Best tunes of 2002: #21 Departure Lounge “I love you”

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Do you have anything in your digital music library by an artist about whom you almost know nothing? It could be just a song, or better yet, a whole album that you just love but of whom nobody else that you know has ever heard. You’re not even sure where you first heard of them yourself but you’re reasonably sure that they made their way on to your computer by way of Napster or Audiogalaxy or Limewire or perhaps some friend’s zip drive during the height of illegal downloading madness. You don’t have physical copies of the song(s) in question and this may be partly because you’ve never seen their CDs in the shops, new or used. Yet over the years this artist has come up, over and over, and gradually, the songs and/or album has become amongst your favourites. Is this sounding familiar at all or is this phenomenon particular to me?

The artist in question for me is Departure Lounge and what I’ve learned was their final album, “Too late to die young”. I still don’t have a physical copy of the album and I think it highly unlikely that I ever will, given that I’ve all but stopped buying CDs and the album was never pressed to wax. However, I can actually say I know a bit more about the group after listening to the album a few times over the past number of weeks and after making a concerted research on the internets. For instance, I was surprised to learn that the frontman, Tim Keegan, formed the group with Jake Kyle, both former members of Robyn Hitchcock’s Egyptians. And also that both of Departure Lounge’s full-length albums were released on Simon Raymonde’s (Cocteau Twins) record label, Bella Union.

With both Raymonde and Hitchcock making contributions to “Too late to die young”, I shouldn’t be surprised at how much I like the album. My understanding, though, is that it is somewhat different than its predecessor, the guitar rock base given an ambient veneer with production by French electronic musician, Kid Loco. Indeed, the sound checks off a lot of boxes for me. There’s some 60s trad rock, space rock, shoegaze, and even a bit of acid house baggy thrown in at moments.

Track four on the album is this brilliant and shiny and uplifting psychedelic number, “I love you”. It evokes bright colours and lava lamps and drugged up optimism. There’s a lot of haze in the hot box, washes of keys, horn flourishes and sighing harmonies. As Keegan sings, without a hint of irony: “It’s beautiful and true, I love you”.

Yeah.

It is beautiful and true and worthy of just laying back with a pair of earphones to let it all wash over you.

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

 

Vinyl love: The Decemberists “Her majesty…”

(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: The Decemberists
Album Title: Her majesty The Decemberists
Year released: 2003
Year reissued: 2008
Details: 180 gram, black vinyl

The skinny: Happy Monday all! It’s the last one of the month and it seems like as good a time as any to talk up the final Decemberists piece in my vinyl collection (for the time being). The indie folk stalwarts released their sophomore album, “Her majesty” back in 2003 and frontman Colin Meloy was truly at his literate and dramatic best. Just have a peek at the bonus short story included on the liner sleeve of this 2008 re-pressing by Kill Rock Stars. Yeah, you know that I still recommend these guys to anyone for an appreciation for the written word.

Standout track: “The soldiering life”

Best tunes of 2011: #6 Rich Aucoin “It”

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I made mention of AUX TV a few times during my Best tunes of 2010 series. I had somehow come across the channel during a random surf at the high end of my Rogers Cable offerings back around the beginning of the 2010s. I almost immediately made the connection that the channel actually played music videos* like MuchMusic used to do, especially at certain hours of the day. One of these happened to be in the early hours and it became part of my morning ritual to turn on the channel while I made and enjoyed my morning coffee. I discovered many a new tune and artist in this way, just check here and here for a couple examples from that Best of 2010 list.

Unfortunately, AUX has since changed formats and been rebranded but I mention it today because this is where I first heard tell of Rich Aucoin, seeing the video for “It” one morning and loving it from the start. If you haven’t seen the video, you should definitely take the time to peruse it below. It strings together instantly recognizable scenes from famous films, like Forrest Gump, The Princess Bride, E.T., Top Gun, Ghostbusters, amongst others, and places Aucoin and his cronies as active participants in the scenes. Many of these films are ones from my youth that I’ve seen numerous times and of which I have fond memories, so it never fails to bring a smile to make face when I watch it. However, I remember it took me a few times watching it originally to catch who the artist that was performing the track because I was always busy brewing coffee at the time or AUX TV would have its titles screwed up. One time, I swore they said “Roch Voisin” but I knew that couldn’t be right. Eventually, I got it nailed down and I went out to hunt down the album on which “It” appeared.

When I listened to Aucoin’s debut album, “We’re all dying to live”, I was very impressed that the rest of the tracks were just as phenomenally put together as “It” and so full of joyous orchestral music of epic proportions. However, I didn’t truly understand the energy and the joy until the following year when I saw Rich Aucoin perform live at Ottawa Bluesfest. His sets are less performances than they are celebrations. He blurs the lines between performer and audience, shattering that glass wall with the use of multimedia, by joining the audience in front of the stage, and employing the use of a parachute, all to create a miasmic, organic, celebratory event. I saw him again a few years later at the Toronto Urban Roots Festival, a set to which he invited the good people at Choir! Choir! Choir! to join him onstage for this entire time slot.

Yeah. Rich Aucoin is all about sharing and caring. He’s almost like a care bear in this way. Indeed, even the most jaded in the crowd can’t help but be pulled in by his exuberance and energy and zest for life. Though the “It” that he doesn’t want us to keep within our heads isn’t quite clear, we know by inference that it cannot be good. The tinkling piano that would have us floating up, Bugs Bunny style, into the clouds, our toes flapping us up like wings, says as much. And the imbued verve and the singing choirs are all working to convince you that we should indeed all be dying to live. Hallelujah to that.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.

* It was especially cool because the channel focused on new and emerging independent artists.