JAIMIE VERNON – BUT NEW MUSIC SUCKS, MAN!


“When you say ‘there is no good new music anymore’ – what you are really saying is ‘I don’t own a computer’.” – Modern Facebook Proverb

Of course, if you’re reading this page then you obviously do own a computer. So what’s your excuse? What is that inherent need to slink to the fallback position of “there’s no good music anymore”? Is it because your tastes have changed? Is it because the music has changed? Or is it because you’ve built a musical mausoleum around yourself where only Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, Vaughn, and Lennon now reside? It isn’t that there’s no good music. It’s that you gave up. You stopped trying. You’ve become complacent in life or buried your head in the sand so that all the evils of adulthood can be ignored or blocked out.

And with it anything that might remind you that you’re irrelevant – preferring to relive your childhood rather than face the fact that the world’s moved on without you. Don’t worry, there’s no threat of anyone prying that 8-track tape of ‘Led Zeppelin II’ out of your cold, dead hands. We’re not listening to dinosaur music over here.

I ended up in a dust-up with hit song writer Tal Bachman (yeah, the “She’s So High” guy http://youtu.be/_ElORM9O-0U ) after he declared that not only was there no good ROCK music these days, but that ALL MUSIC SUCKS now – even his own. The Facebook switchboard lit up like a Roman candle. I was the only voice of descent. I told the contingent that they needed to stop living in the past. Bachman fish-filleted me because I couldn’t provide him with evidence to prove him wrong. Fact is, you can’t argue a point that’s subjective. Whatever new music I could have provided would have been struck down – because someone who would make such a blanket statement in the first place has already made up their minds. Of course, a week after this debate raged, ZZ Top released their new single “Gotsta Get Paid” http://youtu.be/xJRBdLpTeso and proved MY case. The Top have learned a few guitar production tricks from our very own Big Sugar to make the teachers into the students.  http://youtu.be/HWlgnqCHBWw

You have to want to find good music before you will. The days of turning on the radio and having a DJ hand you the newest hit song gift-wrapped and ready to be consumed by you, the listener, is over. Putting the fact that Top40 is now blandly homogenous aside, I believe that on a subconscious level, even the DJs aren’t entirely sure they believe in what they’re playing anymore. So, if the cheerleaders for what’s new and exciting and hip can’t even convincingly sell us new music, how are YOU going to get excited about it? To that I have the antidote: the weekly columnists at ‘DBAWIS’ are this generation’s cheerleaders. Follow us, dear listeners, to the land of Great Discovery. We know you’re as old as we are. You’re the ‘demographic’ that we write for every week. Folks that grew up with the same pop culture and musical references as us. Still, you’re disenfranchised from a music and technological world now moving at warp speed and the audio menu has millions of frustrating choices. Everyone’s too busy to sift through the back alleys and internet nooks & crannies everyday and that’s why we listen to new music so you don’t have to! But know this…if something excites us enough to write about it, you might just want to give it a shot. As always, these things aren’t always everyone’s cup of tea….but I can guarantee you the percentage of “likes” versus hates will be greatly increased.  We’ll tell you what it sounds like, where to hear it, and how to get a copy. When was the last time a minimum wage earning, baggy-panted, eyebrow-pierced hipster at HMV did that for you?

BETTY MOON“Rollin’ Revolution”
Betty Moon is a firecracker. She’s the Axl Rose that Axl Rose has been trying to channel since GNR’s first album. Better still…Moon can actually sing…on key…and knows how to infuse a melody line into a rock song. It’s been a long road getting to a level where Moon can have some of L.A.’s top session players (like Kenny Aranoff) and live performers appear on her latest album ‘Rollin’ Revolution’. Born to a musical family in Toronto, Betty Moon (not her real name) was in her teens when she was discovered by the Judy Welch Modeling Agency and International Top Models. She played piano and was enrolled in a Royal Academy of Dance program until popular music caught her ear and she formed her first band. Following high school she went to George Brown College and earned a diploma in Theatre Arts. Next, Moon auditioned and was accepted into the Humber College jazz music program. It was at this point she connected with moog player Angel Lopez and together they formed minimalist punk duo Bambi. A cover version of David Essex’s “Rock On” became the title track to their 1986 seven song independent debut. The act made a big splash on CFNY-FM and MuchMusic which propelled off stage sales (and the few local retail outlets, such as Sam the Record Man, who supported indie product) to the neighbourhood of 5,000 units. The sales figures alone attracted the attention of A & M Records who offered her a record deal. It was a new venture for her and a new name was chosen to represent the next chapter in her career. And so it was written that Betty Moon would Hard Rocketh Forevemore. In 1991 she released her self-titled debut album on A & M Records. With the battle between hard rock and Grunge raging in the mid-1990s, Moon didn’t give up and continued a path that was dominated by her gritty vocals and driving guitar songs. Of course, Los Angeles was the most suited city for getting noticed and she’s continued releasing album after album – ‘Stir’ (1997), ‘Doll Machine’ (2003), and ‘Demon Flowers (2006). Now, deeply embedded in the scene that spawned GNR, Motley Crue, LA Guns and Velvet Revolver, her most recent release, ‘Rollin’ Revolution’, features the KROQ-FM hit single “My Stupid Dream”. The album recalls the best of 1990s Hard Rock (cause let’s face it, that’s the last time it did!) and is relentless. Songs like “My Stupid Dream”, “Captain Hi-Top”, the title track, and “Damagement” show that Moon has a command of the heavy and can spit fire at will. But before anyone thinks this album is merely an exercise in firebranding, Moon turns the tables and digs deep into her Conservatory musical training. The jazz inflected ballad “Drink Your Fears Away” isn’t just a token channel changing tune and most certainly isn’t filler. It might be the best track on the album. Add to that the slow psychedelic grind of “Elegy” and Betty Moon can run with the Grace Slicks of the world too. Speaking of which….her closing salvo is a smokin’ take on Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody To Love” http://youtu.be/fJuviuHmXsM  . There isn’t an auto-tuned vocal or drum sample on the whole CD. If you were wondering where real rock went, Betty Moon ate it for breakfast. http://www.bettymoon.com

RUTHLESS ONES “Ruthless Ones”
Several years ago some music industry knob started a rumour that Cashbox Magazine’s Sandy Graham was the mother of international rap artist Drake (whose mother shares the same name as Sandy). I’m here to set the record straight. Yes, Sandy’s son is in the music business. But he’s not Drake. His name is Ian Robertson and he’s the guitarist and one of the vocalists fronting the punk/ska act RUTHLESS ONES in Toronto. The band also includes second guitarist/singer Evgani Varakin, bassist/singer Elliot Seibert and drummer Nik Robe. Not only do they play a devout tribute to 1980’s post-punk skank, but they continue to embrace the Do-It-Yourself production and marketing attitude that was so much a part of that original scene right down to including an Old Skool lyric sheet/poster complete with bad spelling and grammar which would normally be a turn-off but is delightfully charming in this case! What we have here is a collision of The Clash, Black Flag, Crass, Rancid and Sublime plus hints of Two-Tone Ska minus the horns. There’s some great mosh skank on tracks like “Take Mi Away”, “Big Eyes”, “New Life Perception” and the guitar-riff laden “Long Run” http://youtu.be/wOBfFPUcCPw . But Ruthless Ones know how to party and effectively turn up the energy on tracks like “Natty Treble”, “Walls” and “Day In the Life” (a melodic cousin to Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died”). Guitars keep the jangle jangling and the rhythm section is as tight as a Conservative’s fart. It all rockets by in a breezy 27 minutes and requires repeated listening/dancing. http://www.ruthlessones.com

KEITH MORRIS & THE CROOKED NUMBERS
“Love Wounds & Mars”
When I first put ‘Love Wounds & Mars’ on I was instantly transported back to smoky nights at Toronto’s Cameron House listening to The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir or Glen Stace or John Bottomley playing their loosely knit acid Folk music with friends of friends of friends in colliding acoustic driven symphonic cacophonies. But when I looked at the package I saw that Keith Morris & The Crooked Numbers were from Charlottesville, Virginia. Had the same Appalachian musical migration that turned Ontario’s The Band into 1970s Americana icons done the same for Cameron House alt-Folk two decades later in the Southeastern USA? Unlikely, because Keith & Co. do what they do a lot better. The edges are refined and the melodies are pronounced – hell, there’s even harmony vocals on many of the tunes. The stand out tracks come when the six-piece are in lock step. The Blue Rodeo-like tunes “Nowhere Road”
http://youtu.be/qKJeVYHgiO0
and “Colorado” (with its Neil Diamond “Solitary Man” melody) are uplifting toe tappers. The ensemble is augmented with pedal steel and harmonica on the anthemic “Leora Brown”. And they drive a southern Mexi-Cali Jimmy Buffett summer ditty like “Bordertown” with accordions. The group is also diverse enough in their eclectic sound to bring on a treacle-less melancholy. Jen Morris takes lead vocal duties on the beautiful “Peaceful When You Sleep” and the haunting Dylanesque “Like a Haze” (the best track on the disc http://youtu.be/FC8REACjVTs ) allows Morris to show an uncharacteristically sombre, emotive depth to his vocals. If Keith Morris & The Crooked Numbers can’t be Canadian I’m happy that they can play Canadian – better than many Canadian acts in the same style. I’d love to see them on a double bill with Blackie & The Rodeo Kings or The New Pornographers. The band doesn’t include their URL on the CD so here it is: http://www.keith-morris.com

GRACE NOTES:
Wanted to mention an effort by a community of Toronto musicians that are rallying around local guitar legend Rick Gunn who is battling cancer. A fundraiser last November successfully raised $19,000 to allow him a cushion while he waited for treatment. In August he finally got the long awaited stem-cell transplant and chemotherapy needed to effectively fight this treatable version of cancer. However, he is now battling a C-Difficile infection making recovery even harder. Funds have dwindled and he will need more money for prescription medicines and follow-up appointment transportation costs and living costs while he recovers. 100% of the donations go directly to Rick.
Help us help him: http://www.kapipal.com/rickgunn
Or contact Janet Lowe: janet@rjenterprises.ca / (905) 427-7969

Send your CDs to: Jaimie Vernon, 180 Station Street, Suite 53, Ajax, ON L1S 1R9 CANADA

Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

Jaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 33 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 16 years. He is also the author of the recently released Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ is now available at Amazon.com

6 Responses to “JAIMIE VERNON – BUT NEW MUSIC SUCKS, MAN!”

  1. Can I get an ‘Amen’!

  2. […] New Review by Jaimie Vernon: Keith Morris & the Crooked Numbers, Love Wounds & Mars […]

  3. i have gotta check out that miss Betty Moon!

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