Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Today's Special: F@#K Buttons

Nasty name aside, this Bristol group bridges the strange sonic zone between dance, experimental,an post rock. They're both melodic and caustic, often at the same time. They're one of those everything in one package items, like a Christmas basket without the filler item like a ho-ho-ho coffee mug. I expect big things for these lads in the years to come. Dichotomies are the new whole.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Daily Epiphany: Random Art 5

My brother took this pick of this Gaudi-like wall at E. Howell & 26th Ave in Seattle. shoot me your random art -

Today's Special: Baroness

So my chum at Video Per Diem has been telling me about Baroness for a while now. They conjure up feelings I thought had died when black metal came along. I guess once a banger also banger. It's good to be back.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Daily Epiphany: Random Art 4

Is there anything more punk rock than carving the Dead Kennedys symbol in drying pavement for future generations to enjoy? I think not. Want your random art on Rad Alert!? Send me it to moi -

Today's Special: Etienne De Crecy

Funtastic deep house guru Etienne De Crecy is playing wrekkids this Sunday in Vancouver. Check it out if you want to hear who influenced arts like Air and Vitalic.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Daily Epiphany: Random Art 3

This piece of beautiful random art is courtesy of regular Rad Alert! contributer Moni Money in Vancouver town. This was taken in Tel Aviv, Israel. Nice!

Today's Special: Pink Skull

It's not just their name that's great. I heart new disco!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Daily Epiphany: Dock Ellis on Drugs

Drugs, a no hitter, and major league baseball. How can you not watch this? I'm not condoning; I'm just showing. Thanks to Tex in Seattle for the story and Moni Money in Vancouver for turning me onto the video.

Today's Special: Dukes of Stratosphere

Years ago XTC listened to their favorite psychedelic bands of the 60s and wrote songs that emulated them. It's like that 60s album compilation you never buy, but better.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Daily Epiphany: Random Art 2

My spacial friend and I took this photo in Vancouver's Downtown East Side. This is a continuation of my random art series. Send me your random art now to

Today's Special: The Units

In an effort to keep my blog posts more consistent, I've decide to keep the writing to a minimum and the visuals to a maximum. So, in the tradition of my last Today's Special post on Devo, here's a fun band from the same era called The Units. Love them, worship them now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today's Special: De- evolution!

Wow! I checked out my favourite band of all time this past weekend. Devo is playing seven odd cities in North America at the moment. The only Canadian date is in Toronto, so I took a trip south to catch them in the historic Moore Theatre in Seattle.

For this first of two dates in S Town, the five spuds played their dubut album, "Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo" in its entirety. Monday night was the more popular "Freedom Of Choice" album, but I wanted to see the punk rock Devo nerdiness. When the five geeks got on stage, I thought, "Man, these guys are grandpas!" They were pot bellied and grey haired. Mark Mothersbaugh even got down on all fours for a couple of minutes, seemingly winded from his lead singer duties.

But these old buggers rocked it like any act a quarter their ages. They may not be as relevant as they were in 78', but they'll never be another D-E-V-O. And that's probably a good thing.

Daily Epiphany: Random Art

So my bro sent me this photo of this crazy fence of random art in Seattle, Washington. He says it's been like that ever since he's known, and nobody seems to mind. I thought it was a pretty cool idea. I've started taking pictures of random art around Vancouver. I'll be posting them in the weeks to come. If you have any pictures or stories of random art, send them to me at, and I'll post them.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Daily Epiphany: Commercials I love

You know those Bing commercials that suggest that doing a Google search gives you results that seem to have no relation to what you’re looking for? Well, sometimes those misguided searches give you something better than what you initially wanted. Case in point, I was watching the boob tube and caught this for Emery Cat. Besides the fact that this product is really no different than the corrugated cardboard scratching mat every cat owner already owns, my Google search of it brought me to the website Commercials I Hate. I’m sure many of you have seen this site or watched Nathan Alexander talk about his pet project on TV before, but if you haven’t, it’s really quite funny. File this in the “Why didn’t I think of this?” folder. Enjoy!

Today’s Special: Polvo & The Clean

Usually it’s the summer when your favourite bands of dwindling youth reform and play the lucrative summer music festival circuit. You know you’re not as young as you used to be when the style of music you were into in university starts to resurface once again as an immerging trend. But Polvo and The Clean haven’t reformed or gone away entirely. They’ve simply been on a long hiatus. But unlike so many groups that return with decent or sub-par albums and then promptly return to the “Where are they now?” file, these two acts have just released some of the best work of their careers. Sure, they all look older, have kids, and worry about throwing out their backs on stage, but they’ve honed their craft like professors telling their new students how to do it. It’s back to school time. You may think your teacher is old school, but then again, those were good old days.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Today’s Special: New Forms Festival

If you’re looking for something different to do, look no further than the 9th Annual New Forms Festival. I chatted with Jill Bennett this morning about the festival on CKNW radio in Vancouver. Ok, I’m more than a bit biased having been involved with the festival for the past 8 years in various and overlapping capacities. But hey, the groundbreaking music and art we bring to Vancouver every year is truly something worth witnessing.

Daily Epiphany: Going Barefoot

I recently came across this article through a colleague. It reminded me of a friend of mine who used to walk around Vancouver footwear free. This didn’t surprise me since this friend of mine was prone to be a little on the hippy side. For him, going sole free was just a phase. But for others, being a barefooter is a way of life. I booked Al Gauthier for the On The Coast CBC radio program on Monday this week. When Al came into the CBC newsroom, he was wearing these crazy looking foot gloves. Apparently, Nike and other big brands are also making shoes that let you feel like you’re not wearing shoes, but provide protection to both your feet and your reputation since showing up to the office or public bathroom footloose is generally frowned upon. Looking at the Vibram five fingers, I feel these barefooters should remain barefooted.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Daily Epiphany: No More Sockeye Salmon?

I recorded Chief Willie Charlie of the Chehalis Band last week for The Current on CBC Radio (the piece ran last Friday and will hopefully be available to download soon). The subject was an altercation that occurred a couple of weeks back on the Fraser River between him and his brother on one side and a group of sports fishermen on the other. The Chief says he was shot by a BB pellet at nearly point-blank range. This shocking altercation was the result of a dispute over who has access to the now diminishing Sockeye salmon numbers on the West Coast. Some fear the salmon stocks on the West Coast could be heading for the same fate as the cod stocks on the East Coast of Canada. It seems to me that if the situation is this dire, then something has to be done, and fast!

Today’s Special: Zomby

One thing you won’t find in Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide is what to do when one of these retched undead starts spewing out booty banging beats from your hi-fi. My advice is to drop everything and get freaky. I'm not talking about your typical brain eater, but rather a Zomby with a ‘y’ and not an ‘ie’. This Zomby hails from somewhere in Britain (he’s one of those elusive electronic types) and has had music aficionados arguing about how to categorize his style since 2007. Wonky, dubstep, and technicolour rave are a handful of labels tagged to this twenty-something super producer. I’d like to introduce some more: dub-candy, mash n’ beans, and chicken combo number three. These are every bit as descriptive as the aforementioned in trying to define Zomby’s sound. Best to listen for yourself.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Today’s Special: Loscil

I’m the sort of guy who likes to augment my moods with music. Like so many, I’ll crank the wattage while driving or on a Friday night after work as a release and hopefully an anthem to something bigger and more exciting to come. But I also like to take it down five notches sometimes. I picked up one of those sound looping bedside devices to help my sleep a while back. There’s nothing like the sound of water lapping a beach or a the bird in the rainforest to set your mind adrift during cold Canadian winters. In my waking hours, I often listen to ambient music, especially when I’m working and need to concentrate. If there are few BPM’s (beats per minute) or non at all and the music’s emotive, then I find I work interrupted and contently. Like a good work of fiction, a good piece of ambient music can conjure images and moods that are all your own. That’s the kind of feeling I get when I listen to the Vancouver musician by the name of Loscil. Whether it’s an underwater dream where I float amongst the iridescent coral or the conjuring of an image of a train lazily chugging forward into the night, Scott Morgan’s music lets you become part of the music. And if music without lyrics just doesn’t do it for you, then you might want to check his blog for new music he’s doing with Destroyer.

Daily Epiphany: Porno-Theatres – Heinous or Heritage?

There’s an urban fire that flamed up in Vancouver this summer. It’s been extinguished for now, but believe me, the embers are still hot under the cement and asphalt of Vancouver’s Main Street. Some newer merchants in this trendy part of town don’t like one of the last remaining vestiges of what this area of town used to represent. What’s that you ask? Patrons going into large darkened room for the sole purpose of getting sexually aroused. Yes, The Fox cinema is a porno theatre, and the last one in the city. The theatre has been in operation for over twenty years with little controversy - at least in the last ten. But ten years is a long time in a quickly growing metropolitan. Where once there were shuttered doors and dodgy landlords, now there’s expensive clothing and coffee shops decorated to look like art galleries. What may finally close the doors to this house for trench-coat-wearing men might be the new community center opening up across the street. What will parents say when their kids ask, “Hey mom, can we go see a movie at that theatre across the street?” But there might be hope yet for this woman-run artifact. Some argue that The Fox theatre is an important piece of Vancouver’s history. It can also be argued that a city so young should hold onto its historical buildings. The obvious question is, does a 25-year-old building count as historical? I guess it is, in some sense of the word, but come on. And it could be said that porno theatres meet a very real demand in society, which if pushed underground could lead to less safety. I guess time will tell. The new community center is set to open in the fall.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Daily Epiphany: Women Cab Drivers

Have you ever noticed that women don’t drive cabs? Well some do,but they seem few, and when they do, it’s usually only temporary. As a job, being a cabby isn’t the most glamorous profession. In fact, it’s considered to be a dangerous job. But times are a changin’. It appears in the Middle East and beyond cabs and the fairer sex are charting new territory. Women-run taxi services are breaking down barriers for women wanting to get into the trade. This new concept of taxi service is in response to the same problems women driving cabs seem to have the world over. There aren’t reliable figures on how many women are working in the industry compared to men. I haven’t heard of any women-run cab services in North America yet either. I wonder if that’s the way to go or if women should continue to break into this male-dominated industry and change things from the inside? Or perhaps there isn’t a need for more women in the industry in the first place? What do you think?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Today's Special: Luke Vibert

Throughout the heady days of late 90s and post-millennium English IDM, there was always Luke Vibert who managed to sound the same without sounding tired. Unlike Vibert, the flames of popularity of his counterparts and buddies Richard D. James and Mike Paradinas have burned brighter but have long been extinguished. Given the barrage of new music served up on the internet, I’d written the guy off, feeling the man’s sound couldn’t sustain my interest. But then, he released We Hear You, and I was transported to my college years listening to Throbbing Pouch. Like that slept-on release, Vibert still demonstrates a playful, yet masterly grasp of current trends in electronic music while making them sound distinctively Vibert.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Daily Epiphany: Me on CBC Today!

So my chat with Stephen Quinn of On The Coast about VAMS (see yesterday’s post) is actually today. Tune in between 3 – 6 PM to hear it!

Today's Special: Tenori-on

Is August too early to make a Christmas wish list? I’m starting one today, and numero uno on the list is the Tenori-on! This Japanese wonder pad not only looks like some 80s light wall, it makes music too! According to The Guardian all you need to do is press the pretty lights, and sequences of beats and notes are produced. I’m sure it’s much more complicated than that, but if Little Boots, Atom Heart, and The Books use it, I’m sold!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Daily Epiphany: VAMS

If you want to hear something you probably haven’t heard about before, tune into the CBC Radio One show On The Coast this afternoon (or tomorrow…News can always bump something!) between 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. I’ll be chatting with host Stephen Quinn about one of Vancouver’s newest recording studios: the Vancouver Adapted Music Society (VAMS). VAMS was started by former Vancouver mayor and quadriplegic Sam Sullivan with friend Dave Symington back in 1988. The two were in a band together with the cheeky name of Spinal Cord. VAMS was a simple music room until late last year when it became a fully functioning sound recording studio. At first glance it looks like a typical bedroom studio with an Apple computer equipped with Pro Tools and some instruments lining the walls. At closer inspection you’ll find the table is hydraulic so people in wheelchairs can use it. You also find tools that make the studio accessible to those with limited mobility like a mouse controlled by a person’s breath. VAMS has put out a CD with some dramatically diverse artists on it, which some of you might find of interest. I got a kick out of the guy who set up the equipment in the room. His name is Bobbi Styles, and he’s been producing music for years, name-dropping Duran Duran among one of his clients during our interview. The man’s head is clean-shaven today, but check out his hairdo when he used to be in a band back in England. This video and track are extremely dated; nevertheless, I think it’s pretty rad that he didn't let his cerebral palsy and wheelchair get in the way of rockin' out this hard...and with that much hairspray.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Daily Epiphany: 100-Mile Clothes?

I like to get my eco on like the next person. I recycle my containers, conserve water, and generally try to be sustainable. But I’ve always wondered where clothing comes into the debate. I guess others have too and for some time. This is a picture taken from a Wired magazine article that focuses on an educator and designer who’s taking the 100-diet ethos into the realm of clothes. Being a thrift shop fan, I certainly feel good buying recycled clothes, but making your own clothes from existing materials is taking preloved to a level few might be able to reach or want. Perhaps there’s another way to tread this lightly, but still look good?

Today’s Special: The Emperor Machine

So I thought I’d start off my first RA musical treat o’ the day with a group that’s relatively unknown but shouldn’t be. The fact that Andy Meecham is one of the men behind house legends Chicken Lips is reason enough to check out The Emperor Machine. A devotee of Can and collector of vintage synthesizers, The Emperor Machine are reminiscent of Stereolab with their shared love of recent past musical styles, technologies, and graphic design. The Machine’s third and most recent release, Space Beyond the Egg, is by far the most accessible release to date (there’s even the odd vocal thrown into the usually pure instrumental stew). Who knows, now that Meecham has found friends to play with live, perhaps we in North America can witness the Emperor’s spell in person some day.