Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: Middle Kids “Today we’re the greatest”

(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: Middle Kids
Album Title: Today we’re the greatest
Year released: 2021
Details: Limited edition, tangerine vinyl

The skinny: Just over a week ago, I counted down my top ten favourite albums from 2021. This last year’s list was full of surprises for me but I still managed to procure many of these records for my collection before they flew off the shelves so I plan on featuring these purchases for my Vinyl Love series over the next little while. I’m starting off with the number ten album but won’t necessarily stick to the ranked order. Australia’s Middle Kids put out a very excellent sophomore release in March of last year. I had loved their debut but wasn’t expecting to be as blown away by this one. Still, I pre-ordered a copy of the ‘indie only’ tangerine pressing from one of my favourite independent record stores and was pleasantly surprised. “Today we’re the greatest” isn’t as immediate a rocker as “Lost friends” but it still has anthemic written all over it.

Standout track: “Today we’re the greatest”

Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 2020: #30 Morrissey “Jim Jim Falls”

#29 >>

Well howdy! It’s 2022. A new year, but one that’s feeling much the same as the last two. And what better way to start off the year than with a post kicking off a countdown of my favourite tunes from the year that started this mess. Dark humour? A sucker for punishment? Perhaps. But for me, it’s more about remembering that there was still some good to come out of these dark times.

Take my number thirty for the year, for instance. Morrissey released a new album in 2020 and though this sort of news has once again fallen smack dab into the ho-hum category, I found myself liking quite a bit of “I am not a dog on a chain”.

I first discovered Stephen Patrick Morrissey shortly after he went solo and I loved his first bunch of early 90s albums. I later discovered his work fronting the legendary British rock band, The Smiths, right around the time that was releasing his late 90s work, a period in his solo career to which I remain to this day mostly ambivalent. Then, he released what many (including myself) consider his comeback album, “You are the quarry”, in the early 2000s. He followed that with a string of albums of diminishing returns, to the point where I couldn’t even have been bothered to check out his album of covers, 2019’s “California son”.

Morrissey has always been a polarizing figure, eliciting equal amounts of gag reflex, eye-rolling, cheers, and undying love from all parts of the music-buying public. He actually seems to have become more known for his penchant for cancelling concerts and tours and for his increasingly right wing views than he is for any new music that he manages to record. He has lost a number of fans along the way, been dropped from record labels, and had numerous fellow artists publicly express their disappointment in him. I’ve always tried to separate the artist and their art, which is why I still try to give his albums a listen, just in case there’s a gem or two to pluck from the mire. And in 2020, there were a few on his latest and, in fact, I distinctly remember listening and bopping right along to it on the first spin while working away at my dining room table.

The opening track, “Jim Jim Falls”, starts off not sounding like typical Morrissey at all but then the industrial/electronic percussion and synth crashes give way to his familiar vocal delivery. It’s dark and ominous and harrowing in feel but the tone, biting and no holds barred, rings true. Lyrically, he sets death (particularly suicide) against living life for real, walking the walk and jumping the jump instead of talking the talk. And it rocks and it rolls. Seriously. When else but with Morrissey would you find yourself happily singing along with the lines: “If you’re gonna kill yourself, then for God’s sake, just kill yourself?”

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2020 list, click here.

Categories
Playlists

Playlist: New tunes from 2021, part four

Well, we made through another year. It’s New Years’s Eve, a mere handful of hours left of 2021. I would normally be all optimistic for the new year, but I can’t help but question if things will really get better with the turn of the calendar. I saw someone post a meme recently on social media somewheres that gloomily said: “That moment that you realize that 2022 is pronounced twenty twenty too.” I laughed out loud because it rang so true.

Still, traditions must be adhered to. The countdown will go on, resolutions will be made and broken, young lovers will kiss at midnight, sparkling wines will be uncorked and guzzled, and of course, I will post the final instalment of my annual four-part playlist sharing some of the new tunes released during the year. You are welcome to go back and revisit parts one, two, and three, which include songs from the first three quarters of the year. And this final playlist, twenty five songs, much like the previous three, collects the bangers from the last three months. However, since new releases are typically scant at this time of year (the calendar usually being more full of reissues and box sets for Christmas), I bolstered whatever spots remain with the b-sides, or tracks that just missed being included in the previous three parts.

As rough as the year has been personally and for all of us collectively, we’ve at least had some great music being created and released to keep us going. In some areas of the world, things began opening up in the fall and live shows were being held, a sort of tease and taste of how things can be if they ever return to normal, and then, Omricon swept in to remind us that this pandemic isn’t quite beaten yet.

But let’s focus, just for a few minutes, on the joy of music, shall we? Right then.

Highlights of this playlist’s last twenty-five songs include:

    • “Still the same” is infectious synth pop from the latest album by Princess Century, the solo project of Maya Postepski (ex of Austra and TR/ST)
    • Always whimsical and dreamy and mellow rocking, Luna frontman Dean Wareham delivers fun on “The past is our plaything” from his newest solo album
    • On “Dying in LA”, Canadian indie electronic rock band, Gold and Youth, channels OMD and Simple Minds for the soundtrack of the film that John Hughes never made
    • And speaking of 80s revival, Nation of Language do their best impression of New Order on “Across that fine line”
    • It’s almost sickening how Elbow keep continuing to make untouchable and beautiful music each and every album but songs like “Six words” draw me in every time
    • Departure Lounge came out of nowhere earlier this year to release their first album in two decades and songs like the jangly “Australia” show why more people should have missed them
    • And finally, “(We like to) Do it with the lights on” is just one of many reasons I’m glad that Nicholas Thoburn didn’t stop making music as Islands, as he had threatened back in 2016

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist as I’ve created it, complete with links to YouTube videos:

1. “Pool hopping” Illuminati Hotties (from the album Let me do one more)

2. “Human touch” Pond (from the album 9)

3. “Still the same” Princess Century (from the album s u r r e n d e r)

4. “Mid-century modern” Billy Bragg (from the album The million things that never happened)

5. “The past is our plaything” Dean Wareham (from the album I have nothing to say to the mayor of L.A.)

6. “Aquamarine” Hand Habits (from the album Fun house)

7. “Bessie, did you make it?” Marissa Nadler (from the album The path of the clouds)

8. “Wasted” The War On Drugs (from the album I don’t live here anymore)

9. “Proud home” Lily Konigsberg (from the album Lily we need to talk)

10. “Miss Moon” Penelope Isles (from the album Which way to happy)

11. “Dying in LA” Gold & Youth (from the album Dream baby)

12. “Across that fine line” Nation Of Language (from the album A way forward)

13. “Turning green” Courtney Barnett (from the album Things take time, take time)

14. “It should have been fun” Pip Blom (from the album Welcome break)

15. “Royal morning blue” Damon Albarn (from the album The nearer the fountain, more pure the stream flows)

16. “Six words” Elbow (from the album Flying dream 1)

17. “Tell me tell me tell me” Rinse (from the EP Wherever I am)

18. “Australia” Departure Lounge (from the album Transmeridian)

19. “Too loud” Autogramm (from the album No rules)

20. “(We like to) Do it with the lights on” Islands (from the album Islomania)

21. “When I come around” Nap Eyes (from the EP Nap Eyes)

22. “When it breaks” Quivers (from the album Golden doubt)

23. “The right thing is hard to do” Lightning Bug (from the album A color of the sky)

24. “In the stone” The Goon Sax (from the album Mirror II)

25. “Jaywalker” Andy Shauf (from the album Wilds)

As always, wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe, continue to be well, and well, enjoy the tunes.

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.