Best tunes of 2011: #2 Young Galaxy “We have everything”

<< #3    |    #1 >>

Happy Friday all! Yes. A wonderful Friday indeed because it is also my last day of work this year. I can hardly believe we’ve reached the end of another year and really, another decade. It feels like not that long ago that we were just ringing in the beginning of this year.

So anyway, you may have noticed that I’ve been counting down my favourite albums of the year on each Tuesday for the past few weeks and am poised to unveil my number one on New Year’s eve morning. Well, that’s not the only list I’m hoping to wrap up before the end of the year. I’ve also been quietly trying to get to the end of this Best tunes of 2011 list, quietly because I wasn’t sure I would have the steam to finish up two lists in one month and still have time to go Christmas shopping. It’s looking good right now but we’ll have to see what the next week will bring.

Incidentally, the number two song on this list appears on the album that came in at number one for the inaugural end of the year series on my old blog, Music Insanity. I said back then that Young Galaxy’s third album, “Shapeshifting”, was one that “didn’t resonate with me immediately but with repeat listens, my appreciation grew”. This is a trend that pretty much rang true for the rest of the Canadian indie pop band’s albums, save for their first. No. Their self-titled debut grabbed me right away because it fell right smack into my wheelhouse but after that, they challenged themselves and their fans right with them with each successive release, as their sound and personas changed from psych rock, dream poppers to synth-driven, art pop machines. Indeed, when I wrote about “Peripheral visionaries”, which appeared at number sixteen on this very list, I already talked about how the electronic sound from “Shapeshifting” grew out of a cross-ocean collaboration with Swedish producer, Dan Lissvik, so I won’t tread already familiar ground here.

“We have everything” is very likely the most uplifting and danceable track on the album. Sounding a little bit Blondie, a little bit New Order, and a little bit space rock, it has a toe hopping beat, an addictive synth melody, and Catherine McCandless singing up a storm over top it all. It shimmers and chugs along, ice fog whisping across the monochromatic, old school computer screen, and plenty of lasers flitting, obscuring reality and leaving you screaming for more.

Just watch the video (and while you’re at it, go back and watch the one for “Peripheral visionaries” because they are related thematically) and turn it up. Loud. And just dance. It’s Friday, for goodness sake…

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

Best albums of 2019: #3 Tallies “Tallies”

At some point in the mid-2000s, I was in a Chapters perusing the music magazine racks while my wife was looking at cookbooks and I came across an American-based indie music magazine called “Under the radar”. I found myself flipping through it slower than I normally would a music magazine so when my wife found me (rather than me finding her for once), I was still only halfway through it. She suggested I buy it and I offered no resistance. And then, I bought the next few monthly issues. For the next Christmas that rolled around, I received a two year subscription from Victoria. When that expired, I called in to renew it for myself and I distinctly remember the woman I talked to who took my order happily telling me that they (the people behind the magazine) loved Canadians. I have since had a few annual digital subscriptions for my iPad and these days, I still check their website regularly and all because they have always seemed to have their finger on the pulse of music that I like.

This past January, a month that the music world is still typically waking up from its holiday hangover, I had a visit with my friends at “Under the radar” and wouldn’t you know, there was a review, front and centre, of the self-titled, debut album of this new Canadian band, Tallies. The review mentioned them in the same breath as Alvvays, another favourite of mine, and a couple other Canadian bands of whom I hadn’t yet heard. So I duly went over to Spotify to have a perusal of the album (as well as music by the other two) and immediately heard and agreed with the reviewer’s comparisons to the jangly dream pop of Cocteau Twins and (especially that of) The Sundays. It goes with saying that I purchased it on vinyl the next time I was out at the record stores.

I tell this story because I find it funny, the roundabout way you sometimes have to travel to discover music from your own backyard. Tallies were formed by the couple of Sarah Cogan (vocals/guitar) and Dylan Frankland (guitar) while they were attending Algonquin College right here in Ottawa. They added drummer Cian O’Neill and bassist Stephen Pitman and relocated to Toronto, where they recorded this debut. And yeah, “Tallies” is another good reason why we should still be excited about the indie music being made here in Canada.

Tallies have been described as shoegaze but I would place them more as dream pop, and yes, there is a difference. There’s plenty of jangle and twinkle and rays of sunshine, and man, is it easy on the ears! Have a listen to my three picks for you below and let me know what you think.

“Not so proud”: First off, I’ll drop this one right here and let that peppy, tip-tappety-tap-tap drumming set in. I’m thinking within a second your head will be bopping. Just in time to let the washes upon washes of tinkling guitars flutter down upon you like sparkling confetti. The crisp production is like a vacuum, allowing these lovely sounds to echo all over the place and then, Cogan starts in with her vocals. She’s singing about uncertainties and the different shades of greys and not having the answers or the endings to any story, happy or otherwise. Yet, you can’t help but want to get up and dance and sing along just as breathlessly.

“Mother”: The rhythm section gets a bit of a workout on this second track and guitars jangle all over the place, almost feeling like they’re on holiday in the Caribbean. Yeah, things are a bit meandering in the verses but they pick up substantially at the choruses and the drums get just that much more frantic. And through the joy and bliss and Cogan’s sweet honey vocals, her lyrics are wistfully relaying the varying stages of a relationship between a mother and daughter. “Don’t fill your holes with sorrow, ‘cause you’ll never be left alive.” Good advice, that.

“Trouble”: And much like that last track (and others throughout the album), the opening number seems to be exploring the pitfalls of growing up, ready or not. “Heights with no means to escape. Soaring coasts mixed with the rubble. Mind’s eye forms fields of gray. No subtle fears, no grounds for trouble.” And here more than anywhere, do we get a lot of noise, a lot of static, impenetrable, perhaps, save for the soaring and ringing vocals of Cogan, sounding very much a Harriet Wheeler doppelgänger. The naivety and exuberance breathes life into an interpretation of backward admiring tunes. Just lovely.

Check back next Tuesday for album #2. In the meantime, here are the previous albums in this list:

10. Chromatics “Closer to grey”
9. Elva “Winter sun”
8. The Twilight Sun “It won/t be like this all the time”
7. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds “Ghosteen”
6. The Soft Calvary “The Soft Calvary”
5. Orville Peck “Pony”
4. Ride “This is not a safe place”

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

Playlist: New tunes from 2019, part three

Now that we’re just about halfway through December and nearing the top three albums of my favourites of the year, I thought I’d share part three of my series of playlists of tunes that got me through 2019. If you missed them, you can browse, and perhaps even enjoy, parts one and two here and here.

The last time I posted one of these, I was bemoaning the length of time it took for my city to shake the dregs of winter from its cockles and here we are, almost winter again. In fact, we’ve already had snow here and though it has melted away now, have had plenty of the icky white stuff on and off since the beginning of November.

I had planned on doing one of these lists for each quarter of the year, at twenty-five songs a-piece, to have a total of 100 songs across the playlists. However, I was only successful at staying on target for half of the year and lost my the thread somewhere this summer. I upped the ante and managed to fit forty tracks in this particular playlist, bringing the total up to 90 songs for the year, a number with which I have to be contented.

Still, the size of the playlist is not meant to deter you, there has been some amazing music released in the last half of the year, particularly in September and October. And I can almost guarantee you’ll find something to like within.

Highlights include:

    • “Shine a little light”, the opening track off the first new album in five years by Akron, Ohio’s The Black Keys
    • “All my happiness is gone”, a song that along with the rest of the eponymously-named album, may have foreshadowed the suicide of Purple Mountains’ frontman David Berman
    • A bright spot (for me, anyways) off Lana Del Rey’s latest album was “Mariners apartment complex”, an album I found a tad long to be worthy of all the universal acclaim
    • “Lord Randall’s bastard son”, the lead off track off the self-titled debut by The Walker Roaders, a new project led by James Fearnley (accordionist of The Pogues), Ted Hutt (founding member of Flogging Molly), and Marc Orrell (founding member of Dropkick Murphys) – you pretty much know what you’re getting here
    • “Sunshine” by Blushing, one of the many standouts off the self-titled debut by this shoegaze revivalist group, whose sound owes quite a bit of debt to Lush
    • “Heavenly” is Cigarettes After Sex doing what they are doing on their excellent, late night, slow-burning sophomore album, “Cry”
    • Leonard Cohen’s son Adam finished off a bunch of songs started during the sessions for “You want it darker” and released a posthumous album last month, of which “Happens to the heart” is just one of the great tracks

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist:

    1. “Shine a little light” The Black Keys (from the album “Let’s rock”)
    2. “Bulletproof” The Soft Calvary (from the album The Soft Calvary)
    3. “Hard to kill” Bleached (from the album Don’t you think you’ve had enough?)
    4. “All my happiness is gone” Purple Mountains (from the album Purple Mountains)
    5. “Alewife” Clairo (from the album Immunity)
    6. “Leona” Strange Ranger (from the album Remembering the rockets)
    7. “the one” Marika Hackman (from the album Any human friend)
    8. “Sister Rosetta” Frank Turner (from the album No man’s land)
    9. “Don’t cling to life” The Murder Capital (from the album When I have fears)
    10. “A golden year” Lillie Mae (from the album Other girls)
    11. “Clouds of Saint Marie” Ride (from the album This is not a safe place)
    12. “Entitlement crew” The Hold Steady (from the album Thrashing thru the passion)
    13. “Mariners apartment complex” Lana Del Rey (from the album Norman Fucking Rockwell)
    14. “At the party” Black Belt Eagle Scout (from the album At the party with my brown friends)
    15. “Desert man” Bat For Lashes (from the album Lost girls)
    16. “Highwomen” The Highwomen (from the album The Highwomen)
    17. “This is my fate” Pixies (from the album Beneath the eyrie)
    18. “Dream reader” Frankiie (from the album Forget your head)
    19. “The mother road” Chelsea Wolfe (from the album Birth of violence)
    20. “Most of all” Vivian Girls (from the album Memory)
    21. “Work of fiction” The High Dials (from the EP Primitive feelings, part 2)
    22. “Lord Randall’s bastard son” The Walker Roaders (from the album The Walker Roaders)
    23. “Terms of surrender” Hiss Golden Messenger (from the album Terms of surrender)
    24. “Shockwave” Liam Gallagher (from the album Why me? Why not.)
    25. “Stars are the light” Moon Duo (from the album Stars are the light)
    26. “Sunshine” Blushing (from the album Blushing)
    27. “Colossus of Rhodes” The New Pornographers (from the album In the morse code of brake lights)
    28. “The sound of silence” Chromatics (from the album Closer to grey)
    29. “Devoted to” Lightning Dust (from the album Spectre)
    30. “Skin game” DIIV (from the album Deceiver)
    31. “All mirrors” Angel Olsen (from the album All mirrors)
    32. “Never understand” The Building (from the album PETRA)
    33. “Dexter & Sinister” Elbow (from the album Giants of all sizes)
    34. “Hollywood ending” Starcrawler (from the album Devour you)
    35. “Forgotten eyes” Big Thief (from the album Two hands)
    36. “Digger” Great Grandpa (from the album Four of arrows)
    37. “Shelter” Mikal Cronin (from the album Seeker)
    38. “Heavenly” Cigarettes After Sex (from the album Cry)
    39. “In the air tonight” Lucy Dacus (from the EP 2019)
    40. “Happens to the heart” Leonard Cohen (from the album Thanks for the dance)


Finally, 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.