Vinyl love: Frightened Rabbit “The midnight organ fight”

(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: Frightened Rabbit
Album Title: The midnight organ fight
Year released: 2008
Year reissued: 2018
Details: Heavyweight vinyl, 10th anniversary edition

The skinny: Here’s another record, along with the Ride record I featured last weekend in this space, that I purchased during my Boxing Day sales exploits. There’s not a lot of photos to share. It’s a pretty bare bones release but a great one nonetheless. In 2018, Frightened Rabbit released this 10th anniversary pressing of their critically-acclaimed, second album, “The midnight organ fight”. They had also arranged a tribute recording of it by friends of the band (later released the following year) and were also in the midst of celebrating the anniversary with a tour when frontman Scott Hutchison went missing. Unfortunately, he was found the next day drowned. The hype sticker on the cover of this release has the NME claiming the album as “utterly beautiful, scathingly honest, darkly hilarious, and impossibly grandiose”. It is all that but like all of Frightened Rabbit’s music in hindsight, it’s all quite heartbreaking.

Standout track: “The modern leper”

Best tunes of 2002: #19 The Decemberists “July! July!”

<< 20    |    #18 >>

Sit right back on that comfy white leather sectional there and let me tell you the tales of all my previous dwellings. Not where we currently sit in the lovely home that was built for us out in the suburbs over twelve years ago, where we saw a community rise up around us, displacing wetland flora and fauna and welcoming the usual suburban wildlife.

No. I’m talking about the litany of apartments, starting with the two bedroom unit on the third floor of a low rise, where the radiator heating never truly worked and our landlords would hand us electrical heaters to supplement. And before that, the low rent, basement apartment in which we could always hear our landlords yelling at each other above us. The beautiful but tiny, tiny, tiny one in Sandy Hill (an area that is a mix of students and embassies) that was our first apartment in Ottawa, where my wife wrote countless papers for her masters degree and I tried not to get in her way.

And prior to that, a one-bedroom in Ronces in Toronto, the only apartment in which I lived alone, well, not alone, truly, because my cat Lucy spent more time there than I did. Then, there was the two-bedroom, railroad style apartment that I lived in for two years at Bathurst and St Clair with two different roommates, Ryan and Chrissy, consecutively, not concurrently. And I’ll stop this list with Armenia, the nickname me and my roommates gave the three-bedroom apartment that we all lived in just off campus to finish off our degrees in at York University. That place that saw more than its fair share of parties, laughter, and heartbreak.

“July! July!” is track three on The Decemberists’ brilliant debut album, “Castaways and cutouts” and it is, reportedly, Colin Meloy doing what I just did there but in song form and only speaking about one of the places in which he lived.

“This is the story of the road that goes to my house
And what ghosts there do remain
And all the troughs that run the length and breadth of my house
And the chickens how they rattle chicken chains“

Colin Meloy has said that the song is about the place he was living in at the time of writing for this first album and that the place was an old slaughterhouse. That he imagined it was haunted by the ghosts of the chickens that had lost their lives there and that he wrote about it could be a nod to Neutral Milk Hotel, a band with whom The Decemberists were certainly oft compared in their early days, and their song, “Ghost”, off “In the aeroplane over the sea”. But Meloy and his Decemberists weren’t ever just about simple mimicry. They have always added their own touch and twist to the legends and the traditions that they mined.

“And we’ll remember this when we are old and ancient
Though the specifics might be vague
And I’ll say your camisole was sprightly light magenta
When in fact it was a nappy blueish grey“

Here, Meloy plays on memories and how we distort them over time. Our lense on the past changes with the winds of time, rosy and cheerful or black and bleak, depending on our mood or character. Meloy is obviously of the former, choosing the ‘sprightly’ remembrance over the ‘nappy’. He and his players accompany the words with only peppy drumming for the first few bars and then the organs kick in for a wild dance. Yeah, for a song about chicken ghosts and gut shot, crooked French Canadians, it’s a chipper track, perhaps the most upbeat track on the album, and all tied up neatly in a bow at just under three minutes.

Enjoy your Saturday all!

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

 

Best tunes of 1992: #21 Sugar “Helpless”

<< #22    |    #20 >>

I never got into Hüsker Dü.

I can almost hear the sound of thousands of eyebrows raising out there but the truth is, I’ve never even sat down to listen to them.

I am well aware that they are highly influential in alternative rock music and that I quite possibly could find plenty of tunes that I would enjoy within their nine year, six album career. However, Hüsker Dü had already broken up quite acrimoniously by the time my musical tastes had a found a proper home in the alternative rock world in the very early 1990s and with no new music to slog on the alternative radio or music video shows, they didn’t immediately come across my path. By the time I heard tell of them, years later, there was always other new music to occupy to my time and took precedence.

One of the founding members of that band, Bob Mould, however, has not escaped my notice. After Hüsker Dü ended, Mould released a couple of solo albums, both of which saw middling success and to neither of which I have listened. Then, in 1992, Mould formed a new band with bassist David Barbe and drummer Malcom Travis and that same year, this trio, Sugar, released their debut album “Copper blue”. This is where our story begins.

When I first heard the third single off this album, “Helpless”, I knew nothing of Mould or Hüsker Dü or any other context. I just heard this hard hitting beast of a song. It was loud and brash and super confident. The guitars were noisy but still melodic and the drums seesawed between rata-tat-tat gunfire and metronomic syncopation. And there’s Mould singing with by now quite recognizable sneering but calm vocals, not quite buried in the mix but not obviously prevalent either. Indeed, he feels here like just another layer of guitars that anyone can sing along with, more as a hum than outright lambast.

A great tune, a great single, and really, it was just one of many great ones released off an amazing debut. But when I saw him perform solo a bunch of years ago, this was the one that had my fists pumping when I first heard those introductory riffs reverberating in the hot summer sun.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1992 list, click here.