Best albums of 2007: #2 The New Pornographers “Challengers”

So The New Pornographers have hit these pages a few times in this blog’s inaugural year. The Canadian indie power pop supergroup is a great band that has defied the odds and last for well over the predicted one or two albums. In fact, “Challengers” is the group’s fourth album and have since come up with three more since 2007.

This album was a bit challenging (pardon the pun) for the group’s long time fans because there was less power in the pop here. All the other elements we have grown to love, the big and interesting instrumentation and arrangements, the turn taking and melodies on vocals by all four principal vocalists, and the way the different elements come together so cohesively are still prominent but just muted. For some, this meant requiring more listens to accept the new record but I had no issues at all.

For me, “Challengers” was love on first listen. Interesting, then, that many critics considered this more the natural sequel to AC Newman’s quiet debut, “The slow wonder”, an album I didn’t much care for, rather than the bombast of The New Pornos’ third record, “Twin cinema”. I thought the toned down approach allowed for the all the pieces room to grow and the results were quite stunning. I don’t know if it’s fair to call this my all time favourite of their albums, given that they are so consistently good, but it just might be.

If you’re not familiar with this stellar group or just this album (or even if you are), have a peek at my three picks for you below and let me know what you think.


“Mutiny, I promise you”: Blah

“Myriad Harbour”:  Blah

“All the old showstoppers”:  Blah


For the rest of the albums in this list, check out my Best Albums page here.

Best tunes of 2010: #5 Bedouin Soundclash (feat. Cœur de pirate) “Brutal hearts”

At number five on my Best tunes of 2010 list, we have the other band from Kingston, Ontario: Bedouin Soundclash. Now based out of Toronto, the reggae and ska group was formed in 2001 by Jay Malinowski, Eon Sinclair, and Pat Pengelly. They had a relatively big radio hit with “When the night feels my song” off their second album, 2004’s “Sounding a mosaic”, and have since released two more albums but have been inactive since 2010. However, a new single was released just last year with the promise of a new album, possibly this year.

“Brutal hearts” appears on their 2010 album “Light the horizon”, never released as a proper single but there were two videos made available on YouTube (one of which you can enjoy below). The track doesn’t sound much like the band’s usual reggae self and this is not just because it features Québec singer/songwriter Béatrice Martin (aka Cœur de Pirate) in a duet with Malinowski. It’s a mostly drum driven track. The drummer at the time, Sekou Lumumba, is the other star of this show, getting under our skin with his rim shot, ticky tacky rhythms. Bassist Sinclair sidles up beside him, giving this not so laidback beat some muscle. And all the while, the male/female, rough-hewn versus smooth like wine, trading vocals yearn for love, any kind, whether or not it’s true or good.

“I don’t mind at all
I don’t mind that you only call me when you want
And I’m just glad you want me at all”

The song is like a tango. A sweaty and needy dance, late at night, in a dark basement club. The drummer starts the aforementioned rhythm, tired from a night of playing but somehow finding his second wind. The bassist, and I’m imagining an upright bass here, leans heavily against a ledge and so does his instrument, his shirt undone a number of buttons, whiskey on the rocks close to hand. And from somewhere deep in the night, a cello joins in, a sad and plaintive call. They are all only playing for the couple on the dance floor. They’ve never seen each other before and will likely never see each other again. They are the song. And for this brief moment, they are love.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.

Vinyl love: Phoebe Bridgers “Stranger in the alps”

(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: Stranger in the alps
Year released: 2017
Details: Limited edition, lavender

The skinny: Some of you might recall this album as #10 on my Best albums of 2017 list. Phoebe Bridgers’ debut album is mostly quiet, deeply personal, literate, and almost too cool for its own good. And I love it to pieces.

Standout track: “Motion sickness”