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Best tunes of 2010: #16 Wolf Parade “Palm road”

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Wolf Parade is a Canadian indie rock quartet that formed in Montreal in 2003 from musicians that were all from around the Vancouver area. They are kind of like a supergroup in reverse. All four members have always been highly involved and visible in the Canadian indie music scene, but most of their activities occurred after Wolf Parade’s formation. Spencer Krug, who started the band initially, has also fronted the bands Frog Eyes, Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake, and Moonface, while Dan Boeckner, his musical partner in crime, has been involved with a number of other groups, including Handsome Furs, Divine Fits (with Britt Daniels of Spoon), and most recently, Operators. Second guitarist, Dante DeCaro was a founding member of Hot Hot Heat and has another project called Johnny and the Moon and drummer Arlen Thompson has done production and session work with a host of fellow Canadian bands, including Boeckner’s Handsome Furs and Arcade Fire. Yeah, I’m out of breath just typing all that.

I got into this talented bunch of guys upon the release of their brilliant debut album, “Apologies to the queen mary”, in 2005. Their jittery, frenetic blend of power pop and post-punk drew me in right away, each song a revelation wrapped in a riddle, with Boeckner and Krug tag-teaming the mike like it had offended them in some way. Their second and third albums were unleashed with just as much thunder and then, in 2011… they dissolved. Each member returning to or starting up the aforementioned projects as if Wolf Parade was only ever meant to be just one of their passing fancies.

Fast forward to the early days of 2016 and there were rumblings from their website that appeared to be more than just empty winds. An new EP followed in the spring, as did a triumphant resurrection tour (one stop of which I happily caught), and now, there’s a brand new full-length due out this coming Friday.  But back to the matter at hand.

“Palm road” is the second track that appears on “Expo 86”, Wolf Parade’s third album and the last to be released before the hiatus. It’s a Dan Boeckner track. Driving guitars mixed with Krug’s wonky, extraterrestrial synths, Thompson’s punishing drums and Boeckner’s vocals like an unpolished Springsteen, all rough and tumble after a night of playing for drinks at a dive bar, whose stage is more broken glass than wood. It’s raw and fist pumping and a crowd of like-minded fans shouting along at the chorus line as loud as their lungs will allow. Yes indeed.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.

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Best tunes of 2010: #26 The Drums “Best friend”

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The Drums are an indie pop band out of New York City that were formed by childhood friends Jonathan Pierce and Jacob Graham. In 2008, Pierce relocated to where Graham was living in Florida to start collaborating on material and they later moved to Brooklyn where they fleshed out the band to a four-piece with Connor Hanwick (drums) and Adam Kessler (guitar). They were tapped as the next big thing by everyone from Pitchfork to the NME, even before they released their debut, self-titled LP (on which this song appears) in 2010. They have since released two more albums but internal friction and disagreements have meant that the band gradually lost members along the way. These days The Drums consists only of Jonathan Pierce and he has album number four coming out on Friday.

“Best friend” will always remind me of a trip my wife and I took out to British Columbia in 2011, over a full year after this single’s release. We spent three days in Vancouver before visiting Victoria and Whistler, and all of this during the Canucks’ crazy run at the Stanley Cup that year. (As you recall, they didn’t win and there were riots.) On our final full day in Vancouver, we were visiting the shops in Kitsilano after eating a fine vegetarian lunch at The Naam and happened into Zulu Records.

My wife always urges me into record shops in cities that we’re visiting and feigns interest herself while I take my time browsing. This was almost a full year before I started collecting vinyl but that was the section I found myself gravitating towards anyway. At some point, I recognized the song playing in the store but couldn’t place it right away. It sounded retro but I knew it was new and hip and at that moment, was really digging it. I even caught my wife subconsciously swaying to it at the other end of the store. But the band’s name was escaping me. It finally came to me well after we had left Zulu Records and we had made our way to Kitsilano beach.

Was it the beach that reminded me that the song we had heard was “Best friend” by The Drums? Perhaps. The song certainly is summery and bright, and calls to mind friendships of days gone by, that could very well have found their roots in the loose and warm grains of a sandy beach. It is jangle and reverb and peppy drumming, the sun glinting off the rim of a pair of sunglasses worn by a beautiful girl. Perhaps your teenage crush, perhaps the girl that never noticed your affections but instead, she dated the most popular guy in high school and considered you her best friend. Cheers to that!

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.