Posts Tagged ‘CBC Radio 2 Concert’

See How It Goes

January 9, 2009

Naked is as naked does.

Apostle of Hustle

The Naked and Alone

This is Part II of my look at Apostle of Hustle featuring Tanya Tagaq doing a CBC Radio 2 Concert on Demand. Part I is here. I guess as we roll into Jimmy Scott is the Answer Tanya is long gone.  I should listen to her set at some point and write more about it. This song has something to do with feeling better at someone else’s expense. I didn’t quite catch the whole story.  This is a discernible pattern to their songs, mainly that there is always a chance for soaring guitar work at somepoint in the song.  The current track is no exception, and in fact contains the most defineable guitar solo in the concert.

Folkloric Feel is one of my favourite Apostle of Hustle songs, and I doubt I’m alone in this. From the outset I highly enjoy this version. It opens with a fun jam session featuring lovely guitar work which suits the instrumental nature of the song. For a three piece they create a broad sound due to some fine guitar work, the use of effects, and the arrangement of the songs. The atmosphere of Folkloric Feel is indescribable. Perhaps it is reminiscent of the foggiest independent movie you’ve ever seen.

Next up we get The Naked and Alone. The drums are heavy in this song and it sounds like a cross between 70’s hard rock and more recent music.  In fact, this song seems more theatrical than the ones that were specifically written for the stage.  The middle of the song features a sample of two people talking over delayed guitar, followed by more meandering along the fretboard. In the 13 tracks in this performance the band covers both of their main albums, new material, and some side experiements. That is somewhat remakrable given the brevity of the set.

Haul Away, another track from National Anthem of Nowhere, starts with some latin inspired drums and more guitar meandering.  The lyrics start out like a fisherman calling to his underlings about the nets. That is the actual image I had in my brain.  Deep in my memory, an emptiness waits. This is a dark song, but would probably be right at home in a latin club somewhere.  Tanya is definitely back. It sounds like she is laughing, but she is actually singing in her distinctive style.  It mus have been a fascinating experience to blend together the sounds of the two groups.  The resulting music is almost indescribable. It is certainly cinematic in a way.  The sound coming from Tanya’s mouth almost seems supernatural.

Encore time! Time for another oldie, Song for Lorca comes from the debut album Folkloric Feel. This song has a dream like feeling to it.  Almost like floating in the air with a fuzzy view of the world.  Apostle of Hustle definitely succeeds in putting their listeners into a different headspace.  The drums here sounds almost missing, but still in the track.  Poetry came through this time.

The final song is Sleepwalking Ballad. Again, like most fans, this is a favourite.  Apostle of Hustle, for me, falls into the same musical realm as later Tragically Hip albums.  Although I prefer the formers music to the latter, they do share some tonal tendencies, if not an actual songwriting style or goals. I had all my fun in this world all I’ve got left is me.

Overall, this concert is entertaining and contains an otherworldly atmosphere. From the opening Improvisation to the last notes of Sleepwalking Ballad the audience is transported to another place for an hour or so.  It’s a shame to come back.

Paying Off A Crooked Cop

January 8, 2009

Haul away, haul away, haul away, haul away, haul away

Apostle of Hustle

Haul Away

On November 7, 2008 Apostle of Hustle along with Inuit singer Tanya Tagaq took the stage at the Glenn Gould Studio to record a live performance for CBC Radio 2. This is my “live blog” of the on demand version of the Apostle of Hustle half of the show.

I am familiar with the music of Apostle of Hustle but not Tanya Tagaq. The show begins with her signature throat singing style which is a little strange at first.  On it’s own it sounds like she is gagging at first, eventually morphing into a more pleasant sound.  The first ten minute track is entitled Improvisation, meaning that this singing is being made up as she goes.  As any child of the internet age would, I went immediately to Wikipedia to find out more about throat singing.  It may have originated in ancient Mongolia and traveled with the Inuit into the arctic.  Interestingly, it is normally done as a competition between two women with the winner determined by who can outlast the other.  Tanya Tagaq (find her music here) appears to be the only person practicing this style in a professional capacity as a solo artist.  She aspires to be like Bjork in that she is different from mainstream music, and she represents a specific group of people.  I have not had much to say about the first track because of its nature.  I think it is a unique exploration of two merging musical ideas, namely throat singing and indie rock in an improvised setting.  In some ways I imagine it is an homage to the traditional Inuit competition with the band in the role of competitor.

The second track is Baby, You’re In Luck.  It is jazzy (a loose term to use I know) and sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack of a dark film noir.  I can almost see the smoke rising from cigarettes in a dingy bar while two hitmen go about their business.

Next up is Xerxes a song that begins with an upbeat drum and guitar intro.  This song has its share of pop culture references. This is more of an indie rock song than the previous one.  Obviously “indie rock” is a ridiculously open ended term. I imagine I use it in the sense of guitar based songs with quirky vocals and harmonies that are good but not pop perfect. Of course synth instruments also have a role in a lot of indie songs, but I think you get the general idea.  The guitar tone in Xerxes is nicely off kilter.  To me, it’s the type of tone that fits in a Paul Simon solo song but that I would likely reject for use on my own album. I probably need to reconsider that.

Perfect Fit. Do you know about Apostle of Hustle? No? Well here is some info. Essentially, they are the brainchild of Andrew Whiteman of Broken Social Scene. He was inspired by the music of Cuba, and Apostle of Hustle grew out of that fascination.  I’m not as familiar with Cuban music as I might be, but I can definitely see the inspiration in a song like Perfect Fit.

How to Defeat a More Powerful Enemy is apparently about pamphlets falling from planes, inciting revolution. It starts out sounding like a Broken Social Scene song with sharp guitar lines and splashy drums. This is a new song for the band and I am always fascinated with how bands play new songs. They never seem quite right at first, probably because they don’t have the polish of tunes that have been around longer.  Generally, if you hear a band preview a new song that later shows up on an album, you will recognize it, but be happier about the change.  This track has a lot of potential, despite it’s goofy premise.

Cabaret Song was part of a theatrical project the band engaged in. They give the impression that the song after this one, Spirit Town, is also part of the same experiment.  This is a good song, the guitar is just right in the instrumental parts, but I wonder what this has to do with some kind of theatre production.  Spirit Town is a song “for the dancers.”  The drums do provide a suitable rhythm for moving at a slow pace. The guitar is U2-esque, playing around with delay a little bit. In fact, this song could be a U2 track.  Of course, if they did it, the vocals would be more overwhelming.  Whiteman is decidely understated.  I take it back, the song takes a turn into funky land at one point and abandons any connection to Irish rock.

That’s it for Part I, as usual Part II runs tomorrow.