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Tunes

Best tunes of 2012: #15 Metric “Breathing underwater”

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So I’ve mentioned once before in the last month or so that this blog is quickly approaching its fourth anniversary*, and looking back over my posts, I’ve noticed, much to my own surprise, that with the exception of one of my Vinyl Love posts, Canadian indie rockers Metric have yet to have been the focus of a post on any of my lists.

Metric got its start as the duo of James Shaw and Emily Haines back in 1998 in Toronto. Drummer Joules Scott-Key joined on in 2000 and a couple of years later, bassist Joshua Winstead made the group the quartet that we now know and love. As I wrote in that aforementioned Vinyl Love post, I was aware of the group from their early days because of my friend Jez. He saw them a number of times at various intimate clubs when they came to Ottawa in support of their debut album, “Old world underground, where are you?”. After his first time seeing them, Jez tried dragging me along with him and though I was sold on the music of the album he loaned me, I never seemed to have the money to spare.

By the time I finally did see Metric live, it was a number of years and three albums later and their latest, 2009’s “Fantasies”, had garnered them enough success to earn them a spot on Ottawa Bluesfest’s main stage, albeit one at a time slot in the early evening. My wife Victoria was quite a fan of that album and so I was able to convince her to join me on the lawn of the Canadian War Museum (where the festival has been annually held up to last year’s rude COVID-19 interruption) on a warm summer evening in July. Metric’s energy was fun and we both enjoyed singing along with all of our favourites, though Victoria later pointed out that Haines’s dancing was sometimes awkward and her vocals not as strong live as they were on the recordings. My opinion slightly differed than my wife’s – I thoroughly enjoyed finally catching their live experience. I’ve since seen Metric twice more, both times at different festivals, including once in support of their next album, “Synthetica”, from which comes today’s song of focus.

If “Fantasies” broke Metric more into the Canadian mainstream, “Synthetica” finished the job, songs like second single, “Breathing underwater”, gilding the festival stages for the appearances. The intro of synths is like a laser show starting, the whir of exciting machinery, then comes Shaw’s stadium ready, dancing guitar line and the driving drums, regularly punctuated with exciting fills at perfectly opportune moments and Emily Haines can hardly believe that it’s her up on the stage, singing “Is this my life?”. Indeed, the song seems to be a meditation on their good fortunes and success, the achieving of the impossible, and the worry that they are not at all up to the challenge of supporting the weight of being adored by fans around the world. Meanwhile, the video is a collage of clips of their charged live performances and the masses of audiences, including footage from a performance at Lollapalooza the previous year.

Apart from all that, “Breathing underwater” is an incredible and uplifting synth tinged rocker that will have you dancing and singing along every time.

*Now in 11 days to be exact.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2012 list, click here.

Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 2002: #5 Doves “Pounding”

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I almost don’t want to share that this song has already appeared on these pages when I counted down my top five Doves tunes back in January 2019. If you go back to read that post, it might spoil the appearance of another song further up this list. However, it’s true, “Pounding” was definitely part of my list of five favourites when I counted those down. At the time of writing that, we didn’t know for sure what this reunion would bring and whether there was any new material forthcoming. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, we now know that the reunion shows that were only just announced were a huge success and so were the reissues of their first three records and then, 2020 saw them release their first new album in more than a decade, which wound up atop my favourite albums list for the year.

“The last broadcast” is still likely my favourite album by Doves. I wrote about my discovery of it and the group that performed it when I wrote about “Caught by the River” (which appeared at #17) for this very same series. It was Doves’ second album and landed right at the top of UK’s album charts upon release, was a hit with consumers and critics alike, garnering them their second Mercury prize nomination. It is a gorgeous album, calling to mind the hey day of Manchester acid house, as well as the dream pop movement of the same period. It is textured and danceable stuff, perfect for both zoning out and jumping around like crazed animal in a field of likeminded festival goers.

“Pounding” was the second single to be released from the album and as I’ve said before, it really lives up to its name. Many of Dove’s songs are built, layer upon layer, through the course of their duration and this one is no different, which is quite an accomplishment given that its starting point feels high up in stratosphere. Andy Williams’ drumming is inescapable, hammering down at a torrid pace on his snares and toms and you swear you can feel and hear sparkling confetti exploding from them with each hit. The guitars and bass lines race along with the rhythm and effects are thrown in to emulate the sounds of cars roaring past. This is very effective in making you forget yourself when played on your car stereo and your foot on the gas pedal seems to get heavier and heavier. Then, when you think the song can’t get any more uplifting, Jez Williams takes over at the bridge and just wails away at his guitar strings, a jangly explosion that feels ripped from The Edge’s playbook.

“Pounding” is just an injection of pure joy. It’s a track for picking you up when you’re down. A push in the right direction. A word of encouragement to enjoy your life, not to waste this chance we’ve been given.

“Seize the time
Cause it’s now or never, baby“

Beautiful.

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

Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love (revisited): Lowest of the Low “Shakespeare my butt…”

(I started my Vinyl Love posts pretty much right after the launch of this blog to share photos of my growing vinyl collection. Over time, the photos have improved and the explanations have grown. And looking back at a handful of the original posts in this series, I found myself wanting to re-do some of them so that the posts are more worthy of those great albums. So that’s what I’ll be doing every once in a while, including today…)

Lowest of the Low 'Shakespeare my butt' on vinyl

Artist: Lowest of the Low
Album Title: Shakespeare my butt…
Year released: 1991
Year reissued: 2018
Details: Black vinyl, 2 x LP, part of a five album box set, autographed and limited to 300 copies (box set includes booklet, lyrics sheets, poster, and stickers)

Box set cover

Box set inside cover autographs

Box set 'Shakespeare my butt' stuff

'Shakespeare my butt' Rosy &amp; grey lyrics sheet

Box set booklet Sneaky's

Box set booklet band story

Box set booklet 'Shakespeare my butt' memorabilia

Box set booklet 'Shakespeare my butt' lyrics page

'Shakespeare my butt' Henry lyrics

'Shakespeare my butt' inside gatefold

'Shakespeare my butt' insert 2

'Shakespeare my butt' insert band members

'Shakespeare my butt' insert 1

'Shakespeare my butt' back cover

'Shakespeare my butt' on the turntable

The skinny: Just two days ago, I wrapped up a countdown of my ten favourite albums of 1991 with this very album landing at the number one spot. I feel that this gives me an opportunity to do one of these Vinyl Love revisits for “Shakespeare my butt…”, something I’ve been looking forward to doing for a while. As I mentioned at the top of this post, I started doing these revisits to do a better job with some of my favourite albums that I did early on but in the case of this one, it’s more because I actually updated the vinyl version I had in my collection. I finally decided to pull the trigger on the “Shakespeare my box” vinyl box set with some money that I received for Christmas but this meant I had an extra copy of the Low’s debut record. I shipped my old one to my younger brother and this here’s my new one, the first album in a five album set (the other four will follow in the coming weeks). And yeah, they really did a great job with this box set. The fact that each one was signed and included stickers and reproductions of handwritten lyric sheets is really just a bonus tacked on to the 24-page booklet, the band’s first four albums, and a bonus disc of rarities.

Standout track: “Henry needs a new pair of shoes”