From a High Horse Halloween Mixtape

Headless Horseman

Back on my old blog, Condemned to Rock ‘n Roll, I had a tradition of weekly mixes in a series called Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and…Well, Friday I’m in Love. One of the most popular mixes of the year was the one for Halloween, so I thought we could carry on the tradition and post one here.

Happy Halloween!

Download Part 1.

Download Part 2.

Download Part 3.

Download Part 4.

This is Halloween – Danny Elfman
Ramalama (Bang Bang) – Roisin Murphy
Monster Mash – Bobby Pickett and the Crypt Kickers
Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
Clap For the Wolfman – The Guess Who
Kandy Korn – Captain Beefheart
Zomby Woof – Frank Zappa
Halloween Parade – Lou Reed
Abracadabra – Steve Miller Band
The Time Warp – The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Halloween – Siouxsie and the Banshees
Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus
Release the Bats – The Birthday Party
I Put a Spell On You – Arthur Brown
Halloween – Sonic Youth
Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
Halloween on the Barbary Coast – The Flaming Lips
I Was a Teenage Werewolf – The Cramps
Transylvanian Concubine – Rasputina
Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) – David Bowie
Date With a Vampyre – The Screaming Tribesmen
Do the Hippogriff – The Weird Sisters
Secret Vampires – bis
Found Love in a Graveyard – Veronica Falls
London Ghost Stories – Shirley Lee
Vampire Racecourse – The Sleepy Jackson
Waiting For the Wolves – Daisy Chainsaw
Faces & Masks – The Cherubs
Vampire Love – Ash
Monsters Under the Bed – Eugene McGuinness
Frankenstein – New York Dolls
Halloween – Dead Kennedys
Feed My Frankenstein – Alice Cooper
Jack the Ripper – The Horrors
Vampires Pt.II – The JeanMarie
Tales From the Crypt Theme
Hells Bells – AC/DC
Nanageddon – The Mighty Boosh
Dracula – Gorillaz
Halloween With Morrissey (Ouija Board) – Cheekyboy
Magic Dance – David Bowie
I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow
My Vampire – Soho Dolls
Vampire – Paul St. Paul and the Apostles
Lust For a Vampyr – I Monster
For Halloween – No Kids
Ghost Town – The Specials
Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.
Ghosts – Comateens
Thriller – Michael Jackson
Every Day is Halloween – Ministry
Batdance – Prince
The Addams Family Theme
Halloween – Japan
All Cats Are Grey – The Cure
Scare Me – Paul Haig
Skeletons – The Sound
Lycanthropy – Patrick Wolf
Dracula – Momus
Please Mr. Gravedigger – David Bowie
Graveyard – Public Image Ltd.
Vampires – Pet Shop Boys
Theme For a Witch – David R. Prangely and The Witches
Ghost – VNV Nation
Waking the Witch – Kate Bush
Bat’s Mouth – Bat For Lashes
Can’t (Halloween Valentine) – Scarling
Halloween – Glass Candy
Apparitions – The Raveonettes
Perfect Murder – The Glove
Roses – The Indelicates
Creep On Creepin’ On – Timber Timbre
They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the Dead!! Ahhhh! – Sufjan Stevens
Black Candles – Lupen Crook
My Wife and My Dead Wife – Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians
Hip Deep Family – The Tiger Lillies
Pumpkin – Karen O
My Pet Spider – Tom Rosenthal
Halloween Head – Ryan Adams
If I Only Were a Goth – Thoushaltnot

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“Going Deeper and Deep”: Zola Jesus’ Conatus Reviewed

Zola Jesus is the stage name of singer/songwriter Nika Roza Danilova, a 22-year-old Wisconsinite whose second LP, Stridulum II, made waves in the indie music press last year for its gothic sensibility and laid down the blueprint for her newest release, Conatus.  Occupying a space in the contemporary indie music scene somewhere between the occult-alluding and economical post-punk sound of These New Puritans and Florence and the Machine’s taste for dramatic swings between mass-appeal, rousing anthems and darker subjects like loneliness, alcoholism, and domestic/sexual abuse (one interpretation of early single “Kiss with a Fist”) while also drawing on earlier influences like Cocteau Twins, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Dead Can Dance, Danilova’s music sounds like the product of social and physical isolation.  Indeed, her childhood was spent in the forest of Wisconsin and she has spoken about her solitary upbringing and its inevitable influence on her personality and music in past interviews.

Another reference point is the music that Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife makes as Fever Ray, her solo project.  Fever Ray’s music, though, is more coldly electronic, without the addition of orchestration and without the particular aesthetic affectation that contributes to Zola Jesus’ classification as ‘gothic.’  The real departure point between Fever Ray and Zola Jesus is, of course, their voices.  Andersson’s delivery is both alien and alienating; despite the fact that the music is melodic and inviting on occasion, her vocal shrillness alternating with an eerie deep end accentuates the discomfiting elements of the music, not the beauty of it.  On the opposite side of the vocal spectrum is Danilova, whose warmth and power bring humanity to her cool electronics and dark subject matter.  It’s been asserted in other reviews that Danilova’s voice is immediately recognizable and distinctly her own, and for the most part I agree, with one small exception: her delivery on the verses of “Hikikomori” reminds me of the style of The xx’s Romy Madley Croft; I think it’s the short notes that bring out this hiccupping similarity.  Both singers are cramming a lot of emotion into those short notes, but certainly when Danilova is singing longer phrases, her distinct lyricism takes over again.

‘Conatus’ is a Latin philosophical term meaning effort, undertaking, or striving, particularly with regard to the human condition and our will for self-preservation.  Danilova reportedly chose the album’s title before she began writing any of the songs for it and has reflected that the title comes more from the process of making the album rather than a summary of the songs themselves.

Now for the bad news (and also, I think, the good news): Conatus does not contain a track so immediately relatable yet haunting and otherworldly-sounding as Stridulum II’s “Sea Talk.”  The closest Danilova comes on Conatus is the driving, industrial sound of “Vessel” and its brief refrain that sounds quite like the sun breaking through clouds.  Rather, the whole album is more even, more cohesive, more focused than its predecessor.  Danilova also explores the new frontier (for her) of more straight-ahead (synth)pop music on tracks like “Seekir” and “In Your Nature.”  Of course, her brand of avant-pop owes as much to industrial music and dubstep as it does to, well… accessible, melodic, easy-to-digest pop music (I refuse to make a Lady Gaga reference.  Except I just did.  Eeeek).  Indeed, much of the album teeters on the cusp of being palatable to a bigger, more mainstream audience than the one she currently reaches.

While I have no idea of the kind of scope Danilova has for her music in the near or distant future, it seems to me that her fixation on subjects like loneliness, alienation, and abandonment combined with her particular styling/aesthetic choices provide the perfect counterpoint to her melodies and powerful vocal presence, lending a generous amount of complexity and darkness to her work.  Her voice also seems to be that complicated thing: it’s what brings warmth and humanity into these often mechanical-sounding songs, but it also is one of the darkest elements of her sound, emphasizing the despair about which she so often sings.  Her increased use of electronics also contributes depth and a sense of musical growth to Conatus that wasn’t as evident on Stridulum II.  A lovely, assured, and remarkable release.

Zola Jesus – Hikikomori

Zola Jesus – In Your Nature

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“It’s Not a Perfect Plan”: St. Vincent’s Strange Mercy Reviewed

There is a lovely dichotomy between Annie Clark’s ladylike, demure image and the intensity of her music that has drawn me to her work as St. Vincent.  Clearly, however, it is the grey areas between these poles of interpretation/representation where Clark’s most interesting and subtle ideas are explored, such as her continued fascination with mental instability and the darkness that lurks just under the surface mundanity of everyday life.  Strange Mercy picks up where 2009’s Actor left off, continuing a trajectory started by her debut outing in 2007, Marry Me (named after Arrested Development character Maeby’s joking exclamation); an off-kilter sensibility that has grown with each successive album.  Where Marry Me was relatively innocent; primarily emotionally and musically upbeat with occasional peeks below a calm, collected surface (“Your Lips Are Red”, with its stabbing bursts of piano and guitar) and Actor was more invested in acknowledgement of an unknown, indefinable horror (the creepy verses of “Marrow” narrating a bizarre biology-as-emotion metaphor before giving way to an aggressively upbeat, verging on funk, electronic-enhanced refrain that has Clark begging for help), Strange Mercy brings Clark’s often aggressive, fuzz tone guitar to the fore, helping flesh out songs that are more baroque than rock in arrangement and whose lyrics are often concerned with subverting conventional femininity.

Indeed, it is the juxtaposition of Clark’s straightforwardly beautiful singing voice with her lyrics and guitar-playing that makes her art so compelling.  There are angry elements to her songs, but the songs themselves can’t be categorized as simply angry.  There are peaceful, content elements to her songs, but the songs definitely can’t be categorized as either of those things.  “Chloe in the Afternoon” (which shares its title with Éric Rohmer’s 1972 film) opens the album dramatically with images of a dominatrix and client having a tryst during the client’s break from work; whether Clark is singing from the perspective of dominatrix or client is unclear.  The barely-melodic verses are strung together with menacing guitar riffs that give way to the sexually satisfied (relative) calm of the repetitive refrain.  When she serenely sings “no kisses, no real names” the anonymity of the encounter is made clear, as is the fulfillment of pleasure through pain (signified by that satisfyingly raw riff).

Clark continues in this vein of (hyper-)sexualized femininity with the song “Cheerleader” and its verses narrating the reasons why a female character wants to give up her presumably small-town American life of pleasing boys and being everything for everyone (“I’ve had good times with some bad guys… I’ve played dumb when I knew better/Tried too hard just to be clever”).  Clearly this sexualized cheerleader of the title is a thinly-veiled metaphor for any woman who wants to live and experience outside of the internally- and externally-imposed limits of her life thus far.  A heavy-handed comparison, perhaps, but when this cheerleader’s confessions are so honestly and unapologetically expressed and are accompanied by that mercurial guitar work, particularly emphasizing Clark’s enunciation of the word ‘I’ in the chorus and lending that refrain a powerful sense of personal resolve without resorting to cheap sentimentality, the song succeeds beautifully and works to further evolve Clark’s exploration of femininity.

Elsewhere on Strange Mercy Clark moves from light ‘n’ groovy pop to an increasingly urgent and anxious guitar solo that screams above her muted voice and a deeply ominous synth line on “Surgeon.”  On “Northern Lights” she contemplates an otherwise dark winter and the depression that inevitably comes with it (“Yeah, your pendulum hasn’t swung back in/It’s a champagne year full of sober months/Through my maudlin days, through my dry moments”) and “Champagne Year” begins with a vocal figure reminiscent of Leonard Cohen’s much celebrated, much covered, and pretty much ubiquitous “Hallelujah” while singing with a kind of shrugged-shoulders stoicism, realizing the inevitably of the mundanities of life and how we cope with them.  Strange Mercy really imparts the sense that Clark has reached adulthood as a songwriter and as a person; there’s a theme of resignation that runs concurrent with the idea of new beginnings through these songs.  She is squaring her shoulders, looking her future in the proverbial eye and accepting the unpleasantness that is sure to come, while at the same time looking back at what has brought her to this turning point.  Perhaps this is why I love the album so much: it reflects the complexity and sadness and strangeness of navigating my future while being very much still tied to my past.

I’d also like to briefly divert attention from the album to the video for the first single from it, “Cruel.”  The theme of conventional, traditional femininity subverted is continued in this clip, directed by Terri Timely.  In it, Clark plays a woman who is kidnapped by a wifeless and motherless family and made to fill those roles.  She (quite hilariously) fails at all of the domestic tasks that fall to her and is clearly not the wife and mother this family were looking and hoping for, so they dispose of her by burying her alive.  The surreal highlight of the clip is Clark performing a guitar solo while hooded and tied up in the trunk of her new family’s car, followed closely by images of her singing from a grave and being slowly immersed in shoveled dirt.  What’s interesting here is the uneasy humour imparted by the idea that a woman might actually be killed by an otherwise quite nice (although rather creepy, and definitely demanding) family for failing in this traditional female role.  She is not, however, made to continue this work until she improves, but is discarded quickly and easily.  Her suitability to the role is not assumed by her femaleness, but rather tested through a kind of audition (you get the feeling that the family is quite familiar with this kidnap-a-new-mom scenario).  This is underlined (to highly amusing effect) by the pitying looks the children in particular give her.  She should know better, but she doesn’t, and they don’t have time for this kind of ineptitude.

Also attached is a live clip of St. Vincent’s performance of Big Black’s “Kerosene” from the show last May in New York City celebrating 10 years since Michael Azerrad’s book Our Band Could Be Your Life was published.  The woman can shred.

St. Vincent – Chloe in the Afternoon

St. Vincent – Cheerleader

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Influence on the Influences: An Interview with Frank Turner

Frank Turner

After listening to Frank Turner’s latest record, England Keep My Bones, earlier this year, I recognized themes from his first three albums, including carpe diem, restlessness, freedom, and memory; however, this time, there was also the obvious connotations of home, nation, history, and place. While Turner’s work is very often earnest narrative taken from his lived experience, these new songs are about being rooted to a particular space and time in a larger context of England. He sings of waterways and the sea, which seem to intersect and limn the psyche of Great Britain. Water serves as artery and barrier; it can provide freedom of mobility and circulation, but also inward-turning isolation. It is constant and ancient, but also erosive and ephemeral, a signifer for both life and death.

To me, Turner has always reflected and refracted his North American influences, whether they’re drawing on Springsteenesque anthems or American punk and hardcore. I, myself, have been the antithesis, growing up in the middle of Canada with anglophilic tendencies and a passion for British bands; whenever I visit Britain, I feel like it’s home. Yet at the same time, I’m probably recognizably Canadian to both other Canadians and non-Canadians. Turner’s English identity still clearly bleeds through. I know this because I have a feeling that I wouldn’t be as apt to enjoy his music without it. This record seems to highlight the tension between perpetual motion and stable identity. Where is home in a globalized world? As a practicing global citizen, Turner explores this issue in a no-nonsense, grassroots way. By turning to nation and homeland to establish some kind of grounded roots, Turner reveals his own conception of English identity, which is partly influenced by past mythmaking, and partly influenced by his own storytelling. Though there is an apparent human comfort in tribal recognition, there is also a need to pursue and push beyond frontiers to find and fetishize difference. In “If Ever I Stray,” Turner asks to be doused in the English Channel to remind him of who he is, while the chorus of “Peggy Sang the Blues” begins with “It doesn’t matter where you come from, it matters where you go.” The record seems to say that we can choose our identity even as we are constantly shaped by comparison and contrast.

With its evocation of history and memory, England Keep My Bones is also about time, and by extension, mortality. And this is a mortality unmediated by religion. Instead, Turner derives redemption, rebirth, and salvation from other humans and their art. His is a belief in action today and personal responsibility, which is a system I can get behind. In “Rivers,” Turner requests that he is buried in English seas, and in “One Foot Before the Other,” he asks for his ashes to be dumped in the London drinking supply. Even in death, it seems Turner would like to keep moving.

I had an opportunity to conduct a phone interview with him last month ahead of his North American tour. In my mission to elicit answers I hadn’t already read or heard before, I may have erred on the side of pretentious. Or perhaps it’s a lesson in why some people are artists and some people are critics. Or why some people do and some people observe.

FAHH: I’m Larissa, and I’m calling you from Winnipeg, which is home of The Weakerthans and Propagandhi, as you probably know.

Frank Turner: You know what, I had a long drive today across island and we literally, me and my tour manager, listened to the entire Weakerthans back catalogue songs start to finish. I’m in a Winnipeg frame of mind today.

FAHH: Okay, great. I also want to thank you for a brilliant gig last October. I was at The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto…

Frank Turner: Oh yeah, you know what, there’s honestly no lie saying this to you now, without it sounding like I’m kissing your ass, that was literally pretty much my gig of 2010. That’s how gigs go for me. Do you know what I mean, that’s how perfect gigs go.

FAHH: It seemed like a perfect gig. And somehow I ended up with the signed drumhead – I don’t know how, but…

Frank Turner: Oh, you got the signed drumhead? Okay, nice one.

FAHH: My first question is to do with the last album, England Keep My Bones. As I was listening to it, a whole bunch of different themes came up for me, but I was wondering what does home actually mean to you?

Frank Turner: Well, that’s a good question. It’s been quite awhile since I had my own place. And I did have, for a couple years, some stuff in the corner of an upstairs room in my mum’s place. But actually not so long ago–last year–my mum moved house and put all my shit into storage without actually telling me she was doing that. So, from a strict point of view, a technical point of view, I don’t really have a home. I’m certainly legally of no fixed abode and all this kind of thing. But I think the thing about that, though, is that fact, and the fact that I travel a lot for my living means that my psychological conception of home reverts to being something actually more abstract, and essentially being England, which I think is one of the main reasons why this record came out the way it did…y’know, with the preoccupation with English national identity.

FAHH: And so, to follow from that, how useful is nation as an idea or a definition of identity, do you think?

Frank Turner: Well, I don’t know. When I was younger, when I was a teenage leftist–it sounds like a song title–I spent many years subscribing to the idea that nationalism is completely constructed, and it’s artificial and all that kind of thing. And I’m not sure I’d call myself a nationalist, but at the same time, the older I get, the more conscious of being English I become. And that’s a neutral statement. It’s not to say it’s good to be English or bad to be English or anything like that, it’s just more and more a kind of plain fact of life to me. And so, I don’t really know whether it’s kind of useful as a concept or anything like that, but it just seems to be part of my reality as time goes by.

FAHH: Okay, how does the inclusion of American culture, especially in this album–you mention Bob Dylan, Woodie Guthrie, Patty Hearst…you have a gospel choir featured–how does that complicate your identity or complicate English identity?

Frank Turner: Well, here’s the thing. I think rock ‘n roll is essentially an American art form, certainly in its genesis. I mean, I’m sure there’s lots of people at this point who would start shouting about The Beatles or something like that, but to me, it’s an American art form. And certainly my own taste in music has been predominately American or Canadian when I was growing up. But I think one of the things I sort of want to do is, not just with this album, but generally, is kind of be an influence on the influences and pay tribute to my influences. But not sort of slavishly copying the form of what they do, but just starting with it. I guess what I’m trying to say is Springsteen sings with enormous moving passion about New Jersey, and I want to be influenced by that, not by writing a song about New Jersey, but writing in the same way about the places where I’m from. And so in a way, I guess I’m sort of anglicizing the American music that I love.

FAHH: England Keep My Bones seems particularly tied to water metaphors, including rivers and oceans, and even your latest video for the b-side “Sailor’s Boots” had its use of the ocean as well. Was that actually Holy Island or…that looked like Holy Island to me, but…

Frank Turner: The video?

FAHH: Yeah.

Frank Turner: No, actually that was a place called Bamburgh Castle, which is in the Northeast. [Interviewer’s Note: Since Holy Island is only 16 miles away from Bamburgh, I feel a little less of a geographical nitwit.]

I have to say I was really annoyed about the problems with that video because basically, with that song, it was going to be a video that involved me being in water in some way or other, right? And then, y’know, the treatment came through with the chair and the water and I was happy with it. But when I okayed having that video treatment, in my mind, I was, like, obviously we’re going to be shooting this in, like, the Caribbean, you know what I mean? Somewhere where the water is warm. And then because my tour schedule being what it was, not only were we not in the warm, not only were we in England, but we were in the northeast. We were almost in Scotland, absolutely fucking freezing in that water. And I sat there thinking to myself, “What the fuck? Whose idea was this?”

So, it’s funny – there are a lot of water metaphors on the record, but that wasn’t something that I sort of consciously decided to do. And I can’t really say that I have any particular insightful, psychological comment on why I’ve been using a lot of water metaphors recently, but there it is.

FAHH: Also, the latest album begins with “Eulogy,” and many of the songs I would say on both this album and on your past albums deal with memorialization and needing to be remembered. Why is memorialization important to you, do you think?

Frank Turner: Again, good question, but I’m not sure I have a short and sharp and ready answer to it. I mean, I think that certainly on this record in particular there’s a theme of mortality, essentially. And obviously not only “Glory Hallelujah,” but also “One Foot Before the Other,” for me those are songs about…they’re both atheist songs, let’s put it that way. And I don’t personally have to believe in any sort of life from the hereafter or any of that kind of thing. And so, being I hope a kind of a questioning, curious and perceptive mind, it sort of raises the question of what does get remembered when you pass on and what are the motivations for actions in life and all of those kinds of things. And all of that then throws up the idea of memorialization, and what sort of marks do we leave behind when we die? And I don’t have much more to say on the subject in an interview sort of context because, in a way, I think for me it’s kind of a central question of the art I make, and if I could distill it down into a few sentences in an interview, then I wouldn’t need to be writing songs about it.

FAHH: Right, okay. That’s fair enough.

Frank Turner: Hopefully that didn’t come out as a massive cop-out.

FAHH: No, no, no…I know you’re a libertarian, or you’ve called yourself a libertarian. Would you also say you’re a humanist? Like, do you believe in humans and their progress, and that we are progressing?

Frank Turner: Hmmm…hmmm…good question. Y’know what, funnily enough, there was a moment in time when one of the working titles for the album was actually Humanism, but then I have to say that thereafter I did a lot more reading up on, like, the sort of official philosophy of humanism per se and came across some stuff that I was less comfortable with. Let’s put it that way.

I don’t know…I certainly think human beings are generally wonderful individual creatures. I’m not sure how much I subscribe to their sort of ideas of…the word “progress” makes me uncomfortable in politics, let’s put it that way. I think that it’s kind of like people declaring that they’re the good guy before going into a fight. Kind of like, “Really? Surely that would be self-evident from your actions.” Just whenever people announce that they’re on the side of progress it’s a bit…it makes me kind of suspicious, I don’t know if you know what I mean. It’s just kind of like, “Ah, yeah, really, okay, so you’ll be the judge of what constitutes progress as well, will you?”

FAHH: Exactly…

Frank Turner: I think history, particularly twentieth-century history, is littered with people who declare themselves on the side of progress but end up killing millions of people, so I’m uncomfortable about that word, let’s put it that way.

FAHH: That makes sense to me. You’re a self-confessed history nerd, so I was wondering which historical period interests you the most?

Frank Turner: Oh, well, what a question. Where to start…when I was studying history, my main kind of period that I studied and was really obsessed with for a long while was Central and Eastern Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Y’know, everything from the Treaty of Berlin through ‘til the end of the Second World War. I have to say that recently my historical obsession at the moment is actually with the Old West. The kind of period between the end of the Civil War and sort of the formation of the final States in the early 1900s. And you know I’m man enough to admit it that it was the TV show Deadwood that kind of got me really thinking about it. But yeah, I’ve got a lot of interest in that place and time in history.

FAHH: I was also wondering how you came to be involved in Faber’s Wasteland iPad app. I’d read that you did something for that, and I was wondering…

Frank Turner: Have you seen that?

FAHH: Yeah.

Frank Turner: Okay, because this is the thing… I don’t really know all that many people that have iPads…

FAHH: Well, I actually haven’t seen it because I don’t own an iPad, so…

Frank Turner: Oh, right, okay, some guy got in touch with me and kind of spotted the fact that there are a fair few T.S. Eliot references in my lyrics, and more so in Million Dead than in what I do now, but I’m a big T.S. Eliot fan. And so he asked if I would be interested in making some comments about The Wasteland and I said “Hell, yes.”

FAHH: I guess my last question will be…since a couple of your favourite bands, Propagandhi and The Weakerthans, are from Winnipeg, I was just wondering what their music conveys to you about Winnipeg, what Winnipeg is, or what you get a sense of…

Frank Turner: That’s a good question. I think…I feel that that’s a question more directed at The Weakerthans and Propagandhi in a way. I dunno, it’s funny I’ve been toying with…well, in fact maybe you can advise me on this, but I’ve been toying with the merits of doing a cover of the song “One Great City” in the Winnipeg show coming up, and…

FAHH: Oh, good…that would be great.

Frank Turner: Y’know it’s a fantastic song, but it’s just kind of like if somebody from Winnipeg stands up and sings that song with the chorus of “I hate Winnipeg,” that’s one thing, but if it’s coming from England, I’m not sure whether the joke still would work – if you know what I mean. So anyway, we’ll see. I dunno…I’ve been growing up and listening to bands from Winnipeg that I love. It’s kind of been this mystical, faraway city that’s full of awesome bands.

FAHH: Interesting…

Frank Turner: But then I’ve been to Winnipeg once in my life and I had an absolutely fantastic couple of days, so it’s got form, it’s got a track record for me as being a good place from my own experience.

FAHH: I’ll be seeing that show when you get here in October. Thanks a lot, Frank.

Frank Turner: Okay cool. Thank you. I will see you in Winnipeg.

Frank Turner will be playing at the West End Cultural Centre in Winnipeg on October 22.

Eulogy – Frank Turner

One Foot Before the Other – Frank Turner


So it begins…

We would like to start this site out properly. Mission and vision statements aren’t really rock ‘n roll. Also, we hardly have either a mission or vision. So, we thought how else to begin but to state a manifesto? Dadaism, Futurism, Vorticism, they all had manifestos. Then again, we don’t really have one. Perhaps they didn’t really either.

Suppose we start at the beginning…

According to the Oxford English Dictionary:

22. great horse n. [= French grand cheval] the horse used in battle and tournament; the war-horse or charger . fig. (quot. 1800)

23. high horse n.
a. lit. = great horse n. at sense 22.
c1380 Wyclif Wks. (1880) 475 Þe emperour…made hym & his cardenals ride in reed on hye ors.
a1400–50 Alexander 883 Heraudis on heȝe hors hendly a-rayed.

b. to mount or ride the high horse (colloq.): said of a person affecting airs of superiority, or behaving pretentiously or arrogantly. So on the high horse. Cf. high-horsed adj. at high adj. and n.2 Special uses 1b(b). to come, etc., off one’s high horse , to climb down, to become less arrogant.
1782 T. Pasley Jrnl. 29 June in Private Sea Jrnls. (1931) 252 Whether Sir George will mount his high Horse or be over-civil to Admiral Pigot seems even to be a doubt with himself.
1805 F. Ames Wks. I. 339, I expect reverses and disasters, and that Great Britain, now on the high horse, will dismount again.
1809 B. H. Malkin tr. A. R. Le Sage Adventures Gil Blas I. ii. vii. 252 Riding the high horse with all the arrogance of greatness.
1809 B. H. Malkin tr. A. R. Le Sage Adventures Gil Blas III. ix. i. 372 Do not ride a higher horse than a thousand jockeys of quality whom I could name.
1831 Ld. Granville Let. to Palmerston 4 Feb. in Bulwer Palmerston (1870) II. viii. 38 (note) At one o’clock he [Sebastiani] was warm, warlike, and mounted on his highest horse.
1833 H. W. Longfellow Outre-Mer in Prose Wks. (1886) I. 118 My radical had got upon his high horse again.
1843 Thackeray in Fraser’s Mag. Apr. 469/2 It would be his turn to sneer and bully, and ride the high horse.
1847 C. Brontë Jane Eyre II. ii. 55 She appeared to be on her high horse to-night.
1869 J. R. Lowell Wks. (1890) III. 213 To be sure Châteaubriand was apt to mount the high horse.
1887 G. R. Sims Mary Jane’s Mem. 116 They were awfully civil, and let Mrs. Master John ride the high horse over them.
1920 A. Christie Mysterious Affair at Styles x. 224 I decided that I would descend from my high horse, and once more seek out Poirot at Leastways Cottage.
1928 W. S. Maugham Ashenden ix. 153 Come, come, my dear fellow, do not try to ride the high horse. You do not wish to show me your passport and I will not insist.
1928 Sunday Express 15 Jan. 6/4 The cable companies have come off the high horse at last in entering into negotiations with the wireless group.
1936 A. Christie Murder in Mesopotamia xix. 162 I’d like to see Sheila honest enough to come off her high horse and admit that she hated Mrs. Leidner for good old thorough~going personal reasons.
1950 W. Saroyan Assyrian 219 Only his mother felt that Mayo was not a rude boy, but his father frequently asked Mayo to get down off his high horse and act like everbody else.
1959 Economist 20 June 1079/1 Politicians…riding on high horses.

From the perhaps less reputable, but more succinct website, “Phrase Finder”:

“The first references to high horses were literal ones; ‘high’ horses were large or, as they were often known in mediaeval England, ‘great’ horses. John Wyclif wrote of them in English Works, circa 1380:

Ye emperour… made hym & his cardenals ride in reed on hye ors.

Mediaeval soldiers and political leaders bolstered their claims to supremacy by appearing in public in the full regalia of power and mounted on large and expensive horses and, in sculptural form at least, presented themselves as larger than life.”

A little more history…

The first rock star, Napoleon:


The first offbeat army dreamer to be guided by voices, Joan of Arc, before her Walkman started to melt:

Joan of Arc

The first melancholic rebel, Frederick the Great, composing bedchamber music:

Frederick the Great

The first DIY absurdist, Don Quixote, spiraling after the windmills of his mind (we don’t know whatever happened to Sancho Panza, but we know where Syd Barrett lives):

Don Quixote

Tired of failing like common people, we have mounted our great horses to rock over and through culture. We may just smuggle in some of our own culture and bad references along the way, Trojan and some of them used.

We will totter around in leopard-print platform horseshoes, dancing over collapsing new buildings, Bauhaus and neutral milk hotels. It’s a limbo, it’s a pantomime. It’s the best we can do. Post-nothing. Post-everything. Tied to a post.

At risk of flogging this corpse of a metaphor, we will stop here. Yet actually begin.

And did we mention this blog will be largely about music?

Trojan Horse – Bloc Party

Horse – Brian Eno

10 000 Horses Can’t Be Wrong – Simian Mobile Disco

Ride a White Horse – Goldfrapp

Freddie and the Trojan Horse – The Radio Dept.

Bring on the Dancing Horses – Echo &amp the Bunnymen

Swimming Horses – Siouxsie &amp the Banshees

Horse Riding – Euros Childs

Horseriding – Another Sunny Day

King Horse – Elvis Costello and the Attractions

Horseback Tenors – Efterklang

Mine’s Not a High Horse – The Shins

All the Dark Horses – Trashcan Sinatras

The Dream Spider Of The Laughing Horse – Scarlet’s Well

A Wooden Horse – British Sea Power

My Kingdom for a Horse – Frank Turner

Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones

Pantomime Horse – Suede

Gift Horse – Black Box Recorder

White Horses – Dean &amp Britta

I Chose Horses – Mogwai

Darken Her Horse – Austra

Horse and I – Bat for Lashes

Horses with Hands – Teeth of the Sea

Beat the Dead Horse – Timber Timbre

Horses in My Dreams – PJ Harvey

The Dogs &amp the Horses – The Divine Comedy

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