Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 2003: #25 The Stills “Still in love song”

<< #26    |    #24 >>

“We were lovers
We were kissers
We were holders of hands
We were make believers
Just losing time”

The four original members of Montreal’s The Stills – vocalist and guitarist Tim Fletcher, guitarist Gregory Paquet, bassist Olivier Corbeil, and drummer Dave Hamelin – met when they were all still teenagers. Each performed in various bands prior to forming The Stills in 2000 and perhaps because of these previous experiences, they quickly gained a following based on their heavy duty live show. They finally released their debut album, “Logic will break your heart”, late in 2003 to critical acclaim*, earning favourable comparisons to Echo & the Bunnymen and fellow post-punk revivalists Interpol. They would go on to release two further albums before amicably splitting up in 2011. The band’s members continue to work in the industry, in other bands, and doing session or production work for other great Canadian acts.

It’s unfortunate to me that the quartet didn’t have more success and longevity, given the promise of their outstanding debut. I remember being super excited when I first heard “Logic will break your heart”, right around the time that I heard “Turn on the bright lights”. I admit that I didn’t feel the same way about those latter albums but that original excitement never waned and I often found myself putting on the debut when I felt the urge to be dark and sombre and angsty.

The third single off that debut would forever remain my favourite by the quartet. “Still in love song” can be universally understood by all but those who have never had a love crushed by someone over whom that person chose someone else, a career, or whatever other passion.

“And you said you’d rather live in TV land
Than say that you care
But you don’t
That’s heartless and I will not cry”

Musically, the tune is – purely and simply – post punk revival at its best. Sinister, arpeggiating guitars, menacing bassline that won’t quit, punishing and bass heavy drum rhythms, snarling vocals, and all this captured in stasis in a vacuous and hermetically sealed wind tunnel. It’s a song that begs repeat plays, tailor made for ear phones and closed eyes and all sorts of other mopery.

*Discounting, of course, the lambasting they received from Pitchfork.. and I always will.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2003 list, click here.

Categories
Playlists

Playlist: New tunes from 2022, part one

Happy Monday!* And while we’re at it, happy fifth anniversary to this very blog!

It’s been hard to believe I’ve been at this thing for five years now but really, time has felt a bit weird and out of sorts of late. I’m pretty sure I swore last year that I would try to get my stuff together and put together a proper celebratory post to acknowledge this landmark milestone, but of course, it snuck up on me again. And the best I’ve got is to share part one of my annual, four part playlist of brand new tunes.

“…Best I’ve got..” What am I saying?

These things really are celebrations unto themselves – each truly an exhibition of some of the best music that has passed my ears each year and soundtracked my daily trials and tribulations. If you’ve happened upon this blog at the right time in the past few years, you’d know that each of the parts of these playlists represent twenty-five tunes released during the previous three months and that I have tickled my fancy to some degree.

The year 2022 started off pretty much as the last two years have ended: very much dictated by the tidal waves of this pandemic and the eternal question of when things might return back to whatever normal ever was. Indeed, things for me have been for the most part status quo. I keep working from home, listening to tunes, reading, writing, and spending as much time as I can with my lovely wife. Truly, I do my best to find joy where I can in these crazy times. One thing that has been somewhat different is the amount I’ve spent on the road, travelling between Ottawa and Toronto and back, which means, of course, plenty of car tunes. Spotify and the number of playlists I’ve created thus far have been my saving grace thus far.

More recently, however, I’ve decided to give Apple Music a try. I know a lot of people decided to cut ties with Spotify over the whole Joe Rogan debacle but I don’t really spend a lot of time on the podcasts and have no idea who the guy is so that wasn’t ever a dealbreaker. For me, I’ve always been curious about Apple Music because I am pretty much knee deep in Apple products every where else and have always been happy with the quality and connectivity the company has provided. So far, Apple Music, too, has been as great as expected. The immediate bonus was having my extensive digital music collection available across all my devices. The only downside so far came when I went to create this part one playlist and found out that for some reason, WordPress, that platform upon which this blog is built, doesn’t play nice in the sandbox with Apple Music. So instead of embedding a playlist sampler as I usually do, I’ll include a link to the playlist below. It should work for all you fellow Apple cult initiates and for the rest of you, try out the link and let me know how it works for you. As always, though, if it doesn’t work, I’ve included links to YouTube videos for each of song in the playlist below.

So without further ado, I’ll present twenty five new tunes that have helped keep me going over the first three months of 2022. Highlights include:

      • “Morbid fascination”, a bombastic, statement making playlist intro by Brighton, England-based duo, Blood Red Shoes
      • I’m not always onboard with everything they do, but “Chaos space marine” off their sophomore record has Black Country, New Road reminding me of a certain Montreal band called Arcade Fire circa mid-2000s
      • Glenn Donaldson released my favourite album last year as The Reds, Pinks and Purples and he’s struck gold again with his third long-player, “Summer at land’s end”, this excellent single, “Let’s pretend we’re not in love”, is a prime example
      • I’ve always been a huge fan of Frank Turner‘s songwriting and perhaps because of my age, am drawn to the stripped down tracks that highlight this talent and so when he includes acoustic versions as bonus tracks, like this acoustic version of “Haven’t been doing so well”, I’m sold
      • Britt Daniel and his band Spoon have returned with a new album after five years and this track off it, “Wild”, is triumph epitomized
      • Montreal psych-rockers Elephant Stone have released a new concept EP, their first release completely in French ‘par excellence’, and “M. Lonely” is track one
      • And finally, 90s glam rock/britpop holdouts Placebo have released their first new album in 9 years and “Beautiful James” sounds like they’ve never left us

Here is the entire playlist as I’ve created it:

1. “Morbid fascination” Blood Red Shoes (from the album Ghosts on tape)

2. “Giving in to the love” Aurora (from the album The gods we can touch)

3. “The Overload” Yard Act (from the album Yard Act)

4. “Karl Kardel building” Kids On A Crime Spree (from the album Fall in love not in line)

5. “Chaos space marine” Black Country, New Road (from the album Ants from up there)

6. “Let’s pretend we’re not in love” The Reds, Pinks And Purples (from the album Summer at land’s end)

7. “Anybody else inside” The Slow Show (from the album Still life)

8. “Spud infinity” Big Thief (from the album Dragon new warm mountain I believe in you)

9. “Haven’t been doing so well (acoustic)” Frank Turner (from the album FTHC)

10. “Something like love” Andy Bell (from the album Flicker)

11. “Wild” Spoon (from the album Lucifer on the sofa)

12. “Circles” Basement Revolver (from the album Embody)

13. “Am I really going to die” White Lies (from the album As I try not to fall apart)

14. “Blame (feat. Miki Berenyi” Blushing (from the album Possessions)

15. “M. Lonely” Elephant Stone (from the EP Le voyage de M. Lonely dans la lune)

16. “Hurts to love” Beach House (from the album Once twice melody)

17. “In the name of (Garden version)” Basia Bulat (from the album The Garden)

18. “You in everything” Gangs Of Youth (from the album Angel in realtime)

19. “The tipping point” Tears For Fears (from the album The tipping point)

20. “All being fine” King Hannah (from the album I’m not sorry I was just being me)

21. “In need of repair” Band Of Horses (from the album Things are great)

22. “Means to bleed” The Mysterines (from the album Reeling)

23. “Only wanna see u tonight” Young Guv (from the album Guv III)

24. “Jeff Goldblum” Mattiel (from the album Georgia gothic)

25. “Beautiful James” Placebo (from the album Never let me go)

Apple initiates or lab rats can click here to let me know if this link works to sample the above tracks as a whole playlist.

And as always, wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and continue to be well. Above all, 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.

*Whenever I say those words, I automatically start singing the words: “You’re twistin’ my melon man.”

Categories
Tunes

100 best covers: #53 Suede “Shipbuilding”

<< #54    |    #52 >>

I’ve already written bits about the Help Warchild album a couple of times for this series. Songs from this, my favourite ever compilation, have already appeared at number 100 and number 74 on this list and here we are again, this time with Suede’s cover of Elvis Costello’s “Shipbuilding”.

Of course, at the time, I had no idea this was a cover. Given how quickly the Help album was recorded and released*, the CD copy of the compilation that I purchased used from Penguin Music the year after its release had almost nothing in the way of liner and production notes. I was also still something of a newbie when it came to Suede. I had obviously heard of them, their eponymously titled glam rock debut, and had fallen hard for “My insatiable one” off the “So I married an axe murderer” soundtrack, as well as the “We are the pigs” single off their sophomore release “Dog man star”. Still, I was a few months shy of the full on love affair with their third record, “Coming up”.

I only discovered the original when I finally decided it was time to explore the work of Elvis Costello a decade or so later. It appeared on a Best Of compilation that I tracked down and recognized it immediately as track eight from Warchild. The music was originally written by Clive Langer for Robert Wyatt but unhappy with his own lyrics, he approached Costello to refine them. The song was a reaction to the Falklands war and played on the irony that shipbuilding towns would see a modicum of resurgence while its fighting age sons would be sent off to fight and perhaps die.

Costello’s original is a hip and jazzy number, emboldened by a trumpet solo by Chet Baker. The musicianship is tremendous and you can’t argue with those phenomenal lyrics** but there is something just a bit more suave and swank about Brett Anderson, no? In his and Suede’s hands, it’s a bit more of a rock ballad, heavy on the bass and the piano, and though the trumpet still appears, it’s more muted.

Yeah, I dig Elvis Costello. But I love Suede. I’m going with the cover here.

Cover:

The original:

*All within eight days!!!

**Elvis Costello himself has said that these were some of the best lyrics he had ever written

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