The Friday Five – September 16, 2016

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I’ll be honest — most of my week has been devoted to July Talk, whose excellent second album arrived at my house last weekend, and Mitski, because, well, it’s Mitski and “Puberty 2” is a phenomenal album.  But I’ve also given a listen to the new Wilco album, and I’ve been listening to one-off songs as they come up in playlists or my memory.  And those are mostly what I’m featuring today.  It’s a mostly quiet collection of songs, good for the fast-approaching fall and those cold, cold nights.

1.  Wilco – “Cry All Day”

I really like this new Wilco album.  It’s quiet, low-fi, cohesive.  I prefer it to last year’s “Star Wars” release.  This is probably my favorite track off “Schmilco” after one listen.

2.  Venus and the Moon – “Marry Me”

I love these guys.  I’ve been a fan of Frally Hynes since her first solo release, and this project with Rain Phoenix is just as exquisite.

3.  Laura Gibson – “Empire Builder”

I’m new to Laura, but I like her sound, and I love this quiet beauty of a song.

4.  Rose Cousins – “What I See”

Whenever I’m in the mood for some Rose, I always go to this live recording of “What I See” first.  I actually prefer it to the studio version, though both are lovely.  Damn fine Canadian music.

5.  Kathleen Edwards – “Soft Place to Land”

My favorite song off her 2012 release, “Voyageur.”  And I love this live version with the ever-lovely Hannah Georgas on backing vocals.  Kathleen’s busy these days running a coffee shop in Stittsville, Ontario, but I do hope she’ll eventually return to the music, especially when I listen to songs like this one.  Oh, Kitty, I miss you.

The Friday Five – September 9, 2016

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I’ve been slacking.  No Friday Five for two weeks now.  But I was sick with a bad cold and just didn’t feel up for making any selections.  I’m all mended now, though, so I’ve pulled a bunch of tunes from my work playlists to share with you all.  It’s really a mixed bag of music, but there should be something in this group for everyone.  As usual, if you hear something you like, buy it!  I don’t get anything from it other than the satisfaction of having influenced a listener out there, but in this day and age when so much music is simply streamed for free or illegally downloaded, I feel I need to nudge everyone towards supporting the artists with a purchase.

1.  Alvvays – “Adult Diversion”

2.  The Both – “Milwaukee”

3.  Jennifer Castle – “Nature”

4.  PJ Harvey – “Good Fortune”

5.  Wild Flag – “Romance”

 

The Friday Five – August 19, 2016

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Tomorrow is the final stop on the Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem tour.  The band will play one final show in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario, and then it’s radio silence as the world waits to see if Gord will be strong enough to make more music.  As much as the band is preferring not to say this is the final show for them, it likely will be.  I was one of the lucky ones to get tickets to the event, so we’ll be there to celebrate and cry with everyone in Kingston.  It’s going to be an evening so full of joy and so full of emotion, too.  It seems weird to think that this is my very first time seeing the Hip, and it’ll also be the last.

I’ve had their catalog playing non-stop for a few weeks now, so it seems appropriate to devote this Friday Five once again to the Tragically Hip.  I shared my favorite songs last time, but there are so many gorgeous tunes.  Here are a few of them.

1.  “It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken”

2.  “My Music at Work”

3.  “Ahead by a Century”

4.  “Scared”

5.  “Wheat Kings”

The Friday Five – July 29, 2016

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So many new albums and tracks have been released from excellent Canadian bands over the past couple of months. A good portion of my record collection is devoted to Canadian artists, and it makes me happy when I can introduce my fellow Americans to my favorite performers. Check out the tunes below and let me know what you think. Any Canadian artists you like? Tell me some of your faves.

1.  Billy Talent – “Afraid of Heights”

Billy Talent’s new album drops today, so I thought I’d share my favorite track off the record. Actually, it might be one of my favorite BT songs in general, coming in at a close second to “Surrender.” I love the energy, and can’t wait to grab a copy of the album (hopefully this weekend).

2.  July Talk – “Strange Habit”

July Talk released another track off their upcoming sophomore album the other day. It’s a bit softer than their usual fare, but I dig it. I’m so excited for this album to come out. Now if only I could get them to play somewhat near me on a Saturday night…

3.  DIANA – “Slipping Away”

I feel like I’ve been waiting years to hear some new DIANA. Oh, wait, I have. I’ve been into these guys since seeing them at the Wolfe Island Music Fest a few years back, and it’s great to see them releasing some new tunes. This one definitely doesn’t disappoint.

 

4.  Veda Hille – “Lover/Hater”

Veda’s new album, Love Waves, was long-listed for the Polaris Prize this year, and if you ask me, it should have been short-listed as well. The album is a bit more synth-heavy than her previous work, but it’s as lovely as ever. The chorus of this particular song is perfection.

 

5.  Hannah Georgas – “Loveseat”

I’ve had Hannah’s new album on repeat all week. Love it. Can’t get enough. My favorite track is “Don’t Go,” but I already featured that one on another Friday Five, so I picked out another good tune.

The Vacation Friday Five

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It’s Friday once again, and guess what?!  I’m on vacation as of 5:00 PM today.  I’ll be on my way to the Pacific Northwest shortly, and I can’t wait to make my way through all the record stores from Seattle to Olympia to Portland.  I’m armed with an extensive list of shops, recommendations from Ben at Kill Rock Stars, and a 32-page list of albums I’m seeking.

So yes, this Friday Five will feature more bands from the PNW.  Enjoy the tunes, and keep up with my travels via Twitter and Instagram.

1.  Tacocat – “Dana Katherine Scully”

2.  Bangs – “S.O.S.”

3.  Bratmobile – “Cool Schmool”

4.  Cadallaca – “Fake Karaoke Machine”

5.  Courtney Love – “Uncrushworthy”

 

The Friday Five – June 10, 2016

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My Pacific Northwest vacation is so close now. I can’t wait to dig into all the record stores out there and come home with loads of vinyl. Until then, I’ve been listening to a lot of my favorite PNW bands, past and present. You all know that I have huge love for Sleater-Kinney, Quasi, and Wimps, so I figured I’d highlight some other bands this week.

Without further ado, here are some PNW bands and tunes I dig.

1. The Gossip – “Don’t (Make Waves)”

2. Beat Happening – “Indian Summer”

3. Heavens to Betsy – “Complicated”

4. Team Dresch – “She’s Amazing”

5. Excuse 17 – “Nervousness Never Fades”

The Friday Five – June 3, 2016

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To be perfectly honest, all I’ve been listening to this week is the Tragically Hip. I was one of the few lucky bastards to snag tickets to their final tour (technically I’ll be at their final show), so I’ve been listening to Now For Plan A most days, along with some of my other favorite Hip tracks. But as the excitement grows around my upcoming vacation to the Pacific Northwest, I’ve had some travel tunes stuck in my head too. Songs about the West Coast, songs about the places I’ll be visiting. Songs about quitting my job, because you know the last few weeks before vacation are always the most difficult at work. So I thought I’d assemble a list of some of those songs for the Friday Five.

1.  Wimps – “Quit Your Job”

I’m counting down the seconds until I can ditch my place of employment for 10 days of freedom. You know how it is — they know that you’re getting some time off, so they do their best to work you to death before you leave. You know, just so you start your vacation stressed and exhausted. It happens every time. And as I grind my teeth through the frustration, I always have this song in my head.

Staring down the clock / Oh no, they don’t pay you enough

2.  Sleater-Kinney – “Light Rail Coyote”

Portland is where we’ll be spending the majority of our time, though our travels will also take us to Seattle, Olympia, Astoria and beyond. And I can’t think of Portland without getting Sleater-Kinney’s homage to their city in my head. It has some of my favorite Brownstein riffs, and is one of the best S-K tracks, in my opinion.

Burnside will be our street / where the kids and the hookers meet / diners and strip club junk / bookstores and punk rock clubs

3.  Angus & Julia Stone – “Big Jet Plane”

I have no beef with John Denver, but I like this as an alternative to “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

Gonna hold ya, gonna kiss ya in my arms / Gonna take ya away from harm / Gonna take her for a ride on a big jet plane

4.  Bright Eyes – “June on the West Coast”

I’m always drawn to songs about traveling from place to place, seeking out a space that feels like home, asking a city to claim us. I suppose I’m a bit of a wanderer, still unclaimed, trying to find a place to permanently call home. Until then, I’ll keep traveling with my love, and someday we’ll finally land. [Technically I have found that place, but it requires moving to another country, and that’s not as easy as they make it seem in the movies.]

I visited my brother on the outskirts of Olympia / where the forest and the water become one

5.  Indigo Girls – “Hey Kind Friend”

This one’s a bit of a sad tune, but beautiful and simple. I’ve always loved the geographical references and the images they conjure when I listen to the song. Makes me feel like I’m right there too, watching that sunset in Washington.

I was too late for Spokane, so I caught a ride through the Cascade range / I saw the sun die in Olympia, running down on Capitol Lake

The Friday Five – May 27, 2016

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It’s been a very long and emotional week for music lovers across Canada and beyond. The news of Gord Downie’s terminal brain cancer left all of us in shock. I’m not Canadian, but anyone who knows me knows that I might as well be. I bleed red and white. My cubicle at work is wall-to-wall Canadiana. I care as much about the political climate in Canada as I do my own country. If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be Kingston, Ontario. The Canadian national anthem makes me tear up every time I hear it. I love hockey, the Harm (Sarah Harmer), and the Hip.

Though it’s tough knowing that this is the end for the Hip, and the end for Gord, I know fans everywhere are trying to focus on all the band gave Canada over the years, and how many lives they’ve touched. And everyone is grateful to Gord for spending his precious time left with us, his fans.

To celebrate Gord, I’m devoting this edition of the Friday Five exclusively to the Tragically Hip. It was tough to narrow it down to five songs, because there are so many that are pure poetry, and so many that capture the history and beauty of Canada. But these are my favorites, and two tracks (“Now For Plan A” and “The Lookahead” — the videos for these are actually like short films) feature my favorite singer-songwriter, Sarah Harmer.

1.  “Now For Plan A”

In your face, the endless patience / The fleeting nature of life on display

2.  “Bobcaygeon”

It was in Bobcaygeon, I saw the constellations / Reveal themselves one star at a time

3.  “Courage”

Courage, my word / It didn’t come, it doesn’t matter / Courage, it couldn’t come at a worse time

4.  “Nautical Disaster”

I had this dream where I relished the fray / And the screaming filled my head all day

5.  “The Lookahead”

You weigh a snowflake / The glamour of the sky / Descending / Past perfect eyes

The Friday Five – May 20, 2016

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Is it Friday again already? I’ve been listening to a lot of different things this week, but mostly I’ve been listening to Land of Talk after seeing their killer show in Brooklyn last weekend. Since I’ve already posted Land of Talk recently, I’m highlighting some of the other artists I’ve had in rotation this week.  If you dig something you hear, click on the link to the artists’ site and make a purchase! Note: I don’t get anything out of you buying from one of the artists, aside from the pleasure of making someone a new fan of an artist I love.

1.  Little Scream – “Love as a Weapon”

Little Scream opened for Land of Talk at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn this past weekend. I’d only heard a song or two by them before the show, but was really impressed with their songs and their stage presence. I’d dropped all the hard cash I had on a bunch of Land of Talk merch, so I didn’t have anything left to nab one of the limited edition copies of their new album, “Cult Following,” but you can be sure I’m gonna grab that if I find it while record shopping this weekend.

2.  Tori Amos – “Pretty Good Year”

I’ve loved Tori since I first saw her video for “Silent All These Years” at the tender age of twelve. I never owned any Tori until I got older, but I was always drawn to her music. I’ve been listening to “Under the Pink” and “Boys for Pele” this week, and could highlight any number of songs from those albums, but I decided on “Pretty Good Year” since it’s such a lovely intro for “Under the Pink.”

3.  Jennifer O’Connor – “Start Right Here”

I keep coming back to Jennifer O’Connor‘s newest album, “Surface Noise.” It’s a really solid, beautiful album, and I’ve listened to it at least once a week since I grabbed it at the Neko Case show in Troy. Not only is Jennifer an excellent singer-songwriter, but she has her own record label, Kiam Records, and an accompanying record shop. So basically, she’s living my dream. I have no singing ability, so I have no aspirations of becoming a solo musical artist, but man, I daydream daily about running a label and opening a record shop. Someday…

4.  AroarA – “#14”

AroarA is a Montreal-based duo whose most recent release came out in 2013. Based on the poetry of Alice Notley, “In the Pines” is just an exquisite album. I saw them play at last year’s Sandbanks Next Wave festival in Prince Edward County, Ontario, and they were excellent. I loved getting to see that cigar box guitar in action. I’m hoping they’ll put out another album soon.

5.  Torres – “New Skin”

Torres‘ album, “Sprinter,” was one of my favorites of 2015. Every time I listen, I’m blown away all over again. This song is probably my favorite off the album, though it’s hard to isolate just one standout track when the entire LP is incredibly tight. I’m glad that Mackenzie got some nods from NPR and the like, because she deserves every bit of attention she receives and more. She opened for Sleater-Kinney in December, and then I saw her again at a tiny little venue in Connecticut called The Space, and she does not disappoint live. I’m dying to see what she does next.