Vinyl love: Bedouin Soundclash “Light the horizon”

(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: Bedouin Soundclash
Album Title: Light the horizon
Year released: 2010
Details: Gatefold sleeve, orange translucent vinyl

The skinny: Just over a week ago, I started counting down my favourite albums from 2010, perhaps one of my favourite post-Y2K* years for music, especially in terms of Canadian indie rock. Bedouin Soundclash’s fourth album, “Light the horizon” appeared at the number nine spot on said list and while writing about it for that post, I got the urge to pull the record down off the shelf and give it a spin or three. It’s easily my favourite by the ska/reggae outfit that formed back in 2001 while its members were attending Queen’s university in Kingston, Ontario. They had had a huge radio hit with “When the night feels my song” in 2004 but I really think they found some special magic when they put together the ten solid tracks that made up this album six years later. I managed to procure this original pressing to orange translucent vinyl from Amazon, back before I became disillusioned with their lax attitudes with shipping records, and am grateful that I did. It looks and sounds great on my turntable.

Standout track: “Fools tattoo”

*Is Y2K still a thing?


Best albums of 2010: Albums #10 through #6

So it feels like just yesterday that I wrapped up one of these series counting down my favourite albums of a select year, long past. In reality, it was only about a month ago but that one that I did for the year 2000 took almost two years to complete! Given this, you might think I would be reticent to start up another of these series, at least not right away, but not so. It’s almost like it feels like there’s something missing without one of these Best Albums series on the go.

This time around I am jumping ahead a decade to revisit 2010, a year that was actually quite amazing musically. I counted down my thirty favourite tunes of the year on these pages just over five years ago and I already did a similar countdown of my favourite albums for the year on my old music blog a bunch of years before that. Thus, it’s familiar territory we’re treading here (but not too familiar), many of the albums that will grace this list have a place in my vinyl collection, and those that aren’t there already are definitely on my wish list.

If you’ve followed me through one of these series before, you’ll recognize today’s post as the tease, introducing the five albums that round out the latter part of my top ten. From here, I used to out my five favourite albums for the year on a weekly basis and then, I tried stretching that to a bi-weekly basis. For this series, I make no promises but I am aiming to wrap this up in three to four months so maybe we’ll see a post every two to three weeks?

But before we go further, I’d like do a bit of a spoiler and a bit of indulgence and share a handful of albums (in no particular order) that didn’t quite make the list but are still worth your while:

  • Steve Mason “Boys outside” – the solo debut by the ex-Beta Band frontman is all kinds of psychedelic groove
  • Delphic “Acolyte” – another debut, this one the first of only two albums from the enigmatic, alternative dance group from Manchester
  • The Like “Release me” – the all-female quartet led by Z Berg went from alt rock to retro girl group, beach blanket bingo on their sophomore record
  • Frightened Rabbit “The winter of mixed drinks” – with their third record, the Scottish indie rock sextet continued a string of amazing albums that didn’t end until frontman Scott Hutchison’s death in 2018
  • Beach House “Teen dream” – the Baltimore-based dream pop duo found their footing with their third record and never looked back

With those out of the way, let’s delve into my top ten for reals. And of course, as we do, I’d love to hear your thoughts, both on my picks and what your own would be, if you had to rank your top ten albums for 2010, in the comments section provided with each post.

#10 Diamond Rings “Special affections”

John O’Regan made two records under the moniker Diamond Rings back in the early part of the previous decade. I remember seeing the album cover of the first of these, “Special affections”, for the first time and thinking that the image portrayed by Diamond Rings on it was an amalgam of Morrissey, David Bowie, and David Gahan of Depeche Mode. It’s no surprise, then, that there’s a definite 80s edge to the record. Its ten tracks ran the gamut, creating an expansive play school for O’Regan’s inner frontman to let loose in and laid down a solid base for his astonishing voice. The most obvious comparison point for his vocal work might’ve been Ian Curtis with his deep hued baritone timbre but there was more swagger here, invoking the glam of, say, Jarvis Cocker, Brett Anderson, and yes, David Bowie. For me, “Special affections” was a blast of pure oxygen the first time I listened to it, energizing my every fibre. Oh… and it sounded great on the dance floor.

Gateway tune: Wait & see

#9 Bedouin Soundclash “Light the horizon”

Kingston, Ontario-based Bedouin Soundclash’s fourth record, “Light the horizon”, was easily my favourite of the ska/reggae band’s albums. It is a solid ten tracks that leave it all on the floor, as opposed to the previous two albums that had as many forgettable moments as they did memorable ones. From the opening number, “Mountain top”, you can hear a subtle difference in their sound. I had always tended to attribute it to the addition of the incredibly talented Sekou Lumumba on drums here but perhaps it is more than that. There really is plenty of exuberance to go around, in not just with the drumbeats but also in Eon Sinclair’s bass lines, which you can feel dancing up and down your spine. Frontman Jay Malinowski, too, riffs along as if newly inspired and his pseudo edgy vocals keeping things real.

Gateway tune: Brutal hearts (feat. Coeur de Pirate)

#8 LCD Soundsystem “This is happening”

There was very little dispute that LCD Soundsystem’s third album, “This is happening”, belonged on the multiple end of year lists that it appeared on for 2010, given its pretty much universal acclaim and the belief at the time that it would be James Murphy’s final album under that moniker. Of course, hindsight being 20/20, we now know that the group reunited a few years after that “final” 2011 show at Madison Square Garden, released a studio album and another live album and continue to tour these days, but we won’t hold that against “This is happening”. The dance punk album is only nine tracks long but it clocks in at well over an hour, every song save for one is longer than five minutes. It’s like Murphy enjoyed playing with these songs so much that he couldn’t let go of them or perhaps decided that the remixes were much more fun than the original recordings. I, for one, trust his judgement on this point. The songs on “This is happening” end exactly when they should, like perfect guests at the wildest of house parties, they never overstay their welcome.

Gateway tune: I can change

#7 The Drums “The Drums”

The Drums’ self-titled, debut album and their last as a proper four-piece was like an extended ode to all music that is considered retro. If I were to reduce my thoughts on “The Drums” to three words, they would have to be “energy”, “energy”, and “energy”. Each song is bursting with (and pardon the oxymoron here) fresh sounding retro vitality. Channelling and blending the sounds of their influences in the post-punk of the eighties and the free and easy pop of the sixties, The Drums take peppy doowop rhythms, speed them up to double time and blast it all with synthesizer melodies that climb and slide down all kinds of staccato scales. I’ve heard them compared to The Smiths, Joy Division, and The Cure and I’d have to say: “yes, yes, and yes”. So if you’re a fan of these bands, as I am, the chances are good that you might enjoy more than a couple of the twelve tracks on the album.

Gateway tune: Best friend

#6 The New Pornographers “Together”

The fifth album by the supergroup/indie rock collective based out of Vancouver, British Columbia is complex and simple, quiet and bombastic, raw and fey, earthy and alien. And I’m not purposely being contradictory here. A lot of people have bemoaned the fact that The New Pornographers have gotten away from the punchy edge that coursed through their first two or three records but that has never bothered me. Even though I also enjoy their early work, right up until this year’s release, “Challengers” and “Together” were my two favourite New Porno albums. It is here that their sound has grown, either Newman had given in a bit to Bejar’s bizarre ideas or he himself had lost some of his marbles. The band has never sounded typical but on “Together” they felt like they were exploring the periphery of their own boundaries and the results are slightly darker (if that’s possible) and more cohesive but not. I know. Contradictory.

Gateway tune: Crash years

Stay tuned for album #5 on this list. In the meantime, you can check out my Best Albums page here if you’re interested in my other favourite albums lists.


Best albums of 2000: #1 Doves “Lost souls”

I started this series counting down my ten favourite albums of 2000 almost two years ago. Usually, when I start them, I bulldoze through the posts and get the series wrapped up in less than two months. And while I started this one as I normally would in the summer of 2021, my sense of urgency with the series tailed off to almost nothing and the drafts sat idle for many months in between, while I picked at them and glanced at them, while concentrating on other pieces. I decided this month, though, April 2023, it was way past time to wrap this one up.

Interestingly, when I started this series, Doves were very much a going concern. They had reunited after after a nine year absence in 2019, performed a string of successful shows, reissued their first three albums on vinyl (including this one), and released a brand new album called “The universal want” in 2020, which topped my list of albums for that year. Then, in October 2021, a few weeks after I posted the number four album in this series, Doves cancelled all the remaining dates in the tour that they were on, citing health concerns for their frontman, Jimi Goodwin. And while they haven’t officially disbanded, there has been little news since of any new activity.

For any of you not in the know, Doves are a Manchester, England-based trio that originally formed as a group called Sub Sub back in 1991. They had released a few house and dance type singles and were gearing up for something bigger when their studio burnt down in 1996. They re-emerged as Doves a couple of years later, with a new sound as well as a new name.

I didn’t hear their debut, “Lost souls”, when it was originally released. I only got into them a few years later with their sophomore release, “The last broadcast”, a story I’ve recounted before on these pages. My love for that album had me going back to discover the debut and fall for it just as hard. For me, it’s hard to pick a favourite from those first two records but I’d agree with the pundits that claim it as being possibly the best debut album since, “Definitely maybe”. “Lost souls” also did just as well commercially, hitting the UK album charts, three of its singles charted, and it was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize, losing out to Badly Drawn Boy’s “The hour of the bewilderbeast”, an album on which Dove’s members also performed.

“Lost souls” is one of those albums that just screams out for a good pair of ear phones, a bit of dim lighting, perhaps candles scattered about the room, and some good wine to sip on. Though it could also just as easily be good company on a night drive on the highway, layers of beautiful sounds flying past alongside the blur of red taillights off in the distance. Doves’ music exist in its own plane, an environment of the band’s own making, each song a riddle to unwrap and savour. Two of the three picks I’ve selected for you below appeared in My Best Tunes of 2000 list when I counted that down in this blog’s early days and the other was one that I had to haggle my way to selecting from wealth of awesomeness on offer.

This is a great great album. But don’t take my word for it, listen to it yourself and thank me later.

“Melody calls”: “A melody calls. A setting sun, a melody calls. Time to lose myself again.” A haunting guitar line fades in across the land, drifting in upon the breeze from a circus being packed up from the other side of the plains. It is the sound of memory and sadness and is instantly recognizable as such. The trio then jump in together to create an ear worm that anyone would want to sing along with. There’s a lot of bah-bah-bahs, hand claps, foot stomps, glockenspiels, and of course, that instrument of forelorn wants and needs, the harmonica. It is three and half minutes of momentary light and joy in the middle of a dark and obscured world.

“Catch the sun“: (The following words are a sampling from the post on this song’s appearance at #10 on the list of Best tunes for 2000) “Every day it comes to this, catch the things you might have missed. You say, get back to yesterday. I ain’t ever going back.” Jimi Goodwin just lays it all out there with his matter-of-fact and assured delivery, sounding very much like he comes from a long line of Madchester vocalists, like a meeting over pints with Ian Brown and Tim Burgess but with some bourbon thrown in for depth. And he’s got the guitar and drum muscle to back him up on this song, all driving and gut-wrenching, creating an envelope of sound that you wish you could seal yourself up in for the afternoon. However, it’s not to be as Goodwin and the brothers Williams are urging you forward, to get you out there into the world and experience everything under the sun.

“The man who told everything”: (Much like for the previous song, I’m paraphrasing here from a past post, but in this case, the song appeared at #3) “I’m gonna tell it all, I’m gonna sell it all, I’m gonna sell / Get out of bed, come out and sing, blue skies ahead, the man who told everything.” This song is big, bold, and beautiful. But don’t mistake my words for inferring that this tune is high energy frenzy. Instead, for all the excitement of the words, the music has a more muted pace. The guitar strumming matches the easy drumming at the outset but at each chorus, another layer of guitars and string effects is added that has an arduous quality, at once daunting and stubborn and unforgiving… So much awesome.

Just in case you missed them, here are the previous albums that have graced this list:

10. Richard Ashcroft “Alone with everybody”
9. The New Pornographers “Mass romantic”
8. The Cure “Bloodflowers”
7. The Weakerthans “Left and leaving”
6. The Clientele “Suburban light”
5. Belle and Sebastian “Fold your hands child, you walk like a peasant”
4. Coldplay “Parachutes”
3. Mojave 3 “Excuses for travellers”
2. The Dandy Warhols “Thirteen tales from urban bohemia”

You can also check out my Best Albums page here if you’re interested in my other favourite albums lists.