Posted in Album Reviews

St. Vincent – Masseduction (2017)

413m+O3PHWL._AA327_QL65_Masseduction is St Vincent’s fifth album and first with acclaimed producer Jack Antonoff who is everywhere at the moment. Similar to past releases, this is a mix bag of sounds from the talented and capital A artist, Annie Clark. First single “New York” was a song of the year choice for us from the second we heard it and second single “Los Ageless” has a killer chorus: “how can anybody love you and lose you and not lose their minds too?”

First track “Hang On Me” is the most downtempo sound here followed by the peppiest in “Pills”. The 80s robotic funk of the title track and “Sugar Boy” are less successful but the apoplectic “Fear the Future” is a roar of sound. The fury of an overdosing “Young Lover” is another high: “I heard the robins and thought they were sirens, wake up young lover, I thought you were dyin’”. On Masseduction St Vincent continues to be one of the most interesting artists working around the fringes of the mainstream.

p.s  I thought the album was called Mass-Education  until a few days ago…

7.5/10

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Posted in Album Reviews

Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder (2017)

61G2N4fVxzL._AA327_QL65_After a seven year hiatus, Toronto supergroup Broken Social Scene reconvened to record Hug of Thunder, their fifth release. “The gang is all here” is a most fitting expression for this as 18 musicians are credited on the album including all the usual bigger name suspects such as Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Emily Haines, Feist, etc. After a short instrumental the band hits the floor running with “Halfway Home” whereas the modern folk tinged “Skyline” sounds straight off a TV commercial that has people reaching for Shazam to figure out who sings it.

“Towers and Masons” is a unique midtempo track while the Haines’ fronted “Protest Song” is the best rocking moment here. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the hushed Feist lead title track is to these ears is the best thing they’ve done since 2002’s “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl”. “There was a military base across the street, we watch them training while we eat” is a very simple but excellent line about the state of the world. While a couple of songs drag, the band mostly wear their aging Toronto hipster (musicianship) very well.

7.5/10

Posted in Listed

10 Favourite Songs of 2017

10. The XX – On Hold:The first track of 2017 to make an impression, this is The XX at their most pop and one of their best.  The melodic hook at the “the stars and the charts and the cards” part is one of the best moments of the year.  I’m sure there are a million and one remixes of this that I would hate.

9. Chastity Belt – Different Now:Another early 2017 entry that we listened to a LOT.  This understated track from the Walla Walla, Washington band seems wise beyond their years. I’m not sure how these young women came up with the line “Yeah, it’s different now, you’re old” but it’s too true.

8. St. Vincent – New York:  The first single of the Masseducation album, this track is a smash right from the first note of “New York isn’t New York”.  Known for being a bit quirky, Annie Clark is the great guitarist who also knows her way around writing great singles.

7. Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder:  Songs like this title track from the latest BSS album is why we keep buying their albums.  The band really shines behind trendy, hushed female vocals.  Possibly our favourite BSS track since 2002’s “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl”.

6. Lorde – Green Light:  One of the biggest songs of 2017 is also being toasted as one of the best of the year across most publications.  Just one of the many highlights in the New Zealander’s career,  the leadoff track  from Melodrama was inescapable throughout the summer.

5. Swordfish – Ghost Song:  The Michigan band’s May release is like a more emo version of Ben Folds Five’s mid 90s classic “Brick”.  A mournful horn runs parallel to the band shouting that last Halloween was the worst.  In a few years this will pop up on a road trip playlist and it will get replayed 5 times before moving on.

4. Caroline Says – Winter is Cold:  This acoustic track from the Austin based Caroline Sallee grabbed our attention immediately and never lost it’s charm even after hundreds of listens. The tossed off thought of the line “I’ve never been to the west coast, I’ve always heard it’s the best though” is one of our favourite lyrics of the year.

3. Rostam – Gwan:  Released in the spring, this was a track we kept coming back to.  The leftfield pop song is so full of joy and wonder that it’s hard not to smile throughout.  Rostam does not have a particularly strong singing voice but here it fits this charming track perfectly.

2. Alvvays – In Undertow:  The Toronto band has a knack for writing great pop hooks and there is no better example than this. This is the kind of earworm that will get stuck in your head for days and help give the listener a sunny disposition even in the dead of winter.

1. The Moonlandingz – The Strangle of Anna:  This sleazy track from the band’s first full length sounds like it was released in the early 90s.  The female vocals, French lyrics and echo on the drums add a certain majesty while the lyrics are a mystery.  The “Sunday morning” lyric recalls The Velvet Underground while “ma belle” brings to mind The Beatles. The video and feel of the track give it a tongue in cheek quality but it’s quality none the less. This is one track that we listened to over and over and over again throughout 2017.