Thursday, October 29, 2009

Manchester: Greatest Musical City Ever

Of the many musical hypotheses on which I fixate, this one is probably top five.  As with any debate of taste, if a person didn't like any of these bands or was predisposed to having their head up their arse, then it's conceivable they would take issue with my assertion that Manchester is easily the proportionate home of the greatest artists of all time.  This includes closely related regional areas. 

Not an exhaustive list, and I'm not necessarily a fan of everyone listed, but it highlights depth and diversity of the scene over the years.  I had to draw the line at Take That and Lisa Stansfield, in the latter's case based almost completely on that terrible song where she's been around the world and can't find her baby.  Anytime I hear that song, I'm incented to help her find said baby in hopes that the song might end prematurely if successful in our quest.

Anyway...Manchester...a perspective from the other side of the pond.

The Hollies
The Bee Gees
The Fall
The Chameleons
The Smiths
Joy Division
New Order

The Other Two
Black Grape
Robbie Williams
Level 42
Simply Red

Stone Roses
Happy Mondays
Inspiral Carpets
The Charlatans
The Chemical Brothers

The Seahorses
The Verve

Badly Drawn Boy
David Gray
Working For A Nuclear Free City
The Longcut

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Review: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Before I heard even the inkling of a note from this New York band, I seem to recall being put off by their name. Not in the same way you're put off by a band name like And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead or I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness (what's going on in Austin?), but more feeling like the band was daring me to perform the hand clap for number of syllables test. Don't's eight claps.

Once into that first listen, I seem to again recall being dismissive. Contemplating a glance at my watch to see if we were due for an hourly shoegaze revival. I can vaguely remember being drawn to some reviews that wreaked of pre-release indie blog hype and maybe that skewed my opinion (incidentally, we here at Rattled wait for post-release to unleash our version of indie blog hype on our mass of followers). So indifferent was I, that it might have been days or even a week or two until I gave TPOBPAH another shot. Thanks goodness for my attention span being a lot shorter than their name.

Influences here are unabashedly pronounced, yet drenched with modern flavour and spin. "Contender" opens the whole set with a Jesus & Mary Chain vibe sans drums, that would be shameful if it weren't so completely sincere. "Come Saturday" carries on with the same endearing warble, but with more drums and fuzzed out guitars. Without having undergone the right amount of guitar descensitization, songs and bands like this can be a lot like getting into a tub where the water's just a bit too warm. Not too warm to get in, but momentarily uncomfortable until your skin gets acclimatized.

The J & MC love is all the way through this album, and the boy/girl vocal play reminds me a lot of the best Eric's Trip tracking. "The Tenure Itch" however, dials back the fuzz to produce perhaps the very song The Stone Roses wish they could reunite to record. It's also about half way through and very subtley, the band has transitioned to a jingle jangle deal, quite clearly designed to have every young female hipster with jet black bob cuts dancing in their bedrooms in front of the mirror, employing their best improvisational swimming arm movements and hair flopping head swings.

In fairness, my initial hesitation to invest in this record might have been purposeful on the band's part. These songs are almost written with a beckoning for indifference. Let's see who's really serious about this album, and if they come back, we'll reward them with one of the tightest sets of 10 stripped down three chord, three minute pop songs in the last 10 years. If you can become friends with the fuzzy distorted dragon guarding the album, he'll let you open the candy jar and feast until your tummy is full of sweet melodies. For all the music I plough through in a year, it's the perfect heartfelt guitar pop that always gets me most excited. Thankfully these guys let me into the club after some initial hesitation. Easily worth eight hand claps for The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Top 100 Canadian Albums from 2000-2009

The sequencing for these things tends to go a little sideways after about 20, which pretty much wipes out any relevance for the Top 100 Canadian songs list for the same period I'm working on. I mean really, what makes an album worthy of the 79 slot vs. 80? Regardless, it's that time in the decade and soon enough in the year, where music nerds (inspired by Pitchfork Media and the likes or otherwise) work on lists.

I also reserve the right to edit this within 5 seconds of hitting post, and well beyond tomorrow at noon when I'll decide the whole thing is crap and want to start again.

100 Robin Black And The IRS - Planet : Fame
99 The Organ - Grab That Gun
98 David Usher - Morning Orbit
97 Chad VanGaalen - Infiniheart
96 Julie Doiron & The Wooden Stars - Julie Doiron & The Wooden Stars
95 Tristan Psionic - Mind The Gap
94 Patrick Watson - Close To Paradise
93 Rush - Vapor Trails
92 Peter Elkas - Party of One
91 The Heavy Blinkers - The Heavy Blinkers

90 The Ladies & Gentlemen - Small Sins
89 The Superfantastics - Pop-up Book
88 The Remains of Brian Borcherdt - The Remains of Brian Borcherdt
87 The Lovely Feathers - Hind Hind Legs
86 The Tragically Hip - In Violet Light
85 Buck 65 - Situation
84 A Northern Chorus - Bitter Hands Resign
83 K'Naan - The Dusty Foot Philosopher
82 Hot Little Rocket - How To Lose Everything
81 Howie Beck - Howie Beck

80 Stars - Heart
79 Diableros - You Can't Break The Strings In Our Olympic Hearts
78 Holy Fuck - Holy Fuck
77 The Russian Futurists - Let's Get Ready To Crumble
76 Tegan & Sara - So Jealous
75 The Grapes Of Wrath - Field Trip
74 Sloan - Action Pact
73 The Stills - Without Feathers
72 Mike O'Neill - What Happens Now?
71 C'Mon - In the Heat Of The Moment

70 Valley Of The Giants - Westworld
69 Wintersleep - sophomore
68 Caribou - Andorra
67 A.C. Newman - The Slow Wonder
66 The Most Serene Republic - Population
65 Andy Stochansky - Five Star Motel
64 Code Pie - This Habit
63 Chromeo - Fancy Footwork
62 Burdocks - What We Do Is Secret
61 Sam Roberts - We Were Born In A Flame

60 Manitoba - Start Breaking My Heart
59 Grand Theft Bus - Made Upwards
58 Buck 65 - Synesthesia
57 Tangiers - Hot New Spirits
56 Matthew Good - Avalanche
55 Duotang - The Bright Side
54 North Of America - This Is Dance Floor Numerology
53 Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell
52 The Super Friendz - Love Energy
51 Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Yanqui U.X.O.

50 Dog Day - Concentration
49 MSTRKRFT - The Looks
48 The Meligrove Band - Let It Grow
47 KC Accidental - Captured Anthems for an Empty Bathtub
46 Hilotrons - Happymatic
45 K-os - Joyful Rebellion
44 Joel Plaskett Emergency - Down At The Khyber
43 Junior Boys - Begone Dull Care
42 Sarah Harmer - You Were Here
41 Kevin Drew - Spirit If…

40 Sloan - Never Hear The End Of It
39 Do Make Say Think - & Yet & Yet
38 Wintersleep - Welcome To The Night Sky
37 Cadence Weapon - Breaking Kayfabe
36 Metric - Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?
35 Hot Hot Heat - Make Up The Breakdown
34 The Holy Shroud - Ghost Repeaters
33 Apostle of Hustle - Folkloric Feel
32 Death From Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm A Machine
31 By Divine Right - Good Morning Beautiful

30 The Besnard Lakes - Are The Dark Horses
29 The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
28 New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
27 Holy Fuck - LP
26 The Flashing Lights - Sweet Release
25 Wooden Stars - People Are Different
24 Miracle Fortress - Five Roses
23 Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary
22 The Stills - Logic Will Break Your Heart
21 Metric - Grow Up & Blow Away

20 Blurtonia - Blurtonia
19 Constantines - Constantines
18 Contrived - Blank Blank Blank
17 The Weakerthans - Left & Leaving
16 Joel Plaskett Emergency - Truthfully Truthfully
15 Stars - Set Yourself On Fire
14 Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven!
13 Novillero - Aim Right For The Holes in Their Lives
12 Raising The Fawn - The Maginot Line
11 North of America - Brothers, Sisters

10 Do Make Say Think - Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn
9 Arcade Fire - Funeral
8 Apostle of Hustle - National Anthem of Nowhere
7 The Weakerthans - Reconstruction Site
6 Junior Boys - Last Exit
5 The Dears - Gang of Losers
4 The New Pornographers - Mass Romantic
3 Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene
2 Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
1 Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People

Sunday, October 25, 2009

'08 Release - '09 Attention

A few cool artists with albums that came out at various times in 2008, but seem to have received more attention in 2009. 

Army Navy

Friendly Fires


Empire Of The Sun


Friday, October 23, 2009

Today's Pleasant Surprise

To this point I've maintained a sideline view of Islands, having perhaps sampled earlier material, but never really investing the proper time to form an opinion one way or another.  It may be a result of too many bands surfacing from a robust Montreal scene all in and around the same time (early to mid '00's).  Regardless, with today's first listen to their new release Vapours, I am certain to revisit previous works.

I'm less than completely through a first listen to Vapours and already absolutely fascinated.  I don't recall previous material being so consistent with such a deliberate approach to removing the sonic peaks and valleys other quirky Montreal bands sometimes fall prey to.  This album (unless it takes a left turn on me here shortly), is a meticulously mature level headed pop disc, sitting somewhere between the more playful material from The Dears and the less frantic work from White Rabbits.

I'm going to suggest this album might not land on any indie critic best of lists this year, since there's no question the band's not conquering any particularly new territory in the Montreal pop arena or guitar based indie pop in general, but these types of releases are of real appeal to me in proper perspective.  I'm talking about a band's third or fourth release, where they yearn less to be heard or necessarily accepted, and more to be appreciated for having settled into their skin nicely, where they can focus on craft and structure a bit more.  This feels like the "band now knows itself" release for Islands (says the armchair critic who opened the post with self proclaimed ignorance).

Hopefully the second listen doesn't suck.  I'm not sure I have a retraction laying around anywhere, especially considering my Montreal bias and general soft spot for stuff like this.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Underrated Bands

The Longcut

The Longcut may fall into the category of underrated bands that actually get more attention in the UK than in North America.  Regardless, it's a shame more people haven't picked up on these lads.  The new album is fantastic, and this video is very well done as well.  The Manchester DNA is hard coded into these guys, but not to the point of being charicaturesque (greatest musical city on the planet of all time by the way).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

2009 Releases

I think these are my favourites at the moment in no particular order

Zoot Woman - Things Are What They Used to Be
White Rabbits - It's Frightening
Junior Boys - Begone Dull Care
Trashcan Sinatras - In The Music
Brendan Benson - My Old Familiar Friend
Bombay Bicycle Club - I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose
Tortoise - Beacons Of Ancestorship
Telekinesis! - Telekinesis!
Seeland - Tomorrow Today
Polvo - In Prism
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Morrissey - Years of Refusal
The Got To Get Got - Sahalee
The Lodge - Take That, Devil!
Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3
The Invisible - The Invisible
Depeche Mode - Sounds Of The Universe
Dinosaur Jr. - Farm
Foreign Born - Person To Person
Dog Day - Concentration
Bad Lieutenant - Never Cry Another Tear

Obsession Of The Week

Just about every week I discover a new band, album, or single that causes me way too much initial excitement, resulting in some form of hyperbolic overreaction I occasionally have to rescind once cooler heads prevail. This is generally when I realize that not necessarily everything that "sounds like The Smiths" is absolutely amazing.

(Still a goal any band worth it's weight should strive for truth be told. If I'm trying to steal Morrissey's various hair styles on any given day, it seems only reasonable that young bands aspiring to greatness should be trying to steal hooks and wordplay from he and Marr, but I digress...)

Just the same, rarely a week goes by when I don't stumble on something new and cool thanks to clever friends or on-line personas with larger nerd quotients in some cases than even yours truly.

This particular project has been in the works and creating general buzz in New Order fan camps for some time now, but for whatever reason, flew under my radar.

Never Cry Another Tear by Bad Lieutenant is the latest offering from Bernard Sumner and an assembled cast of musicians. The general vibe is seemingly more in line with his Johnny Marr partnership from the 90's, Electronic, relying more on guitar based jingle jangle pop riffs than New Order's staple synth tracks.

The pressure to come to market with something fresh and earth shattering is sometimes overplayed in music nerd circles, so it's refreshing to not only hear some very well put together songs, but also some textbook Sumner melodies. Fresh can often just mean doing what you do very well, and reminding the masses that you do that thing better than everyone else. No one does Sumner hooks better than Sumner, and there are plenty to go around on Never Cry Another Tear.

So here we go...