Vinyl love: Engineers “Engineers”

(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: Engineers
Album Title: Engineers
Year released: 2005
Year reissued: 2022
Details: Gatefold sleeve, 2 x 180 gram, white, numbered 502/1500

The skinny: Of all the great albums released during the first shoegaze revival wave of the early 2000s, Engineers’ self-titled debut was one of my favourites. The group formed as a four-piece – Mark Peters, Simon Phipps, Dan MacBean, and Andrew Sweeney – in London back in 2003. I happened upon the debut shortly after its release and latched on to a great many of the songs, recognizing in Engineers’ aesthetic the bands of my youth. Though some of their later work was pretty great as well, I wasn’t as immediately enamoured with it, always holding it up to this fantastic debut. It had been on my wishlist from pretty much the beginning of my collecting days but given what I perceived as their cult-like status, I didn’t think my chances were great at finding a copy on vinyl. My hopes were raised earlier this year when I saw that Music on Vinyl was reissuing Engineers’ debut EP, “Folly”, for Record Store Day, especially given that label’s track record of reissuing other classic shoegaze works. Then, I caught wind of this reissue of the debut LP on 2 x 180 gram slabs of white vinyl and jumped headlong aboard the pre-order train. It’s a thing of beauty.

Standout track: “Come in out of the rain”


Eighties’ best 100 redux: #98 Nena “99 luftballons” (1983, 1984)

<< #99    |    #97 >>

Back when I counted down my Eighties’ best 100 the first time, “99 luftballons” came in at #99. Honest to god. And I didn’t even plan it that way.

In fact, I hadn’t even realize what I had done until I was discussing the list with my friend and colleague Ian and let slip the song at #99 on said list. I actually considered switching the list order right there and then, so that the readers on my old blog didn’t think I was trying to be clever. In the end, I decided it was too early in the game to be making changes to the list and in spite of those original worries, I decided to let the list grow organically this time around as well, and the let proverbial chips fall where they may. So it is merely incidental (I assure you) that for this redux, the song moves up one spot to number 98.

Of the now three songs into my top 100 songs of the eighties, “99 luftballons” is the first but most likely not that last song by a so-called “one hit wonder” to grace the list. I think it would be near impossible to discuss the best tracks of the nineteen-eighties without one or two of them rearing their ugly noggins because the decade was full of them.

Unlike the previous two songs, I distinctly remember listening to this one when it was popular back in 1984. I used to watch the Chum FM 30 video countdown every week on CityTV and wait for the video to come on, typically near the top of the list. What I didn’t know back then though was that the version I was listening to (and watching) was translated and re-recorded into English from the original German to be more palatable for international audiences (hey, I was still a kid). I didn’t actually hear the original German version until almost a decade later when a friend in university put it on a mixed tape of retro tunes that she made for me.

Nena (named for the lead singer Gabriele Kerner, whose stage name was Nena) came from the very German school of New German Wave music. It originated as an underground scene that was heavily influenced by British Punk and New Wave. As the sound gained popularity, more commercially viable bands based on this sound came out of the woodwork, incorporating English instead of German lyrics, among these were Nena and other acts you might recognize (like Alphaville, Peter Schilling, and Falco).

Most people I encounter prefer the German version of the song but I can appreciate both (and I have included both for your listening pleasure below). The German version because it is as was initially intended and the English because I likely would have never truly understood the song in the first place and it really is worth understanding. It’s not just a good beat that you can dance to. In fact, its Cold War protest implications landed itself a place in an exhibit I once took in at the Canadian War Museum on the impacts of the Cold War on music and music videos, along with Alphaville’s “Forever Young.” I don’t think that particular exhibit is still there but the museum is very cool and if you’re ever in Ottawa, I highly recommend checking it out.

I’m sure you’re familiar with one of these two versions but here they are for your enjoyment nonetheless.

First, here’s the German version:

Now, the English version:

Original Eighties best 100 position: #99

Favourite lyric:
In German:
“Hab’ nen Luftballon gefunden / Denk’ an Dich und lass’ ihn fliegen” I don’t know what she’s saying – it’s just the way she sings it.

In English:
“This is what we’ve waited for / This is it boys, this is war” Again, it’s the way she sings it.

Where are they now?: Nena (the band) broke up long ago but Nena (the solo artist) had a resurgence in popularity in the early 2000s and was rather prolific up until 2015. She most recently released a new album called “Licht” in 2020.

For the rest of the Eighties’ best 100 redux list, click here.


Playlist: New tunes from 2022, part three

If I was still looking at this blog as something that should be scheduled or on schedule or whatever, I might consider this post a couple weeks behind that “s” word. I’ve been trying* to post these quarterly playlist updates a couple of weeks after the end of each quarter but well, the two week vacation I took that spanned the end of August and the beginning of September put me a bit behind.

Yeah. That’s right. I took some vacation. Two weeks! It was the longest period from work that I’d properly taken since before the pandemic. I spent as much of it as I could experiencing nature, sitting by the water, going on hikes, and just generally taking in our province’s natural beauty. It wasn’t exactly restful, per se, but it was definitely good for the soul.

Prior to that, I actually attended several evenings of an honest-to-goodness music festival at the beginning of July. It was an amazing feeling to return to a bit of normalcy, see some bands I’d seen before and some I hadn’t, and seeing people outside of my bubble, all revelling in the ecstasy that is the live music experience. I say again, I t felt great. Then, the day after the festival ended, a friend of mine who I had attended a couple of the dates with texted me to say he had tested positive for COVID. So I tested myself and thankfully came through it clean. But it was definitely a bitter reminder for me that though we may be done with the pandemic, it may not necessarily be done with us.

Otherwise, the summer flew by in a haze and blur of sameness. With all the work, eat, and sleep, I am super thankful of my continued employment, general good health, and that I am continuing to spend my life with my very best friend and love of my life. And of course, there is always the music.

This third part of this annual playlist represents the music that has followed me and kept me going through this third pandemic summer. It is yet another great 25 tunes (for parts one and two, check here and here) representative of the best that’s been released during the last three months. Highlights include:

      • Opening things up with “Rockstar”, this ripping track off the third album by Momma calls to mind 90s rockers, like maybe Babes in Toyland and L7, but most definitely Veruca Salt
      • “Circumference”, a brilliant synth-pop gem by Working Men’s Club ripped right from the heart of the 80s
      • More dream pop beauty from Toronto-based indie pop quartet Tallies, a sweet explosion called “Wound up tight”
      • I’ve not been a fan of Animal Collective, nor Noah Lennox’s solo work as Panda Bear but his recent collaboration with Pete “Sonic Boom” Kember is pure sunshine, “Gettin’ to the point” is just a case in point
      • When I think of Kasabian, I typically think of blistering high energy numbers but this ballad called “The wall” off their latest record is equally full of passion
      • “It’s always the quiet ones” by Suede – that’s right, they’re back and it’s majestic
      • Kristian Mattson, aka The Tallest Man on Earth, covering “Pink rabbits” by The National is like a collision of some of my favourite music from a decade ago
      • Finally, Yeah Yeah Yeahs teamed up with Perfume Genius for “Spitting off the edge of world”, the magnificent first single of their latest album

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

1. “Rockstar” Momma (from the album Household name)

2. “All comes crashing” Metric (from the album Formentera)

3. “Day 21” Secret Machines (from the EP Day 21)

4. “Fables” Interpol (from the album The other side of make-believe)

5. “Circumference” Working Men’s Club (from the album Fear fear)*

6. “Vanishing point” Julien Baker (from the EP B-sides)

7. “So far for so few” The Sadies (from the album Colder streams)

8. “Eventually” Beach Bunny (from the album Emotional creature)

9. “Wound up tight” Tallies (from the album Patina)

10. “Parasite II” Kiwi Jr. (from the album Chopper)

11. “Gettin’ to the point” Panda Bear & Sonic Boom (from the album Reset)

12. “The wall” Kasabian (from the album The alchemist’s euphoria)

13. “Forever in sunset” Ezra Furman (from the album All of us in flames)

14. “A line of shots” The Afghan Whigs (from the album How do you burn?)

15. “Slowly” Preoccupations (from the album Arrangements)

16. “Roman candles” Death Cab For Cutie (from the album Asphalt meadows)

17. “Expert in a dying field” The Beths (from the album Expert in a dying field)

18. “It’s always the quiet ones” Suede (from the album Autofiction)

19. “Heart attack” Editors (from the album EBM)

20. “Pink rabbits” The Tallest Man On Earth (from the album Too late for edelweiss)

21. “First high” Nikki Lane (from the album Denim & diamonds)

22. “Backup plan” Maya Hawke (from the album Moss)

23. “Friday night” Beth Orton (from the album Weather alive)

24. “Pagan man” Pixies (from the album Doggerel)

25. “Spitting off the edge of the world (ft Perfume Genius)” Yeah Yeah Yeahs (from the album Cool it down)

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.

*Trying might be a strong word here.

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.