Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.
Canada Day is July 1. This is also my parents' anniversary. Every day is many things.
Emperor X wrote a song, crossed from Canada into Detroit.
First he played the tune on his acoustic guitar. Later he added electric bass. On bass, he tried to play "Canada Day"'s nervous system, to find its firing bump and jerk. He sang and re-sang the lyrics. I hear they're draining the lake now / I hear they're shutting the fountains off / They plan to alter the shoreline / They plan to make it all clean. He sang of defeat and persisting, relinquishing certain things and conquering others.
My favourite part of this song is not the finger-pick or the bassline, not the words or the message: it is the syllables he sings in the middle of the song, clipped and cooing. This moment has no meaning, intention, direction. It is a man singing um, oo and ee. It is like swimming in a river, riding on a bus, watching the fireworks fire in an unfamiliar land.
More than two years after I first discovered the marvels of Emperor X, he is releasing a proper album on Bar/None records. Something called Western Teleport. It includes "A Violent Translation of the Concordia Headscarp," a track from that very first post. It includes a roaring song called "Allahu Akbar", which reminds me of Owen Pallett, Los Camepsinos and very early Bec. It includes autoharp. It also includes "Erica Western Teleport", wherein he seeks a kind of obliteration.
Don't think of her swimming sideways / Don't think of her, kicking at the topsoil / ... Don't think of her running in an old t-shirt / Don't think of her porous membrane / Don't think of her, reading on the L train / ... Don't think of her / Never think of her.Emperor X is so special because of his particular voice. It is lo-fi pop but it is not from the bedroom, the basement - it feels like it is from the Greyhound, the MacBook, the wi-fi'ed park bench. On "Erica Western Teleport" he namedrops Firewire and Battlestar Galactica, he suggests you go get some exercise. Yet it is not hokey or "funny", the work of a punchline-slinging folkster. It is simply precise. Muddy, catchy, personal, persistent - and precise. In this way, Chad Matheny reminds me of certain rappers: The Streets, Lil Wayne, Lil B, Big Boi. These are MCs who rap whatever images feel rightest, and fuck the universal. Sometimes our longings are broad, sometimes they are very precise.
MProv, the Montreal Improv Festival, runs October 12 to 16. Terrific shows, with troupes from Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg. Includes performances by both of Said the Gramophone's main writers. Hope to see you there!
Montreal Improv is also organizing Impossible Montreal, an amazing, daunting, death-defying city-wide scavenger hunt, November 4 to 6. Register now.
Concerts à Emporter co-founder Vincent Moon needs money! With Petites Planètes humming along, he is seeking funding to finish several short films based on footage from All Tomorrow's Parties. Go pledge your support at Kickstarter - and come away with all sorts of thank-yous.Posted by Sean at September 29, 2011 11:20 PM
Love this. Also love the promise on his website to play three songs outside the concert and get fish tacos with you if you can't get into the show because it isn't all ages. I'd give that a shot but can't pass as 17 anymore :(Posted by Karin S. at September 30, 2011 6:16 AM
Man, totally psyched to hear this LP! Not psyched to pay $25 for it...Posted by TheBeat at September 30, 2011 2:43 PM
YEAH!! the new stuff is Chad's best yet...Posted by Tyler at September 30, 2011 6:35 PM
By 0:07 of the second one I was all "oh crap yeah, love you so hard Chad Matheny".Posted by Jason Treit at October 2, 2011 10:57 PM
Not sure about in Canada, but amazon in the US has the album for ~$15!Posted by Joel at October 3, 2011 4:11 PM
I've listened to this album all day yesterday. 'Erica Western Transport' makes me think I let something go I shouldn't have, or that I will... Not to be picky, but the lyrics end with "Always think of her" rather than "Never think of her".Posted by Marc at October 5, 2011 12:31 PM
wow, I've been listening to Erica Western Teleport for days now, the lp is ordered, but I can't wait! thanks, sean, this sure has the potential to be the album of the rest of the year!Posted by Maks at October 9, 2011 1:09 PM
I went on tour with Chad and The Front Bottoms this past September and he is one of the most interesting and down to earth people I've met. I still owe him a practical joke however, which he will get when he least expects it...Posted by Joe at October 10, 2011 5:20 PM
by the way, if I know what you're thinking, then that's not an autoharp on "Sig Alert". that's a piano, with the top opened and the strings being strummed!Posted by Tyler at October 13, 2011 1:30 PM