Posted in Listed

Favourite Distant (Re)Discoveries 2019

5. Ken Burns – Country Music (Documentary): Several years ago, I loved the Prohibition documentary that Ken Burns produced for PBS so was excited when the country music one was announced some time ago.  It did not disappoint. Covering the inception of country music through 1996, Burns hits the major highlights of the genre and successfully ties it into the larger music scene and American society in general. All eras are fascinating. A review of the two-disc soundtrack will be posted soon.

4. The 1975 – TooTimeTooTimeTooTime (Song):  The 1975 album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships had several bangers but this lighthearted romp was the one that really caught our ear and who’s video was played almost nightly for a few months. Sounding like an updated version of a Sugar Ray track, it’s hard not to sing along to the chorus of this infectious single from 2018.

3. Otha – I’m On Top (Song):  Otha’s “One Of The Girls” was our 2018 track of the year and in early 2019, we heard this one that was released towards the end of last year. If we had heard it last year, Otha may have had our top two favourite tracks of 2018. Never changing her bored, deadpan vocals to sing the lyric, “right now, it is time to have fun” adds a layer of detached cool to this terrific dance pop song.  Otha’s 2019 single, “Tired and Sick” narrowly missed our top 10 this year.

2. The Rolling Stones – Hot Rocks 1964-1971 (Album):  We finally put our money down for a compilation from The Rolling Stones and picked this tried and true classic. We discovered some new favourites such as “Mother’s Little Helper” and were reacquainted with the greatness of tracks such as “Paint It, Black”.  The run of tracks from “Get Off My Cloud” to “Street Fighting Man” is breathtaking.  This isn’t just some of the best rock n roll ever made, this IS the best rock n roll ever made.

1. The Kinks – Are The Village Green Preservation Society (50th Anniversary) (Album) – We picked up the two disc anniversary version of The Kinks classic even though we already had a version from a few years ago that covers mostly the same tracks.  For some reason, the first time around I liked it but didn’t really love the album. Upon, hearing it again I was completely knocked out by it and listened steadily for several weeks.

The title track, “Village Green”, “Starstruck”, and “People Take Pictures of Each Other” are all standouts on an album that covers rock, psychedelia, whimsey, nostalgia, and British music hall. Looking back, I followed a micro version of what happened to the album upon release.  Mostly unloved when new, The Village Green grew in stature over the years and is now considered a classic and an album to truly cherish.

Posted in Album Reviews

The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships (2018)

When reviewing previous albums by Manchester band, The 1975 over the last few years it is common to hear reviewers say with some surprise, “it’s actually pretty good”.  Lead singer Matty Healy always seems to be trying a bit too hard with his tales of promiscuous sex and drugs.  Effortlessly cool this is not.  However, several singles released through 2018 that all appear on A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships were quite a bit more than “pretty good”.

After a sub two-minute introduction, the band is off and running with “Give Yourself A Try” and its squiggly guitar.  “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” is the kind of daft relationship pop song that Sugar Ray used to do so well in the 90s before the glitchy “How to Draw/Petrichor”.  Pitchfork song of the year “Love If We Made It” comes in like a bomb with Healy declaring “we’re f**king in a car, shooting heroin…”.  Heroin makes another appearance on single “It’s Not Living If It’s Without You”, that is easily masked by one of the breeziest melodies on the album.

Radiohead comparisons abound on the Siri/computer voiced “The Man Who Married a Robot/Love Theme” and the guitar line on ballad “Surrounded by Heads and Bodies” is airlifted straight off OK Computer.  The pacing on the second half of an Inquiry can get murky with several just OK ballads appearing in quick succession.  Lopping off three lesser tracks would have made for a leaner album but the four absolute smash singles is enough compensation for the extra run time.