Playlist: The ultimate playlist

Well, hello there. Did the title catch your attention? Did you think it was hyperbole? Or perhaps a bit full of itself? I guess time will tell.

I’ve tried this before and have let the rope drop but somehow, this time, I think the experiment will work. My aim here is to create an infinite playlist, much like that of Nick and Norah, a playlist of songs that just continues to grow and evolve by itself, much like life and love does. I started adding songs to it a couple of weeks ago, just before the COVID-19 scare took hold for real here in Canada. I’ve since been spending a lot of time around the house and slowing life down quite a bit. The spectre of things has been weighing heavy and I’ve found myself wanting (even more so than usual) to rock out to some excellent tunes. I started things off with my favourite Manic Street Preachers tune from the mid 90s and have been letting my mood dictate things from there. Since I started the mix on that Sunday night in mid-March, I’ve added to it over a couple of different sessions while wearing earphones and sipping at a beer and now we’re up just past the 100 song and seven hour mark. A good time as any to share it with you all.

There’s no real theme for this playlist, unless you count that I am trying to include some my biggest and best tunes from across the decades. Of course, it reflects my own tastes, which tend towards the alternative and indie rock side of the musical spectrum, pretty much anything left of the dial.  So far I’ve name-checked punk and post-punk and post-punk revival, ska, goth, shoegaze, dream pop, indie folk, psychedelic rock, Madchester, britpop, new wave, alt-country, and art rock. I’ve danced and dabbled across the decades and I think thus far, haven’t included more than one song per artist. However, I don’t intend to continue that particular trend because a lot of these artists have way more than one good song and I don’t want to impose such strict limitations on this mix.

So depending on when you happen upon these words, whether just after I publish them today or perhaps even a year or two down the road, this playlist could last you a good evening’s drink or perhaps an excellent road trip or a weekend painting the house. It may get super unruly and daunting but that is okay. It could be that you might want to throw it on shuffle, though there is some sort of method to this madness, or you may just want to sample a segment based on a name or two piquing interest.

Give this ole playlist a follow and check in with me from time to time and might I suggest opening a beer as you do so. It might help you get into the spirit of things a bit more because, yeah, it is meant to be a party of sorts. Cheers!

If you’re interested in checking out any of the other playlists I’ve created and shared on these pages, you can peruse them here.

Vinyl love: Orville Peck “Pony”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Orville Peck
Album Title: Pony
Year released: 2019
Details: limited edition Urban Outfitters exclusive of 2000 copies on ‘orange red’ vinyl, poster

The skinny: We’re only just a few months removed from 2019 and yet, it feels so long ago. Thus, now feels like as good as time as any to revisit my favourite albums of last year and so that’s what I am going to do. Starting with my number five album, I am going to count them down again over the next bunch of weeks in this ‘Vinyl love’ space. I purchased this Urban Outfitters exclusive red-orange vinyl pressing of Orville Peck’s debut album, “Pony”, in December, but it had taken me the most of the year to gradually fall in love with it. Really, though, it was inevitable. As I said back in December: “A Lone Ranger mask with a long fringe, the ever present cowboy hats, and clothing that ranges from garish and sparkly to rough-hewn but slightly fey. He sings songs about cowboys with a voice Roy Orbison would be proud of, the whistles and plodding bass lines only slightly covering up that he is actually subverting the traditional idea of the cowboy.”

Standout track: “Dead of night”

Best tunes of 2002: #15 Luna “Renee is crying”

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I first heard Luna in 1995. Their sophomore album, “Bewitched”, was loaned to me by my neighbour in university residence, Josh, who is better known in our circle of friends as Good Josh (as opposed to Bad Josh), but that’s another story. I was flipping through his CD collection one day*, he noted me looking at the album cover with interest, and highly recommended I give it a listen.

Luna has been one of my favourite bands ever since. I continued to listen to them long after I graduated, entered the adult workforce, moved away to Ottawa from Toronto, and gradually began to grow apart from most of my university friends. In fact, the last time I saw many of them, including Good Josh, was one weekend in 2002, when I took a Greyhound bus to Peterborough. A bunch of these friends were living there so the town was chosen as a central point to gather together to meet up with our friend Mark, who was temporarily back from an ESL teaching job in Japan. I distinctly remember bringing a copy of the latest Luna album, “Romantica”, along to listen to on the bus. I also pulled it out at one point on the weekend to share with Good Josh because he mentioned that hadn’t listened to them in a very long time. I don’t exact remember if he thought much of the album but it has become one of my favourites out of all their discography and was one of my first ever purchases for my vinyl collection, way back back on Record Store Day 2012.

Luna was formed by Dean Wareham in 1991 when his first band, the legendary dream pop outfit, Galaxie 500, disbanded. It was considered somewhat of an indie supergroup at the time because he had managed to gather a past member each from The Chills (Justin Harwood) and The Feelies (Stanley Demeski). Seven full-length studio albums, a live album, as well as a handful of EPs were released under the Luna moniker before the group disbanded in 2005, though the lineup was quite different then than when they had formed. Almost a decade later, Luna reunited as the lineup of Wareham, Sean Eden, Lee Wall, and Britta Philips, and they have since released a new album, an EP, and have toured pretty consistently since.

“Renee is crying” is track six on “Romantica”, an album that seems to me a rejuvenation for the band. Much of that can possibly be attributed to it being the first album with new bassist, Britta Philips, who, for you trivia buffs out there, was the singing voice Jem (of the Holograms). She also happened to be newly, romantically involved with our intrepid frontman and songwriter, Dean Wareham. Many of the tracks on the album have a bit more pep in their step, especially when compared to the previous couple of releases. “Renee is crying” isn’t as sad as the title suggests, but is actually quite upbeat and googly-eyed, though still with the band’s patented understated intricacies. For the guitar work, acoustic rhythms mesh with electric meanderings and the jaunty drums will have your toe-tapping all the way along highway seven on the Greyhound, perhaps annoying the passengers around you, who can’t hear the joyous music pumping through your earphones.

* Flipping through the CD collections of friends in university residence was how I discovered the music of a great many bands in the mid-1990s.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2002 list, click here.