Vinyl love: Stars “The five ghosts”

(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: Stars
Album Title: The five ghosts
Year released: 2010
Details: 6 x 7″ box set, coloured vinyl (pink, yellow, white, pink marbled, clear milky, light blue), wood box, 13 postcard photos (one of them signed)

The skinny: If “Set yourself on fire” was their best album, Stars’ fifth album “The five ghosts” is most definitely a close second, in my mind anyway. Two of its songs appeared in my Best tunes of 2010 list (at #20 and #7) and in one of those posts, I told the story about how I sent out a search party the night it was released to find a copy on CD. And as soon as I started collecting on vinyl, I knew I needed a copy on this format but they weren’t easy to come by. On a whim one day, I checked out the band’s website store and found they were clearing these 7” singles box set copies of the album. I jumped on it and though I don’t spin it very often, given the extra attention required for the listening of it, I’m very glad it’s part of my collection.

Standout track: “Wasted daylight”

Live music galleries: July Talk [2014]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Like my ‘Vinyl love’ series, these posts will be more photos than words but that doesn’t mean I won’t welcome your thoughts and comments. And of course, until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts of page.)

July Talk live at Ottawa Bluesfest in 2014

Artist: July Talk
When: July 11th, 2014
Where: River Stage, Ottawa Blues Fest, Lebreton Flats Park, Ottawa
Context: I finally got to see the Toronto-based indie rock band, July Talk, a couple of years after the release of their debut, self-titled album. By this time, they had built up a following and quite a bit of buzz on backs of their live show and unique sound. You might notice that the majority of the photos here focus on the principal vocalists Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis and this is because when seeing them live, it’s nearly impossible to take your eyes off them. On the record, their vocals play off one another, his rough-hewn and hers angelic pop and live the two of them played the Mars versus Venus game right to the end. Fun, fun show.
Point of reference song: Paper girl

Peter Dreimanis of July Talk
Ian Docherty of July Talk
Leah Fay of July Talk
Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay of July Talk
Leah Fay of July Talk and some random fan

Best tunes of 1991: #7 Teenage Fanclub “The concept”

<< #8    |    #6 >>

Moving deeper into the top ten of my favourite tunes of 1991, I have, at number seven, Teenage Fanclub’s “The concept”, the epic opening track off “Bandwagonesque”.

Teenage Fanclub was formed in Scotland in 1989 by guitarist/vocalists Norman Blake, Gerard Love, and Raymond McGinley. Over the years, all three of these founding members have shared songwriting and lead vocal duties across their albums. Their number have typically been rounded up to four with a succession of drummers that have included Francis MacDonald (twice!), Brendan O’Hare, and Paul Quinn, and in recent years, they have added keyboards, the fifth member up to this year being Dave McGowan.

The band has never taken themselves too seriously and this was never more true than in their very first few years, prioritizing fun over proper song structure and form. Their first couple of albums were mostly just noise and laughs. “Bandwagonesque”, their third, bridges the gap between these early games and the surprisingly long career and excellent discography that followed. They were obviously still having fun here, as evidenced by gentle punches pulled at the metal genre (“Satan” and “Metal Baby”), and there was still a lot of noise happening, but there was also a lot more attention paid to songcraft. It didn’t sell a lot of copies at first release (though it did reasonably well in the states) but the critics loved it and so did their peers. They were name checked at the time by Sonic Youth and Nirvana and quite famously, Spin magazine picked this album as their album of the year for 1991 over “Nevermind”, “Out of time”, and “Loveless”. And it is still quite influential to the kids that were listening to it at the time and that have become known musicians these days, like Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, who recorded a full album cover of “Bandwagonesque” in 2017.

“The concept” starts off the album with a scream of feedback and that iconic first line: “She wears denim wherever she goes, says she’s gonna get some records by the Status Quo.” Its first two minutes set the stage for the rest of the band’s career, mellow rocker with jangly guitars just this side of fuzz and Blake’s gentle rock star vocals with the three part harmonies the band would become known for at the chorus. Between the verses, the guitars become just that much more raunchy and then, at the three minute mark, the song becomes completely instrumental and the guitars follow the drums into a loose jam, at one point, a violin bow is even brandished to further accentuate their point.

As album openers go, it doesn’t get much better. The six plus minutes is like butter on toast, urging you on for another bite. Happy Friday.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1991 list, click here.