Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 2002: #1 Doves “There goes the fear”

<< #2

If you’ve been following along, you would note that Dove’s “There goes the fear” marks the third appearance* on this list of my favourite tunes of 2002, all songs from the band’s sophomore album, “The last broadcast”. So yeah, if I ever get around to counting down my favourite albums from that year, I don’t think anyone will be surprised to see this album atop the list. I haven’t been at all secretive of my love for this band and this album. In fact, I have definitely mentioned that the discovery of this very album pulled me out of a rut that I had somehow fallen into with music and it got me back on the road to discovery and exploration.

On an album full of near perfection for me, “There goes the fear” stands out, loud and clear, and is without a doubt, my favourite track by the band. Indeed, when I counted down my top five favourites by Doves just over a year ago, this near seven minutes of heaven came in at number one there too. The track was released as the album’s first single and was deleted on the very same day, a stunt which might have cost the band plenty of sales, but it doesn’t sound like they regret it any. The trio of Jimi Goodwin and the Williams brothers, Andy and Jez, continue to perform this track live with regularity and with the same passion that you would hope would be there when listening to the studio-recorded version at home. Of course, it riffs on the band’s preferred theme of living life bravely and fully, without regrets and fear.

“Think of me when you’re coming down
But don’t look back when leaving town”

It starts like a wound up music box, topsy and turvy, and slightly off kilter, followed by a slow build in speed and thrust. It’s got a racing bass line, and a thumping heart beat, though easy enough through the first verse. Once it hits its chorus, the song erupts in victory, heart-skipping drum beat flourishes, and guitar explosions. Jimi Goodwin croons his way through, being gentle and soothing and urging, letting the music build with excitement and energy.

And you can feel it all: eyes closed, body humming, everything a blur, light trails and lasers, cars racing into the night, fireworks exploding, a million gleeful souls expounding everything, knowing full well they have to live fully in this moment, pure life, anywhere and everywhere.

Amen.

*”Caught by the river” appeared at number seventeen and “Pounding” more recently appeared at number five.

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

Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: Secret Machines “Awake in the brain chamber”

(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: Secret Machines
Album Title: Awake in the brain chamber
Year released: 2020
Details: Black vinyl, 180 gram

The skinny: Much like last week, this week’s Vinyl love post is one of my favourite albums from 2020. However, unlike “The view from halfway down”, which I came across too late for it to officially make my end of the year list, Secret Machines’ fourth long player “Awake in the brain chamber” did not escape my notice and easily found its way to the number five spot on said list. Released more than a decade after their last record and almost as much time since the untimely death of one of the band’s founding members, it was the polar opposite of a disappointing return. It had all the hallmarks of the band’s big and epic sounding first two records but scaled back into manageable serving sizes. Of course, I was going to procure a copy of this for my vinyl collection. It didn’t matter that it was a bare bones release (as is evidenced by the few photos above). It was a heavyweight, 180 gram disc and had impeccable sound.

Standout track: “Everything’s under”

Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 2002: #2 The Flaming Lips “Do you realize??”

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Have you ever been so completely turned off by one song that you very nearly missed out on the experience of an excellent band?

This is how it was for me and The Flaming Lips for many years. It was their biggest commercial hit, 1993’s “She don’t use jelly”, that really did me in from the first. Not that it was a particularly bad song, it was just that ultra push foisted upon us by their major label. It was overplayed to the point where they warranted an appearance on an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 and gained Steve Sanders’ seal of approval. “You know, I’ve never been a big fan of alternative music, but these guys rocked the house!” Ugh.

Interestingly, it was television that brought me back to the psych-rockers from Oklahoma City. More to the point, it was a television commercial. For many years, I have misremembered the ad being for Volkswagen, probably because it fell in line with the other songs that had been used for their ad campaigns, but when I googled it, discovered that it was actually for Hewlett-Packard (and also featured famed magicians, Penn and Teller). More on that in a minute.

The Flaming Lips actually formed as early as 1983 and they released four full-length studio albums before they caught the attention of Warner Brothers. And then, they released four more albums on that major before they finally found their feet and released 1999’s “The soft bulletin”, an album many critics see as the best album in a decade that included “Nevermind”, “Loveless”, and “OK computer”. And the band didn’t stop there. Indeed, eight albums later and they still show no signs of slowing or falling into ruts or making anything that vaguely resembles pedestrian tunes.

My ears pricked up with the first notes of “Do you realize??” that I heard at the end of that Hewlett Packard commercial. I was at my desktop computer with the TV on behind me and I heard spaceships and angels and beauty. I turned around, made notes, did some google searches, and eventually found the full song. I played it and replayed it and replayed it. Then, I listened to the rest of the album on which it appeared, “Yoshimi battles the pink robots”, and declared myself in love.

These days, I wouldn’t consider myself a diehard of the band. Yet I do very much love “Yoshimi”, along with the two albums that bookend it in their chronological discography, and totally respect everything they do, even if I don’t like it all. I saw them perform live at Ottawa Bluesfest in 2011 and would jump at the chance to witness their live extravaganza again… But I’m once again getting away from our song today.

“Do you realize??” is possibly their most recognizable song. It was honoured by their home state as its official song for a period of time in 2000s and is considered by the band as the best thing they have ever done. It was inspired by multi-instrumentalist Steve Drozd’s struggles with drug withdrawal and by the death of frontman Wayne Coyne’s father. It is about the precariousness of life, the planet, and everything else.

“Do you realize that you have the most beautiful face?
Do you realize we’re floating in space?
Do you realize that happiness makes you cry?
Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?”

It all starts with a robotic count in and the falls up the rabbit hole in the clouds and the ether where everything is in stasis and sparkly. The strumming of the guitar holds everything together and roots you in reality while everything flies around you – memories, feelings, life, death – and everyone is singing along. It is gentle and beautiful and sad and perfect. Just wow.

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