Tag Archives: Belle & Sebastian

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%)

TURF Day 4

The Sadies

The Sadies

One could write a thousand words about The Sadies, and none would come close to describing what this video shows.

Was that good for you, too? The Sadies, as you can see are a country band, with a lot of surf and punk in their hearts. Dallas Good, Travis Good, Mike Belitsky, and Sean Dean always put on an incredible show.

The Sadies

Dallas and Travis Good have this schtick where they get close to one another and swap fretboards. Kurt Vile, who joined The Sadies on stage for a song, was watching from the side of the stage, at this point, he pointed at the two Good brothers and dropped his jaw in astonishment. I guess he had never seen their stage show.

The Sadies

Neko Case

Neko Case

We were already soaked from a giant downpour during Cat Empire1. I was smart, and decided to leave the festival grounds for a couple hours. I went to a pub, ordered some reasonably priced beer2, ate some salad, and enjoyed the company of friends. It was nice. We watched the rain start pouring, but it quickly let up.

Neko Case

On our walk back to the festival grounds, the rain started falling. We were soaked by the time we got under cover of the Gardiner Expressway, but we still waited there in the hopes that the rain would let up. It didn’t. Eventually we made our way back to the VIP tent where we found more friends, and less rain.

Kelly Hogan

Then came one of the true highlights of the weekend… Neko Case. As usual, Case was in top form. Her voice was stunning, her songs were beautiful, and her band was tight. Kelly Hogan was on hand for backing vocals and backing wit. The rain let up long enough for the three song photo pit, allowing us photo nerds to get some shots.

Neko Case

As soon as the photographers were gone, the rain started coming down with a vengeance, but no one cared as Case played a set mostly consisting of “hits.” We were treated to songs like “People Got A Lotta Nerve,” “That Teenage Feeling,” “Middle Cyclone,” “This Tornado Loves You,” “The Tigers Have Spoken,” and she even played one of my all-time favourites, the Sook-Yin Lee penned “Knock Loud” off the brilliant EP Canadian Amp. Neko Case will always be our favourite honorary Canadian.

Neko Case

Belle & Sebastian

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Oh, hi Stuart Murdoch!

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Belle & Sebastian started off the show with the terribly titled instrumental track “Judy Is A Dick Slap.” They have this strange tendency to name their instrumental songs rudely. Belle & Sebastian were a six-piece that night. Murdoch, Stevie Jackson, Sarah Martin, Chris Geddes, Richard Colburn, and Bobby Kildea. As usual, they brought along a string quartet and an extra hand to cover trumpet, whistling, and other such fun additions. They also had some gentleman named Dave playing bass and guitar in place of their trumpet player Mick Cooke.

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The rain scares Stuart.

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The band played what could only be called a best of set. With the exception of Sarah Martin’s “I Didn’t See It Coming” and Stevie Jackson’s “To Be Myself Completely” they played exclusively Murdoch’s songs. Something I’m sure no one minded. As good as Martin’s and Jackson’s songs can be, they must know that Murdoch is the frontman for a reason.

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Murdoch brought a backer from his God Help The Girl Indie Go Go project onto the stage to play scrabble with him while the band performed “The Model.” When Murdoch took his seat at the keyboard, Martin stepped up to play against the fan. After she went back to her violin, Geddes came out from behind his keyboards to join in on the game.

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Murdoch also, of course, climbed into the audience to allow a fan to apply mascara to his eyes while singing “Lord Anthony” and brought audience members onto stage to dance to “The Boy With The Arab Strap.”

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They played many fan favourites including “I’m A Cuckoo,” “Judy And The Dream of Horses,” “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying,” “Another Sunny Day,” “Legal Man,” “The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner” and many many more.

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  1. or maybe it’s Cat Power? []
  2. Canadian tallboys were selling for $9 on Fort York grounds! []

Favourite posts of 2010

I thought I’d go through my year, and see my favourite posts from 2010. This is not a list of my favourite concerts, albums, etc, but rather my favourite posts.

Film

Food

  • POUTINE!
  • My first brunch experience at the Old Nick… I now go there weekly… at least.

Literature

  • A personal tale about knowing an author, Stacey Fowles, and then reading her novel. I would then embarrass myself by not recognizing her in a future meeting.
  • Reading about Canada & Mr. Diefenbaker.

Music

  • Questions about where the groove might actually be.
  • Dan Mangan performed at Trinity St. Paul’s.

Photography

  • This photo is my lock-screen photo on my iPhone.
  • Some of my best portrait shots are of Allegra.
  • I had fun taking photos of Natalia.
  • While the subject might not have been too fond of these pictures, I think they’re quite good. Sure, the subject is ugly1, but that doesn’t matter much.

Politics

Autre

Best insights into humanity, as written by me

  • “If you see a penis, it’s a comedy; if you see a vagina, it’s a drama. It explains why women laugh when I remove my pants.”
  • “Either I’m becoming a normal human being, or I have liver failure.”
  • “Her prose are compelling, straight to the point, and beautiful in their nude honesty.”4
  1. I know she’s not really ugly, but our friendship is based on mutual hatred. []
  2. Actually, I also proposed to Aviva. 2011 is sure going to be busy. []
  3. “Alone in a corner, surrounded by candy.” []
  4. Proud of that one, because of how true it is. []

Belle & Sebastian Write About Love

Belle & Sebastian’s latest record Write About Love was released last month. I’ve had some time to digest it, so here we go, a time to look at what might be the worst Belle & Sebastian album since Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant

I Didn’t See It Coming

Like most Belle & Sebastian albums, Write About Love starts off strong with Sarah Martin’s “I Didn’t See It Coming.” This might be the first record of theirs not started with a Stuart Murdoch song. Certainly strange, but the song. It’s a slow moving song with lead vocals by Martin, and backing vocals from Murdoch. The one thing I’m not so thrilled about is some sound buried in the background, which I mistake for sirens when I’m driving.

Come on Sister

This 8-bit ditty seems to be a perfect extension of the syrupy pop from The Life Pursuit. If you like that example of pop-perfection, then you’ll love this song. I did, and I do.

Calculating Bimbo

Well, it’s the first song on the record I traditionally skip. The song is boring, and uninteresting. The lyrics and music both are similar, lame. Stuart, I know you can do better…

I Want the World to Stop

Oh, here it is! This is the better I knew you could do! This is perhaps one of the best song Belle & Sebastian have ever done. Definitely the highlight of their Rough Trade-era. This song is so addictive and fun, I can’t imagine anyone listening to this and not singing it for hours on end. This is pop-perfection, and it really doesn’t get any better than this. Thank you, Stuart.

Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John

This song is getting a lot of flack, because it is a duet featuring Norah Jones. Apparently the hip kids hate Norah Jones, I never knew this. While I’m not a fan of Jones’ work, I’ve never disliked her, and don’t object to some cheesy jazz when the mood strikes me. “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John” is exactly that, cheesy, harmless, and lovely jazz. It’s a pretty song, and Jones provides a voice that Sarah Martin can’t, so brining her in makes a lot of sense; like when Monica Queen sang “Lazy Line Painter Jane.” The only difference is no one knew who Queen was1.

Why all the hate?

Write About Love

Another harmless song that doesn’t do anything spectacular.

I’m Not Living in the Real World

Stevie Jackson finally gets his chance with “I’m Not Living In The Real World.” While it’s better than his contribution to The Life Pursuit, it’s not very good, and slightly annoying. While the man who’s written such classics as “Seymour Stein” and “Chickfactor” has certainly seen better days.

Ghost of Rockschool

A song which can best be described as “unspectacular.” It was halfway done before I noticed that it was on, and should write something about it. Okay, so this is slightly overdone, the whole “I’ve seen god in the…” part is pretty, and hopeful.

Read the Blessed Pages

Boring.

I Can See Your Future

Another Sarah song, not nearly as interesting as the album’s opening track, but there’s nothing objectionable about it. There’s also nothing spectacular about it. Nice bass line, though.

Sunday’s Pretty Icons

Docile.

  1. Also, no one knows who Queen is. []

Cassettes and Paper

I’m reading zines of old. I came across some zines that were sent to me by a couple of women who played an important part of my teenage years. Nothing like that! You see, back in the ’90s I found for the first time in my life “modern music” which I enjoyed. Before that I was listening exclusively to music of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, a lot of which I still love and listen to, but I found a band who were contemporary that got me going. Through that band I met many great people, and I still continue to meet people because of them. Back in the the 1990s, I received two cassettes from two women.

I have had many cassettes throughout my life, and very few I’ve kept. They can be broken down into three categories:

  • Interviews with musicians/artists that I’ve done.
  • The tape titled “Just Shake Your Boots And Let It All Get Loose”
  • finally, The tape containing If You’re Feeling Sinister1

The first category does not apply to this story, but the other two do. While I’ve owned If You’re Feeling Sinister on compact disc for what is most definitely now over a decade, this original cassette copy, with handwritten notes, has a special place in my heart. It was through this cassette that I was introduced not just to this album, but to a band who would become one of my true, great loves, Belle & Sebastian. I still have with it a little slip of paper with a horrible joke about John Lennon and musings on the Chipmunks, and more importantly perhaps one of the most apt things ever said about Belle & Sebastian, “they’re Scots so Stuart Murdoch’s voice may seem unusual; and it is.”2

I’ve mused about my love of Belle & Sebastian many times before, and that’s not necessarily the point of this post. This post is more meant to meander, which I’m doing, slightly.

The other tape had two sides, one labeled “Summer In Winter” and the other was “I’m Sick Of Your Morals!!”

Those two are references to a Belle & Sebastian song, and a Plumtree song. This tape was basically an expansion on the initial tape, though provided by someone else, it was filled with Beck, The Apples In Stereo, The Inbreds, Elliott Smith, The Magnetic Fields, Eric’s Trip, Zumpano, Super Friendz, Stereolab, and a few others. If you look at my iTunes collection, you’ll see that nearly everything draws back to this cassette.

I think I cannot overstate the importance of these two women, and they both made ‘zines, back when ‘zines were physical. Rereading them is a strange trip. Teri’s Melt The Snow has interviews with Julie Doiron, a photocopy of The Magnetic Fields’ setlist from the Lee’s Palace show in ’99, mention of  a woman named Angela who apparently is “Woody,” and one of my favourite statements, “I was slightly disappointed by the old but new to me House of Tomorrow EP by the Magnetic Fields but I still liked the lyrics and can you believe the next record will be a triple album?”

I can’t deny some pangs of jealousy, of the woman who is slightly older than me, as I’m sure some of my younger friends get a bit jealous when I talk of shows they missed3. I really wish I could’ve gone to that ’99 Magnetic Fields show, but I took quite a long time to enjoy The Magnetic Fields.

Though, my favourite page might be from Jen’s Under The Stars #2, but I can’t tell you about it. I’m sworn to secrecy, as the page is “just for me.”

Rereading these ‘zines what I think I can most take out of them is the narrative. There’s a personal feel to them, as if the author is speaking directly to the reader. “This is what’s going on with my life…” kind of thing, and I do think it’s something this blog could use more of. Rather than “I saw this movie, it sucked.” My voice is most definitely less lyrical than Teri’s4 and less blunt than Jen’s5, so obviously I don’t want to mimic them, but I think I could learn from them6.

Perhaps this is all just nostalgic bullshit.

  1. The other side had the Velvets, who I like, but never changed my life. []
  2. Yes, I appreciate the use of the semicolon. []
  3. The Flashing Lights! []
  4. was. []
  5. was. []
  6. as I did in the past. []

I Want The World To Stop

Massey Hall is arguably Canada’s greatest venue. It’s the right size, it’s beautiful to look at1, a perfect location, and most importantly, the sound… the sound is what a great concert should be.

Belle & Sebastian, you fucked that up. The sound was muddy, at best. The vocals were buried, and for a band who prides themselves on the harmonies, this is a shame. Chris Geddes’ keyboards could barely be heard and your backing string section was made mute.

Then halfway through the set an angel appeared, a bearded, bespectacled man shouted from the fifth row “TURN UP THE VOCALS!” Mick Cooke and Bobby Kildea started in on the opening riff, frontman Stuart Murdoch joined in, walked over to the microphone and sang “I’m glad to see you, I had a funny dream and you were wearing funny shoes.” That bearded dreamy man looked to his concert going friends and was in shock at how crisp and clear the vocals suddenly were. Sure, the backing music was still muddy, but the vocals were gorgeous, and just in time for the beautiful “I’m A Cuckoo.”

The backing music slowly picked up and became the stunning sound that Belle & Sebastian are supposed to be, and the rest of the set was more than a delight.

Belle & Sebastian played a range of songs from Stevie Jackson’s “(I Believe In) Traveling Light” to their new title track “Write About Love” to an attempt at “This Is Just A Modern Rock Song,” which broke down after only a few lines, as Stuart didn’t remember the epic song. They played a new jazzier “Piazza, New York Catcher” with a walking-country bass line, during “Lord Anthony” Murdoch got some mascara from the audience. They invited audience members on-stage to dance to “The Boy With The Arab Strap” and were joined by a girl who I’d guess to be 9 years old dancing along. They played “Simple Things,” and “Judy And The Dream of Horses,” and “Dog On Wheels!”

What really stood out however, was their main-set’s closing number, “Sleep The Clock Around.” While I’ve never been a huge fan of that song, I was in awe and thrill as I listened to that song. The sound was perfect for that perfect closer.

Photo by Nephron.

  1. Inside []

Music Monday

Lyrics volume 2

For volume one, visit here.

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Years and years and years ago I made a friend online. A really pretty older woman, who sent me cassettes in the mail, and eventually would go record shopping with me. She showed me the wonder that is Rotate This (I later fell out of love with that place. <3 Criminal), and I showed her the wonders of The Vinyl Museum.

One of those cassettes she sent this young boy had a live Velvet Underground record on one side which was enjoyed, but the other side was a masterpiece; If You’re Feeling Sinister. Those ten songs were incredible, and I couldn’t get enough. I bought every EP they released, I bought every record I could get my hands on (there were only three, and Tigermilk hadn’t yet been widely released). I even bought a sleeve for £1 from Jeepster’s website to slide over my copy of Dog On Wheels, Lazy Line Painter Jane and 3…6…9 Seconds of Light. I bought every Looper record, every Gentle Waves record. I even have a 7″ Gentle Waves record with a “Evensong” en français. I got a bit obsessed. I bought all the records, EPs, and singles I could get my hands on by every artist on Jeepster. Which wasn’t much, just Belle & Sebastian, their satellite bands, Snow Patrol, and Salako.

Why was I so obsessed? I have no idea. Maybe it was strange Stuart Murdoch’s voice, maybe it was their happy-go-lucky music, matched to depressing lyrics. Maybe it was the characters he wrote about; the strong women, completely in their element, always sure of themselves; the shy and awkward men with no understanding of their place in the world. I guess that leads us into the lyric that I chose:

Sebastian you’re in a mess.
You had a dream they called you king of all the hipsters,
Is it true or are you still the queen?

I like this for a number of reasons. It’s funny, in three quick lines, Murdoch sets up the major player in the story, and it’s the perfect embodiment of 1990s Belle & Sebastian.


I’m going to shatter your world here… Gentleman Reg is gay. Yes, you heard it here first, the man responsible for “The Boyfriend Song” is into blokes, the man who sang “All that I thought about for the longest time, but he’s untouchable” is gay. I know… SHOCKING.

(I apologize in advance to any family members who might be reading this, you probably don’t need to know this.)

I’m going to shatter your world, once again… I like sex. Yes, sex is fun, and I enjoy it. Odd though, I say this, and yet my current Facebook profile picture might lead you to believe I never want sex again. We do all after all know that Star Trek is the antithesis to sex.

For some reason it seems that gay musicians seem to write about sex and their sexuality more than straight musicians. Sure there’s “I Like Big Butts” or “Poker Face,” but those don’t get into the reality of love and sex. Gentleman Reg is deep gaze between two lovers, Lady Gaga is the cheesy moaning of a bad ’80s porno.

The way Gentleman Reg describes this brief moment between two lovers is perfection.

I receive the nicest gift
It’s for my eyes to scan
I respond with my hand
Giving you shivers

P.S. Elton John’s also a gay.
P.P.S. Nothing is less sexy than Leonard Nimoy.

Top 50 of the Aughts further explained

A list is a list, and it doesn’t really cover what I hope to let people know. If you don’t know me, you won’t know why I chose these records. I thought I’d further explain the top 10.


10) God Help The Girl – God Help The Girl (2009)

God Help The Girl is the soundtrack to Stuart Murdoch’s unwritten film. The Belle & Sebastian frontman used the opportunity of a hiatus to record a new record using female vocalists who he wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to work within the stricter environment of a Belle & Sebastian album.

The songs are damn good, and Stuart arranges for a wide array of female vocalists who bring a new light to his songwriting. Though it’s not a Belle & Sebastian album, every member of the band does contribute to the record.

Highlight: “I’ll Have to Dance With Cassie,” is fuckin’ awesome. I love that song. Wholeheartedly.
Lowlight: Someone other than Stuart Murdoch singing “Funny Little Frog” is a tad weird.  It’s good, just weird.

Photo Credit: Beth Hamill (This woman deserves a medal for her photography)

Linky link: MySpace


9) Valery Gore – Avalanche To Wandering Bear (2008)

Much like the woman herself, Valery Gore’s music is beautiful and intelligent. Her lyrics are quirky and fun, while being layered, complete stories. On Avalanche To Wandering Bear, Gore grew as a songwriter, and took advantage of a bigger band. Adding a horn section seemed to add wonders. While her first record can easily be described as “a girl and her piano,” with a band that seemed to be superfluous. On Avalanche, the band seems to work as a more cohesive unit, better able to expand on Gore’s vision, bringing R&B, Jazz and Pop elements.

Highlight: “Without the beautifully worried head, there’d just be a bleeding neck.”
Lowlight: While I love the song “Red Eye Family,” it sounds like it belongs on her self-titled album and seems out of place here. One of the reasons I love it is that it reminds me of “Big Sky” by the Kinks.

Photo Credit: Me.

Linky link: Webpage | MySpace | Tune In Your Aerial: Adam Interviews Valery


8) Neil Young – Live At Massey Hall 1971 (2007)

I don’t generally like live albums but I did always have a favourite; it was 4 Way Street by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. This live disc from shortly after CSNY’s Déjà Vu was filled with beautiful acoustic renditions of some of their best songs, and Neil Young was in top form. Around the same time as that live album was recorded, Young did a solo tour with a brief stop in Toronto at the legendary theatre, Massey Hall. Live At Massey Hall 1971 captures this brilliant performance.

The songs aren’t all familiar, and very few were familiar to the audience, but most of them are classics. Young’s in top form during this performance, and Massey Hall is the best concert venue in the city.

Highlight: Fuck man! “Journey Through The Past.” Hands down.
Lowlight: Neil isn’t the greatest at between-song banter.

Photo Credit: The album cover.

Linky link: MySpace


7) Julie Doiron – Woke Myself Up (2007)

This album found me at just the right time. A divorce album, as I was going through a divorce… hooray! Well it might not have related to my specific situation, I still found great comfort in it. This might not be a brilliant record, but being a personal list, I cannot tell you how important this album was to me.

Highlight: “Don’t Wanna Be / Liked By You”
Lowlight: I could never get into “Yer Kids…” except live.

Photo Credit: Me. I <3 Julie.

Linky link: MySpace | Webpage


6) The Joel Plaskett Emergency – Down At The Khyber (2001)

In late September, I drove across the Prairie, the mountains behind me and the radio on.

Joel Plaskett’s first record with the Emergency band, after the totally ignored, but brilliant In Need of Medical Attention. The previous album was released silently while Plaskett was still touring with Thrush Hermit, and didn’t receive much if any press, as it was overshadowed by the Zepplinesque brilliant of Thrush Hermit’s Clayton ParkDown at the Khyber was his first release since the split of Thrush Hermit, and though it returned Plaskett to the heavier sound found on Clayton Park, he couldn’t shake the country that was added to his sound on Medical Attention.

“True Patriot Love” is perhaps the most iconic of the songs, but “Light of the Moon” and “Blinding Light” are serene beauties, perfection in a nutshell.

I don’t really know what to say about this record, it’s a fantastic record. I don’t know if it’s so good because of a personal history, or if it’s just a really good record. The fact that Plaskett didn’t become “famous” until long after this record was released makes me think it’s a personal thing, but I love it.

Highlight: Ruth Minnikin and Joel Plaskett duetting on “Blinding Light.”
Lowlight: “Maybe We Should Just Go Home.”

Photo Credit: Me. Taken at the Down At The Khyber night at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto.

Linky link: Webpage | MySpace | In Need of Radio’s Attention: Adam Interviews Joel


5) Neko Case & Her Boyfriends – Furnace Room Lullaby (2000)

It was 2000, so it was either OAC year or the year afterwards. I cannot remember. I bought two records at Sam The Record Man, A Taste of Complete Perspective by Elevator and Furnace Room Lullaby. Though I love both records with a passion, Furnace Room became on of my favourite records. Neko Case’s amazing voice is enthralling, and sublime. Case, a Yankee, enlisted a who’s who of CanRock “legends” to join her in writing and recording this record, from The Local Rabbits to The Sadies, Ron Sexsmith to Don Kerr and many more.

Furnace Room Lullaby is among my first dips into modern country music. Though I was already a fan of The Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, my knowledge of modern country music was limited to Being There-era Wilco and Beck’s indulgences in country. While the others took their country with a heavy side of rock, Case was unashamedly in love with twang. The songs are strong and supported by incredible musicians, and finally Case’s beautiful voice makes them perfection.

I can never get enough of listening to this record.

Highlight: “We’ve Never Met.” If my copy of the CD weren’t three whole metres away, I might get up to check to see who it is who is duetting with Case, but it doesn’t matter. Their voices are perfect together, and the song written by Case, Ron Sexsmith and Don Kerr is a perfect showcase.
Lowlight: “Thrice All American” is a great song, but I think it’s the weakest on the record. I wanted to say “‘Thrice All American’ because we want to pretend Neko is a Canuk,” but the truth is, it’s the weakest song on the record.

Photo Credit: Beth Hamill. Beth took this photo at The Rivoli in Toronto, where Neko was premiering Fox Confessor Brings The Flood to Toronto. An incredible show, and Beth’s first Neko show.

Linky link: Webpage | MySpace


4) The Flashing Lights – Sweet Release (2001)

We’re known in the Valley and big back in Hali, we’re the kings of the Canadian now.

Sweet Release is hands down the worst album by The Flashing Lights, and yet it’s in my top four albums of an entire decade. Makes me wonder where Where The Change Is would’ve ranked on this list if it was released a year later.

Matt Murphy’s Flashing Lights were perhaps one of the best shows in Canada. When the Flashing Lights hit the stage, you knew you were in for a good time. Draped in ’70s garb, destroying tambourines, while guitarists went flying from bass drums. Their live show wouldn’t have been anything special without the music, and Matt Murphy has proven time and time again to be a master at creating some of the best pop music of our time. Whether is the Super Friendz’ “Karate Man,” or The Flashing Lights’ “Friends You Learn To Hate.”

Highlight: The first two songs of the album set this record off on a note it never catches back up to.
Lowlight: “It’s Alright.” Never got into that one too much.

Photo Credit: Me! I took this photo during the Guy Terrifico DVD release show. Sure it’s not the Flashing Lights, but I wasn’t taking photos of bands when they existed.

Linky link: CBC Radio 3 | Hump The Drum: Adam Interviews Murphy


3) Belle & Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003)

Belle & Sebastian’s output this decade has been subpar, however par for Belle & Sebastian is perhaps the best of any band since The Beatles. Okay, so that’s a highly personalized opinion, but Tigermilk and If You’re Feeling Sinister are among my favourite records of all time. Dear Catastrophe Waitress is not really by the same band, while the first two records were a singular vision of Stuart Murdoch’s, all subsequent albums were a collective creation by Belle & Sebastian as a whole. Yes, Murdoch is the the primary singer-songwriter of the band, but it’s still a creation of the whole band.

Dear Catastrophe Waitress has some of the band’s best material, nothing as staggeringly great as “The State I Am In” or “Judy And The Dream Of Horses” or a sugary sweet as “Sukie In The Graveyard” or “The Blues Are Still Blue,” but it does have some of their best material. “Wrapped Up In Books,” “Lord Anthony,” “Piazza, New York Catcher,” etc. etc.

One thing I find odd. Why do I love this record so much? There’s so much religion involved in the record, and I’m not the biggest fan of religion. 

I’ll forever be indebted to a woman named Teri who I haven’t spoken to in over a decade. She introduced me to Belle & Sebastian by sending me a cassette with If You’re Feeling Sinister on it.

Highlight: “I’m A Cuckoo”
Lowlight: “Roy Walker,” I think it’s time for Stevie to give it up.

Photo Credit: Beth Hamill, once again.

Linky link: Webpage | MySpace


2) The Magnetic Fields – i (2004)

If Howard Jones can be God Help The Girl’s Mozart, then Stephin Merritt can be mine. Stephin Merritt is the frontman of The Magnetic Fields, a band who’s music is as vast as it is acute. While Merritt seems to attempt to cover every genre imaginable, when hearing a Magnetic Fields recording, you know it’s The Magnetic Fields.

I think i is the album I return to the most frequently. I don’t know if it’s their best, it probably isn’t, but there’s something I love about this album. It might be the ridiculous theme (all the songs begin with the letter i), maybe it’s the stupid/hilarious/smart/smirk-worthy lyrics such as “so you’re brilliant, gorgeous, and ampersand after ampersand” or “I don’t die, I say ‘hi,’ how clever. I turn blue, I love you forever. I’m tongue-tied and useless.”

I can easily and have been lost in Merritt’s naratives, and wondered if he was singing about me in “I Looked All Over Town” or “I’m Tongue-Tied.”

Highlight: “It’s Only Time” is perhaps one of the most beautiful and romantic songs ever written.
Lowlight: “I Was Born,” I usually skip this track.

Photo Credit: Some dude. I dunno. It’s not my photo.

Linky link: Webpage | MySpace


1) Sleater-Kinney – The Woods (2005)

My lord, what can I say about this album? It’s bloody perfect!

Angry, bold, strong, melodic, bassless, ear-shattering, adjectives!

Simply just listen to this, it’ll cost you less than $20 to buy it, it’s worth it. Hell, you can even borrow it from the Toronto Public Library.

Perfection.

Highlight: “Jumpers”
Lowlight: You have to be in a rather specific mood to listen to so much guitar-wankery.

Photo Credit: Someone took this.

Linky link: Webpage | MySpace

Top 50 Albums of the Aughts

1) Sleater-Kinney – The Woods (2005)
2) The Magnetic Fields – i (2004)
3) Belle & Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003)
4) The Flashing Lights – Sweet Release (2001)
5) Neko Case & Her Boyfriends – Furnace Room Lullaby (2000)
6) The Joel Plaskett Emergency – Down At The Khyber (2001)
7) Julie Doiron – Woke Myself Up (2007)
8) Neil Young – Live At Massey Hall 1971 (2007)
9) Valery Gore – Avalanche To Wandering Bear (2008)
10) God Help The Girl – God Help The Girl (2009)

11) Wilco – A Ghost Is Born (2004)
12) Joel Plaskett – Three (2009)
13) Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings The Flood (2005)
14) The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns (2008)
15) Valery Gore – Valery Gore (2005)
16) Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire – The Swimming Hour (2001)
17) Elevator – A Taste of Complete Perspective (2000)
18) The Guthries – Off Windmill (2000)
19) The Magnetic Fields – Distorion (2008)
20) Cuff The Duke – Cuff The Duke (2005)

21) Matt Mays – Matt Mays (2002)
22) The Apples In Stereo – New Magnetic Wonder (2007)
23) Neko Case – Canadian Amp (2001)
24) Local Rabbits – This Is It, Here We Go (2001)
25) One Hundred Dollars – Forest of Tears (2007)
26) The Guthries – The Guthries (2002)
27) The Joel Plaskett Emergency – Ashtray Rock (2007)
28) Amy Millan – Honey From The Tombs (2006)
29) Elliott Brood – Ambassador (2005)
30) The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic (2000)

31) Rufus Wainwright – Poses (2001)
32) The Superfantastics – Pop-up Book (2007)
33) Dan Mangan – Nice, Nice, Very Nice (2009)
34) George Harrison – Brainwashed (2001)
35) Belle & Sebastian – The Life Pursuit (2006)
36) Sleater-Kinney – One Beat (2002)
37) Final Fantasy – Has A Good Home (2005)
38) K’naan – The Dusty Foot Philosopher (2005)
39) The Bicycles – The Good, The Bad & The Cuddly (2006)
40) Elliott Smith – From a Basement on the Hill (2004)

41) Peter Elkas – Wall of Fire (2007)
42) Gentleman Reg – Darby & Joan (2004)
43) Neko Case – Middle Cyclone (2008)
44) Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
45) k-os – Joyful Rebellion (2004)
46) Matt Murphy – Bring It Back Home: The Life And Hard Times of Guy Terrifico (2004)
47) Cuff The Duke – Life Stories For Minimum Wage (2002)
48) Tom Petty – Highway Companion (2006)
49) Travis – The Boy With No Name (2007)
50) Ruth Minnikin – Marooned And Blue (2004)