Venus in Furs,” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. (I find it somewhat hilarious that “Venus in Furs” was requested by a popular late night US TV host who is loved by moms everywhere and all that, since it was spicy as hell for the late 1960s, but whatever.)

JOHN CALE IS FREAKIN’ 70 YEARS OLD—he will turn 71 in March—and still is a total badass. He was resplendent in a three-piece suit with a skinny tie, grey hair splattered with pink highlights, and looked at least 20 years younger (I guess being John Cale does that to you; it makes you age backwards). The live version of “I Wanna Talk 2 U” actually sounds better than the album version; I always liked the grittier, rawer textures of Cale’s live performances and this certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Of course, “Venus in Furs” sounded as terrifying monolithic and droning as ever. Cale played viola for this performance and it sounded as gothic (not Goth, but gothic—like church music) as it always did.

I’m pretty sure The Velvet Underground never got their moment on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson back in the day, so this will have to do . . . and it certainly was good to watch.

Best Of 2012: Emily Carney

Published on December 18th, 2012 in: Best Of Lists, Movies, Music, Retrovirus |

vince guaraldi very best

1. Music: The Very Best of Vince Guaraldi, The Very Best of Bill Evans, and The Bill Evans Trio, Moon Beams

In the last year, Concord Music Group re-released and compiled great jazz collections for those into mid-century modern jazz. The best offerings included Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts-infused classics and Bill Evans’ elegiac piano stylings. Moon Beams may be one of the saddest jazz records of all time, but it has some of the most elegant, beautiful piano chord progressions recorded in music history.


First You Ceefax, Then You Don’t

Published on October 25th, 2012 in: Retrovirus, Science and Technology |

By Emily Carney

goodbye ceefax

Back in the halcyon days of broadcast television in the UK, a BBC teletext service called Ceefax (which stood for “See Facts”) was devised in an effort to provide viewers with the most current, continuously updated information possible, encompassing news, financial information, weather, and sports. It debuted in 1974.

Ceefax was actually the first teletext system used in the world. The system was originally limited to thirty “pages” of information and had a wonderfully eight-bit, low-tech (at least to viewers in 2012) vibe. It resembled being trapped in a Radio Shack Tandy computer. Occasionally viewers even were able to enjoy some cheesy, TRS-80-style “print @ line…” graphics in weather maps, among other things. It was pretty cool for its time. Eventually the BBC put on some smooth-as-silk easy listening tunes to go with the pages.


In Defense Of Black Cats During Halloween

Published on October 24th, 2012 in: Halloween |

By Emily Carney


Black cats are frequently maligned for their perceived status as being “bad luck” to people. Each year during this time, I come across many Halloween scenes in party stores depicting these feline creatures in graveyards, slinking around, bringing much fear to trick or treaters and leaving little turds filled with bad vibes strewn around neighborhood yards (not sure about the last part, but cats definitely are fans of frequent BMs). But enough of that . . . because it’s all conjecture. Here’s why black cats are the most gorgeous, loving, wonderful cats to own.


Music Review: John Cale, Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood

Published on October 2nd, 2012 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, New Music Tuesday, Reviews |

By Emily Carney

shifty adventures cover

John Cale turned 70 in March; however, his music proves to be age-proof with his new album, Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood. Don’t ask; I have no idea about the title, either. Cale does have typically inscrutable album titles.

Usually when musical artists of any sort turn 70, they do endless “farewell” or “greatest hits” tours, or they engage in embarrassing collaborations with a very 1990s-sounding Metallica (I’m looking at you, Lou Reed. Yeah, I said it). Cale is doing neither, refuses to give into age, and is turning out impressive original compositions that aren’t at all dated or misguided. He’s only gotten better and more experimental as he’s gotten older.