Best tunes of 2012: #18 Stars “Hold on when you get love and let go when you give it”

<< #19    |    #17 >>

Well, hello February!

You might’ve noticed that I spent most of January in the ‘90s – my happy place musically and nostalgia-wise – but if you’re sick of that, I’m here to rescue you with a smattering of 2012. And you couldn’t ask for something better to lift you out of a funk (if the 90s were a funk) than this awesome, high energy number by Montreal-based indie-poppers: Stars.

“There’s been a lot of talk of love
But that don’t amount to nothing
You can evoke the stars above
But that doesn’t make it something”

If I am remembering correctly, Stars’ 2012 album, “The north”, was the seventh (or eighth) LP I bought after starting to collect vinyl again. In fact, it was one of the handful I purchased before I even had a turntable to play them on. This didn’t bother me at the time because pretty much every record I was purchasing around this time included a download card for a digital version of the album. So even though I couldn’t yet play the record, I still had a way of listening to the music I had purchased. And I listened to this album quite a lot after purchasing it. In fact, I remember listening to this album continuously for the whole train ride back from Toronto on my iPod shortly after its release (though I couldn’t tell you now, why I was in Toronto and why my wife wasn’t travelling with me that time) and perhaps this is when I fell in love with this very tune.

“It’s a pretty melody
It might help you through the night time
But it doesn’t make it easy
To leave the party at the right time”

“Hold on when you get love and let go when you give it” was the second single to be released off “The north” and it could very well be at the top of the list of my favourite songs whose title includes more than 10 words.* It became huge for the band, a dance club eruption. And though there are only hints of it in the lyrics, the song became a LGBTQ anthem, in part because of the video (which you can watch below). One of the principal songwriters of Stars, Torquil Campbell has said of the video: “I wanted to make a video that celebrated the following things: 1. being yourself, 2. being someone else, 3. being fucking fabulous, 4. showing up, putting on your heels and staying alive. Drag queens know a couple of things the rest of us choose not to know: you are who you imagine yourself to be, and you can be a star even if — especially if — nobody ever knows who you really are.”

The song, itself, is pure pop brilliance, spreading love wherever it is played, pop in the vein of eighties nostalgia but with 21st century digital production. It is an insistent dance floor beat, reverberating memories, strobe light heart beats, and dance floor crushes. The melodies inspire flashback shots of love and ecstasy and at each chorus, Amy Millan fills our hearts with joy and hope. Love comes in rushes and waves, sneaky kisses and cautious caresses. It’s indeed magical.

“The world wont listen to this song
And the radio wont play it
But if you like it sing along
Sing ’cause you don’t know how to say it”

*Honestly, I don’t currently have such a list but it might be something worth looking at. Surely, though, this song title is the longest amongst my most favourite of songs.

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

Live music galleries

Live music galleries: Slowdive [2017]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

Slowdive live at L’Olympia in Montreal, 2017

Artist: Slowdive
When: May 6th, 2017
Where: L’Olympia, Montreal
Context: Many of you will know by now that I had a thing for early ’90s shoegaze but to be honest, Slowdive wasn’t one of those bands that grabbed me back in the day. It took the discovery of Neil Halstead’s and Rachel Goswell’s second band, Mojave 3, to make me want to take a second look. I love Slowdive now, of course, so I was right there with the rest of them when they announced reunion shows in 2014, subsequent tours over the next few years, and then, a brand new album back in 2017. That self-titled record was so incredible (it was my second favourite album that year), I decided to drag Victoria with me to Montreal, right around this time three years ago, for Slowdive’s stop there. Of course, ever since that time we went to saw James there in 2008 and struggled to stay awake on the drive home afterward, we’ve made weekends out of these concert voyages and took time on each trip to explore the city. Even through all the amazing meals, the trip to the museum, and old Montreal, the highlight for me that weekend was still the concert, just oh so beautiful, “alien and angelic”, and I think even Victoria really enjoyed it.
Point of reference song: Star roving

Rachel Goswell of Slowdive
The Slowdive experience
Nick Chaplin and Neil Halstead of Slowdive
Christian Savill of Slowdive
Neil Halstead of Slowdive
Live music galleries

Live music galleries: James [2008]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

James live in Montreal, 2008

Artist: James
When: September 22nd, 2008
Where: Club Soda, Montreal
Context: I recently finished wrapping up the series on my favourite albums of 2008 and in talking about how James’s 10th album “Hey ma” was my number one, I also referenced their show that I caught in Montreal that year and how it was my favourite (as well as my wife’s favourite) ever live show. Much like the gallery I posted recently from the Virgin festival that took place earlier that same month, the pictures here are not quality because they were taken with my old camera but I do have pictures and this is mainly due to Victoria’s forethought. It was the first and last time we ever drove to Montreal and back the same night for a concert and never plan to do it again because it was exhausting. However, neither of us regret seeing the show. We saw one of our favourite bands that normally plays gigantic shows at an intimate venue and were able to sing along with all of our favourite tunes. In fact, the whole club loudly sang along, blowing the band away, especially during “Sometimes” when the crowd lengthened the song to well over seven minutes by repeating the chorus refrain over and over again. Such an exhilarating and magical night.
Point of reference song: Sometimes“*

Tim Booth, Mark Hunter, and Andy Diagram of James
Jim Glennie, Saul Davies, David Baynton-Power, and Andy Diagram of James
David Baynton-Power, Tim Booth, and Mark Hunter of James
Saul Davies and Andy Diagram of James
James performing ‘Sometimes’
James’s final bow

*The link I’ve shared is to the music video but someone who was also there has shared video footage from James’s performance of this song on YouTube from the show. You can find that here.