Best tunes of 2002: #22 Sam Roberts “Brother down”

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According to our friends at Wikipedia, an “extended play record, often referred to as an EP, is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified as an album or LP”. It’s a format that seems to have made a bit of a comeback in the last decade or so, likely as a result of and in conjunction with the return to relevance of vinyl records as a means of releasing music. In an otherwise digital sales and streaming world, the term would be rendered meaningless. Personally, and though I know a number of my favourite bands (see Belle & Sebastian) love the format, I’ve never been big on them, only procuring them in the cases of many of these same bands when I started to turn completist on collecting their musical outputs. It’s likely because for much of my early life, I didn’t have a lot of disposable income to put towards purchasing the music I loved so I had to be picky and found more value for dollar on full-length albums.

Sam Roberts’ debut release, an EP called “The inhuman condition”, was one of the few EPs I ever purchased brand new* on CD. I distinctly remember heading down to the HMV at the Rideau Centre one night after work with a $75 gift card burning a hole in my wallet. I remember wandering around the store many times with various combinations of discs in my hands, not wanting to waste such a rare opportunity in those days on poor choices. Of course, of the four or five CDs I walked out of the store with that evening, excited to get home to start spinning them, that EP was one of them, the relatively lower price and my enjoyment of this particular track whenever I heard it on X101 FM being the two main reasons.

The Montreal-based singer/songwriter has since gone on to great success nationally but I think Sam Roberts’ first single, “Brother down”, really paved the way. The version on the EP is the second version recorded (the first was a demo that you might find floating around) and he redid it a third time when he released his debut full-length the following year. It’s definitely still quite popular and has been a crowd favourite every time I’ve seen him perform live, which is actually quite a few times. It is a fun and funky number, the bongos, handclaps, and call and response vocals that run throughout providing the requisite groove. At the time, I honestly felt and described Roberts as Canada’s answer to Beck and though these days I can’t conscientiously make the same comparison, this particular song does smack audibly of Beck’s mid-90s “Odelay” days. It just makes me want to dance.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2002 list, click here.

* As opposed to secondhand, I mean.

Vinyl love: Sloan “Twice removed”

(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: Sloan
Album Title: Twice removed
Year released: 1994
Year reissued: 2016
Details: black vinyl

The skinny: Just over a month ago, I saw Canadian alternative rock stalwarts Sloan (!!!) live for the first time ever (!!!) and I posted pictures and some thoughts about it here. At that very same show, I picked up a copy of their second album, “Twice removed”, on vinyl, sort of knowing (but not knowing for sure the actual date) that it was celebrating its 25th anniversary around that same time. This is the album that started turning the hate that I had originally cultivated for them because of the single “Underwhelmed” into something akin to being a fan. The haunting song below in particular was one for which I turned up the volume every time it came on the radio. This is great Can Con right here.

Standout track: “Coax me”

Live music galleries: Sloan [2019]

(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. Like my ‘Vinyl love’ series, these posts will be more photos than words but that doesn’t mean I won’t welcome your thoughts and comments. And of course, until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts of page.)

Sloan!!!!

Artist: Sloan
When: August 24th, 2019
Where: Hopped and Confused Festival, Mill Street Brewery, Ottawa
Context: While writing up yesterday’s words and putting together the photos summing up my experiences at this past weekend’s Hopped and Confused festival, I made the decision to give these guys their own post and gallery because… well… as our fellow blogger Aaron over at KMA would say, SLOAN!!! It’s actually unbelievable, even to me that, after over twenty five years of listening to this Canadian alternative rock band, I had yet to see them live. I had many chances*, of course, and the reasons are varied as to why I never took one of them. One such reason was that I wasn’t always a big fan. In fact, I hated them (strong word, I know, but I was young) with their first album and single, “Underwhelmed”, but they ended up winning me over with their next two records, still my favourites. Over the years since, I’ve alternated between loving their tunes and just enjoying them when heard on the radio. However, in the weeks leading up to this festival, I’ve been revisiting and getting more and more excited, the more I realized how many of their tunes I loved. And yes, they were very excellent live. They played a mix representing all the albums of their catalogue, hitting pretty much all the songs I would’ve wanted to hear, save one (a personal fave called, “Unkind”). Also, after so many years of listening to them, it’s been easy to take for granted how talented they are, but watching them live, as each of the four main members took their turns (Chris Murphy took care of the drums when Andrew Scott came to the front to lead his songs) singing the songs they contributed to the band’s body of work, was something else entirely. And man, doesn’t Chris Murphy look like he’s still having the time of his life up there!
Point of reference song: The good in everyone

Chris Murphy of Sloan
Jay Ferguson of Sloan
Andrew Scott of Sloan
Patrick Pentland of Sloan
Jay Ferguson of Sloan
Chris Murphy of Sloan
Patrick Pentland and Jay Ferguson of Sloan
Sloan

* One of these was to attend the filming of the video for “The lines you amend”, which happened at one of the large lecture halls at York university, the school I was attending at the time. However, it meant getting up super early, as I recall, and on the morning after a pub night. I wasn’t a morning person in those days so…