Hometown homage: “I hate Winnipeg” @theweakerthans

Recent musings on commercial imperatives and hometown architecture:

“I hate Winnipeg,” sings the ironic refrain of the song One Great City! by Winnipeg indie band The Weakerthans.

In the last verse of the song, an “arcing wrecking ball” delivers the brutal sentiment on behalf of “our Golden Business Boy,” who “up above us all, leaning into sky,” tells a pious lie (“I love this town”) as he watches “the North End die.”

The lyrics refer to the statue gazing northward on the dome of the Manitoba Legislative Building. Popularly known as the Golden Boy, the “Eternal Youth” (his official name) surveys the architecture of Winnipeg.

In the poetic lyrics of The Weakerthans’ John K. Samson, the statue symbolizes the commercial imperatives of secular culture. Money and power rule the city, extracting profit from the weak.

The genius of the song consists in its many ironic contrasts between words and deeds. For example, money and power demolish the past, proclaiming love for “one great city” (on Winnipeg’s highway welcome signs) at the same time as they wreck it for further profit.

On the other hand, a humble artist writes a tune repeating, “I hate Winnipeg.” Yet with its wistful music and poignant storytelling, the song communicates his real love of home.

I feel how the example of sacred architecture, in the midst of a crude and rapacious secular culture, can instead cultivate for humans a real and lasting sense of home.

Without such beautiful architecture, utilitarian commercial interests will define the landscape of one’s hometown. The ugly skyline created by such cruel economic motivations contrasts ironically with real humans, whose nature will always seek to love the place where they live, just as The Weakerthans observe in their song:

And in the dollar store
The clerk is closing up
And counting loonies, trying not to say
I hate Winnipeg.

Concert Review: Heterotopia Live @schooltree

Lucky are the few to have seen the masterwork Heterotopia live!

Here’s an excerpt from an excellent review of Schooltree’s September 29th concert:

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to attest that Lainey Schooltree has chased that Holy Grail and brought it back to the land of the mortals in the form of [a] 100 minute epic called Heterotopia. She has kept her covenant with the ancient gods of progressive rock and delivered a work that deserves a place in the pantheon. After seeing Heterotopia in its embryonic state, I was especially excited to see how it translated in a proper live setting in its final form. Not only did it exceed my already high expectations, but I left having the sense that I had witnessed the launch of a significant work that demands to be judged on the global stage.

Decked out in goth chick glam, Schooltree herself seemed content to let Heterotopia speak for itself. And that’s exactly as it should be. While so many are eager to confer automatic legitimacy and priority to “womyn in rock” these days, Lainey Schooltree has simply thrown down a gauntlet of stone cold artistic achievement. Heterotopia is a musical monument that stands tall in the valley of its ancestors and demands to be judged alongside them. I may not have seen Yes, Pink Floyd and Genesis back in their heyday. But I did see Heterotopia at Oberon in 2017. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a perfectly comparable experience.

Heterotopia: Illustrated Libretto, 2nd edition CD @schooltree

The illustrated libretto book publication and the 2nd edition CD digipak are now both available for Schooltree’s incredible concept album, Heterotopia.

You can buy them online at schooltreemusic.com with Apple Pay (or pay by credit card). Don’t miss your chance to own this magnificent souvenir of one of 2017’s greatest artistic achievements!

Album Review: Dave Kerzner, Static

Dave Kerzner is back! Static is his second full-length solo album. New World established his prog bona fides, with its sprawling sci-fi concept album deployment of Pink Floyd-esque music. On Static, Dave again deploys his uncanny ability to sound like David Gilmour, and there are even moments when he sounds like Roger Waters shrieking away.

But even though it’s easy to imagine if Pink Floyd were still making great albums today they would sound exactly like this, the amazing thing is that Dave is not a copycat. Although he has mastered vintage sounds — not just our favorite vocal stylings, but also the coolest keyboard sounds you will ever hear — he is not a purveyor of prog nostalgia.

The most remarkable thing about Kerzner’s impressive new album, Static, is Dave’s songwriting abilities. He has every detail perfected: melody, harmony, orchestration, developmental dynamics, and emotional impact. His excellent songs are truly a cut above the competition and they unmistakably show how true musical talent, shaped by all the best musical influences, can be put in the service of stunning original compositions. Above all, the song is the thing of note here.

Every track is outstanding, although the album really should be considered to be a ten-track opus. “Prelude” is nothing but a wispy introduction to the magnificent album-opening progfest, “Hypocrites,” which introduces a theme that will return at the end of the disc on the epic 16:52 finale, “The Carnival of Modern Life.” And “Quiet Storm” blends nicely into the rip-roaring “Dirty Soap Box,” where Steve Hackett and Nick D’Virgilio show up to set things ablaze. I also think that “Right Back to the Start” and “Statistic” are brief enough that they may be taken as two preludes joined to set up the superfunky “Millennium Man.” But however you do the math, whether ten or fourteen, the result is the same: the album is perfect prog pleasure, with incredible variety and richness.

Dave’s quieter piano ballads (like “Static” or “Trust”) best display the subtle charms of his sophisticated songwriting skills. And they don’t really deserve to be called “piano ballads,” because they never stay still in one genre for long, but rather slowly soar into another musical dimension. So much surprise and delight is offered by this album, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Trust me, you have many, many hours of listening pleasure ahead.

It’s hard to pick any track as a favorite, because they are all so good. But early loves of mine (in addition to the epic bookends of the album opener and closer) include “Reckless,” which has a jaw-dropping instrumental section that sounds like 1980s King Crimson, and “Chain Reaction,” which sounds to my ears like 100% Fun-era Matthew Sweet.

Dave Kerzner, Static
Progarchist Rating: A+   10/10   ★★★★★

Dave Kerzner – Lead & Backing Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar, Drums, Bass
Fernando Perdomo – Guitar, Bass, Drums, Backing Vocals
Derek Cintron – Drums
Randy McStine – Guitar & FX
Durga McBroom – Vocals
Lorelei McBroom – Vocals
Ruti Celli – Cello
Steve Hackett – Guitar on “Dirty Soap Box”
Nick D’Virgilio – Drums on “Dirty Soap Box”
Matt Dorsey – Bass on “Reckless”
Colin Edwin – Bass on “Static”
Ewa Karolina Lewowska – Vocals on “Static”
Alex Cromarty – Drums on “Chain Reaction”
Stuart Fletcher – Bass on “Chain Reaction”
Chris Johnson – Guitar on “Chain Reaction”

Produced by Dave Kerzner
Mixed by Dave Kerzner and Rob Aubrey
Mastered by Dave Kerzner

CD Cover and Booklet Artwork by Ed Unitsky
Artwork Concept by Dave Kerzner and Ed Unitsky
Graphic Design and Layout by Ed Unitsky