Playlist: New tunes from 2019, part two

I don’t know how things shook out where you are but here in Ottawa, the winter took its sweet time loosening its hold. We had snow banks well into April and the “April showers” became “May rains”. The Ottawa river and a number of other rivers in the area hit record heights, causing widespread flooding. We still had the heat on in our place into June and almost immediately had to switch on the AC.

So Spring? Not so much this year, really only having it in name.

Luckily, there was quite a bit of good music released to keep our minds off the dreary weather and this playlist features some of my favourite music that came out over the last three months.

Highlights include:

    • “Can’t find my heart”, the first tune off the second EP in a series released this year by Canada’s venerated indie rock collective, Broken Social Scene
    • A lovely tune called “Athens” off the first album by Elizabeth Morris’s (Allo Darlin’) new band, Elva, with Ola Innset (Making Marks)
    • “Wake me when it’s over”, track three of the final album by The Cranberries, “In the end”, released over a year after Dolores O’Riordan’s death
    • “Young enough”, the title track off the sophomore album by Charly Bliss, which this particular music fan needed to listen to many times before got… so if you yourself aren’t sure yet, give it some time
    • The latest album by The National, “I am easy to find”, is yet another twist and turn in the band’s artistic journey and from this new collection of tunes, I’ve included the majestic “Rylan”
    • “The barricade” off the new record by Toronto indie rock legends, The Lowest of the Lowest, which sounds like to these ears like a return to their early days

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist:

    1. “Everyday” Weyes Blood (from the album Titanic rising)
    2. “That’s where the trouble started” Rose Elinor Dougall (from the album A new illusion)
    3. “Can’t find my heart” Broken Social Scene (from the EP Let’s try the after vol. 2)
    4. “What I’ve been kicking around” The Tallest Man on Earth (from the album I love you. It’s a fever dream)
    5. “Scarecrow” Wand (from the album Laughing matter)
    6. “The barrel” Aldous Harding (from the album Designer)
    7. “Athens” Elva (from the album Winter sun)
    8. “Wake me when it’s over” The Cranberries (from the album In the end)
    9. “No halo” Kevin Morby (from the album Oh my god)
    10. “Déjà vu” SOAK (from the album Grim town)
    11. “Harmony hall” Vampire Weekend (from the album Father of the bride)
    12. “White of an eye” Patience (from the album Dizzy spells)
    13. “Young enough” Charly Bliss (from the album Young enough)
    14. “Fine mess” Interpol (from the EP A fine mess)
    15. “Faithless” Operators (from the album Radiant dawn)
    16. “Rylan” The National (from the album I am easy to find)
    17. “Future shade” Black Mountain (from the album Destroyer)
    18. “Almost it” SACRED PAWS (from the album Run around the sun)
    19. “Is there a pill?” Richard Hawley (from the album Further)
    20. “The barricade” The Lowest of the Low (from the album Agitpop)
    21. “Black Friday” Palehound (from the album Black Friday)
    22. “The river” AURORA (from the album A different kind of human, step II)
    23. “Insignificant” Lust for Youth (from the album Lust for Youth)
    24. “Natural” Julia Shapiro (from the album Perfect version)
    25. “Her own heart” Hatchie (from the album Keepsake)

Enjoy.

For those of you who are on Spotify, feel free to look me up. My user name is “jprobichaud911”.

Playlist: Synth-Pop is for Saturday Nights

The first ‘synthesizers’ were invented early on in the 20th century but didn’t truly find their way into popular music until the 1960s and 1970s. Then, a handful of punk followers took the ethos further and started making music with these ‘synthesizers’, all but completely dispensing with the tried and true rock music instruments. A lot of terms were and still are thrown about to describe the style of music that grew out of these first pioneers’ efforts and it’s often hard to differentiate between and or even define them.

‘Synth-Pop’, the genre that is the subject of today’s playlist, might be the easiest to define, being the most apt description for these acts that put ‘synthesizers’ and drum machines at the forefront of their sound. It was, in fact, a sub-genre of ‘New Wave’, as was the ‘New Romantic’ movement. Both of these are terms that are more difficult for this particular blogger to define, though I may make an attempt with a future playlist, more likely with the former than the latter. The term ‘New Wave’ especially, was misused, even more so where it was seen as a synonym for ‘Synth-Pop’ and ascribed to popular artists that came after the original explosion.

This twenty song playlist is a tale in two halves. The first ten tracks span the years from the late 1970s to the late 1980s, from the years where ‘Synth-Pop’ first appeared to the years that saw intense backlash and we saw the return of guitar rock prominence. The last ten tracks start things off with The Postal Service’s single from 2003, “Such great heights”, and flows on from there, through a sampling of the side of the 21st century indie explosion that was enthused with reviving the ‘Synth-Pop’ sounds.

Besides the just mentioned collaboration between Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello, other highlights include:

  • “Cars”, Gary Numan’s debut single released under his own name, save for the bass, drums, and a tambourine, it’s all synths
  • “Don’t you want me”, the best known single by The Human League, originally released as an afterthought off 1981’s “Dare”
  • A trio of tracks written or co-written by Vince Clarke: Depeche Mode’s “Just can’t get enough”, Yazoo’s “Don’t go”, and Erasure’s “A little respect”
  • “Seventeen”, the first single off Ladytron’s sophomore album, 2002’s “Light & magic”
  • “Lose it”, my favourite track off Canadian synth-pop act Austra’s 2011 debut “Feel it break”, an album written mostly in minor key, just like the best of Depeche Mode
  • “New balance point”, the brand new single off Lust for Youth’s self-titled fifth album

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist:

1. Gary Numan “Cars”
2. The Buggles “Video killed the radio star”
3. The Human League “Don’t you want me”
4. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark “Enola gay”
5. Soft Cell “Tainted love”
6. Depeche Mode “Just can’t get enough”
7. Men Without Hats “Safety dance”
8. Yazoo “Don’t go”
9. Pet Shop Boys “West end girls”
10. Erasure “A little respect”
11. The Postal Service “Such great heights”
12. Ladytron “Seventeen”
13. The Bravery “An honest mistake”
14. Chairlift “Evident utensil”
15. M83 “Kim & Jessie”
16. Cut Copy “Feel the love”
17. MGMT “Kids”
18. Austra “Lose it”
19. Purity Ring “Fineshrine”
20. Lust For Youth “New balance point”

But why is Synth-Pop made for Saturday nights? Eh, I guess it can work just as well on Fridays, or even Sundays, when indeed all Retro 80s nights seem to be scheduled at the clubs. I went with Saturday for the alliteration effect, really, and for the party vibe that many of these tracks elicit. So get out there on your dancefloor, wherever you might be.

For those of you who are on Spotify, feel free to look me up. My user name is “jprobichaud911”.

Playlist: Time to get your Goth on

Happy World Goth Day everyone!

Er… To be honest, it’s not a holiday I observe but it did give me occasion to start in on an idea that I’ve kicked around in the past. And that is making and sharing genre-themed playlists on these pages. So, yeah, starting things off with Goth.

Goth is easily the music genre, lifestyle, and subculture that is most misunderstood by mass media and the public in general. I remember the going joke amongst a few of my coworkers, some years ago, which centred around the term ‘practicing Goth’ (as in, ‘Look at all that black, it looks like Jennifer is practicing Goth today’). It’s a term we culled from an article, one of many that had wrongfully attributed the perpetrators of the Columbine massacre as members of the ‘Goth community’.

I’m not sure I even fully understand the idea of being and ‘practicing’ Goth and all of the different offshoots that now exist but I do enjoy some facets of the fashion (the adoption of Victorian dress, for instance). I am also quite a big fan of a lot of the music that inspired the original scene, though I completely missed out on it, being too young at the time.

Some people sneer at the term Goth as a genre of music, calling it gimmicky, and the truth of the matter is that many of the original artists attached to the genre disliked the tag and tried to loosen its hold. I can remember going to a Sisters of Mercy show in Toronto in 1998, seeing all the youngsters in the audience wearing black, leather, S&M gear, etc., and wondering what they thought of lead singer Andrew Eldritch coming out on stage with his hair bleached blonde and cut short, and wearing a loud red Hawaiian shirt.

The idea in creating this playlist was not to define what is and what is not goth but to celebrate those artists that inspired generations to wear black. It is somewhat chronological, starting with those post-punk artists that toiled in darkness (Joy Division, Bauhaus), continuing with those that took up the mantle (The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy), squeezing in some acts that are not technically goth but definitely don’t sound out of place (Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen), and finally, gently transitioning to those that felt honoured to play in the originators’ shadows (She Wants Revenge, The Horrors), many years later.

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist:

1. Joy Division “She’s lost control”
2. Bauhaus “Bela Lugosi’s dead”
3. Tones On Tail “Christian says”
4. Love and Rockets “Haunted when the minutes drag”
5. The Cure “The hanging garden”
6. Killing Joke “Love like blood”
7. Siouxsie & The Banshees “Cities in dust”
8. Sisters of Mercy “Alice”
9. The Mission “Tower of strength”
10. The Cult “She sells sanctuary”
11. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Red right hand”
12. Concrete Blonde “Bloodletting (The vampire song)”
13. Leonard Cohen “Waiting for the miracle”
14. Dead Can Dance “Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove”
15. Cranes “Shining road”
16. Interpol “Obstacle 1”
17. She Wants Revenge “Tear you apart”
18. The Horrors “Do you remember”
19. Esben and the Witch “Marching song”
20. I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness “According to plan”

Enjoy.

For those of you who are on Spotify, feel free to look me up. My user name is “jprobichaud911”.