Vinyl love: The Postal Service “Give up”

(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: The Postal Service
Album Title: Give up
Year released: 2003
Year reissued: 2013
Details: 10th anniversary deluxe edition, Remastered, 3 x LP, Triple gatefold, 8-page booklet

The skinny: The one and only collaboration between Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello (aka DNTEL) received the 10th anniversary reissue treatment and I was all over it. It was 10 clean and crisp pop gems that seamlessly blended indie pop and electronic, though this release included extra b-sides, remixes, and even a brand new song.

Standout track: “Such great heights”


Best albums of 2017: The honourable mentions (aka #10 through #6)

Happy Friday everyone! And the last Friday of the month to boot! To celebrate, I’ve got a bit of a treat for y’all: the start of something new for this blog.

But first, some background.

Some of you might well be aware of my previous blog, Music Insanity, and if you are, you likely remember that I made a big production of counting down my favourite albums of the year, culminating in two or more weeks of posts and thousands of words at each year’s end. I’ve decided I would do the same on these pages but in a more toned down way. My first thought was to limit it to a top five, detailing each in its own post, each Friday, in the last five weeks of the year, but it proved too difficult a task to limit myself to just five albums. So instead, I will still detail my top five albums in the coming weeks but today, will give the next five as a sort of honourable mentions post. (And then, I cheated even more by hinting at the albums just outside my top ten in the photo of record covers above. Bad, blogger, bad.)

And yes, I intend to continue this tradition on annual basis going forward and over the coming months, will likely sprinkle in some of my favourite albums lists from past years to break up all these lists of favourite songs I’ve been throwing at you.

So without further ado, here are albums ten through six of my favourite albums of 2017. Stay tuned for album number five next Friday!

#10 Phoebe Bridgers “Stranger in the alps”

It’s been quite a while since an album like Phoebe Bridgers’ caught my ear. Her debut album, “Stranger in the alps”, is a mostly quiet, deeply personal, female singer/songwriter collection, which doesn’t in and of itself sound very exciting. The young Ms Bridgers, however, is a fine and mature writer, whose strong musical knowledge and awareness is displayed in her lyrics, making this a very cool listen indeed.

Gateway tune: Smoke signals

#9 The Rural Alberta Advantage “The wild”

Despite being a huge fan of the Toronto-based indie folk trio’s first three albums, I didn’t think I would, and if truth be told, almost didn’t want to like “The wild”. Yet here it is, squeezing its way into my top ten. Just when I think there must be a limit to what can be produced by Nils Edenloff’s raw vocals and guitars and Paul Banwatt’s frenetic drumming, they find yet another gear. In the case of “The wild”, they found themselves with a new member, Robin Hatch, who replaced the departed Amy Cole, and immediately made her presence felt.

Gateway tune: White lights

#8 Allison Crutchfield “Tourist in this town”

Funnily enough, I didn’t immediately make the connection with Waxahatchee but sure enough, Allison Crutchfield is the twin sister of that band’s driving force, Katie Crutchfield. “Tourist in this town” is Allison’s full-length debut after years of collaborating with others, notably with Kyle Gilbride in Swearin’ and her sister in a number of bands, including Waxahatchee. It’s a great breakup album, but one nowhere near as angry as Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged little pill”, and focuses more on change in a more global sense. It’s power pop with synths and is as fun as it is touching.

Gateway tune: Dean’s room

#7 Alvvays “Antisocialites”

Alvvays’ self-titled debut was on pretty much everyone’s lips three years ago on the back of its collection of lovely, jangly indie pop gems. Their sophomore doesn’t disappoint, feeding us more of the same sweetness, but this time with better production (and an appearance by Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake!). If there was a critique to be made, it’s that “Antisocialites” does not adventure very far from what made its predecessor so successful. But I’m not so sure I would have been happy with anything else than what we got.

Gateway tune: Dreams tonite

#6 St. Vincent “Masseduction”

Second and final disclosure of this post: though I’ve always respected what Annie Clarke (aka St. Vincent) was doing artistically and musically, I haven’t always been a fan. That pretty much changed when I saw her live at Ottawa Bluesfest in 2014 and I realized she was the female David Bowie. The similarity is not necessarily musical but in ethos and persona, she’s a true performance artist. “Masseduction” is her take on the pop album but she does it without compromising her sound and art. And it’s pure brilliance.

Gateway tune: Los ageless

For the rest of the albums in this list, check out my Best Albums page here.


Best tunes of 2010: #17 Band Of Horses “Compliments”

<< #18    |    #16 >>

At the number seventeen spot on this, my best of 2010 list, is “Compliments”, the first single off Band of Horses’ third album, “Infinite arms”.

To be honest, Band of Horses is a group that I know very little about. I can tell you (because I looked it up) that they are an American rock band formed by Ben Bridwell in 2004 and that he really is the only constant in a band membership that seems to be forever in flux. I don’t own physical copies of any of their albums so I’ve never read liner notes or lyrics and never really knew what any of them looked like until I watched a bit of live concert footage on YouTube at my buddy Tim’s place one night. I know that I really liked their first three albums and that those three albums are so consistent that I’m often not sure which songs appear on which album and am even not quite clear on certain songs’ titles, not even the ones I really like.

The funny thing (to me anyway) is that while listening to their music, I was able to create a picture of them in my head and when I saw them on the aforementioned live footage, they closely resembled the image I had of them in my head. On that night anyway, they were a southern rock band, kind of a CCR or Lynyrd Skynyrd for the 2000s, leftover hippies, shaggy and bearded, decked out in jeans and non-descript T-shirts and bandanas. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that.

And now that I’ve gotten all that out of the way, I gotta say: “Compliments” is a rocking track! It’s anthemic and big. Right from the get go, the reverb guitars catch all attention and the bopping rhythms and crashing cymbals make you want to get up and dance. And if not to go that far, at least to stomp your feet or clap your hands or to join in on the rhythm by making noise in some other way. The gang vocals too, beg for you to join in, no requirement for perfect pitch or a certain tone of voice. Shouting is just fine with Bridwell and company. And damned, if doesn’t feel great.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.