Category Archives: Music

Recollection Volume 33 – Real Love

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses…

Album: Real Love
Artist: The Beatles
Released: 1996
Format(s) I own it on: CD

Real-love1This four song CD single was released in 1996 along-side The Beatles’ collection of bootlegs and rarities. The Anthology project was huge. My family watched the documentary as it aired on ABC, I bought the VHS box set and watched it over and over and over again. I bought all three double-disc Anthology CD sets. When I was in Vancouver, I saw a record store selling both the CD single for Free As A Bird and Real Love.

Those two songs were recorded from demos made by John Lennon. These unfinished songs were handed to the surviving Beatles by Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono. After Lennon’s murder on December 8, 1980, there was no hope The Beatles could ever reunite. There’s absolutely no way The Beatles could exist without John Lennon. The Beatles were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr and without one of them, it wouldn’t be The Beatles.

This was the next best thing. A home recording of John Lennon’s which surviving The Beatles could clean up and overdub onto. The final result was… okay. It’s a good song. It’s not brilliant, but it’s a good song. Is it as good as the output that made the band legendary, probably not, but it’s enjoyable.

The three B-sides on the record are a live rendition of “Baby’s In Black” which is often overwhelmed by the screaming of teenage girls, a remix of “Yellow Submarine,” and a basic track of “Here, There and Everywhere.”

“Baby’s In Black” was recorded at Hollywood Bowl in 1965, but that song wasn’t included on the American released Live At The Hollywood Bowl. Lennon introduces the song in a very John Lennon fashion.

The remix of “Yellow Submarine” puts the sound effects more prominent. It’s not anything you’d want to listen to when you have the proper release of the song.

“Here, There And Everywhere” is a stripped down recording. Paul McCartney’s guiding vocals really illustrate how sweet his voice is. There’s a few bum notes on the recording, but you can really see what makes McCartney one of the great songwriters and singers. Near the end of the song, the Beatle harmonies come in and prove just how good those Beatles really were.

Men 25.625 (78%) | Women 7.375 (22%)
CD: 18.5 (56%) | Vinyl: 11.5 (35%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 2 (6%) | Box: 1 (3%)
1960s: 4 (12%) | 1970s: 2 (6%) | 1980s: 1 (3%) | 1990s: 9 (27%) | 2000s: 16 (48%) | 2010s: 1 (3%)
Canada 9.8 (30%) | USA 14.2 (43%) | UK 7 (21%) | NZ 1 (3%) | FR 1 (3%)
Ontario 4 (40%) | Quebec 1 (10%) | Nova Scotia 3 (30%) | New Brunswick 1 (10%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 0 (0%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (10%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)

Recollection Volume 32 – The Life Pursuit

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses…

Album: The Life Pursuit
Artist: Belle & Sebastian
Released: 2006
Format(s) I own it on: CD

ThelifepursuitcoverBelle & Sebastian’s 2006 album The Life Pursuit was well into their career. It was over a decade since Stuart Murdoch had put the band together and masterminded Tigermilk, and album that can be best described at “perfect.”

By this point, the band had a pretty loyal following, they were sure who they were, and found a way to incorporate the other members in leading roles. Violinist Sarah Martin and guitarist Stevie Jackson take their turn with songwriting. The three of them harmonize together to create a lush sound.

The Life Pursuit can best be described as pop. “Sugary sweet” would be pretty apt. Though Murdoch isn’t the only songwriter in the band at this point, he is the band leader for a reason. His songs are the standouts.

The three singles, “Funny Little Frog,” “The Blues Are Still Blue,” and “White Collar Boy” are pop mastery. These songs have such catchy melodies that would dare any ass not to move to the rhythm.

While I love this record, it is not without its faults. Jackson’s songwriting ability seems to slip, and the album goes on a bit too long, fizzling out at the end.

Highlights… this is gonna be long.

“Funny Little Frog” is undoubtably the best song on this record. Murdoch sings about the how wonderful unrequited love can be. There’s no expectation that can be let down, as Murdoch describes a perfect relationship with someone he’s never even met.

A love story between two convicts from different backgrounds, “White Collar Boy” is an insanely well craft pop song. The call and answer structure to the song has been done many times before, but they do this well.

“The Blues Are Still Blues” is just damn good. Singalong, trust me, it’s worth it. Even if you can’t sing, like me, singalong. You’ll have a good time. This is probably the best song ever written about laundry.

How can you not love “Sukie In The Graveyard?” Once again, Murdoch is singing about an outsider. The entire band comes together almost perfectly. With Mick Cooke’s trumpet playing and orchestration, Murdoch’s vocals, Bobby Kildea’s fabulous bass line, and Richard Colburn’s great drumming… but what is with that horrible guitar solo from Stevie Jackson?

“Dress Up In You” is the tale of a woman who feels alienated by her friend who was more successful than her. They had expected the make it big together, but instead the protagonist sings about her jealousy, disappointment, and anger. Murdoch takes lead vocals on this song, rather than passing them to Sarah Martin. Martin, who does provide backing vocals often doubles Murdoch’s vocals. Her very high voice fills out the soundscape nicely.

Did you ever want to hear three-part harmonies singing “the ref are giving us fuck all?” Then you’re in luck, as “Another Sunny Day” delivers. This song is a perfect highlight of Stuart Murdoch’s beautiful, but slightly strange vocals, complimenting it is a catchy riff played masterfully by Jackson. We do have to address the elephant in the room. “Eskimo” is not an appropriate term for the Inuit. Also, that you “heard the [Inuit] remove obstructions with tones” is an oddly strange stereotype. From what I understand, Inuit generally remove the implied snow obstructions with shovels. They probably buy the shovels from Canadian Tire.

Lowlights

Stevie. No. Please no. What were you thinking? “To Be Myself Completely” is horrible, and perhaps the worst Stevie Jackson song.

“For The Price Of A Cup Of Tea,” however, is not horrible. It’s a decent song. It’s just middling and put at the point in the album where it should have ended already. “Act of the Apostle II” should have been the end of the record.

“Mornington Crescent” is about a disused tube station in London. Apparently Murdoch like to fantasize about what’s outside of that station. London’s version of “Bessarian,” I guess. It’s actually a really pretty song, but it’s so slow, and doesn’t move at all, while I enjoy the song, within the first minute I’ll often be so tired of the song that I’ll just move on to another album.

Men 24.625 (77%) | Women 7.375 (23%)
CD: 17.5 (55%) | Vinyl: 11.5 (36%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 2 (6%) | Box: 1 (3%)
1960s: 4 (13%) | 1970s: 2 (6%) | 1980s: 1 (3%) | 1990s: 8 (25%) | 2000s: 16 (50%) | 2010s: 1 (3%)
Canada 9.8 (31%) | USA 14.2 (44%) | UK 6 (19%) | NZ 1 (3%) | FR 1 (3%)
Ontario 4 (40%) | Quebec 1 (10%) | Nova Scotia 3 (30%) | New Brunswick 1 (10%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 0 (0%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (10%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)

Recollection Volume 31 – Hold it Together

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses…

Album: Hold It Together
Artist: $100
Released: 2007
Format(s) I own it on: CD

Once upon a time, my friend Daniel and I went to see Rick White performing in a church in downtown Toronto. His opening act was a duo known as $1001 I sat in awe as Simone Schmidt sang beautiful songs to this church crowd. Ian Russell provided backing vocals and and guitar. Apparently by that time they had a pedal steel player, but he was unable to perform at that show. White would later get them signed to Blue Fog Records and produce their first record. In the meantime they had CD-Rs for sale called Hold It Together.

The five song EP Hold It Together lived up to the potential of that first live show. Schmidt is a storyteller. Her songs might be personal, but there’s always a layer of distance between the singer and the song. Her songs could be perfect. They weren’t always perfect, but when it happened, it really happened. Hold It Together is the weakest of the band’s output, but it really shows the potential of what they would become.

Highlights

I never cum, but it don’t matter
I could be any other girl
My head planted on that pillow
My eyes fixed up above
Is this what they meant when they sang “Careless Love”

“Careless Love” would make it onto their first album. It’s a song about a woman in an unhappy relationship. It’s the tale of a woman leaving. She needs to find the happiness that the man she was sleeping with cannot provide. It’s an amazing song, one of my all time favourites. I don’t say that liberally.

Not quite as perfect, but still a brilliant song is “Nine Hundred Miles.” It’s a train song that shows off Russell’s guitar playing, guitar playing which seemed to get buried as the band grew.

Lowlights

I don’t think it’s really a lowlight, but I feel I need to address this. “San Andreas Fault” is “Sin City” by The Flying Burrito Brothers. I think it’s intentional, but it’s a bit weird.

“Marbridar” is the only song other than “Careless Love” that made its way to the bands full length debut. I never understood why. It’s probably my least favourite song on the EP.

Men 23.75 (76%) | Women 7.25 (24%)
CD: 16.5 (53%) | Vinyl: 11.5 (37%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 2 (6%) | Box: 1 (3%)
1960s: 4 (13%) | 1970s: 2 (6%) | 1980s: 1 (3%) | 1990s: 8 (26%) | 2000s: 15 (48%) | 2010s: 1 (3%)
Canada 9.8 (31%) | USA 14.2 (46%) | UK 5 (16%) | NZ 1 (3%) | FR 1 (3%)
Ontario 4 (40%) | Quebec 1 (10%) | Nova Scotia 3 (30%) | New Brunswick 1 (10%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 0 (0%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (10%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)
  1. Pronounced “One hundred dollars.” []

Recollection Volume 30 – When I Was Young

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses…

Album: When I Was Young
Artist: Eddie Fisher
Released: 1965
Format(s) I own it on: Vinyl

When I Was YoungAccording to Wikipedia1, Eddie Fisher’s When I Was Young is a re-recording of his previous hits. Some people might think that Darth Vader is Princess Leia’s father, but I’m pretty sure Eddie Fisher was.

His songs suit the big band sound. While the album was released in 1965, it was obvious right away that he didn’t fit into that decade. His songs are traditional and his voice soars, he fits more in the 1940s and 1950s. Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry should have been the final nail in his coffin.

Looking at his discography, it seems that might have actually happened. The sappy sounds he produced were quickly ignored in favour of the fervour raising rock and roll he could not compete with.

The record is not really my style, but it’s not bad. I could see putting this on for a party more than anything else. Fisher’s voice is strong, the man knows how to sing. Much better than Princess Leia’s other father.

Highlights

“Oh, My Papa” is a classic that I know from my childhood. I don’t know if it’s Fisher’s performance of the song that I so recall, but it’s a classic. I do think I know it more in the original German version “O mein Papa.”

“Wish You Were Here” starts off the second side, and while the intro is painful, it gets into this Sinatra-esque groove that is beautiful. The strings are atrocious, but we can ignore that.

Much like “Wish You Were Here,” if you ignore the intro and outro to “I’m Yours,” it’s a pretty good song.

Lowlights

I’m trying not to laugh at “Dungaree Doll,” but it’s kind of hard not to. I want to dance to this.

Gonna make a chain of paperclips
And chain us together while I kiss your lips
Dungaree doll, dungaree doll

“Lady of Spain.” No. Just, no.

Men 23.25 (77%) | Women 6.75 (23%)
CD: 15.5 (52%) | Vinyl: 11.5 (38%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 2 (7%) | Box: 1 (3%)
1960s: 4 (13%) | 1970s: 2 (7%) | 1980s: 1 (3%) | 1990s: 8 (26%) | 2000s: 14 (46%) | 2010s: 1 (3%)
Canada 8.8 (29%) | USA 14.2 (47%) | UK 5 (17%) | NZ 1 (3%) | FR 1 (3%)
Ontario 3 (33%) | Quebec 1 (11%) | Nova Scotia 3 (33%) | New Brunswick 1 (11%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 0 (0%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (11%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)
  1. The source of all human knowledge []

Recollection Volume 29 – The Future

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses…

Album: The Future
Artist: Leonard Cohen
Released: 2009
Format(s) I own it on: 7″

The FutureSingles are weird to write about. I cut out of this project the majority of my singles, but I kept in any of them that had a picture sleeve. It was kind of arbitrary way to determine this, but I went with that.

I bought this single on Record Store Day in 2009. The two tracks were pulled from the album Live In London, which I’ve never heard.

You may have heard me say before that I’m not a big fan of live albums, and if you haven’t heard me say that before, then let me say it again, I’m not a big fan of live albums.

Sure, I adore Neil Young’s Massey Hall album, and CSNY’s 4 Way Street. I also love The Band’s Rock of Ages. As you can tell from the review of that record. OH MY GOD SO GOOD. Most others, I can take or leave.

So why did I buy this? I honestly don’t know. I think I was in the store, and saw “Leonard Cohen” and shrugged to myself and bought it.

The disc contains who songs, “The Future” and “Suzanne.” Both are decent renditions of the songs, but I’d much rather listen to the studio recordings any day.

But! Quebec gets on the board with this!

Men 22.25 (77%) | Women 6.75 (23%)
CD: 15.5 (53%) | Vinyl: 10.5 (36%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 2 (7%) | Box: 1 (3%)
1960s: 3 (10%) | 1970s: 2 (7%) | 1980s: 1 (3%) | 1990s: 8 (28%) | 2000s: 14 (48%) | 2010s: 1 (3%)
Canada 8.8 (30%) | USA 13.2 (46%) | UK 5 (17%) | NZ 1 (3%) | FR 1 (3%)
Ontario 3 (33%) | Quebec 1 (11%) | Nova Scotia 3 (33%) | New Brunswick 1 (11%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 0 (0%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (11%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)

Recollection Volume 28 – Random Access Memories

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses…

Album: Random Access Memories
Artist: Daft Punk
Released: 2013
Format(s) I own it on: Vinyl

Random Access MemoriesI know Daft Punk’s music from the 1990s when they were (until now) at the height of their popularity. I’ve never loved them, but enjoyed quite a few of their hit singles. “Around The World” is an amazing song, and the video is one of the most brilliant music videos I’ve ever seen.

When they released their latest album, Random Access Memories I of course heard the extremely popular “Get Lucky.” The song was stuck in my head long enough that I bought the record. My first Daft Punk record!

The album as a whole was a bit of a let down after all the hype and the skill of the lead single.  The skill of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo as songwriters and musicians is evident, but the songs aren’t as catchy as the lead single would have you believe. The album can at times overly conceptual, such as “Giorgio by Moroder,” a track based on the works of Giorgio Moroder with a bit of his self-told story thrown in for good measure. It’s still has the disco feel of the album, but with a handful of jazz for good measure.

I think that much of the album has a varied style due to the vast array of songwriters that Daft Punk are able to pull from. They had songwriting help from Nile Rodgers, Chilly Gonzales, Julian Casablancas, Pharrell, Paul Williams and more.

One of those names you might not recognize, but should. Paul Williams is an extremely talented songwriter, but he’s best known for his song “The Rainbow Connection.” Williams wrote the songs for The Muppet MovieThe Muppet Christmas Carol, The Great Muppet Caper and more. It’s interesting to hear Williams’ work on Random Access Memories as he takes the album into a very different territory than it would normally go. Williams brings a lot of drama as his songwriting style is layered in the theatre.

Highlights

The obvious choice is “Get Lucky.” It’s a brilliant song, a perfectly craft pop masterpiece. The disco stylings are unique in this day and age.

“Lose Yourself To Dance” again fits into the disco feel that the album is preserving. It’s a catchy song that is a close second to “Get Lucky.”

“Touch” is a great Paul Williams song with an electronic atmosphere to it.

Lowlights

“Giorgio by Moroder” goes on too long.

“Within” is just boring.

Men 21.25 (76%) | Women 6.75 (24%)
CD: 15.5 (55%) | Vinyl: 10.5 (38%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 1 (4%) | Box: 1 (4%)
1960s: 3 (11%) | 1970s: 2 (7%) | 1980s: 1 (4%) | 1990s: 8 (30%) | 2000s: 13 (46%) | 2010s: 1 (4%)
Canada 7.8 (28%) | USA 13.2 (47%) | UK 5 (18%) | NZ 1 (4%) | FR 1 (4%)
Ontario 3 (38%) | Quebec 0 (0%) | Nova Scotia 3 (38%) | New Brunswick 1 (12%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 0 (0%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (12%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)

Recollection Volume 27 – Roses In The Snow

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses…

Album: Roses In The Snow
Artist: Emmylou Harris
Released: 1980
Format(s) I own it on: Vinyl

Roses In The SnowMuch like Luxury Liner, this is an album I’ve barely listened to. It’s been in my collection since I bought it used years ago. Sadly I’ve never put this on my computer, and I can’t seem to find a torrent of it.

Roses In The Snow is a bit more traditional than Luxury Liner. It’s got a lot of bluegrass and gospel influence to the record. The album is more bluegrass than one would expect from Emmylou Harris, but it seems to work extremely well.

With a Paul Simon song, Ralph Stanley, Louvin Brothers, and many more. Harris really excels at selecting her material, and this is another album that really showcases that talent of hers.

Not only does she select songs that are to be expected of her, but she also selects songs like “The Boxer.” At first listen, one wouldn’t expect her to be able to make “The Boxer” her own, but she does. More on that later.

When you flip over to side two, you face a wall of fiddle. It comes at you like a pack of bulls, and it’s one of the greatest feelings. To have those fiddles fill your ear holes, and suddenly to have some killer guitar playing, too.

The harmonies on the album are just fantastic.

Highlights

“Green Pastures” is a classic gospel song that perfectly highlights the beauty of Harris’ voice.

When I saw Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” on the tracklist, I was honestly scared, but the melody is note-for-note exactly like the classic song, Harris just changes the instrumentation. Replacing them with traditional country instrumentation, the song translates amazingly.

Lowlights

There really are none.

Men 20.25 (75%) | Women 6.75 (25%)
CD: 15.5 (57%) | Vinyl: 9.5 (35%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 1 (4%) | Box: 1 (4%)
1960s: 3 (11%) | 1970s: 2 (7%) | 1980s: 1 (4%) | 1990s: 8 (30%) | 2000s: 13 (48%) | 2010s: 0 (0%)
Canada 7.8 (29%) | USA 13.2 (48%) | UK 5 (19%) | NZ 1 (4%)
Ontario 3 (38%) | Quebec 0 (0%) | Nova Scotia 3 (38%) | New Brunswick 1 (12%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 0 (0%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (12%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)

Recollection Volume 26 – I Told You I Was Freaky

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses…

Album: I Told You I Was Freaky
Artist: Flight Of The Conchords
Released: 2009
Format(s) I own it on: Vinyl

I Told You I Was FreakyFlight of the Conchords are a comedy duo. Along with HBO, they made a TV series called Flight of the Conchords that followed fictionalized versions of themselves, as the New Zealand find themselves in New York City.

Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie form Flight of the Conchords.

The second and final season of the TV season wasn’t quite as strong as the first. The songs in the show might have been weaker, but there were always some gems to be found throughout. I Told I Was Freaky is the soundtrack for season two of the TV series.

The duo parody the style of many artists including Black Eyed Peas, Billy Joel, David Bowie, R. Kelly, and many more.

Much of the album doesn’t work too well outside of the context of the television series. The songs are folded into the narrative of the episodes, making them inaccessible to a virgin audience. The title track is a song where McKenzie explains a fantasy sexual escapade. Without the context of the episode, this song has no real narrative structure, and not much humour. The humour is in McKenzie’s sexual inexperience and reluctance, but that’s not in the song which is just a list of silly, unattractive sexual ideas. With him wanting to impress a more experienced woman in the TV show, it makes more sense.

While some of the songs don’t have much narrative function in the show, and thus work extremely well. The Billy Joel parody  “Rambling Through the Avenues of Time” is a great example of how everything is laid out within the song. You have McKenzie telling the story of meeting his new love. At the same time you have Clement interjecting, McKenzie of course ignores his friend’s snide remarks.

Highlights

The album opens with “Hurt Feelings,” the tale of a sad rapper. It’s a great song about the sad lives of these rappers, their mothers forget their birthdays, their friends go into town without them, nobody compliments the meal. Hurt feelings all over. Ouch.

Probably my all-time favourite Flight of the Conchords song is “Carol Brown.” In this song, Clement sings about a series of ex-girlfriends and how they all left him. The episode, and by extension, the music video was directed by Michel Gondry. His lo-fi and experiemental style shine through within the concept of the episode. Throughout all this, you have a really catchy song with great and funny lyrics. “Shut up girlfriends from the past!” “Who organized all my ex-girlfriends into a choir and got them to sing?” The song is a reverse of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.”

“You Don’t Have To Be a Prostitute” is featured in one of the best episodes. They’re broke and living in the U.S. illegally. Jermaine purchases a new mug, which leads to the duo to be broke. Jermaine decides that the only option left for him is prostitution. This song is Bret trying to convince Jermaine to pursue another career.

Lowlights

I never want to hear “Demon Woman” again, but I think it’s more a comment on the style they’re parodying than the song itself.

“Angels” closed the first episode of the second season. It had me scratching my head. I was watching this song and wondering how the show jumped the shark so quickly. It picked back up, but a song about angels doing it in the clouds is not all that entertaining.

Men 20.25 (78%) | Women 5.75 (22%)
CD: 15.5 (60%) | Vinyl: 8.5 (32%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 1 (4%) | Box: 1 (4%)
1960s: 3 (12%) | 1970s: 2 (8%) | 1980s: 0 (0%) | 1990s: 8 (30%) | 2000s: 13 (50%) | 2010s: 0 (0%)
Canada 7.8 (30%) | USA 12.2 (47%) | UK 5 (19%) | NZ 1 (4%)
Ontario 3 (38%) | Quebec 0 (0%) | Nova Scotia 3 (38%) | New Brunswick 1 (12%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 0 (0%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (12%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)

Recollection Volume 25 – Closed

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses…

Album: Closed
Artist: JALE
Released: 1995
Format(s) I own it on: CD

ClosedJALE are a Halifax band who were signed to Sub Pop. It was a pretty big deal. This EP was released on Sloan’s Murderecords.

I thought I would invite Allegra Shepherd to guest on this post. Allegra is a Haliphile, a word I just made up to mean, “a person who admires Halifax, and its people.” Together, we have seen many Halifax bands including Sloan, Joel Plaskett, The Super Friendz, Mike O’Neill, and of course Thrush Hermit. She’s very knowledgable about the Halifax scene in the 1990s. Ladies and gentlemen, Allegra…

A friend of mine and I are participating in a year-long music exchange; every week we recommend an album to each other and explain its personal significance. Every Thursday, I deliver to him an album by a band that really helped me become me, and he returns the favour. It’s amazing what you can learn about someone based only on the music they claim as developmentally vital; he’s given me a plethora of pop-punk and I’ve recommended primarily from my wheelhouse: East-Coast Canadian indie rock from the mid-1990s.

It’s January 1. I’m scrolling frantically through the few physical albums I still own, trying to find the perfect CD to kick off this new weekly tradition. I knew I wanted something Canadian; something melodic; something catchy; jangly guitars and plaintive vocals; an album that had pushed me to start my own ill-fated teen girl band. I wanted JALE, and I knew as soon as I checked the tracklist of their 1996 album So Wound that I’d stumbled across a vital building block in my musical expansion.

Partially, I related to JALE so much as a fledgling bass player because they got started the way I wished I had: with Chris Murphy’s help. Legend has it that four NSCAD students (guitarist Jennifer Pierce, drummer Alyson MacLeod, bassist Laura Stein, and guitarist Eve Hartling [JALE, get it?!]) met at a Velocity Girl show and decided to make music together. Jennifer had recorded with Sloan (you know the sweet voice duetting with Patrick Pentland on “I Can Feel It?” That’s her.) and Chris lent them some equipment and booked JALE some gigs opening for him. Teenaged Allegra wanted that so badly, even though I also knew that the relationship would turn sour enough for Chris to write “G Turns To D” off of One Chord to Another about them.

JALE only released two full albums and an EP. The first, Dreamcake, was blunt and fuzzy as only albums from 1994 can be. Halifax was hailed as the next Seattle and, while Dreamcake wasn’t exactly at that unwashed flannel level of grunge, it was well-reviewed and well-received.

They hit their stride with their second release, an EP called Closed. Sub Pop didn’t promote it as much as anyone hoped and it led to MacLeod leaving the band to join Hardship Post. Closed is just as biting as the debut, but much more polished. Most of the songs speak of strained relationships and the exhaustion of dissatisfaction.

Highlights

Sometimes it sounds like Pierce’s vocals are buried under the instrumentals, but it works with the subject matter, particularly as the pleading of “Nine Years Now” transitions the catharsis of “Wash My Hands.”

Also, the kick drum in “Double Edge.” Damn.

Lowlights

All that unnecessary mid-90s guitar feedback on “Jesus Loves Me.” That whole decade needs to take two steps away from their amps.

Thanks Allegra, I’ll take it from here… This might not mesh with what Allegra wrote above, as we’re writing in isolation.

Adam’s Highlights

It’s a short record at only five songs, but “Nine Years Now” and “Jesus Loves Me” are the highlights in my mind. They’re both well-crafted pop songs that are pretty addictive. The songs are very stylized in the sound of 1990s Halifax. “Jesus Loves Me” has a great jangly rhythm guitar that you can’t help bopping to.

Adam’s Lowlights

If I were to put one song in this category, it would probably be “Wash My Hands.” The song just doesn’t feel like much, it’s not the most interesting of the five songs, and seems like a blip en route to the better songs.

Men 19.25 (77%) | Women 5.75 (23%)
CD: 15.5 (62%) | Vinyl: 7.5 (30%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 1 (4%) | Box: 1 (4%)
1960s: 3 (12%) | 1970s: 2 (8%) | 1980s: 0 (0%) | 1990s: 8 (32%) | 2000s: 12 (48%) | 2010s: 0 (0%)
Canada 7.8 (31%) | USA 12.2 (49%) | UK 5 (20%)
Ontario 3 (38%) | Quebec 0 (0%) | Nova Scotia 3 (38%) | New Brunswick 1 (12%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 0 (0%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (12%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)

Recollection Volume 24 – Greatest Hits

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses…

Album: Greatest Hits
Artist: Crosby, Stills & Nash
Released: 2005
Format(s) I own it on: CD

CSN Greatest HitsCrosby, Stills & Nash. Yup, those three who released three great records1 and some mediocrity. Two of those great records are actually not credited to Crosby, Stills & Nash, but instead to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Albums seem to get much better when you add a Canadian.

Although the album contains tracks from the classic Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young record Déjà Vu, it doesn’t feature a single song with any Neil Young performance on it. However, while Young might be completely missing from this compilation, Art Garfunkel does provide vocals on “Southern Cross” and “Daylight Again.” Is that a consolation?2

I’m not a fan of greatest hits compilations, but this one came to me for free when writing for Being There.

It’s a strange compilation because it only features songs from their first four studio albums, and completely ignores the rest. The other issue is that since CSN(Y) only have two great studio albums, the rest of the compilation is lacking. Ten of the nineteen tracks all come from their self-titled debut and Déjà Vu. I think what I’m essentially saying is go buy those two records. You can buy them on vinyl at nearly any record store for about $5 a piece.

Highlights

The album starts off perfectly with one of CSN(Y)’s best songs “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” At seven and a half minutes, it could try you patience, but CSN seem to be able to perfectly craft a song that keeps your attention throughout the whole length of the song. I actually put this record getting into the shower this morning. As the shower came to its conclusion, so did this song.

“Our House” is a classic love song about Nash and his then-girlfriend moving in together. He wants to hear her sing her love songs, and honestly who wouldn’t? When you’re moving in with one of the greatest songwriters of the ’60s and ’70s, it must be a great experience. You would’ve hoped that Nash would have learned a thing or two, but unfortunately his songwriting didn’t seem to improve from hanging out with the brilliant Joni Mitchell.

Stephen Stills can be hit or miss, but “Helplessly Hoping” is perfection. The voices of Crosby, Stills, and Nash meld so perfectly on this song. His melody is sublime, and the alliterative lyrics create a great canvas for their vocals.

CSN(Y) didn’t tend to write together a lot. They would each have their own songs and work on them together. “Wooden Ships” is a rare exception where Crosby and Stills worked together on this song. “Wooden Ships” is a dialogue between shipwreck survivors. I don’t know why it appeals to me, but I’ve always loved this song since I first heard their album Crosby, Stills & Nash.

I equate “Carry On/Questions” to be Déjà Vu‘s answer to “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” They’re both the opening tracks on their respective albums, both penned by Stills, and both very dramatic and beautiful. They both set the tone for the record you’re going to get to hear.

Lowlights

I really wish I could skip songs during this project. I would skip “Southern Cross.” As I said, Stills is hit or miss, and this is definitely a miss.

A lot of people love “49 Bye-Byes,” I’m not one of them. There’s always been something about this song that just sits with me in a bad way.

“See The Changes” is another Stills song that is just shit.

Okay, let’s give Graham Nash one of the lowlights. “Wasted On The Way” is kind of a tedious song. It’s pleasant enough, but so generic and cheesy.

Editor’s note: I’m expanding the stats to include decade and format.

Men 19.25 (79%) | Women 4.75 (21%)
CD: 14.5 (61%) | Vinyl: 7.5 (31%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 1 (4%) | Box: 1 (4%)
1960s: 3 (13%) | 1970s: 2 (8%) | 1980s: 0 (0%) | 1990s: 7 (29%) | 2000s: 12 (50%) | 2010s: 0 (0%)
Canada 6.8 (28%) | USA 12.2 (51%) | UK 5 (21%)
Ontario 3 (43%) | Quebec 0 (0%) | Nova Scotia2 (29%) | New Brunswick 1 (14%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 0 (0%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (14%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)
  1. Crosby, Stills & NashDéjà Vu, and 4 Way Street []
  2. No. It’s not. []