Playlist: New tunes from 2020, part two

Back at the end of April, I posted the first part of this series, sharing with you all a playlist containing twenty-five tracks that I enjoyed during the first quarter of 2020. At that time, we were just five weeks or so into COVID-19 lockdown and had no idea what was going to happen or how long things were going to go on the way they were going. And well, we’re now nearing the end of July and we still don’t really have the answer to any of these questions. Restrictions have been relaxed in different parts of the world and we’ve had second outbreaks happen in others. We’ve been very tentative here in Canada. Slowly, slowly, slowly, we’ve seen some return to normalcy, albeit with some changes. Drive-in movie theatres appear to be making a comeback and leapfrogging from that, drive-in concerts. Masks are now prevalent and being made mandatory in all indoor public places. And of course, many of us are still working from home and really, seeing very little of other people outside of our own little bubbles.

Luckily for us, new music is still being released. Something to keep us occupied while we all stuck at home. I’ve (more than once) found myself wondering, though, if it, at some point, the music would stop coming. But no, at least not yet. Indeed, I would imagine that many of the tracks on this playlist were finished up during this crazy time and maybe even some of it recorded while in isolation. And when I get to posting the third playlist in this series, sometime in October, I feel like most of those songs will be influenced in some way by this new reality, whatever that will look like by then.

But before I get to much ahead of myself, let’s have a look at some of the highlights of this season’s playlist:

      • It all opens up with “Breathe”, the frenetic second track off Canadian indie popsters Born Ruffian‘s latest album, “Juice”
      • “The adults are talking” is a tune that I just can’t resist, the first in many years by The Strokes that has grabbed me right from the beginning and has yet to let go
      • One of my favourite Netflix series of late has been this British comedy, “Sex education”, and the soundtrack by Ezra Furman is just phenomenal and it finally saw a release this year, on which “Every feeling” is a standout track
      • I purchased I Break Horses‘s new album, “Warnings“, for my vinyl collection in May and it is quickly becoming one of my favourites of the year – just have a taste of “I’ll be the death of you” to see why
      • I saw and fell for Gateway Drugs when they opened for Swervedriver in 2015 and have been waiting for new material ever since, soooo… yes, “Wait (medication)” off this year’s “PSA” is very welcome and its production by Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner definitely doesn’t hurt
      • It’s been 30 years since Pete “Sonic Boom” Kember’s last solo album but the founding member of Spaceman 3 creates quite the groove on “Just imagine” and the rest of “All things being equal” is quite lovely as well
      • A lot is being made of Phoebe Bridgers‘ sophomore record “Punisher” by the critics and I cannot fault them at all – “Kyoto” is a fine example of her mature and intelligent songwriting

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist as I’ve created it:

    1. “Breathe” Born Ruffians (from the album Juice)
    2. “Pringle creek” Ellis (from the album Born again)
    3. “Petty drone” Mystery Jets (from the album A billion heartbeats)
    4. “Alexandra” Laura Marling (from the album Song for our daughter)
    5. “The adults are talking” The Strokes (from the album The new abnormal)
    6. “Every feeling” Ezra Furman (from the album Sex Education soundtrack)
    7. “Decade” Harkin (from the album Harkin)
    8. “Nites out” Other Lives (from the album For their love)
    9. “Wake UP!” Hazel English (from the album Wake UP!)
    10. “Anywayz” Austra (from the album HiRUDiN)
    11. “Vegetable” Happyness (from the album Floatr)
    12. “I’ll be the death of you” I Break Horses (from the album Warnings)
    13. “Wait (medication)” Gateway Drugs (from the album PSA)
    14. “Temple” Thao & The Get Down Stay Down (from the album Temple)
    15. “Instant nightmare!” The Dears (from the album Lovers rock)
    16. “Hollywood Park” The Airborne Toxic Event (from the album Hollywood Park)
    17. “Is this a dream” Badly Drawn Boy (from the album Banana Skin Shoes)
    18. “(Don’t break my) devotion” Jade Hairpins (from the album Harmony Avenue)
    19. “Just imagine” Sonic Boom (from the album All things being equal)
    20. “Cameo” Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (from the album Sideways to New Italy)
    21. “Red western sky” Muzz (from the album Muzz)
    22. “Riding solo” Hinds (from the album The prettiest curse)
    23. “Kyoto” Phoebe Bridgers (from the album Punisher)
    24. “Real long gong” Rose City Band (from the album Summerlong)
    25. “Hot heater” Pottery (from the album Welcome to Bobby’s Motel)

And just as I said back in April: Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and continue to be well. Until next time, enjoy the tunes.

If you’re interested in checking out any of the other playlists I’ve created and shared on these pages, you can peruse them here.

Ten great Ottawa Bluesfest sets: #10 Violent Femmes – Sunday, July 6th, 2014

(This year’s edition of Ottawa Bluesfest has been cancelled, for obvious reasons. In previous years, especially on my old blog, I would share photos and thoughts on some of the live music I was enjoying at the festival throughout the duration. So for the next week and a half, I thought I’d share ten great sets, out of the many I’ve witnessed over the years, one for each day on which music would have be performed. Enjoy.)

Violent Femmes live at Bluesfest 2014

Artist: Violent Femmes
When: Sunday, July 6th, 2014
Where: Claridge Homes stage at 8:00pm
Context: Yes, I know they’re from a long time ago but they’re a band I’d never seen live. Like the last two sets I’ve posted pictures from, sets by The Waterboys and Belle and Sebastian, this one crossed off another big one on my list of bands to see. Violent Femmes’ self-titled, debut album for 1983 was one of my favourite albums growing up and as I learned that evening, I still know every word from every song.

I knew as soon as they started things off with what is arguably their biggest song, “Blister in the sun”, that their plan was to play that self-titled, debut album from beginning to end. (Do I have to tell you that the crowd went nuts?) By the time they got to “Good feeling”, I was in heaven and my voice was hoarse from singing along. After playing “Violent femmes”, they played a selection of hits from the rest of their career (see full setlist below), including “Jesus walking on the water”, “I held her in my arms”, and perennial favourite, “American music”.

Gordon Gano’s performance was tempered to a low pitch, letting his vocals tell the story, except of course, when the songs required the use of the fiddle or the banjo. By comparison, Brian Ritchie was a monster on the acoustic bass, making his presence felt on every song, and Brian Viglione (replacing original drummer Victor DeLorenzo) was a master showman, dazzling us with solos and tossing out drumsticks and brushes to the audience. For a band that’s been around a long time, they played to a crowd of all ages, not just us old folk. There were a large group of youngsters who likely weren’t even born yet in 1983, holding on to the rail at the front of the stage and shaking their moppy heads so hard, it gave me a headache just watching. However this wasn’t a tired old reunion performance in the least. The Violent Femmes looked like they had the energy to do this for maybe another thirty years.

Gordon Gano
Brian Viglione on drums
John Sparrow on the cajón and Brian Ritchie on the xylophone
Gordon Gano on the fiddle
Brian Ritchie on the acoustic bass
Kicking it with Brian Viglione
Gordon Gano on the banjo
Gordon Gano and Brian Ritchie

Setlist:
Blister in the Sun
Kiss Off
Please Do Not Go
Add It Up
Confessions
Prove My Love
Promise
To the Kill
Gone Daddy Gone
Good Feeling
Jesus Walking on the Water
Country Death Song
Old Mother Reagan
Freak Magnet
Gimme the Car
Black Girls
I Held Her In My Arms
American Music

(I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip through ten of my favourite Bluesfest sets from years past. Here’s hoping we don’t have to do this again next year and instead have a bunch of new performances to experience.)

Ten great Ottawa Bluesfest sets: #9 Belle and Sebastian – Saturday, July 6th, 2013

(This year’s edition of Ottawa Bluesfest has been cancelled, for obvious reasons. In previous years, especially on my old blog, I would share photos and thoughts on some of the live music I was enjoying at the festival throughout the duration. So for the next week and a half, I thought I’d share ten great sets, out of the many I’ve witnessed over the years, one for each day on which music would have be performed. Enjoy.)

Belle and Sebastian live at Bluesfest 2013

Artist: Belle and Sebastian
When: Saturday, July 6th, 2013
Where: Claridge Homes stage at 8:00pm
Context: Where do I even begin? I mean Belle and Sebastian has been one of my favourite bands for a very long time. I’ve been following this Scottish indie pop band since some point around 1997 or 1998. One of my favourite ever albums is 1998’s “The boy with the arab strap” but I know each one of their albums intimately and have a bunch of them in my vinyl collection. But this set was my first and still only time seeing the band to date.

When Belle and Sebastian took the stage, they were an impressive sight. They are already a large band, sitting at seven full-time members, but then when you add in the string quartet, a cellist, additional keyboards and horn players, they had up to 13 musicians on stage at different points in their performance. Again, it was a pretty impressive sight and the sound was just incredible.

The biggest surprise for me of their whole set, though, was Stuart Murdoch. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I thought he was excellent and I’m not just talking about his singing and guitar playing. He was a delight with the audience from the beginning, telling stories and jokes between every song. He started off by mentioning that because this was their first time in Ottawa, they fully intended to play music from their entire catalogue. As Murdoch himself put it, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” He also called Ottawa the friendliest city in Canada and went on to the tell the story of how he went for a walk downtown and didn’t think he’d make it back to the festival on time so he jumped on a bus without correct change and the driver let him ride for free, “just this once”.

As promised, Murdoch and company performed tracks from all over their career. A couple of times during the set he introduced older tracks with the preface that they were for those in crowd that were older, like him, but that if the youngsters in the crowd knew the songs too, even better. There was so much from which to choose that they could have played but didn’t. Still, I was not disappointed in the least at the songs that made the set. In fact, I think I would have been happy with whatever they played but there was one song in particular that I really wanted to hear, that is, of course, the title track off “The boy with the arab strap”. And wouldn’t you know? They played it, along with another of my favourite tracks, “Legal man”, during a part of the set where Murdoch was feeling like dancing. He invited a few members from the audience to come up on stage while the band performed these two songs. It was brilliant.

The band finished off their proper set with “Judy and the dream of horses” and left the stage. But the crowd was not letting them off that easily, insisting on one more song. They returned, almost embarrassed, and Murdoch wondered aloud whether it was “bad protocol” to perform an encore at a music festival. We weren’t complaining at all, especially when he dove into another classic track, “Get me away from here I’m dying”.

The setlist
The backdrop
Stuart Murdoch and Chris Geddes of Belle and Sebastian
Stevie Jackson and Bobby Kildea of Belle and Sebastian
Dave McGowan and Sarah Martin of Belle and Sebastian
Richard Colburn of Belle and Sebastian
Stevie Jackson and Stuart Murdoch
Sarah Martin and Stuart Murdoch
Dancing to ‘The boy with the arab strap’

Setlist:
Judy Is a Dick Slap
I’m a Cuckoo
Expectations
I Want the World to Stop
To Be Myself Completely
Piazza, New York Catcher
If She Wants Me
Funny Little Frog / Seeing Other People
Like Dylan in the Movies
I Didn’t See It Coming
The Boy With the Arab Strap
Legal Man
Judy and the Dream of Horses
Encore:
Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying