Compay Segundo, 1907-2003
On Sunday (July 13), the world lost it's oldest and best-loved trovador when Buena Vista Social Club singer/guitarist Francisco "Compay Segundo" Repilado died of kidney failure at his home in Miramar, Havana. He was 95. Born in 1907 in the Siboney district outside Santiago de Cuba, Repilado first came to notice as a clarinetist for the popular Conjunto Matamoros, but it wasn't until 1942, when he formed the duo Los Compadres with neighbourhood pal Lorenzo Hierrezuelo that Repilado established the rootsy son sound and his Compay Segundo handle - referring to his bass backing harmony singing, or "second voice." It was during his 13-year run with Los Compadres that Repilado invented his seven-string armónico guitar while composing hundreds of songs, including his signature Chan Chan - the Louie Louie of Cuba - which remained a crowd-pleasing favourite during his career, right through his unlikely Grammy-winning comeback with the Buena Vista Social Club. He'll be missed.
The New Pornographers, July 8
Hell hath no fury like a Pornographer scorned. When some loogan dissed New Pornographers frontman Carl Newman 's vocal technique during their Phoenix gig last Tuesday, the red-haired pop egghead lost it. "Not singing in tune?" he blasted the heckler in a huff. "Dude, that's low! Tell me my music sucks. At least that's qualitative; I can give you that. But what's this quantitative bullshit? I'm pretty sure I know when I'm singing in tune, for fuck's sake!" It could be that the amateur critic struck a nerve. Monday's New York Times review of a recent Pornos gig there disapproved of his falsetto crooning. Fortunately for everyone at the Phoenix, Newman's bandmates kept their cool, bopping through a juggernaut of power pop tunes with chipper grins on their faces.
Keyboardist Blaine Thurier even managed to bust a few ass-shakin' moves while sequestered behind his synth barricade. Yet the double encore was by far the highlight, specifically the mind-blowing medley of Heart rawk classics delivered by the inimitable Neko Case . Lovely.
Lesbians on Ecstasy, July 11
How's this for a concept: four stylin' dykes with ironic 80s haircuts revamping Sapphic standards with drum machines, a Smurf-coloured iMac, hardcore bass lines, techno-glitch synths and an insane rave-dancing frontwoman? It might sound like a pipe dream, but Lesbians on Ecstasy are a hilarious performance art oddity that hints at pure genius. Clad in mesh trucker caps and zip-up polyester Adidas warm-up jackets, the Montreal quartet had me in hysterics with their ominous hardcore versions of tunes like the Indigo Girls ' Prince Of Darkness (you haven't lived till you've heard the line "Someone's on the bathroom floor, doing his cocaine" delivered in a distorted Gatekeeper growl) and Tracy Chapman 's Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution: The Dance Mix. Yes, the dance mix. Only in Montreal would this shit gel. Last Friday's gig at Buddies in Bad Times' Tallulah's Cabaret was sparsely attended. Rumour has it they may grace a future Vazaleen night at Lee's Palace . Don't miss it.