Vinyl love: Various artists “Tiny Changes: A Celebration Of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight'”

(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: Various artists
Album Title: Tiny Changes: A Celebration Of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’
Year released: 2019
Details: Double LP, 24 page booklet

The skinny: Back in the middle of January, I went on a bit of a Frightened Rabbit kick, posting photos from the one time I saw them live in 2013, as well as ‘Vinyl love’ instalments for the albums “The midnight organ fight”, “Pedestrian verse”, and “Painting of a panic attack”, and all of this in the span of a week. However, I waited until today, what is widely-acknowledged as the second anniversary of frontman Scott Hutchison’s death, to post this, the only other Frightened Rabbit-related vinyl in my collection (for now). This tribute to “The midnight organ fight” was in the works before Hutchison’s suicide, the recording of the album’s tunes by friends of the band were already mostly recorded to celebrate the album’s 10th anniversary, but the remaining band members decided to refocus its release after the fact. They named it for the mental health charity launched in honour of Hutchison and donated a portion of the album’s sales to it as well. The album includes covers by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, Canadian indie rockers Wintersleep, fellow Scots The Twilight Sad, dream-poppers Daughter, and the lovely one below by Julien Baker. This heavyweight double-LP pressing includes a 24-page booklet filled with words and memories supplied by other members of Frightened Rabbit and by the artists that performed the covers (a few of these are shown above). And reading these really hits you hard and you can’t escape the feeling that we’ve lost a great songwriter. We miss you Scott.

Standout track: “The modern leper” as covered by Julien Baker


100 best covers: #87 Amy Millan “I will follow you into the dark”

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…And speaking of Death Cab for Cutie… Here’s a cover by Stars vocalist Amy Milan of the standout single from Death Cab for Cutie’s fifth album, “Plans”.

The original was recorded by frontman Ben Gibbard by himself on guitar, using just the one microphone. The result is a quiet and lonely sounding number that is kind of morbid on first listen but is quite romantic upon further reflection. The idea that one loves the other so much that he or she would them even into death to keep them company is quite lovely. “I will follow you into the dark” didn’t originally chart very high as a single but has since become one of the band’s best-selling, still receives quite a bit of radio play, and has been covered many times over by various artists.

Canadian songstress Amy Millan covered it a mere four years after the original’s initial release for her second solo record, “Masters of the burial”. Hers is slightly longer than the original’s three minutes and markedly different in style and tone. A full band backs her. The use of banjo and lap steel giving it a decidedly old time country feel. Her soft touch on vocals is more upbeat than in Gibbard’s original but definitely lends the subject matter the weight it deserves.

“If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied
Illuminate the no’s on their vacancy signs
If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks
Then I’ll follow you into the dark”

I am a fan of both of these. In fact, I refuse to pick a favourite. Thoughts?

The cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.


Best tunes of 2011: #29 Death Cab For Cutie “You are a tourist”

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By the time 2011 rolled around, Death Cab for Cutie had been at it for fourteen years. I had been following them for just over half of that time, discovering them, along with a boatload of others, with their 2003 album, “Transatlanticism”. The Washington-based indie pop/rock band has been pretty solid in releasing quality albums since that time, impressively sustained through a constantly evolving sound. But for some reason, with each album, my interest has faded some. I was fanatical with “Transatlanticism” and then, with 2005’s “Plans” but three albums later, I have been much less so. In fact, when sitting down to write this, I didn’t just listen to this one song. I had to listen to the whole album because I honestly couldn’t remember what it sounded like.

Of course, when I listened to “Codes and keys”, I loved it all over again. It was like I was back in 2011 and I re-experienced the whole gamut of emotions. From the excitement at seeing their name listed as headliner on the main stage on the final night of Bluesfest to the disappointment I felt when I realized I would have to miss it because I had a prior engagement. To the surprise when I heard their set was cancelled that night when the stage collapsed due to a violent storm and the commiseration with those attending that didn’t get to experience them live. They’ve yet to return to Ottawa as promised but I can at least say I got to see them in 2006 when they toured for “Plans”.

“You are a tourist” was the first single released off “Codes and keys” and managed the group their first hit single, charting high on multiple singles charts and hitting number one on a few of these. Written and recorded during the period where frontman Ben Gibbard was married to Zoey Deschanel, the subject matter of the album’s lyrics are less melancholic than previous efforts. The sound, too, is quite a change from its predecessors, being less guitar driven. “You are a tourist” is definitely a drums forward piece, the rhythm catching hold of the listener right away. Meanwhile, the bass line just hangs out, there in the low end, waving hello and minding its own business. The keyboards tinkle and the guitars jump in for flourishes, face grating though they can get at times, just to remind us they’re still there. Gibbard is suggesting that change is a good thing, positively positing that when you feel a tourist in your own town, it’s time to move on.

Yep. I listened to the song and wondered to myself how I let it go so long between listens. It won’t happen again.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.