Best tunes of 2010: #16 Wolf Parade “Palm road”

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Wolf Parade is a Canadian indie rock quartet that formed in Montreal in 2003 from musicians that were all from around the Vancouver area. They are kind of like a supergroup in reverse. All four members have always been highly involved and visible in the Canadian indie music scene, but most of their activities occurred after Wolf Parade’s formation. Spencer Krug, who started the band initially, has also fronted the bands Frog Eyes, Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake, and Moonface, while Dan Boeckner, his musical partner in crime, has been involved with a number of other groups, including Handsome Furs, Divine Fits (with Britt Daniels of Spoon), and most recently, Operators. Second guitarist, Dante DeCaro was a founding member of Hot Hot Heat and has another project called Johnny and the Moon and drummer Arlen Thompson has done production and session work with a host of fellow Canadian bands, including Boeckner’s Handsome Furs and Arcade Fire. Yeah, I’m out of breath just typing all that.

I got into this talented bunch of guys upon the release of their brilliant debut album, “Apologies to the queen mary”, in 2005. Their jittery, frenetic blend of power pop and post-punk drew me in right away, each song a revelation wrapped in a riddle, with Boeckner and Krug tag-teaming the mike like it had offended them in some way. Their second and third albums were unleashed with just as much thunder and then, in 2011… they dissolved. Each member returning to or starting up the aforementioned projects as if Wolf Parade was only ever meant to be just one of their passing fancies.

Fast forward to the early days of 2016 and there were rumblings from their website that appeared to be more than just empty winds. An new EP followed in the spring, as did a triumphant resurrection tour (one stop of which I happily caught), and now, there’s a brand new full-length due out this coming Friday.  But back to the matter at hand.

“Palm road” is the second track that appears on “Expo 86”, Wolf Parade’s third album and the last to be released before the hiatus. It’s a Dan Boeckner track. Driving guitars mixed with Krug’s wonky, extraterrestrial synths, Thompson’s punishing drums and Boeckner’s vocals like an unpolished Springsteen, all rough and tumble after a night of playing for drinks at a dive bar, whose stage is more broken glass than wood. It’s raw and fist pumping and a crowd of like-minded fans shouting along at the chorus line as loud as their lungs will allow. Yes indeed.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.

Best tunes of 2010: #17 Band Of Horses “Compliments”

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At the number seventeen spot on this, my best of 2010 list, is “Compliments”, the first single off Band of Horses’ third album, “Infinite arms”.

To be honest, Band of Horses is a group that I know very little about. I can tell you (because I looked it up) that they are an American rock band formed by Ben Bridwell in 2004 and that he really is the only constant in a band membership that seems to be forever in flux. I don’t own physical copies of any of their albums so I’ve never read liner notes or lyrics and never really knew what any of them looked like until I watched a bit of live concert footage on YouTube at my buddy Tim’s place one night. I know that I really liked their first three albums and that those three albums are so consistent that I’m often not sure which songs appear on which album and am even not quite clear on certain songs’ titles, not even the ones I really like.

The funny thing (to me anyway) is that while listening to their music, I was able to create a picture of them in my head and when I saw them on the aforementioned live footage, they closely resembled the image I had of them in my head. On that night anyway, they were a southern rock band, kind of a CCR or Lynyrd Skynyrd for the 2000s, leftover hippies, shaggy and bearded, decked out in jeans and non-descript T-shirts and bandanas. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that.

And now that I’ve gotten all that out of the way, I gotta say: “Compliments” is a rocking track! It’s anthemic and big. Right from the get go, the reverb guitars catch all attention and the bopping rhythms and crashing cymbals make you want to get up and dance. And if not to go that far, at least to stomp your feet or clap your hands or to join in on the rhythm by making noise in some other way. The gang vocals too, beg for you to join in, no requirement for perfect pitch or a certain tone of voice. Shouting is just fine with Bridwell and company. And damned, if doesn’t feel great.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.

Vinyl love: Blur “Think tank”

(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: Blur
Album Title: Think tank
Year released: 2003
Year reissued: 2012
Details: 7 of 7 in Blur 21, anniversary box set, black vinyl, 180 gram, 2 x LP, Gatefold sleeve

The skinny: Blur’s 7th album is their first recorded as a trio. Though Coxon appears on the album’s final track, he effectively left the band during its recording, given the usual artistic differences. It continues down the art rock path forged by “13” with obvious influences from Damon Albarn’s time spent working with Gorillaz.

Standout track: “Out of time”