Vinyl love: Alvvays “Blue rev”

(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: Alvvays
Album Title: Blue rev
Year released: 2022
Details: Clear

The skinny: It had been five years between the release of Alvvays’ sophomore album, “Antisocialites”, and their third album, last year’s “Blue rev”. Thus, even though I’d been following the Toronto-based indie pop group since their early days and have both of their previous records on my shelves, I didn’t jump on the pre-order train for this one right away. I wouldn’t say I had tired of them or gone off the band in any way but perhaps just wary, taking a wait and see approach. Any hesitation melted away, though, when I gave “Blue rev” a go shortly after its release last October and I was more than pleasantly surprised at the group’s leaps and bounds to escape their allotted pigeonholes. I ordered a copy off Pop Music Toronto’s online store because they had a few of the clear pressings released by the group’s own Canadian-based label Celsius Girls on their virtual shelf. The album ended up placing at number two on Billboard my end of the year album list for 2022 and this record continues to be one I return to my turntable often.

Standout track: “After the earthquake”


Playlist: New tunes from 2022, part four

Saturday morning, December 31st, 2022.

Here we are at the precipice of another year. And though I honestly didn’t have high hopes for this year, it was an improvement on the previous two, which makes me think it can only get better from here. Right?


If you’ve been paying attention to these pages over the last couple of weeks, you’ve seen me counting down my favourite albums released in 2022, the number one album seeing the light of day just yesterday. And now, keeping with the tradition I started over the last couple of years, I’ve left the final instalment of my annual four-part playlist sharing some of my favourite new tunes released during the year to post on this last day of the year. You are welcome to go back and revisit parts one, two, and three, which include songs from the first three quarters of 2022. This final playlist, much like the previous three, collects twenty-five bangers from the last three months. Usually, I would have to bolster this last part with the b-sides, or tracks that I just missed including in the previous three parts, but there was plenty of great new music this time around and I only needed to add a small handful.

Before I carry on, I just wanted to thank those of you who have been reading and listening along this year and for the past handful. I write these words and share these thoughts and it’s all just for the passion of it, for the love of music. So let’s just enjoy this moment and the music that makes it. These here are the final twenty five tunes of the year that have made it all bearable. Highlights include:

      • Where else would I start this last playlist but something from the newest album Canadian indie pop heroes, Alvvays, and “After the earthquake” is everything that we would have hoped it would be
      • “Let the lights on” is a grimy ear worm that begs repeat listens and Sorry is not apologizing for it
      • Don’t be fooled by the moniker, Skullcrusher is not death metal but delicate and lilting indie pop and “Whatever fits together” is just that
      • “Hurricane” and its country/folk delight has us hoping for more from Plains, the collaborative efforts of Katie Crutchfield and Jess Williamson
      • Canadian quartet Sloan shows us that power pop is still safe in their hands with their latest album and this new single “Magical thinking”
      • Canadian indie folk troubadour Dan Mangan is the latest in a string of artists to pay tribute to former Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison, promising everyone that we’ll be “In your corner”
      • I’ve let Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess close things off with a ray of sunshine and hope and “Here comes the weekend” and a brand new year

Here is the entire playlist as I’ve created it:

1. “After the earthquake” Alvvays (from the album Blue rev)

2. “Satellite” Courtney Marie Andrews (from the album Loose future)

3. “Let the lights on” Sorry (from the album Anywhere but here)

4. “Baby don’t you know” Ciel (from the EP Nor in the sun, nor in the dark)

5. “Into the blue” Broken Bells (from the album Into the blue)

6. “Whatever fits together” Skullcrusher (from the album Quiet the room)

7. “Part of the band” The 1975 (from the album Being funny in a foreign language)

8. “Emily smiles” The Lightning Seeds (from the album See you in the stars)

9. “My very best” The Big Moon (from the album Here is everything)

10. “Hurricane” Plains (from the album I walked with you a ways)

11. “See you better now” Wild Pink (from the album ILYSM)

12. “Warm wine” Batts (from the album The nightline)

13. “Abigail” Frankie Cosmos (from the album Inner world peace)

14. “Magical thinking” Sloan (from the album Steady)

15. “One day (it’s being scheduled)” Robyn Hitchcock (from the album Shufflemania!)

16. “Swallow” Girlpuppy (from the album When I’m alone)

17. “In your corner (for Scott Hutchison)” Dan Mangan (from the album Being somewhere)

18. “Out of my head” First Aid Kit (from the album Palomino)

19. “Come on sun” Jason Collett (from the album Head full of wonder)

20. “Morningstar” Smut (from the album How the light felt)

21. “Children of the empire” Weyes Blood (from the album And in the darkness, hearts aglow)

22. “Working for the knife” Mitski (from the album Laurel Hell)

23. “Jackie down the line” Fontaines D.C. (from the album Skinty fia)

24. “Civil liberties” Fake Palms (from the album Lemons)

25. “Here comes the weekend” Tim Burgess (from the album Typical music)

Those of you who are on the Apple Music train can click here to sample the above tracks as a whole playlist.

And as always, wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and continue to be well. Above all, enjoy the tunes.

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.


Best albums of 2022: #2 Alvvays “Blue rev”

Much has been made about the length of time that has passed between the second album by Alvvays (pronounced ‘Always’) and this new one. Indeed, five years is an eternity in the music world in this day and age, what with trends whipping by at a torrid pace and viral videos and music streaming. And yet one can’t help but refrain from laying blame, what with the events of the past few years, and those being especially pronounced for the Toronto-based indie pop band. In addition to plagues, they’ve had to overcome thefts and floods and changes in personnel, but luckily for all of us, they seem to have come out of this period of quiet all the better for it.

I’ve been following the group led by long-time friends Molly Rankin and Kerri MacLellan, as well as Alec O’Hanley, since the appearance of their self-titled debut back in 2014. I loved the dreamy bursts of sunshine indie pop on the album, the jangly nostalgia, and the youthful maturity of songcraft therein. The follow up was more of the same in taste and texture but showed a progression worth following. Much of this third record, which takes its name from a beverage favoured by the two lead protagonists in their even younger youth, was written shortly after the original touring cycle for “Antisocialites”, around the time that Sheridan Riley joined them on drums and long before Abbey Blackwell replaced founding bassist Brian Murphy. With all the delays, they really did have a fully formed idea of the album when they finally convened to record it in the fall of 2021. My understanding is that it was recorded in much the way you can hear it on the record, front to back, twice through, in one day, but that the mixing and perfectionist refining afterwards took much, much longer.

“Blue rev” is quickly becoming my favourite by the group, if it hasn’t yet achieved that honour. It goes far beyond the borders of their original pigeon-holed territory of light and jangly indie pop and at the same time, doesn’t betray it’s long-time fans. It’s noisier, louder, longer, smarter, more assured, and lots of fun. Like the previous album on this list, I have a new favourite track on the album every day and I expect that to continue as each listen reveals new layers and textures and lyrical gems to behold. The three tracks I’ve picked for your perusal were almost selected at random. Really, you could do no wrong with any track here.

“After the earthquake“: Track three on “Blue Rev” was inspired by a short story collection by excellent Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. It is three-minutes reminiscent of The Smiths but with sharper teeth, spikier hair, and more anger than mopery. It’s a remembering of good times before disaster struck and nothing was the same. And just before the two-minute mark, time stands still and Rankin murmurs and wonders aloud wrapped in a gentle synth wash: “Those days, I’d never let you fall apart. But things fade like the scent of a brand new car. Why would I ever fall in love again when every detail is over the guardrail?” It’s heartbreaking.

“Pharmacist”: The opening track and first single has been called their My Bloody Valentine song. At just over two minutes, it’s shorter than anything (save for maybe “Touched”) on “Loveless” but it’s not any less immediate. The moment the heavy layer of guitars are plopped down in the lap of the otherwise jangly palette, you feel that nervous anxiety put forth by Rankin’s  meeting up with the sister of her ex. “I hear it happens all the time. It’s alright (it’s alright). I know I never crossed your mind.” She sounds reliable and reassuring and then, any questions are put to rest by a flailing guitar solo, as if to say, pay attention, we’re not done with you yet!

“Very online guy”: One of these songs is not like the others. Where the other two were more aggressive and heavy on the noisy guitars, this last pick mines the impersonal and cold tones of 80s synth pop. It’s almost a perfect backdrop to which to set a calling out on reply guy culture and the nastiness of hiding behind the anonymity of ones and zeroes. “He’s only one flicker away. He’s only one photo, one filter away.” Even Rankins’ vocals are obscured and filtered through technological trickery, adding more fun to the chugging beat and sentient synthetic ambience. Brilliant stuff.

We’ll back in two more sleeps with album #1. In the meantime, here are the previous albums in this list:

10. Blushing “Possessions”
9. Just Mustard “Heart under”
8. Jeanines “Don’t wait for a sign”
7. The Reds, Pinks and Purples “Summer at land’s end”
6. Tallies “Patina”
5. Suede “Autofiction”
4. Wet Leg “Wet Leg”
3. Beach House “Once twice melody”

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