Tag Archives: Sleater-kinney

Send someone to fetch us, we’re in saskatchewan

On Friday after work, Joseph, Helen, Emily and I all piled into Caroline (my car), and headed east along to 401. From Toronto to Ottawa. Since Ottawa is approximately five hours away (though that’s not counting rush hour traffic), I divided that in four, and we each had 75 minutes to fill with music. Each way… here’s my play list for going east.

  1. Movin’ Right Along – The Muppets
    Had to start with this as soon as I saw it. Nothing says “road trip” better than this song.
  2. Maybellene – Chuck Berry
    Catchy, popular, and a song about driving a car. Thought this to be appropriate.
  3. Doris Daytheearthstoodstill – Future Bible Heroes
    Helen told me that most of her CDs are showtunes and Doris Day, so immediately my mind went to Doris Daytheearthstoodstill.
  4. You Turn Clear in the Sun – Telekinesis
    Overly catchy.
  5. The Ballad Of Poor John Henry – Cuff The Duke
    We need some country.
  6. Mystery Dance – Elvis Costello
    As Allegra would say, “Play the hits!” I mostly wanted catchy pop songs, and this is a great choice for that.
  7. Fast As You Can – Fiona Apple
    This is again, catchy, and was a huge hit when we were all teenagers. Perfect for this group, I hope.
  8. Cybele’s Reverie – Stereolab
    C’est en français, and we’re going to Ottawa, that seems appropriate.
  9. Carolina In My Mind – James Taylor
    Something a bit more mellow, and Taylor’s early material was quite Beatley, and who doesn’t love Beatley?
  10. My Girl June – The Ride Theory
    Speaking of Beatley, this song is SUPER-Beatley, and fuckin’ awesome.
  11. Back In The USSR – The Beatles
    And how about the Beatles? Again, playing the hits.
  12. Someone Who’s Cool – Odds
    And what bigger hit is there than “Someone Who’s Cool?”
  13. Jumpers – Sleater-Kinney
    Perfect example of pop-perfection
  14. Superstition – Stevie Wonder
    Again, hits… and this song is absolutely undeniably brilliant. I imagine everyone will dig it.
  15. Never Had To Fight – Local Rabbits
    Why not play the blog’s namesake? I’m sure Emily likes the Local Rabbits. I know she owns one of their 7″ records.
  16. Doubt – The Corin Tucker Band
    Probably the best song on her solo record, and it’s good enough to be a Sleater-Kinney track
  17. Cry Together – Hortense Ellis
    Bring us a bit down, but beautiful.
  18. Lord Only Knows – Beck
    Get back to the country, and back to 90s. I absolutely love the transition from Cry Together to this. Also, “Going back to Houston, do the hot dog dance, going back to Houston to get me some pants.”
  19. Cathy’s Clown – The Everly Brothers
    Keeping it slow.
  20. Snowsuit Sound – Sloan
    Again, more hits. Though not a single, still a fan almost everyone of my generation is quite familiar with. We’re not getting much faster, but getting heavier after Cathy’s Clown. I know at least Emily will know the song.
  21. Where The Change Is – The Flashing Lights
    Speaking of Emily, when I first met her, we spent some time discussing our love for The Flashing Lights.  Now here’s a song with a quick beat.
  22. Radio Sweetheart – Elvis Costello
    I absolutely love the pedal steel on this song.
  23. Sunndal Song -The Apples In Stereo
    I have a strange love for Hilarie’s Apples in Stereo songs. She’s pretty good at writing good pop songs, and the band has lost something since she left the band.
  24. Tina’s Glorious Comeback – Dan Mangan
    I thought about going for one of Mangan’s more lively songs, but there’s just something about this tune that is unmatched by anything else he’s done.
  25. I Will Follow You Into The Dark – Amy Millan
    I think everyone by now knows the Death Cab For Cutie original. I never heard it until after I had heard Amy Millan’s cover, and absolutely love this version. While I don’t like Millan’s other outings, I absolutely adore her solo records. I thought this was a good way to end the mix.

Stats:
7/25 songs feature lady vocalists, slightly poor showing.
Only one song features non-human vocalists (a frog and a bear).
8/25 songs are CanCon, again poor showing.
11/25 are from ’90s bands, or their future solo efforts… can you tell when I was a teenager?

Music Roundup

I’ve been buying records like crazy over the past month or so, and I haven’t written about any. HERE WE GO…

Belmundo Regal by Radio Radio

This hip-hop trio from Nova Scotia rap in the Chiac dialect of Acadian French. Chiac mixes French with words and phrases of the more prominent English. This leads to lyrics such as:

Canned tuna, caviar ∙ Michelina, superstar ∙
Marcher sur la Main ∙ Ou marcher sur la ∙
I don’t know ∙ Ini mini miny moe ∙ C’est qui
c’qui veut du Jello ? ∙ Si ton sport c’est du vélo ∙
Ben come on baby hello ∙ Saute, danse autour
de la question ∙ Marcher sur la hey ∙ Ok ∙
J’t’explique que ça icitte c’est un cirque ∙
Jet Set dans mon minivan ∙ Dors dans un cot ∙
J’ai ma case in case ∙ Que ma case work pas ∙
Head case ∙ In case ∙ Que mon style work pas ∙
Penny Loafer Deck Shoe ∙ Garde à ça ∙ Garde à
ça ∙ Garde à ça ∙ J’ai ma ∙ Non man ∙ Moi ej work
ma tan ∙ Shopping channel vendre une scam ∙
Copy coller j’su comme damn ∙ Basically so basic

I heard about Radio Radio thanks to the Polaris Music Prize. They were on the shortlist, and when I saw them perform at the awards ceremony I was taken aback at how good they were. The songs are fun, and though I don’t understand the lyrics, it doesn’t matter.

Le Noise by Neil Young

Sigh. Everyone was talking about how amazing this record was. Everyone was saying that the collaboration between Young and Daniel Lanois was something spectacular. It isn’t. It doesn’t have anything to do with Lanois’ production, as that’s really interesting, but instead it’s Neil Young’s songwriting.

Young, who’s considered by many to be the greatest Canadian songwriter, has always been hit or miss, and I believe Le Noise to be an example of the miss category. His lyrics are blasé, and show an artist who seems to be screaming for the sake of screaming.

Next we look at Daniel Lanois. Again, a Canadian at the top of his field, but while Lanois’s production on this album, creating an atmosphere that seems to bring one into a feeling of Young singing in a giant church far off sounds good, but it doesn’t hold the interest throughout the album.

Double Fantasy (Stripped Down) by John Lennon & Yoko Ono

One of Lennon’s greatest albums, Double Fantasy has been repackaged, remastered and remixed as a stripped down version. For those unfamiliar with the album, it features such Lennon classics as “(Just Like) Starting Over,” “Woman,” “I’m Losing You,” “Watching The Wheels,” and I think there’s some Yoko Ono songs on there, too.

Honestly, the Yoko songs aren’t as horrible as most people think. Hell, “Yes, I’m Your Angel” is a downright, adorable song, and anyone who doesn’t like it is plainly wrong.

I’m not sure if these are different takes, or not, I don’t think they are. I’m pretty sure that it’s the main takes, just remixed with the music lower, and the vocals higher. I honestly don’t see the point to it. It comes with a remastered (but not remixed) copy of Double Fantasy which sounds lovely.

Of these remastered, I’m more interested in picking up Lennon’s Walls and Bridges and Sometime In New York as I didn’t pick them up in the last round of remasters. I bought this one as a test, as it wasn’t in the boxset that was released with all the remasters, I used it to judge if I wanted to repurchase all of Lennon’s solo career, again. I won’t.

1,000 Years by The Corin Tucker Band

Have you ever heard of a band called Sleater-Kinney? Well, you should. They were an incredible punk rock/alternative band from the 1990s. Back in 2005, they released their final and best album, The Woods. Since then we’ve waited. Slightly impatiently. Tucker’s the first of the trio to release a solo record, and as she was a principal songwriter, and lead vocalist, it was worth the wait.

While it’s not as ear-shattering, bold, or strong as The Woods, 1,000 Years is fantastic. The best I’ve been able to describe this record is with “It sounds like a Sleater-Kinney record, and it sounds nothing like a Sleater-Kinney record.” While parts of it will remind you of pre-The Woods SK, it really is something of its own, and it’s not because of what it lacks.

Sure it lacks the screaming backing vocals of Carrie Brownstein or the pounding drums of Janet Weiss, it’s not that which characterizes the record. The record starts off slowly, and then suddenly with “Doubt” it gets heavy, and the listener starts to hear the similarities to SK. It’s an awesome song that’ll make you want you want to dance.

“BREAK UP WITH THE BOOGIE, BREAK UP WITH THE BEAT!”

Okay, I think four records is enough to review in one go. I still have lots more, like Women, Apples In Stereo, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, Dum Dum Girls, Deerhunter, Dan Mangan, Laetita Sadier, and Amy Millan.

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone

Over the past little while I’ve been listening to my fair share of Sleater-Kinney, and then some. I figured I’d write an article about why The Woods is one of the greatest albums of all time. My plan was not to state an opinion, but to empirically prove it. Well, that’s slightly daunting, and I’m not there yet, but I thought I’d discuss a song from their earlier catalogue. First you should listen to the song.

Like it? I hope so. It’s called “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone,” and it’s from their 1996 album Call The Doctor, which is also their second album. The album is so old, in fact, that Lora Macfarlane is the drummer on the record1 and Carrie Brownstein is listed as Carrie Kinney2.

What immediately stands out on this song is a sound I don’t think I had ever heard on record before, and don’t know if its ever been recorded, I also didn’t know it could come from a human. During the chorus Corin Tucker sings, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” and for each “Yeah!” Brownstein punctuates it was a sound which is more reminiscent of a squeaking toy than a human.

The song is the ultimate example of riot grrrl. Riot grrrl for those unfamiliar is a genre that can no longer exist, as it’s a genre which by definition is limited to gender, and in this post-Lilith Fair world is really more insulting than liberating3. Basically, it’s a killer punk song made by chicks.

it’s fine
when it’s all mine
it’s on my wall
it’s in my head
memorize it till i’m dead
it’s yours
now i’m so bored

i wanna be your joey ramone
pictures of me on your bedroom door
invite you back after the show
i’m the queen of rock and roll

i just don’t care
are you that scared?
i swear they’re looking right at me
push to the front so i can see
it’s what i thought
it’s rock’n’roll

i wanna be your thurston moore
wrestle on the bedroom floor
always leave me wanting more
throw away those old records

we go downtown
put on our best frowns
give me a chance
i know i can dance

it’s fine
cus it’s all mine

For those unfamiliar, and or barely alive for the past thirty years, Joey Ramone was the frontman for the Ramones, way back in the ’70s when punk was first making its way into mainstream. Thurston Moore was/is the frontman for Sonic Youth, a band known as being one of the major influences in the noise rock scene and the grunge scene of the early ’90s.

I think the lyrics speak for themselves, as Brownstein and Tucker sing about their desire to be the rockstars they would become.  It’s not the greatest song, but oddly addictive.

  1. Janet Weiss would join the band later that year. []
  2. Hiding her Judaism from view. []
  3. Says the boy. []

Mix albums!

I recently reconnected with an old friend, from back in my high school days. We never went to school together, after all, she was, and still is far off in a foreign country. So I made Beth this mix, but I didn’t know what I might have sent her all those years ago, so I decided to limit myself to nothing older than 2000. I also didn’t know what she had been listening to since then, so I decided to limit the selection to Canadian music.

  1. The Indie Queens Are Waiting” by Dan Mangan
    • This is my favourite Dan Mangan song, and I’ve been on a bit of a kick of listening to him endlessly.
  2. Hibernation Song” by Whale Tooth
    • This is not just my favourite Whale Tooth song, but everyone’s favourite Whale Tooth song. They’re a lot of fun, but this song specifically is addictively catchy.
  3. Oh, Alberta” by Elliott Brood
    • If you’re going to make a mix of mostly Canadian music, how can you ignore the most Canadian song ever written. “Ontario, that’s where I’m from.”
  4. Fourteen Hour Day” by $100
    • This is such a tragic tale of loss and heartache.
  5. The Ballad of Poor John Henry” by Cuff The Duke
    • Number two in the Cuff The Duke’s “Ballad of…” series, and definitely my favourite.
  6. Nowhere With You” by The Joel Plaskett Emergency
    • This song is just addictive and fun. I often forget about the Make A Little Noise EP, so I figured this was a good way to give it some love.
  7. “Morning Dove” by Greg Keelor
    • My favourite song from Keelor’s depressing, but beautiful Seven Songs for Jim album.
  8. The Nun’s Litany” by The Magnetic Fields
    • How can you not love a song with the lyric “I want to be a dominatrix, which isn’t like me, but I can dream. Learn S&M and all those gay tricks, and men would pay me to make them scream.” FYI, on the album Shirley sings the song, but in the video Stephin sings it. He did after all write it.
  9. The Gambler and His Bride” by Daniel, Fred & Julie
    • I never noticed how long this song was until Beth, the recipient of this playlist pointed out how bloody long it actually is. It’s a great song, DF&J played it both times I saw them live recently.
  10. Many Lives -> 49mp” by Final Fantasy
    • The violin is so pretty.
  11. Jumpers” by Sleater-Kinney
    • Not many better songs about killing yourself. “My falling shape will draw a line between the blue of sea and sky; I’m not a bird, I’m not a plane.”
  12. Sunndal Song” by The Apples In Stereo
    • Easy to forget that Hilarie Sidney was in The Apples In Stereo, but I think she added a much needed secondary voice to Robert Schneider’s.
  13. Step Off The Map and Float” by Library Voices
    • We’re all just pinpricks on a paper continent.
  14. Two Girls From Montreal” by The Bicycles
    • The first Bicycles song I got stuck in my head. After seeing them live for the first time (years before their first album was released), I left the venue singing this song.

So, yes, there are one item in there by an international artist, The Magnetic Fields, but not enough people know Stephin Merritt, and that’s just a sin.

A few nights ago, I saw my friend Emily, and somehow my enjoyment from making mix tapes/discs/playlists1 came up, and she asked me to make one for her, so this is what I came up with.

  1. Tina’s Glorious Comeback” by Dan Mangan
    • Dan Mangan started the previous one off so well, why not carry on. This one is another that I’ll happen to listen to days ago, and still be singing it. My coworkers must think I’m insane.
  2. “I’ll Have To Dance With Cassie” by God Help The Girl
    • My favourite God Help The Girl song, and I think Emily would understand the thoughts behind this one.
  3. Cop Song” by Entire Cities
    • One day I was walking down the street listening to this song, and a cop was slowing following me in their car.
  4. Snowsuit Sound” by Sloan
    • Though I’ve given up my love of Sloan, I still understand that they used to be awesome, and this is one of the songs which can perfectly capture it.
  5. Yelverton Hill” by The Inbreds
    • “A ring is an awful thing…”
  6. Great Lakes” by Valery Gore
    • The last mix had Valery’s doppelgänger, so this one should include the original.
  7. “Seduced And Abandoned” by The Magnetic Fields
    • This is the tale of an abandoned woman, left without her lover, but with a baby. It’s not the first time that Merritt has told this story, but I think it’s the best rendition of the tale. See: “The Night You Can’t Remember
  8. Highschool” by The Flashing Lights
    • This power pop anthem is as good as it gets.
  9. Girlfriend” by Eric’s Trip
    • Grunge!
  10. “Don’t Wannabe / Like By You” by Julie Doiron
    • Hehe, I put Julie Doiron right after Eric’s Trip! This is the song women sing when I get a crush on them.
  11. Glitter” by The Superfantastics
    • This two piece is just sugary fun.
  12. Your Island” by Young Rival
    • I like Young Rival, I think Emily would dig these Hamiltononians.
  13. “Scott Pilgrim” by Plumtree
    • With the new Scott Pilgrim film coming out soon, this song is a perfect piece.
  14. “We Are Being Reduced” by Thrush Hermit
    • My lord, this song is stunning.
  1. Any music nerd has this love. []

Music Monday

This is Valery Gore’s only video. It’s from her first album. The second is even better, but she never made a video, so enjoy this one.

Ruth Minnikin’s going to be in Toronto for Canadian Music Week/Fest, and is promoting her new record Depend On This, which I’ve yet to hear, but I assume it’ll be awesome, her records always are.

With two women, might as well continue the theme… here’s Sleater-Kinney.

Linky Link

Linky Link

  • Above, NPR inverview Stephin Merritt & Claudia Gonson.
  • Carrie Brownstein, will you marry me? Okay, we’ve never met, and it would be slightly awkward that my best friend has the same first name as me, and his wife has the same first name as you, but does that really matter? Your love of The Magnetic Fields is enough for me. Oh, and while we’re on the topic, your amazingness as part of Sleater-Kinney doesn’t hurt.
  • With a Gold in hand for Canada, 3000km away in the country’s largest city (and my city), the CN Tower goes gold.
  • Mechanical Forest Sound posts a new Gentleman Reg song. Thanks Joe!
  • Apparently Canadians handle their sticks with their left hands. Though I’ve never played hockey, I do hold a golf club and baseball bat left handed. (Yoinked from TIMMMMAAAAY)
  • A video illustrating Microsoft’s creative process. Best comment, “I will never think about MS Paint the same way.”
  • Who has a few million to spare? (via the article’s author… HI KATE!)

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)