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July 20, 2004

"North Shore" is not a sufficient substitute for "The OC".

I'd been waking up to squelch for a year. Ever since the move to Detroit, finding a clock radio with a signal strong enough to penetrate brick had been near impossible. The two or three models I'd given away were proof of all my fruitless searches; the current one was only fair, ignoring FM and rocking a love/hate relationship with the AM. The buzzer? No way! That thing sliced sideways into the right temporal lobe, killing the moonlight and spilling daylight rudely into dreams. It made me tired all day. So, late at night, I could be found tuning stations. I'd find one alright, but the next morning inevitably I'd be blasted awake by battering static as the freq had somehow faded during the night. What was to be done?

On a recent evening I moved the dial gently to the left, hoping to corral a local community station. It was worth a try if the majors couldn't find a way through the masonry, maybe the high school kids would. The area's NPR outlet tried valiantly to fight through the white noise; it lost, and I kept tuning left. Next there was the startlingly clear voice of a preacher, chastising his flock in biblical (or at least Hestonian) tones. Why do the churchies always find a way past the distortion? I thought, and tweaked the switch again. Suddenly, the fragile voice of Mirah came whispering out of my General Electric. It wasn't quite clear a slight, yet persistent hiss dulled her acoustic guitar. But it was definitely Mirah, and I knew I'd found a new FM contender for weekday wake up call duty. "Nobody Has to Stay" (from Mirah's C'mon Miracle) is a great song, so I let it play, hoping to catch a station ID. "That was Mirah on Brave New Waves, brought to you by CBC radio 2..."

O Canada.

CBC on TV was already a fave, offering a wide array of weird programs, as well as interesting sporting events like curling and equestrian. (In show jumping, a "spread" is an obstacle with two or more vertical jumps placed several feet apart.) Still, CBC Radio had never occurred to me, especially that it would feature a program as cool as "Brave New Waves", which spent the middle of each night spinning everything from blissful indie pop to screeching, howling noize rock. Naturally the show was over by the time of my alarm in the morning. But the matter-of-fact newsreaders of "World Report" - not to mention the stately classical sounds of "Music and Company" - were a welcome return to waking up like a civilzed adult after a year of the Klaxon Method.

I began to really enjoy CBC One, Two, and Three. I didn't quite understand the differences - after all, I was only listening for a few a minutes a day. But that made it more interesting, like wandering jet-lagged through a European mall. Everything's sort of the same, but... Even though I was in my own bed, I was privy to another country's national broadcast. Weather reports were delivered in kph, and periods of "cloud" and "sun"; shows emanated from places like St. John's, Newfoundland , or that northwestern mecca of all things Cub and New Pornographer, Vancouver. Not only was I free of the squelch, but I'd discoverd a new country.

As for Pitchfork, there was the supposed sex-punk madness of Pink Grease, which, barring a few tracks like "Remember Forever", was not memorable.

The real action was at AMG, which finally - finally - debuted its about damn time redesign. The new, muted color scheme was nice enough, and a big improvement over the glorified GeoCities bullshizz of the old site. However, All Music caught all kinds of flak for everything from not supporting certain browsers and requiring too much clickthru, to suddenly featuring classical releases on the front page.

Since none of that shit was my job, you're going to have to ask someone else about it. While all of that was going on, we right brain types were still writing. Highlights of my shit included Scissor Sisters' self-titled domestic debut ("A gleaming composite of epic, unabashedly pretty '70s songwriting and fancy-pants disco hedonism..."), as well as Sparta's incredible post-hardcore epic Porcelain , which "shatters the notion that musical thoughtfulness needs to include weeping or flugelhorns".

Unfortunately, I can't link you to reviews of the Locust's Follow the Flock, Step in Shit, Red Planet's new album, the Flesh's Sweet Defeat EP, or even the surprisingly great new record from the Presidents of the United States of America, as the powers that be say they're not updating the site until the connection and assorted other redesign problems are fixed. This is lame. But again, it's not my job, so whatever.

I still have "Brave New Waves", right?


Posted by Johnny Loftus at July 20, 2004 02:19 PM


holy amazing. i just read your post about rabbits on chicagoist and just wanted to drop a line to say "you rule."
so there you go.

jen, Jul 22, 2004 5:03PM

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