Categories
Live music galleries

Live music galleries: Crash Test Dummies [2022]

(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. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

Crash Test Dummies live at Bluesfest 2022

Artist: Crash Test Dummies
When: July 14th, 2022
Where: SiriusXM stage, Ottawa Bluesfest, Lebreton Flats Park
Context: So I jumped back into live music with both feet over the last few weeks. It was my long-awaited return to Canada’s largest outdoor music festival, aka Ottawa Bluesfest. I had bought a full festival pass back in March 2020, just before everything went to hell, and when that year’s edition was cancelled, I just transferred my pass to the next. And then, the next – this year. I ended up attending five of the ten nights and saw plenty of great sets by acts as diverse as The New Pornographers, Lucy Dacus, Garbage, Run the Jewels, and Rage Against the Machine. But my favourite of all? A side stage headline set by Crash Test Dummies. It was partly nostalgia, I admit, but they really did put on an entertaining show. I had their debut album, “The ghosts that haunt me”, on cassette tape back in high school and I near wore it through with the amount of times I played it on my Walkman. And though it was good, I wasn’t as big a fan of their sophomore release, mostly because they were floating away from the folk-rock sound that I loved from the debut. So I never did see the group perform live. A wrong I definitely righted a week ago tonight. The set was heavy on that sophomore release, it was their biggest success, of course, but I was extremely happy to hear them pull out four tracks from that debut, including the cover song below and their big Canadian hit, “Superman’s song”. For many moments on that night, I was seventeen again and screaming along to lyrics I had never forgotten.
Point of reference song: Androgynous” (Replacements cover)

Three of the original dummies – Brad, Dan, Ellen
Mitch Dorge on the drums
Marc Arnould, touring keyboards
Ellen Reid and Dan Roberts
Stuart Cameron, touring guitarist
Ellen rocking the accordion
Brad Roberts at the microphone
Categories
Playlists

Playlist: New tunes from 2022, part two

Happy Sunday!

And welcome back to this little thing I do every three months, adding twenty five new tracks to a multiple part playlist that soundtracks each year as it passes. If you missed part one for the first three months of 2022, you can find it here.

This year’s first quarter was very much same-same, continuing the pandemic trend that I’ve been living for what seems like an eternity, but in contrast, the last three months have been anything but status quo. The Ontario government continued with its plans of reopening, the lifting of restrictions and mandates, and the people have been slowly dipping their toes back into society, yours truly, a little more slowly than most.

In May, we discovered a new meteorological term called ‘derecho’ firsthand. The fast moving cluster of storms tore a swathe through Ontario and Quebec, travelling more than 1000 km from Windsor to Quebec City in an afternoon and wreaking havoc* along the way. Personally, I didn’t see any damage to our own property and our power was only out for a mere fifty-two hours. I consider myself very lucky, given the other stories I’ve heard and the photos of damage that I’ve seen.

Then, at the end of June, I saw my  first piece of live music in more than two and a half years and as serendipity would have it, the first headlining band that I got to see was the same as the last that I saw before the start of the pandemic. Of course, I instantly remembered why I loved going to shows and got over my initial anxiety of hanging in the crowds again. Over the last week or so, I’ve made a handful of returns to the biggest local music festival, Ottawa Bluesfest, and I am intending on returning to the final night tonight. (The National! Yes!)

Of course, through all this, I’ve been doing my darnedest to keep up with all the new releases and finding my favourites amongst those. So without further ado, I’ll present twenty five new tunes that have helped keep me going over the second three months of 2022. Highlights include:

      • I’ve heard many say that the new album by Spiritualized is the best thing Jason Pierce has done since his 1997 album, “Ladies & gentlemen we are floating in space”… well… “Always together with you” sounds like a sequel to the title track off that iconic album
      • At one minute and twenty-four seconds, “Who’s in the dark” by Jeanines is a pop gem that feels way too short, but fortunately/unfortunately, that’s this band’s M.O.
      • “Tap” is an apt name for this mellow, toe-tapping indie folk ear worm by Tomberlin
      • I couldn’t help myself but include both parts of “The lightning” by Arcade Fire because they fit so nicely and juxtaposed against each, they feel like a perfect revisit to their early days
      • “Toast” is just pure fun bedroom pop by Fanclubwallet, a young artist who is apparently local, living right here in Ottawa
      • Just Mustard is haunting and harrowing on “23”, sounding not a little like the gothic dream pop of 90s rockers, Cranes
      • With its ominous bassline and frittering synth washes, “Shotgun, the advance single off Soccer Mommy‘s third album makes for a great outro

Here is the entire playlist as I’ve created it:

1. “Rubberneckers” Christian Lee Hutson (from the album Quitters)

2. “Be by your side” Pillow Queens (from the album Leave the light on)

3. “Ur mom” Wet Leg (from the album Wet Leg)

4. “Always together with you” Spiritualized (from the album Everything was beautiful)

5. “Louis” Charlotte Rose Benjamin (from the album Dreamtina)

6. “Who’s in the dark” Jeanines (from the album Don’t wait for a sign)

7. “Looking backward” Melody’s Echo Chamber (from the album Emotional eternal)

8. “Messy roomz” Frontperson (from the album Parade)

9. “Hall of mirrors” Let’s Eat Grandma (from the album Two ribbons)

10. “Tap” Tomberlin (from the album I don’t know who needs to hear this)

11. “Nervous breakdown” Pink Mountaintops (from the album Peacock Pools)

12. “The lightning I & II” Arcade Fire (from the album WE)

13. “Mistakes” Sharon Van Etten (from the album We’ve been going about this all wrong)

14. “Young and stupid” Belle and Sebastian (from the album A bit of previous)

15. “You will never work in television again” The Smile (from the album A light for attracting attention)

16. “The amarillo kid” Craig Finn (from the album A legacy of rentals)

17. “U can be happy if U want to” Porridge Radio (from the album Waterslide, diving board, ladder to the sky)

18. “Toast” Fanclubwallet (from the album You have got to be kidding me)

19. “Wow” Tess Parks (from the album And those who were seen dancing)

20. “Bad love” Dehd (from the album Blue skies)

21. “Pretenders” Stars (from the album From Capelton Hill)

22. “23” Just Mustard (from the album Heart under)

23. “All the flowers” Angel Olsen (from the album Big time)

24. “Anti-glory” Horsegirl (from the album Versions of modern performance)

25. “Shotgun” Soccer Mommy (from the album Sometimes, forever)

Those of you who are on the Apple Music train can click here to sample the above tracks as a whole playlist.

And as always, wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and continue to be well. Above all, enjoy the tunes.


*The photo for this playlist’s cover is one that I took of a couple of gigantic trees that were torn up by their roots at the end of my street.

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.

Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 1993: #16 The Wonder Stuff “On the ropes”

<< #17    |    #15 >>

If you asked me today who is my favourite musical artist, I’d be hard-pressed to even narrow it down to a top 50. However, if you had asked me this same question back in high school and right up to my first couple years of university, I wouldn’t have even hesitated in responding that it was Stourbridge, England’s The Wonder Stuff.

I have written about them a number of times already on these pages, hitting lists on my favourite covers and favourites tunes of 1990 and 1991, and of course, their first three albums all placed in my top ten lists for 1988, 1989, and 1991. By the time their fourth long player hit the shelves in the fall of 1993, I was a full-on fanboy and was eagerly awaiting its release. I had already seen the Samuel Bayer* directed video for the advance single, “On the ropes”, and was thrilled by the rock energy and crisp production. It had seemed Miles Hunt and the boys were loosing themselves from the technicolour folk rock of their previous release and embracing a more rocking sound. Martin ‘Fiddly’ Bell still had his fingers all over the sound, of course, as is evidenced in this early single, in which his fiddles screamed and bounced and generally, kept the Stuffies just slightly apart from the American alt-rock that they appeared to be courting.

I was all in on The Wonder Stuff, though, and the changed sound on “Construction for the modern idiot” didn’t deter me in the least. I loved it from the first and I immediately studied it with the same fervency that I did their earlier work. Of course, a new album meant that the band might tour and going to concerts was a new favourite pastime for this young lad. When they were announced to play the tiny club RPM in Toronto in February 1994 for a mere $10, I jumped all over it.

Incidentally, one of the most memorable moments of the concert for me occurred just as the group was leaping into this very song. A few bars into the intro, the noise arrested and Miles roared into the microphone, “Gouge the ****-ers eyes out!” He was referring to a young fan that had leapt on to the front of the stage just long enough to leap off it again and into the outstretched hands of the audience. The whole band weren’t really fans of the act of stage diving. The frontman took the opportunity to take a swig from his magnum of red wind before continuing his tirade against the offender that had disappeared into the crowd. “The next person that tries that will have the rest of the crowd to deal with when we walk off the stage. They paid to see us, not your ass!” The band then started right back up and with no less energy, blowing the doors off the place.

There wasn’t one other attempt to dive off the stage that night and the band duly played a super long set, complete with three encores. I left the show a very happy fan and with a concert T-shirt much like the one Hunt sports in this video, a shirt that I wore for nearly a decade and only retired it when it was no longer wearable. I was proud idiot.

Good times.

*Famous for directing the iconic video for a certain Seattle grunge act’s breakthrough hit.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1993 list, click here.