Friday, March 31, 2023

Australian bands, long bus rides, long books

Update: I saw the Dippers/Collate show and it was great. Both bands played with urgency and freshness. Really looking forward to the Dippers record. Collate have shifted to a higher gear since I saw them last and have added some, dare I say it, swagger to their presentation along with the usual fierceness and sterling set of post-punk/no-wave influences. I stayed to the end of their set even though I could have saved myself a $2.50 bus fare by leaving a few minutes earlier. 

Speaking of the bus: I love the fact that I can take an hour-long single ride on the 72 bus and end up someplace cool despite living in a highly marginal neighborhood. I used my bus time to finish up my epic journey through The Books of Jacob. I loved it, by the way, even though it took me forever to finish it. And it's the longest book I've read since I plowed through Infinite Jest back in my days after escaping grad school. In retrospect, I love the fact that my way of celebrating post-grad school was to read long books. That and One Hundred Years of Solitude, read in coffeeshops in Orange County as I waited to file the paperwork for my consolation master's.

Shuffle play led me back to Restless Leg's exuberant "Oblivion Banjo". Over-the-top handclaps in 6/8 time talking about vague memories of some time long ago - sign me up! Now I've arrived at the part of the album with flutes where they talk about trees.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Dippers "Tightening the Tangles"


Australian band Dippers have a new single called "Tightening the Tangles" that hits a lot of my personal pleasure centers - wild guitar, Farfisa-esque organ, taut feeling. They reference the Cannanes and the Chills, but my personal antipodean reference points would be Scorched Earth Policy fronted by one or both of the Jefferies brothers.

It goes through some quality modulations midway through (including a bridge that actually works) and ends in a different key from how it started. I'm not sure if I'm OK with using "fester" as a transitive verb, but "festered to the surface" is pleasing phonetically at least.

They're playing in Portland on Tuesday the 28th at Turn! Turn! Turn! with no-wavers Collate, whose office-product-intensive Risograph visuals also activate weird pleasure centers in my brain.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Bratko Twins

In Ukrainian-Canadian music news: The Bratko Twins' Kolomayka's on Fire is super great and I may have just won a copy on a certain internet auction siteThanks as always to POLKADONDB for bringing it:

Bio copied from the YouTube page:

This band originated from the Winnipegosis Mb area. The twins started their music career at a very young age playing home made violin and cymbaly. As they grew older their sister bought them a violin and a brother in law made them cymbaly. 

They were part of a large family of 13 children, money was scarce in the 1930's playing weddings and dances was a valuable source of income for the family. Being identical twins made them a fascinating novelty. People traveled long distances by horse and buggy to see them play. Later in life as children and farming took priority they played less frequently, but music was always in the home. Each twin had one son and as they grew older they too joined the band one on accordion and the other on guitar, we now had a 4 piece band. This however did not last long as the youngsters soon moved away making their own way in the world. These two recordings were made in Winnipeg with very little or no rehearsal, tunes were picked and played at random.We recorded about 2 hours of music and out of those tunes 2 LP's were released

They play with absolute abandon, like they're compressing their entire lives into a 2-hour recording session. They do that thing that I wish I had the music theory chops to explain where they play minor chord melodies on top of major chords or vice versa (a trick I blatantly stole on my most recent album), but they take it to the next level - intentionally or unintentionally, I'm not sure ("very little or no rehearsal"), but it's totally spellbinding.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023


Every decade or so I need to figure out a new way to watch Jan Svankmajer's Dimensions of Dialogue. When I was in college, it was through the Film Club and the brilliant love interest who knew all the cool things, later it was through beloved Portland institution Movie Madness, and now, of course, we're at the point where it is through interlibrary loan from the library. Picking up high Czech surrealism along with Japanese kitty manga for a kindergartner, at no cost. Watching it while riding the exercise bike during my work-from-home lunch break. 

No matter how many times I see it, I'm still amazed. I can only hope that I live long enough to have multiple new perspectives on the toothpaste squeezing itself out of the tube onto a pencil sharpener on a meat tongue.