Best tunes of 2002: #12 Hot Hot Heat “Bandages”

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Through several posts in my Best tunes of 2001 series, I mentioned the beginnings of an indie rock renaissance, one that was intrinsically tied to a garage rock and post-punk revival. This will become a common theme that I have and will likely continue to touch on through this series on my favourite tunes of 2002 and onwards through future series for 2003 and 2004. They say that everything is cyclical. Who ‘they’ are is still a mystery but you can almost see how the indie rockers of the early 2000s were raised on a steady diet of Joy Division and Bauhaus, perhaps not directly, but even through older siblings constantly blasting the tunes on their record players in their bedrooms. But it didn’t stop there. The indie rock scene evolved just as it did the first time, slowly through the dark dredge of post-punk into the jittery freneticism of the new wave.

I remember being fascinated as I started to hear new music that was oh so familiar to me, sounding very much like the music of my youth. One of the first of these, borne of reflections of Elvis Costello and Talking Heads through blurred and foggy mirrors, a young Canadian quartet sported this same restlessness and angsty geek rock. This was Hot Hot Heat.

The band formed in 1999 in British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada. The best known lineup of Steve Bays, Dustin Hawthorne, Paul Hawley, and Dante DeCaro stabilized in 2000, were signed to SubPop in 2001, and their debut, “Make up the breakdown”, appeared a year after that. The first single to be released was, of course, this synth heavy number called “Bandages”. The drumming and bass line kept a simple beat and the guitars angular and staccato, almost ska-like in feel, while Steve Bays yelped and rasped up nonsense.

“These bandages are anonymity
I’ve been shaking from making an awful decision
I’ve been running and running
Feels like my head is spinning round and round, around, around, around, around, around“

“Bandages” clocked in at 3 minutes and a third but felt only a third that long. It was catchy and danceable and despite all the retro feels, was as fresh as a hot shower and a mint pillow. And man does it leave you breathless. I can only imagine what it did to dancefloors around that time.

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

Vinyl love: Phoebe Bridgers “Punisher”

(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: Phoebe Bridgers
Album Title: Punisher
Year released: 2020
Details: Limited edition, red and swirly vinyl, gatefold sleeve, included lyric book

The skinny: I pre-ordered this limited edition, red and swirly pressing of Phoebe Bridgers’ sophomore solo record, “Punisher”, as soon as I heard tell of it, right off her website. No second guessing. I loved her first album and both of the collaborative project (boygenius, Better Oblivion Community Center) of which she has since been a part. The wait for it was interminable. I’m not talking about the release date but the amount of time it took to get from California to here. I was worried that the sitting and changing hands through the multiple stages through two postal systems, it might have gotten damaged along the way. But not so. And it was definitely worth the wait. The packaging is immaculate and the artwork and lyric booklet is lovingly rendered. And well, the music itself? Let’s just say that you can believe the hype.

Standout track: “Kyoto”

Playlist: New tunes from 2020, part two

Back at the end of April, I posted the first part of this series, sharing with you all a playlist containing twenty-five tracks that I enjoyed during the first quarter of 2020. At that time, we were just five weeks or so into COVID-19 lockdown and had no idea what was going to happen or how long things were going to go on the way they were going. And well, we’re now nearing the end of July and we still don’t really have the answer to any of these questions. Restrictions have been relaxed in different parts of the world and we’ve had second outbreaks happen in others. We’ve been very tentative here in Canada. Slowly, slowly, slowly, we’ve seen some return to normalcy, albeit with some changes. Drive-in movie theatres appear to be making a comeback and leapfrogging from that, drive-in concerts. Masks are now prevalent and being made mandatory in all indoor public places. And of course, many of us are still working from home and really, seeing very little of other people outside of our own little bubbles.

Luckily for us, new music is still being released. Something to keep us occupied while we all stuck at home. I’ve (more than once) found myself wondering, though, if it, at some point, the music would stop coming. But no, at least not yet. Indeed, I would imagine that many of the tracks on this playlist were finished up during this crazy time and maybe even some of it recorded while in isolation. And when I get to posting the third playlist in this series, sometime in October, I feel like most of those songs will be influenced in some way by this new reality, whatever that will look like by then.

But before I get to much ahead of myself, let’s have a look at some of the highlights of this season’s playlist:

      • It all opens up with “Breathe”, the frenetic second track off Canadian indie popsters Born Ruffian‘s latest album, “Juice”
      • “The adults are talking” is a tune that I just can’t resist, the first in many years by The Strokes that has grabbed me right from the beginning and has yet to let go
      • One of my favourite Netflix series of late has been this British comedy, “Sex education”, and the soundtrack by Ezra Furman is just phenomenal and it finally saw a release this year, on which “Every feeling” is a standout track
      • I purchased I Break Horses‘s new album, “Warnings“, for my vinyl collection in May and it is quickly becoming one of my favourites of the year – just have a taste of “I’ll be the death of you” to see why
      • I saw and fell for Gateway Drugs when they opened for Swervedriver in 2015 and have been waiting for new material ever since, soooo… yes, “Wait (medication)” off this year’s “PSA” is very welcome and its production by Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner definitely doesn’t hurt
      • It’s been 30 years since Pete “Sonic Boom” Kember’s last solo album but the founding member of Spaceman 3 creates quite the groove on “Just imagine” and the rest of “All things being equal” is quite lovely as well
      • A lot is being made of Phoebe Bridgers‘ sophomore record “Punisher” by the critics and I cannot fault them at all – “Kyoto” is a fine example of her mature and intelligent songwriting

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:

    1. “Breathe” Born Ruffians (from the album Juice)
    2. “Pringle creek” Ellis (from the album Born again)
    3. “Petty drone” Mystery Jets (from the album A billion heartbeats)
    4. “Alexandra” Laura Marling (from the album Song for our daughter)
    5. “The adults are talking” The Strokes (from the album The new abnormal)
    6. “Every feeling” Ezra Furman (from the album Sex Education soundtrack)
    7. “Decade” Harkin (from the album Harkin)
    8. “Nites out” Other Lives (from the album For their love)
    9. “Wake UP!” Hazel English (from the album Wake UP!)
    10. “Anywayz” Austra (from the album HiRUDiN)
    11. “Vegetable” Happyness (from the album Floatr)
    12. “I’ll be the death of you” I Break Horses (from the album Warnings)
    13. “Wait (medication)” Gateway Drugs (from the album PSA)
    14. “Temple” Thao & The Get Down Stay Down (from the album Temple)
    15. “Instant nightmare!” The Dears (from the album Lovers rock)
    16. “Hollywood Park” The Airborne Toxic Event (from the album Hollywood Park)
    17. “Is this a dream” Badly Drawn Boy (from the album Banana Skin Shoes)
    18. “(Don’t break my) devotion” Jade Hairpins (from the album Harmony Avenue)
    19. “Just imagine” Sonic Boom (from the album All things being equal)
    20. “Cameo” Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (from the album Sideways to New Italy)
    21. “Red western sky” Muzz (from the album Muzz)
    22. “Riding solo” Hinds (from the album The prettiest curse)
    23. “Kyoto” Phoebe Bridgers (from the album Punisher)
    24. “Real long gong” Rose City Band (from the album Summerlong)
    25. “Hot heater” Pottery (from the album Welcome to Bobby’s Motel)

And just as I said back in April: Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and continue to be well. Until next time, 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.