100 best covers: #91 Dum Dum Girls “There is a light that never goes out”

“And if a double-decker bus
Crashes into us
To die by your side
Is such a heavenly way to die”

Who else but Morrissey could pen such a lyric? Pair that with Johnny Marr’s instantly recognizable jangly guitar and you might wonder how anyone could possibly stand up to cover any song by The Smiths. Many bands try but very few succeed. Dum Dum Girls, the noise rock project led by Dee Dee Penny, have managed it, in my opinion, with their version of “There is a light that never goes out”.

The original appeared on The Smiths’ third record, “The queen is dead”, and is considered by some to be among the band’s best work. It’s got Marr’s aforementioned jangle, some synthesized strings, and of course, Morrissey’s warble, all typically morbid and depressing. It’s tone is melancholy in its regal, unhurried sound, a song that many a teenager has spun in their bedroom to soundtrack their breaking heart.

Dum Dum Girls’ cover appeared as the final track on their 2011 EP “He gets me high”, which was produced by Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner and by Richard Gottehrer (writer of 60s girl group hits, like “My boyfriend’s back”). Their version is bigger, brasher, and faster. The arrangements are the same but the sound is completely different. There are noisy guitars and heavy-footed bass drumming, and Dee Dee’s vocals are exuberant and thrilling in the pure emotion created by fresh love.

I’m not even close to admitting it to be better than the original, but Penny and her Dum Dum Girls, gave “There is a light” a pretty sweet makeover for a date night on a town. What do you all think?

The cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.

Vinyl love: Basia Bulat “Good advice”

(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: Basia Bulat
Album Title: Good advice
Year released: 2016
Details: Black vinyl, gatefold

The skinny: Basia Bulat’s fourth album takes the diminutive but massive-voiced, Canadian singer/songwriter into a whole new territory. Produced by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, “Good advice” goes beyond the usual auto-harp or acoustic guitar backdrop for her vocal exercises and gives her a massive, rainbow coloured canvas to leap off of. It’s easily my favourite of her albums to date.

Standout track: “Infamous”

Best albums of 2017: The honourable mentions (aka #10 through #6)

Happy Friday everyone! And the last Friday of the month to boot! To celebrate, I’ve got a bit of a treat for y’all: the start of something new for this blog.

But first, some background.

Some of you might well be aware of my previous blog, Music Insanity, and if you are, you likely remember that I made a big production of counting down my favourite albums of the year, culminating in two or more weeks of posts and thousands of words at each year’s end. I’ve decided I would do the same on these pages but in a more toned down way. My first thought was to limit it to a top five, detailing each in its own post, each Friday, in the last five weeks of the year, but it proved too difficult a task to limit myself to just five albums. So instead, I will still detail my top five albums in the coming weeks but today, will give the next five as a sort of honourable mentions post. (And then, I cheated even more by hinting at the albums just outside my top ten in the photo of record covers above. Bad, blogger, bad.)

And yes, I intend to continue this tradition on annual basis going forward and over the coming months, will likely sprinkle in some of my favourite albums lists from past years to break up all these lists of favourite songs I’ve been throwing at you.

So without further ado, here are albums ten through six of my favourite albums of 2017. Stay tuned for album number five next Friday!


#10 Phoebe Bridgers “Stranger in the alps”

It’s been quite a while since an album like Phoebe Bridgers’ caught my ear. Her debut album, “Stranger in the alps”, is a mostly quiet, deeply personal, female singer/songwriter collection, which doesn’t in and of itself sound very exciting. The young Ms Bridgers, however, is a fine and mature writer, whose strong musical knowledge and awareness is displayed in her lyrics, making this a very cool listen indeed.

Gateway tune: Smoke signals


#9 The Rural Alberta Advantage “The wild”

Despite being a huge fan of the Toronto-based indie folk trio’s first three albums, I didn’t think I would, and if truth be told, almost didn’t want to like “The wild”. Yet here it is, squeezing its way into my top ten. Just when I think there must be a limit to what can be produced by Nils Edenloff’s raw vocals and guitars and Paul Banwatt’s frenetic drumming, they find yet another gear. In the case of “The wild”, they found themselves with a new member, Robin Hatch, who replaced the departed Amy Cole, and immediately made her presence felt.

Gateway tune: White lights


#8 Allison Crutchfield “Tourist in this town”

Funnily enough, I didn’t immediately make the connection with Waxahatchee but sure enough, Allison Crutchfield is the twin sister of that band’s driving force, Katie Crutchfield. “Tourist in this town” is Allison’s full-length debut after years of collaborating with others, notably with Kyle Gilbride in Swearin’ and her sister in a number of bands, including Waxahatchee. It’s a great breakup album, but one nowhere near as angry as Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged little pill”, and focuses more on change in a more global sense. It’s power pop with synths and is as fun as it is touching.

Gateway tune: Dean’s room


#7 Alvvays “Antisocialites”

Alvvays’ self-titled debut was on pretty much everyone’s lips three years ago on the back of its collection of lovely, jangly indie pop gems. Their sophomore doesn’t disappoint, feeding us more of the same sweetness, but this time with better production (and an appearance by Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake!). If there was a critique to be made, it’s that “Antisocialites” does not adventure very far from what made its predecessor so successful. But I’m not so sure I would have been happy with anything else than what we got.

Gateway tune: Dreams tonite


#6 St. Vincent “Masseduction”

Second and final disclosure of this post: though I’ve always respected what Annie Clarke (aka St. Vincent) was doing artistically and musically, I haven’t always been a fan. That pretty much changed when I saw her live at Ottawa Bluesfest in 2014 and I realized she was the female David Bowie. The similarity is not necessarily musical but in ethos and persona, she’s a true performance artist. “Masseduction” is her take on the pop album but she does it without compromising her sound and art. And it’s pure brilliance.

Gateway tune: Los ageless