If you're looking for the new Red Hot Chili Peppers' By The Way (Warner) disc, it won't be racked at HMV stores. The music retail chain is currently involved in a product pricing dispute with Warner Music Canada and, as of June 1, has stopped buying new Warner releases -- including the new Chili Peppers disc -- in a bid to get Warner to lower its wholesale prices.
"It's just two companies involved in a contract discussion that haven't come to an agreement yet," explains Warner publicist Steve Waxman. "We'll continue to try to resolve this with HMV, but until then it's business as usual for us. All the other retailers have our product, so hopefully people interested in buying a record we're releasing will be able to find it in another store."
About HMV's relationship with Warner, HMV vice-president of product Jonathan Rees says only, "No comment." Apparently, HMV's hardball strategy is meant to send a message to Sony Music Canada and Universal Music Canada that they should fall in line like EMI and BMG, which have already agreed to HMV's undisclosed terms.
HMV's get-tough tactic could backfire if the skirmish with Warner spills into the States. HMV has far less of the U.S. retail market than the 21 per cent share it enjoys in Canada, and AOL/Time-Warner swings a much bigger bat there.
"There has been no discussion about that," says Waxman. "As far as I know this is just about Canada."
july 3, scuzzy, mastadon
Border problems prevented High on Fire from making last week's gig at the Kathedral. After unloading merchandise that apparently exceeded the allowable dollar amount at the Canadian border, the band was allowed entry into the country only to be stopped by police five minutes later for driving an "unsafe vehicle" and was asked to leave.
Metal loyalists hung in to hear Scuzzy offer up a set of stoner rock with tinges of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Deep Purple. Mastadon then took the stage with full-on force, pounding out Southern metal riffs with vigour, complemented by mad drumming. Lyrics were decidedly indecipherable.
Although the Detroit Cobras experienced more than the usual border hassles on their way to the Tequila Lounge Friday night, they still managed to make it for show time. It was worth the extra effort since the joint was packed to near capacity. Yet the Cobras' customs clash clearly took its toll on their performance, which, even with Jim Diamond on bass, was a few notches below the usual frenzy. After a lackustre encore, singer Rachel Nagy announced, "As much as we like coming here, this'll probably be our last show in Toronto. It's just too much trouble. See you in Detroit!"
On their new album, local faves the Supers -- at Hugh's Room Friday (July 12) -- break out of the straightforward power-pop niche they've carved out for themselves in order to channel the spirit of the Hardy Boys?
"Kurt Swinghammer was a big influence on that. We knew we wanted the same superhero look, but with wood panelling," laughs Super-star Maury Lafoy. The disc's title (Mystery On Pop Mountain) and low-budget cover art are definitely evocative of the 50s boy-friendly books.
The look is novel and the sound is, too. Mystery On Pop Mountain is a sweet and sorta sad disc of intimate pedal-steel-heavy songs. Lafoy says the up-close-and-personal vibe on their "in-between pop records" record was motivated by a string of acoustic gigs opening for Ron Sexsmith.
And, yes, that is A-ha's cheesy synth-pop Take On Me given the mopey slide-guitar treatment on the disc.
"Cheesy keyboards aside, I've always thought that song was a bit melancholy. The words are really weird, though -- a strange mix of Norwegian and English. They're not so memorable -- you've gotta listen to the melody."