Best tunes of 2012: #23 Miike Snow “The wave”

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It was the music video for this song that first caught my attention. It was just so weird.

This was back during that brief period where I managed to catch music videos again on television. I had discovered AUX TV on cable and figured out that they often played some great music videos early in the AM, right around the time I was making and enjoying my morning coffee. I was only half watching it the first time and was quite confused about the svelte, large-nosed, half-naked man with a jet black pageboy and what he had to do with an apparent catastrophe that mortally injured a number of children, and how he managed to get the investigating police officers to dance. Then, I caught the video again a few days later, stopped what I was doing to watch, and it still didn’t make much more sense. Though I did find myself really enjoying the tune.

And based upon on this track, I sought out the album, “Happy to you”, the second by indie dance pop trio, Miike Snow, and began searching out their other videos on YouTube. As it turned out, the video for “The wave” was a continuation of the video for “Paddling out”, the previous single released from the album. Watching the two videos back to back, both directed by Andreas Nilsson, things started to make sense, but really only by a little bit. I learned from “Paddling out” that the ‘catastrophe’ was the result of the crash landing of a space ship piloted by psychotic twin girls who go around kidnapping innocents and transforming them in “perfect” beings, of which the large nosed man was one.

Right. Let’s not thinking too much on it.

“The wave” is my favourite tune from “Happy to you” but it is by no means the only great track on it. Miike Snow, made up of Swedish producers Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg (who also operate as Bloodshy and Avant) and American vocalist/songwriter, Andrew Wyatt, create super danceable indie pop, very much in the same vein as Peter Bjorn and John. It’s all very catchy and fun stuff, a little bit weird and surprising at times, but always well crafted. “The wave”, for instance, employs the use of an autoharp and the staccato, marching band rhythm is actually performed by the Swedish army drum corps. The digital effects mix finely with the organic elements, giving it all a very tribal alien groove. Yes, I said it, tribal alien groove.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2012 list, click here.

100 best covers: #67 The Sundays “Wild horses”

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I’m not really a huge Rolling Stones fan. However…

However, there are some of their tunes that I really like, mostly from their very early days. I purchased a copy of their compilation “Hot rocks 1964-1971” on cassette tape back when I was in high school and listened to it quite a bit on my Walkman. So I definitely recognized this cover by The Sundays when I first heard it. I distinctly remember being in the car, not far from home in Bowmanville, the town in which I spent my formative years. I was listening to the new music preview on CFNY on the car stereo and they were having some sort of cover song special. I particularly remember this fact because they also played another great cover song, one that will figure in later on this list so I won’t mention it here.

This cover by The Sundays was actually my introduction to the band. I really enjoyed the sound, which I would much, much later identify as dream pop, and thus, made a point of remembering their name. Still, it was a while before I made the connection between them and their big single, “Here’s where the story ends”, which I’d heard many times on the radio and now easily count as favourite by them. To this day, The Sundays are one of those bands that make me smile every time I hear them, even despite their often sad melodies.

Interestingly, their cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Wild horses” feels a bit more upbeat than the original, the acoustic strumming a bit more peppy than the sad lethargy and pining for home felt in Keith Richards’ electric accoutrements. Mick the balladeer was always enjoyable to me and on their original, he’s all very late night and tired, the mood slow burning and sobering, right to the bitter end, which closes up right around the six minute mark. The Sundays recorded their cover almost twenty years later and rather than a late night booze can, theirs evokes a vacuous chamber where all sound wavers and melts. All except for Harriet Wheeler’s vocals, which, instead, dance on a cloud, the quiet whispers and the plaintive and aching vocals, all call out into the wilderness, scream out to you for an embrace.

Do I prefer the cover or the original? Tough call, that one. Both are evocative of their time and place and energy. What do you think?

Cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.

Vinyl love: Phoebe Bridgers “Punisher”

(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: Phoebe Bridgers
Album Title: Punisher
Year released: 2020
Details: Limited edition, red and swirly vinyl, gatefold sleeve, included lyric book

The skinny: I pre-ordered this limited edition, red and swirly pressing of Phoebe Bridgers’ sophomore solo record, “Punisher”, as soon as I heard tell of it, right off her website. No second guessing. I loved her first album and both of the collaborative project (boygenius, Better Oblivion Community Center) of which she has since been a part. The wait for it was interminable. I’m not talking about the release date but the amount of time it took to get from California to here. I was worried that the sitting and changing hands through the multiple stages through two postal systems, it might have gotten damaged along the way. But not so. And it was definitely worth the wait. The packaging is immaculate and the artwork and lyric booklet is lovingly rendered. And well, the music itself? Let’s just say that you can believe the hype.

Standout track: “Kyoto”