Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: Engineers “Engineers”

(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: Engineers
Album Title: Engineers
Year released: 2005
Year reissued: 2022
Details: Gatefold sleeve, 2 x 180 gram, white, numbered 502/1500

The skinny: Of all the great albums released during the first shoegaze revival wave of the early 2000s, Engineers’ self-titled debut was one of my favourites. The group formed as a four-piece – Mark Peters, Simon Phipps, Dan MacBean, and Andrew Sweeney – in London back in 2003. I happened upon the debut shortly after its release and latched on to a great many of the songs, recognizing in Engineers’ aesthetic the bands of my youth. Though some of their later work was pretty great as well, I wasn’t as immediately enamoured with it, always holding it up to this fantastic debut. It had been on my wishlist from pretty much the beginning of my collecting days but given what I perceived as their cult-like status, I didn’t think my chances were great at finding a copy on vinyl. My hopes were raised earlier this year when I saw that Music on Vinyl was reissuing Engineers’ debut EP, “Folly”, for Record Store Day, especially given that label’s track record of reissuing other classic shoegaze works. Then, I caught wind of this reissue of the debut LP on 2 x 180 gram slabs of white vinyl and jumped headlong aboard the pre-order train. It’s a thing of beauty.

Standout track: “Come in out of the rain”

Categories
Playlists

Playlist: New tunes from 2022, part three

If I was still looking at this blog as something that should be scheduled or on schedule or whatever, I might consider this post a couple weeks behind that “s” word. I’ve been trying* to post these quarterly playlist updates a couple of weeks after the end of each quarter but well, the two week vacation I took that spanned the end of August and the beginning of September put me a bit behind.

Yeah. That’s right. I took some vacation. Two weeks! It was the longest period from work that I’d properly taken since before the pandemic. I spent as much of it as I could experiencing nature, sitting by the water, going on hikes, and just generally taking in our province’s natural beauty. It wasn’t exactly restful, per se, but it was definitely good for the soul.

Prior to that, I actually attended several evenings of an honest-to-goodness music festival at the beginning of July. It was an amazing feeling to return to a bit of normalcy, see some bands I’d seen before and some I hadn’t, and seeing people outside of my bubble, all revelling in the ecstasy that is the live music experience. I say again, I t felt great. Then, the day after the festival ended, a friend of mine who I had attended a couple of the dates with texted me to say he had tested positive for COVID. So I tested myself and thankfully came through it clean. But it was definitely a bitter reminder for me that though we may be done with the pandemic, it may not necessarily be done with us.

Otherwise, the summer flew by in a haze and blur of sameness. With all the work, eat, and sleep, I am super thankful of my continued employment, general good health, and that I am continuing to spend my life with my very best friend and love of my life. And of course, there is always the music.

This third part of this annual playlist represents the music that has followed me and kept me going through this third pandemic summer. It is yet another great 25 tunes (for parts one and two, check here and here) representative of the best that’s been released during the last three months. Highlights include:

      • Opening things up with “Rockstar”, this ripping track off the third album by Momma calls to mind 90s rockers, like maybe Babes in Toyland and L7, but most definitely Veruca Salt
      • “Circumference”, a brilliant synth-pop gem by Working Men’s Club ripped right from the heart of the 80s
      • More dream pop beauty from Toronto-based indie pop quartet Tallies, a sweet explosion called “Wound up tight”
      • I’ve not been a fan of Animal Collective, nor Noah Lennox’s solo work as Panda Bear but his recent collaboration with Pete “Sonic Boom” Kember is pure sunshine, “Gettin’ to the point” is just a case in point
      • When I think of Kasabian, I typically think of blistering high energy numbers but this ballad called “The wall” off their latest record is equally full of passion
      • “It’s always the quiet ones” by Suede – that’s right, they’re back and it’s majestic
      • Kristian Mattson, aka The Tallest Man on Earth, covering “Pink rabbits” by The National is like a collision of some of my favourite music from a decade ago
      • Finally, Yeah Yeah Yeahs teamed up with Perfume Genius for “Spitting off the edge of world”, the magnificent first single of their latest album

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

1. “Rockstar” Momma (from the album Household name)

2. “All comes crashing” Metric (from the album Formentera)

3. “Day 21” Secret Machines (from the EP Day 21)

4. “Fables” Interpol (from the album The other side of make-believe)

5. “Circumference” Working Men’s Club (from the album Fear fear)*

6. “Vanishing point” Julien Baker (from the EP B-sides)

7. “So far for so few” The Sadies (from the album Colder streams)

8. “Eventually” Beach Bunny (from the album Emotional creature)

9. “Wound up tight” Tallies (from the album Patina)

10. “Parasite II” Kiwi Jr. (from the album Chopper)

11. “Gettin’ to the point” Panda Bear & Sonic Boom (from the album Reset)

12. “The wall” Kasabian (from the album The alchemist’s euphoria)

13. “Forever in sunset” Ezra Furman (from the album All of us in flames)

14. “A line of shots” The Afghan Whigs (from the album How do you burn?)

15. “Slowly” Preoccupations (from the album Arrangements)

16. “Roman candles” Death Cab For Cutie (from the album Asphalt meadows)

17. “Expert in a dying field” The Beths (from the album Expert in a dying field)

18. “It’s always the quiet ones” Suede (from the album Autofiction)

19. “Heart attack” Editors (from the album EBM)

20. “Pink rabbits” The Tallest Man On Earth (from the album Too late for edelweiss)

21. “First high” Nikki Lane (from the album Denim & diamonds)

22. “Backup plan” Maya Hawke (from the album Moss)

23. “Friday night” Beth Orton (from the album Weather alive)

24. “Pagan man” Pixies (from the album Doggerel)

25. “Spitting off the edge of the world (ft Perfume Genius)” Yeah Yeah Yeahs (from the album Cool it down)

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.


*Trying might be a strong word here.

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.

Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 2020: #23 bdrmm “A reason to celebrate”

<< #24    |    #22>>

From Urban Dictionary:
“Bedroom pop – A genre DIY indie music, bedroom pop is characterized by its lo-fi quality and often contemplative lyrics. Bedroom pop share elements with other indie genres including shoegaze, dream pop, jangle pop, and emo. Guitars and vocals often feature heavy use of reverb or delay.”

From Wikipedia:
“The rise of modern digital audio workstations dissolved a theoretical technological division between professional and non-professional artists. Many of the prominent lo-fi acts of the 1990s adapted their sound to more professional standards and “bedroom” musicians began looking toward vintage equipment as a way to achieve an authentic lo-fi aesthetic, mirroring a similar trend in the 1990s concerning the revival of 1960s space age pop and analog synthesizers.”

Bedroom pop and rock feels almost like a dirty word to me. I can appreciate the DIY-ness of it all and the ability for anyone with a laptop, a guitar, a synthesizer, or maybe just some good software to create something out of nothing and let it loose on the internet. But on the other side of this shiny bitcoin, there’s also a lot of it out there to wade through, kind of the like the explosion of wannabe YouTubers and influencers. Whenever I hear the term “bedroom” to describe the next big thing, I shudder a little bit on the inside. And then, I proceed to give the act in question a chance, because I’ve discovered more than a handful of artists that got their start in this way.

Hull, England five-piece, Bdrmm*, actually started out as a bedroom project for frontman Ryan Smith. Listening their 2020 debut full-length, “Bedroom”, you’d likely never guess it, though both the band name and album title are none too obvious hints. Theirs is a fully realized shoegaze sound, more guitars than keys, and sounding to this old school shoegaze fan’s ears like the brightest points of early Ride and Chapterhouse. Smith put together the group with family members, friends, and musicians he’d worked with before and released an EP that had them catching the eye and signing with the noisy label, Sonic Cathedral. The debut longplayer was released just a few months into the pandemic, when it seemed like everyone would be chained to their bedrooms for the foreseeable future.

“Well, it’s okay
For you to walk away”

The last song recorded for the ten track album was “A reason to celebrate”, which given that these words don’t appear in the song, feels more like a feeling and an exultation. Though it happens to be my favourite of the bunch, it’s not by a long shot. There’s lots of reverb and layers of guitars to stare at your fingers to, crossing your eyes at them and waggling them about. It’s a blast of inspiration to stir your languid and lazy afternoon on a grey day into something worth exploring. It’s bursting forth from the bedroom into that big old world out there, anxiety and fear be damned, and that’s just damned exciting.

I can’t wait to hear what this group comes up with next!

*You can guess how that’s pronounced.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2020 list, click here.