31 Days of Music: “EK Shaneesh”

A generation ago, well-educated funny guys Victor Vasquez and Himonshu Suri might have ended up writing for the Simpsons. Instead, as Das Racist, they’re the best rap group of the Youtube Generation. Picking just one song from the two mixtapes they’ve released this year wasn’t easy, but I’m going with “EK Shaneesh” for its freaky video and the repeated line, “I am America/I am a pick-up truck.”

Das Racist | EK Shaneesh from Stephen Boyle on Vimeo.

Earlier this week, the New York Times ran a Q&A with Das Racist that saw Vasquez and Suri deflate their interviewer at every turn.

Why is your group called Das Racist?
Suri: ‘Das racist!” is something we would yell at the television when something racially insensitive would pop up in an ad or on a TV show, which is basically a longer ad.

What are television shows ads for?
Vazquez: Ads. Television shows are ads for ads.

“EK Shaneesh” is off Shut Up, Dude, released as a free download last March. You can peep that here. Sit Down, Man was released as a free download in September and you can peep that right over here.

31 Days of Music: “Visions of You”

This is a disgustingly good & catchy song from a band whose cumulative age wouldn’t boil water. James Brotheridge reviews the Modern Superstitions’ debut EP, All the Things We’ve Been Told, in the current edition of prairie dog.

Truthfully, there’s not much to add to that. Young, check. Toronto, check. Produced by Sloan’s Patrick Pentland, check. “Visions of You” takes a few clearly identifiable parts of punk and new wave songs and mashes them together with enough style and forward propulsion (dig that great bass!) that whatever reservations you might have about the song being derivative melt away.

Just to prove that the Mod-Supes aren’t just a product of Pat Pentland’s production prowess, here they are knocking out “Visions of You” live.

You can download “Visions of You” in the classy mp3 format at the Modern Superstitions’ website for the mere surrender of your e-mail address.

31 Days of Music: “Liv Tyler”

“I don’t whose baby you are,” sings Roadside Graves, and I’m like, what? Really? You don’t know whose baby Liv Tyler is? Liv Tyler? You’re having a laugh, right?

Liv Tyler by Roadside Graves from Travis Huggett on Vimeo.

But maybe the young men of Roadside Graves know all about her father, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, but really don’t know anything about her mother, Bebe Buell. Maybe they’re too young to remember Cracked’s Monster Party featuring Nanny Dickering, a pulchritudinous reporter modelled after Ms. Buell (who even appeared as Dickering in some Cracked photo-comics). Cracked is mostly remembered as a second-rate Mad Magazine, but they were not without their merits, especially when it came to artists like John Severin and Bill Ward, who both contributed to Nanny Dickering’s exploits.
Regardless, “Liv Tyler” is a minor epic rock masterpiece. For the most part, Roadside Graves sounds a lot like the National, but they’re a little looser, their singer kinda does a Bono thing sometimes, and they jam this song out like the Stones mighta done on Exile. “Liv Tyler” is meat & potatoes rock, but o, what meat! O, what potatoes!

mp3: “Liv Tyler” by Roadside Graves

31 Days of Music: “Arrow”

Every day in December, the dog blog is featuring our favourite songs of 2010, sort of an Advent calendar for your ears. First up is “Arrow” by Kathryn Calder, a name that’s nowhere near as familiar as it should be.

Kathryn Calder has been too busy this year touring as a member of the New Pornographers to properly promote Are You My Mother?, her absolutely wonderful 2010 solo debut. Hopefully this will be remedied in 2011. “Arrow” is the second single from the album, following “Slip Away“. Calder recorded the album in her childhood home as she cared for her terminally-ill mother, and this song (as well as the video) seem quite informed by that experience. When I reviewed the album in a July issue of prairie dog, I compared it to Paul Simon at his best, and “Arrow” is a great example of that concise, powerful lyricism and strong pop sensibility that combine for great emotional resonance.

mp3: “Arrow” by Kathryn Calder

UPDATE: If you enjoyed that, you will also enjoy this newly released series of videos of Calder performing for the web series Available Light. Here she is doing “Arrow”:

Available Light #005 – Kathryn Calder – Arrow from Obsolete Films on Vimeo.

Go Read: Touch The Junk

Meet your new favourite culture blogger!

At the self-described “queer word art group” blog Bully Bloggers, Tavia Nyong’o, an associate professor of Performance Studies at NYU, has written an astoshingly good takedown of this moment right here in our world, at the nexus of the outrage over John Tyner’s bizarre encounter with the US Transportation Security Administration and the bluster and booty-shaking of Kanye West’s new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, making the case that we are now living in the Age of Hysteria (sadly, no relation to the Def Leppard album).

Nyong’o is wickedly smart, cuttingly insightful and frequently very funny. Witness:

But opportunism and even cynicism are politically ambidextrous. Tyner’s panicked recourse to every technological appendage he could lay hold of to disseminate the news of the feds touching his junk is the Everyman counterpart of Kanye’s privileged victim. Both are virtuosos of the new communicative media that promise greater sociability even as they reduce us to gadgets. But where Tyner seeks to restore a certain modicum of privilege for the male genitals, quietly ensconcing them back in their protective coverlet, Kanye has cock, balls, and indeed, asshole dangling in the wind, admitting he’s a monster, and daring us to do something about or with it.

Watch for prairie dog‘s review of the new Kanye album in this week’s print edition, hitting the streets on Thursday!

News Tuck Radio

If, even after my breathless appreciation of the dude in today’s print edition, you’re still unsold on Al Tuck, playing at the Exchange tonight in support of Broken Social Scene hottie Jason Collett, check out this podcast that CBC Radio 3 posted last week. In it, host Grant Lawrence (also featured in this week’s dog–for his bookwriting) finds a wealth of Al Tuck love among Canadian indie rockers, plays covers of his songs, and even plays some Al Tuck songs played by Al Tuck!

If that’s not enough, Tuck’s artist page at R3 features nearly two dozen streaming Al Tuck songs, all of which are MY-T Fine. And, hear from the man himself as Al Tuck in the flashy flesh sits down with host Vish Khanna for CBC Radio 3’s Breakfast Club, which aired this morning, but is still streamable.

Diane Warren wins Governor-General’s Award for Fiction

Regina writer Diane Warren has won one of Canada’s most prestigious literary prizes (Toronto Star)for her debut novel, Cool Water. The Governor-General’s award comes with a cheque for $25,000. Cool Water was  also longlisted for the ScotiaBank Giller Prize (NewsTalk 980).

Justin Bieber: “Girls are awesome.”

Jon Ronson, author of two of my all-time favourite books–Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats–has lately been writing some amazing pieces of music journalism for the UK’s Guardian newspaper. Last month he profiled the Insane Clown Posse, following their revelation that Juggalo was code for Jesus! This weekend he turns his Welsh gaze to Canada’s own Justin Bieber, the young man who is the subject of 3% of all Twitter traffic. As usual, Ronson is brilliant, engaging and hilarious.

A sample:

“How will you ever find a girlfriend who won’t just spend the whole time thinking, ‘It’s Justin fucking Bieber’?” I ask.

“That’s what’s hard about this,” he says. “There are so many girls who would just do anything for me because of my status.” He pauses. “Someone told me it’s great to be with somebody who has just as much to lose as you do.”

“So you’ll have to go out with someone famous?” I ask.

“Yeah. That’s probably a good idea. Because I can never date somebody who’s so in love with me that she would do anything for me.”

Really, Australia?

CBC reports that Melbourne Police have raided the home of Melbourne Underground Film Festival founder Richard Wolstencraft in connection with MUFF’s clandestine screening of Bruce LaBruce’s L.A. Zombie.

The Australian Classification Board had banned the film in July, preventing its screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival which runs concurrently with MUFF.

“I’ll never understand how censors don’t see that the more they try to suppress a film, the more people will want to see it. It gives me a profile I didn’t have yesterday,” LaBruce told the Sydney Morning Herald when the film was banned.

LaBruce is in Regina right now, preparing for “A Weekend in Alphaville”, his collaboration with Edward and Robin Poitras of New Dance Horizons, to be performed Saturday, November 20. He will also be screening L.A. Zombie tomorrow night at Artesian as a fundraiser for Queer City Cinema. You can read prairie dog‘s interview with Bruce LaBruce right here.

Also Proves My Point

Two months ago to the day, we told you that obnoxi-awesome rock god Lou Reed hurt UK TV game show runner up Susan Boyle’s feelings by refusing her permission to sing one of his least rad songs on a US TV show.

Today, NYMag.com is reporting that not only did Lou never intend to hurt Susan’s feelings, but he wasn’t the one who nixed permission in the first place. And just to prove that he’s stand up, he has even directed the music video of Susan Boyle singing his “Perfect Day”.

Was going to post that video, but you can see it at the NYMag link above, and if we’re going to post a Lou Reed video, we might as well make it worth your while. Here’s Lou Reed being all honourable and shit, shilling for Honda:

and here’s Lou as an animatronic robot in his classic video for “No Money Down”:

Way to keep it real, Lou!

By the way, it’s worth noting that this news item was sent in to prairie dog HQ by the Original Wrapper himself, Mike Burns, a P-Dogger from way back when kids like you were still wet behind the ear.

Status of Women

Exclaim! mag is reporting the Chad Vangaalen-affiliated, super-keen Calgary combo Women called it quits Friday night during a show in Victoria. They’ve cancelled the rest of their Canadian tour (including a planned show last night in Vancouver), but their label, Flemish Eye, told Exclaim! that “there are no plans to cancel other upcoming dates,” all of which are in Europe.

If the band can’t get it together to carry, they leave two superlative albums: 2008’s Women and 2010’s Public Strain. In a recent prairie dog, James Brotheridge said of Public Strain, “Listeners will be pushed, challenged and ultimately rewarded with jagged but appealing songs.” Go read his review and then download “Eyesore” (mp3 courtesy Flemish Eye) and know that he speaks the truth.

Everything you wanted to know about Mario*

This fascinating conversation between Nintendo Co. Ltd President Satoru Iwata and Senior Managing Director and creator of the most popular character in videogame history Shigeru Miyamoto pulls back the curtain on the early days of video games and the secret origins of everyone’s favourite dimunitive, mustachioed gentleman of presumed Italian descent.

On the psychology behind the gameplay:

Iwata:  So you wanted to know what it was that made players insert another 100 yen coin once the game was over and have another go?

Miyamoto: Right. And basically, I concluded that this was born of the players being mad at themselves.

On the design choices behind Mario’s look:

Miyamoto: Before you know it, you’ve used up 8X8 pixels. But if you draw a nose then a moustache, you don’t really know if it’s a mouth or a moustache, and it saves pixels.

Incidentally, I found this interview via Toronto writer Sheila Heti’s Twitter feed. Heti’s new book, How Should A Person Be?, comes out today from Anansi Press. You can read the prologue here.

*but were afraid to ask

Majestic Shreddage

When old guys like me say that the music we listened to when we were kids was better than the music the kids today will someday say was better than the eventual music of the future, this is what we’re talking about:

Superchunk plays “Precision Auto”, the first track from 1993’s On The Mouth, on the Jimmy Fallon TV talk show earlier this week. They are on tour across North America right now, promoting Majesty Shredding, their first new album in ten years.

Giller Longlist Includes Regina writer

The longlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize (via CBC), Canada’s highest profile literary award (sorry G-G’s), was announced this morning. Alongside CanLit stars like Douglas Coupland and Jane Urquhart is Regina writer Dianne Warren, nominated for her debut novel Cool Water, which came out earlier this year. Warren, not to be confused with power ballad queen Diane Warren, is best known for her short stories. Her short story collections Bad Luck Dog and A Reckless Moon are highly recommended.

Proves My Point

In the Back-to-School section of today’s brand new print edition of the dog, I make the case for wearing a Lou Reed t-shirt if you want to impress people. Turns out, I’m not the only who likes to stand in Lou’s reflected glory. Pitchfork reports that UK TV karaoke champ Susan Boyle was a puddle of tears after Lou refused to give her permission to sing “Perfect Day” on some crap US TV show. Rob Harvilla, music ed. at the Village Voice, suggests five even less appropriate Lou Reed songs for Susan Boyle to sing.

I understand Lou has a reputation to uphold, but it seems fairly arbitrary to start defending it now.

The Best of Rap and Video Games

What you know about Shaun Bridgmohan? Das Racist, possibly the finest rap combo since Pizza Hut met Taco Bell, released their first foray into videogaming today with Who’s That Brooown? Modeled on the old-timey arcade classic Elevator Action, it might be the world’s first interactive music video.

It’s worth noting, while we’re at it, that Das Racist’s debut mixtape (reviewed by the PD here), Shut Up, Dude, is still available for free download via the Das Racist website.

Since there’s a cartooning theme running through the Dog Blog today, here’s a link to that time DR’s Victor Vazquez totes pwned The New Yorker in a cartoon-off.