RIP Toilet Rock

CBC reports that Blair MacLean, the last half of the Glace Bay comedy duo MacLean & MacLean passed away Wednesday at the age of 65. Blair died of a heart attack and his brother, Gary, succumbed to throat cancer in 2001.

They produced seven albums of adult-oriented material, including Toilet Rock, Bitter Reality, Take the O Out of Country and Cruel Cuts.

Bitter Reality was produced by Guess Who lead singer Burton Cummings, who they toured with.

Their swearing and use of obscene language made MacLean & MacLean unsuitable for radio play. According to their official website, they appealed to the Supreme Court for the right to perform a song based on Ja-Da (F— Ya), that used obscene language.

The CBC fails to mention their major hit in England, Dolly Parton’s Tits.

Thrillema

Thrillema Poster

Thrillema Poster

The first Thrillema last night was a huge success. The Empire 6 Theatre in Dartmouth (not the Dartmouth Crossing – which I almost went to) was packed with movie fans.

When I arrived, I signed human guestbook and met Adam Perry of The Last Game Store who helped coordinate the event. He had a huge gash on his head for the occasion. He explained that they have plans to bring more 35mm horror movie prints, but could not confirm what would be showing at the next Thrillema on November 13. They didn’t know they were getting Friday the 13th until last Tuesday, and so it was a nice surprise that so many people showed up on such short notice.

He tried to blame Barack Obama for it.

Adam tried to blame Barack Obama for it.

Dartmouth auteur, Jason Eisener, was super happy with the turn out and was listing off some of his favourite movies that they are trying to bring. Expect a bit of John Carpenter and maybe some Fred Savage at future events.

Jason hands out Jasons

Eisener gave out prizes to anyone who knew that the film’s score intentionally resmbled “kill kill kill , ma ma ma” or that the famous sleeping bag murders took place in “Jason VII” and “Jason X”.  After all the prizes were given out, we were treated to some vintage horror movie trailers from the 70’s and a PSA about the monstrous “Pay TV” industry.

When the crackly 35mm print for Friday the 13th finally started, the packed theater cheered for all the murders, laughed at the uncomfortably long takes of characters doing mundane things, and were ocassionally startled by people in Jason masks walking toward the bathroom.  It was an awesome time, and the film was a great choice to kick off what promises to be an exciting monthly movie night.

Q & A with Trans AM

In 2002, Trans AM released T.A. on Thrill Jockey Records. The album was panned by many critics and seen as a deviation from the standard Trans AM sound, due in part to vocals being featured on every track. The record prompted one Pitchfork reviewer to write “I’m not sure exactly what’s happened here– has Trans Am changed or have I? TA is, by some margin, the band’s worst record.”

Trans AM followed up T.A. with Liberation, a politically charged album without any lyrical content. The album was better received by critics and Trans AM fans, but still had people scratching their heads because Trans AM had released a “serious album”.

Seen as a sign of union, not division and largely considered a “safe” album, 2007’s Sex Change assuaged fans’ worries that the band was moving in directions they didn’t understand.

Here’s a few quick questions and answers with Washington, DC’s Trans AM:

When Trans AM were last in Halifax in 1997 (for the Halifax Pop Explosion), there were reports that they drove gearheads nuts by putting duct tape over the names of their keyboards. Was this a regular occurrence for Trans Am? Why?

Yeah. Companies obviously place their brands prominently on their
instruments. It looks cheesy. We pay for the gear and then advertise
it on stage for free? Bad deal. A band’s gear looks much cooler with
brands mostly eliminated. So tape over it! Or at least demand some
free gear to advertise it. (We have no endorsements.)

What would Trans AM change about the last three albums; T.A. (2001),
Liberation (2004) and Sex Change (2007)?

They were fine, but multiplying the sales figures by ten might have
been a good start. I think we could have done some things better, but
each album has its own area and time and place. We’re not too
precious about our “work” – we’ve got eight albums, so a few stinkers
is OK. It’s the only way to get anywhere new.

Was T.A. received the way it should have been?

Again, we were trying to make an 80’s pop record just before
electroclash really exploded and people figured out what they wanted
to remember the 80’s as. Our album is not as cohesive as I’d like. It
was also completed right after 9-11 which kind of put the “party all
the time” vibe in a weird light. But in retrospect, maybe more
partying and less fear would have been the “responsible” decision.

Does Trans AM, themselves, consider Sex Change a “return to form”?

Well, we didn’t do anything but try to make a Trans Am record, so
maybe in that way, yes.

Is it frustrating creatively to have critics/reviewer/fans decide
what is and isn’t Trans AM’s form?

We’re past that. We know what we sound like, sort of. I guess I’m
glad that a “return to form” is a positive.

Will there ever be another Trans AM/Fucking Champs project?

Well, we could easily do stuff with those guys, but The Champs aren’t
really an active band.


What is one thing about returning to Halifax after more than years
that excites Trans AM?

We’re hoping for the coldest and darkest Halloween ever. Also, our
second show at that festival we played last time was one of the few
where I remember us really getting our asses kicked by another band.
It was the afternoon, we were in poor form and the Mooney Suzuki
wiped the floor with us. So I’d like to get that taste out of my
mouth.

Trans AM play the Marquee this Friday October 31st with Grand Theft Bus and the Jimmy Swift Band.

Halifax Podcast Explosion

CBC Radio 3 has posted a podcast of Saturday night’s Marquee show featuring The Ruby Coast, The Got to Get Got, Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains, and Islands.

The Got to Get Got play Tenerife around 16:30 into the podcast and Let’s Roll Around Our Graves and Get Dirty in the Afterlife around 22:36.

Here’s a creepy video of Mark Mullane:
TGTGG – Blood Test

Atlantic Fashion Week

Anna Wintour, take note. October 29 – November 2 is Atlantic Fashion Week, “the first official Semi-Annual Fashion Week for Halifax and Atlantic Canada.” Because nothing says legitimate fashion like Halloween. The Week (and — just to get the math straight — Real Week > Fashion Week = Box Office Weekend > Real Weekend) includes a fashion show at Palooka’s Boxing Club on November 2. Because nothing says glamour like a punch in the face.

Halifax is obviously beyond the forefront of fashion. Behold the first bleeding edge fashion image that comes up when you do a Google search of the words “Halifax Fashion”:

Halifax Fashion

Halifax Fashion

En garde, vanguard! Halifax isn’t just stylish, it’s totally meta.

Helen Hill story on Fifth Estate tonight

Beloved filmmaker Helen Hill‘s tragic story will be told tonight (Wednesday) at 9:00pm on CBC’s The Fifth Estate.

From the CBC:

Canadians Helen Hill and Paul Gailiunas left their thriving artistic community in Halifax to live in New Orleans. Then in 2005, in a way that no one could have imagined, their lives became entwined with another story, one that filled headlines and television newscasts everywhere. On August 29th, Hurricane Katrina swept over New Orleans, leaving a city awash in death, chaos and crime. Murder statistics skyrocketed and, one night, Helen Hill became one of those statistics. She was shot dead by an intruder. Bob McKeown reports on the story of Helen and Paul and explains how her death explains what has gone wrong in New Orleans before, during and since Katrina.

I found this interview with Helen on Youtube talking film and New Orleans:

The Hour Blog Marred By Poor Writing

Last year, Jess Watt and Jenn Good covered the Halifax Pop Explosion for CBC’s The Hour and man did they hate Windom Earle:

Windom Earle, or as I like to call it, possibly the worst band I’ve ever heard. A never ending interlude of repeated chords that never found a hook, or a chorus and never really ended until a much appreciated break for some Bon Jovi Karaoke in the middle of the set. Their big song beef chowmein, apparently a local favourite made me hungry and wishing I was eating that instead of listening to this. It was band camp gone wild up there; the sax player who was to his credit playing like it was life or death, almost took himself out with the sax and ended up air-guitaring… on his sax. That kinda sums it up really. Windom – Playing long and loud doesn’t make it sound any better, although bonus points for the cowbell.

Please consider that this is from a pair whose musical taste is suspect to begin with:

As someone who loves, understands and constantly defends The Killers, who are one of the best bands of our time

This year, Jess Watt, with a year of covering superlative festivals like V Fest, Edgefest, the Vans Warped Tour and NXNE under her belt, came back to Halifax, stayed for three days,took some terrible photos, saw about 10% of the bands and declared that the festival had fizzled.

Watt, admittedly, missed out on most of the headliners including: GZA, Holy Fuck, The Inbreds, Monotonix, Josh Ritter, and Jay Reatard. I can understand that she didn’t arrive until Thursday thus missing out on Jay Reatard, Josh Ritter and the Monotonix, but how the hell could you skip out on the Brutal Knights, the Endless Blockade and the GZA?

What is most puzzling are the comments that the Pop Explosion fizzled and was “marred by poor attendance and bad venues”. I can’t prove or disprove the attendance comments, only knowing that the Gus’s Pub shows all did incredibly well, Josh Ritter sold out and there was a healthy and energetic turnout for Jay Reatard. I don’t need to disprove the bad venues comment. Watt does that on her lonesome.

If there were so many performance marred by bad venues, why write:

Already going into The Seahorse I knew this was going to be a good show. Boston’s Scarce admittedly have a very warm place in my heart.

Not to mention the sexual tension in a few of their songs. Wow, the room was heating up.

or

Saturday night…the finale of the Pop Explosion. What better place to end off the weekend, then at the best venue in Halifax, The Marquee, with CBC Radio 3 presenting and transmitting live.
Locals, The Got To Get Got kicked off our night, playing with a full band, in full form.

or, better still…

First stop, the legendary Gus’ Pub on Agricola Street. Though out of the downtown core, Gus’ Pub felt like home, full of unknown to me, though friendly folk. The bartenders embraced our requests for local brew, Moosehead Dry. Introduced as being from, ‘just up the street from the pub’

I must be missing something.

Reading through Watt’s review of the Pop Explosion, you get the feeling that she enjoyed the festival more than she wants to let on. Scarce, the Got to Get Got, the Stance, Ghettosocks, Sebastien Grainger and the Mountains all receive rave reviews in the entry, so what exactly fizzled about this year’s Pop Explosion? Could it possibly be you showing up in the middle of it and missing great sets by bands like Vkngs, Statues, Horses, Attack Mode and Retribution Gospel Choir?

You can’t blame this one on Windom Earle, you missed their set too.