Playlist: The first day of Spring

Well, we made it. It’s the first day of Spring.

Yeah, this past winter has felt like an eternity but if I am being honest, it hasn’t even been that bad of a winter in these parts. It was relatively mild and we suffered through very few snowstorms, up until February, when, of course, all that went out the window. Even still, we’ve been seeing more mild weather again and the mounds of the white stuff have all but melted away.

And yet… and yet… it still felt like a long winter, didn’t it?

Well, it is officially over as of today. Mother nature be damned. And we are going to celebrate with a new playlist, the first of four seasonal themed mixes that I have planned for this year, all based on a theory my good friend Andrew Rodriguez has oft posited: there are certain songs that just “feel” like a given season.

Indeed, these are 25 songs that, even if not overtly Spring themed, they at least hint or evoke that certain mood. The playlist follows a chronological path, from the tentative first steps to the splashes in the rain puddles of April, from the traipsing through meadows of flowers to finally, a bit of a dance into June and the excitement of the summer beyond. Unfortunately, the song I really wanted to start this mix off with, The Gandharvas’ “The first day of Spring”, is not actually available on Spotify but I wanted to tip my hat to it nonetheless and replaced it with a similarly named track by Noah and The Whale.

Other highlights on this mix include:

    • “April fools”, the first track I ever heard by Canadian singer/songwriter, Rufus Wainwright, and it’s a whimsical ditty
    • “Rain”, a hazy number by The Clientele that evokes raindrops hitting against a steamed up window
    • Emily Haines and Metric covering the Lou Reed classic, “Perfect day”, no other explanation necessary
    • “June hymn”, off The Decemberists’ pastoral sixth album is a call for us all to go out into the woods and breathe deeply
    • And of course, “Spring and by summer fall”, is a ray of sunshine by Blonde Redhead that leads us off into the new season

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist (complete with YouTube links) as I’ve created it:

1. Noah and the Whale “The first days of Spring”

2. Kurt Vile “Wakin on a pretty day”

3. Rufus Wainwright “April fools”

4. Fontaines D.C. “Oh such a Spring”

5. Blind Melon “No rain”

6. The Jesus and Mary Chain “April skies”

7. Frank Turner “The opening act of Spring”

8. The Clientele “Rain”

9. Ex Cops “Spring break (birthday song)”

10. Engineers “Come in out of the rain”

11. Sea Wolf “Dew in the grass”

12. Camera Obscura “Honey in the sun”

13. Crocodiles “Endless flowers”

14. Arcade Fire “Month of May”

15. Metric “Perfect day”

16. Neutral Milk Hotel “King of carrot flowers, pt. 1”

17. Cults “Go outside”

18. Sam Roberts Band “Spring fever”

19. Dum Dum Girls “Trees and flowers”

20. The Decemberists “June hymn”

21. Hey Rosetta! “Yer Spring”

22. Unkle Bob “Birds and the bees”

23. U2 “Beautiful day”

24. The Like “June gloom”

25. Blonde Redhead “Spring and by Summer Fall”

And as I’ve said before, I’ll say again: Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and continue to be well. Until next time, enjoy the tunes.

For those of you who are on Spotify, feel free to look me up. My user name is “jprobichaud911”.


Best tunes of 2011: #27 Noah And The Whale “Life is life”

<< #28    |    #26 >>

It’s Sunday and I’m on a mini-holiday. So I’m not going to go into an all out rail against Pitchfork, that taste-making, music-reviewing website that sometimes feels like its trying too hard to keep its taste-making credentials intact. But I will say this: if I didn’t listen to all the albums for which they have given rotten reviews, I might be missing out on some of my favourite albums.

Noah and the Whale’s debut, “Peaceful, the world lays me down”, for instance, was given a lowly 2.6 rating out of 10, the reviewer calling it “twee pop you might order in a kit”. For my own part, I guess I must have a soft spot for generic, derivative schlock, because I actually quite enjoyed the album.

Thankfully for me and scores of others, the indie pop band out of Twickenham either has thick skin or never did read the article. I say thankfully because they continued on, releasing three more albums before finally calling it quits seven years later. By 2011, though, Laura Marling and Doug Fink, brother of frontman Charlie Fink, had both left the band and Noah and the Whale’s sound had changed quite a bit. They had dispensed with the ukuleles, banjos, and glockenspiels, and really, the folk pop sound that was so prominent on the debut and then, added synths and crisp production on their third album, “Last night on earth”.

“Life is life” is the opening track and third single released off this third album. The mechanized sounding beats that open the song are definitely no longer twee, nor are the synthesizers. However, the handclaps and crowd vocals still signal that this is Noah and the Whale. A rousing number, it’s a third person observation on the act of scrapping everything to start anew. “Left his house at midnight, resolute and young, in search of something greater than the person he’d become.” Perhaps it’s a little heavy-handed and obvious but it’s got a great beat and energy to spare. And of course, it’s cheerful, like a lot of their work, and sometimes, that’s just what you need.

Almost like a Sunday morning, on a mini-holiday. Cheers.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.