Best tunes of 2000: #8 The Clientele “Rain”

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The Clientele will always remind me of my friend Jez, who I met while working in a call centre during the first five years after moving to Ottawa. He was a few years younger than I but shared very similar tastes in music and also a similar insatiable appetite for discovering new music. I can’t remember which of us caught wind of The Clientele first but it likely wasn’t long before we were both raving about them to any one who would listen. And when The Clientele unbelievably made a stop at a tiny club here in Ottawa in 2007 (with Beach House opening!), we didn’t hesitate in picking up tickets. Jez and I don’t get out for drinks nearly as often these days as we used to but when we do, music is always one of the main topics of discussion.

And speaking of music discussion, I believe The Clientele was today’s topic? Right.

So this here is a London-based indie pop outfit that formed in 1997 and has had an organic rotation of personnel that has generally centred around school mates Alasdair MacLean (guitar and vocals) and James Hornsey (bass). Their first long player, 2000’s “Suburban light” (on which “Rain” appears), was in fact a compilation of singles and B-sides recorded in the group’s early years. Jez and I picked up on these guys three or four years later after they released their first proper studio album, “The violet hours”, and fell deeply in love with their dreamy, 60s psychedelic and jangly pop. The group released three more albums before going on hiatus in 2011, a hiatus that has seemingly come to an end with news of a sixth album due out in September. (Cheers all around.)

“Rain” is one of only three tracks of thirteen on “Suburban light” that hadn’t previously seen the light of day on some release or other. It’s definitely a mood piece, sounding very much like a showery dusk in the middle of fall (or pretty much every day this summer in Ottawa). The jangly guitars pittering and pattering against the windows and MacLean’s vocals, breathily fed through a guitar amp, sing about longing, of love and summer lost. “And I want you so bad in my heart. And I touch your shadowed fingers in the dark. And the stars have fallen on this night like rain.” It’s all grey and misty and lovely, like laughing with tears in your eyes. And I just want to listen to it all day long.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2000 list, click here.

Best tunes of 1990: #17 Ride “Chelsea girl”

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Ride. Yessss!!!!

I feel like I’ve loved these guys forever, even though I know it’s an impossibility. In the more than twenty years since I first laid ears on them, the music by this Oxford-based, four piece hasn’t strayed very far from my front of consciousness, at least their first two albums haven’t.

They formed in 1988 and caught the attention of Jim Reid (of Jesus and Mary Chain) via a demo tape they had recorded in bassist, Steve Querait’s bedroom, which, in due course, led to interest by Creation Records’ Alan McGee. Ride would go on to record four full-length albums for that label, as well as a mess of EPs and singles. They did really well commercially in their native England but not so much here in North America. Their legacy, however, grew immensely over the years and endures today. They never much liked the shoegaze label with which they were saddled but despite that, they have since become icons of the original wave of said genre from the early nineties and have had a massive influence on the bands of the second wave that started in the 2000s. So much so, that a reunion became inevitable and when it finally happened two years ago, I scored a ticket to their tour’s stop in Toronto. As you might guess, it was a brilliant show…

…But I digress…

“Chelsea girl”, along with “Drive blind”, were songs on that aforementioned demo and were re-recorded for the Ride’s self-titled, debut EP.  On the former (without discussing the latter), the guitars start out semi clean, albeit heavily treated with effects pedals, and they follow the bouncing ball on an arpeggiating intro. But have no fear: they quickly fall down the rabbit hole, turning messy and heavy, just like molasses, and just as sweet. Hiding in weeds and peeking out at just the right moments are the lackadaisical vocal harmonies of Bell and Gardener, providing yet another sweet melody to the mix. But the real treat here, is the punishing drum onslaught displayed by Loz Colbert. I’ve always thought all four members of the band talented on the piece that they add to the beautiful puzzle but for me, “Chelsea girl” is the beaut that it is because of Colbert.

Turn it up as loud as your speakers can handle and you just might thank me for it.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.

Best tunes of 2010: #23 Jon And Roy “Any day now”

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In July 2010, my wife Victoria and I flew out to Winnipeg to spend a few days with our friends, Sarah and Jorge, and their children. I had been to the ‘Peg a couple of times before with work but this time, it was for pure pleasure and during the summer, rather than in winter when I had previously been there. And our friends were gracious hosts, putting us up in their spare room and playing tourist with us with kids in tow. It was great seeing them and parts of the city I had not seen before but another real bonus for me was getting out to catch a part of the “world famous” Winnipeg folk festival.

Held annually at Birds Hill Provincial Park, it is an extremely well-run festival, right down to loosing the dragonflies the night before it begins to take care of the rampant mosquito problem. One of the features that I found really neat was the daytime “workshops” they held that collected different performers on the same stage to share ideas and songs and perhaps, even collaborate. I caught parts of a couple of these workshops and a full one that was thoroughly entertaining. This last was centred around the theme of hometowns, was led by Winnipeg native, John K. Samson (of The Weakerthans), and also included Works Progress Administration, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (of the film “Once”), and of course, Jon And Roy.

So this sunny Saturday afternoon workshop while lazing around in the grass in a Manitoba Provincial Park, all relaxed and civilized like, was my first introduction to Jon And Roy. And yes, “Any day now” was the song that made me sit up and take notice halfway through the workshop.

Jon Middleton (acoustic guitar) and Roy Vizer (bongo drum) were seated on the stools between John K. Samson and Hansard and Irglová, the two acts I was really there to see. On their third go round (I think it was), Jon And Roy jumped into this head-bopping number that teased both folk and reggae and was so laid back and grooving, it felt perfect in the sun as the dragonflies danced around catching mosquitos above our heads. And man, was it catchy as well. So much so that when they finished, Glen Hansard, upon taking the mike, started right back into that ear worm chorus of “Any day now, any day now, any day now, any day now, any day” and then, dedicated his next song to that one.

And yes, this British Columbia-based group is still a going concern, having released four more albums since 2010’s “Homes”, but don’t let the name fool you, the group is also more than just the duo inferred in their name. Still, acoustic guitar led, laid back folk reggae is their hallmark, and if that’s your thing, you might just want to give them a listen. “Any day now” is a great place to start. And it’s also a perfect song to lead you into the weekend. Enjoy.

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