Tag Archives: The Dears

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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Polaris People For April 13 (The Dears! Malajube! Metric!)

The Dears

The Dears

The latest edition of the Polaris Music Prize weekly news roundup is now online.

Natalia from The Dears goes on a rant, Malajube play a show, and Metric accuse people of having sex.

Go read the story over at Polaris Music Prize by clicking here.

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