Tag Archives: The Dears

Land Of Talk’s ‘Life After Youth’ Is Aaron’s Top Album Of 2017

Land Of Talk — Life After Youth

Land Of Talk — Life After Youth

Another year deep into pursuing my Before They Die concert list meant hunting down another batch of classic artists (Bettye Lavette, Bon Jovi, Deep Purple, Elvis Costello, k.d. lang, Nazareth, Neil Diamond) as well as reunited acts I never thought I’d get to see live (Crash Vegas, Front 242, Midnight Oil, Northern Pikes, X).

While this was wonderful for my concert diary, it left me further adrift than ever from the contemporary music critic zeitgeist when it came to 2017 albums. I never heard the Jlin or SZA records, Vince Staples and LCD Soundsystem have done better in the past, The National, The xx and Father John Misty didn’t move me at all, and I’m starting to suspect everyone has been tricked by St. Vincent.

That said, as always, there remained a lot of good music to consume this year.

While rock music, or at least what a lot of mainstream music outlets consider “rock” music is increasingly terrible, the rich underground realm of rawk-to-hard rock remains ripping and vibrant, perhaps moreso because of its underdog status. I gave a lot of time this year to records from Mothership, Bloodclot, Danko Jones, Dead Quiet, Municipal Waste and Ruby The Hatchet. There are a lot of bands out there who still know how to rock. Don’t accept knock-offs.

I has some interesting bubbling under records this year, too. The duet covers record from Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White was pretty compelling and almost made my top ten until I realized I didn’t like any of the White-fronted songs. In somewhat similar circumstances, I realized I really only liked two or three songs from each of the Kendrick Lamar and Kacy & Clayton records, which kept them bubbling under.

In another thematic group, the Charlotte Gainsbourg was a surprising mood piece that had a hold on me for awhile. Her album sonically complimented a pair of dance records from Quebec by Le Couleur and Marie Davidson that absolutely would have made my 2017 list if they hadn’t been released in October 2016, making them just too far out of the ’17 window for me to feel comfortable including them.

While all these albums were great, the ones below I enjoyed even more.

Here’s my official Top 10 album list for 2017:

10) Michael Nau — The Load

To put how I came to appreciate The Load in context one has to first understand how I consume new music. One of the ways is to put new albums on my phone to listen to when I walk to work each day. At one point this fall I had The Load in rotation along with a Pop Goes The ’70s box set full of hit songs from that era. When I punched through these songs on random I could almost not tell the difference between the Nau songs and the deeper cuts from the 70s box. That’s not to say The Load is some anachronistic retro project so much as it’s one that the best moments — “Diamond Anyway,” “Big Wind No Sail” — have a timeless quality that pushes them above something simply in the now.

Listen to “Big Wind, No Sail”

9) The Dears — Times Infinity Volume Two

Sometimes I over-correct for my loyalties. The Dears are probably the band I’ve seen perform most live, they probably officially qualify as “friends” (in 20+ years of doing this I only have about a dozen proper musician friends), and in general I consider them musically above reproach. The result of this often means I’m particularly tough on The Dears when it comes to exercises like year-end lists and such. After all, if they’re friends, that’s a strong bias against rational analysis. But fuck all that. Times Infinity Volume Two is a quality record. Sure it’s a little less turbulent and dramatic than those early Dears albums everyone loves, but “Guns Or Knives,” “All The Hail Marys” and “Taking It To The Grave” ably match anything the band has done in the past.

Listen to “Guns Or Knives”

8) Doom Side Of The Moon — Doom Side Of The Moon

The best part about Doom Side Of The Moon’s stoner rock reimagining of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon isn’t the actual recording (which is a fine, slightly beefed up, and very faithful series of covers), it’s the perspective it brought. I abandoned Dark Side Of The Moon long ago, a casualty of classic rock radio overplaying and relentless anniversary edition reissues making me reflexively turn elsewhere. What these things did was cause me to ignore the actual thematic and conceptual quality of Dark Side‘s songs. “Money,” “Time,” “Us And Them,” those are all deep, brilliant songs, and it took someone else doing them for me to truly realize this. Propelled in part by this record I ended up going on a bit of a Pink Floyd jag this year. I checked out the righteous Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and I spent a whole lot of time with The Early Years 1965-1972 box set. A lot of that journey can be attributed to a dude from The Sword and his buddies deciding they needed to record a heavier version of “Brain Damage.”

Watch “Time”

7) RF Shannon — Jaguar Palace

When I initially tweaked to Jaguar Palace it was because I thought it sounded like an early album from The Verve mixed in with some On The Beach-era Neil Young and maybe some Calexico. None of that has changed and it remains a wicked, dry desert heat of a trip.

Watch “Hotevilla”

6) The Black Angels — Death Song

The Black Angels are probably to 2017 what Jane’s Addiction were to 1990 what with the band’s festival/community building in the psych rock scene being comparable to the coming together of tribes Perry Farrell created in the alt era. That’s all noble stuff, but sometimes it means we take for granted the most important attribute of The Black Angels — the music. Death Song refines the band’s sound somewhat. There are a few less trance rock rumbles made for highway driving and less time travel indignations about the Vietnam War and Nixon and whatever, but the core of what makes The Black Angels great, the shimmering textures and dark menace of songs like “Estimate” and “Comanche Moon” remains.

Watch “Half Believing”

5) Run The Jewels — RTJ3

I know Run The Jewels appeal to me because of an age thing. Run The Jewels are old (like me). And they still rap (remember that?). With rhymes and lyrics and insightful observations and such. How they’ve managed to trick the kids into liking them in genre that, with a few exceptions, has been reduced to grunting, dumb catchphrases and Soundcloud beats that make no sense, is beyond me. But I’m there for ’em.

Watch “Legend Has It”

4) Tennis — Yours Conditionally

The last thing I expected from 2017 was to be thoroughly enamoured by Tennis’ Yours Conditionally. And yet, here we are. Yours Conditionally wonderfully navigates Fleetwood Mac-ian pop and girl group soul with a savvy and groove that’s hard to turn away from. Highlights: “Ladies Don’t Play Guitar,” “Modern Woman,” “Baby Don’t Believe.”

Watch “Modern Woman”

3) The Horrors — V

The Horrors continue their inscrutable ways on V. Are they goth? Electro? Brit pop? Psych? New wave? I don’t know. But what I do know is that whatever it is it’s mighty compelling. “Press Enter To Exit,” “Point Of No Reply” and the oddly buoyant “Something To Remember Me By” rise above the moodier moments on the rest of the album.

Watch “Something To Remember Me By”

2) King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard — Flying Microtonal Banana

2017 was the year my deep name-based bias against King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard was broken and it was all because of Flying Microtonal Banana. Sure, the band released something like 18 other concept albums/sonic exercises this year, but it was this album that struck me the hardest. Feature track “Rattlesnake” has the best groove of any rock song this year, “Billabong Valley” is an exotic adventure, and “Open Water,” a rather dark jam about drowning, could be the perfect theme song for speed boat racing if nobody paid close attention to the lyrics.

Watch “Rattlesnake”

1) Land Of Talk — Life After Youth

Life After Youth was the only album I kept on my phone for the entire year, a rare feat considering how quickly I churn through records when listening that way. One of the great joys I took from LOT leader Elizabeth Powell’s new album was in not knowing what the record was about. I didn’t read any interviews or liner notes or lyric sheets, but just dove in. I knew it was a bit of a comeback album, seven years on from her last record. And I knew that “life,” with all its chaotic speed bumps, was the reason why it took so long to become a reality. But beyond that it was a blank slate. What I found were layers of intrigue. In not knowing exactly what the songs were about, I was able to form my own narratives, contemplate my own plots behind these songs and the whole listening experience felt like a throwback to a simpler time.

Oddly, there’s no single song or couple of songs I can point to and go this makes the album. “Heartcore” is certainly compelling indie romance rock, “What Was I Thinking” has a universal life lesson quality, and iTunes says I listened to “This Time” 26 times. These could all represent highlight moments, but it’s really more about the whole. What Powell has created is a musical meditation on life which reveals something new each and every listen.

Watch “This Time”

Other album lists…

2016 Top Ten — Daniel Romano‘s Mosey is #1
2015 Top Ten — SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart is #1
2014 Top Ten — Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There is #1
2013 Top Ten — M.I.A.’s Matangi is #1
2012 Top Ten — Dirty Ghosts’ Metal Moon is #1
2011 Top Ten — Timber Timbre’s Creep On Creepin’ On is #1
2010 Top Ten — The Black Angels’ Phosphene Dream is #1
2009 Top Ten — Gallows’ Grey Britain is #1
2008 Top Ten — Portishead’s Third is #1
2007 Top Ten — Joel Plaskett Emergency’s Ashtray Rock is #1
2006 Top Ten — My Brightest Diamond’s Bring Me The Workhorse is #1
2005 Top Ten — Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl is #1
2004 Top Ten — Morrissey’s You Are The Quarry is #1
2003 Top Ten — The Dears’ No Cities Left is #1
2002 Top Ten — Archive’s You All Look The Same To Me is #1
2001 Top Ten — Gord Downie’s Coke Machine Glow is #1
2000 Top Ten — Songs: Ohia’s The Lioness is #1
1999 Top Ten — The Boo Radleys’ Kingsize is #1
1998 Top Ten — Baxter’s Baxter is #1
1996 Top Ten — Tricky’s Maxinquaye is #1

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart Is Aaron’s Top Album For 2015

SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart

SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart

While last year a lot of my bubbling under listens were from the hardcore, thrash and heavy metal world, most of my not-quite-core records this year were, for jurisdictional reason, ineligible for Top 10 album consideration.

My local record store and a place I’ve patronized for years, Vortex Records, closed shop forever yesterday and in the last few months leading up to this dark day I’ve been stocking up on discounted classic rock CDs. We’re talking old AC/DC, Boston, Guns n’ Roses, Ozzy Osbourne and the like. These were all records I owned on cassette back when I was a teenager but never chose to replace in the compact disc era when I had moved on to that “alternative” music. Revisiting these old records has been a blast — it’s easy to forget how rock ‘n’ roll early AC/DC were until you actually go back and listen to Powerage. Unfortunately, with Vortex gone it may be a while before I buy another record in a real store.

As for my Top 10 list, it was surprisingly, overwhelmingly Canadian this year. Well, I guess that’s not that surprising, though a number of international acts like JD McPherson, ASAP Rocky, My Morning Jacket, The Arcs and Vince Staples all made records I considered long and hard before deciding they didn’t quite make the cut.

Here’s my official Top 10 album list for 2015:

10) Jazz Cartier Marauding In Paradise

Yes, 2015 was the year of Drake, but I’ll never really be moved by his upward grasping/world building. For me Marauding In Paradise was a far more intriguing “Toronto” statement. Jazz Cartier’s Toronto is just a little darker, a little heavier and a little deeper than Drake’s and it’s one that feels far more familiar to me.

Watch “Wake Me Up When It’s Over”

9) Peaches Rub

I used to get teased mercilessly in the Chart office for liking Peaches. The Ladies Of Chart would be all, like, “You only like her because she talks about tits and has photos of her crotch on her website…” And sure, I did like those things, but what I liked more was the actual music. It was bold, unique and completely without compromise. There are at least two songs on Rub — “Dick In The Air” and “Rub” — that are on the ultimate wild party playlist that’s rolling around in my head.

Watch “Dick In The Air”

8) Pusha T King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude

To me the best rap acts of the last few years have been Pusha T, Run The Jewels and Ghostface Killah, all men of “a certain age.” It’s something I’ve thought about quite a bit. Do I like them because I’m old and they’re old, and therefore I intuitively understand them? Is this where rap starts to enter its Carlsberg years? Does liking them mean I’m out of touch? I’ll ask these questions but when I put on Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude the answers come pretty quick. I like these acts because they still rap, they still rhyme and they still sound righteous. There’s narrative, there’s purpose and there’s brilliant execution.

Watch “Crutches, Crosses, Caskets”

7) Yacht I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler

Maybe it’s a barely sublimated longing for the return of LCD Soundsystem, or a secret yearning to commune with people who text message exclusively in emojis, but this Yacht record really hits some of my dance pop pleasure points.

Watch “I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler”

6) The Dears Times Infinity Volume One

I’m proper friends with approximately three bands. Everyone else either hates me, or I hate them. It’s one of the side effects of steadfastly refusing to be a musical jock sniffer despite its (obvious) career advantages. The Dears are one of the bands I would consider friends. This, of course, adds a layer of complexity to scrutinizing whatever new music they put out. Especially when the turbulent, emotional records they made 15 years ago mirror the turbulent, emotional rollercoaster I experienced in my own life 15 years ago and any music The Dears put out now has to compete against that slurry of sentiment. It’s good then, that there are songs like “Hell Hath Frozen In Your Eyes” to lead the way. That song is a long was from the screaming, tortured, bombastic Dears of yore, but it’s a Dears I can appreciate just as much.

Watch “Here’s To The Death Of All The Romance”

5) Michelle McAdorey Into Her Future

Crash Vegas’ 1990 album Red Earth was and is perfect. I consider it a foundational album, as important to Canadian music as, say, Joni Mitchell’s Blue. It’s also set a bar that Crash Vegas and its lead singer Michelle McAdorey never quite matched with various spotty recordings in the 25 years since then. Into Her Future goes a long way to fixing that. Filled with gossamer, introspective country-psych, Into Her Future returns McAdorey to her rightful place among this country’s most beguiling voices.

Watch “Into Her Future”

4) The Souljazz Orchestra Resistance

Whether it’s The Clash, Public Enemy or Bob Dylan, I’ve always been partial to rebel music. These acts, noble and amazing all, are decidedly “western” sounding, though. It’s music from the cities and streets that I know and understand intimately. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve started to see and understand that the same rebel spirit can be found in lots of other musics from around the world. Souljazz Orchestra may be nominally a Montreal band, but their dizzying amalgam of soul, jazz, funk, afrobeat and Latin is exactly the sort of world-spanning music that exemplifies this. That they’re fighting all the same fights I want to fight has opened up a thrilling new world.

Watch “Shock And Awe”

3) DRALMS Shook

Sad bedroom poets aren’t necessarily my jam, but Christopher Smith’s rebirth as the turbulent electro act DRALMS had a magnetic hold on me this year. In particular the song “Gang Of Pricks” has left me mesmerized. What it’s about, I have no idea. It could be diary notes about particularly violent video game, it could be sketches for a dystopian young adult novel, or it could be an extended metaphor for life that I haven’t pieced together yet. Whatever it it, I’m going to keep listening until I figure it out.

Watch “Pillars & Pyre”

2) Etiquette Reminisce

Part of what appealed to me about Reminisce, the dream electro project from Julie Fader and Holy Fuck’s Graham Walsh, was the nostalgia. There’s a stolen New Order bass sound on “Brown & Blue,” a thumpy Death In Vegas thing to “Twinkling Stars,” and a dramatic Everything But The Girl vibe to “Promises.” It all feels like a captured moment in time from the mid-90s: The scene’s some nameless waterfront warehouse space. The headliner’s long done spinning, the chill out room has been shut down, and all there is left is that exhausted-but-a-little-bit-euphoric walk back to the car and the drive home with the sun coming up.

Watch “Attention Seeker”

1) SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart

To call Montreal rockers SUUNS collab with Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (stage name Jerusalem In My Heart) my “top” album or my “#1” is a bit of a misnomer. Sure, technically it fills the first spot on my year-end listicle, but its place in my universe is far more… metaphysical. Sonically, the album’s combination of propulsive psych rock, traditional Arabic rhythms, fractured electronics and ghostly vocals courtesy of Moumneh sounds like virtually nothing I’ve ever heard before. That “filling a spot,” the uniqueness, has a certain undeniable value to a music fan like myself. But I encounter unique sounds every day so that’s not enough to propel a record to the top for me. What does, though, is the particular imagination-flaring effect listening to SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart has. Songs like “2amoutu I7tirakan” and “Seif” send my mind on wild journeys. In some spots I’m dizzily twirling around the same coliseum Pink Floyd used to film Live At Pompeii, in others I’m hurdling through the time warping “star gate” from 2001: A Space Odyssey. That’s when I’m not tripping balls on an Arrakis sand dune having just taken the water of life. These are sensations that only one album was able to give me this year.

Watch “Gazelles In Flight”

Other album lists…

2015 Top Ten — SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart is #1
2014 Top Ten — Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There is #1
2013 Top Ten — M.I.A.’s Matangi is #1
2012 Top Ten — Dirty Ghosts’ Metal Moon is #1
2011 Top Ten — Timber Timbre’s Creep On Creepin’ On is #1
2010 Top Ten — The Black Angels’ Phosphene Dream is #1
2009 Top Ten — Gallows’ Grey Britain is #1
2008 Top Ten — Portishead’s Third is #1
2007 Top Ten — Joel Plaskett Emergency’s Ashtray Rock is #1
2006 Top Ten — My Brightest Diamond’s Bring Me The Workhorse is #1
2005 Top Ten — Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl is #1
2004 Top Ten — Morrissey’s You Are The Quarry is #1
2003 Top Ten — The Dears’ No Cities Left is #1
2002 Top Ten — Archive’s You All Look The Same To Me is #1
2001 Top Ten — Gord Downie’s Coke Machine Glow is #1
2000 Top Ten — Songs: Ohia’s The Lioness is #1
1999 Top Ten — The Boo Radleys’ Kingsize is #1
1998 Top Ten — Baxter’s Baxter is #1
1996 Top Ten — Tricky’s Maxinquaye is #1

19 Comments

Filed under Music

Aaron’s Top Albums Of 2008

Portishead's Third

Portishead’s Third

This is my official Top 10 album list for 2008:

10. Sam Roberts Love At The End Of The World

I’ve long maintained that Sam Roberts doesn’t quite get the respect he deserves because of his adoption by the Kee To Bala set, but he does good work. Love At The End Of The World is a little bit more about “songs” than Chemical City‘s wicked cosmic jams, but “Them Kids” and “Detroit ’67” are where it’s at.

9. The Dears Missiles

This version of a radically reconstituted Dears painted with a far less bombastic brush than on previous albums, but there was still enough world-weariness to compliment the rest of their discography.

8. Lykke Li Youth Novels

Going to see Lykke Li live on this tour was an oddly awkward sociological experience. See, the audience for her show was a divided one. The front half, squished towards the stage and separated from the back by a very pronounced barrier was an all-ages crowd of teenage girls. On the opposite side of the barrier, in the licensed area, were me, a smattering of couples, and a bunch of solo old dudes. And, by virtue of my status as a no +1 reviewer, I too was a solo old dude. Which, by extension, meant I looked an old creeper leering after some Scandinavian pop star in a room full of teenage girls.

I wasn’t, though. Because I was — and am — much more interested in Lykke Li’s Bergman-ian worldview than what sort of hot pants she’s wearing. And songs like “The Trumpet In My Head” affect me in ways that have nothing to do with lurid intent.

At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

7. The Moondoggies Don’t Be A Stranger

The Moondoggies are a bit of a mystery to me. I don’t follow them, I don’t read about them and I don’t know much about them beyond the fact they’re from Washington and I think hippie types like them. This is probably for the best. Sometimes the more you know about a band, the less interesting they become.

6. David Vandervelde Waiting For The Sunrise

There’s an unofficial micro genre that exists these days where acts like Midlake and Fleet Foxes try capturing that Laurel Canyon sound from the late ’60s. Vandervelde’s Waiting For The Sunrise might be the best contemporary articulation of that vibe. When you listen to it you just want to throw on a poncho, grab some wine and hang out.

5. Graveyard Graveyard

Being a sucker for doom metal and pretty much everything that sounds like Black Sabbath meant I was already predisposed towards Sweden’s Graveyard. Thing is, Graveyard aren’t just rote Sabbath imitators. Their sinister blues rock feels like its own thing, and Joakim Nilsson’s vocals are more intense than most of what Ozzy’s ever committed to.

4. Cancer Bats Hail Destroyer

What I like about the Cancer Bats is that their improbable posi-hardcore never wavers into dork territory. Instead, it’s more about well-directed rage, which is something I can respect. Also, “Lucifer’s Rocking Chair” rips.

3. D-Sisive The Book

This was D-Sisive’s back-from-the-dead album. Its intensely personal narrative, breadth of pop culture reference and sense of gravitas are things I now see getting bit hard by a legion of next gen graspers. I can see you, copycat bitches.

2. The Last Shadow Puppets The Age Of The Understatement

A grandiose, symphonic rock trip, The Age Of The Understatement felt like a series of lost Bond anthems come to life. I listened to this album endlessly when it came out and I haven’t really heard anything similar sounding since then.

1. Portishead Third

I’ve given out, max, a dozen 5/5 album reviews in all the years I’ve been writing about music and this is one of them. Intense, confounding, unique, sinister… Third is the articulation of some kind of sonic menace, a mad clanking machine that lumbers dangerously around your heels. It’s scary, dangerous and unquestioningly beautiful.

Other album lists…

2015 Top Ten — SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart is #1
2014 Top Ten — Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There is #1
2013 Top Ten — M.I.A.’s Matangi is #1
2012 Top Ten — Dirty Ghosts’ Metal Moon is #1
2011 Top Ten — Timber Timbre’s Creep On Creepin’ On is #1
2010 Top Ten — The Black Angels’ Phosphene Dream is #1
2009 Top Ten — Gallows’ Grey Britain is #1
2008 Top Ten — Portishead’s Third is #1
2007 Top Ten — Joel Plaskett Emergency’s Ashtray Rock is #1
2006 Top Ten — My Brightest Diamond’s Bring Me The Workhorse is #1
2005 Top Ten — Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl is #1
2004 Top Ten — Morrissey’s You Are The Quarry is #1
2003 Top Ten — The Dears’ No Cities Left is #1
2002 Top Ten — Archive’s You All Look The Same To Me is #1
2001 Top Ten — Gord Downie’s Coke Machine Glow is #1
2000 Top Ten — Songs: Ohia’s The Lioness is #1
1999 Top Ten — The Boo Radleys’ Kingsize is #1
1998 Top Ten — Baxter’s Baxter is #1
1996 Top Ten — Tricky’s Maxinquaye is #1

3 Comments

Filed under Music

Aaron’s Top Albums Of 2006

My Brightest Diamond Bring Me The Workhorse

My Brightest Diamond Bring Me The Workhorse

This is my official Top 10 album list for 2006:

1. The Decemberists The Crane Wife
2. The Dears Gang Of Losers
3. The Golden Dogs Big Eye Little Eye
4. Sam Roberts Chemical City
5. The Streets The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living
6. Meligrove Band Planets Conspire
7. My Brightest Diamond Bring Me The Workhorse
8. Tokyo Police Club A Lesson In Crime
9. Woven Hand Mosaic
10. CSS Cansei De Ser Sexy

When I looked at this list for the first time in seven years my immediate reaction was a reflexive “Oh God, I put them at #1?” Maybe it’s because nowadays I hunt for things more primordial than their dandy cravat rock, or maybe it’s because they’re a pillar act for Mumford And Sons fans, either way I’ve pretty much moved on from The Decemberists. Or at least I thought I did. While there’s still something undefinably cloying about them, there are some sublime moments on The Crane Wife. “When The War Came” is an unlikely companion to Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter, and “The Perfect Crime #2,” “Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then),” and to a lesser extent, many of the other songs on the album exhibit a certain charming gallow’s humour. It’s not my #1 anymore, but it’s still probably a top tenner.

I’ve always loved The Dears as their particular brand of dark pop appeals to all my outsider sensibilities. Going back through Gang Of Losers I realized this album doesn’t contain any of my favourite Dears songs — those would be “Summer Of Protest,” “Expect The Worst/’Cos She’s A Tourist” and “Lost In The Plot” — but what the album lacks in peak resonance it makes up for with a sort of binding quality. It’s like a sonic affirmation for misfits — you’re weird, maybe a little awkward, off-putting and you know it, but you’re not alone… The Dears are with you — and these songs are the soundtrack to that feeling.

One of the great injustices in the world is that The Golden Dogs aren’t more popular. I’ve cooled a wee bit on Big Eye Little Eye — it’s probably no longer a #3 album for me — but they remain a band I’ll always be behind and one of the few bands I know have the potential to create the perfect song.

There’s a song on Sam Roberts’ Chemical City called “With A Bullet” which I consider one of the best rock ‘n’ roll love songs ever. It’s not particularly unique and the metaphors (“My love for you is as deep as a coal mine”) border on hammy, but there’s a certain genuineness about it that’s absolutely compelling. Roberts sometimes gets unfairly pigeonholed as a bit of a Tragically Hip/Kee To Bala/beer commercial rocker, and to be fair there is a bit of that to what he does, but Chemical City is more than that. There’s some pointed political commentary (“An American Draft Dodger In Thunder Bay”), some psychedelic space jams (“Mind Flood”) and some dreamy brilliant bits (“Mystified, Heavy”). I don’t know if it’s still a #4 album, but it’s definitely an underappreciated one in the Can-rock canon.

Ah, The Streets. This would be the year that I finally got Mike Skinner. It may have been the noise from the hipster set, or his awkward delivery, or my disconnect from his day-to-day world, but it wasn’t until The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living that I realized Skinner was, and is, a master of narrative. He captures a mood, a scene, a time and place perfectly. And his sense of mischief is alright, too.

I swore Meligrove Band were going to take over the world with Planets Conspire and I listened to this album non-stop when it came out. I was wrong. It turns out people didn’t really want the sort of smart rock-pop Meligrove Band… or Golden Dogs… or to a slightly lesser degree Sam Roberts and The Dears… were making this year. I have some theories why that is, but that’s a conversation that’s more for barrooms than blogs.

If I had to redo this Top Ten list today — which I’m sort of doing — the clear #1 would be My Brightest Diamond’s Bring Me The Workhorse. Dramatic, beautiful, sad, unique, I still listen to the various songs from this album regularly. I’ve never read or researched much about its themes or the songs meanings. Instead I’ve spent all these years trying to piece them together myself. But I don’t try too hard. It’s more about imagining what the various songs are about rather than definitively figuring them out.

Nominally you could put Tokyo Police Club in that same group thematically as Meligrove Band and Golden Dogs. In hindsight it turns out I only like that robot song.

I’m not religious. Or particularly spiritual. And about the closest I get to either is the sort of admiration I have for acts like Woven Hand and its leader David Eugene Edwards as expressed through fiery intense songs like those found on Mosaic. Upon relistening to Mosaic it’s not really a Top Ten album. The idea of Edwards bellowing away his demons continues to hold a certain romance, though.

CSS? I still love “Art Bitch” and casually reference that song all the time, but it’s otherwise a forgotten album for me nowadays.

Other album lists…

2015 Top Ten — SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart is #1
2014 Top Ten — Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There is #1
2013 Top Ten — M.I.A.’s Matangi is #1
2012 Top Ten — Dirty Ghosts’ Metal Moon is #1
2011 Top Ten — Timber Timbre’s Creep On Creepin’ On is #1
2010 Top Ten — The Black Angels’ Phosphene Dream is #1
2009 Top Ten — Gallows’ Grey Britain is #1
2008 Top Ten — Portishead’s Third is #1
2007 Top Ten — Joel Plaskett Emergency’s Ashtray Rock is #1
2006 Top Ten — My Brightest Diamond’s Bring Me The Workhorse is #1
2005 Top Ten — Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl is #1
2004 Top Ten — Morrissey’s You Are The Quarry is #1
2003 Top Ten — The Dears’ No Cities Left is #1
2002 Top Ten — Archive’s You All Look The Same To Me is #1
2001 Top Ten — Gord Downie’s Coke Machine Glow is #1
2000 Top Ten — Songs: Ohia’s The Lioness is #1
1999 Top Ten — The Boo Radleys’ Kingsize is #1
1998 Top Ten — Baxter’s Baxter is #1
1996 Top Ten — Tricky’s Maxinquaye is #1

3 Comments

Filed under Music, Recollections

Polaris People For The Week Of May 17 (Cadence Weapon! Shad! The Dears!)

Cadence Weapon

Cadence Weapon

The latest edition of my Polaris People column is online over at the Polaris Music Prize website.

Cadence Weapon is talking about something called “super rap,” new Shad music has appeared, and The Dears‘ Murray Lightburn is putting out a solo album.

To read the column, go here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Shameless Promotion

The Dears Look To The Future

The Dears

The Dears

The Dears, one of Risky Fuel HQ’s favourite bands, have spent the last year or so in a sort of cataloguing phase, having the book The Dears: Lost In The Plot written about them, then releasing the documentary film/live album combo Never Destroy Us: Live At Pasaguero about their history.

After all that lead singer Murray Lightburn told Sarah, amongst other things, that for 2013 the band are done looking backwards. It’ll be all about doing new stuff from here on out.

You can read the full interview by heading over to Spinner here.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Shameless Promotion

Spinner Mega News Pack: The Dears, Hilotrons, Ariane Moffatt And Some Drunk Dude

Here’s the latest batch of news stories I’ve done for the Spinner AOL Huffington Post empire:

The wonderful people of The Dears, who rank somewhere between 5th and 23rd best act in the world on any given day, have put out a new live album. They recorded it in Mexico because Mexico is crazytown banana pants for them.

That drunk dude who sung “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the back of a cop car? He had his day in court. And he lost.

Hilotrons did a video for “She Knows My Condition (Part 2)” so we premiered it.

Ariane Moffatt, who Sarah totes loves, debuted her “Too Late” video with us, too. It’s nominally about a chick bicycle gang. Hot.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts, Music, Shameless Promotion