Mike O’Neill, formerly (and occasionally still) one-half of The Inbreds, has a new solo album out called Wild Lines.
It’s great, but one of the most fascinating things about the record to Aaron had nothing to do with its songs, it was about the album cover.
O’Neill is photographed with a cat on his shoulder. Being cat fans, we got to the bottom of this shoulder cat situation. It turns out said shoulder cat is named Fruitjack and is owned by Mike Clattenburg, the creator of Trailer Park Boys.
You can read the whole story over at AUX TV by clicking here.
Unless you hate music you’ve probably figured out there are a lot of bands from the ’90s and early 2000s reuniting.
Pretty much every big British band (except The Smiths is doing it) — Blur, Jesus And Mary Chain, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays.
The same thing’s happening in Canada where the likes of Headstones, Change Of Heart, The Grapes Of Wrath, Thrush Hermit, The Watchmen, Eric’s Trip, Big Sugar, hHead, I Mother Earth, The Doughboys, King Cobb Steelie, Rusty, The Tea Party and Raggadeth are just a sample of the bands that have gotten back together in some form or another.
With that in mind Maclean’s sent Aaron off to figure out what the deal was. He ended up interviewing Treble Charger, Big Wreck, The Inbreds, Econoline Crush and Mystery Machine and the resulting story can be read here.
1. Songs: Ohia The Lioness
2. King Cobb Steelie Mayday
3. The Dandy Warhols Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia
4. Richard Ashcroft Alone With Everybody
5. Sarah Harmer You Were Here
6. Mike O’Neill What Happens Now?
7. The Dears End Of A Hollywood Bedtime Story
8. Elevator A Taste Of Complete Perspective
9. Fu Manchu King Of The Road
10. Dr. Dre 2001
This would be the year that my budding Jason Molina obsession officially took hold. I knew of the 1999 Songs: Ohia album Axxess & Ace and liked it, but The Lioness was a whole different ballgame. This album’s pretty much the most intense, all-consuming expression of love one can imagine. It’s not mealy, over-sentimental goop, but the raw stuff of the heart. More than 10 years later this record still resonates and I can still marvel that someone was able to combine those words, with that music, to create those songs.
I was totally at this show at the El Mocambo. Here’s “Lioness”:
How good was Mayday? Don’t know? OK, I’ll tell you — really good. This album and King Cobb Steelie’s prior record Junior Relaxer were two of the best, most fascinating albums produced in Canada over those years. They weren’t dance or dub, or punk or electronica, they were just these heavy, monstrous, uniquely groovy songs that were completely haunting.
King Cobb Steelie “Below The Stars:
Y’know how sometimes bands complain that record labels are horrible and controlling and demanding? And how these same artists complain non-stop about how their artistic instincts are being oppressed and it’s not until they get off said record label that they can find true freedom? Well, if the The Dandy Warhols’ Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia is the sound of them imprisoned by the system, the system was doing the right thing.
The Dandy Warhols’ “Godless”:
Until we reached #4 this list had been holding up remarkably well. Richard Ashcroft’s Alone With Everybody, however, does not deserve to be in this spot. Because it’s not very good. I know why I put it here — because The Verve’s Urban Hymns is one of the best albums of all time. And I was an intern when that album came out and therefore had no Top 10 list-making forum to express said view of that album. Then The Verve broke up and I was heartbroken, so I overcompensated by propping this album up. I’m wiser now.
I like my gal singers with a certain grit, a certain type of dark angst. I sense very little of that in earth mom Sarah Harmer, so logic would dictate I wouldn’t care very much for her — and I don’t. But sometimes there are songs that are undeniable. On You Were Here that lightning bolt moment is “Lodestar.” This song is close to the perfect representation of a certain specific type of Canadian experience and it’s the singular reason why this album hit #5 on my list.
Sarah Harmer “Lodestar”:
Man, forget the Arcade Fire Can-indie explosion years, by 2000 Canadian indie was already making power moves (in quality, if not in sales numbers and obvious “industry” markers). Mike O’Neill was a slept-on vet in post-Inbreds mode at this point, but What Happens Now? was proof he was still a vital foundation guy for the scene.
Speaking of foundations, if King Cobb Steelie were one of the best bands in Canada at the time, The Dears and their album End Of A Hollywood Bedtime Story was right there behind them. The only reason why this album was that much lower than Mayday was because Hollywood truly couldn’t capture the absolute riveting intensity of the band’s live show at the time. I saw The Dears pretty religiously every time they came to Toronto around during this period and these remain some of the best shows I’ve seen by any band ever.
I wanted to play “This Is A Broadcast,” but couldn’t find a good version on youtube.
I love the idea of Elevator. Band leader Rick White is a particular sort of psychedelic outlaw I admire in part because I know I’ll never be able to “unhinge” in the way that he does artistically. He exists in a fantastical world that’s foreign to me. A Taste Of Complete Perspective is a “good” record, not a “great” record, so I’m pretty sure it got the bump into the Top 10 owing to the band’s general awesomeness and that Rick White out-there factor.
Fu Manchu King Of The Road. If you’re not down with the Fu you’re a wack ass bitch.
1. Baxter Baxter
2. The Jesus And Mary Chain Munki
3. Lauryn Hill The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
4. Massive Attack Mezzanine
5. Mercury Rev Deserter’s Songs
6. Space Tin Planet
7. PJ Harvey Is This Desire?
8. 54-40 Since When
9. Godspeed You Black Emperor! F#A#∞
10. The Inbreds Winning Hearts
Not to be confused with the post-hardcore band Baxter featuring Tim McIlrath, later of Rise Against, the Baxter I’m talking about were a Swedish electronica trio signed to Madonna’s Maverick label. I still stand by their self-titled debut album and listen to it today. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it was one of the best, most slept on records of the ’90s.
Singer Nina Ramsby cooed morbid Nordic spells over an elegant wash of drum ‘n’ bass in songs that were just a touch too jagged and heartbroken to rank as car commercial sellout techno. This was the stuff.
Here’s their song “Television,” 13 years before Lykke Li:
The Jesus And Mary Chain are one of my favourite bands. And when they put out Munki on Sub Pop I was pretty excited about it. Time has tempered my enthusiasm somewhat and I can admit now what I couldn’t admit then — Munki is definitely not a Top 10 album.
Remember that year when Lauryn Hill was the greatest? I do. Then she went cray-cray. In hindsight this album has a few mind-blowers, a personal fave being “Lost One,” but it maybe captures more of a time and a place. And Hill’s dropping off hasn’t helped its legacy.
“Doo Wop (That Thing)” remains classic:
I interviewed Massive Attack for the Mezzanine album on the same day that Avi Lewis from The New Music did. I remember being so bummed that I didn’t get a great interview out of them when I finished, but later, when I saw that they FELL ASLEEP during Avi’s interview I felt pretty awesome — at least I was able to keep them awake.
Mercury Rev Deserter’s Songs is still beautiful. It’s definitely their high-water mark as a band, and if you’re the sort that likes to map out family trees, I’d argue that Deserter’s Songs is one of the pillar records for the sprawling indie rock that would eventually be perfected by Arcade Fire. This still holds up.
The band Space are responsible for one of the best singles of the ’90s.
That song’s not on Tin Planet, though. So I think I was feeling a bit compensatory by trying to jam this one onto my Top 10.
It does at least have the song “The Ballad Of Tom Jones,” which is a particularly cheeky duet between Space’s Tommy Scott and Cerys Matthews of Catatonia. Sarah and I have contemplated learning it as a karaoke slayer.
“The Ballad Of Tom Jones”
PJ Harvey’s one of my foundation artists. I think she’s brilliant and fascinating, and Is This Desire? remains one of my favourite albums by her. I prefer her when she’s doing less howling, and more dark purring, which is what she does here. PJ believes it’s the best album she’s ever made and I just might agree. This should probably go higher in hindsight.
Check out “The Wind”:
54-40’s Since When? I really like this band. Always have. Not really sure why it made it on this list, though.
Yeah, I was just as swept up in Godspeed You Black Emperor! and their album F#A#∞ as every other young, enthusiastic music writer. Going back to it, this record’s still unique and interesting, it’s just not… special anymore. The best parts of their sound and technique ended up getting lifted by all the next generation Montreal bands who’d take what they heard here into more manageable/palatable territory. Which arguably makes F#A#∞ still relevant and awesome, but nobody in 2011 wants to do their computing on an Apple Classic II, right?
The Inbreds Winning Hearts? This one’s probably another sympathetic choice. The Inbreds were just about done as a band at this point and as someone who had spent his teen years romancing the Halifax scene and finally having the authority to write my very own fancy published Top 10 album list in a music magazine I was probably swept up in the drama of it all. I haven’t even ripped this album into iTunes all these years later. Still like the band, though.