Posts Tagged 'yellowjacket avenger'

Third video from Branden Town – Friday Man

Another great one from Branden Town – a video for Friday Man. For a guy who’s often put out records and then not really told anybody, it’s great to see Pye promoting this one over the course of a year. I have a hunch its new musical partner Tessa pushing this – wonder if I’m right? check it out, and if you get a chance to see YJA play live (so far only in Quebec and Nova Scotia), do. Can’t wait for a visit to TO.

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The Oh’s: Top Whatever Pt 5: The Yellow Jacket Avenger

Regular readers of (Bad)MonkeyX won’t be surprised that the Yellow Jacket Avenger is one of my favourite acts of the decade. I discovered him (Geoffrey Pye is the YJA, pulling in others as necessary) via Jack Breakfast, who was the only interview I ever did, way back in the very early BMX days. I picked up a CD by The Killers (not that The Killers) who had opened a Jack Breakfast show at Holy Joe’s; I fell hard in love with it.

There was much confusion for  a while over the band’s name, as Geoffrey Pye’s presence on the internet was almost zero. It was through asking questions on discussion boards that I finally learned that he was more regularly known as the Yellow Jacket Avenger, and a long time before I got my hands on any other recordings by him. I’m glad I did: the guy’s amazing.

Over the decade I wrote about him plenty often, and happily celebrated his best release yet, 2008’s Double Nature (left). That album alone would put YJA on this list – I love it.  Go here to find out more about that.

But there are gems all over in his scattershot releases, single tracks worth the price of admission anytime. Pye releases YJA music oddly – on CDs of strangely chronologized fashion (Mindball is an anthology of the years 1993 – 2005; We Are Geoffrey Pye is an anthology covering 1997 – 2003; Success! covers 1993 – 2004; the latest release, a new compilation on Zunior peels it back to 93-98.

But on each, there are enormous tracks (hear below), and the collections as a whole give a fine, accurate impression of his odd wonderfulness. (For more on the oddness, check out the videos on his site: one’s for a song (Emergency) but the other two are of, respectively, him taking the piss on a karaoke stage and him playing basketball on a farm. They’re awesome.)

I’m glad he’s hooked up with Zunior (a fine, fine Canadian mp3 selling website – like iTunes without the gross feeling). You can pick up (and really should pick up) Double Nature there, as well as this latest early-period collection. I myself look forward to the day when Double Nature comes out on a nice vinyl platter. That’d be awesome.

He’s got a new record in the works, and I look forward to hearing it. A lot. I’ve said it before and I am always, always right: YJA’s among Canada’s best-ever offerings, and waaay more people should know about it. Here’s some solid reasons for you to get yourself some YellowJacket Avenger music. And here’s his site.

The Special Fate (from Double Nature)

El Paso Refinery Flames (collected on We Are Geoffrey Pye)

To Cure It (from that early 4-song Killers ep, also collected on We Are GP)

Live show lightweight has choices to make!

I get out to about 5 shows a year these days, so what were the odds I’d have to choose? But tonight, in the calm of the eye of Snowmaggeddon 2008, we have Yellowjacket Avenger at the Tranzac – and CATL at the Dakota (for their album release party). (See comments for explanation).

Either way’s a winner. I need myself a Decider.

(Ryanx20)BB-C

Brilliant New Record from The Yellowjacket Avenger

Gentle Readers, I hope this finds you well. I have spent some time in that awkward state wherein one has something good and difficult to write but cannot begin. The situation circles around and spirals until the task’s difficulty is exaggerated to a degree of magnitude. Fortunately for us all, this is only a blog and I am to be held to the looser standards of the volunteer. This is one of the upsides of being an anonymous blogwriter.

The other and larger upside is that once in a rare while, somebody sends me some music to listen to for free! The Monkey Power Trio do this when they’re not mad at me, and my current Canadian favourite YellowJacket Avenger has been known to do so. Mister Pye, the man behind YJA, recently sent me two new releases, very different from each other, both good, one of which is now on my Big Favourite Records list.

Feelings: The Record is Geoffrey Pye with bassist Chris Pennell and drummer Nathan Elliot Doucet, and it’s a straight-ahead, high-energy bar band rendition of Pye’s angular songs. The record makes me wish I could have seen this trio rock a bar in Halifax – sounds like it would have been a good show. Here’s a couple tracks for your perusal, and you can get your mitts on a copy here.

Romania

Jerzy Kosinsky

But it’s not this record that has stalled my ability to express myself in typing – it’s the other.

Double Nature is the best thing I’ve heard yet by YellowJacket Avenger, and I don’t think I’m crazy to call it at least a little transcendent. It’s a record that gets better with each listening, with layer upon layer of great ideas to sift through. I don’t want to sound like a masher, but Pye is a singular artist who seems to inhabit his creations in a way reminiscent of certain other geniuses – Joni Mitchell or Kate Bush. It takes more than just earnesty – it has something to do with mastery of craft – of writing and singing and playing, but also of execution. I think Pye sits among that crowd.

Pye’s inhabited his voice and guitar playing for as long as I’ve known about him, and he’s recorded his share of bitchin tunes. But Double Nature goes somewhere greater, from start to end, in writing and arrangement. It was written on keys, and uses micro-samples of single notes and sounds transposed across a keyboard, and these may account for the new level of detail. The sounds of the record knock me out, and the juxtaposition of them kills. Right from the start – check out the first track, and listen for the way the bits contribute to the whole:

Undercover

Also really evident here is Pye’s crazy ability to write a bridge. This is a generally unacclaimed art, but when it’s done well, the bridge or break or middle-eight of a song can be like a gift: a free nother song right in the middle of an already killer tune! The Beatles were masters of this, of course – but they were often using actual unfinished tunes. Pye seems to just have a great mind for the potential left turns a song can take – as in this tune, worthy of Ms Bush herself in her heyday:

The Special Fate

or the voice and guitar flourish that pushes this one well over the edge for me:

Brother Sister

Double Nature is a brilliant record – intelligent and heavy. It’s also aimed right at my brain, more than likely the same age as Pye’s, and so ready for the flavours he’s throwing in, most notably from the better side of the 80s. I’ve spent a lot of time playing this record for friends, and that’s the best way to get it. In fact, fuck it, this is what you should do right now: go to Zunior, check out a couple of more samples, and buy a copy. I think this is the best thing happening in Canada right now, and if you couldn’t already tell, I highly recommend it.

YellowJacket Avenger’s online house is here.

[See? This article – at this sitting alone – has taken me about two and a half hours and it’s what? 300 words?! Some records are hard to write about – it took me like two years to get down why I love About to Choke so much. At least it’s done now, and I can get back to posting shit about Sesame Street.]

Drama Week pt 4

The period we’ve been calling When the Prog Rockers Got Real – Just Before They Got Plastic (or WTPRGRJBTGP for short) – the period around 1980, when Genesis and Yes and Rush and company got briefly concise without abandoning their technical proficiency or proclivity for complexity – didn’t last long. [To be clear: I am not presuming to describe a cultural phenomenon here. I am describing a personally important musical period where what certain others were doing gelled beautifully with what I was wanting.]

I never stopped loving this sort of music – heavy, rocking and concise but still angular, challenging, imaginative, considered. I still keep an eye out for it, and here’s a weirdo thing: in recent years, I’ve been finding it in my own backyard. My own 3000 mile wide backyard, known to others as “Canada”. Art Rock, as it seems to like to be called now, is sort of big here, in our small way.

I think the influence of Rush on all teenage male Canadians must have had some influence on this; credit must be given to Rush’s less mainstream cousin Max Webster as well. The influence can be seen in almost invisible cult acts like the Yellowjacket Avenger, slightly more visible weirdos like the Wooden Stars and The Dinner is Ruined, and crystal clearly in our Art Rock darlings the Rheostatics – and in their friends Dave Clark and Ford Pier and the collective Instant Klassix.

I find this a satisfying little turn of events.

Satan Is The Whistler – from the Rheostatics’ Night of the Shooting Stars


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