A Wayward Word's Worth

June 28, 2011

Sweet beats leave Wilson bruised

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 5:53 am

How a pop icon turned open wounds into good vibrations. By Kyle Mullin for Calgary’s FFWD Magazine, Thursday June 23 2011

Brian Wilson laid down on the floor and shuffled his tiny frame closer to the speakers carelessly, not yet needing to wince or worry about pressing down on the bruises that would soon speckle his skin. His attention instead submitted to the song coming from the turntable next to him, a melody that would go on to inspire most of his own buoyantly joyous notes and his every performance even to this very day — despite all the beatings along the way.

“My dad pushed me around when I was a kid,” the Beach Boy says of the first of many bullies that would torment him for years. It was a brutal elder who also happened to kick-start a young Wilson’s illustrious music career. “The good part was he taught me how to play the piano. Although he was not good to me, he taught me how to play the boogie-woogie.”

“I look for the good in people all the time,” Wilson adds. “There’s always been people in my life who are very good, and then there’s people in my life who I don’t feel comfortable around. Some of my old buddies from [my hometown] Hawthorne, Calif., they only talk to me like, ‘Hey man, what are you doing in the studio?’”






Rebel Songs

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 5:51 am

Scorsese films aside, Dropkick Murphys still provide soundtrack to working-class struggle. By Kyle Mullin for Calgary’s FFWD Magazine, Thursday June 23 2011

The bagpipe eulogy was out of tune, rejected by the Catholic Church, and exactly what the dearly departed hoped for.

In his last letter home, Sergeant Andrew Farrar asked his family to replace “Amazing Grace” with something more fitting at his funeral — that is, if he didn’t survive his tour of duty in Iraq. When that bitter day arrived along with a folded flag, his wife Melissa passed that last wish along to Dropkick Murphys, her husband’s favourite band, until it felt compelled to fulfil that wish. The Boston Celt-punk faves huddled closely with the family and friends that morning in the winter of 2005. The casket lowered as piper Josh “Scruffy” Wallace’s strained notes stretched through the icy air.

“Unfortunately bagpipes are a very fickle instrument and tend to, if it’s too humid or too hot or too cold, go out of tune very easily,” singer Al Barr says of the Murphys’ sombre performance. The experience inspired “Last Letter Home,” on the Murphys’ 2005 disc The Warrior’s Code. “The priest wouldn’t let us play the song in the church, so we played “Fields of Athenry” as they lowered him into the ground. But I don’t think anybody was sitting there judging Scruffy’s playing, everybody was just caught up in the moment. That’s something you really don’t forget, when you see two young children that have lost their father and you know they’re never going to see him again.”







Of smoke rings and halos

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 5:48 am

Kurt Vile learns that in song, less is more. By Kyle Mullin for Calgary’s FFWD Magazine, Thursday June 23 2011

Kurt Vile’s initial instrument wasn’t the guitar. The would-be singer-songwriter first learned his trademark subtlety — and deft finger work — not while mastering chords, but while hoisting pallets with a fork lift, which sounded a droning, rhythmic backup alarm every time he shifted into reverse. It’s no surprise that his former gig, at a Boston air freight company, helped inform the tightly woven songs that have become synonymous with his name.

“It’s a real tight squeeze, like an art. You come in with the forks and just go one inch this way…. It’s super subtle, a little turn here, another little turn with the forks to get it in… and things move really fast, you put all this freight in the smallest spot, stack it on top of something else. Sometimes I’d make a turn and not see, knock things over. It could be [crates of] beer, could be a TV.”

A similarly restrained approach underpins Vile’s latest release, Smoke Ring for My Halo, from the jangly recurring motif of “Jesus Fever,” to the windingly wispy notes that curl through the title track.




June 22, 2011

Handsome Furs’ mission of Burma

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 1:39 am

Montreal synth-rock duo the Handsome Furs’ forthcoming album was inspired by a nerve-wracking 2010 tour through Burma, where the simple act of performing music in public can land you in jail. By Kyle Mullin for Toronto’s THE GRID, Thursday June 16 2011

In their current press photo, Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry—a.k.a. Montreal synth-rock duo Handsome Furs—play the role of balaclava-clad criminals, posing in a house they presumably just ransacked. But during a tour of Burma last summer, the married pair felt like genuine smugglers, risking deportation or the incarceration of their local accomplices.

Their contraband wasn’t any mere narcotic—it was their music, the raw electro-punk tunes that Boeckner had written in between stints serving as the front man of (now defunct) indie-rock troupe Wolf Parade. The Furs encountered several culture-shocking hurdles while performing those songs on their Asian odyssey last August, but nothing was more intimidating than their gig in Burma, where the ruling military junta has banned rock bands from playing in public.

“In order to put on the show, [our friends] had kids running around the street with walkie talkies, making sure that the cops weren’t coming to shut it down,” Perry says of the gruelling moments leading up to their performance in the cultural capital of Yangon. “I think [the local Burmese musicians] opened up to us and allowed themselves to be in a very threatening position.”





Q&A: Brian Wilson

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 1:35 am

The Beach Boys’ legendary leader may be happy to talk about his classic ’60s songbook or his recent George Gershwin tribute, but he refuses to a entertain rumours of a 50th-anniversary reunion tour with his estranged former bandmates. By Kyle Mullin for Toronto’s THE GRID, Monday June 13 2011

Something far more sombre always simmered beneath The Beach Boys’ good vibrations, as the California troupe pushed pop music to a new edge in mid-’60s, before the pressures faced by their chief songwriter, Brian Wilson, thrust him into the depths of depression. Years of drug abuse and mental illness followed, but by the new millennium Wilson had reemerged with acclaimed releases like 2004′s SMiLE, a revamped version of the intricate pop opus that his fellow Beach Boys had so steadfastly opposed nearly four decades prior. Now, he’s showcasing his latest album of covers dedicated to 20th-century master composer George Gershwin on a cross-continental tour.

In a recent interview with The Grid, the lead Beach Boy was unimpressed by rumours of a reunion with his former band mates for what would be their 50th-anniversary next year, curtly dismissing the possibility.





A Different Kind Of Anvil

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 1:28 am

Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow has always kept the faith, avoided temptation and forgiven any trespasses. By Kyle Mullin for Edmonton’s SEE Magazine, Thursday May 26 2011

Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow looked past his friend’s swastika emblazed sleeves, dark cowboy hat, and the wart on his cheek, meeting that fiery gaze dead on — only to turn the devil down.

Lemmy, the infamous whiskey soaked banshee bassist, towered over Lips like a speed metal rendition of the crossroads demon that grants delta bluesmen virtuosity. But the Motorhead front man was offering so much more — pure absolution from years of playing empty rooms.

Lips could’ve left his own band then and there to become a rock deity — he simply chose not to.



Infinity Guitars Ring, Are You Listening?

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 1:26 am

A once-doomed brazilian restaurant turned out the be the place Sleigh Bells found their voice. By Kyle Mullin for Edmonton’s SEE Magazine, Thursday May 19 2011.

Derek Miller may be known for crafting frantically offbeat electro tunes, but many of his early rhythms were redundantly dull — the squeaks from rubbing down tables, the hollow clatter from stacking chairs, the faint scratching of his pen as he jotted down special orders instead of the lyrics and notes he craved to craft.

“When you’re trying to do something creative there’s nothing better than an awful boss, it lights a fire under your ass, for sure,” he says of the dead end stint he worked at a Brazilian restaurant in Brooklyn, to scrape by as he tried to pry his way into the music industry. “Every day I’d get there at 10 a.m. and start setting up tables, and just thinking about how badly I wanted to leave.”

Between shifts he’d amassed a considerable stash of bold and brazen beats, tapped out on his Akai xr20 drum machine. His shifts, however, allowed for too little down time to go see shows, much less the needed respite to try and book his own gigs or even find a few musical cohorts. But the job he thought was stifling actually ended up offering him the inspiring fresh gust he needed.



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