Categories
Tunes Vinyl

Best tunes of 2012: #11 Young Galaxy “Youth is wasted on the young”

<< #12    |    #10 >>

Happy Thursday everyone!

It’s doubly happy for me because today marks the first day of a two week vacation from work. And to truly recharge, I’ve decided to take a brief blogging break as well. But first, I’ve got something fun to send things off right. I have a song here that provides a unique opportunity to combine a post for my Best tunes of 2012 list with one for my ‘Vinyl love’ series. Let me explain.

In the spring of 2012, I had just started collecting vinyl. My wife had texted me from Greenwich village in New York City where she was visiting a friend. She had happened upon a street sale and one of the vendors happened to be selling used vinyl, some by bands that she knew I loved, and I remember her specifically asking if I wanted Oasis’s debut album on vinyl. When I responded that I didn’t have a turntable, she said that she planned on getting me one. She ended up coming home with “Definitely maybe”, as well as “Talking Heads: 77”, both of which are still on my shelves. Shortly after that, I ventured out on my very first Record Store Day and purchased my first exclusive. A vinyl addict was born.

If it wasn’t for those events, I may not have even flinched when I heard the news that Paper Bag Records was releasing a double a-side 7”, vinyl only release from Young Galaxy. It’s true that the Montreal-based dream pop band had just released their third album, “Shapeshifting”, on Paper Bag the previous year and though it was a departure for them, it was a welcome one and garnered them lots of new attention. It’s also a fact that I had contributed to the group’s Kickstarter campaign a few months earlier to help raised funds for them to travel to Sweden to work again with the producer of “Shapeshifting” for their next album, but this time in person. So I was already excited and on the lookout for news from one of my favourite Canadian bands in years and it didn’t hurt that they were working with my favourite indie label at the time, who I thought for a while, were turning to gold everything they touched. But it was the vinyl already sitting on my shelf that greased the wheel and I placed the online order.

The record arrived in the mail, wrapped in brown paper, a fun touch that the label was doing back then. I brought it home and admired it with plenty of “oohs” and “aahs” before putting it on the shelf with the rest of the small collection I had amassed thus far. I didn’t yet have a turntable so I had to listen to the two songs on my computer, care of the download rights that came with the purchase. I listened to both the a-side and the double-a-side, “Shoreless kid” and “Youth is wasted on the young”, and was struck by how different they sounded (and yet, at the same time similar in aesthetic) to the album they had released the previous year. I thought at the time that these two songs that were heavier on the guitar were either signalling a return to their earlier sound or a last kiss good bye as they soared off into the synthesized horizon. It turns out it was the latter.

“Youth is wasted on the young” starts off feeling a little construction time again with pipes spewing steam and rivets being pounded and then, the Johnny Marr guitars chime in with the jangles and everything kicks into highway driving roars. It sounds very much like 1983, dark and shiny leather jackets and all manner of sunglasses cool. And Catherine McCandless is channelling some Siouxsie Sioux, a strong woman, glamorous and iconic, against the world, keeping up with the frenetic pace of it all. It’s like a love song to both the music of the band’s youth and to the music of today that is just as fresh and fabulous.

I wouldn’t mind dying at all
If it weren’t for the songs I’d miss…
Youth is wasted on the young

See you all again soon.

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

Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 2012: #12 Frankie Rose “Pair of wings”

<< #13    |    #11 >>

I’m pretty near positive that I first came to listen to Frankie Rose’s second solo album, “Interstellar”, because of her impressive resume that included working with bands like Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls. I was likely expecting to hear some 60s girls group wall of sound, given this pedigree*, but this is not what I got. Instead, I voyaged off to space with her, a retro outer space, minimalist and analogue synth heavy, reverb drenched and vacuous. Stanley Kubrick would have been proud.

My favourite song on this record wasn’t either of the two singles that were proudly advertised on the hype label. Don’t get me wrong, “Know me” and “Night swim” are also both excellent. However, there is just something about “Pair of wings” that flirts heavily with near perfection.

The liner notes credit the song to a ‘Wu Li Leung’ who originally wrote the song as “Wings to fly” but initial (and lazy, and perhaps slightly drunken) attempts to track this original down while writing these words came up empty. I will trust our musical artist, though, and appreciate her honesty in giving credit where it is due. “Pair of wings” is a delicate and sweet notion, universal and easily comprehensible, repetition into simplicity.

“All that I want is
A pair of wings to fly
Into the blue of
The wide open sky”

These four minutes of magnificence starts and ends with the ticking of an alien clock. From there, the minimalist synth chords change slowly yet assured, washes upon washes, bells ringing into infinity, rocketing percussion, steam and exhaust, layers of everything and eternity. Rose’s vocals are amplified by the vacuum, her ringing vocals bouncing off planets and moons.

This is space rock that is only such because it is dreamy pop rocked by synths and empty space. It envelops you and assimilates you. If you scream in space, does anybody hear it? And with beauty this palpable, does it matter?

*Apparently, her first solo album, recorded under the name Frankie Rose and the Outs, did follow this line of questioning, but I have yet to listen to this one. So I am unable to confirm or deny.

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

Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 2012: #13 The Tallest Man on Earth “1904”

<< #14    |    #12 >>

“There’s no leaving now”, Kristian Mattson’s third solo album as The Tallest Man on Earth, was my introduction to his music and though I fell deeply in love with its gentle beauty, much as I did his following three albums, I still have yet to explore his first two records. Perhaps it’s a needless worry that his songwriting might not stand up to what I’ve heard is a more bare-bones sound – just him and his guitar – that has kept me from them. I’m sure I’ll get to them eventually and when I do, I’m sure that I’ll love them just as I do the rest of his tunes.

How can I not?

Just listen to our song today, “1904”, with its loving strum and cascading guitar flourishes, and let the wistful joy wash over you. Kristian is channelling Dylan and Drake and Guthrie, jamming with friends by candlelight, seated on sofa cushions pulled from their normal spots and transferred to the scuffed up hardwood of a high-ceilinged Victorian home. He is singing about an earth shattering and earth shaking moment, some have pointed to an earthquake that occurred in his part of the world in the year referenced in the song’s title, but you get the feeling as the song pulls you in, that the actual event doesn’t matter. It’s how you allow it to affect you, how you learn from it, and how you carry on afterwards that really matters.

“And the singing is slow and so quiet
Like the sound when you sweep off the floor
And now something with the dirt is just different
Since they shook the earth in 1904”

I remember when I first heard this song and the album on which it appears and could not believe what I was hearing. Perfect folk, out of time and out of place. Much like Swedish compatriots First Aid Kit, home informs his sensibilities, just as much as his love for those that influenced his sound. It is all so obvious and so passionate and so easy to get caught up in and pulled along in its wake. He has said that in writing this album, he wanted a brittle sound, one that gives a “feeling that it might just fall apart” at any moment. And he’s definitely achieved this precariousness, a moment in perfection that we all know can’t last forever.

But luckily for us, we can simply replay the track and live it all over again.

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