LAL and Zaki Ibrahim @ Tattoo

    5 November 2015, early evening

I met Fathima to go see a 10:00 show on a Wednesday night. First off: no concert starts on time; second: I’m probably too old to go see late night concerts on a Wednesday night. Dinner at Banu, always a good start to an evening, and we were off to go see LAL and Zaki Ibrahim play.

I’m not sure how Fathima heard about this show. Twitter? It was in Tattoo on Queen. Busy, but not too busy. Normally when I go to a show I am the odd one out amongst a sea of White people. At this show I was so thoroughly pedestrian. It felt like Fathima knew every other person from political activism, social work, or some such thing. There were big posses intersectional people. A refreshing change of pace to the usual concert scene. Everyone seemed really cool, but that’s par for the course now that I’m firmly in my thirties.

LAL still perform together? The last time I saw them was for Wavelength 250 at Cinecycle.. That was over 10 years ago. And they had already been playing together for years by then. LAL have shed some members, down to the singer and the fellow who produces their beats and music. Maybe that was always their group? They performed brand new material. We were the first audience to hear this stuff. It was much more pounding techno than the older stuff I remember. Their set was solid: really good. I’m looking forward to their album.

Zaki Ibrahim was around midnight. She was apparently flying out to Cape Town that night, or in a few hours. The set was varied musically. A bit more R&B than her previous stuff. Also a fair bit more retro sounding. Her backing band were in white suits Don Johnson’d up, with bright white sun visors on. That also probably contributed to the retro vibe. She’s a great singer and performer. Her material was also brand new. It’s fun trying to guess what songs will become singles. I have some good hunches.

We were out by 1:00. The TTC was still running. The weather was nice. What a night.

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Tennis @ The Mod Club

    9 October 2014, evening time

Shima looked at our tickets. “7:00 doors open. Early show?” Neither of us knew what that meant, though we could guess well enough. We hoped in a cab shortly after 7:00. This might have been the earliest I’ve ever gone to a concert since seeing Rachael Yamagata perform a promo show when she was first getting started. The two of us were going to see Tennis at the Mod Club. We hadn’t been to a concert together since we saw the Woodhands play at the Phoenix.

Pure Bathing Culture

When we arrived the opening act was already playing. We grabbed some beer and listened to them play some indie pop music. The lead singer had a hair cut straight out of the 80s, but she was probably born in the 90s. They were very good. A four piece band, the singer also played synths. They didn’t sound like Tennis, but had a similar musical aesthetic. They thanked the audience for listening to their set and then walked off stage without saying their name. God damn it. I ended up discovering their name on Twitter: Pure Bathing Culture.

Tennis

Tennis are technically a two-person band, but when on tour I suppose having some extra musicians on hand is useful. They were up next. A mix of musicians and techs started setting up their instruments. I am guessing their singer is too recognizable to still do this stuff. She came out briefly to check out her keyboard and sing and the crowd started cheering. (This lead singer’s hair cut reminded me of Shima’s hair from a photo she has of her grade 8 graduation.) When the band started performing I realized the other half of their band was the person doing the bulk of the set up. That’s what happens when you aren’t on the album covers.

Tennis put on a good show. They played a mix of music, mostly from their most recent album. We were up near the front with all the turbo fans and people trying to take photos. It was fun. They played a lot of the songs I love, but focused on the stuff from their new album.

And just like that it was over—and it wasn’t even 10:00! I bought Pure Bathing Culture’s CD from the band’s lead singer. That’s why opening acts are the best.

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Kamakura

   25 June 2013, early morning

First song about the sun, the moon and the stars.
Never thought you’d make it but here we are.
So we dance.
And we sing.

Kamakura is the opening track to Modal Soul Classics II: Dedicated to Nujabes. It’s by far the best album of Japanese hip hop I own, and is probably one of my favourite albums period full-stop. Nujabes died in a car crash in February of 2010. This album came out at the end of 2010. It’s so god damn soulful. This track is really stand out. Pase Rock sings about his friend, and it is good.

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Last.FM

   30 June 2010, early morning

I’ve been using Last.FM for years. That is to say, i’ve been sending them my listening habits and that’s about it. Recently, I decided to try out their ‘radio’ service, which is now $3 a month in Canada. You type in the name of an artist or genre and they generate a stream of music that is similar to the artist or part of that genre. They also let you listen to a radio station of music based on your listening habits, or based on those of your friends. To say this is all nothing short of magic would be an understatement. I’ve heard so much great stuff over the last few weeks. More so, i’ve discovered so many great musicians I would have never heard of before. (For example, Alice Smith is amazing. As is Res.) I love the music they play in Club Monaco, which I have dubbed Club Monaco house, but which is probably better described as Latin House. The Latin House radio station on Last.FM is awesome. It’s like being at Club Monaco, but without all the black and white clothing. I never thought i’d ever pay for a streaming music service, but Last.FM has been well worth the money so far. I signed up for 3 months, but I imagine i’ll extend my service beyond that. It’s been so damn good.

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The Beatles Box Sets

    9 September 2009, lunch time

The entire Beatles catalogue has been re-released today. You can buy box sets of their catalogue remastered in stereo or in mono; well, in theory, anyway. As far as I can tell, the mono box set is sold out, and the stereo box set looks to be as well. You might be wondering why anyone would want the mono recordings. It turns out the Beatles would produce the mono mixes for their albums first. The stereo mixes were done second, and, by the sounds of things, without any real input from the Beatles themselves. Many people consider the mono mixes to be how the Beatles’ songs were meant to be heard. (This changes with the last two albums, which were mixed in stereo from the start.) Both box sets sound pretty awesome. These are apparently incredibly well done re-issues. I’m quite conflicted as to which box set to buy. I definitely want to get one.

Don’t know who the Beatles are? Chuck Klosterman explains.

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Hour Long Jungle

   25 January 2009, mid-afternoon

Goldie made a CD called Saturnz Return many years ago. It’s a double album. The first CD in this double album is comprised, essentially, of a single song, Mother, which is one hour long. I’m not sure i’ve ever sat through the entire song. At an hour long Mother probably needs to be listened to the way you might sit and listen to a symphony. I think Matt actually made playing the track a theme for one of his Transient Orange nights. The song is very ambient for the first 20 minutes or so, and then kind of picks up around the half hour mark, and then slows down a little bit by the end. Each time I listen to it, I end up hearing something new. Goldie is good.

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She's an Ace or so I'm Told.

    8 January 2009, evening time

the Machetes rocking out

The Machetes fucking rock. I said as much last time I saw them. They have just gotten better with time. I’ll have to say more tomorrow.

Tomorrow: I met Tyler, Andrea and Grant at the Drake last night to catch the Machetes EP release party. The Drake was the White like Barrie — that always weirds me out a little bit. I sat by the front and drank a beer, watched a dude do ‘punk’ magic, and then the girls were on stage. They played a short set which, as I said last night, fucking rocked. Nice. They remind me a little bit of Elastica. And they sang a slower song which was reminiscent of Hole. I’m not sure that’s particularly descriptive. Thankfully you can just listen to their music on Myspace. The drummer — who can also sing — played a set with another 2-person band she’s in, Romo Roto. It was all percussion and singing. Also good; very different. And their was a dude juggling machetes! And the girls played a second set! Talk about action packed.

Still Tomorrow: The Machetes EP is very enjoyable. If you go to their MySpace page Ace and Black Leather are particularly good. Only problem is that the CD sounds a bit too clean compared to how messy and raw the live show is. I guess that’s true of most bands though.

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TO.NY

    3 December 2008, early morning

A few weeks back I was in Barrie. The radio, which I rarely listen to, was tuned to Barrie’s version of Z103.5, which was actually playing some very enjoyable music. One track they played sounded like an Ivana Santilli song I had never heard before. We heard the track again the next day. Thanks to the Internet I disovered that she had actually put a new album out some time ago, and I had managed to remain totally unaware of this. I bought the album on iTunes, on my phone, in Ali’s living room. We’re living in the future people. (This was my second purchase from the site, now that you can get DRM free music.)

The new album TO.NY is good, but I still find myself missing the sound from her earlier efforts. There are a few songs that really stand out, Whatever You Want, Been Thru This Before (the single I heard on the radio) and Hollywood (Nothing Over U). The rest of the album, while enjoyable, isn’t that memorable. I’ll probably need to listen to the album several more times before I get a real sense of what it’s like. My general sense so far is that there are a bit too many retro R&B ballads for my liking. I think my problem is that I like her first album Brown too much.

I’ve actually been listening to a lot of Bass is Base since buying the album. It’s a shame that Chin Injeti or Mystic never show up on Santilli’s solo efforts. Injeti can play the hell out of a bass.

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The Woodhands Rock the Wrong Bar

    4 April 2008, terribly early in the morning

I saw the Woodhands again last night. They were playing a set at the Wrong Bar to celebrate the release of their new CD, Heart Attack. I’m listening to the CD now, and it really is quite enjoyable, but you really need to see the boys play live: they are amazing. Dan and Paul are both very skillful musicians, and there is clearly a good chemistry between them — they both play off one another during the course of a song. This show I actually got to see what Dan gets up to when he’s on stage: I had a good view of his set up and what he does while playing. Sadly, I still have no clue how he makes all the sounds he does. There is some multitasking going on that I just can’t grasp. The dude can play a Keytar: I think that’s enough reason to see the band live. Paul rapped a verse from Triumph — fuck yeah — and he didn’t mess up like the last time I saw him do a verse from California Love. (Although, I actually think his messing up at the last show actually got the crowd even more hyped up.) As before, Paul played the shit out of his drums. The crowd was dancing and it was good. The show last night was awesome.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the opening act, Machetes, a 4 girl band that reminded me of something vaguely British, though I suppose that isn’t very descriptive. The girls looked like rockers, and rocked like a mother fucker. I can’t describe how disappointed I was to learn they didn’t have any music for sale. I’ll have to find out when they’re playing live next. Seriously, I was really disappointed they didn’t have a CD. Also, the lead guitarist had purple pants on which looked hype.

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Little Foot Long Foot at The Wrong Bar

   27 March 2008, terribly early in the morning

Cathy and I went to a fund raiser for a theatre group our friend Yeena is connected to in some way. It was taking place at the Wrong Bar, which is out in Parkdale. Parkdale doesn’t seem to be quite the same place it was a few years back. The Wrong Bar is a really nice venue. It’s very spacious, with space for a stage at the back. There is a single bar in the middle of the venue. The front is wallpapered in this gorgeous felt lion print wallpaper, that reminded me quite a bit of the Rorschach inkblot paint job at the Drake. The two of us bought some beer, sat on a very tall bench, and waited for Little Foot Long Foot to start their set. There was a silent auction taking place, so while waiting I bid on a Spa package for Shima. Little Foot Long Foot’s set was quite good. It’s a two person band: there is a guitarist singer and a drummer. The place wasn’t that busy, which seems to be the case for a lot of these shows I go to. There is a lot of good music happening in Toronto, but I get the sense it goes largely ignored. It’s a shame. I bought the bands CD which I’m listening to now. I bid once more on the Spa package, and then Cathy and I called it a night. You need to walk way up Lansdowne to catch the Lansdowne bus back North up to Bloor.

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Babylon Telecom

   15 March 2008, early morning

I’ll have to write up something longer about the inaugural Babylon Telecom event, but for now just know that I wasn’t lying when I said it would be hype like DJ Hype. The whole event reminded me a bit of Matt’s old weekly night Inner City / Outerspace at IV Lounge. There were a lot of familiar faces from his past events. I’m listening to We Love’s EP right now, and it is good.

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Magneta Lane @ The Rivoli

   18 January 2008, terribly early in the morning

I saw Magneta Lane at the Rivoli on Wednesday. I went to the show after buying a new camera. I don’t go to as many shows as I used to, primarily because my concert going friends don’t live in Toronto anymore. To quote an email I sent out in regards to this show:

Some of you may have got this email and thought, “wait, I don’t even live in Toronto anymore.” Yeah, move back to the damn city already. Punk ass sons of bitches.

And so it was that I went to the Magneta Lane show by myself. I’ve become quite good at going to shows alone, mind you, a skill I think everyone should have. I bought a beer, walked to the front, and waited. Usually I’ll just people watch; now I can also fidget with my phone. I had my old Yashica on me, so I also tried snapping some photos with that.

The girls took the stage at 8:00 or so, and were done just before 9:00. It was a short and sweet set. I think the show was a chance for them to test out their new material: they played a few new songs, mixed in with some of their older tracks. One change from previous shows was the addition of a keyboard player for a few songs. He also played guitar for one song so that the young Ms Valentine could focus on singing. I’m not sure they had the same energy I’ve seen them play with in prior shows, but they may just be out of practice or nervous. All and all it was a very enjoyable concert. I like the band though, so I’m probably pretty biased.

After the show various women tried to talk to me. I told them I was engaged and punched them in the face, which is usually what I do. Don’t try it ladies, my ass is taken.

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The Talented Kids at Ashley Ingram's School of Music

   30 November 2007, evening time

My friend Haruka attends a musical school here in the city. The last time I recall her singing was at a karaoke bar downtown; she was singing Rhapsody in Blue by Da Pump (Tomo was rapping). She’s come a long way since then, now attending a school where everyone seems to be some sort of freaky musical prodigy. Shima, Yang, and I went to a little show put on by some of the students at the school and it was stunning. I really don’t know where to start I was so very impressed. Really, the only thing disappointing about the whole night was that they didn’t have any CDs for sale. (At least they have some music up on MySpace.) I’m not sure when their next show will be, but it is well worth checking out. There aren’t too many venues to hear indie R&B in the city — let alone j-pop.

Rea from D3 singing after the show.

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Strike Match Light Fire

   21 October 2007, late at night

Bright Lights on the Kool Haus Stage

The MIA show was last night at the Kool Haus. Also billed for the night were Holy Fuck, Datarock, and The Carps. It was a solid show.

Read the rest of this post. (419 words)

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In Rainbows

   11 October 2007, early morning

Homer: Eh, what do you mean by `suggested donation’?
Clerk: Pay any amount you wish, sir.
Homer: And uh, what if I wish to pay … zero?
Clerk: That is up to you.
Homer: Ooh, so it’s up to me, is it?
Clerk: Yes.
Homer: I see. And you think that people are going to pay you $4.50 even though they don’t have to? Just out of the goodness of their… [laughs] Well, anything you say! Good luck, lady, you’re gonna need it!

I’m listening to Radiohead’s new album as I type this. This is the first of their albums I’ve bought.

Read the rest of this post. (709 words)

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Meeting Mike & The Hots

    6 September 2007, late evening

I bumped into my friend Mike on Queen St. It was pretty random: I haven’t seen Mike in a few years now. He told me he was downtown because his band was playing at the Horseshoe later that night. I figured if I bumped into him randomly on Queen that was a good sign that I should go to his show. I am so glad I did. Mike’s band is awesome. And I’m not just saying that because I know him. Vinnie and Raju showed up as well, which made the night all the more enjoyable. Be sure to check out the Hots when they are playing next. They play rock music you can dance to. What else do you need really?

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Kate Nash

   29 August 2007, mid-afternoon

Shima and I bought the new Kate Nash CD. We heard it playing in HMV. I have no idea who the lady is, but the song playing was pretty catchy. She sounds like a bunch of other singers, though I can’t think of who at the moment. I haven’t bought a CD just because in ages. (I also bought the M.I.A. CD so I can replace my MP3s from oink. You shouldn’t pirate music. Those artists need to eat.)

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Esthero at the Mod Club

    7 June 2007, late afternoon

Esthero singing at the Mod Club

The concert was amazing. Damn. Jemeni opened the show with the poem from the Dragonfly Intro. Following the poem, Esthero took the stage and spent most of the night taking requests from the audience, drinking jagermeister shots, and talking smack — there was lots of shit talking going on. Word. Her voice is still as brilliant as I remember it sounding. Esthero didn’t sing I Drive Alone, despite the fact I was screaming it out at the top of my lungs. I can forgive her: she played pretty much everything else I wanted to hear. Esthero can do a damn good Björk impression. She belted out Army of Me, instead of singing Breath From Another, and spent a few minutes rambling on as if she was Björk. It was impressive. The first time I heard Heaven Sent I thought it was a new Björk track. I wonder if this was a common occurrence. (I also enjoyed her cutting to Baby You Got Me midway through one of her tracks.) Midway through the concert, she had her back-up singer come up front and perform. Her name was Alexis Taylor I believe, and she could sing — and I mean really sing. The crowd was going nuts. So yeah, the concert was incredible. I’d say it was perfect, but she kept us all waiting an hour and a half before taking the stage. Still, once she started singing I forget about all that.

Esthero and a Jagermeister shot

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Esthero! Esthero! Esthero!

    6 June 2007, terribly early in the morning

I’m going to see Esthero tonight. I can’t wait. The last time I saw her live was at Closer to the Heart V. She’s doing an acoustic set at the Mod Club. There are still tickets as of last night, so if you are a fan you should definitely check it out. I’m not sure how her new album would sound done acoustically, but I can certainly imagine her first album done this way. I’ve been listening to the EP that came out between her two albums over the past few days. I had always thought it strange she dropped I Drive Alone from the full length album that followed the EP — it’s such a great track. I suppose it’s a bit understandable, the song is very much like her stuff from 1998. The stuff on her last album is fairly different for the most part. I enjoy both albums, though I think I have a soft spot for the first. I think this has as much to do with when it came out as it does with the fact its all laid back trip hop. (I wonder where most of her fans stand on this subject.) I’m hoping this concert is in preparation for a new album. I’d hate to have to wait till 2012 for another album from her.

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Not So Random

    8 February 2007, early morning

My shuffle has been spitting out Faye Wong track after Faye Wong track. The play list I use to make my random mixes contains the songs from almost every single album she’s put out. I guess when it randomly samples that list for songs to put of the shuffle, Faye Wong songs show up more often than not. I’m not complaining: Faye Wong is wicked. I just listened to her cover of Dreams by the Cranberries, which makes me want to watch Chungking Express.

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Life After Death by Biggie

    4 February 2007, the wee hours

Listening to Life After Death by Biggie. I found it at a used CD shop on Queen — an awesome find. This CD is really good; I can’t imagine who would want to sell it. I’ve been looking for this CD for ages and ages now. I have all his other music. This isn’t much of an accomplishment: unlike Tupac, Biggie’s musical output took a hit after he died.

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The Sundays' Blind

   24 November 2006, early morning

I grabbed Blind and Static and Silence by the Sundays. Blind was the follow up album to the very excellent Reading, Writing, Arithmetic. When I first listened to Blind I was a bit disappointed: it just didn’t have any tracks that I thought really stood out. However, listening to it a few more times at work my opinion has totally changed. It’s a really cool album. I’d describe it as a cross between the first album and something by the Cocteau Twins. A song like On Earth sounds very much like an “approachable” Cocteau Twins tracks; the song has that same ethereal quality, but still maintains a sort of pop sensibility. The Sundays are definitely one of those bands I’m disappointed stopped making music.

& I say
when you’re hoping for some more from your life
shouldn’t wonder you’ve had enough
& in my town
sounds of England swallow you down

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Everyday is Saturday Night

    1 November 2006, the wee hours

K-OS at the Mod Club

The K-OS concert was filled with several pleasant surprises. Mageneta Lane were one of the opening acts, and I can’t say enough good things about them. The other opening act, a black man with a guitar, who could belt out some wicked Hendrix and Marley, was also awesome. (That fellow should be famous.) Finally, there was K-OS himself, who was quite the showman. It was a very creative concert, totally not what I was expecting.

The Mysterious Opener

A black dude in a suit and fedora saunters out on to the stage. He’s carrying an acoustic guitar. He sits down and starts asking the crowd if they’re ready to have a good time, if they’re going to party, if they’re ready for some rock and roll, etc, etc — regular opener sort of stuff. Only he has I don’t give a fuck aurora about him, and he’s swearing a healthy amount. I had a feeling his show was going to be good. He started off by playing some Bob Marley. Someone screamed “Hendrix!” and he quickly switched to playing Purple Haze. He played the intro to Stairway to Heaven, though I think this was meant to be funny more than anything else. After this little introduction of sorts, he started playing his own stuff, which was great. So I ask you Internet: What was his damn name?

Magneta Lane

My favourite girl band of the moment, Magneta Lane, were up next. This was a very pleasant surprise. I didn’t expect a rock trio to open for K-OS. They played a fairly long set consisting mostly of songs from their new album. I’m not sure if anyone knew who they were or not, but most people seemed to like them all the same. I think Torontonians are polite enough anyway that they’ll sit through an opening act they aren’t impressed with and not raise too big a ruckus. They didn’t play Their Party Days, which was a shame, but they did end the set with Daggers Out, which I like quite a bit. If you haven’t heard anything by Magneta Lane you are really missing out.

K-OS

K-OS’ set was very different from what I was expecting. It was certainly a fair bit different than the set he put on at the Amphitheater. There was a heavy rock influence to everything he played. It’s like he decided to do covers of his own music. I liked it a lot. I recognized much of the band from the last concert. They were all playing just as good as the last time I saw them. K-OS’ band features a really killer DJ that scratched the hell out of several records, and an awesome Indian percussionist who played a very nice tabla solo. It was a pretty long set, and featured music from all of his albums. (Most of the stuff was new, of course.) My feet were killing me by the end of the night. Shima and Ali, who I went to the show with, were equally tired. When his set ended, Ali went off to get our coats — and chat up the girls from Magneta Lane — while Shima and I cheered for more music. (Well I cheered anyway.) The band came out for an encore, and played his latest single Sunday Morning. And with that the night was over.

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Wong Faye

    1 September 2006, late morning

Faye Wong’s first album with EMI after leaving Cinepoly was the self-titled Faye Wong. I’m listening to it right now. It is probably her best album; it’s certainly my favourite. It opens with the slow and soothing Anasthaesia, and moves on from there. You’re Happy, So I’m Happy, I Don’t Wanna Be This Way Either, Making A Fuss, and Reminiscence are some other great tracks. (That last song is a cover of a Cocteau Twins track.) It was the second album by her that I bought. I really wish she was still making music.

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The Sundays' Reading, Writing, Arithmetic

   11 August 2006, mid-morning

I bought the Sundays’ first CD, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, last night on the way home from a protest. The only song I knew from the CD before hand was Here’s Where the Story Ends, which I first heard as a cover performed by Faye Wong. (Faye Wong’s version is called Being Criminal; written in Chinese, the name is apparently a play on her name and her former husband Dou Wei’s name.) The first Sundays song I actually heard was Summertime, which I think was on the charts when I was in grade 11 or 12. It’s a very nice pop song: catchy and sweet. Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic is a great CD. I’ve been listening to it on repeat since I bought it. The cashier at HMV looked at the CD when I gave it to her, held it tight in her hands, smiled, and then told me, “This is such a good CD.” She seemed to reflect on it for a moment, before ringing my order through.

you’re not the only one that I know
and I’m too proud to talk to you anyway
you’re not the only one that I know
and I’m far too proud to talk to you any day
so I say I’m in love with the world

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