Wednesday, January 30, 2008

D is for Dragons...

Until very late last year, if you'd asked me who the Dragons were, my automatic (and only) answer would have been the professional baseball team in Nagoya, Japan - the Chunichi Dragons. But thanks to DJ Food and the fine folks at Ninja Tune, the Dragons I think of instantly now are Dennis, Daryl and Doug Dragon (and yes, that is their actual last name - how cool is that?!).

The brothers' album Blue Forces Intelligence (or BFI) was recorded at the close of the sixties and then shopped around to labels who - bewilderingly - passed on it. One track, "Food For My Soul," appeared on the soundtrack to a seventies surf film, which is where it came to the attention of DJ Food, who contacted Dennis Dragon to include it in a mix and casually asked if there was more where it came from. A little bit of searching yielded the master tapes (high school buddy/recording engineer Donn Landee had them kicking around) and when the Ninja Tune 'suits' heard the trippy combination of psych-rock and surf-soul the brothers had recorded, they flipped. Understandably, since I too flipped when I reviewed it for Stylus in the Dec./Jan. issue (which is still, briefly, available in Winnipeg).

The trio came by their talents honestly - their father Carmen was a symphony conductor and Hollywood arranger, and their mother was a singer. On the record the brothers used keyboards, vibes, layered vocals and studio trickery to amazing effect - inspired in part by "The Doors and others [who] were freaking us out with their hypnotic sounds," writes Dennis.

All three played as part of the Beach Boys' backing band in the seventies before they moved on to their individual pursuits - which brings me to the strangest piece of this puzzle: Daryl Dragon is THE CAPTAIN from Captain & Tenille!

Here's Daryl Dragon, a few years after recording BFI, with his and Toni Tenille's version of Muskrat Love, featuring people dressed as muskrats.

And here is
The Dragons' myspace page
Captain & Tenille's website.

Thanks for reading, now start listening...

Monday, January 28, 2008

C is for Clutchy...

Clutchy Hopkins that is.

And if you're asking who the fuck Clutchy Hopkins is, you're not alone. He seems to have come out of nowhere and there are more fully-formed questions about him than half-baked answers.

While there may be questions about whether Clutchy Hopkins is actually a mystic living in the Mojave desert who fought as a rebel in Nigeria (and that's just the tip of the rumour iceberg), there is no question that the music being released under the "Clutchy Hopkins" moniker is fan-fucking-tastic.

From the rare-groove selections on Sleepers Never Dig and Diggers Never Sleep, to the beat-tastic compositions on The Life of Clutchy Hopkins and People's Market (credited to Clutchy and the Misled Children), his collaboration with MF Doom to the material on a full-length due out February 5/08 on Ubiquity Records called Walking Backwards (featuring guest appearances by Darondo and Shawn Lee!) the marketing-ploy-mystery about the creator is nowhere near as exciting as the creations.

Check out this great video for "3:02" that someone matched up with Steamboat Willie :

And then check out Clutchy Hopkins' official website.

Thanks for reading, now start listening...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

B is for Black Mountain

Confession time.
I've never been a big fan of prog-rock. I've been known to say 'no' to Yes, and when it came time to submit my list for the Top Canadian Albums, Rush was nowhere to be found (though several of their records made the cut, at the expense of personal favourites like this one).

So it comes as a bit of a surprise that the very proggy new record, In The Future, from Vancouver band Black Mountain is kicking my ass six ways to Sunday. While there are some radio-length songs, the backbone of the album is the epics "Tyrant" and "Bright Lights," clocking in at 8 and 16 minutes respectively, during which synths and pan-flutes abound, while Amber Webber's unearthly vocals float above the music. Upon reflection, epic may not be a big enough word to contain or describe these songs. Black Mountain has always displayed a penchant for pushing guitar dynamics to both their quiet and loud extremes (on the Druganaut EP and their self-titled full-length) but with In The Future they somehow manage to eclipse their past work and fold new influences into the fabric of their 'stoner rock.' If this is what the soundtrack to getting stoned is, pass me the pipe.

Black Mountain are about to embark on a gargantuan tour (fitting considering this is a behemoth of a record) that will find them here in Winnipeg on March 27 at the Pyramid, supported by Ladyhawk. I'll be hitting the merch table to buy this puppy on double-LP.

For a limited time, anyone and everyone can listen to a full album stream of the full album on the band's myspace page,.

Thanks for reading, now start listening...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A is for Arrows...

Despite Arrows having a lot of things going for them, I haven't heard too many people talking about this great band and their album Knives Are Falling From The Sky (released independently late in 2007), which is a shame because it absolutely slays.

Apart from the quality of the album, Arrows are also (a) from Guelph, one of the Canadian indie-scene's gems [Three Gut Records!, Royal City, Jim Guthrie, etc.], (b) a husband and wife duo, (c) a guitar and drums combo, and (d) they've never pretended to be something other than B & C.

Arrows received a favourable review from Exclaim!, but there has been little other press about them so far, but I'm hoping it's simply a case of the album being released late in the year and now that the holiday-haze has evaporated we'll begin to hear more about them.

Delusions of Adequacy compared the band to Aereogramme's heavier moments and I think "Atoms Remind Us" demonstrates that comparison well, though my personal favourite from the album is "Caged Warning."

Check Arrows out at

Arrows' website

Arrows' Myspace

Thanks for reading - now start listening...