Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love (revisited): Arcade Fire “The suburbs”

(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’m going to start doing… not on the regular, mind you, because there’s plenty of other pieces in my collection still awaiting their due.)

Artist: Arcade Fire
Album Title: The suburbs
Year released: 2010
Details: black vinyl, double LP, gatefold sleeve

The skinny: The original Vinyl Love post for this Grammy-winning third album by Montreal’s now infamous indie rock collective was posted to this blog on May 19, 2017*, almost three and a half years ago. I wrote then that frontman Win Butler called it “neither a love letter to, nor an indictment of, the suburbs – it’s a letter from the suburbs.” Two songs from the concept album then appeared on my Best tunes of 2010 list in the months that followed: first, the title track was slotted in at number twelve and the standout song below came a very close second to the number one for that year. For me, “The suburbs” is one of the best, if not the very best album of 2010** so it was a no brainer for me to pick up this original pressing early on in my collecting days. Ten years following its release, it still sounds as fresh as ever.

Standout track: “Sprawl II (Mountains beyond mountains)”

* Don’t go looking for it. As I post these “Revisited” pieces, I intend to rid the internet of the original evidence as soon as I can. This is, of course, the point of these posts.

** I guess we’ll see if I ever get around to counting down my favourite albums for 2010.

Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: The National “High violet”

(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: The National
Album Title: High violet
Year released: 2010
Details: Limited edition, double heavyweight vinyl, violet, gatefold

The skinny: A few weeks ago, “High Violet”, the fifth album by American indie rock band, The National, turned ten years old. To celebrate, their label, 4AD, released an expanded edition anniversary edition of the album, the vinyl version including an additional LP of bonus material and all three discs pressed in a lovely, white and purple marbling. I didn’t pre-order it because I’m not at the point (yet) of buying multiple versions of the same album for my vinyl collection and besides, I’m pretty happy with the limited edition, original pressing on heavyweight, violet vinyl that I found a bunch of years ago. You may debate “High violet” that is not their best work but it built on the exposure gained by The National’s previous record, “Boxer”, and well, I think it’s some pretty fine music (two of the tracks, including the one below, appeared on my Best tunes of 2010 list). The National’s sombre and atmospheric sound is just so great on vinyl and is on full display here. In fact, I remember the first time I listened to this record after purchasing it and, I think my friend Mark will agree with me here, I thought it sounded very different from the version on CD.

Standout track: “Conversation 16”

Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 2010: #30 P.S. I Love You “Get over”

#29 >>

It’s hump day! So to celebrate, I am kicking off yet another list this lovely Wednesday morning. For those counting, that’s three lists I’ve got going, which should suffice to keep me busy for now. This excellent thirty-song list opens with “Get out”, a track off the debut album by Kingston, Ontario’s P.S. I Love You.

This duo, whose moniker is a play on the initials of its frontman, started out as a solo project for guitarist and vocalist, Paul Saulnier in 2006. He later added drummer Benjamin Nelson when he tired of fiddling with the drum machine on his keyboards. Up to now, they’ve released three long players on Canadian indie label, Paper Bag Records, the first of which was “Meet me at the muster station” in 2010.

I happened upon these guys the following year in 2011 when I saw them live at Ottawa Bluesfest, an annual two week music festival that has long-since stopped being only about the blues. Instead, it offers up a wide range of artists from across the spectrum of genres, a virtual marathon of musical splendor. I’ve been going for a number of years now but I think 2011 marked my third year in attendance and perhaps the year I started doing a boatload of research on the bands playing in preparation. P.S. I Love You was one of the artists that caught my attention almost immediately, earning a spot in my schedule with their pure raw energy. And as intense as their recordings are, their live show upped the ante substantially. Indeed, they didn’t have a large audience to start their set but by their final note, they had amassed quite an enthusiastic crowd. It wasn’t a lot of showboating or guitar noodling, just two guys rocking out on stage and making a lot of noise.

Truly, if you listened to any of the tracks on “Meet me at the muster station” without knowing any better, you might not realize there are only two musicians in the group. Like a couple of other duos I can think of, say The White Stripes or The Black Keys, they present a full sound with their limited personnel, but that’s where the comparisons end. Instead of crunchy blues rock, P.S. I Love You leans heavily towards punk and noise rockers, like Sonic Youth or Pixies. Indeed, you can hear the latter especially with Saulnier’s Frank Black-like yelp and snarl vocals.

“Get out” employs some monstrous earthquake guitar rumbles to kick start the frenetic rim-click drumming. A muscular bass line just adds to the pressure accentuated later on by some alien synth washes. It’s all a noisy cacophony that might be unlistenable in another set of hands but luckily for us, Saulnier has a sweet pop sensibility that brings at all together. Then, of course, when he tears in with his don’t-give-a-shit vocals, you feel like you can join in and scream along with him. This is a track that should not be played quietly.

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