It is a beautiful 24 degrees celsius in Cowtown, without a cloud in the sky. I just finished mowing the lawn, and am ready for another excuse to hang out in the sun… walking my dog. But I will need my trusty iPod alongside, and I will need a kick-ass playlist that will be the appropriate soundtrack to this perfect summer day. So, I have made volume two in my collection of summer mixtapes. Enjoy and stay cool, my friends.
I didn’t side with most critics when they celebrated Bat for Lashes sophomore album Two Suns. For me, the song structures felt too busy, and the clear eighties nostalgia didn’t feel genuine. However, with this stripped down ballad Laura, the eighties connection is present, but in a more timeless fashion (sans keyboard synth). And with the lyrics about a once-famous lady caught in the past, Natasha Khan emotes in a more sincere fashion. Laura is a refreshing step away from the gimmicky eighties throwback, and step towards long-lasting songwriting.
I am on my way to hang with the fam in sunny Winnipeg. I will most likely be spending the time soaking up the rays at the lovely Assiniboine Park or kick-ass Grand Beach, and not writing about any cool music. However, I learned an important lesson from the wise Timbaland, and that is I will regret leaving you without a dope beat to step to. Therefore, I have posted some of the great new tracks I have been rocking. Hope you like ‘em.
No, this is not really about music “history”. Even if I wanted to write about the actual history of music I would be lost in a sea of my own ignorance. Instead, I am writing this as tribute to the incredible moments of great songs. The moments that you get awed by the awesomeness of it all, and you either enter a frenzied dance session or a jaw-dropped hypnosis. The part of a song that defines it, maybe defines the band, and maybe even defines a genre or a time. These are the things that stay with you, and I have always wanted to share them. These are the particular parts, the fragments of a song that have solidified a spot in my mind as some of the greatest moments in music history. So without further ado, here are my first entries… Continue reading →
“Frank Ocean has quickly proven himself to be among the most gifted singer-songwriters of his generation.” Really? Pitchfork wrote this recently in their review of Ocean’s latest release Channel ORANGE. Wow, a bold statement. I don’t mind the occasional Frank Ocean song, and I give him kudos for revealing a same-sex love in a genre known for its machismo, but a poet he is not. He is honest, open, and genuine, but lacks art in his lyrical approach, and intelligent revelations. Even in the critical favourite Bad Religion (which is a pretty good song), his lyrics are far too direct, personal, and simple to capture a lyrical moment of genius (or to avoid corny pitfalls – Allah Hu Akbar sung in R&B never had a chance). Thinking Bout You and Bad Religion are modest successes, but songs like Pyramids and Forrest Gump are overcome by cheesiness and triviality showing an artist not yet mature in singing, or songwriting. However, Frank is big news, and an R&B singer who has a different approach and a great back story can give critics blinders. I have tried to ignore the roar of the bandwagon and continue on looking for great music. This is why I am glad to have stumbled upon this trio from Virginia, and their newly released single for the upcoming album CorrectBehavior. The incredibly catchy track finds itself somewhere between the Cocteau Twins and Japandroids, giving it a distinctly retro feel, but also an exciting pace. The result is a dance-around-the-room post-punk gem. I suppose it is no surprise, just like with newspapers, the most substantial stories are usually not the cover stories.
If there is one thing I learned from Weekend at Bernie’s, it was that summer can make anything fun (even the cold-blooded assassination of a colleague). Something about the liberation of the warmth makes every moment just that much better. Maybe vitamin D’s chemical reaction with Coke slurpee releases mass amounts of seratonin, I don’t know. Whatever it is, it keeps me smiling for three months. And my strong positive connection with the fairer season also gives me a partiality to its music.
The sounds of summer are carefree, light, airy, and catchy. They are the Vampire Weekends, the Gipsy Kings, the Avalanches, the Paul Simons, and I love them all. What better music to listen to than the music that brings you back on the beach, by that baby blue water, under that gorgeous sun? So I thought I would make a few summer playlists over the course of the next few months, and I hope you have as much fun listening to them as I did making them.
Summer Mixtape – Volume One
The Individual Songs
1. Jane Says (Steel Drums) – Jane’s Addiction
2. A Ti A Ti – Gipsy Kings
3. Amor Infinito – Alex Cuba
4. Is This Love – Bob Marley
5. Always Like This – Bombay Bicycle Club
6. Eye Know – De La Soul
7. Ragoo – Kings of Leon
8. Everywhere (Fleetwood Mac Cover) – Vampire Weekend
Two of my favourite summer albums are The Avalanches’ Since I Left You, and Cut Copy’s In Ghost Colours. They are nostalgic, breezy, and perfectly executed. So there should have been no surprise that when Cut Copy bassist Ben Browning released a solo single it would be made for sun, sand, and surf. I Can’t Stay brings the best elements of warm weather tunes, with a Graceland-esque guitar floating in the background, happy-go-lucky synth, and a catchy chorus. He may just sound like an extension of his band, but who cares, the more Cut Copy I can get, the better.