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Tunes

Best tunes of 2003: #24 David & the Citizens “Until the sadness is gone”

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I can’t be completely sure how I ever came across this song but if I had to guess, it likely would have come to me care of American independent music magazine, Under the Radar.

I remember the first time I came across it, perusing the shelves at Chapters while my wife looked through vegetarian recipe books, and though I don’t recall who was on the cover, they must’ve drawn my interest because I flipped through the magazine and it was like its creators had the exact same tastes in music as me. It’s usually me having to locate my wife when finished my own wandering of the shelves in the store but on this day, my wife had to come find me. She wasn’t surprised to see me holding a music magazine but I think my excitement made her stop and take note. I blathered on and showed her pages and pictures and she patiently listened for a few minutes before suggesting I buy it and bring it home for more study.

And so I did.

And I started a regular occurrence of buying a copy of the magazine whenever I saw it on the Chapters magazine shelves. And then, one Christmas, my wife surprised me with a year’s subscription to the magazine, which I duly renewed the following year. Under the Radar has long since become a digital only magazine and website but I still refer to it regularly and it has been a source of many musical discoveries over the years, bands and artists of whom I would likely never otherwise have heard had it not been for its excellent articles and reviews. As I inferred before, David & The Citizens* and their dazzling sophomore album, “Until the sadness is gone”, is likely one of these finds.

The Swedish indie pop outfit was formed in 1999 by David Fridlund. He had named the group after a radio manual he had found but later removed the words “Band Tranceiver” from the end of the name to shorten it for public consumption. The group then went through many lineup changes and released a handful of EPs and full-length albums and even saw a modicum of success in their home country. But it wasn’t until three years after its initial domestic release and its Swedish Grammy nod that their second album managed to see the light in North America. “Until the sadness is gone” was given a new cover when Friendly Fires Records issued it in 2006 and this is the one with which I am most familiar. The group released a third album around this same time, which was also quite good, but then went on hiatus shortly afterward. Many years after moving to North America, Fridlund has returned to music and has resurrected the band but under a slightly different name: Citizens Band Orchestra.

The first two tracks on that 2003 album were both released as singles and the latter one, “Graycoated morning”, did quite well at home. But it’s track three, the title track, that I just love. “Until the sadness is gone” is frenetic acoustic guitar strumming set against an energetic klezmer rhythm, all dressed up with horn blasts and Conor Oberst-like snarling vocal angst. It goads you into getting up and losing yourself in dance, in music, and in letting both cure what ails. Yes, the power of music.

“And it won’t get bigger
It won’t get better
But put that record on and dance with me
Until the Sadness Is Gone“

*Were you concerned my digression would never return to the song at hand?

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2003 list, click here.

Categories
Live music galleries

Live music galleries: Peter Bjorn and John [2016]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

Peter Bjorn and John live at Ottawa Bluesfest 2016

Artist: Peter Bjorn and John
When: July 7, 2016
Where: Black Sheep stage, Ottawa Bluesfest, Lebreton Flats Park, Ottawa
Context: (One of the things I’ve been missing the most over the last two years from my life pre-pandemic has been live music and this is a theme that I’ve harped upon pretty regularly on these pages. However, now that health and safety restrictions have started to loosen and the world in general seems to be dipping its toes back into the murky sea of normalcy (whatever that means), I haven’t been super eager to buy tickets for any of the many great shows for which I’ve had the opportunity. Well, my anxiety thresholds are soon to be tested because the festival pass that I purchased for the 2020 edition of Ottawa Bluesfest has been rolled over twice and I now appear to have a pass for this coming July, the lineup for which is generally the same as it was two years ago. So in an effort to remind myself of the joy this festival always has brought, I’ve been flipping through the hordes of photos I’ve taken there and came across these seven that I thought I’d share.)

I remember being surprised at the lack of congestion at the smallest stage of the festival that night. They had been the darlings of the indie scene ten years before with their breakout album, “Writer’s block”, and hit single, “Young folks”. And though their subsequent albums hadn’t all had the same punch, they’d all been pretty great in their own regard. The Swedish trio, whose first names give the group its name, Peter Bjorn and John, were joined onstage by touring members, one of whom would provide the female vocal parts for “Young folks” later in the set. They started things off lightning quick with “Up against the wall” and a couple of tracks off their brand new album* before taking the opportunity to introduce themselves. Funnily enough, all three could have just pointed at the name patches that were sewn on the overalls they were wearing, betraying a sense of humour that was also reflected in their lyrics and the way they performed. Given this, I couldn’t actually tell how serious they were being in all their rock and roll posturing but it really ignited the crowd, which definitely grew as time wore on. Indeed, I was quite surprised at the band’s energy and Peter Morén’s ability and magnetism as frontman but by the time he jumped into the crowd and took a stroll among us while singing, it felt just right. The set was an almost perfect mix of old and new, performing all the favourites, including the aforementioned “Young folks”, without a hint of boredom.
Point of reference song: Love is what you want

Peter Morén of Peter Bjorn and John
Bjorn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John
John Eriksson of Peter Bjorn and John
Bjorn and touring member Klaus
Peter and touring member Freya
PB&J rocking out

*At that time, said new albums was 2016’s “Breakin’ point”.

Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 1993: #18 Saint Etienne “You’re in a bad way”

<< #19    |    #17 >>

I don’t remember exactly when I first heard Saint Etienne’s sophomore album, “So tough”, but I can definitely tell you that I fell in love with it in 1994, a whole year after its release.

I’ll try to elaborate.

My friend Tim recorded a copy of it to cassette tape for me. That much is true. I probably listened to it a few times after he first gave it to me but it really only fell into rotation on my walkman that second year of university. Don’t ask me why I switched back from discman to cassette tape player that year, though if I had to guess, it was probably because I was so impoverished that my only real entertainment came from making mixed tapes. I’m pretty sure I had the album on the other side of a C100 with Lush’s “Gala”, though I no longer have said tape so I can’t confirm or deny. What I can be certain of is the regularity with which visited my ears that year.

“So tough” is technically Saint Etienne’s sophomore LP, it could also be considered the debut by the band as a trio. They began as the duo of Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs and had originally planned to employ a series of guest vocalists as needed. They settled on Sarah Cracknell as a permanent vocalist after working with her for one of the singles from the debut, 1991’s “Foxbase Alpha”. “So tough” was her coming out as third official band member and that’s her (a much younger version, of course) gracing the album’s cover.

All in all, “So tough” is as much an album about mood and ambience as it is about getting you out on the dance floor, and with all the sampled soundbites from older, esoteric films that provide segue ways between tunes, it almost feels like a soundtrack, a narrative to a trip of sorts. It certainly soundtracked a number of trips for me, long walks and bus rides. I remember the album keeping me warm on more than one occasion waiting, shivering for the bus that would rocket me down Steeles, away from my institution of higher learning, towards the basement apartment I was lodged in, just north of the ‘416’, near Dufferin Street. It was in that same basement apartment that I, quite by accident, caught an episode of Life on Venus Ave. and that whimsical, extraterrestrial VJ, Ziggy Lorenc, played the video for “You’re in a bad way”.

The album’s second single and sixth track certainly fit* with Ziggy’s love and sexuality funhouse vibe. It’s an obvious kick at 60s throwback bop and pop. It kicks off with a sample from the 1963 film “Billy Liar”: “A man could lose himself in London.” And despite the song’s bright and spritely joy, the lyrics address a man who’s been beset by the humdrum of life and has let it get him down. But have no fear, our good friend Sarah will save him (and us) with that golden voice of hers.

“You’re in a bad way
Every day seems just the same (every day)
Just dial my number
Or call my name”

*And yeah, so did the throwback video.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1993 list, click here.