Weights

HRH  is having a friend sleep over tonight (complete with sleeping out in the back yard, bonfire, the works) and tomorrow we’re all going to Windmill Point for a swim and picnic.  This afternoon however, I made up the 3400m I skipped out on yesterday morning and afterwards, I followed it up with this quickie 45 minute session with the heavy iron…just because.  Today’s He-man soundtrack then is the ‘Dodge and Burn‘  album by the Dead Weather.

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Released last year on the Third Man Records label, this is the 2nd album by the Nashville supergroup (their first in almost half a decade) consisting of Jack White, Alison Mosshart (the Kills), keyboardist Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs, The Greenhornes).  The band casually marries muddy blues with hard-rocking riffs, eclectic rhythms, and howling punk energy.

However, lost in all the star power is just how effortlessly experimental this music can be. When Mosshart’s wobbling yowl, accompanied by a crushing riff rumbling downhill, interrupts White’s ramblings and a slow-burning groove on ‘Three Dollar Hat‘, it’s merely a glimpse into everything that’s happening here.

The group’s approach is basically balls-to-the-wall (awesome for a weights workout), a chance to try anything and everything under an umbrella of creative autonomy.  Filled with carefully assembled moving parts, they take decidedly high-yield risks that peel back sounds to reveal stunning alternatives. Where ‘Sea of Cowards’ (which I listened to not long before this blog existed) the bands sophomore album, mostly sloshed through a muck of heavy, growling blues and crunchy bass, ‘Dodge and Burn’  is more interested in wading through a smorgasbord of sound, anchoring itself to the sturdy sadness of blues but exploring much more sonic space.

The charged opening track, ‘I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)‘, is the first sign that things are a little different this time, with the spare swagger of ’70s metal and boogie rock providing a platform for some of Dean Fertita’s most unhinged guitar playing and some of Alison Mosshart’s wildest vocals.  ‘Three Dollar Hat‘, one of White’s few lead vocal turns, is a hip-hop-tinged tale of revenge that reaffirms he’s always been more than a by-the-book revivalist.

Elsewhere, the album’s loose, try-anything feel honors the band’s roots in impromptu jam sessions, whether it’s Lawrence’s creeping bassline on ‘Buzzkill(er)‘  or the organ on ‘Lose the Right‘, which falls somewhere between dub and vintage horror movie music. However, the Dead Weather don’t just rely on chemistry and chops – the album also boasts some of their best-written songs.  With its stark riffs and dense paranoia, ‘Open Up‘  rivals the best work from any of White’s other projects, while ‘Mile Markers’‘ layered menace and sensuality make it a standout.  There’s a seedy, predatory undercurrent to songs like ‘Be Still’, ‘Cop and Go’, and ‘Too Bad’  that suggests the album could be the soundtrack to a gritty crime drama, with the gloriously melodramatic ballad ‘Impossible Winner‘ playing as the credits roll.

And with this workout in the bag, it’s time to entertain two 11-year-old girls for the evening with roasting marshmallows, hot dogs, etc., f]oh, and we have a tent to set up too.

Here’s hoping we they don’t get eaten by the coyotes.

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Friday Night Vinyl

The kiddo and I completed a very short and frosty 19.42k ride and, afterwards, we went to The Sanctuary for a few rounds of Exploding Kittens and a Spicy Black Bean Hamburger.  I may, or may not, have had a few drinkee-poo’s to boot.  Now we’re settling down at home and listening to the ‘I Want to Make With It You‘  by Michael Bernard Fitzgerald.

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After having her butt handed to her three times over, HRH wandered up to the auditorium to see the band soundcheck and noticed that they were selling records.  Of course, we had to go up shortly after to watch together and see if we could purchase one.

Luckily, we could….and did.

In fact, Michael not only sold us a record but literally stopped soundcheck to sell us one as well as getting the entire band to sign it for us.  And he even threw in a free t-shirt for HRH  as well who, by this time, was all starstruck.

“This.  Is.  Amazing.”

I doubt she’s going to take that shirt off for, like, weeks.

Michael is from Calgary, Ontario.  The album was written during a break up he was going through at the time, yet he wouldn’t call it a “break up” album.  It is a record born in longing though.  Best put, “it is music to get a speeding ticket to”.  An honest and reflective lyric over a bed of driving drums, electric guitars, bass, strings and voices.

Michael is a touring troubadour, most of his time is spent on stage playing clubs, theaters and festivals across North America. He is a dog man with a good plan and two hands, an engaging live performer touting love first and foremost.

Michael has shared the stage and toured with Joel Plaskett, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Steve Winwood, Third Eye Blind, Sam Roberts, Stars, K-OS, The Wallflowers, Elliott Brood, Lights and many more. Tonight, fortunately for us, he’s passing through Ridgeway and ended up making one 11-year-old girls, night.

Thank you Michael.

You’re a class act.

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Easy Tempo Run (8.11k)

I admit it.  I opted out of my early morning swim today in favor of a few hours of extra sleep.  After all, there’s always tomorrow.  I am however proceeding with my easy lunchtime run, especially as it’s cool and overcast out (dare I say it, it’s almost sweater and pumpkin spice weather).  The plan today calls for 45 minutes of continuous easy running to this album, ‘Person Pitch‘  by Panda Bear.

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Before I get into the album itself, look at that album cover – it’s Simply the Tits!  C’mon, it’s like the ‘The Life of Pi‘  meets The Village People.  It’s actually an original composition by by Agnes Montgomery, an artist whom Lennox credits as having positively influenced him.

Go figure.

If foxes in hot tubs be your thing; roll with it, brah.

No judgement here.

This is the 3rd album released by Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear), released on March 20th, 2007.  It was recorded using a pair of Roland SP-303 samplers, and represents a stylistic leap from his previous album, the primarily acoustic ‘Young Prayer’ (2004).  The album was met with universal critical acclaim, and later ranked among the top 10 albums of the 2000’s in lists by Pitchfork.

Though comprising just seven tracks, not a second of time is wasted over the course of the album. From the loop of clapping that brings ‘Comfy in Nautica‘  into focus to the gentle guitar chords and steady kick-drum pulse of album closer ‘Ponytail’, each sound is economical and deliberate.  Lennox’s gift here is assembling small sounds to create a bigger picture. ‘Take Pills‘  builds its rhythm from interlocking samples of scraping skateboard wheels and an anonymous oldies radio loop before walls of Beach Boys-esque harmonies come in on top. The song goes on to a second half made up of a bouncing, skeletal bassline and more waves of harmonies, occasional sound effects of distant atom bombs, screeching animals, and splashing puddles all culminating in a blurry pastiche that seconds as a perfect pop song.  This is also true of album centerpiece ‘Bros‘, a 12-minute collage of chiming guitar arpeggios, stony vocal harmonies, hooting owls, and phasing loops that fade in and out of each other.  More electronic impulses are blended into the respective grooves of oddly-named two-parter ‘Good Girl/Carrots‘, while hazy tape manipulation, wordless vocal loops, and soft noise make up the more ambient ‘Search for Delicious’.

Disarmingly simple, perfectly metered, and striking in both its playfulness and vulnerability, ‘Person Pitch‘  stood as a perfectly executed statement for Lennox, and in at least some circles of indie rock, a musical revelation.

I didn’t really have any plan for a route for this run, I just set out…running.  45 minutes or bust which was good enough for 8.11k in total, or an average pace of 5:33min/km.  That more or less qualifies this run as both my first tempo (my first since June 3rd) and long (first since May 7th) runs of the season.  Hopefully, the weather continues to cooperate and I can more of this under my belt leading into the real weekly running workouts.

I’m pleased to know though that my patience apparently paid off.

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Hump Day in Corporate Hell

I managed to slip in my morning swim (yes dear, I DID manage to get out of bed this morning) and now here I am again sitting at my desk in Ground Zero of Corporate Hell.

Goodie.

Let the good times roll; commencing with “Operation:  Block Out Bullshit” with the crazy ‘Mindbender‘  album by Stringtronics.

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The album was originally released back in 1972 by Peer International Library Limited and has since remained as one of the most sought after library LP, with original copies fetching up to $900 US on eBay.

So, yeah, thank you YouTube (click HERE).

It’s funky, it’s jazzy, and it totally tripped the fuck out…hence my decision to categorize it among my Like WOW, man! albums.  Basically, it features an astonishing dynamic six-track suite, written and conducted by the versatile virtuoso Barry Forgie. The album also gives stunning ethno-lounge music from such famous French composers Nino Nardini and Roger Roger.

You’re all down with your popular French composers, right?

Of course you are.

The album really is a “Must listen” Holy Grail for lovers of electric harpsichord, bongo, balalaika, guitar bass, electric piano, conga, sitar guitar, violin, cello, and electronic effects (among others) or, maybe, you just like music like I do.

Either way, it’s a fun listen to begin the day here.

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Tuesday Night Vinyl

Mommy is working evenings this week so I’m pretty much on Dad Duty every night.  Tonight we kept ourselves busy by cycling 42.6 kilometers (click HERE) to the Port Colborne YMCA for a well deserved cookie and then back home again.

Not bad for an 11-year-old, right?

Afterwards, we treated ourselves to a meatball sub during an episode of Next Kids Food Network Star and now we’re listening to the latest acquisition to her growing record collection, the ‘Footloose‘  soundtrack.

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Goodie.

Can’t you just see how excited I am?

Obviously, this is the popular soundtrack to the even more popular original movie released back in 1984, and not that other blasphemous piece of shit remake from 2011.  Kudo’s to the kiddo for recognizing the difference between the two I guess.

Things could definitely have been much worse had she brought home that other one.

Anyway, when this album was released I was 12 years old and, yes, I had a copy on cassette and listened to it on the Walkman fixed to my hip just like good ‘ol Kevin Bacon on the album cover.  In fact, my mom also had her own cassette and played it in the car pretty much nonstop for the next 3 years.  So while I admit I did have an affinity for the soundtrack at one point, that was more or less beaten out of me over the next 36 months.  I swear, it was like a religion to her and Kevin Bacon was her fluffy-haired pariah.

Of course, just about everyone on the planet adored the title track by Kenny Loggins which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.  And so too did ‘Let’s Hear It for the Boy‘ by Denise Williams, and the saccharine-sweet barf-in-your mouth ‘Almost Paradise‘ duet between Mike Reno and Ann Wilson made the Top 10. Personally I think the high-octane drum solo on Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Holding Out for a Hero‘ is worthy of mention as well, especially when played against two dueling tractors in an epic rural  showdown (click HERE for a little reminder).

Remember when that  was classic cinema?

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Let’s Hear it for the girl….

Gawd.

Anyway, the album itself reached #1 on the US Billboard 200 chart and pretty much stayed there for the next two years.

Unfortunately – and I’m sorry to say this mom – but the sound and production of this album has dated badly…very badly.  There is an over-reliance on synthesizers and drum machines that instantly announces that the record was made in 1984.  HRH  doesn’t mind though.

She loves her some Footloose.

Me?

I’d rather stick my pecker into the drive chain of my Trek 1000.

But who am I to refuse her victory celebration for completing her goal bike ride this week?  It’s not like I was riding these kinds of distances at 11-years-old.  Hells to the no!  I was sitting on the couch at home watching G.I. Joe and eating Slim Jim’s.  So, if putting up with a little 80’s cheese casserole is what I have to endure this evening as a result, then so be it.

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Drills/Easy Fartlek (7k)

I bunked off my swim this morning in lieu of sleeping in but I’m going to try and keep with the rest of the plan today which calls for both this 7k easy drill run and a 40k bike ride out to the Port Colborne YMCA and back this evening with the kidlet.  It’s back to being stupid hot out again so I’m going back to running and walking intervals today to reduce the amount of suck I have to endure.  To that point, I’m going with some easier mellow tunes in the way of the ‘Rendezvous‘  album by Luna.

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I thought I had heard all the Luna by this point but, apparently, I have missed one.  And as it turned out, it was their final album (their 7th album altogether) released back in 2004 when I was, well, obviously listening to other things.

According to band leader Dean Wareham – the album is a collection of “two-chord anthems featuring languid social observations and quietly perverse come-ons”.

Whatever that means.

It was recorded live in the studio to analog two-track (with minimal overdubbing done in post-production), and Wareham and Sean Eden’s hypnotic guitar playing resonates deeper than on previous outings, ably complementing the singer’s wry, bohemian non sequiturs, but even standout tracks like the rollicking ‘Speedbumps‘, the wistful ‘Still at Home‘, and the lush ‘Broken Chair‘ – the latter expounding on the group’s recent forays into alt-country.  ‘The Owl and the Pussycat‘  is a musical adaptation of the poem by Edward Lear and ‘Astronaut‘  is a reworked version of the song of the same name that appeared on ‘Close Cover Before Striking’.   ‘Cindy Tastes Like Barbeque‘  also gets an honorable mention because having the best track name only ever, is also a sweet and tender little ditty

There’s an air of indifference throughout the record that keeps otherwise excellent tracks like ‘Malibu Love Nest‘, with its sly, late-night debauchery, grounded in the superficial and the sonic low-fi soundscape that is ‘Buffalo Boots‘ .  Wareham, whose 2002 collaboration ‘L’Avventura‘ with bassist/singer Britta Phillips remains a career high point, continues to mine the Velvet Underground, but his demeanor throughout this album feels more reserved than reverent, resulting in a string of songs that, like Luna, hints at greatness but never seems to choose the fork in the road that might take them there.

I hadn’t really figured that this album was going to rank very high in the Pantheon of Luna albums as final albums very seldom ever do but, you know, it was good.

Like really  good.

Similarly, the original plan was to talk it easy and throw in lots of walking recovery intervals, but after the ABC drills, ‘Malibu Love Nest‘ started up with it’s excellent pace for a fast steady running and I was off into the first of my 3 x 2 minutes intervals (with 3 minutes recovery).  The next three tracks may not have been as similarly upbeat and awesome to run to but I did persevere through two more 2 minute pushes and take a brief peak into the pain closet that is to come soon enough with re-initiation of my regular weekly fartleks.   Unfortunately, ‘Speedbumps‘, the other highlight rocker on the album came on during my walking recovery but it will like be used again on future spinning and tempo playlists.

All in all, it was a decent beginning to what I hope will be a much-improved run fitness over the next month leading into the autumn when the cooler weather returns for good.  Based on this run, things are definitely looking positive and it seems like my patience is paying off.

Strava PB 3rd best estimated 400m effort (1:37)

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Easy Run (3.25k)

It has been another long weekend setting up and organizing yesterday’s Island Girl Half Marathon and 5k races on Toronto Island.  We camped over on the island the night before to set up in the rain and then endured the ruckus from a late night wedding party only to wake up damp and fatigued come Sunday morning in order to finish getting ready for the 700 women runners.  But getting to see so many smiling ladies complete their end games was reward enough.

The thing is though, that setting up these events is absolutely exhausting work and the next day I feel more beat up and drained than I do after any of my own half marathon runs.

Go figure.

I guess it makes sense when you consider that my own races of this distance last typically between 1 hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes, while setting up and running the same event is a 14 hour day.  What this usually means then is that I feel like doing absolutely buckus the next day and, typically, I will take a full recovery day.

However, I still want (Need, maybe?  I mean, how can I not be a little inspired to run after yesterday?) to do something – even if just a little – so I’m going for a very easy 20 minute (3.25k) jog on today’s lunch break just to flush out my stiff and sore limbs.  My soundtrack today is the very short 20 minute (hence the duration of my run) ‘Black Refuge EP‘  by my favorite Swedish rock band Junip.

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Okay, so they may be the only  Swedish rock band I know.

Sue me.

‘Black Refuge EP’  is the bands 2nd EP composed of mostly original songs, and an interesting cover of Bruce Springsteen‘s ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad‘.  It was recorded at Svenska Grammofon Studion, Göteborg in 2004 for Mute Records except ‘Chugga-Chugga‘  which was recorded much earlier in Vänersborg four years previous.

I don’t know what is it about this band, but I simply adore their sound and have been more or less hooked after being exposed to their track ‘Far Away‘  upon seeing Ben Stiller skateboard across a barren Icelandic landscape in ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty‘ (click HERE).

And, like Walter Mitty outrunning his volcano, – I haven’t looked back.

Besides the very unique Scandinavian cover of an epic Depression Era journey through America’s Dust Bowl, the highlight of the EP is actually the delicious ‘Turn to the Assassin’ which would be welcome on any future yoga playlist.  Likewise, it provided the perfect surreal ambiance while cruising through the new developing ‘Ridgeway-by-the-Lake‘ community going up behind us to check out all the building progress.  The track  ‘Official‘  is also a pretty mellow running tune and ‘Chugga-Chugga‘, while pretty, is over too quickly to really get into.

All in all, another great listen by this little known gem of a band.

And, now, onto my fish sammich.

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