Saturday, December 17, 2011

2011 Year End Review

Let's talk 2011 for a moment. Usually as I stop and ponder all that happened during the course of a year, I'm left with the nagging suspicion that it really was nothing to separate it out from the previous 2 or 3 or 5. I worked a job that I really didn't give shit about, worked with people I hated and was making little to no money etc. Those years just blend together and the only thing that separates them out is what annual conference you attended. 2006? Cancun. 2005? Dublin. One would think that seeing some international locations would be pretty amazing and I'd be lucky to have done so. Well, you'd be 100% right. It was great, but that was a 5-7 days out of 365. Do the math and calculate a happiness quotient from those numbers. 2011 turned out to be one of those years that will be extremely easy to remember. I got a new job, one that (a) I like and (b) I'm good at. One doesn't get those two in balance very often so at this point, I'm ready to destroy lives in order to protect. Also, I bought a house and by house, I mean a domicile that is not sharing a wall with some piece of shit I'd rather see in a gas oven that outside my step. Does that sound harsh? Fifteen years of living near students and associated scum has elevated a loathing in me previously suspected but never realized. This probably sounds a bit elitist and perhaps I consider myself to be "better" than them. Well, once again you'd be 100% right. But I digress, that is slipping into the remote past and 2011 is near past and will be fondly recalled. The photo above is the fire that threatened my beloved domicile last month. 2011 will not be soon forgotten.

What about music? For the second year in a row my year end album list is populated largely by Canadian artists. This was, once again, not intentional but wholly welcome. My favourite album of 2011 is from Regina's Library Voices Summer of Lust is 32.35 minutes of pop perfection. Would this be my album of the year if I wasn't in a better place so to speak? It's a gloriously happy record or at least that's the affect it evokes, strongly I might add. 'Anthem for a New Canadia"? It rivals Martha & the Muffins' 'Echo Beach' for the elicitation of that aforementioned emotion. I love this record.

What about the others? A few highlights: Dirty Beaches' Badlands is the soundtrack for a very dark night, literal and figurative darkness. It's the soundtrack for planning a murder, but this is a murder of necessity and not desire. 'Lord Only Knows' sounds like something I've heard before in a THC induced hallucination where I depersonalized and stared out a window for probably 2 min but it felt like 2 hrs.

Cam Penner's Gypsy Summer is another absolutely wonderful record. 'Driftwood' might be my favourite Neil Young song not written and performed by Neil Young. 'It's gonna get worse before it gets better…'. That's a universal truth if there ever was one. He recorded it here in southern Alberta and you can kind of feel that in here. This is beautiful country, so I'm not surprised it inspired a beautiful album.

I heard Imaginary Cities on CBC3 at some point in 2011 and immediately bought the record. It's another nearly perfect pop album. This band and LIbrary Voices just decided to nail the pop song this year and write some great melodies, amazing hooks and keep it under 4 min 99% of the time. They're like Navy Seals, they're in, they're out and it's over before you even realize it, leaving double taps of pop shrapnel in our brains.

I should probably mention all the Attack in Black alums on the list as well. Shotgun Jimmie, Daniel Romano and Marine Dreams all released some stellar albums as well. Sleep Beneath the Willow feels like it sprang fully formed from the late 60s country. Two artists immediately spring to mind for me when i hear this record and that's Don Williams and Bobby Bare. The latter in particular. At one point I half expected to hear "(Margie's At) The Lincoln Park Inn". A stunning record. To turn a previously used comparative point, I'd say Shotgun Jimmie released one of my favourite Pavement albums not released by Pavement. Actually if it was a Pavement album it would be up there with Slanted & Enchanted. Marine Dreams released a minimal album that recalls something I've heard before but I can never really put my finger on completely. Is it old R.E.M.? No, that's not it. It's definitely feels from that early 80s college rock but that doesn't quite work either. I don't think it really matters actually. It's just good stuff.

Shuyler Jansen, Sunparlour Players & The Gertrudes. These three artists seem to straddle an area where Spoon meets My Morning Jacket, where power pop rubs elbows with country and folk. This is a fine area to be in.

And finally, 2011 also brought me a new Manvils EP with more on the way. The only thing that disappoints me about it is that since the boys moved to T.O., they won't be coming through town as much and thus will be able to see these songs get fleshed out in the Slice. I saw a couple of them played during their last swing through town and they were already great. 'Lions of a Lost Tongue' & 'Black Tornado' are a couple of my favourite rock & rolls songs of the year. Speak of the rawk, let's raise a glass for the motherfuckingly great Monster Truck. Let's all get as much as we can from Monster Truck before they get locked up for mass murder. No one who plays music like this can have much of a prefrontal cortex left. There's nothing inhibited, it's all out there. Also best song title of the year is hands down "Righteous Smoke".

Cheers to 2011.

30 Albums

LIbrary Voices - Summer of Lust
Cam Penner - Gypsy Summer
Tom Waits - Bad as Me
Butch Walker - The Spade
The Strokes - Angles
Dirty Beaches - Badlands
Imaginary Cities - Temporary Resident
Shotgun Jimmie - Transistor Sister
The Two Koreas - Science Island
Sloan - The Double Cross

Memphis - Here Comes a City
Arkells - Michigan Left
Marine Dreams - Marine Dreams
Daniel Romano - Sleep Beneath The Window
Shuyler Jansen - Voice from the Lake
Sunparlour Players - Us Little Devils
The Gertrudes - Til the Morning Shows Her Face to Me
No Gold - No Gold
Radiohead - The King of Limbs
One Hundred Dollars - Songs of Man

American Babies - Flawed Logic
Little Foot Long Foot - Oh Hell
Wilco - The Whole Love
My Morning Jacket - Circuital
My Son The Hurricane - You Can't Do This
Drive By Truckers - Go Go Boots
The Luyas - Too Beautiful to Work
Yep - Once
The Darcys - The Darcys
Braids - Native Speaker


The Manvils - Black Tornado
Monster Truck The Brown EP
Mother's Children - Are You Tough Enough?

25 Canadian Songs from 2011 Plus Butch Walker & The Strokes

Why 25 songs by Canadian artists AND Butch Walker AND the Strokes? Because he's Butch Walker and he must be recognized for his unique genius, damnit!! And well the Strokes are just because. And while all the mixes I post I enjoy but this one in particular gels really, really nicely.

Summer of '89 - Butch Walker
(Baby You Ain't) Tough Enough - Mother's Children
Under Cover of Darkness - The Strokes
Get In Or Get Out - Matters
Disco-Slave Songs - The Two Koreas
Good Day at the Races - Hollerado
Book Club - Arkells
Kill January - Shuyler Jansen
Apocalypse Pop Song - Memphis
Are You Gonna Waste My Time? - Zeus
Weird Week - No Gold
If Raymond Carver Were Born in the 90s - Library Voices
Hummingbird - Imaginary Cities
Unkind - Sloan
Runner - Sunparlour Players
Driftwood - Cam Penner
Derby Girl - The Gertrudes
Ties That Bind - One Hundred Dollars
How Late How Long - The Sheepdogs
King of Kreuzberg - Shotgun Jimmie
We'll Get Her Back in Your Arms - Marine Dreams
Edmonton to Purgatory - The Darcys
Neko Case Hate Fucks Kurt Cobain - Little Foot Long Foot
Righteous Smoke - Monster Truck
Black Tornado - The Manvils
Sweet 17 - Dirty Beaches
Dr. Ruin-Yer-Life - King Khan Experience

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sweet 17 or 25

Sweet 17 because soon enough I'm going to be married for 17 years and am feeling sentimental about that. 25 because, I've got 25 songs to share and they're sort of sweet, I guess. Call it semi-sweet, better than baker's chocolate at least. But back to the 17 thing again. 17 has always been a very pleasant number for me. According to this numerology site (which I don't subscribe to but I always find it interesting how people can pull patterns) there is an incredible number of associations for the number 17 and it's variations (seriously, check it out. That was ONE number). Example, the ancient Greeks, 17 represents the number of consonants of the alphabet; it is divided in 9 (number of the dumb consonants) and in 8 (number of the semivowels or semi-consonants). These numbers were also in relation with the musical theory and the harmony of the spheres. Pretty cool, eh? And that's just the Greeks. For myself, I've always just liked the number. It felt harmonious. And also, who doesn't love the age of 17, Janis Ian excepted of course. The truth for a guy at 17 is that you can pretty much get away with anything and your constitution is superhuman. I can't speak of anything magical about the 17th marriage anniversary yet but then I've got weeks to go still.

But anyway the music, the semi-sweet 25 songs I gathered from the year 2011. It's kind of coherent, bunch of white folks playing guitars and drums (save for Dirty Beaches), but genre-wise it's a bit more varied, some indie pop-rock, some country-fried Stonesy rock & roll, and then some new wavey-inspired pop. More or less split into a side 1/side 2, so dump what you hate and keep what you love. There's a metaphor there I'm sure. Special props to The Two Koreas (track 17) for branding my new favourite subgenre name: Glacier Garage. Doesn't that sound cool, literally and figuratively? It even rolls off the tongue (17 muscles in the tongue, by the way) nicely. And Matters? Release the album already, the song is on repeat in my head constantly and it needs to be replaced.

1. Stomp & Holler - Hayes Carll
2. Old Gin Road - Ponderosa
3. Kick Me Where It Hurts - The Booze
4. I Don't Get By - The Sheepdogs
5. Sunshine Love - Bing Ji Ling
6. The Rain Song - Yep
7. Time Spent in Los Angeles - D*wes
8. Alabama Pines - Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
9. Cry Cry Cry - Nicole Atkins
10 Creep Me Out - Ruby Coast
11. I've Gotta Know - Sloan
12. King of Kreuzberg - Shotgun Jimmie
13. Tornado '87 - The Rural Alberta Advantage
14. Work - One Hudred Dollars
15. Holdin' Onto Black Metal - My Morning Jacket
16. Red Hunting Jacket - Little Scream
17. Disco Slave-Songs - The Two Koreas
18. Get In or Get Out - Matters
19. Baby Don't Dance - Mother Mother
20. Under Cover of Darkness - The Strokes
21. I Want the Lights On After Dark - Memphis
22. Never Speak of It Again - The Holiday Crowd
23. Sad Song - The Cars'
24. Never Saw the Point - Cults
25. Sweet 17 - Dirty Beaches

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Last of the Unplucked Gems

This is something I've thought about putting together for awhile now. Let's face it, if you love the Tragically Hip and are looking to fix, you're grabbing Up to Here, Road Apples or Fully Completely. I'm not immune either, I've got every single album the band has put out along with a very healthy collection of boots and I still grab for one of those three because they're goddamn solid rock and roll and are also woven into the fabric of probably a thousand collective memories. Particularly those latter two albums; my god, if you were at a Canadian university in the early 90s those albums were inescapable, never mind just a few singles. And yes it is superbly great rock and roll, but lyrically how fucking odd that may of these songs became anthems? 'Locked in the Trunk of a Car' sure, when Gord is screaming 'LET ME OUUTTTTTTT', you're there with him, but it has always struck me as bizarre that '50 Mission Cap' also became one of the most beloved (and anthemic) songs. I mean, sure it's about hockey and, more specifically, the Leafs but still, when Gord just matter of factly lays out the song for you 'Bill Barilko disappeared, that summer..' and let's you know he stole the information from a hockey card, it's just great and everything that makes the Hip such a uniquely wonderful Canadian institution. They've also continued to put out some really great albums over nearly a quarter century. Sure some are better than others (no one really says 'hey, time for Trouble in the Henhouse!', not even me), but goddamnit, they have been consistently interesting, lyrically and musically, but for one reason or another, their rabid fanbase dropped off, pretty precipitously after Day for Night. I kind of considered this mix to be the first part in an Hip re-discovery for anyone interested (I'm also putting together a greatest songs you've never heard of post-Day for Night songs). I put together a mix recently of some lesser-known Hip tracks that I think are worth checking out, covering all of their albums. I kind of cheated on throwing 'Pigeon Cameras' on here, being that it's on Fully Completely it's still pretty well known, but I wanted to represent everything. I guess it's not really that surprisingly when you hear this because it tends toward low and mid-tempo moody introspection. Keep it for late at night and enjoy.

Impossibilium Day for Night
Coconut Cream Trouble at the Henhouse
Opiated Up to Here
Freak Turbulence Music@Work
Gus: The Polar Bear From Central Park In Between Evolution
Chagrin Falls Phantom Power
Pigeon Camera Fully Completely
Rules Phantom Power
Pretend World Container
The Last Of The Unplucked Gems Road Apples
Scared Day for Night
Killing Time The Tragically Hip
Butts Wigglin Trouble at the Henhouse
Are We Family In Between Evolution
Toronto #4 Music@Work
Queen of the Furrows We Are The Same
The Dire Wolf In Violet Light
Stay Music@Work
Throwing Off Glass In Violet Light
World Container World Container

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I had every intention of doing a better job on boots and comps in 2010. But I got a real job which was going swimmingly until about June, then it all went to hell along with my mood and capability of feeling enthusiasm for anything except for red wine and codeine. But, I think things are going to look up in 2011. Seriously, that's not optimism but rather the result of a lot of hard work and Machiavellian scheming. So anyway, we're down to the wire on this year in music and it was definitely the best year in Canadian music (for me anyway) in a very long time. A particularly large appreciation and shout out to the city of Hamilton for birthing Young Rival, Cowlick, Huron and (sort of) Luke Doucet. They also own the rights to the magnificent Forgotten Rebels and Teenage Head. I can truly say that it is the first time I've ever uttered the words "I wish I lived in Hamilton". So without further ado, here's my Top 50 albums of 2010 and a Best-Of Canadian music compilation. Technically, there's one track (Christmas in Hell by NQ Arbuckle) that's from 2005 but I just heard it this year so what the hell. So once more I've got to give it up for Cowlick for releasing my favourite album and song ("Wires") in 2010, also let's face facts, its kismet that they released a track called 'White Russians' to boot. Cheers!

Top 50
01. Cowlick - Wires
02. Young Rival - LP
03. Sweet Thing - Sweet Thing
04. Gertrudes - Dawn Time Riot
05. Luke Doucet & The White Falcon - Steel City Trawler
06. Huron - Huron
07. The Beauties - The Beauties
08. Slowcoaster - Darkest of Discos
09. The Soft Pack - The Soft Pack
10. Kings of Leon - Come Down Sundown
11. Mother's Children - That’s Who!
12. Spoon - Transference
13. Zeus - Say Us
14. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
15. The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever
16. Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)
17. Flash Lightin'- Flash Lightin'
18. The High Dials - Anthem for Doomed Youth
19. Elvyn - The Decline
20. Drive-By Truckers - The Big To Do
21. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today
22. PS I Love You - Meet Me At the Muster Station
23. Macy Gray - The Sellout
24. The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards
25. Kathryn Calder - Are You My Mother?
26. The Black Keys - Brothers
27. The Roots - How I Got Over
28. The Paperbacks - Lit from Within
29. The New Pornographers - Together
30. Izzy Stradlin - Waves of Heat
31. Spoon River - Kingdom of the Burned
32. Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
33. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang
34. Marah - Life is a Problem
35. C'mon - Beyond the Pale Horse
36. The National - High Violet
37. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
38. Via Audio - Animalore
39. Happy Birthday - Happy Birthday
40. Neil Young - Le Noise
41. The pack AD - We Kill Computers
42. Land of Talk - Cloak and Cipher
43. The Whigs - In the Dark
44. Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart
45. 7 Walkers - 7 Walkers
46. Drink Up Buttercup - Born and Thrown on a Hook
47. The 88 - The 88
48. Proud Mary - Ocean Park
49. 1973 - Bye Bye Cellphone
50. Electric 6 - Zodiac

Canadiana Mix Part 1

1. Wires - Cowlick
2. Chase Scene - Broken Social Scene
3. Big World - The Novaks
4. Those were the Days - Elvyn
5. Teenage Love Made Me Insane - The High Dials
6. Lazy Susan - Sweet Thing
7. You Got a Mouth - Flash Lightnin'
8. Quarry Hymns - Land Of Talk
9. King and Country - Huron
10. Fashion Blues - The Beauties
11. Fool - Spoon River
12. Dirty, Dirty Blonde - Luke Doucet & The White Falcon
13. Crash Years - The New Pornographers
14. Shaky Sue - Mother's Childre
15. The Ocean - Young Rival
16. Darkest of Discos - Slowcoaster
17. How Does It Feel - Zeus
18. Illness As Metaphor - The Paperbacks
19. Castor and Pollux - Kathryn Calder
20. Something Else - Diamond Rings
21. 2012 - P.S. I Love You
22. Sailor - Gertrudes

1. Change of Seasons - Sweet Thing
2. Marching Through Your Head - Zeus
3. Lotta Lies - Elvyn
4. Your Hands (Together) - The New Pornographers
5. Forced to Love - Broken Social Scene
6. Chinese Boxes - The High Dials
7. B.Y.O. Life - Slowcoaster
8. No Sympathy - Flash Lightnin'
9. Bad Side of Town - Mother's Children
10. Patron Saint of Atheists - The Paperbacks
11. Ghost In the Park - Young Rival
12. Ronnie Hawkins - Gertrudes
13. Emmanuel - Spoon River
14. The East Wind - Gord Downie And The Country Of Miracles
15. Sooner or Later - The Novaks
16. A Day Long Past It's Prime - Kathryn Calder
17. Sex - Cowlick
18. Corktown - Huron
19. Love and a Steady Hand - Luke Doucet & The White Falcon
20. You and Me - The Beauties
21. Christmas In Hell - NQ Arbuckle

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Gimme Danger

The lack of posts has not only been pure laziness but also a disastrously boring bootleg group on Usenet. I'm serious, unless you're a Uriah Heep or a Stevie Ray Vaughn fanatic there's been very little interesting recordings to be had. SRV falls into that category where those who love him, love him A LOT and then post everything he's ever done and eat up the bandwidth with boring blues. Then I found this sweet soundboard recording of the first reunited Iggy and the Stooges show in Sao Paulo, Brazil from 2009. Considering that James Williamson hadn't played a gig in 35 years, I think he sounds pretty great. While I previously tended to favour Funhouse above all others, I've come to really love the Raw Power era band and frankly Kill City is the best non-Stooges record he ever made. Also, Iggy's vocals have barely changed in 40 years. Compare and contrast the voice and also his physique with many of his other contemporaries. The old adage 'Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger' while usually completely false is clearly appropriate here.

01 (4:25) Raw Power
02 (2:30) Kill City
03 (4:23) Search & Destroy
04 (4:02) Gimme Danger
05 (3:08) Cock In My Pocket
06 (3:15) Shake Appeal
07 (2:44) Sax Solo
08 (3:30) Loose
09 (5:00) 1970
10 (7:12) Funhouse
11 (1:38) Night Theme
12 (3:31) Skull Ring
13 (2:59) Johanna
14 (3:32) I Gotta Right
15 (4:51) I Wanna Be Your Dog
16 (5:09) Five Foot One
17 (5:14) The Passenger
18 (4:47) Death Trip
19 (4:05) Lust For Life
20 (3:46) Interview

Playing Time : 79:41
Total Size : 142 MB

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Perpetual Autumn

Here's a mix loosely inspired by my growing dislike of the season known as 'Summer'. I don't know when it happened exactly but I think it occurred when I stopped drinking beer. Well, it's not that I've "quit" drinking beer; I still occasionally consume and enjoy it, particularly the 3rd beer buzz but I think I've largely outgrown its charm. I just don't feel the desire anymore. I think maybe it's conditioning because once I left academics for a permanent position in the health care industry, I lost the freedom to come and go as I please at the lab. Gotta be at work 5 days a week and keep my hours, no more knocking off early to find a patio and well, drink beer. So what I'm basically driving at is if I'm not sitting around a patio, goldbricking and drinking beer, I hate summer. Makes sense to me, I'm a very linear man. Also my house retains heat like a fucking green house. I should install solar panels. Anyway, I'm sick of summer, the heat, the bugs, sweating, I'm done. The mix below is loosely inspired by this feeling. It leans a little heavy on CDN artists from the last couple of years, largely CBC3-kind of artists. Here's to perpetual autumn, cool, dark evenings and and pitch black early mornings with cupped hands, visible breath & broken leaves under feet.

01. Science Comes First
02. Eighteen - Lions in the Street
03. Don't Tell Mom - Mother's Children
04. Ghost in the Park - Young Rival
05. Young Hipster - Little Foot Long Foot
06. Echoes Of My Sins - Anders Osbourne
07. Soft in the Center - The Hold Steady
08. Settin' The Woods On Fire - Ronnie Spector
09. I Went To Heaven In A Dream Last Night - Daddy
10. For a Few Dollars More - The Manvils
11. Fashion Blues - The Beauties
12. Something About the Bedroom - Cobra Verde
13. Me and Your Ghost - Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles
14. Officer Down - Carolyn Mark & NQ Arbuckle
15. It's Not the Liquor I Miss - Luke Doucet
16. I Got A Life - Dojo Workhorse
17. Perpetual Autumn - The Paperbacks
18. Our Little Secret - Art Bergmann
19. Forced to Love - Broken Social Scene
20. Anyone's Ghost - The National
21. Huntsville Affair - NQ Arbuckle
22. Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 2 - My Morning Jacket

Thursday, July 1, 2010

All right, here's my semi-annual favourite songs of the year mix. If you're a listener of modern indie type music then it's extremely likely you'll have heard some of the songs and artists in the mix (e.g. The Dead Weather, The Hold Steady, The New Pornographers, Spoon). Hopefully they're are a few you haven't heard (e.g. Elvyn, Via Audio, Spoon River and Flared). It's pretty upbeat so throw it on late afternoon, pour some libations and enjoy.

01 Hundred/Million - The Whigs
02 Rest Sniper, Rest - Dirty Sweet
03 Bushwick Blues - Delta Spirit
04 C'mon - The Soft Pack
05 Written in Reverse - Spoon
06 Those Were the Days - Elvyn
07 Blue Bood Blues - The Dead Weather
08 Protection Racket - Fionn Regan
09 Marching Through Your Head - Zeus
10 Denise - Clem Snide
11 Look Around You, Part II - Flared
12 Babies - Via Audio
13 Can't Hear My Eyes - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
14 The Diamond Church Street Choir - The Gaslight Anthem
15 Lonely Is a Town - Glossary
16 The Weekenders - The Hold Steady
17 Lunch In Field Four - Adam Arcuragi
18 Within The Spirit Sagging - Marah
19 Buried In the Sun - Spoon River
20 I Don't Wanna Know - Peter Wolf
21 We Are the Foolish - General Fiasco
22 Your Hands (Together) - The New Pornographers
23 Every Light - Shabby Rogue
24 Somewhere By Now - Sime Nugent
25 Girls Who Smoke - Drive By Truckers