Posted in Album Reviews

St. Vincent – Daddy’s Home (2021)

Daddy's Home

The cover of St. Vincent’s new album features Annie Clark in stockings, lingerie, and dyed blonde hair looking seductively at the camera with the title Daddy’s Home in a 70s font.  The reality is far from the fantasy being presented. The title is a reference to her father returning home after being in prison for several years for fraud.  On the title track, Clark turns visiting her dad in prison into one of the more intriguing tracks on the album where she “signed autographs in the visitation room/waiting for you the last time, inmate 502”.

On her sixth album, St. Vincent presents several soulful funky tracks. “Down and Out Downtown” is a laid number about coming home the morning after the night before. It does a better job than the opener and first single “Pay Your Way in Pain” that strives to sound like Prince but it’s electro-funk comes up short. The album gains some steam towards the end with “Candy Darling”, a quick two-minute ode to the Andy Warhol actress.

The songs that work best are the ones where Clark looks inward. On “Somebody Like Me” she asks over an acoustic guitar “Does it make you a genius or the fool of the week to believe enough in somebody like me” and adulthood hits on “My Baby Wants a Baby” where she wonders “what would my baby say, I got your eyes and your mistakes”. 

“…at the holiday party” is intended to be a modern take on the The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. While it is not as great as that classic, it is a really cool track about the pharmacy that some have in their purses. There are a few bright spots on “Daddy’s Home” as St. Vincent is far too talented not to show her skills but the sub funk/R+B tracks are not the area where she excels. Co-produced with Jack Antonoff, Daddy’s Home is a rare miss for both.

6.5/10

Posted in Album Reviews

Simon & Garfunkel – The Graduate OST (1968)

The Graduate

The Graduate was the highest grossing film of 1967, earning $104.9 million. The Mike Nichols movie stars Dustin Hoffman as a 21-year-old who has an affair with the much older Anne Bancroft, before eventually falling for her daughter.  The film soundtrack, that frequently gets mentioned in soundtrack best of lists, is nearly evenly split between Simon & Garfunkel songs and jazzy, orchestral numbers by soundtrack maestro Dave Grusin.

The album is bookended by two different versions of “The Sound of Silence” from the duo’s first album that was later remixed to become a #1 hit.  Other S&G tracks include an extended version of “Scarborough Fair/Canticle”, “April Come She Will” and an alternate version of “The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine”. The movie’s main song is the first appearance of “Mrs. Robinson” that Simon had been working on but initially known as “Mrs. Roosevelt”. The eventual #1 hit appears here twice but not in its full version. Because of the movie, the song has become synonymous with the allure of older women.

While it’s Simon and Garfunkel’s name that is splashed across the record, Dave Grusin contributes six tracks that would appeal to the older generation.  They are fun, upbeat numbers that have a dash of novelty and 60’s slapstick to them. The album vacillates between the hushed, folk rock of Simon & Garfunkel before the Grusin instrumentals come crashing in to up the pace. It’s an odd mix, one that appealed to both teenagers and adults at the time and sent the album soaring to #1.  Today, it makes for an interesting curiosity that should really only appeal to completists and soundtrack buffs.

7/10

Posted in Album Reviews

The Tragically Hip – Saskadelphia EP (2021)

Saskadelphia

On May 20th, Tragically Hip fans across Canada were surprised to find out the band was releasing a new EP titled Saskadelphia.  The title being the original working name of 1991’s Road Apples album of which these songs were recorded for and eventually rejected.  The original tapes of the EP’s six songs that were thought lost but found in 2019 lean towards the more rocking end of the band’s oeuvre. “Ouch” starts off the EP, with singer Gord Downie’s voice straining to get the words out as the rest of the band chugs behind him. The swaggering “Just as Well” recalls boogie rock of 80’s hit from The Georgia Satellites “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”.

“Not Necessary” is an early highlight. The melodic rocker sees Downie sing “You’re so calico, you’re all the colours in the world” over the chiming guitars of Paul Baker and Paul Langlois. The live version of “Montreal” about a victim of that city’s tragic Ecole Polytechique shooting is another poignant highlight. The bass of Gord Sinclair holds down “Crack My Spine Like A Whip” which also adds the crisp drumming of Johnny Fay.  The EP closes with Downie announcing the introduction of the sped-up blues track “Reformed Baptist Blues”.

The sound here is early Hip, straight forward rock with a bit of the blues added, it lacks some of the subtleties they would later work into their music and lift them from clubs/theatres to selling out arenas across Canada. For fans that grew up the band, this is definitely a nostalgic trip that is hard to separate from the art, especially with the passing of Gord Downie in 2017. There are a couple great songs here along with some good ones.  Mostly though, it’s just a hell of a lot of fun hearing “new” music from The Tragically Hip again.

8.5/10