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Tunes

Best tunes of 2020: #30 Morrissey “Jim Jim Falls”

#29 >>

Well howdy! It’s 2022. A new year, but one that’s feeling much the same as the last two. And what better way to start off the year than with a post kicking off a countdown of my favourite tunes from the year that started this mess. Dark humour? A sucker for punishment? Perhaps. But for me, it’s more about remembering that there was still some good to come out of these dark times.

Take my number thirty for the year, for instance. Morrissey released a new album in 2020 and though this sort of news has once again fallen smack dab into the ho-hum category, I found myself liking quite a bit of “I am not a dog on a chain”.

I first discovered Stephen Patrick Morrissey shortly after he went solo and I loved his first bunch of early 90s albums. I later discovered his work fronting the legendary British rock band, The Smiths, right around the time that was releasing his late 90s work, a period in his solo career to which I remain to this day mostly ambivalent. Then, he released what many (including myself) consider his comeback album, “You are the quarry”, in the early 2000s. He followed that with a string of albums of diminishing returns, to the point where I couldn’t even have been bothered to check out his album of covers, 2019’s “California son”.

Morrissey has always been a polarizing figure, eliciting equal amounts of gag reflex, eye-rolling, cheers, and undying love from all parts of the music-buying public. He actually seems to have become more known for his penchant for cancelling concerts and tours and for his increasingly right wing views than he is for any new music that he manages to record. He has lost a number of fans along the way, been dropped from record labels, and had numerous fellow artists publicly express their disappointment in him. I’ve always tried to separate the artist and their art, which is why I still try to give his albums a listen, just in case there’s a gem or two to pluck from the mire. And in 2020, there were a few on his latest and, in fact, I distinctly remember listening and bopping right along to it on the first spin while working away at my dining room table.

The opening track, “Jim Jim Falls”, starts off not sounding like typical Morrissey at all but then the industrial/electronic percussion and synth crashes give way to his familiar vocal delivery. It’s dark and ominous and harrowing in feel but the tone, biting and no holds barred, rings true. Lyrically, he sets death (particularly suicide) against living life for real, walking the walk and jumping the jump instead of talking the talk. And it rocks and it rolls. Seriously. When else but with Morrissey would you find yourself happily singing along with the lines: “If you’re gonna kill yourself, then for God’s sake, just kill yourself?”

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2020 list, click here.

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Vinyl

Vinyl love: The Rentals “Q36”

(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 Rentals
Album Title: Q36
Year released: 2020
Year reissued: 2021
Details: Limited edition run of 500, reissue, 2 x LP

The skinny: The Rentals’ fourth album, “Q36”, took me by surprise and managed to come in at number six on my Best albums of 2020 list. Funny thing is, if I had to redo the same list, this album would probably land even higher on it. I had previously known about the Matt Sharp (ex-bassist of Weezer) fronted band from their ubiquitous 90s alt-rock hit “Friends of P.” and then, much later on, I had become fascinated with their third album, 2014’s “Lost in Alphaville”. However, the self-produced concept double album, “Q36”, really captured my imagination and my heart with its retro futuristic, David Bowie glam rock verve and splendour. The problem for me was that I came very late to party and the original run of 500, pressed to translucent gold vinyl, sold out well in advance of its oft-delayed release date last year. When that original run was finally mailed out, Matt Sharp took to social media vowing that a second, regular black vinyl run would be forthcoming. However, what with the much publicized vinyl production delays, it took almost a full year for him to make good on his promise. Of course, I was right on it and am super happy with my purchase. It sounds amazing.

Standout track: “Conspiracy”

Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: Secret Machines “Awake in the brain chamber”

(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: Secret Machines
Album Title: Awake in the brain chamber
Year released: 2020
Details: Black vinyl, 180 gram

The skinny: Much like last week, this week’s Vinyl love post is one of my favourite albums from 2020. However, unlike “The view from halfway down”, which I came across too late for it to officially make my end of the year list, Secret Machines’ fourth long player “Awake in the brain chamber” did not escape my notice and easily found its way to the number five spot on said list. Released more than a decade after their last record and almost as much time since the untimely death of one of the band’s founding members, it was the polar opposite of a disappointing return. It had all the hallmarks of the band’s big and epic sounding first two records but scaled back into manageable serving sizes. Of course, I was going to procure a copy of this for my vinyl collection. It didn’t matter that it was a bare bones release (as is evidenced by the few photos above). It was a heavyweight, 180 gram disc and had impeccable sound.

Standout track: “Everything’s under”